Come fly with me…

I can’t remember the precise moment that my love of planes and airports began. One of my favourite memories is from when I was about 12 years old. Pane used to drive me out to the airport on Monday nights to soak up the atmosphere.

p1040014 (Sunset over a 747-400 at the Terminal 5 British Airways Lounge at London Heathrow)

I’m not really sure why Pane did it, other than he knew that it made me sublimely happy.

We would pull over on the side of the road, in the days before they had rigged up the mesh which blocks the view. From that angle, you had an amazing view of the runway, the lights dazzling on the ground and the fabulous sight of planes waiting in the air to land like well behaved school children in line. 

The best trips always ended with a 747-400 taking off over the top of the us, the noise so loud and the vibrations reverberating in the concrete underneath us.

p1010126 (View from Qantas Lounge Terminal 1 at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport)

There no freedom quite like flying. Being up there, in the air, completely devoid of responsibility and jobs. No To-Do list, no jobs, no people to call, or assignments to finish. Somebody waiting on you, bringing you snacks, while you relax and watch movies. I couldn’t think of anything better. Its a unique experience.

I love the idea that planes can transport you all over the world. Within hours you can be in a new country, exploring new places, meeting new faces, catching up with old ones and creating memories. I feel close to people who are thousands of miles away, knowing that I could be with them within a day if I wanted to be.

Within hours, a plane can have you back where you belong, back home, back where you started. 

p1040018(Snow-capped mountains on a flight from Vancouver to Kelowna, B.C, Canada)

I do some of my best thinking ‘up there’. Its a funny perspective of life and the world when you are looking down on it from 37,000 feet. I can’t say it better than this:

‘From the air, things look so ridiculous. Our fears so small, our fights so vain. I want to pilot a plane with you, so all our problems look small too. Its just an inch from me to you, depending on what map you use.’

– ‘Cleveland’ by Jewel

p10401081(Sunset over the horizon on a flight from Dallas Fort Worth to New York La Guardia)

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I amore pizza

Inspired by everyone’s amazing recipes on their blogs, I decided to photograph last nights dinner.

p1040293    (Prior to getting creative!)

Individual home-made pizzas were on the menu and it was great fun because we personalised them as we pleased. Pane was most excited about his salami and garlic creation, Tomato indulged with some cheese and ham, while Bacon chose to create a tofu and feta cheese concoction.

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When B was over on Sunday night she told me about a pizzeria in Boston that topped their pies with grated carrot! Running with this idea, I assembled some grated carrot and zucchini, garlic, olives and a little swirl of BBQ sauce on the top – just to make it pretty.

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All in all, fun to make, nice to eat, a great success.

Little life lesson of the day:

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”

-Thomas Alva Edison 

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Learning to Stay

I have trouble being ‘in the moment’. No matter what I do, I’m always looking forward, always planning, always waiting for the next big thing to happen. 

p1030990(View from rooftop of the Pompidou Centre, Paris, France, January 2009)

I noticed this a lot when I was travelling, I was constantly thinking about where we were off to next.

A part of me thrives on the anticipation. I like knowing whats up ahead, although I would love to be more spontaneous.

Everyday I receive an email from CharityFocus, an organisation that aims to inspire people to contribute in meaningful ways to the world around them. As with most things in life, some days I feel a real connection to what is being written about, other days not so much.

The ones I really like, I save.

Today’s email discussed how through meditation we discover our inherent restlessness. This restless feeling teaches us not just about ourselves but about what it is to be human.

“All of us derive security and comfort from the imaginary world of memories and fantasies and plans. We really don’t want to stay with the nakedness of our present experience.”

– “The Places that Scare You” by Pema Chodron

Exactly! I think that pretty much hits my issue on the head. But how does one stop the restlessness?

Chodron likens it to training a dog. You need to ultimately train your mind kindly and gently, so everytime you feel yourself lifting out of the moment, encourage yourself to stay. Apparently this will make you flexible and confident, someone who doesn’t become upset when situations are unpredictable and insecure. Maybe even more spontaneous…

“When your emotions intensify, what you are feeling is fear”.

So by learning to understand and take control of your feelings, the fear will eventually fade.

Hopefully. 

p1040106(View from my window on the plane from Vancouver to New York)

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Talent and Little Life Lessons

When I was travelling and meeting lots of new people all the time, I realised how varied peoples interests and talents can be. I met painters, singers, photographers, skateboarders, actors, knitters, chefs, jewellery makers, filmmakers, teachers.

 

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(Walk on the Thames, London, U.K, January 2008)

People with passion, drive and ambition that wasn’t necessarily career related, it was life related. Talents that not only made their lives better but made the world a nicer place for other people.

I think over the last few years my life revolved so heavily around my job or hanging out with friends, that I forgot to pursue other interests. I didn’t really acquire any new skills or explore avenues that I wasn’t already running around in. I was moving so fast, that I couldn’t slow down and really think about how I was spending my time.

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(Park in Maastricht, The Netherlands, September 2008)

I wondered, what were my talents? What do I enjoy doing that is both creative and rewarding?

After returning from New York, where life was so frantic and really not conducive to pursuing little hobbies and projects, I was more determined than ever.

So far:

  • I’ve used a sewing machine and made some shorts for Avocado and myself.
  • I’ve made a little herb garden, complete with oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley and rosemary.p1040290
  • I’ve rekindled my love of photography, taking random pictures all around my house and garden.
  • I started a course in Project Management.
  • And finally, the most rewarding of all, thanks to some inspiration from Figjamandlimecordial, I’ve started this blog – so much easier than I anticipated.

Little life lesson of the day:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion. It is those who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” 

–Henri Nouwen 

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The “Feel Good” Muffins

So I’ve mentioned V’s genius in the kitchen before but she has really outdone herself this time. I’ll set the scene:

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Yesterday. Mid-morning. Bacon and I enter V’s kitchen to find her elbow deep in an enormous mixing bowl. The bowl is exploding with amazing looking ingredients. Ingredients which would combine to create what I now like to refer to as ‘The Feel Good Muffins’. Not a very imaginative name but after eating said muffin, I felt SO good! . I don’t whether it was because they were hand-made with such love and attention to detail, whether it was the fact that I was eating real, unprocessed ingredients or maybe….maybe there just isn’t a logical explanation.

I thought this could of been a one off. But I had another one today and the feeling was the same. Genius!

The recipe: (So you can feel as fabulous as I do)

1. Heat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.

2. Take a ridiculously large mixing bowl and sift together 4 cups of flour (wholemeal or plain), 2 cups of sugar, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 4 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of salt.

3. Take 4 cups of grated carrot, 1 cup of shredded coconut and 2 grated apples and throw that all in the mix as well.

4. In another bowl beat 6 eggs, 2 cups of vegetable oil and 4 teaspoons of vanilla.

5. Stir everything together.

6. Line some muffin tins with greaseproof baking paper, it will make  the muffins look lovely and professional. And you won’t have to pay $5 for one like V did at a cafe near her house. Lucky she is a genius and can now make her own!

7. Bake in the oven for about 30 mins, take them out and prepare to feel amazing.

Note: You can freeze these and have them waiting for for weeks to come when you feel like a boost of energy.

p1040289

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Love of my life.

There’s something quite strange about being in love with a dog. Its an odd relationship. Some would argue that it is one sided, how can you get enjoyment from something that doesn’t really understand where you are coming from, can’t communicate in a human way, can’t validate your feelings or even argue you with you? In my mind, this is what makes it so easy.

I was 11 years old when my parents finally agreed to buy me a dog. After years of whingeing, pleading, dragging Avocado into the mix to help me whinge and plead, writing small books specifically about how I would care for the chosen puppy…

OK. I have to stop there. As I type this, said dog is doing his business on our oriental rug. Old habits die hard.

Back to 1998. We drove out to somewhere in the middle of nowhere, to a cocker spaniel breeder, we had collectively decided that this docile breed would suit us quite nicely. In the corner of this woman’s verandah, hidden behind an enormous pot plant, was a tiny little black puppy. They say you shouldn’t pick the quiet puppy, the runt, the underachiever. But I loved him from the minute I saw him and none of his rowdy golden brothers were going to change my mind.

emanu-puppy

I called him Elmo and he cried the whole way home. He cried as we set him up a little box bed. He cried while I tried to feed him dinner. He cried all night while I was trying to sleep. Definitely not what I bargained for but I loved him all the same.

Nutcase. Over-indulged. Spoilt. Whiny. All words that people have used to describe Elmo over the years.

He is a true nutcase in every sense of the word, no one could ever ring the door-bell without Elmo having a fit, racing down and skidding on the floorboards as he approached the end of the hallway. We used to have to lock him in my bedroom for ten minutes after people arrived, so he could calm down.

Mum and I used to spend Sunday evenings cooking Elmo huge plates of sausages to eat for dinner during the week. Ok, maybe that was slightly excessive and indulgent for a little cocker spaniel.

After he turned a year old, we bought him a kennel so that he could sleep outside. He and I were both traumatised. He used to cry down our side path next to the kennel for about an hour every night, until finally I would creep out and carry him back in to my bed. Alright, so he is a bit spoilt.

Anytime we leave the house and ‘abandon’ Elmo in the front yard he howls, his head tilted backwards in distress. I truly believe, all evidence to the contrary, that he doesn’t think we are coming back. That is a bit whiny I suppose.

In honour of his 11th birthday this Sunday, Bacon and I spent the morning shaving Elmo’s fur – leaving him with a very cute tuft of hair on his head that resembles a mohawk. Or at least it will once we get some gel onto it.

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After all these years, Elmo is now relatively deaf and almost completely blind but he still manages to keep us entertained, keep us warm and remind us how it is possible to be completely in love with a four legged creature.

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“How many people can make you feel as rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel as extraordinary?”

– Marley and Me By Josh Grogan

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Good Old Green and Gold

p1010767(Sydney Harbour, photo taken on a walk with Lel down at Cremorne Point)

I love Australia. Thought I’d put that out there. As I paid for my usual chai tea in Coffee Culture the other day, the waiter smiled and said ‘Enjoy the rest of your day’. When I was walking back home, a car slowed down to let me cross the street, even though technically I shouldn’t have been crossing there. Later that afternoon, our gardener popped round and was so cheery and friendly, I nearly fell off my chair.

I’m wondering whether maybe I’m being too optimistic about the state of Australian culture these days or maybe my stint overseas has highlighted just how nice Australians really are.

It would seem that no matter how many times I’ve been travelling, my expectations are always the same – the anticipation of exciting times, new friends, foreign languages, unusual food and life changing experiences. While I definitely experienced all that and more, there was always something missing. Maybe it was that the sun didn’t shine quite as brightly, the sky wasn’t quite as blue, the language barrier became more of a hindrance that an intrigue and lets face it, once you’ve seen one European church, you’ve seen them all.

Once I came home, I realised everything I took for granted in this lovely country of ours, everything seemed so much brighter in the post-travel light. Ironically, after leaving to search the whole world for something I thought I was missing, I came home and found everything I believe I need. 

I’ll leave you with some of my favourite Aussie slang terms which Bacon, Tomato and I found whilst planning a BBQ for a most wonderful friend who just became an Australian citizen (Congratulations B! Or BBQ as you have requested to be called):

– “Off like a bucket of raw prawns in the sun”

– “You flamin’ galah”

– “Stunned Mullet”

– “Starve the lizards”

– “Hooroo”

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