We Went To The Philippines!

In November, the husband and I took a trip to the Philippines child free. It was our first ever holiday without kids in 19 years! So many things went wrong with it. Now that I think back on it though, I wouldn’t have changed anything. Ollie and I got to spend some really amazing quality time together, and it was just what we both needed. Plus…we were in the Philippines, and it looked like this at breakfast time.

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This is Banaue. It’s a 10 hour overnight bus ride from Manila, and worth every second. We spent two nights here, at Ramon’s Homestay in Batad. The food was amazing, the coffee was to die for, and this view? Honestly, leaving here was so hard. We had no access to internet and the time off was beautiful.

I don’t think I’ve ever done so much walking in my life! And we took the easier walking option! You definitely need stamina for this place and I suggest lots of hill walks before you go! But I seriously don’t think there’s a more beautiful place in the world. The people were so friendly and our guides were amazing. We hired ours with Irene Binalet who was just the best ever. She and her guides made the whole trip so amazing. Without them, I don’t think we would have seen and done as much on our own.  She has a great sense of humour and organised everything for us. I definitely recommend doing this if you’re traveling to a country where you don’t know the language yourself.
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We took a 4 hour guided walk to the waterfalls while we were there. Walking the Rice Terraces was both devastating, and incredible! It was the hardest walk I’ve ever done in my LIFE! haha! But man, what a view! In the picture above, we had reached the top of the terraces and were looking down into the villages. We were staying in the top right corner, the largest white roof you can see – underneath a red one. After that, we walked down the opposite side of the hill to find this.

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This was as close as I made it unfortunately, and is definitely the reason I’ll be back! During this part of the trip, I got sick – right as we left of course. So I didn’t get to do as many things as I would have liked to have done.

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But considering these were our pathways, I’m pretty proud of myself! Sickness be damned! It was a balancing act most of the way there. I really want to go back when the terraces are all planted up before harvesting.  I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved being here. It was like a giant version of my childhood garden, when I spent all my time outside playing witches and making potions and catching tadpoles.

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Having a guide with us was really awesome. She was able to tell us so much about the people and their customs and as a result, we were able to be respectful and interact with local people, which was one of my favourite parts of the trip.  Tourism is still fairly new in Banaue, so the people there are just as interested in you, as you are in them.  I just can’t tell you enough how friendly this place is. DSC_2280

 

The roads are rough as guts and mostly only wide enough for one vehicle, which is super exciting when you get to a place in the road that looks like the photo below, and it’s raining super hard! Which is pretty much THE WHOLE ROAD! I was constantly impressed with how easy it is for these guys to navigate these roads. Like…seriously.

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Also, dogs. <3

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sick remember?!

Walks With Thor

I can’t even begin to describe to you how awesome this dog is. He’s so brave and lovely and ridiculously silly. Taking him on adventures in Australia is one of my most favourite things to do.

He’s such a good walker, and he just loves exploring. It makes him so happy to be out in the wild getting to smell everything. Australia is such an interesting country too. It’s so dry and fierce and full of things that could literally kill you dead. Despite this, we totally brave the hills and aside from a few koalas, kangaroos in the distance and a freakin’ echidna!! I mean, how cool is that?! We haven’t come across anything too scary. Lots of snake warnings though. But if you stick to the paths, you could see them coming. I recommend sticking to the paths at all times.

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We walked up to the site of an old farmhouse. Right at the top of the hill, there’s nothing else up here, and the view was amazing.

I just love this country! It’s so beautiful, and wild and dangerous. I miss soft, green grass and the smell of New Zealand sometimes, so badly. But the harsh, dryness of this country has a really lovely smell all of its own.

Whoa…two years? Really Kelly? >.<

I started this blog nine years ago, after on my last teaching practice in my hometown, my husband set it up so that I could write about whatever I felt like. It was such a godsend to have a place that I knew was mine, and felt safe. Over the years, I let things make it feel unsafe for me, and after a couple of years of pretty good, solid blogging, I just sort of…stopped.

It’s hard to start back up again when you look back over how long it’s been since you did anything, and realise it’s been almost two years.

I didn’t write anything at all last year. Not here at least. I’m not entirely sure why to be honest. It certainly isn’t because my life hasn’t been interesting. I think maybe it’s just become only interesting to me. Or that’s how it’s felt.

I also often feel like I’m being disingenuous, because typically my writing has always been very personal, and putting it online for people to read and pass judgement over filled me with horror. I’ve always sort of brushed things under the carpet. Things that feel too personal, or like I will be judged badly because of my honesty.

I’m at a place in my life now, where other people’s opinions of me no longer matter. I’m almost 40 and I can’t believe that I’ve come all this way only to still feel shame and fear over certain aspects of who I am.

I know that I write my best stuff when I’m being honest, and I kind of needed a really huge kick in the butt to get myself organised. I also needed some inspiration, a change of scenery – because moving to Australia wasn’t enough apparently. So my husband took me to the Philippines and it was amazing.

I’m half way through my second book edit, by the way. That’s still happening. I have to keep reminding myself to stop editing and thinking about everything that’s wrong with it, and just continue writing. I know what needs to be fixed, but then I think about fixing it and end up sighing in despair and putting my creative energy into other things. So the book comes along super slowly. But it comes along…so, there’s that!

gin and lemonade!

With freshly squeezed lemons is great! Did you know?

We have the most gloriously huge lemon tree in the history of lemon trees here, a never ending supply of lemons! Freshly squeezed lemonade, lemon pie, lemon puddings, lemon icing,…stop me before I start sounding like Bubba from Forest Gump.

Obviously a lot has happened since I last blogged. I am now the proud fur parent of both a chihuahua and a freshly made kitten. Neither of which I imagined I’d be parenting, but of whom I love very dearly. I shall post pictures of them when I can be bothered to get on my main computer. Actually..I could probably do it from here…don’t Mac products all link together? Let me see….

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That handsome wee man is my Thor. Yes. I did call my chihuahua Thor. Because it please me, and he likes it. What he doesn’t like so much however, is my trying to take a picture of his derp face. He pulls the most amazing one ever! But when you try to capture it on camera, he just gets embarrassed, and makes adorable faces at you instead.

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And that, most devilishly handsome and wicked beast, is Dr Bruce Banner aka The Hulk. Don’t let those sweet blue eyes fool you, he is wicked personified! Evil genius and so darn cute I forgive him everything. He is already starting to hulk over Thor. We like to imagine him as an adult, bored out of his mind by this tiny dog, and saying “Puny God.”

Yeah, sorry. Not at all ashamed of my love of comic book superheroes. They suit their names to a tee. Okay, Thor is probably not nearly as glamorous or as cool as his godlike namesake, but it’s still the best and most hilarious name for him ever.

Also, because I am failing spectacularly as a blogger, I’ve decided to try night blogging – which fits in with my work schedule, but may end up making my blog full of weirdness – like it wasn’t already huh? I mean…when it’s full of anything at all, of course.

too long

I feel like people might have expected a 3 year quake memorial post. I didn’t write one, not because I haven’t been thinking about this day, or remembering what happened, I just sort of didn’t.

Ollie spent the day with Siobhan, and I spent the day, and the evening at the Fringe Festival with wonderful friends, who filled the night with amazing food, circus acts, friendship and hilariousness. It was lovely and eventful.

I shared my story with them over hot chocolate and dessert, and I guess that’s why I didn’t really think to share it here.

It was so wonderful to have so much support and love from friends and family the world over, and we definitely appreciate it. It’s also so wonderful to be here, amongst friends and family in a city that offers us so much. Including dreadful heat and horrible bugs. But you know, that is really nothing in the scheme of things.

This is a great city and we love this country. It feels like home – until I open my mouth and the Australians look at me puzzled because they don’t understand a world I’m saying.

Such is life. It’s hardly their fault they don’t know how to speak proper English. 😉

Don’t write for an audience, just write.

I have to remind myself of this a lot. Particularly when it comes to this blog for some reason.

For the past few years, I’ve really struggled to maintain it. I guess in part, it’s because I don’t really have a set theme. It’s just a blog, where I write down my thoughts, and talk about life and things in general, and for some reason, that’s just seemed really boring lately.

My blog turned six in August. I missed that. I missed it’s fifth birthday too. I’ve kind of stopped thinking about life and things by how long they’ve been running, or how old they are. I think I’m getting to an age now, where every year just reminds me how much older everyone I know is getting. Including myself.

I’m enjoying getting older, except for the wrinkles. That shit’s totally not okay. Or the fact that I look older than I am these days. When did THAT happen? I’m so used to being the youngest. Youngest child, youngest parent, youngest in my group of friends, and suddenly I’m not that person any more. I’m middle aged!  Holy crap! That’s the last time I ever, refer to myself as middle aged. Ever!!! What does that even mean?

A couple of people on Facebook the other day were talking about age, and discussing how old they felt. I tried this for myself, and, I still truly think of myself as little older than 15. Except on those mornings when I wake up and my neck is aching and I feel 80. There’s very little in between for me. Some days my body works really well, and others I’m reminded of how poorly I have treated it, and that I need to do a crapload of work to get it back up to speed before I end up in a freaking walker with a hunchback.

Some mornings, I’m pretty sure I’m already in a walker with a hunchback. Except, I’m a dancer, so I have great posture! Right?  Right.  I’m just gonna keep telling myself that.

The problem is though, that life just carries on. We lost Greebo a month ago. I took him in for dental surgery and they told us that his kidneys and liver had failed. His heart rate was elevated, and two days later, he was gone. I haven’t really been able to face talking about it, because I still can’t really believe he’s gone. We rescued his mother from a young couple who couldn’t take proper care of her, and had let her get pregnant for a second time. She was not quite a year old. I overheard her telling someone that they were going to have her put to sleep – while pregnant, because they couldn’t deal with more kittens.

So I took her. She gave birth to her litter almost right on Siobhan’s lap. Seven little kittens. All half feral I think – she was a country cat who “didn’t need to be fed because she’d catch her own”. Greebo was the one we kept. We held him as soon as she’d cleaned the afterbirth off him. He was my boy, my big ginger wild man who did what he wanted, fought everything, humped our rottie’s head and loved me. He really loved me, that cat…and I loved him too.

I turned his face towards mine and pressed my forehead to his. One minute he was there, the next he’d gone limp in my hands, and was gone. Just gone. I’m glad I got to be there for his birth, and to be the last face he saw when he died.

It hurts still to talk about, so I don’t.

The vet called Ollie today to let him know his ashes are waiting to be picked up, and it just bought it all back to me. Growing old sucks. I expected he’d have so much more time with us, but the trip here was really hard on him, and he deteriorated right in front of us over the past eight months. He would have been 14 next February. People keep telling us that’s a good age for a cat, but I just remember all the other cats who live into their 20’s and I wish we’d had more time.

I miss his face so much. I miss his meowing at me and headbutting my face and hands, and legs. I miss him slyly sneaking himself into my lap and purring so loudly I can’t hear the tv. I miss him sitting at my feet looking up at me hopefully until he’s fed. I miss seeing him in the courtyard, and having him talk to me and wend through my legs while I hang up the washing.

He was always my constant companion. My best friend. It seems so much more real now, now that we’ll get him back. I wonder if it will take me another ten years to let him go, like it did with Mabel. I already know what I’ll do with his ashes, it’s just a matter of when that will be possible.

Goodbye my Grievous bodily harm, my weebs, my boy. You were never just a cat to me. I’ve said it now. I guess that makes it true…and I’m not just going to look down and see you waiting at the door for me to notice you and let you in.

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bottomfeeder

I first heard about Amanda Palmer through Neil Gaiman. It was just before the Christchurch earthquake hit that I got my first album of hers. One was certainly not enough and my love for her music just grew.

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Not long after this, Ollie was crushed in his building, and during his long recovery, Amanda Palmer became my solace. I nursed him back to health while listening to her music. I received visitors and well wishers, cards, flowers and meals and I helped him shower, helped him dress, fed him and reminded him to take his medicine with her words in my ear. Ollie did not want a nurse, even though he was entitled to one. So I gave up work and spent 3 months at home with him while he relearned how to walk and how to take care of himself. It was long, and sometimes really difficult, but ultimately it was what I wanted and needed to do for him, and what he needed me to do too.

I listened to her music while EQC came to assess the minor damage to our house. I remember the two men who came vividly. The older of the two, in his late 50’s was enthralled by her voice. He kept stopping to listen and asked me who she was. He wrote down her name and said he planned to go buy the album when he finished up that day. By this stage, I was following all her social media sites and had fallen in love with not just her voice, but who she was and what she stood for. It felt good to share someone that had helped me so much, with someone else.

Music has always been the most driving force in my life. I am a lyrics person and I listen to music that speaks to me and my beliefs, and who I am. I look for connection, and understanding because I quite often feel like I’m alone. I know I’m not of course, but I bond very deeply with music because of this. It’s my religion in a sense. Songs are my sermons. They give me hope when I need it most.

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In the two years following the earthquake, Ollie and I decided it was time to leave Christchurch behind and move to Australia. To leave behind all that we’d been through together in that city, now buried along with people we loved. It was not an easy decision to make, but it was the right one – for both of us. Watching your husband startle awake in the dark, crying out when another quake brings back those memories is heartbreaking. We chose Adelaide, because a lot of his family are here, and it felt like the right place.

I am always up for a challenge, and I love to travel. I also love his family, so it was not a big deal for me to do this, but the more we thought and planned, the more I ached to leave the place that had been my home for the past 15 years. A place that had fallen down around us and changed our lives irrevocably. I spent a lot of time soul searching in the 6 months previous to our leaving. A lot of time walking through places I’d come to love, all changed now, broken if not gone completely, alone with my headphones on listening to Theatre Is Evil.

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I remember hearing about how Amanda had come to Christchurch after the quakes and put on a free concert. I had not been able to go – for obvious reasons.

No one really ever came to Christchurch, and no one EVER went to my hometown, so I am not particularly concert savvy at all. When we moved to Adelaide though, all these concerts opened up right here in our city and Amanda was one of them! I bought my tickets as soon as they went on sale and counted down the weeks until she’d be here.

It has been at least 15 years since I have been in a mosh pit. I wasn’t exactly sure that’s where I wanted to be until the concert started. The opening acts were so fantastic and funny and the crowd was gentle. No one pushed or shoved and very few people tried to sneak in in front of you. At least, until Amanda got on the stage. She came down into the crowd immediately, and they all surged towards her like a human wave. At one point, I had her back pressed against me, and then she was gone, lifted high overhead and passed from hand to hand through the crowd and back on stage.

I had gone from five people from the stage to the third row. By the end of the concert I was at the front. The ebb and flow of people around me had pushed me up there. I’d forgotten how intense the feeling of being so close to people was. How deeply their feelings reflect your own and how you all become one part of something huge and warm and amazing. How suddenly, you’re not alone anymore, because the people with you are all there for the same reason you are. Because this musician has also touched a place in their hearts.

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For me though, the most intense experience, was watching how much Amanda gave of herself. Without reserve. She held nothing back and put her full trust in the people who’d come to see her. She didn’t just give us her voice, she gave us her body, her soul and she trusted us to hold her and touch her and give her back again. I cannot imagine that kind of giving. Or that level of trust. Her faith in her fans inspired me so deeply. The entire concert was just one big party. It was inclusive and passionate and amazing. When we left, I couldn’t really find the words to describe how I felt. It was like being part of a surrealist dream. It’s taken me three days to figure out how to put this into words.

Seeing the woman who had helped keep you sane through her music during the toughest time of your life was incredible on it’s own. But seeing her give herself up, watching her climb into the crowd and trust us, watching her give her fans herself fully, watching her kiss them and be part of them was an experience that I needed so badly right then, that I just don’t really know how to describe it. She humanised herself in a way that so few artists do.

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I love you Amanda, you’re amazing. Thank you for being such a wonderful inspiration. Thank you for your music, for your humanity, your humour and your humility. Thank you for helping me when I needed you most. Thank you for your understanding and your trust and for the selfless love you give back to your fans. You give me hope and because of you, I am writing again.

with love,
Kelly xo

worst blogger in the world award

Goes to me right?

I thought so.

Here are some random facts to entertain you for the next month. *sigh* I will get better at this I promise.

  • I currently have 8 windows open on my laptop. Of those 8 windows, one is called All About Cannibalism, and one is called Ancient People, The People of Ireland. I will let you make your own judgement calls on this one.
  • It rains in Australia. A LOT. Like, a lot a lot. So much so that I actually forget I’m in Australia until that freaking bird starts up at 5am and reminds me, that no birds in New Zealand ever sounded like that, ever and none of them were rude enough to do that noise EVERY DAMN MORNING!!!!!! I’ve never hated a bird before in my life…UNTIL NOW!
  • I got a job working at Ollie’s cousin’s dessert cafe. It’s so much fun! And so full on, and at the end of the night, they feed me dessert! This does not bode well for my waistline, but it certainly bodes well for my tastebuds and my sanity and my mental health. You probably don’t understand this, unless you’re a dessert person in which case, I don’t need to tell you anything else.
  • Now that I’ve spoken about that bird, I am imagining I can hear it barking/grating its nails down the blackboard/screaming/burping in my ear. If I had to describe its noise, that would be it. You have no idea how much I wish it would die. We were looking up buying an air gun, that’s how bad it is! Alas…these are illegal in Australia, but slingshots are not!
  • Back to the weather! Right now, it’s raining so hard I’m  having trouble keeping my eyes open. It’s also massively windy. It’s like mother nature is having a really bad trip at her rave party and crying and throwing up everywhere. *rubs her back and holds her hair out of the way for her*
  • My writing is coming along, very ponderously. Slowly does it. That’s the way. But I have a feeling its about to start picking up again soon. I can’t tell you why…because my husband is very private about things and would prefer I didn’t tell the world he just got a JOB!
  • Whoops. How exciting though!!!! He starts on Monday! YAY!
  • Oh! And I cut off all my hair. New beginnings and all that. I feel very Marilyn Monroe some days. When I manage to take a non-derpy photo, I will share it with you.

sixty five

seamus2I will probably get told off for telling you all this, but that handsome young man right there turns 65 tomorrow. And despite the fact that I shall most likely get a good telling off for announcing such a thing to the entire world – I am doing it anyway! Because 65 is one of those ages that needs to be announced.

That’s my dad, just in case you didn’t know.

So happy birthday my daddyboy. I hope you have a wonderful time at the Andy Warhol exhibition, and that you get to eat lots of cake and that it’s not too windy in the capital city, because being blown off your feet at your ripe old age might see you break a hip and that would be an embarrassing entry into old age now wouldn’t it?

I know I’ve often teased you about your geriatric stage of life, but now I can actually do it legitimately because it’s true! You’ve outlasted the dinosaurs! You’ve lived past an ice age and a reformation of lands! You crawled from the seas with the fish with legs and lost your tail and learned to walk on two legs! You surpassed the intelligence of our neanderthal cousins and expanded your brain to become homosapien! You climbed the pyramids and hailed Ra. You toiled through the slums of India and rose through bodhisattva status to become a Buddha. You developed your own religion and converted the masses and long shall they worship in our glorious name.

What’s left for you now but to take your rightful place alongside the other old folks and collect your pension? Not much I’m afraid.  Your present is in the mail. I’ve bought you a walking frame carved from the very first yew tree. Blessed by Danu herself. You’re welcome.

Much love to you my daddyboy!
The tinsel of your Universe. xoxoxo

 

Eventually

What am I doing?! Not a lot internet. Not a lot at all.  Nothing particularly interesting. It’s all been about settling in here, finding our feet, working out routines, trying to figure out how to be a full time writer and actually, you know…writing.

That’s been quite hard, because things have not been as exciting here as first imagined they’d be. Life is pretty much the same as ever, except the ground here is solid and unmoving which makes a lovely change.

My book is currently with my editor and instead of writing other things, I’ve been reading and procrastinating. I also got myself a part time job at Ollie’s cousins dessert restaurant, which is amazing, full on and a lot of very scary fun. It’s nice to do something different and see other faces.

Hopefully we’ll settle into a proper routine some time soon, because that’s my biggest problem really. No real routine. Eight months on, we’re still figuring it all out. I do have to say, Australian winters are amazing. It’s cold here, but cold in the sense that you need to put on a jersey. I’m not sure that this place understands what frost is. It has certainly never heard of snow. Thank god!

It does however, know what rain is. Rainy Australian days are the most beautiful days in the world. I love them so much.

Our lovely little house turns out to be not so lovely after all however. Too hot in summer, too cold now it’s winter. Our loft sucks for sleeping…it’s very disappointing on quite a few levels. I really, really miss having a proper bedroom. We’ll be moving again at the end of the year. I guess this knowledge sort of ends up making it feel very impermanent here. Like we’re just waiting until the real stuff starts.

I had a lot of hopes and dreams for our move here, and so far things just haven’t worked out that way. I keep being promised that they will – eventually, and I’m so tired of that word. Still, the eventually’s always do work out in the end. Eventually we were going to leave Christchurch – we did. Eventually we’d start doing things we wanted to – we are. Eventually, we’d travel – we did. Eventually we’d make a new start in a new country – we are.

Eventually, things will sort themselves out, and those eventually’s will turn into now’s.

Eventually. *sigh*