Friday, April 18, 2014

The graduation

Okay, so I’m about to bore you with a long description of my happy weekend. If you don’t like as many details as your Aunty Mable shares (even when she’s just telling you she’s bought a loaf of bread yesterday) then skip this post.

At the other end of the fortnight, was my husband’s graduation from a work-sponsored uni course. His work was very kindly putting on a black-tie dinner at a fancy-smanchy hotel in the city. They were also paying for a room for the night.

It’s been 10 years since we’ve had a night on our own without children.

Did I mention 10 years?

I was just a tad excited.

Squeal.

Of course, before this wonderful treat could be enjoyed, there were serious logistics to be sorted. Firstly, what to do with the wonderful children? We did think about just leaving the dog in charge at home (she’s really very trustworthy) but apparently that’s not okay (who knew?) so we opted for some responsible adults instead. Cue the very kind brother and sister-in-law who agreed to have six kids for a night instead of their usual three.

That was terrific but as they live two hours away it meant leaving work early, driving two hours to drop the kids off and then driving an hour and a half back to the city leaving just enough time to dash up to the room and get ready for dinner.

The hotel was gorgeous. I have never seen such a place in my life. Marble fountains. I kid you not. I think there were three of them. And they somehow pipe the smell of gardenias through the air on every floor. Even the doors to the lift were so beautiful I got teary. Ladies and gentlemen, I have never felt like such a hick in all my born days!

By the time I’d been lost in awe at my surroundings and then struggled into an evening gown, I was shaking like a leaf. My husband had already gone up to the reception for group photos and so I texted him to come back down and collect me as I was too nervous to negotiate the corridors by myself.

It was a lovely dinner. And I was ridiculously proud of my husband as he got his certificate. We did not indulge in the dance floor. Neither of us are much for dancing (except when I’m spring cleaning with my youtube 80s dance mix on…. don’t go judging me now) and besides my shoes were only just bearable for walking let alone tripping the light fantastic.

We made a discreet exit at about a quarter to 11 and headed back up to our suite. The turn-down service had been in and there were slippers beside my bed. Ahhhhhh. And pillows like giant marshmallows. So very many pillows.....

Ten years of child-rearing changes you though. No sleeping in for me. Like an alarm clock, I woke at 7 am exactly and there was nothing for it but to have a cup of tea.

Breakfast was a buffet downstairs. Again, I was overwhelmed with the loveliness of it all. They had everything – everything – anyone could possible want for breakfast. A chef cooked my poached egg in front of me and then another chef flipped my flapjacks while I waited. So delightful.

We sat down to enjoy our breakfast and I casually noticed the table near us was occupied by three grown sisters who were soon joined by their mother and father. I decided (because one must have a back-story for the people you are next to when you are eating breakfast) that they were probably in town to shop for one of the girls’ weddings. They seemed nice.

I didn’t think much more about them until a little later when the murmur of their conversation made my ears prick up. It was the lilt of someone reading. I turned and saw the father had open a copy of “Daily Light” and was reading them their morning devotions. And then they discretely prayed. Even the glamour of our surroundings did not stop them from spending time together with God and his word.

As my friend Lill said when I told her the story later, “Ah. You were amongst family!” Yep. I suddenly felt at home.

Slowly we did return to real life and pack up our little belongings and head downstairs to check out. As we waited for the valet to bring our car, I was just brimming over with the delights of it all. I’m not usually a person who likes frills and fusses. But this was a little slice of loveliness that I will turn over and over in my mind for quite a while.

So here’s a selfie to prove it all really happened and I didn’t just imagine it all.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A little in-flight entertainment


X-rated marketing by Isuzu

Isuzu has decided to promote their new trucks as "X-rated" with the instructions that we should, "Go on, have a perve."  Added to that they are running a promotion with the prize being a trip for "you and three mates" to "5 Hot Nights" in Bangkok.



Thailand hosts Asia's largest sex industry and it's estimated that around 250,000 Western males visit each year for the purposes of sex tourism.  Around 32,500 of these are Australian men.  If you, like me, find Isuzu's campaign unacceptable click here to sign the petition.  If you want to read more, click here.  Collective Shout have previously been successful in getting their message heard by advertisers so go on and let Isuzu know they should rethink their message.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It’s hard to know how to reflect on the last few weeks. At the start of the last fortnight, we had a funeral. At the end of the next week, we had a graduation. The highs and lows of life have been all jumbled up and combined at a pace that was almost unsustainable.

We farewelled my wonderful mother-in-law. To be honest, it all seems surreal still. I don’t expect to see her around because we lived so far apart so it doesn’t seem as though she’s gone. And yet I stood on the muddy ground as they lowered her – or what was left of her after the cancer had done its worst - into the cold earth. I was fine at the funeral. Well. Almost fine. It was when I got back to the house that it began to sink in. I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and I opened the pantry to find something.

Everything about the place made me think of her. Her writing on the labels. The ingredients that were so familiar I could name the dishes they would be destined for. The cereal that she only bought for the grandkids when they stayed. It wasn’t just that she was a good cook (she was indeed). It was that the kitchen was the heart of how she served and loved her family, her church, her community and even strangers that came her way.  

The kitchen undid me and I had to take refuge in the front yard for a bit to pull myself together. Still, once we travelled home, I felt disconnected again from the whole event. It’s been such a long time coming - this terrible end that we kept hoping would be avoided somehow - that it’s hard to process.

I haven’t let myself think much about it since we returned home. Haven’t want to and haven’t had much time. My husband had to go away for work the week after. The kids needed attention. My work was frantic. Then in the middle of last week I suddenly realised what I wanted: a photo of the pantry. With tears, and mentally kicking myself for not having taken the photo while I’d been up there the week before, I sent off a hurried email to my sister-in-law who is still at the house. “Could you please take a photo of the pantry and email it to me? Open both doors and step back until the pantry fills the frame. Please don’t neaten anything up. Thanks.” Odd. But thankfully my sister-in-law is kind to lunatics and sent me back my requested shot.

I’ve edited it now and added below the verse that my mother-in-law kept on her fridge for the last couple of years of her trial. Once I get the right frame, I plan to hang in it my kitchen. Her pantry in my kitchen. A great reminder of the example she set me in her loving service to her family and beyond, and of the hope she had that there was much more to come beyond our few short days.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Anyway, that was the funeral. I’ll bore you with the graduation in another post some time soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sadness

My lovely mother-in-law went home to glory last night after a long illness.  Things might be pretty quiet blog-wise for a little while.  See you in a bit.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014

International Downs Syndrome Day

I missed International Downs Syndrome Day yesterday.  But Gary didn't and he posted this awesome video which (though I obviously steal all my best stuff from Gary and ought to be ashamed of myself) is too beautiful not to repost.  Enjoy, possibly with tissues if you are a cry-er like me.