Tomorrow is Megan’s birthday. Three days before Christmas. As much as we tried to make it all about her, I always felt a bit sorry for her that her birthday and Christmas blended into one big celebration. Still, being pregnant and giving birth in summer heat wasn’t all that much fun for me either.

The last few days I’ve been reminded of her presence by the butterflies. It was actually my sister who remarked, when I told her they were all flying around our yard, that it was probably Megan’s way of saying Hi.

I still find it difficult to talk about Megan’s death and yet, at the same time, I feel guilty when people ask, “How many children do you have?” and I say “Two” instead of three. I wonder whether that’s normal. It’s especially tricky when the doctor or gynaecologist asks. I usually answer them with a question – “Are you asking how many child births I’ve had?”

Memories of Megan

One of the first funny memories that sticks in my mind was when she was 3 or 4 and managed to stick a piece of crayon up her nose. The sheepish look of remorse when she was forced to ask for help was pretty priceless.

So too, her version of “Jesus loves me” – again when she was very young – went something like, “Jesus loves me this I know, and the table and the chair…”. Obviously more work was required on Sunday School songs…… and rhyming verse.

Not long after her brother Jeremy (aka Jamie because Jeremy was too hard for her to say) was born she sagely commented, “now we’ll have to say ‘Gentle Jesus Jamie mild’ – another reinforcement of our failure as parents in all things ‘Sunday School’.

Actually, I suspect that it might be a somewhat universal problem because my mother once told me about a little girl, who named her teddy Gladly after the hymn, ‘Gladly my cross I’d (read cross-eyed) bear’.

And when number two son asked one day, “If God’s not in heaven, where is he?” I was a bit perplexed until he followed that question with……. “Well, you know how we say, ‘Our Father who aren’t in heaven’?”

Perhaps a lesson for all parents (and teachers) in just how much the child understands of what they’re ‘learning’.

By far my strongest memory is Megan’s voice on the telephone, “I love you too Mummy” – although a teenager, she thought it quite funny to continue to call me Mummy.

For me it’s true what they say – the happy, funny memories are the strongest. I remember a bright young lady, who had just started a job she loved and was so excitedly hoping that it might lead to a career in journalism. I remember the night we walked home from the Mexican restaurant – quite drunk and loudly singing Elvis songs. I remember the hand-written cards with drawings and poems written especially for me.

I’ll leave you with a poem she wrote for me on Mothers’ Day…… literally a lifetime ago.

Jumped the gun…….

So perhaps I was a tad early with Christmas cheer and wishing everyone a happy new year because, after my dismissiveness (apparently not a word) the last quarter of 2019 is proving quite tenacious. In fact, there are all sorts of events to celebrate before the wind down to Christmas.

Let’s start with the recent heavy rain last weekend. Twenty seven millimetres fell in Cobar, making it the second highest rainfall  in 2019. While it hasn’t broken the drought, there were a lot of happy farmers  and many people took to social media to celebrate in pictures. Here are some of my favourites – from Facebook’s ‘One Day Closer to Rain’. Photography left to right by Ingrid Cassidy Jayda, Justine Campbell, Oliver Ozzey Gordon and Tracy Bennett.

Of course, rain in the bush can sometimes be bitter-sweet as it’s often accompanied by flooded, undriveable roads and shops, such as our IGA store, that needs to be sandbagged at the hint of a deluge.

In our case, with patchy grass and no driveway,  the dirt quickly turned to mud and no matter how many towels I put down, the vinyl floor became a patchwork of prints from muddy, red paws and police boots.

You might remember that we foolishly bought a camper trailer (‘we’ meaning ‘I’) and then discovered that we weren’t camper trailer people after all and should definitely never be allowed to tow or reverse such a beast! After a year, in which we managed to use it for just one night – in the back yard – it became painfully obvious that said trailer had to go and we’ve since replaced it with a VW Transporter van, which we bought a couple of months ago and left behind at Gloucester to be fitted out as a camper.

At 366th in the queue (such is their popularity) it’s been a long time coming but a few days ago DRIFTA emailed to say that our van will be fitted out and ready to collect on the 6th of November. That’s right! Today! Unfortunately, as excited as we are to see the completed work, the earliest we can pick it up is the 18th .

To be honest, I did briefly consider catching a train to Gloucester, picking up the van and then driving back to Cobar but there are no direct train routes from Cobar to Gloucester and I would have had to go via Central with travel and stop-over times totalling around 27 hours. Still………

With the van due to be completed in November and Nigel’s annual leave commencing on the 17th, I decided as unofficial roster clerk to add a few days off without losing any coverage. I was feeling quite chuffed at my outstanding rostering (also not a word) until I realised that our house was rented out for that first few days and therefore unavailable!!

A hasty Plan B was formulated and bad fortune turned to serendipity when we secured dog-friendly accommodation at Wattle Lodge (a 2-bedroom cottage on a one hundred acre cattle farm in Glendon Brook.) With an opportunity to explore the Hunter Valley with its dog-friendly restaurants and wineries I’d say crisis well and truly averted!

And for those, who might be interested, the web site photos look lovely.  http://www.thewattlelodge.com.au/

This one of the cottage was taken by Stan Carter Photographics

When we leave Glendon Brook we’ll catch up with Nigel’s parents on the Central Coast before making our way up the coast to Paradise Beach – hopefully arriving after our holiday tenants have departed. Note to self: when organising holidays it’s a good idea to block accommodation BEFORE someone else books it!!!

Our trips to Paradise Beach are also often bitter-sweet with the anticipation of strolls on the beach, dips in the pool and catching up with friends only slightly dampened by the mandatory list of chores that arise when you  ‘live’ in your house for less than 3 months of the year.

On our next trip we’ll be re-mulching the gardens with river stones, which while looking spectacular for the first year or so, will eventually disappear under the piles of leaves that fall from the trees along our back fence.

It’s quite strenuous work transferring a half a tonne of pebbles by bucket from the ute to the wheelbarrow, then negotiating the sub floor steps before finally tipping them into the back garden. In fact, it’s been on our job list for quite a few months but there’s always been an excuse to replace that chore with an easier task, like pruning or weeding.

There’s also a Yesterday, Today Tomorrow plant, which I’ve just discovered is poisonous to dogs so that will have to go. Not that Bowie’s vices include chewing plants – discarded food scraps in the kitchen bin are much more to his liking – but we can hardly advertise as dog-friendly with dog-unfriendly plants in the yard!

And in case you’re thinking what other chores could there possibly be in Paradise, our job list includes but is not limited to: Paint the balcony ceiling; paint all skirting boards and architraves; clean along the tops of the PVC pipes in the sub floor; meet with handyman Ron regarding painting the front door red and replacing the tarnished chrome towel rails, soap and toilet roll holders in both bathrooms (think living on a house boat); meet with photographer Martin regarding putting professional photos up on Stayz; update the inventory (always fun!) and sand and re-paint all balcony rail posts. Notice the number of painting jobs left till last? Enough said.

And just a note on photographer Martin, who has kindly agreed to my request to photograph the house. Here’s one of his recent photos of the devastating fire that swept along Nine Mile beach in Tuncurry. Thankfully that fire is now under control.

So 2019 is well and truly not over and I’m now researching short trips in a camper van to dog-friendly parks on grassy creek or river beds. Bring it on!!

And in case anyone is interested in doing the same, here are a couple of good sites including Pupsy https://pupsy.com.au/ and Travel Australia with Dogs https://www.facebook.com/groups/496641167356061/

The year that was

With Christmas just under 12 weeks away, it seems that we’ll soon be fare-welling all things 2019.

I remarked to someone the other day that it’s a pity no one travels out west in Summer because if they did, they’d see some fantastic displays in front yards of town houses (BTW quite a few farmers have their farm house as well as a house in town so I’m wondering, is that the origin of ‘town house’?) and outside station gates of Santa – driving a tractor, riding a motorbike, or checking out his ute engine, in preparation for the big day……….. or perhaps he’s just sitting by the side of the road contemplating how last Christmas seems like only a couple of months away.

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Welcome to Winter

It seems that the southern hemisphere has decided to skip the usual pleasantries of an Autumn’s day and go straight to winter. One sure sign of an impending cold spell has been the sight of Gary Gecko (I know I know….. how on earth did he get here from Enngonia??)  who has taken refuge in our laundry where apparently it’s much warmer behind the freezer.


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Planes, Pains and Automobiles

Now Qantas has always been my airline of choice and when Number 2 son generously paid for me to come and stay in New Zealand, I went online to the Manage My Booking site to reserve seat numbers for the four flights (Dubbo/Sydney, Sydney/Auckland and returns). Warning: verbal diarrhoea follows.

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Signs of the Times

Tomorrow I’m off to New Zealand to catch up with my son, daughter in law and beautiful granddaughter, who’s on school holidays.

So I’ve been doing a fair bit of multi-tasking including planning and packing for the flight across the Ditch (“Sorry but there’s a glitch in the new system and we can’t reserve your seats” – Aaaaah!), compiling our first roster (Yes the good sergeant is now letting us do the roster!) and the usual high maintenance running / entertaining of one devil dog.

Added to that, there’s been the mandatory online training that goes with confirmation of elections work (early voting plus election day) requiring studying around 300 instructional screens and videos as well as the accompanying flaming hoops of the police check (4 mandatory pieces of ID plus a ‘selfie’ while holding one of said pieces).

While I like to think that I can walk and chew gum with the best of them, it seems that, in this instance I’ve failed miserably and the Blog has been all but forgotten.

So instead of the usual ‘Notice me! Notice me!’ rant, here’s a quick and very random compilation of Cobar’s ‘signs of the times’, including some from the mining museum- contrary to previously uninformed proclamations it really is worth a visit!!


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Interview with a Highway Patrolman

How did you transition from General Duties to Highway Patrol?

It’s mandatory to do a minimum of three years in general duties before you can transfer to a specialist position. I successfully applied for a traineeship at Cobar and have just completed the necessary 5 phases of training including Advanced Driver Training skills, Traffic legislation, Radar Theory and Maths as well as Lidar Theory.

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Ain’t Gonna study Law no more

Okay, sorry but that was the best I could come up with and Yes, I realise  that the heading isn’t all that catchy or totally apt but Nigel is at work and, to be honest, he’s my ‘go to’ person when I’m lacking inspiration for something clever – hence “Twelve degrees of separation”, which was a lot better than all of my suggestions at the time.

It occurs to me that I never got back to you regarding the final week of exams.

Continue reading “Ain’t Gonna study Law no more”