Masculinity and Women of Hard Headed Repute #zerotohero

The [lazy?] days of Summer and the Zero to Hero assignments seem to be whizzing by.

Time to don the cape, the super hero boots and the golden lasso and practice leaping off a few blog posts in a single bound.

Most of the assignments since I last checked in have involved blog tinkering including adding some widgets, Spring cleaning of the blog’s about page and side bar and honing commenting skills. However, there are a couple of assignments that require a blog post

Day 12:  write a post that builds on one of the comments you left yesterday. Don’t forget to link to the other blog!

Day 16: publish a post based on your own, personalized take on today’s Daily Prompt. The Prompt on the day being:

Do you have a reputation? What is it, and where did it come from? Is it accurate? What do you think about it?

In the interests of energy conservation, I am going to combine the two assignments in this one post.

On day 12, I commented on a wonderful post by BTG who blogs at musingsofanoldfart. The post entitled, I Am Looking for a Hard Headed Woman discussed the lyrics of the Cat Stevens’ song of the same name and gave BTG’s take on what a “hard headed woman” means to him, drawing particularly on two lines of the song:

  • one who will take me for myself
  • one who will make me do my best

and finally counting his blessings in having married a hard headed woman. It was a heartfelt post from a blogger who uses his vast knowledge of music and lyrics to shine a spotlight on the more meaningful events of a human life.

touch womanIt is extremely refreshing to see a male acknowledge his love and appreciation for a hard headed woman. I firmly believe that most men love a hard headed woman, but there is something in the ‘How Men Should Act Code” that prevents them from publicly making this admission. But have a think about it, how many families do you know where the wife/woman leads the way? She may not do it openly for a clever woman knows never to make her mate feel emasculated, but how many times is she truly the family brains trust? How many times is she the resilient one, how many times is she the one that pushes the family beyond its collective comfort zone and introduces it to novel experiences? How many times does she credit her mate with spearheading the charge?

So what does being heard headed woman mean to me?

A hard headed woman is one who is willing to make decisions – tough, easy, makes no difference, there is no inertia with a hard headed woman. She is one who is less worried about chipping a nail and more about rolling up her sleeves, one who owns the consequences of her actions and omissions, one who will defend her family no matter what, one who moves the family forward with due thought and care but who does not feel the need for ask for permission and one who knows where she is going.

She makes her mate feel central to her processes and tries to cloak her sterner stuff in feminine warmth and softness.

As the song says one who makes her mate do his best.

If I could choose to have a reputation it would be as a hard headed woman in the manner I have described. Have I achieved it? UnderestimatingThat’s impossible to answer as it is akin to asking someone to answer their own “Does my bum look big in this?” question. Just like it is difficult to see how one’s own backside looks, it is very difficult to judge one’s own reputation. To do so would necessitate holding up a mirror to one’s interactions with others and interpreting what is reflected back. A rather inaccurate process.

Thank you BTG for making the admission about hard headed women. It is hoped that more men take your lead and publicly confess to their secret appreciation for us. A hard headed woman is a perfect complement to a strong, soft hearted man. A note to you men, strong and soft heartedness are not mutually exclusive. In a woman’s eyes you can be both and perhaps the collective male psych will evolve one day to also reach that happy place.

For further reference, read The New Manhood by Steve Biddulph. Also, a must read for mothers with sons.

The World According to Low Cost Airlines #zerotohero

Assignment 5: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you have. Include at least one you would never think of using.

Assignment 6: publish a post that includes a new-to-you element.

One of the shows I used to watch with monotonous regularity in the early noughties was Airline. The show gave a fascinating glimpse into the operations of a UK based low cost airline, EasyJet operating out of Luton airport. Whilst air travel is meant to be glamorous, this show gave a no holes barred look at the travel industry, human nature and low margins.

Here’s a classic episode:

Fascinated by the myriad of personalities which featured in the show and the myriad of problems they encountered, I was hooked. Human beings are such fascinating creatures and holidays seem to bring out the best and worst of us. The show centred around conflicts and conflict resolution and how Easy Jet dealt with their delightful difficult customers in dealing with the complexity and unpredictability of air travel.

From the show I learned that:

  • low cost airlines have only a small window of opportunity for their aircraft to depart
  • they will not hold boarding open even for five extra minutes
  • there is nothing you can say to a low cost carrier to let you on the aircraft if you arrive late
  • losing your nut is particularly ineffective when trying to resolve conflict and only attracts tv cameras
  • I never want to go Luton airport
  • there is no story you can tell a low cost airline that it has not heard before.

Roll the film forward to 2006 and in a particularly non lucid moment, I booked an internal Europe flight with Easy Jet. 2006 was a time when the self help travel industry was in a fledging state and travel forums like Trip Adviser were largely centred on accommodation. There were little or few internet forums discussing travel and I had yet taken to social media. None of that stopped me though from booking the family holiday to Europe from beginning to end myself. The hardest part was booking the Europe domestic flights because I knew nothing about that market. So recalling Airline I went with Easy Jet on a flight from London to Athens.

The only thing was it left just after 6.00am…. from Gatwick airport…miles out of London. At 4.30am the trains to Gatwick don’t run. How lucky that the limo driving friend of the hotel receptionist did. How unlucky that we got onto the freeway and it was blocked by police due to a traffic incident. How unlucky that driver dude had to stop for gas. How even unluckier that driver dud took twenty minutes to fill the tank and whatever else he did when he disappeared into the gas station shop.

You know where this is headed, don’t you?

That’s right, our own Easy Jet moment. Arrived five minutes too late for boarding. Frustration welled up and our only day in Athens flashed before my eyes. This was the day we were to conquer the Acropolis. Instead, I was waiting for the Airline cameras to arrive to film my pleas for clemency. Yes, they would still take us, but next flight out was 13 hours away. In the end we took a flight with another airline, had a wonderful evening twilight and ate the most amazing Feta whilst gazing up at the backlit Acropolis. However to this day, my bottom has not graced an Easy Jet seat.

Then I vowed never to use another low cost airline.

Well, until last weekend. I am currently DIYing the bookings for our European vacation later this year and this time I have no lack of information for an excuse. However, the flight I wanted, the one on the right day at the right time is operated by a low cost airline. This time, the friendly Norwegian Air Shuttle. I’m not going to bore you with the whole sorry saga of why I had to change the booking ten minutes after I made it, but a call to Norway was on the cards. After dialling the number, I received a wonderful friendly greeting in Norwegian which then lyrically read through the phone menu in Norwegian for about five minutes. The very last sentence of which was “If you would like to hear the options in English please press 0”. The English version took 1 minute after which I found myself on hold having been told their website was experiencing problems which meant an unusually high call volume. Lucky me, I chose the one day when Scandinavian efficiency was on holiday. After about 10 minutes a most pleasant young Norwegian man broke through the musac peaking brilliantly in English. He listened to my plight with enthusiasm and empathy after which he thought he had to decline my request but would speak to his supervisor.

They must have been having coffee because it took a while. And he apologised profusely for keeping me on hold before officially declining to make the change request. He then apologised profusely for keeping me waiting once again and again once more before finally ending the call. Clearly, this guy did not talk to Australians every day.

He was so freaking’ polite and nice. And he had such a cool accent. So I bottled up my frustration and wrote a few non frustrated emails to sort out the issue. Here are a few examples of Norwegian’s friendliness from their twitter feed. They are so thoughtful that even their planes have thought bubbles.

I am pleased to report that since my conversation with Norway, Norwegian Airlines have since come to my European party in all of its orange and white livery.

So takk så mye, Norwegian Airlines . You have given me my right of passage and also the vehicle for learning how to embed a tweet into my blog posts. And for this, you deserve a

thumbs-up-smiley-hi

Now, if we can only make the flight…

PS. As for the theme assignment, I did this on my own over the Christmas break. White on black or black on white? That is the question. I almost went with a black background this time, but reverted to the white side at the last minute.

A straw poll: What do you prefer dark skin, light writing or light skin with dark writing?

Zero to Hero Assignment 1: The Existential Guide to What I Am Doing Here

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

Warning: This post is unsually long and deep.

The WordPress Commissioners clearly don’t muck around.  They’ve gone straight for the juggler on day 1 with a rather a deep exercise in blogging existentialism. And with many thanks to Wikipedia, I will use the main concepts of existentialism to try to answer this most pertinent question.

Existence Precedes Essence

According to Wikipedia:

A central proposition of Existentialism is that existence precedes essence, which means that the most important consideration for individuals is the fact that they are an individual—an independently acting and responsible, conscious being (“existence”)—rather than what labels, roles, stereotypes, definitions, or other preconceived categories the individual fits (“essence”). The actual life of the individual is what constitutes what could be called their “true essence” instead of there being an arbitrarily attributed essence others use to define them.

midelife recreationOne of the main reasons for starting my blog was to better understand the changes that were coming at me as I was approaching middle age. Hence the name of this blog, Raising The Curtain. I felt that writing about the uncertainties I was experiencing would assist to focus my strategy in dealing with and understanding the changes. I also felt that writing about things which generally were only talked about behind the curtain and to the select few, may help others going through the same thing. This was and is  my vehicle to deal with middle ageing with irreverence and authenticity.

The Absurd 

Once again from Wikipedia:

The notion of the Absurd contains the idea that there is no meaning in the world beyond what meaning we give it….Because of the world’s absurdity, at any point in time, anything can happen to anyone, and a tragic event could plummet someone into direct confrontation with the Absurd.

This blog is definitely about the absurd. In it, I try to highlight the absurdity of life and laugh in its face. There is no better way to deal with absurdity than through humour, because no matter what else you do life will keep throwing it at you. This blog looks at the absurd in a way that conveys the notion that we are all at the mercy of life’s absurdities and none of us is really any more silly (or better) than any one else.

Facticity

More Wikipedia mastery:

Facticity is both a limitation and a condition of freedom. It is a limitation in that a large part of one’s facticity consists of things one couldn’t have chosen (birthplace, etc.), but a condition in the sense that one’s values most likely depend on it. However, even though one’s facticity is “set in stone” (as being past, for instance), it cannot determine a person: The value ascribed to one’s facticity is still ascribed to it freely by that person. As an example, consider two men, one of whom has no memory of his past and the other remembers everything. They have both committed many crimes, but the first man, knowing nothing about this, leads a rather normal life while the second man, feeling trapped by his own past, continues a life of crime, blaming his own past for “trapping” him in this life. There is nothing essential about his committing crimes, but he ascribes this meaning to his past.

However, to disregard one’s facticity when, in the continual process of self-making, one projects oneself into the future, would be to put oneself in denial of oneself, and would thus be inauthentic. In other words, the origin of one’s projection must still be one’s facticity, though in the mode of not being it (essentially). Another aspect of facticity is that it entails angst, both in the sense that freedom “produces” angst when limited by facticity, and in the sense that the lack of the possibility of having facticity to “step in” for one to take responsibility for something one has done also produces angst.

This concept is highly relevant to this blog. In reaching middle age I instinctively understand that I have to let go of old notions that no longer serve me. Whilst most of my perceptions and learned behaviours from the past have served me well to this point, they are not going to do so going forward and in fact may be a hindrance to my further growth. I therefore have to ascribe a far lesser importance to them, but recognise that ultimately I am who I am. This blog is a journal of sorts of my personal journey and I have much still to learn. However I do know, that if we needlessly hold onto outer beauty, we may miss seeing our inner beauty which is far more sustainable in the long term.

Authenticity

More wonderful words from Wikipedia:

Many noted existentialist writers consider the theme of authentic existence important. Authentic existence involves the idea that one has to “create oneself” and then live in accordance with this self. What is meant by authenticity is that in acting, one should act as oneself, not as “one” acts or as “one’s genes” or any other essence requires. The authentic act is one that is in accordance with one’s freedom.

Living authentically is extremely important to me and authenticity is the  main quality I look for in others. Middle age has a tendency man is nothing elseto hone one’s bullshit radar and frankly, I have had enough of dealing with it to last three lifetimes. With this blog, I strive to write authentically and to put a piece of myself in each blog post. These stories of me and my life are real. My writing is real. My comments are real and the connection that comes from me to fellow bloggers is real. This blog is designed for those whose feet are firmly placed on the ground, no matter how high they may soar or how low they may go. It’s my good, my bad and my ugly. Leave your masks at the door.

The Other and the Look

From you know where:

To clarify, when one experiences someone else, and this Other person experiences the world (the same world that a person experiences), only from “over there”, the world itself is constituted as objective in that it is something that is “there” as identical for both of the subjects; a person experiences the other person as experiencing the same things. This experience of the Other’s look is what is termed the Look (sometimes the Gaze).

This blog is also about being introduced to others’ perspectives, about the ebb and flow of conversation, about learning new things and exchanging ideas. The comments that I have received over the time I have been blogging contain a treasure trove of information, insights and viewpoints. We all exist in the objective WordPress world but each blog has its own community. This blog is about building community and contributing to community.

Angst and Despair

Wikipedia says:

Angst is often described as a drama an adolescent troubles with during their developmental years. This adolescent trouble or self-loathing is often tied to sexual attractiveness, both males and females often feel this angst and worry that they will not find both a partner or romantic conditional love for who they are. As adolescents face the prospect of adulthood where they must take control of their life the dread of both facing life alone and the fear of freedom and responsibility often lead to depression.

and:

Despair, in existentialism, is generally defined as a loss of hope.[ More specifically, it is a loss of hope in reaction to a breakdown in one or more of the defining qualities of one’s self or identity. If a person is invested in being a particular thing, such as a bus driver or an upstanding citizen, and then finds his being-thing compromised, he would normally be found in state of despair — a hopeless state. For example, a singer who loses the ability to sing may despair if she has nothing else to fall back on—nothing to rely on for her identity. She finds herself unable to be what defined her being.

Generally, I am not an angsty or despairing person. However, I realised approaching middle age that if I didn’t externalize some of what I was feeling, I would be dealing with it longer than I needed to. Hence this blog. Moreover, in surfing the Net for material on middle age, I was struck by the negativity and the sense of loss that surrounded the process. I have not been feeling either and in fact was rather positive about the changes being wrought (even through I was struggling to understand them fully) and I wanted to contribute positive dialogue to the conversation. I have since discovered that there are more than a few bloggers here who are tackling middle age and ageing in general in their positively individualistic styles and they have proved an inspiration. I only hope that I can inspire others.

I also blog because I am the mother of two teenage sons. That should be enough said, but once again I turn to this blog and humour to deal with the trials, tribulations and the joys of parenting teens. I need to be resilient to deal with their angst and despair and this blog is one of my vehicles.

I hope I have adequately answered this first assignment and given you some insights into why I do what I do here.

As a last word, my blog is intended to be mostly humorous. Less often it is serious and reflective. Humour though is the glue that bonds the reflections in this blog together and it is the tie that generally binds me to my readers and fellow bloggers and they to me. Humour can be mistaken for those that don’t seek it as a sign of lack of intelligence or immaturity. Approaching this blog in that vein underestimates it and the writer and ignores the messages. To do so would be the biggest tragedy of all.

Two posts in one day. I know, right!

Come on, baby, spend Christmas with me!

After it’s debut on the WordPress blogging scene last Christmas, Company For Christmas (C4C) is back again. C4C is a blog site run by volunteer bloggers from all over this great globe spreading Christmas cheer and connection to those who may need it. Or to those who just want to hang out on Christmas Day on an island of sanity in an ocean of craziness. Last year it became a marshalling point for those who just wanted to chat or get to know other bloggers.
So come along, check it out and help out if you want to. Just let Rarasaur know if you would like to be added to the volunteer list. Last year’s experience was a real positive one with the initiative gathering momentum as Christmas was celebrated around the world.
C4C where Christmas lasts at least 36 hours!

Mother of Sons? You Might Just Be A Ladybromum

Weekends are for blowing away the weekday cobwebs and what better way to start the process than by reading the weekend papers?

Weekend papers contain all sorts of intriguing nuggets and tidbits that are wonderfully self contained. One of these nuggets is a little feature called “Dictionary For The Modern World” which introduces readers to modern day linguistics by describing words and their meaning. Today’s word was ladybro:

A ladybro is a man’s female friend (or girlfriend) who is cool enough to hang with the boys. She must share their appreciation of beer, sport and all forms of humour involving bodily secretions. Princesses need not apply.

This little snippet caught my eye for several reasons. Firstly, I have always regarded myself as a bit of a ladybro (although in my day the term was probably “tomboy”) without the liking for beer. I have played wingman for my guy friends, attended many a sporting event with them,  laughed at their fart jokes and judged burping contests. If that grosses you out, then maybe you should take your kitten heels and jump off this post here. Don’t get me wrong, I can do ladylike. It’s just that it’s way too much work, so its reserved for special or mandatory occasions.

I’m also the mother of sons, not daughters, so naturally found this definition highly relevant to my adult parenting life.

And being the punster and blog writer that I am, I naturally concluded after seeing this definition that there should be a parental variant, ladybromum:

A mother of sons who is cool enough to hang with them. She must share their appreciation for cereal at all hours of the day and night, sport, computers and all forms of humour involving bodily secretions (and never admit to that in polite company). She must give as good as she gets and never wear pink, but must enjoy a good wrestle and endure being tickled. Princesses will be eaten.

So are you or would you want to be a ladybromum?

son quoteFor me the answer is a resounding yes. The state of ladybromumness is about fun and connection and some parenting messages are best delivered in ladybromum mode. The stuff about cleaning rooms, folding laundry, rinsing dishes are far more effective delivered in ladybromum mode. The alternative is seen as nagging and is eminently forgettable. And of course some of the most poignant moments of parenting involve bodily secretion humour. It’s the great leveler. No one is immune as much as polite society may think otherwise.

And as a ladybromum you really know you have made it to the top when your sons invite their friends over and don’t immediately shoo you out of the room or when you are invited to share a big bowl of Cheerios at 3am in the morning.

So ladybromums unite. One day your sons will thank you for your fortitude, authenticity and relaxed attitudes by introducing you to their very own ladybro. By which time all that play wrestling with your sons will have well and truly payed off.

Ladybromum solidarity forever!

No Nuts Please We Are British

No doubt you have seen the latest reports from the News of The World phone hacking trial about HRH (aka the Queen) and her nuts. This is a priceless little piece about alleged pilfering by police of HRH’s nut mix and HRH’s displeasure at her finest “scoffing the lot”. Google “The Queen and Nuts” and you will find pages of articles reporting this juicy salty morsel. If you missed the story you can read about it here.

CrownNow, I preface the comments I make about this story with a statement that I am rather fond of HRH and the monarchy in general. Whilst we Australians flirt with the idea of becoming a republic, we haven’t quite succeeded in breaking the monarchical apron strings. Our head of state is still HRH’s representative although she (presently, anyway) is an Australian. So this piece is not about that particular debate and nor is it intended to bash the monarchy.

But really, how can this story go past without comment? It is just too precious.

We learn that HRH apparently prefers savory over sweet and that to meet this need, staff leave out cashews, Bombay Mix and almonds in the hallways of Buckingham Palace. Although some outlets have reported that the nuts were left out in advance for wedding guests of Charles and Camilla, it seems they were firmly intended as a permanent, rather than an event driven, fixture to satisfy HRH’s salty tooth. We also learn that HRH sensing something was amiss marked the level of the bowls with a marker to determine their levels.

One can’t help but applaud HRH’s sleuthing skills and scientific approach. Not for HRH is sitting and waiting to catch the thieves. Clearly HRH understands the merits of forensics and one can’t help but wonder if HRH is a fan of NCIS. And all of this done with a degree of stealth that not even the police detected. One wonders how HRH eliminated the corgis as suspects.

However, one can’t also help but wonder whether the corridors of Buckingham Palace are really so large and long that Bombay MixHRH’s nut cravings have to be met mid transit. Does HRH not have a passel of ladies in waiting and butlers who could bring HRH fresh nuts in her private chambers so the constabulary would not be tempted? And what of hygiene generally? One can’t get past the visual of a row of tiny tables, each 100 metres apart and sporting a lace doily upon which sits an open bowl of Bombay Mix strategically placed down the Palace corridors just in case HRH had an urge for nuts.

Further just how many hours of phone tapping did these journalists have to sift through to find this little morsel? And what about what ended up on the journalistic cutting room floor? Perhaps more would have been revealed about whether HRH would actually use the word “scoffed” or whether she would have used words such as “consumed”, “ingested”, “gobbled”, “gorged” or “devoured”.

Tell me more, I’m going nuts here!

Any way you slice, dice or roast this story it should be digested.

At least I now know what to bring HRH next time I visit England. A bag of Bombay Mix and a finger print set awaits gifting.

We are seriously amused.

No Snakes On This Plane, There Was Only Mags

It’s amazing what can happen in a sealed capsule hurtling through the stratosphere at 30,000 feet.

storm pic

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I had just one of these experiences earlier this week on an interstate trip. Because on this flight I sat next to Mags (not her real name).

The experience started tentatively enough after a two hour delay in departure time due to weather at the destination. Apparently in these situations the destination air traffic control can determine the take off time at the point of departure. And so it was.

I dutifully boarded the plan after killing two hours watching bad television and reading even worse gossip magazines and settled into the window seat in what was a two seat configuration. Then along came Mags, worry lines on her pale English Rose features carrying three bags. She stopped in the aisle  to check her boarding pass, causing a blockage to the people behind much like a cork stopping the flow of fizzy champagne refusing to be tamed.  Oblivious to the swarm behind her, Mags checked her seat number and looked at me, before starting to unload her luggage. She looked at me again and having sensed  that she was to be my flight companion for the next hour or so I said hello as she settled herself.

“I really don’t want to be on this flight” explained Mags.

“Oh?” I asked

“I don’t like flying and now its raining and storming and I don’t understand why they are letting us fly.”

“They did say the weather was clearing where we are going to land, I wouldn’t worry so much”

“I don’t like it and my web mail is iffy, I don’t know whether my friend who is meeting me got my message that we are going to be late”

“I’m sure it will be fine”

“I hope so, my friends told me this trip was risky.”

Mags then explained that she was on the solo trip of her dreams, lasting 6 months. She had been away from her English home for mature aged travellerabout a month now and had taken off to the other side of the world to explore Australia and New Zealand. She was flying into Sydney to meet some friends before undertaking the Indo Pacific train trip to Perth (a three day journey) and would then be visiting New Zealand’s south island for a month. Being a travel tragic, I was keen to hear about everything she had planned for her travels and her expectations about her experiences so I asked her a few questions. At which point  the conversation really started to flow.

We covered all sorts of topics, England, Australia, travelling in general,  marriage, men, divorce ( Mags was a divorcee), parenting (Mags was also the mother of two sons), health (Mags had had a hysterectomy just as her husband left her), study (Mags was a late blooming student, having attended university after she had children), friends (Mags had many – it was not hard to see why), ageing, and being adventurous to name a few.

About a quarter of the way into our conversation, I knew Mags was my kind of woman.

We stopping talking only briefly with the announcement from the pilot that the plane had to circle just outside of Canberra due to delays in Sydney. And we only stopped then because we could not hear each other over the intercom.

Mags was incredible. Here was a 70 year old woman who was travelling solo on the trip of her dreams, having taken out a personal loan to do so. She was doing this despite her comfortable life back home and the advice of her friends who would never dare to embark on such a journey. On this trip she would be staying with former lodgers or family of former lodgers of hers all of whom had helped Mags pay the bills on her home to save it from her husband who tried to take it away.

This was a woman who despite her fear of flying had more courage and grit than a lot of people I know.

At the start of the descent, I turned to Mags and said ‘I’m sorry, we’ve been talking for two hours and I don’t even know your name, I’m Judy.”

“I’m Mags, I am so happy to have met you, I would have been very stressed had I not been able to talk to you.”

And with that the wheels touched down on the runway below.

My short time with Mags had come to an end. In two hours I had told Mags more personal information than a lot of people I had known for two years and felt that Mags had done the same. Maybe we both felt safe in the knowledge that apart from this brief encounter we would never meet again, maybe it was because of the brief moment of connection we had shared or maybe because Mags just needed to be distracted during the flight.

Whatever the case, I will never forget Mags. Right about now, she should be getting ready to board that train to Perth, no doubt talking the ear off the person next to her.

Mags made my trip. Her pluck, courage and welcoming visage were a gift.

And dear Mags, you thought on that flight I was doing you a favour. Ha!

Have you ever been touched by a stranger?

The Boston Red Sox, Victory and Drawers #NaBloPoMo

It’s been forever since I’ve blogged about baseball. Some might say that’s a good thing.

Boston emblemAs a diehard Boston Red Sox fan living Downunder, I can’t let the year end without acknowledging the humongous achievement that was the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. From bottom of the ladder in 2012 to top of the totem pole in 2013, we Red Sox fans rode the roller coaster with our team. Clinching their first World Series since 1918 at Fenway Park and their third this decade, it was six games of riveting, hairy baseball. The hair came from the lengthening beards of several Red Sox players who in a sign of solidarity and strength grew their whiskers as the play offs progressed and looked more like pirates than ball players.

Boston and Red Sox fans will be talking about the 2013 season for decades. In a year where the city was left reeling in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and the Red Sox’s dismal performance in 2012, this World Series win represents tenacity, focus and kinmanship. Something that we won’t tire telling any Yankees fan. Apart from the win itself, there were many amazing moments – from Big Papi’s grand slam in Game 2, Victorino’s three run double in Game 6 and Kuji Uehara’s closing dominance – all will be remembered, all were uplifting.

Being so far from the action and on the other side of the world, I found out the result from my good friend, Cricket who is also a passionate baseball fan and American citizen transplant to our fair shores. She sent me a text at about 2.30pm our time, which I managed to peek at between work meetings. And this is what is so great about the Boston Red Sox win, because it is more than just baseball, more than just a game, it is a bonding experience. Cricket, a fellow blogger who blogs at Cricket’s Corner of Australia, is a huge Chicago White Sox fan. So huge that she also live blogs most White Sox games for an audience through MLB.com. And that’s quite a commitment from our Australia time zone! Cricket’s technical knowledge of baseball is vast and puts me to shame, but I definitely regard her as my own Cricketpedia on the topic. So during the course of the year, we have been swapping baseball stories, sharing the victories and the defeats in what we have termed our own Battle of the Sox Drawer. She of the white, I of the red and with a cross over pitcher in the form of Jake Peavy who was traded from white to red mid-season, we have shared in the fortunes of our respective teams. Cricket of course donned the red sox in the post season in what became the year of the drawer.

Apart from this little bonding experience the win gave me an opportunity to contact a friend in Boston, also a big Red Sox fan, to share in the spoils. We had lost touch for a couple of years, red sox victorybut thanks for the Sox we have now renewed contact. That opportunity itself is worth its weight in gold. And finally, there was the play by play post mortem with my eldest son and husband and watching the games on delay after our work days. It brought us together and made us reminisce about our trip to Fenway, about hearing the crack of the bats and roar of the fans.

The big news for Aussie baseball fans is that the Arizona Diamondbacks and the LA Dodgers are heading to Sydney for their 2014 season opener next March. Our whole family will be there for both games and we will be hosting Cricket and her hubby for game two. We will be decked out in all of our Sox gear and will make the very most of this unique opportunity. I will be adopting the Diamonbacks as my team for those games as I take in an MLB baseball game on Australian soil.There was an MLB photo teaser this week with representatives of the teams standing before the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is about to get real!

So thank you Boston and thank you Red Sox. You have brought me more this year than just a world series win, you have brought me friendship and connection. And that’s a home run right there.

This is the last of my NaBloPoMo posts. I didn’t quite achieve the Challenge, but I posted more often that not.

Thanks for joining me on the journey.

I’m No Turkey This Thanksgiving #NaBloPoMo

If you are a turkey in the United States of America and are currently reading this then congratulations not only have you achieved a level of intelligence that is most fowl, but chances are you will survive the next twenty four hours.

As I write this most of you are catching your final moments of peaceful rest before Thanksgiving preparations begin in earnest and the feasting begins. And then when you finish saying thanks there will be yet more feasting and probably some football watching and/or discussion. At least that’s what Thanksgiving to a non American who is far, far away seems like.

Australians don’t have a Thanksgiving, but I’m not going to let that stop me getting with the programme.

So here are my tips for a trouble and calorie free Thanksgiving:

1. Purchase only fresh, quality ingredients

turkey in a cab

2.Be sure to review the nutrition information panel to ensure that you have bought the best for your family

turkey can nutrition panel

3. Examine the produce and verify its freshness and suitability

deflated turkey

4. Toil away for hours weaving your magic to create a memorable feast that your family members will remember for years

front on turkey

5. Admire your handy work which looks even better in profile

turkey side view

Enjoy. And don’t forget the accompaniments like I did. Next year, I’m definitely scouting for inflatable potatoes, gravy and the odd vegetable or two.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.

Closed For Maintenance #NaBloPoMo

When one lives in Sydney, one lives in the shadow of the Harbour Bridge and all of its lore.

20131127-221421.jpgAnd much of the lore of the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the coat hanger as it is also fondly known surrounds its maintenance. Spanning Sydney Harbour apparently requires lots of up keep, so much so that it’s painters are permanently occupied… with painting. To ensure that the Bridge is kept rust free, it is painted from pylon to pylon in Sydney Harbour Bridge grey. As the story goes, no sooner do the painters reach one end, they then have to immediately start painting again at the other.

Middle age has me feeling like the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Now, I don’t mean I’m feeling grey or rusted. Rather my body maintenance has increased to the point where as soon as I have finished maintaining one end, I then have to begin the whole process again at the other.

No sooner have I just had a pedi, then I have to start tending to the tips of my roots and all of that regrowth. And the issue is not just cosmetic. On the way down from the top of my head to the tips of my feet are visits to the optometrist, dentist, skin specialist, mamographer, the doctor to check under the hood and the podiatrist. It’s getting to the point where I almost need a maintenance planner to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks so to speak or that a rivet comes loose.

So I’m dreaming of those days gone past when maintenance was a biannual affair. When hair cuts were seldom and ammonia free closed for maintenanceaffairs. When I only needed one pair of glasses and not two – I absolutely refuse to surrender to bifocals – and leg hair grew at a slower pace.

Next year, I am really hoping for a couple of days when I don’t need to be closed for maintenance. Just a few days when no entry is made into my body log book.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for how my body is holding up. It just seems I have to be a lot more mindful of it now than I have in the past. That’s probably poetic justice, given middle age is that time of life that gives you a window both to the past and to the future.

However, better preventative maintenance now than being closed for repair later on.

Do you ever feel like this?