Category Archives: Musings

The Cycle Of Life

I watched a video online the other day, and the message was this: why fear Death, when it’s just another step in our evolution? We lived for 9 months in our mother’s womb, then we were “born” into this world. To all the other citizens of the Womb Universe, though, we essentially “died” and passed from that world into this. Now we live in this world, for who knows however many years, but eventually we all die and pass from this world into the next. Who’s to say that this death and the death we went through as we passed from our mother’s womb into this world, are not the same thing? Perhaps as we die in this world, we are merely passing through yet another stage in our lives. We did not fear our death in the womb, neither should we be afraid of our death in this world.

As for what the next world is like, there are plenty of “near-death experience” accounts, with varying degrees of concurrence and also divergence. I’m no expert of any religion or spiritual belief, so I won’t even try to talk about the philosophy behind ideas like karma and reincarnation. It might well be that we are born, we live, we die, and we are reborn, to repeat the same cycle over and over again. Or that we are born, we live, we die, we move on to a different plane, and go on in a linear fashion from there. Certainly there are as many beliefs about this as there are religions, and schisms within schisms. This is just one idea in a vast ocean of ideas.

Have a think about this:
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The Smell of Books

I’ve always loved books, ever since I picked my first one up at the age of two. I still remember that book, it was a “Dick and Jane” phonetic storybook, back when Dick was still an acceptable boy’s name. (Hehe, I just looked up “Dick and Jane” on Amazon, just to make sure my memory was accurate, and the books are still going strong!)

Since then, I’ve read and re-read countless books, fiction and non-fiction. Being a believer of total immersion, I read up on obscure and not so obscure subjects such as teddy bears, keeping angora goats, recycling and upcycling, cheesemaking, handbags, felting, needle-felting, beading, handmade books, paper-making, Origami, motorcycling, Freemasonry, perfumes, macarons, French patisserie etc. What can I say, I’m an eclectic magpie.

The rise of e-technology has seen a decline in real books and a phenomenal increase in virtual books. Hardly anyone carries around a book anymore, they’re more likely to be reading an e-book on their smartphone, tablet or e-reader. My Kindle Library has hundreds of titles. But still I buy books for my shelves, even though these days I don’t have the time to read them. My excuse is that I’ll have more than enough time to read them when I’m old and my legs have given up on me. Hopefully by then my eyesight will still be good enough to read with.

And hopefully by that time my nose would still be working. Because, you see, I just love the smell of books.

New books, old books, it doesn’t matter. When I open up a new book, the first thing I do is to bury my nose into the pages and inhale their perfume. How can I describe the smell of a new book? Crisp, clean, with a whiff of vanilla, slightly sweet,
slightly metallic.

I’ve to be more careful with old books. They have their own distinctive smell, but there’s an underlying mustiness, a mouldy, damp, mushroomy scent. I’m paranoid that I might accidentally inhale some spores that may make me ill. With brand new books my nose is right up to the pages; with old books it’s a good 6 inches away.

If I were a parfumier, I’d describe new books as having a fresh, floral base, and old books as having an earthy, mushroom base.

There’s a word that beautifully describes the smell of rain as it hits the earth – Petrichor. I haven’t found one yet that describes the smell of books. Someone please make one (or two) up!

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Here’s a snapshot of the books on my top shelf, which will give you an idea what I’m currently into. Yes, I occasionally take them down for a good sniff or two! Glue-sniffing at its best, I say, and totally harmless.

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And if that’s not enough, for those of you who miss smelling real books because you’ve digitised your entire library, fear not, help is at hand. This blog lists the top 25 paper-scented perfumes and candles. Indulge your senses!

Nightcrawlers, Ambulance chasers, Storm Chasers…

…and me and my kid. We interrupt our regular programme to bring you the latest excitement to hit our sleepy town of Rockingham, Western Australia.

It was the sound of helicopters flying over our house that first alerted me that something was afoot. On looking to the skies, I saw not just 1 but 2 helicopters circling about. Then I saw a big yellow helicopter, the type with a large snorkel and water bucket (“Bambi Bucket”) attached. And another. And I realised there must be a bushfire nearby.

So when the Kid came home from school we saddled up yeehah! got on our bikes and headed in the general direction of where the water-bombing helicopters seemed to be dumping their loads. It was only a 5 minute ride, then we came to The Anchorage Estate (a new housing estate worth further investigation, note to self). And 2 manmade lakes, where the 2 water-bombing helicopters were busy at work. At this stage we could only see dark smoke nearby and didn’t know how close the bushfire was.

As luck would have it, yours truly was able to video helicopter No.1 at work. Video follows hot off the press. I must apologise in advance for the shoddy camerawork after the helicopter takes off after filling. The spray from the helicopter went everywhere – my camera lens was splashed, my shirt and shorts got drenched. My glasses were completely covered, leaving me essentially blind. Hence you’ll see the camera struggling to even find, much less track, the movements of the helicopter. Incidentally, this is my Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s virgin video – a baptism of water, fire and wind, if you like. The wind churned up by the helicopter was like a mini tornado.

Anyhow, here is said video. Try not to laugh too much.

http://youtu.be/Pgm4aD3-FlU

Afterwards, we realised that the bushfire was literally only 1 street away. So here are some photos of the scene, taken before someone noticed and waved us away.

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I must be (Dough)nuts

Krispy Kreme aka KK has been an American institution for many, many years. I remember it being featured on an episode of The Simpsons, way back when. I even remember having a KK doughnut and coffee at Heathrow airport in the UK.

In Australia, there are dozens of KK outlets in the Eastern States. KK doughnuts can be purchased at petrol stations and at 7-Eleven convenience stores, where the doughnuts are delivered there fresh every day. It’s part of a normal way of life over there.

It’s a different story here in Western Australia. But before I go into details, here’s a potted history of KK in Australia.

The first Australian KK opened up in Penrith near Sydney in the early noughties, followed swiftly by a staggering 53 other outlets on the eastern seaboard (and NONE in Western Australia). However, the company may have misjudged its niche as it became a matter of too much, too soon. In 2010 KK Australia went into voluntary administration and pared its number of outlets right down. Luckily for us sugar addicts, KK managed to return triumphantly from the brink. Most Australians are used to buying 1 or 2 doughnuts at a time, not by the dozen…and that fact may have needed time to digest, literally.

Here is an interesting blog about why KK Australia failed in 2010.
http://startupblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/why-krispy-kreme-failed-in-australia/

Western Australia, often regarded as the “poor brother” of the Eastern States, has until very recently relied on an informal and quirky system to get its supplies of KK. Many families in WA have FIFO (Fly-In-Fly-Out) workers in the burgeoning mining services industry. These men and women often use airports in the Eastern States that have KK outlets, Brisbane airport being one example. Yours truly has a husband that used to FIFO to and from Brisbane airport, and that is how I was getting my sugar fix until recently. For years it has been a very common sight to see workers in their yellow/orange high visibility jackets emerging from Perth’s domestic terminal lugging boxes of KK doughnuts along with their luggage.

In my last place of employment in Perth we could place special orders for KK doughnuts twice a year. Yes, really. Someone in Melbourne would place the order at the airport’s KK outlet, then make sure all the boxes were loaded onto the right flight, and then someone else at our side would drive over to Perth airport with a van, to collect the doughnuts. No, as silly as this may sound, this was actually a way of life here.

For years West Australians had been clamouring for KK to go west. But for some reason (I haven’t been able to find out what) KK outlets have never made it to these shores. Until 26th November 2014, when Perth got its very first KK outlet at Whitford City shopping centre.

I heard there were queues forming outside the store already days before it opened its doors. The store operates a 24/7 drive-thru, with a limit of 2 dozen doughnuts per vehicle. During the first few days the drive-thru often had queues of up to 100 cars at any time. There were so many people queuing up outside that the KK management had to employ crowd control people and set up a separate marquee to contain the outside queues. Once inside, there was yet another queue that snaked around to where you could watch the doughnuts being made, as entertainment while you waited.

Yesterday the Kid and I decided to go and see what all this fuss was all about. And so here are some photos of our “WA KK Experience:

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The queue in the marquee before the queue in the KK store.

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First step into Perth KK.

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Look at that conveyor belt with all those doughnuts!

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Trays of goodies mmmmm!

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The Loop. The queue takes you to a big glass window through which you can watch doughnuts in production.

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Cleaning the equipment, getting ready to switch to making a different doughnut. These had glazed doughnuts before, so the worker is washing off any traces of sugar glazing.

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Busy hands behind the counter. All hands on deck!

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So we got 2 dozen doughnuts (a dozen glazed and a dozen assorted). And a choc milkshake + 2 doughnuts each, as our “lunch”. I know, I know, I’m a terrible mother! ;)

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The reason our doughnuts were packed in 4 boxes of 6 instead of 2 boxes of 12 – so they could fit in my bike’s basket!

So, why did I queue up for 45 minutes just for some doughnuts? I can see parallels between this queue and the one I saw for the iPhone 6 just a few months ago. Yes, it’s all completely bonkers and utterly unneccessary. I could never justify blowing $1000 on 1 iGadget. But $50 for 2 dozen doughnuts, 2 yummy chocolate milkshakes and 4 extra doughnuts, a sit-down in the KK store, plus a good friendly natter with some total strangers in the queue, and the look of bliss on my kid’s face as he nibbled his choc doughnut? And also giving away 2 glazed doughnuts to a friendly pregnant woman and her boyfriend that we chatted with at the bus stop? Priceless.

Was it worth a 7 hour round trip, and a bike ride + train + bus, and the same for the return journey? Hell yeah, and I’m (dough)nuts. 😆

Spelling & Grammar

One of my pet peeves is the plethora of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors that abound on the internet these days. Or should that read as Two of my pet peeves?
Whatever the case, I just wish people would learn to read and write English correctly. It beggars belief that even teachers are getting it wrong…if They don’t know the difference between its and it’s, to and too, were and where, etc then how the hell are our children expected to get that right?

Here are just some of the biggest and funniest bloopers I’ve culled from Google Images.

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Damn you, Autocorrect!

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She’ll never live it down…

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A great example of how effective spelling or, in this case, mis-spelling, can be.

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Whoever wrote this is clearly very confused.

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Copy that.

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I shudder at the image forming in my mind. Those thongs…whether European as in teeny tiny ladies underwear or Australian as in flip flop slippers, either are just as bad.

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Identity crisis.

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Bovine or Equine?

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I doubt the examiner passed his or her own exams.

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Oh, really, no regrets??

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Well, I’ll be a Frog Prince!

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I wonder what that would be like to use as toilet paper…

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Teachers FAIL.

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Wow, how does porn even happen by accident?

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Nope, they really won’t know.

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I guess Customers will just have to find parking elsewhere.

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No doubt the Moran family will feel insulted.

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Dont evan go their. 😂

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…because here is an example of their handiwork.

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Only in America…

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Keep your children well away from these cowboy messers.

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And I wonder why…

So, please..
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Take a couple of minutes to digest this, for your own sake. It might save your life someday.

Who’s In Charge?

Quite often we hear people saying how they want to take charge of their lives. Bemoaning the fact that they don’t have enough “Me” Time, not enough hours in the day to do what they would really like to do, or not enough money to do it with. This usually coincides with New Year’s Day, when people like to make their New Year’s Resolutions. Tomorrow sounds like a good time to start, right?

Well, bollocks to that. Who’s in charge of your life? Not your boss, not your manager, not your parents, not your teachers, certainly not your peer group. YOU are in charge of your life. Nope, things haven’t suddenly changed while you were sleeping, they’ve always been the same. You have always been in charge of your own destiny. You just forgot and let other people and circumstances take over. Sometimes it’s easier to sleepwalk through life and then wonder at the end what it was all about. But remember, you only have one life, and it’s happening Now, so you’d better make it count.

To fill your life with great memories and great deeds, first you must do all those things you’ve always wanted to do. Everything is achievable on the other side of fear. The trick is just to begin. Fear is a great paralyzer. Everyone hates change, it brings uncertainty, we all like to live in a cosy world where there’s a place for everything and everything’s in its place. But, change happens all the time, and if we don’t learn to duck and dive and roll with it, then we might as well be dead. Don’t live a life of regrets and “What If”s, fill it with “Remember that time when” instead.

Here are some quotes I have gathered from Google Images, to help bring this message closer to you:

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In The Pink

Pink is for girls, right? Wrong. Pink is for everybody, and Mother Nature knows it best. Some of us humans have cottoned on too, thank goodness :-).

Here are some of my favourite Pink things, curated from Pinterest. Hmmm…maybe just this once, I should say Pinkerest instead?

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Oh, and I found one of my own iPhoneography images actually titled “In The Pink”:

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Definition of “In the Pink” (of condition and health):
Fig. in very good health; in very good condition, physically and emotionally.

That woolly-headed feeling

I hate getting colds. Or the flu. Or whatever it is I get that makes me sneeze, go all emphysemic and calls for boxes of tissues and/or nasal sprays. Whenever there are severe or drastic changes in the weather, for example if it goes up to 40 degrees during the day, then plunges to minus 4 at night, I come down with “It”. This happened a lot to me over 10 years ago when I was living in Spain. It seemed that I would get one cold after another, or a chest infection/bronchitis/flu. Sometimes I would cough so hard it was a miracle my head didn’t fall off! Or that my burning chest didn’t just explode into flames.

Even getting free flu shots at work didn’t help. One year in Australia, aware that I was prone to getting at least one serious bout of “It” each year, I signed up for the free flu jab on offer by my employer. Boy. Big mistake. Now, I can’t be sure if it was the flu jab itself that caused The Great “It” of 2012, but whatever the case, surely that vaccination should have helped prevent or at least alleviate the symptoms.

But no. First it was a throat tickle. Then I woke up one morning with no voice. There were white spots on the back of my throat. The roof of my mouth was covered with painful ulcers. My gums were swollen enough to bleed between my teeth.

It got progressively worse over the next few days. I managed to drag myself off to see a free clinic doctor – another big mistake. He simply told me it was “Strep Throat”, and to take aspirin and get some rest. Hubby was working away that week, neither the Kid nor I had been signed up to his GP yet.

I went off my food. Now, those of you who know me well know that I have an enormous propensity for eating. So when I go off my food, there’s something seriously wrong with me.

For the next few days I just lay in bed with a fever. I just drank water and sometimes made a cereal drink for some sustenance. The poor Kid had to cycle himself to and from school a mile away, and make his own meals.

When hubby returned from work that weekend, he rushed me to his GP. A blood test was ordered; it was a bad throat and chest infection, and the GP wanted to make sure I wasn’t anaemic or my liver function impaired because of the length of time I’d left it before seeking medical help. There was some mention of the possibility of Hepatitis…

That bout of “It” nearly killed me. I was off work for a month. I remember my sore throat started the day before my birthday. I was just on the road to recovery, and weak as a baby, when we signed and settled the purchase of our first home 4 weeks later. It would be more than 3 months before I was literally well enough to get back in the saddle of my bike.

Since then, each year when the seasons change, I’m wary of “It” recurring. But, thankfully the sea air where we live now appears to agree with my constitution (no, we have no Victorian wallpaper laden with arsenic in our house, giving off poisonous fumes). I’ve had a couple of colds, but nothing so bad that I’ve had to take bedrest like last time. I’ve even “powered through” my last cold, inviting disaster by rebelliously refusing to stop my daily swim sessions with the Kid and Shelagh, our amazing running-flying-swimming-ballcatching pit bull.

What I’d say though, is that I hate colds because they affect my brain. They make me slow and woolly-headed, and also forgetful. Last week the “It” of 2014 crept up on me and pounced suddenly. In the last 3 days I’ve gone cycling with the Kid, forgetting that my helmet was still in the bicycle basket and not on my head. Today, I fixed new front and rear lights on our bikes…what should have taken me 5 minutes to do on a normal, healthy day, took me over 30 minutes to figure out. It was like swimming in molasses.

And now…I’ve forgotten what else I wanted to say.

I rest my case.

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(Image source: webmd.com)

The Colour Purple

Yes, I know that’s the title of a book and film tie-in. But it’s also what this post is all about. The celebration of the colour purple, and its various hues. Think Wisteria, Bougainvillea, Jacaranda, Monet’s Gardens at Giverny, pergolas, romantic walks under great arches of lavender blossoms, bluebell woods…

I was up really early this morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep. So I went on Pinterest, as usual ;), and came across a photo of a garden decked out in purple. That caught my imagination, so I started looking for more purple gardens and flowers.

Here are some of my favourites, courtesy of Pinterest.

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A Dystopian Tale of the Disposessed

As the saying goes, you never really appreciate anything until it’s taken away from you. There I was, on a Friday morning, having taken myself off to the cinema to watch The Hunger Games : Mockingjay Part 1 while the Kid was at school. Jolly good film, that, no matter what detractors may say. Okay, it’s an “in-between” filler show, to link to the grand finale next year. But performances were solid all round, and it was good to see the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final acting role. Jennifer Lawrence was even more  beautiful, if that is possible. (Okay, I will admit it was my second viewing of the film, the first time was with the Kid 2 weekends ago, he was talking too much and I missed a few bits. That’s my excuse, anyway LOL).

Anyhow, upon exiting the cinema at around noon, I had to walk through the shopping mall right opposite the cinema, to get to where my bicycle was parked. The mall was surprisingly packed full of people, and as I walked in through the doors, I found out why. There had been a power cut not 5 minutes ago, and the stores had all turfed out their customers for health and safety reasons, and also because none of the cashier tills or self-checkout points would work. Indeed, the entire mall had ground to a halt, all because there was no electricity.

I had my handy new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with me, so I took a few photos of this unusual phenomenon. The disposessed milling around the mall with nothing to do but wait for the power supply to return, so they can go back to their Christmas shopping.

So no, the crowds you see in the following images are Not of an Australian Black Friday. Although it would qualify as a literal Black Friday, as most of the shops were in pitch darkness!

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(About the only thing you can do when there’s a power cut in a mall – EAT!!)
 

All this reminded me of just how reliant we are on technology today.  I hurried home after this because I had a box full of baby quail chicks that were about a week old and that relied on constant heat, which was supplied by a small table lamp over their box. If the chicks didn’t get enough heat, they would get cold and die. So I had to go home to check that they were okay, and if not, I would have to take desperate measures…which, in a home that is 90% reliant on electricity, is a bit difficult. The best I could think of, in a situation like this, would be to pour hot water from the bathroom taps into drinks bottles, wrap them in towels, and place them in the box with the chicks, until the power came back on.

Luckily for me and the residents of Rockingham, the power cut was limited only to the mall. Phew!

I remember many years ago, when I was working for the Office of Fair Trading in London, United Kingdom. We’d just moved offices from an old building 3 streets away, to a swanky, newly refurbished building. The 2nd day there, we hit teething problems. The power went out. As an office that was completely computer-based, we could do little but sit at our desks twiddling our thumbs. Absolutely no work could be done that day.  After waiting a couple of hours for the power to be restored, we were told to just go home and come back tomorrow.

I guess the lesson here is that we should not take what we have for granted. The same goes for Money…those that have always had money, will find it extremely hard to cope with everyday life if that is taken away from them suddenly. However, on the flip side, those who have gone through periods of having little or no money would have learnt to survive, and so when poverty or a financial crisis strikes again, they will be better equipped to deal with it. Let us all be thankful for what we have, instead of wanting more. If we always want more, we will never be satisfied.