Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Overload


I sat there in front of 40 odd people listening to Sue read out all that I do in my life:
“She works full-time at the Department of Primary Industries and Resources, part-time as a waitress at a restaurant, she studies for a Bachelor of Law and a Certificate III in Horticulture. She’s also the treasurer for her local CWA and manages her own cattle herd” (I can mostly give Garry the credit for that last one but when I can get there to the station, I’m down there trying to contribute as best I can with what limited time I have).

When you hear someone else reading all that out it kind of hits you (what wasn’t mentioned was that up until the 26th of March I was also making fortnightly visits to a little, old lady, via the Anglicare Community Volunteer Scheme, until she passed away). This was the point that I realised I was trying to do way too much and somewhere in there I needed to eat and sleep. Something had to give. It did. The restaurant.

Mum had finally sold the motel business (not the land) and is now semi-retired. Hospitality has become a choice for her now and not an all-consuming aspect of her life. Why should it be any different for me? I hated hospitality but it was my best fall-back on hard financial times. I’m certainly not rich now after spending almost 2 years trying to be friendly and courteous when I’d really rather throw plates of food at people. However, my car loan is paid off and that was my main aim. I achieved that a year ago so why the hell was I still there? Oh yeah, a few of the people I worked with. I felt especially guilty about leaving Bernie because she was so good to me, we’ve become good friends and we worked well together.

Now there is one extra night to study for that assignment that is due in two weeks that I’ve barely started because, quite frankly, Constitutional Law is not even close to being my strong point. And the textbook is about 3 inches thick.

Meanwhile, with the Certificate III in Horticulture done and dusted, I’m trying to do a Diploma of Agribusiness although the training organisation doesn’t seem to think that’s really important for me to complete.

After that trip to Melbourne I decided that, to prevent getting burnt out like I had in 2016, I was going to do things that make me feel happy and more relaxed. Even before Melbourne, I returned to the restaurant in the New Year having cut back my nights from 5 to 1. On most weekends I go riding with Di-Zee and/or Jodes. I’ve started and finished a number of books. Already I’ve had significantly less migraines this year than last. A minor addiction to Coke Zero aiding in that.

And now that we’ve ticked passed the half-way mark for 2017? A small road trip is planned for late September. And next year will likely have some momentous things to occur! ... But you’ll just have to wait for what they are until they actually happen!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Volunteer


Some years ago, I wrote a blog, “What’s In It For Me?”, citing the reasons for volunteering and actively participating in community organisations and that there shouldn’t be anything in it for you because you’re supposed be giving back to your community. However, further contemplation on the topic has lead me to realise that sometimes there are some things in it for you and that it’s all driven by the karma bus (because everyone forgets that karma carries both positive and negative energies).

On Sunday, I had managed to be roped in to volunteering for the Katherine Ultra Challenge. I was nervous about saying yes as the task was to be a paddler in a canoe on the swimming leg of the Challenge first thing in the morning. I had not been in a canoe or kayak since 1996 when we had the annual “Aquatic Days” at school.

“Aquatic Days” contained a choice of kayaking, sailing or snorkelling from memory. I chose kayaking and would have chosen sailing if the group hadn’t already been full for that activity. It was the first time I had ever been kayaking and the instructor was a bitch. It ruined my mood for the rest of the day and had me believing that I was no good at kayaking and that I shouldn’t ever bother again.

So, swing round to 20 odd years later and here I was thinking “the swimmers will yell at me, the Gorge boats will yell at me, I will get in everyone’s way, I will clumsily flip my canoe and end up in the drink”. Many thoughts. The organiser, after being on the receiving end of twenty questions from me, assured me I would be fine so I accepted. I’m glad I did.

The 430am wake up was nasty but by 530am I was at the Gorge and ready to go with my squished bananas, camera and excess amounts of potted water. We headed up the first gorge in a small tinny which reminded me of my childhood on the River Murray, fishing with Poppa. We all then geared up and all paddled out around the bends in the second gorge and sat and waited in mostly silence. I had a quick conversation with a lovely lady called Neve after accidently crashing my canoe into hers but soon it was time to get into place.

Soon the gorge was filled with the sound of waves clashing, rapids smashing and waterfalls crashing as the competitors hit the river. Our calm waters were suddenly choppy with the movements of 60 odd swimmers. They headed around the bends and back again and their arms flapping into the water echoed off the walls of the gorge making it sound as though they were actually behind me. Those on the tail were struggling and I later discovered they dropped out. The woman in the lead put more and more distance between her and the next swimmer every time I saw her. By the time the swimmers were getting out of the water, having finished their swim, there were two noble stragglers left. Bigglesworth paddled beside one, I paddled by the other trying to shout the odd bit of encouragement. Then, with the finish line in sight, I accidently cut the poor sod off (massive apologies to Contestant No. 4). After alighting my canoe, I discovered that he was doing the whole Ultra Challenge by himself. Most people compete in teams and tag each other for different legs of the course. There are only a small handful that do the entire thing alone.  In the cross-country run, last I had seen Contestant No. 4, he had gained 2 places. I didn’t keep track of him after that.

I followed a bit of the Katherine Ultra Challenge progress for the rest of the morning for the sake of photos and seeing at what stages most people were at.

This is not an isolated occasion to have gained something out of volunteering. Each year that it is held I volunteer for the Women of the World Festival and on one of those years I got to meet one of my legal idols, The Honourable Sally Thomas AC. Other occasions that I have volunteered I’ve simply had a good time and met new people. So, if you volunteer without expectation, there may actually be something in it for you.
Competitors and their support crews waiting for the day to start

The swimmers progressing along the gorge




M. Desailly, one of the few entrants competing alone
The cross-country run to mountain bike switchover point



Kayakers heading to Low Level

 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Melbourne


Please note, this blog post is now actually a month late due to a busy schedule.

 

Melbourne; saying it's busier than Adelaide is an understatement. If one had money there is definitely better shopping though. However, in contrast, there is a staggering amount of homeless people, not something I noticed 7 years ago and to some degree it reminded me of San Fransisco.

I was to be met by Linda in the foyer of the hotel. Described as having wild, ash-blonde hair she was easy to spot when she walked in. Dodging the scrum of commuters we weaved our way to Southbank for the event. Between all the commuters was a familiar face. Linda tells me “that’s Brian Nankervis”. “Oh yeah, the guy from Rockwiz!” Apparently he has his own radio show which airs from a building nearby to the railway station.
Next minute we’re on the other side of the Yarra and 14 floors up and the view was impressive. Nerves owned me but everyone made me feel really welcome. Finger food was in its abundance and I made a mistake of having a twiggy stick being the first thing I ate. Guess how my burps smelled the rest of the night...
Soon, it was my time to speak in front of 50 odd people, way more than I had anticipated and my topic? Myself. Holy crapola. I’ve assumed that I did not drop any random F bombs like I ordinarily would, no one has told otherwise. After the attention was over I wanted a corner to hide in. Instead I was ushered outside for some photos with the Melbourne skyline in the background where stiffness from nerves were exacerbated by shivering from the cold.
Jo kindly walked me back to the hotel at the end of the event where I tucked in to bed from sheer exhaustion.
The next morning I hit the lanes once again in search of breakfast. Fairy floss atop pancakes and hot chocolate with marshmallows hit the spot. I burned off a few of those calories to head to the gallery at Federation Square where I got to see a couple of famous paintings like The Pioneer by Frederick McCubbin and Shearing the Rams by Tom Roberts. But before I could finish my lap around the gallery and after some confusion I got picked up by my brother and his family for a day out at the DFO’s and Docklands.
That evening it was all over. At the airport early, I fixated on studying for an upcoming exam and soon I was back on my way to the balmy NT to continue my existence in bat-shit-crazy mode.

 

Thank you to all the lovely ladies at Encouraging Women in Horticulture Australia Inc for their warmth and hospitality and above all, the opportunity to attend. Especially Dawn, Sue and the rest of the committee members! I’m sure this is just the beginning!







Paintings found at:
https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au

 

Monday, 5 December 2016

For Christmas I Want...


I got asked by my sister today what I’d like for Christmas. I didn’t know. Which doesn’t help her but quite frankly what I want can’t be given because what I want for Christmas can’t be bought (well, some of it).

For Christmas I want to be with my family. The tickets are bought (including return tickets that I don’t really want to use) and I will spending my Christmas on KI with Dad, my sister, her family, maybe my eldest brother and some friends.

For Christmas I would like more time in each day; more time to ride my horses, more time to read books, more time to spend with friends. More time to do the things I generally enjoy doing. More time to study and work would compromise (despite the goals and much needed money) the time spent doing what I love.

For Christmas I would like the valuer to pull his head in and just say “Yes, that’s a reasonable amount of money to spend building a house and no, I don’t need all those finicky, bollocky details I’m requesting of you and your builder to make this process more difficult and annoying, I’m just having your leg”. For Christmas I want to start building my house.

For Christmas I would like some inner-peace and less stress. That is all.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Happy Anniversary Charger





This years show marks our 10 year anniversary. 2006 was the year that I bought my piece of Elsey Station in the form of a horse with half an ear. He's been at my side since then. My team mate, my partner, the one thing I can rely on. Through sinkholes and old barbed wire, through thick scrub and through thin he's been there. Slamming hoof prints into my heart. A total ratbag when he wants to be, Prince Charming when it suits.

Many other horses have passed in and out of his life, as they have mine. Chief was a faithful companion for many years. I'd feed them everyday between rounds on Willeroo to put the weight from first round back on them. They got so habitual about it that I only needed to open gates for them, no halters, no stuffing about. If I floated them anywhere they would take it in turns to rock the float. Charger would make it sway, Chief would make it wiggle. Chief left us in 2010 and crossed Rainbow Bridge.

In 2006, after leaving the contract mustering camp we headed to Bonalbo Station in the Douglas Daly. He thought he was top shit with all those mares around and all the geldings so much older than him. It was at Bonalbo that Charger and I found ourselves in a sinkhole.

2007 saw us attempt Timber Creek Campdraft. We did poorly. 2009 was when I had the brilliant idea of having another crack at a campdraft, Nixon's Crossing. Charger expressed his dissatisfaction at this by dumping me in the dirt and dragging me a few metres. We didn't compete.

Early 2011 we slipped in mud. He was fine, I went to hospital with severe concussion.

Early 2012 Ruby was added to the mix and he thought it was great that he had a mare for a paddock mate again. I then eased him into a lie that was retirement later that year. Retirement, at age 21, was just me saying without realising "There's no more mustering for us anymore buddy". When Ruby was unfit to ride he got saddled or jumped on bareback. Then, in early 2015, I got a new saddle, the previous one having been trashed in the stack of early 2012. It was only natural that he had the unwanted honour of being the first to be ridden in it.

The mystery of his missing ear is somewhat solved after distinguishing one story, which is likely to be a lie, from another, that involves the person who told the lie, that is far more likely to be the truth. The hair around his muzzle and his coronets have been growing grey for some time now. He loses weight in the Build Up these days and requires extra special supplementary feeding during that time. But at 25 years old he is still soldiering on and remains stoic. I may have paid too much for him in 2006 but for me he's been worth every fucking penny. Happy Anniversary Old Man!
Katherine Research Station, December 2015

Charger and Ruby, McAdams Road 2012


Providence Station, early Wet 2011
Chief and Charger, Willeroo Station, December 2009

Napier Road 2013

Kidman Springs, Wet Season 2008

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Twenty Fifteen


Happy Hogmanay (Scottish for New Year)! It’s that time for my annual reflection. 2015 was a momentous year for me. For a significant chunk of it I worked two jobs. I officially finished my “first” year of my bachelor of law (it has taken me 3 years to do so). I got to celebrate the 30th birthday of my best friend since childhood in Adelaide, as well as my own 30th birthday and my cousins’ 21st.  I sadly said goodbye to a number of people: Tony, Tommy and Grandma Haby and some close friends of mine moved away back to South Australia. However, all the birthdays mentioned and the passing of my Grandma meant that I went to Adelaide a record three times in one year. And every time I flew out again it pulled on my heart strings. At least I got to see Dad twice and nearly all of my family across those three trips.
In September I signed paperwork to say I would be in debt forever as I bought 74 acres north of Katherine. Big enough for me, the horses and Kip. It’s complete with two dams, brand new fencing, a capped bore and the standard weed problem.
More minor milestones include the most useless working dog ever finally figuring out the impact she has on cattle (in a positive way). She surprised me twice in the year. I had a good calving rate despite the fact Capone was probably not responsible for ALL the calves. His wigglers were tested and came up average so he’s not underperforming but a fence jumper could be the baby daddy of some of the calves.
The ever lame Ruby finally found some relief in the form of my friends’ skill in Bowen therapy. Charger is still soldiering on despite reaching 24 years old. Two friends enjoyed rides on him as well as a newby from Switzerland. He liked taking the newby for a ride, his cheeky and sadistic sense of humour shone through that day but she enjoyed herself and didn’t fall off so yay for me! I finally bought a saddle. It only took me four years to get my act together and a number of months to pay it off.
I got to spend two weeks with some barristers in Adelaide so I could get a much better insight into the legal sector. I spent a lot of time in the Magistrates Court sitting in on criminal cases (a psycho stalker, a hydroponics enthusiast, two trespass cases (one of them included a previously convicted neo-Nazi and most of the witnesses were bogan liars), an alleged rapist, an alleged assault and a bunch of smugglers or something or other). I spent a day in the industrial relations court (where there was another witness that wouldn’t stop lying). There were a few mentions that included a rather messy and expensive divorce and a real estate dispute. There was also an inheritance dispute where the respondent didn’t even bother to show up. One of the barristers gave me a research project which made me feel less like a loafer/tag-along.
I became a finalist for the Rural Women’s Award (finalist by default). This led me to head off to Brisbane for a Rural Leaders Bootcamp with a co-worker which was an excellent course. I also got to see a smidgen of Brisbane while I was there which I hadn’t seen since I was 12.
There’s been a lot of learning, growing, sadness, happiness and challenge this previous year and every part of that rollercoaster was worth it because a merry-go-round is rather boring in comparison.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Failing in the Big Smoke - Part One


As Bet had said “bushies in the big smoke” she’d nailed it on the head. Here I am in Adelaide, trying to look professional while failing to catch the right bus and on one instance fail to be on the right street to catch the bus. And on buses and trains that aren’t free I failed to properly wave my borrowed metrocard for my fare. I’d failed to wear the right shoes on my first day and almost a week later my feet are still paying for it. I was left unattended in the City on late-night shopping night and drained my bank account of about $170 in just over an hour (it could have been worse, much worse). At least the children in my life are now all sorted for Christmas presents and I have a few new clothes.

According to one fellow work experience girls’ facial expressions I’ve failed at being a work experience girl. She looked me up and down at how I was dressed (city chic with a Territory touch I reckon) and stuck up her nose at the fact that I didn’t bring a writing pad to jot down notes in a court session. And heaven forbid I’m only a first year law student yet I’d managed to get my foot in the door for work experience with not one but TWO chambers in Adelaide. Needless to say I actually haven’t done that much work. The poor dear had to eat said facial expressions on Friday because I was one of four work experience girls at a submissions hearing that didn’t bring a writing pad, she was the only one who had.

On Saturday I failed at bowling despite the talent I should have inherited from the Miller gene pool. I needed bumpers just so I would hit the pins. I failed at dressing up for Halloween. My “Pugsley” stripes were pathetic compared to the costumes of my Uncle, Aunty, cousins and niece whom I had never met despite the fact she is now 15. Her dad, my cousin, I hadn’t seen for 14 years and that was at my Great Nanna’s funeral.

Sunday saw me failing at appearing to have a conversation or eat. Having woken up to a cold didn’t help the situation. I got to meet my cousin Greg who I had not seen for 15 years and the last time was at his brothers’ funeral. My memories of him were so vague due to the briefness of my past interactions with him.

Despite all my failings I’m having a great time. I’m constantly gobsmacked at how appallingly people dress for court and their “classy choices” in neck tattoos. NB: If you, for whatever reason, are required to attend court, it’s not a good look to go in tracksuit pants and a Wu-Tang jumper which so many bogans’ do think appropriate to wear.

The one thing I hope I haven’t failed at is my exam that I sat on the Thursday. I’m looking forward to next week however and failing at other city things as I try as a bushie to cope in the big smoke.