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