Saturday, May 31, 2014

Goat Tragedy

Today I was playing Minecraft.

And I have this mod now that gives you a wonderful variety of animals. You can make some of the animals your pets. What this really means (for the most part) is you get to name the animal.

Why is it so fun naming things?

Anyway, so I've named animals after characters in my novel.  I've also named them after old family pets.  

Today I decided to start naming animals after Australian Prime Ministers.

I fed a goat some wheat seed and he became mine. Then he became Edmund Barton.

Edmund Barton started heading in the same direction as me. He ended up trapped in some deep water rapids. I tried to save him. The problem is the physics of Minecraft water confuses me. I ended up trapping Edmund Barton even more, and he drowned. It was horrible. He made this heart-breaking sad squealing noise just before passing over into Minecraft heaven.

He bequeathed me his hide of leather which is very useful to me because I can use it to make books, and books are quite useful in Minecraft.

Of course that made me feel really conflicted. Guilty. My pet died. It's kind of my fault. And here I am being rewarded for it. I tried to make myself feel better by remembering that I was actually trying to save Edmund Barton. It's not like I saw him drowning and just walked away.  Although maybe he would have saved himself somehow.  

Sometimes good intentions can be deadly.

To avoid mourning too deeply, I imagined maybe Minecraft animals have the same fate as Minecraft players.  In Minecraft, death isn't the end.  You're simply reborn. You respawn and find yourself back in your bed.  

Maybe Edmund Barton re-spawned into a new goat. Or maybe he's something new now, like a rabbit or elephant.

Australians Not Talking Much About Australia

It's great to find things that relate to your passion. It can feel like a wondrous miracle when you find things that combine two of your passions.  For example, Jack has become heavily involved with a Disney World Minecraft server.  He loves Disney World, and he loves Minecraft.  Here's two of his passions combined.  It's great because he's found friends who have something in common with him.

A few weeks ago I joined a GoodReads group for Australians AND people who are interested in Australia. Great! Those are two of my passions combined. Reading and Australia.

The only thing is, they very often talk about things that are not Australian.  So then I feel kind of stupid for being there.  Because they're all Australian, and I'm not. So I'm imagining them thinking, why is she here? They're probably not thinking that, but I'm insecure sometimes.

Or maybe they are thinking that.  

And maybe I'm a little disappointed because I want to have people that blab on and on about Australia.

But now that I think of it, I don't know if it's books I want to talk about.  

I want to talk about Home and Away and Offspring.

I want to talk about my favorite Aussie songs.

Maybe I wish people would comment on my blog and we can have deep discussions about imaginary Patrick and whether or not Tom and Pippa should be more apologetic to Sally about not taking her reservations about Dodge more seriously.  

Why don't I want to talk about Australian books?  I kind of have a tendency to forget what I've read.  

And you know what I'm noticing about GoodReads?  Well, that maybe it's not easy for people to talk about books in general.  Because what I mostly see on the message boards are games that are not exactly book related.  Or if there is a discussion about a book, it's usually along the lines of, Am I the only only one in the world who hated this book?

Sometimes I'm tempted to comment back. Yes. Every single person in the world loves this book except you.You're all alone in this big wide world.  

I did actually participate in a fairly interesting book discussion today. It was about that certain controversial scene at the end of Stephen King's It.

I've also participated in debates about Twilight which is sort of like debating abortion. People have very dogmatic opinions and aren't really interested in changing them. I keep telling myself it's best to walk away.  

Anyway. I love GoodReads, sometimes obsessively.  But I try to limit my time there.  Because although I love playing the games that have little to do with reading, and I love chatting with Australians not talking much about Australia, I want to make sure I still have time to actually read books.
 Sometimes I worry that GoodReads swallows up some readers.  You know, they love reading. They join GoodReads.  Then they're so busy adding friends to their friends list, playing word association games, adding countless books to their to-read list, but what they're not realizing is they hardly actually read anymore. Does that happen?  I don't know. I kind of think it probably does. I don't want to end up being one of those people.   

It's like how I was joking with Jack the other day—that when we're at Disney World, he's not going to want to go to the parks. He's going to find to sit in the apartment all day playing with his friends in pretend Disney World.   

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Face For the Hate

In the past few years, I've had some bad experiences on the Internet. I really wish I didn't have to use the plural in the last sentence, because once would have been enough, thank you very much.

For some people, it is simply not okay for you to have a different opinion from them and their friends. It doesn't matter if you state a polite opinion in a polite and non-aggressive way. The simple fact that you have an alternate opinion is enough have you labeled as rude and aggressive.  And the people who label you rude and aggressive can be very nasty, cruel, and rejecting. I wish I could say it doesn't hurt, but it does. At least it hurts me. A lot.  

The funny thing is, for some of these people who treated me like shit...I have no idea what they look like. They were just a mean blankness in my head.

The other day I was watching Home and Away. There's this new bully high school student. Vicki Baxter.  Well, actually I just looked at her character profile. She's not new, after all.  But I do think her role is a bit more prominent now.

Anyway, while she was being bitchy to Carly and Vivian, I could totally picture her being the people who treated me like crap.  Seeing her was kind of...I don't know.  Therapeutic? Fun? Cathartic?  

The other thing I was thinking about recently is the people who ARE a bit rude and aggressive when sharing their opinion. I encounter them a lot. They're the ones who kind of attack. They say things like, That's very stupid. You're ridiculous. Get real. You're wrong! That's really sick. I don't know why anyone in their right mind would think that, etc.  

I'm not a fan of these type of people. I think people should have the ability to share their opinion without being insulting.

However, I prefer these people to the ones who coldly reject those who disagree with them—the ones who publicly told me to never visit or comment on their blog again, the one who requested I never write about her fan-fiction characters again, the ones who deleted my comments; then announced they deleted my comment (so people can imagine I wrote something really horrible because they can't see the real thing). *

Anyway, now all of those in my head are going to look like Vicki Baxter, which is probably unfair because the actress who plays her might be a very nice person. Sorry, Nana Coburn. Maybe it can be seen as a compliment though. She played her character very well.     

*People might read my comment and agree with the hater that my comment was rude and aggressive. That's fine. They're allowed their opinion. But it's only fair that they get to see the comment before making a judgement.

It's also fine if people delete a comment. I did it once (that I can remember) because the conversation was making me very uncomfortable. But I think (and hope) I did it discreetly and not in a way that might invite wrath upon the commenter.   

Libraries, Cats, and Beets

I often seek out Australian books. And that's fun.  But I also love when I run into them accidentally.

For the past several months, I've been making my way through the fiction bookshelves at our library. Each visit, I go to the next shelf (or two shelves), and my rules is I have to pick one book from each shelf to try to read. It's a slow process, because I read a lot of other books besides that.  Right now I'm on the F shelves.

So on my last visit I picked up a book about people during World War II.  I didn't study it too much. I think I just found I was in the mood for historical fiction.  

Last night I opened the book and saw there was a quote from Nick Cave. I was pretty thrilled to see that and then decided to take a look at the author.  She's an Aussie! Anna Funder. She grew up in Melbourne. According to her bio she lives in New York now.  We're going to New York this summer. We'll stop by and visit her.  No, we won't, actually.

We might, though, go to an Australian restaurant.  I found one (The Australian), and it actually looks pretty decent. 

They have televised sports...Australian games!  Their website gives their schedule.  So, for example, today at 12 PM you can watch the Panthers vs. the Eels.  I know the Eels are Parramatta.  What are the Panthers?  I shall Google.....

Funny.  When I googled, I got some websites about the mysterious cat sightings around Australia.  I also found out, though, who the Panthers are. It's Penrith.  I also see the game's already happened.  So I guess the restaurant shows recorded games rather than live ones.  It makes sense now that my brain has kicked back in gear. Otherwise, they'd be needing to open their restaurant at odd hours.

The Australian has a lot of Aussie wines and beers, including James Boag. That's significant to us because it's from Launceston, and our friends lived there.  Okay, I have to be honest. If you asked me, what beer is from Launceston?  I probably couldn't answer. The beverage menu jogged my memory a bit.  Or a lot, really.

Okay.  Now I shall go over the food. They have some food that you actually truly find in Australia. Like...Chiko rolls.  Though I'm betting these are a fancier version. They're made of lamb.  Are Chiko rolls usually like that?   

Well, Lord Wiki says they're made of chopped meat. He doesn't specify which kind. So I guess lamb would work.

They have sliders that are served with beets.  Beets are the thing for me. If a restaurant says they have Aussie food, but their burgers don't have beets, I see the whole thing as a sham. 

I'll have to deduct some points for their salads. There's no pumpkin.  I associate Australia with pumpkin salads.  

They have chicken schnitzel. Totally Australian.

There's a whole section for Aussie food that includes: meat pies, sausage rolls, curry veggie pie, fish and chips, lamb cutlets, Australian burger (with egg and beets!) and Barramundi.  

And they have Pavlova!  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

On the Way to the Airport

I had another dream about visiting Australia.

We're going to Australia soon. I've started packing, putting some clothes in a pile on the bed. I plan to put them in a suitcase later.

Then we're driving to the airport before our flight. There's moderate traffic. 

I panic and realized I never finished packing. I don't have a suitcase with me. I tell Tim and he's fairly calm about it. And it turns out, he and Jack forgot to bring a suitcase as well.  He tells me we're going to turn the car around when we can and head back home. We'll pack and then leave again for the airport.  I'm thinking we'll have to pack really fast.  

I think that's the first time I've had that theme in one of my Australia dreams.

It seems like an anxiety dream—worrying about not being prepared for something.

Who knows.....

Friday, May 23, 2014


I've become a huge fan of Home and Away. Because it's a soap opera, I'd maybe classify it as a guilty pleasure. Although I'm not sure if that term is really appropriate in most situations. If we really felt guilty about partaking in something, would we talk about it?  Or maybe we in a depressing, confessional type of way.

I think a better term would probably be I-know-this-aint-a-prestigious-piece-of-art, but I like it anyway.

I think most soap operas fall into that category. Though I think my Home and Away watching is a few notches above that because....

A) It comes from a country that's not my own.
B) I'm watching episodes from the 1980's, so it's sort of retro. And retro is usually cool.

Note: Item A probably makes no sense to Australians since much of what they watch is international. But Americans seem to usually watch American programing; mostly because that's what's readily available.

I guess what I'm saying is I'd more excited to tell my friends that I watch a 1980's Aussie soap opera than I would be telling them I'm addicted to Days of our Lives.

I'm rambling here. I meant to have this be a short introduction to the episode I watched today which I personally feel IS a prestigious piece of art.

It's amazing.  It was very artistic—well written, well directed, and well acted.  It felt like a play...not a musical but one of those serious things.

It reminded me a bit of that serious episode of Family Ties—the one where Alex's friend is killed.

I'm trying to decide if I should try to describe what happened on the episode. I feel I should, but I worry I'll be awful about it.

I'll try. Though I think I'm writing this less to promote the episode to people who don't watch the show and more to put it out there in case someone else loves the episode too.  Maybe they'll google, find my post, comment on how they loved the episode too, and we can blab on and on about it together.  I guess I'm hoping to find a Home and Away friend.

Anyway. The episode was about Steven Fletcher finding out that his new best friend and newest foster brother (Dodge) is the one who burned down a shop which killed Steven's uncle.

Dodge became the new Fletcher foster child soon after Steven began the mourning process.  Steven had always been very studious and responsible.  Dodge got him to turn away from all that, using his uncle's death to illustrate the fact that life's too short for being good.  Have wild...don't feel obligated to do the right thing.

The episode alternated between scenes of Steven talking to a therapist and Dodge being interrogated by the police.

Then there was all this Hamlet stuff which was beautiful and well done.

Steven had the chance to hit Dodge, and since he's a karate champion, it might have caused some massive injuries. But he didn't do it, and then he feels guilty.  He thinks taking action to avenge his uncle's death was the correct and courageous thing to do. But in the end, he changes his mind. That's where all the Hamlet stuff comes in.  To be or not to be. To hit your foster brother or not to hit your foster brother.

What also helped with the one episode is the episodes before it.

Dodge is a bully. He lies. He steals.  He's incredibly selfish. He's not at all likable.  However, in the last few episodes he started acting somewhat decent. He started getting along better with his young foster sister. He planned a surprise anniversary party for his foster parents. It seemed he wanted to change—that he wanted to be a good person.

Now he didn't fool me, because I read spoilers and knew he started the fire.  But knowing this and watching the Nice-Dodge episodes, I felt sad. I wished the spoilers were wrong and Dodge would end up as a decent bloke.

I'm really not doing justice to the episode. The magic was not in the plot...though that was lovely.  It was in the other stuff.

It's so hard to explain.

Maybe what's so beautiful about it is the basic theme—finding out that someone you adore is a person who has secretly caused a horrible disaster in your life.

I was trying to think of other examples and only came up with an opposite situation.  Sirius Black. But what if it was the the other way around? What if Harry Potter thought Sirius Black was his beloved godfather and it turned out he was the one who betrayed his parents?  Then that would be like Dodge and Steven.

I'm Sorry We Didn't Visit You

I had another one of my recurring dreams... or a variation, at least. It's all about forgetting or neglecting to visit friends when we're in Australia.

The dream was irrational, because I was in a room with Tracey, the friend I had neglected visiting. But why was I worried about not visiting her when we were face to face in a room?  Well, I think the face to face visit was symbolic of an internet conversation.  My dreaming mind seems to shy away from computers. Maybe it doesn't know how to create that prop inside my head. Case in point: I often dream about Minecraft, but I'm never sitting at my computer playing. The dreams always involve me being in the actual Minecraft setting.

Anyway. In the dream: I talk to Tracey. She's very friendly and jovial—doesn't seem offended that we failed to visit her. Still, I'm anxious about it and am trying to think of excuses in my head just in case she asks. Then I'm telling her about how we had problems on a flight—maybe left something? She thinks I'm talking about our trip home to Texas, and I almost correct her and say no it was a domestic flight from Melbourne to....(wherever else we went).  But then I stop myself. It's bad enough to go to Australia and not visit her, but it's really awful to go to her city and not visit her.  Again, I start trying to think of excuses in case she asks me questions. I'm thinking I'll say the reason we didn't want to visit is I know she's busy with work and stuff, and I didn't want her to get stressed out about having visitors.

I don't think my dreams are about me being a snob who doesn't make time to see friends. I think it's more about my insecurities about reaching out to people, worrying about rejection, and avoiding the whole thing by rejecting them first.  Then after I reject them to avoid being rejected, I worry I made a mistake.

On our last trip to Australia, I did reach out to certain people, risking the whole rejection thing. Out of five people, four said yes to seeing us.  Out of the four who said yes, I feel some of them met up with me only because they wanted to be nice and not make me feel rejected.  But then I think maybe I only asked them out of obligation.  So it could have been mutual.  HOWEVER....I think the reason I was wishy-washy about seeing some of them is because I wasn't sure how they felt about me. I sometimes have self-esteem issues.

Then there was a person I failed to contact, and when I came home he expressed regret over this. Shit. Oops.  But he didn't seem overly offended. And how do I know he really cared? Maybe he was just being nice.

I think my conclusion to all this is a it's a mess visiting a place where you have online friends and acquaintances. At least it is for me.

Before I end this post, I'm going to return to the subject of dreams.  Johnny Depp was featured in mine last night; though not in the Australian bit. He was related to us, or we were friends with him.  He was very nice. Then I did my usual reading of last year's dream, on this date, and I saw another Johnny Depp dream.

Johnny Depp is kind of random for me. It's random enough for me to have one dream about him. But for me to have two years in a row of dreaming about him on May 23? It's nuts.

I never know what to make of these coincidences.

Recently I read three novels in a row that had snake vs. human scenes. I feel that should be a message of some kind, but I don't know what it is.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

First Episode Of Offspring (spoiler warning)

Well, I think I'm hooked least for now.

I want to move back in with the Proudmans. 

At first, the imaginary ghost Patrick scenes felt like someone stomping on my heart. But then I got used to them, and I started thinking wouldn't it be cool if they continued? And Offspring could become a story about a woman and her imaginary ghost husband.   

I don't think that's going to happen. Didn't Matthew Le Nevez move to Los Angeles?

The episode reminded me a little bit of the season two premiere of Ugly Betty.  The whole love-in-your-imagination thing.

It also reminded me of Love My Way with the use of dead character flashbacks.

I hope Offspring doesn't end up being as depressing as Love My Way. Although both shows are excellent at showing all that raw grief stuff, I can imagine Offspring will go in a lighter direction.  

I'm wondering if Deborah Mailman and John Waters are going to make any appearances?  I hope so.  

Oh. I just thought of something. What if Le Nevez ended up hating Los Angeles, so he came back to Offspring?  

Well, no.  I just googled and according to this article he filmed scenes before leaving. I guess the good news is there's going to be scenes throughout season five. And I shouldn't really be wishing for an actor to hate Los Angeles. That's selfish of me.  

You know what's funny. When I started to watch the episode, I clicked the wrong button and ended up on the pilot episode. I saw Don Hany's name and thought, oh, they're bringing HIM back?  Really.  I was kind of annoyed, actually. I don't know why.  I liked him.  

But I liked Patrick more.

As I said in my last post, I have only enough gift card money to watch nine episodes.  I think there are going to be eleven, so...I'll have to miss two. Earlier today I used to pick two episodes to miss.  I ended up with 2 and 9.  After I finished watching the first episode, I thought...NO WAY. But now I'm feeling less intense. I think I can survive the deprivation.  If Nina can survive without Patrick, I bet I can survive not watching two episodes of Nina surviving without Patrick.  

To Watch or Not To Watch

Season 1 Cast
Our friends had Instagram posts that mentioned the upcoming new season of Offspring. They're very excited about it.

In a post from last year, I said I don't plan on watching the next season. Now I'm trying to decide if I want to take that back or not.

I'm over the whole death thing. Compared to what the How I Met Your Mother writers did with their finale, the Offspring thing is really no big deal.  Now that I think of it..I'm actually looking forward to seeing Nina manage the whole parenthood thing without Patrick. Last August I was dreading the whole thing and wanted to simply avoid it.

I guess what they say is true. Time heals all wounds...even those caused by TV shows.

Edited to Add: I just downloaded the first episode. I'm kind of hoping I DON'T like it, because I just realized I don't have enough money on my account to buy the whole season. Oops! I'm going to have to wait for another gift-giving occasion so I can ask for a gift card from Tim.  Or I can just skip two episodes. I'll probably do that...unless I get obsessed with the show again. I kind of doubt I will. My heart is with Home and Away and Neighbours these days.

Thanks to Neighbours, I've gotten used to missing episodes of TV shows. There are whole months missing for that show.  I feel like I'm in that season of Lost where they're all jumping through time.  
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Ghosts in Darling Harbour

Below is an excerpt from my new paranormal novel. It's not the first chapter but instead a chapter midway through that takes place in Sydney.

The characters in it are:

Loretta Hollows-An American expat married to an Aussie restaurant owner.

Mia Hollows-Loretta's seven-year-old daughter.

Brenda Hollows-Loretta's mother-in-law.

The story takes place in the near future. Life after death has been accepted as fact and people easily talk to their dead friends and relatives via the Internet.  

Note: In the novel, EB=earthbound spirit.  OS=Spirit who has crossed over to the Other Side.  

In the backseat of a chauffeured car, Loretta looks out the window while Mia chatters away with her grandmother who sits in the front seat with the driver. Despite the mild winter chill, Mia is wearing her favorite yellow sandals with sparkles. She had insisted and Loretta decided not to fight her on it. They'd be spending most of the day indoors, anyway.  

Loretta has taken the day off from helping her husband at the restaurant, and with her mother-in-law, she's taking Mia to Darling Harbour.  

In the past, Loretta has always taken the train to Wynyard station; then gone from there. Now they have money, though, so William offered to hire a driver. Loretta was fine with this, though she feels a bit guilty about not doing what's more environmentally responsible.

She will be giving her daughter a little taste of public transportation, not that it helps with the environment, necessarily. But children tend to like those things. They're being dropped off at Circular Quay; then they're going to take the ferry from there. This way they can see the Opera House.

"Did you hear," Brenda says, "that Darling Harbour has a place where you can pay to talk to deceased strangers?"

The driver inserts himself into the conversation by shaking his head and sighing. 

"Can we do that?" Mia asks.

"I don't think so, Mia." Loretta says. "It's not on our pass." They've purchased the Merlin Pass, which, for a single price, gets them into the aquarium, Wildlife Sydney, and the wax museum. Besides you have Zachary and Hayden. You know some people have no spirits to talk to."

"That's like Jayne in my class. She get sad, because we all have spirits and she doesn't."

"Exactly," Loretta says.

"So, she could go to this place in Darling Harbour. I should tell her about it," Mia says.  

"That would be nice of you," Loretta says.

"I wonder how much it costs," Brenda says.  

"I bet it's not cheap," the driver says.

Loretta is tempted to say, "Neither is hiring you as a driver." She gives a little laugh.

"What's so funny?" Mia asks.

"Just thinking about something."  

"Thinking about what?"

Loretta tries to change the subject. "I think the last time we were in Sydney you were five. Or were you four?"

"Five," Mia says. "It was just before we went to America to see Grandma."

"You're quite talkative," the driver comments.  He doesn't say it in an insulting way which is good, because otherwise Loretta would be tempted to hit him. She doesn't like having violent thoughts.

"It's been about that long since I've been here as well," Brenda says.

"No," Mia says. "Remember you and Grandpa went to that concert at the Opera House last winter."

"Oh!  I forgot about that."

"You might have Alzheimer's," Mia says. "It makes you forget things.  Marsha's grandma has it."

The adults, in the car, all crack up a bit.

"You might end up forgetting about me, so it's not that funny,"

"You're right," Loretta says. "It's not a funny disease.  It's really sad. But Mia, I think Grandma’s okay."

"For now," Brenda adds.

"Everyone forgets things sometimes," the driver says. "Don't you?"

"Yes," Mia says.  "But I'm very young.  People my age don't get Alzheimer's, so I'm not worried about it."

Mia continues to talk about various things. Loretta half listens as she looks out the window. She chides herself for not coming into the city more. When she first moved here to be with William, they visited Sydney almost every weekend.  After awhile, the visits turned monthly. The time between visits kept stretching and by the time Mia was in their lives, they were going less than yearly.
Life is short.  You have to make the best of it.

It takes almost a minute for Loretta to realize that philosophy doesn't quite apply anymore. She grins. So yeah. Who needs to worry anymore? If worse comes to worse (which won't be that bad) she'll be an EB for awhile and roam Sydney. She can go to the attractions for free. Spirits don't need a Merlin pass.

                                                                     * * *

After the driver drops them off, they trot up the steps of the Opera House.

They have a few minutes before they need to go to the wharf to catch the 10:55 ferry. Loretta had wanted to go earlier, but Mia’s a late sleeper.

"Did you know that the person who designed the Opera House wasn't Australian?" Mia asks Loretta.

"Yeah, I think I heard that," Loretta replies. Sometimes she doesn't know if she should play dumb with her daughter so Mia can feel smart, or if doing that will turn Mia into a know-it-all.

"He never got to see it," Brenda adds to the conversation.  

"I know," Mia says with dramatic flair. "Isn't it tragic?"

They reach the top of the steps. Mia does a twirl; then says, "Let's take a photo!"

"Good idea," Brenda says.

Loretta looks around. A lot of other people are snapping pictures. Several of them hold their tablets and iPhones up with their spirit-friends smiling from the screen. This way the spirits can be in the photo as well.  

Brenda takes out her mobile and Loretta takes out her camera. They take turns photographing each other with Mia.

"Now I'll take a picture of you two!" Mia says. Loretta and her mother-in-law put their arms around each other. Mia takes a picture with her mother's camera, then with her grandmother's iPhone.  

"We better get going," Loretta says. "We don't want to miss the ferry."

                                                                 * * *

On the way to the wharf, they pass a chocolate cafe. Loretta loves a cup of healthy herbal tea, but sometimes it's nice to splurge and have a hot chocolate or Cappuccino.  

Maybe it wouldn't hurt if they went on a later ferry.

Should they stop?

Loretta can't decide, but she does slow down a bit.  

She'll leave it up to Mia. If Mia suggests they stop, Loretta won't say no. If Mia doesn't ask, Loretta will take it to mean it isn't meant to be.

To her disappointment, Mia says nothing except, "Mummy hurry, we're going to be late!"

Loretta picks up the pace. Mia runs ahead.

"Don't go too far ahead," Loretta calls out.

They get to Circular Quay and search for the correct ferry.

It's crowded and there's no place to sit.

Mia doesn't seem to mind. She dances as they wait for the ferry to arrive.

Finally it does and they board.

They find seats inside and give Mia the seat near the window.

As they pass the giant clown mouth of Luna Park, Mia announces. "That's going to be my place when I die. I'm going to hang out there."

"Really," Brenda says.  "Did you just decide that?"

"No, I've had it planned for months." Mia says. Loretta wonders if it's true.

"You know we can also go there when you're alive. Someday."

"Really?" Mia says. "Today?"

"Probably not," Loretta says. Yes, they have more money now, but there's no need to throw a huge amount away in a single day.   

When they stop at McMahon's point, Loretta looks at the lovely homes. She wonders what it would be like to live right there on the harbor.  

Probably wonderful.

Maybe the restaurant will keep going well, and someday—

She has to admit she doesn't hate the idea. Although then they'll probably need to move the restaurant.  Otherwise, it will be too much of a commute for William.

Loretta looks at Mia looking out the window. "Do you like it here?"

"Yes," Mia says. "It's heavenly."

                                                                   * * *

When they get off the ferry at Darling Harbour, they go to the aquarium first. Loretta's a bit hungry, probably from seeing the chocolate and then having to forgo it. She figures she can wait a short while to see the fish and sharks first.  

Two hours later, they're still in the aquarium. Loretta is starving and exhausted...also embarrassed because Brenda, who is in her seventies, has more stamina. She keeps busy taking photos of Mia looking at all the animals.  

Mia hasn't slowed down a bit. Her legs are full of energy; so is her mouth.

Their favorite exhibits are the leafy sea dragons and sharks; though by the time they get to the tunnel with the sharks, Loretta longs for her bed. Helping her husband at the restaurant is less tiring than this. 

She can't believe they still have Wildlife Sydney and the wax museum left to see.

Before they go into the indoor wildlife park, Loretta insists on getting something to eat.  Neither Brenda nor Mia argue against this plan.  

They look around for a place to eat and Loretta’s very pleased to see another chocolate cafe. This time Loretta doesn't leave it up to fate and her daughter to suggest eating there. She says she'd like to eat there and then hopes Brenda and her daughter don't have healthier plans.

"Yes!" Mia says jumping up and down. "Chocolate for lunch! Chocolate for lunch! I have the best Mummy in the world!"

Brenda and Loretta look at each other and laugh.  

In the cafe, they share a waffle sundae and each get a macaron—salted caramel for Loretta, chocolate banana for Mia, and pistachio for Brenda.  

The food's overpriced, and they've eaten way too much sugar in one sitting, but Loretta refuses to regret it.  She'll dance a little harder next week.

                                                                    * * *

On the walk back to Wildlife Sydney, they pass the attraction Brenda had spoken about in the car.  It's called Ouija Board.  There's a long line of people outside, most of them teenagers, but a few adults are there as well.   

Haunting new age music plays in the area. There's an informational sign posted near the line.  Brenda stops to read. Loretta reads over her shoulder.

Ouija Board was started for those of us who long to join in the fantastic new development of communicative connections between the living and spirit world, but don't yet have adequate opportunities. For a minimal fee, we will connect you to EB's and OS's who will be strangers at first, but very likely will become your friends.  

Loretta looks at the prices. It's $35 for a twenty minute chat and a hundred dollars for an hour. It's ludicrous Talk about taking advantage. It makes her awfully glad they haven't exploited their restaurant patrons.  Yes, they're making money now, but it's only because the twins have made their restaurant more popular. They haven't raised menu prices and they don’t charge any admission fees.
They do sell merchandise. Is that exploiting?  But a lot of restaurants sell merchandise. Loretta doesn't think it's a bad thing.  But it’s bad to exploit people's need to meet friends—whether dead or alive.

She wonders where all these teenagers are getting the money for this.

"Mummy, can we go." Mia says, looking bored. "My feet are getting cold."

Loretta bites the urge to comment on Mia's choice to wear sandals.

"We'll go when Grandma's ready," Loretta says.

"I'm ready." Brenda says.

They continue their journey to Wildlife Sydney.

By the time they get to the Southern Cassowary, Loretta crashes from her chocolate high.  Mia slows down a bit as well. While at the aquarium she stopped to study and lecture about each animal, here she rushes through everything.

They get through the whole building in less than twenty minutes. It's a shame because there's a lot to see.

The good thing is the pass gives them unlimited admission for the year, so they can come back and savor it a bit.

With that in mind, Loretta wonders if they should simply skip the wax museum and do it another day.  But then she wonders, what if they don't come back in a year?  It's not like they have an impressive track record when it comes to visiting the city.

She decides to leave it up to her daughter and mother-in-law.

She asks. They leave it up to her.

Should they go or not go?

It takes them about five minutes to decide what to do.

They decide to go, which is a mistake. The attraction's packed. It's always crowded, but it just so happens they ended up visiting at 3:00 which is when the museum holds their CHAT WITH THE WAX! You don't literally chat with the wax figure. You chat to the spirit depicted by the wax figure. And you don't really chat; it's not like a personal conversation. A crowd gathers by a large computer screen as the spirit talks about his or her life.  

Today they're featuring Victor Chang, a heroic heart surgeon, who was tragically murdered.  

Loretta sees it all from afar. It's too crowded to hear or see much. Plus, now Mia has begun to get cranky.

They walk to the ferry wharf. Mia complains about her feet and her stomach hurting. "You shouldn't have let me eat chocolate for lunch. That's not good parenting."

Loretta takes her medicine. She deserves it. But then she dishes out some of her own. "And you shouldn't have worn sandals."

"You're right," Mia says.

Brenda smiles at both of them. "I'm partly to blame as well. I could have stopped both of you from making these horrific mistakes and I didn't."

"So true," Loretta says. "You're a horrible mother-in-law."

"And a horrible grandma!" Mia adds.

They get to the wharf and find they just missed the ferry. They'll have to wait twenty-minutes and there's no where to sit.

They all stand. Mia leans on Loretta and closes her eyes. Loretta has a hard time dealing with the extra weight.  She's close to collapsing.   

On Amazon!


I have a daily routine of watching old episodes of famous Australian soap operas—Neighbours and Home and Away.

I started watching Home and Away months before I started with Neighbours.  

I became emotionally attached to Home and Away. With Neighbours, I didn't feel much love. I watched it more as a cultural enrichment project. I wondered if time would change that, and I'd eventually feel some kind of attachment eventually.

Well, I think it's happened.

Last week I took a day off from my soap operas because I wanted to spend the whole day on editing. I imagined I'd miss Home and Away. To my surprise, I ended up missing Neighbours.  

I think the love is there now.

My favorite character is Jim Robinson. Right now, there's a storyline where he's in love with a younger woman, and his family's being really nasty about it. I'd have more sympathy for their jealousy and resentment if it weren't for the fact that they chased his last love away as well.  

It's not like Jim Robinson has been rude about it. It's not like he sat his kids down and said, I want to tell you about your beloved mother who's no longer with us, and then instead talked on and on about some other woman he's carried a torch for during the last few decades.  

The other new development in my relationship to Neighbours: when I look at Jim Robinson I no longer see a younger version of Bradford Meade.  

Speaking of Bradford Meade....last night I dreamed some other TV show was going to become a sort of spin-off of Ugly Betty.  They were going to have Betty become a character on this other show.  I think it was New Girl.   Jess and Becky could become friends.  I would LOVE it if that dream came true.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Careful What You Say. I May Write About It

This week I read book two of John Marsden's Tomorrow series.

Ellie and her friends are in the midst of a war caused by an invasion of Australia.  As all this is going on, Ellie's writing it down. I can't remember what happened in book one, but I think either her friends found the journal, or she shared it with them. Because then in book two, there's talk of her friends being upset about what she wrote. And there are scenes in the second book where people talk to her; then ask if she's going to write down the conversation.

I thought about how it would be awkward talking to someone in that situation—knowing they might record the conversation.

Then I remembered my Australia trip reports.

I didn't write down every little thing that happened during our 2009 Australia trip.  But I did write quite a lot.

It's making me wonder. We visited people in 2013—people who had read my trip reports.  Were they expecting it to happen again?  And if they were, did it make them nervous?  Did they like the idea? Were they worried that I might reveal something too private?  Well, no one said anything like, Dina, can you please not write about this in your blog.

Oh!  You know. There's Tim and Jack as well. Did they think about my future blog posts while we were on the trip?

Well, guess what. Perfect timing. Tim just walked into the room. I asked him if he ever thought during our trip, Is Dina going to write about this?

He said no.   

I guess it's good news. Maybe it means I succeed in not crossing the line when making trip reports. Maybe (hopefully) I know when to keep quiet. Or maybe the people I know are more tolerant than Ellie's friends.

I didn't write day by day detailed reports for the 2013 trip—mainly because I was feeling guarded about my own feelings at that time.  It's hard to do my type of writing when I'm in those moods. I managed to write a few posts about the trips. 

And I made videos.  I'm not sure if I regret that or not.


I kind of do (regret it).  Writing the trip reports was fun and helped me process everything. It also felt like I was reliving the whole experience.  In a way, it felt like our 2009 trip happened twice.

The videos were frustrating. I think I'm pretty good at editing and adding music. I'm not so good at getting the footage. I watch the videos and understand that most people aren't going to know what's going on. The videos are lacking a decent narrative.

The more I think about it, the more I regret it.  But...such is life.

I guess all is not lost. I still remember a lot. I'm not going to go back and do trip reports fourteen months after the fact.  But when I remember stuff, maybe sometimes I'll turn it into a random blog post.

Here's a memory for now.  I got so tired of food when we were in Australia.  I mean I still had an appetite, but there wasn't much left that sounded good to me. I was especially tired of thinking about food and figuring out what to eat. I was tempted to say, I'll just eat Weet-Bix Bites. That was about the only food I had strong cravings for at that point.  Oh...and well, I was probably still lusting after chocolate.  

Then a day or so before we went to Halls Gap, there was intense heated discussions about what our meals there were going to be. There were going to be only two nights where we were all together and more than two meal ideas that people eagerly wanted. I can't remember what they were now, but we ended up with Mexican and breakfast for dinner. The whole conversation stressed me out, and all I cared about, in terms of our upcoming Halls Gap adventure, was seeing parrots and kangaroos. I was frustrated and in a sensitive mood, which led me to being insulted when Tim and our friend started discussing what they'd feed me on the night that part of our group was together, and they were eating a meat dish. Tim and our friend are both gourmet chefs. It makes sense that they'd want to take care of me with their talent.  But at the time, I took it to mean they thought I couldn't manage to cook a simple meal for myself.

I started to cry right there at dinner. I mean I wasn't bawling or anything. Tears weren't streaming down my face. But I got really quiet and my eyes were probably red. I was at that point where I couldn't answer people when they addressed me, because if I did, I WOULD start bawling.  


Last night I dreamed about wanting to go back to Australia. I thought about it; then realized no matter how many times I visit, it's not going to be enough. I'm going to keep wanting more.

It's strange because in my real life I feel okay about not going back. My attitude has been, I'll go when I'm fifty. Maybe. If I don't go, that's fine too.

I guess my subconscious wants different things than my conscious self.

It's fitting. I suppose. It was my dreams that got me into Australia in the first place.

You know what would be a great solution?  If I visited Australia every night in my dreams. That way my dream self gets what she wants, but we'll save a ton of money and won't have to endure the long Qantas flight.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Recurring Dreams and Other Stuff

I was just thinking how I have three recurring dreams about Australia.

1. We're in Australia and it's our last day there.  I think maybe there's some sadness and regret.

2. We're in Australia and I've forgotten to contact certain friends. I feel guilty and make excuses to myself. (Maybe this is often combined with the first one)

3. I make plans to go to Australia alone, but when it comes time for the plane ride, I feel sick about leaving Tim and Jack.

I feel I should say more, but I'm at a loss for least when it comes to the subject of my recurring Australia dreams.

So, let's change the subject.....

Des on Neighbours reminds me of Marshall on How I Met Your Mother.

In the episodes I'm watching lately, Guy Pearce plays this sweet young guy who has the hots for this really snobby brat. It's fun to see someone famous and successful back when they were less famous and successful.

Today I was looking at quotes on GoodReads. There was one from JK Rowling in which she mentioned the whole thing of saying Candyman three times in a mirror. It made me think that at one time she was an average movie-goer person; not a famous writer.  

Then you have all these actors on 1980's Home and Away and Neighbours. I'm guessing they were pretty famous back in the day. Now a lot of them have vanished from the limelight.

It's funny how things change.

And sometimes it's sad.

This week on my Home and Away episodes, Roo Stewart left Summer Bay. I liked her, so I'm not liking that change.  Thanks to spoilers, I'm already sad about future changes. Such as Tom Fletcher drowning and the Pippa Fletcher actress-switch.  One day Martin and Lance are going to go away. They annoy me sometimes, but I can't imagine Home and Away without them.