If you wave I might see you

The ocean

You know those ‘days off’ that are so full that you need a day off to recover? That was today.

We went to church (amazing pipe organ, beautiful choral music, awesome stained glass), then we came home and got dressed more warmly (I was promised summer), and then went to an amazing Jewish deli for lunch (good sandwiches, huge pickles), then walked (through a cool marketplace thing) to LACMA (a museum, we just walked around the grounds but it was still amazing), then went to see a movie with a friend (Incredibles 2, good fun), then ate dinner (quesadillas and tacos), then came home.

I saw the Pacific Ocean from the other side, and sang about the Santa Monica Boulevard. I saw lots of things, actually. I have some processing to do. My brain is very full.

Tomorrow I need to work, and Catherine also needs to work. I think we might find it more restful than our day off. Then, in the evening, I will be experiencing the real show time Hollywood-ness of L.A. I hope that I have enough energy to tell you about it afterwards.

Catching the bus

DH and I have just spent a gorgeous long weekend in the sunny 25 degree warmth that is the Gold Coast. We were at the Scripture Union national conference. We loved it. It was wonderful. It was uplifting. The people were awesome. The teaching was varying degrees of sparkly brilliance and wisdom. The weather – oh the weather! We walked outside every day! I could wear but one layer! Just ONE! None of this five layers business that goes on in Hobart at this time of year. But that’s not what this blog post is about. This post is purely about the trip back from the conference centre to the airport.

Our return flight to Hobart took us via Sydney and we were leaving Queensland at 230pm on the Sunday. So we were catching the 1230pm bus from the conference centre to the airport. This bus left at exactly the time the conference finished, and the amazing administration staff had a plan. We were told from Saturday morning that we needed to find bag tags for our bags. We needed to check out of our rooms before the 9am session, put our bags in the place with all the other bags that were going on the 1230 bus, and get ourselves and our bags onto the bus immediately the final session ended. Immediately! NO delay!

I take these things to heart. Deadlines are important to me. Especially when they involve catching planes.

So, of course, the final session went over time by about five minutes and I went into panic mode. I still needed to pee before I got on that bus, and I didn’t want to be the one holding everyone up. Besides, we had been told, ‘the bus will not wait for you’ and I took that seriously too.

We all did as we were told, with varying levels of punctuality. We left the conference room, picked up our bags and our packed lunch, and congregated outside the front door to get on the bus.

There was no bus.

Well, at first I just laughed at myself, ate my lunch, commiserated with others who had been as panicky as myself, and relaxed.

But as the minute hand crept past 1pm I started to get worried again. Where was the bus?

At ten past 1, the call came ‘Who is catching the 230 plane? We’ll send you by car. We don’t know where the bus is!’

Ok, now can I panic?

There were six hands raised in answer to that question, but when we all gathered there were only four of us so that meant we would all fit in one car. They sent Yvette to get the car keys and I took a deep breath…

…and the bus showed up.

What to do? Well, we thought we’d be faster in the car than they would in the bus so we all raced down to Yvette’s car, stuffed our luggage in the boot, squeezed three grown men into the back seat (one of whom was quite tall and was telling us how he always tried to sit in the exit row) and started on our way.

Yvette wasn’t a local so we logged into google maps and tried to figure out which route would be fastest and we turned on Siri.

The guy in the middle of the back seat shared with us all that he loved to be on time. That getting to a plane late for him was as bad as not catching it at all. No pressure Yvette!

We took off and immediately hit traffic – Sunday drivers – and red light after red light. But we tried to stay positive. We talked about all our plane catching experiences and the stress we had gone through in the past. We laughed. We knew we’d be fine. We were sure we’d be fine. We were going to be fine, right?

And then, we saw it. The bus. It sailed past. IN THE BUS LANE! No traffic problems for the bus – there was a bus lane! A clear lane! Just for the bus!

Then things got really serious, or really hilarious. Depending on whether you were in the middle seat of the back or not. Yvette was determined to catch that bus! We just wanted to catch the plane.

At one point Siri told us to take a short cut. We cut over the right hand side of the big highway onto the old highway that ran alongside and we just flew along. There was no traffic there at all. It was great! Until we had to turn back onto the highway again. We pulled a very swift manoeuvre, squeezing ourselves into a non-existent gap between two cars, earning the ire of fellow drivers and I tell you, I swear I heard Siri chuckle as she told us to turn right at the lights. In fact, we all heard the little jump in her voice, and we collapsed into gales of laughter.

We must have made up heaps of time taking that shortcut, because as we were waiting to turn right at those lights, the bus sailed past us, in the bus lane, AGAIN! We couldn’t believe our eyes!

But this time we kept up with the bus and as we pulled into the airport we were only about five cars behind it. Yvette double parked, we yelled a big ‘Thank you!’ and grabbed our bags and raced through the priority line at security. We made it to our gate in time to join the queue shuffling out to the tarmac. No need to panic, well, not much anyway. But no time to meet with my Gold Coast family for drinks at the airport either. Ah well, next time I’ll remember that there are bus lanes on the highway and I’ll stick to plan A. Next time, just maybe, the bus will be on time…

One of the other conference attendees was on that bus and on our plane. We saw him checking in as we took ourselves to security. He made it too. We all probably would have made it on the bus, but we wouldn’t have had the hilarity of the conversation in the car. And you wouldn’t have had this blog post.

Such sweet sorrow

We’ve just spent a four day weekend in Canberra, visiting DD on the occasion of her 21st birthday. She’s been living in Canberra for two and a half years now. She is attending the University of Canberra and has done the whole ‘leave home for study’ thing. We have all been learning about the process of letting go, of growing up, of detaching the apron strings.

In the first year of her study, I was working in Sydney on a regular basis, so as well as the car trip that DH and I took to drop her off, I also managed a few weekends on the tail end of Sydney trips where I would catch the bus down on the Friday and back again on Sunday and get back to work again in Tassie on Monday morning. DH has managed a couple of trips up too, just short ones. And of course DD has come down to visit us, at least twice a year. Once for her birthday, once for Christmas. And then the occasional special occasion like a wedding or something that would bring her down again.

It’s so wonderful to have social media and to be able to keep in touch so easily. It’s not at all like when our family moved to Hawaii for a year when I was eleven. The separation then was a real thing. We wrote airmail letters home, flimsy thin pieces of paper that you wrote on in specified sections and then folded the thing and posted it off. No envelope – that would have added to the weight. We also made special long distance phone calls, the delay in the line causing the conversation to sound artificial. Only for super special occasions. Birthdays and Christmas. And we had to take the time difference into account, ringing at strange times of night so that both parties could be at least partially awake.

It’s different with DD and our separation. We can be in touch in so many easy ways. We can email, Facebook chat, message, ring, Skype. The slightest happening is an occasion for another conversation. And then sometimes we don’t speak for weeks as life gets busy.

But we were chatting this year and we realised that DS hadn’t yet had a chance to visit her in Canberra so we decided to come up and visit for a long weekend. DH, DS and I can’t take holidays at the same time due to teaching commitments and the only way we could get more than two days was to do a Thursday through Sunday visit during the school holidays. Fortunately that coincided with DD’s birthday. Almost. Her birthday is Wednesday. We discussed whether to visit the weekend before, or the weekend after. We decided that the weekend before will give her a birthday to look forward to after. The weekend after would leave her with nothing.

This has not been a cheap holiday. Flights and train tickets, accommodation and food and special activities and parties have all added up. I’m not sure how far it’s added up and I’m not sure I want to know. It was worth it. It was so worth it.

We have hung out together with no agenda, we’ve made a puzzle together, we’ve done the tourist thing – Questacon and the War Memorial. We’ve had meals with long time friends, and we’ve met some new friends too. Lots of driving around roundabouts and through bush land between Canberra suburbs. Lots of unhurried conversation ‘not about anything, just talk’.

And eventually the time came  to say goodbye. We got to the train with ten minutes to spare but we didn’t know just how much warning we would get for departure and my panic kicked in. We all hugged and got into the train and found our seats and then sat for ten minutes waiting to leave, waving out the window. How much time is enough to say goodbye? How much is too long where you hug and hug and get more maudlin until you’re all on the verge of tears? I think I went the opposite direction this time. Quick hugs and then lots of sitting on the train thinking of wasted minutes where more conversation could have been had.

It was still hard to leave, and tears came to my eyes as we pulled out of the station. DD is in a good place. She has friends, good friends, decent people. She has friends who are almost family. She’s had some hard times and some difficult situations (like when the car kept breaking down) and people in Canberra have come through, gone out of their way in a big way and helped her out. She is happier there than I think she would be at home with us. She’s had to grow up and she has done, she is independent, self-reliant, caring and strong. It’s been good for us all to have her leave home. But saying goodbye is still hard.

How do you say goodbye just enough and not too much? I guess I’m asking, how do you say goodbye without it hurting? Do I even want that? I don’t think so. I prefer to have the relationship that makes it hard than to have an easy and pain free goodbye without the joy of relationship. It’s been a good weekend, it is good to have the pain of a sad goodbye, it is good to have the easy communication while we are apart, and it’s good to know she’s coming down for DS’s 18th birthday in October. That’s not too long to wait.

A quiet space

I enjoy wandering around a new place, just by myself, looking at things. I especially enjoy wandering down side streets, finding little shops and cafes and looking at architecture and just drinking in the atmosphere.

Right now I am in Adelaide. It is (to my shame) my first visit here and I am very interested in everything I see because my brother has lived here for a number of years. I am delighted to be staying with him while I am at a conference, for work. The work has been good but I have given my talk now and have decided that, after a quick look at the art gallery and listening to a couple more conference talks, this afternoon is for wandering.

It’s raining, but I’m from Tasmania and a little rain won’t hurt me. And it’s warm unless a drop runs right down your back (or front, as the case may be, that drop was cold!) so the rain is no problem.

However, I need to be careful, I was quite tired after wandering for an hour or so and I got caught by one of those people selling stuff in the middle of the mall. So I’ve spent $50 on a buffer, some cuticle oil, some moisturising lotion and a small bag to put it all in. I think I might give it to my niece for Christmas.

What I have been looking for, in my wanders, is a quiet space, a nice cafe to have a cup of tea and to write this and do some people watching. I’ve almost managed it. I prefer it when the tea comes in a pot, not just a mug of boiling water and a tea bag, but this is a nice place to sit and watch people and write this so we almost fit the criteria. At some point you just have to stop and sit for a while.

I spent a bit of time this morning in the art gallery – very interesting juxtaposition of pieces if you ask me but the stuffed horse/cow with no head hanging from the ceiling was a bit much. And the death gallery was also a bit confronting. I enjoyed the impressionist stuff. The thing I loved most was the use of crystal bowls, vases and plates with light shining through them in various situations. The boat filled with crystal light was beautiful!

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I may just be in information overload right now. Just unable to think about what I’m seeing. But now that I am sitting and taking a break I can see that the sewing shop next to me has an unnecessary apostrophe on the sign in the window “30 Minute HEM’s” and that I’m near “Australia’s leading rare coin and banknote specialists” which would be helpful if I was in any way interested in rare coins and bank notes. Just down the way is another coin dealer, but they obviously cannot be Australia’s leading specialist because they don’t have that sign so I would stick with the one closest to the coffee shop!

So there you go, those are my random thoughts while suffering from information overload in the CBD of Adelaide mid-conference. Stay tuned for more exciting updates….

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