Thursday, February 26, 2009

Head State: Bad.

Can you tell someone's caught on to my general mood? She looks how I feel.

I called the vet surgery this morning, and discussed price, wait period, Sahara's recovery time and so forth. Unfortunately, I called so early the surgeon wasn't actually at work yet, and spoke only to the receptionist. She's having an intern call me back later this afternoon with more information, and I tentatively made an appointment for the 12th of March. My brain is so busy in overload trying to work out solutions to this problem that I completely overlooked the fact that is the day I go in for my own surgery. I almost canceled it, before realizing the backlash I would receive from my mother and others about not having my cancer removed before dealing with Sahara. Hmmm.

Whilst I await his call, I'm still busy having a meltdown trying to work out what to do. The surgery will be a minimum of $2000 - money I don't have, and money that was going to be spent on moving my ass from the festering shithole of a situation I am currently in. Because I am an enormous drama queen, my first thoughts were simply "I can't do this". After having a good sleep, despite Sahara waking me up three times as she wasn't feeling well due the new anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication she's on, I was still practically ready to do myself in this morning. I'm finding it super difficult to find any sort of resolution to this, and as a result, it's making me want to curl in a ball and not wake up until it's all fixed - after having a massive strop, calling it quits with Cam and sulking about the fact I'm going to be forever indebted to Chef, naturally. I came pretty close to doing said strop, curl and sulk. Stuff like this makes me wonder why it is I think I can have those things I want - an amazing relationship with someone I love wholeheartedly, a new house where I'm not constantly referred to as 'fat' every day and guilt tripped each time I leave, and so on and so forth.

So, instead of focusing on that, I am currently on hold with someone who I think can - if not remotely help my current situation in regards to the cost of surgery - help out Sahara's mental state - and my own - in the meantime. A happy puppy makes for a slightly less hysterical Katie. If I can manage to pull this off this afternoon, I shall post photos of the outcome. Here's one to make y'all smile meanwhile.

"Aaaaargh! Another vet visit!'

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My girl...

...went to the vet today. She's done the impossible. Not only has she fully ruptured the same cruciate ligament twice, she's not torn the most important part of her joint, the meniscus. As a result, she's being referred to a doggy orthopedic surgeon, who will be able to perform the arthroscopic surgery to remove said meniscus.

I have written out three enormous blogs detailing exactly how distraught I am, and none can come close to describing it.

I am absolutely devastated.

My blogs don't write themselves, damnit.

It feels like forever and a day since I last posted - mainly because I've hardly been home long enough to do so. Things are what might best be described as fucking unbearable tense at home, and thus, I am practically living in my car and at Cam's. I'm getting to the beyond desperate stage to finally move out; and have been busily searching online for any form of accommodation that might house myself and my children in any vaguely respectable areas. As such, I haven't had a great deal of luck.

In between that, re-doing my application for school (ah, I mentioned previously nothing runs smoothly, no? This is one I hope will be fixed today, so I can devote my time fully to the vast amounts of homework I shall receive from my Journalism class today) and experiencing some sort of nesting instinct in which I am cleaning out all the crap under my bed in preparation for said move; I've been having a great time.

Saturday morning found me awake at an ungodly hour, shoving myself unceremoniously into Cam's car (and managing to break the strap off my favorite dress in the process) and making our way ever closer to meet Cam's mother. I did my fair share of shaking in my boots at the prospect, which turned out to be completely unfounded as both her and her partner are absolutely lovely.

We had a late breakfast with them before Cam and I headed down The Great Ocean road; roof down, watching the sun sparkle and shine over the water while we sang along loudly and tonelessly to Benny & The Jets as we cruised. We stopped off at a gorgeous little pub overlooking Wye River, and had some lovely wine as we picked the winners for the days races. I do love me a man who plies me with alcohol at the beach and knows how to read a form guide.

We spent the evening on the deck in front of the pot bellied stove, watching a Sex & The City marathon, eating possibly the best curry I've ever had and smashing down a few more bottles of wine. Heaven, no?

After an early morning walk along the cliffs at Anglesea to have coffee in town, we again moved out on to the deck to enjoy breakfast in the sun and read the morning papers. A little while later, we became immersed in the live coverage of the Australia's Day Of Mourning concert, which was just heartbreaking. I haven't spoken to a single person that hasn't been affected by it in some way, directly or not - everyone knows someone who lost homes, friends or family, and the loss and devastation are still so real. It's been amazing how the community has come together; but there's still the feeling of hopelessness at not being able to help more. With the weather forecast to hit 38c later this week, there's still the threat the situation is only going to get worse.

Not long after the concert finished, we packed up and made our way home - taking the ferry from Queenscliff; another amazing experience to add to my list of things I've never before done. It was a gorgeous day, and we had a bit of fun choosing which enormous mansion we'd like best as we docked in Sorrento.

Luckily for me, Sarah was 'sick' on Monday, and we decided the best way to ease her 'headache' was a lovely paddle with the dogs at the foreshore in the morning. The new puppy, Ruby, had a bit of fun learning how to swim, and I was soon immersed in the water taking photos of her in the gorgeous morning sunshine. After we'd dried off slightly, we made our way to our favorite cafe and had chocolate milkshakes with our breakfast while we chatted the morning away. As time was ticking by, we decided to head to Petstock to get a correction chain for Ruby, and naturally got delayed by a few hours as we had fun playing dress ups with Phoenix and making a a list of things I plan on purchasing later this morning - most of which include toys and accessories for the finches bird cage, in a vain attempt to make them interested in anything other than sodomizing each other.

Last night, after an afternoon spent starting my quest to remove all surplus crap from my living quarters (and, inevitably, getting sidetracked looking at all the photos/letters and wondering why there were random screwdrivers and hot pink shoes I'd forgotten I'd ever purchased taking up residence under my bed), Sarah and I made a brief call to Cam's sisters house, to have a good look around and check the fencing would be adequate for the kids. I have every intention of putting in a rental application for it when they move into their new home, but am now slightly worried at the lack of storage space, and wondering where my shoe collection will live due to aforementioned lack of cupboards. Hmmm. We had planned to call in on the way to view a new dog training club we are interested in joining, and got slightly delayed playing with Cam's gorgeous niece - which turned out fine, as no one bothered to arrive to actually take the obedience class we were going to sit in on. Me thinks we'll be crossing that one off the list.

The busyness continues for the rest of this week - with a single night off to start my packing tomorrow night - as I have a celebratory night @ TGI's on Friday, a roadtrip home on Saturday with the kids and my man, and dog training followed by a BBQ with Cam's friends on Sunday. All I have to do is get through today...

This morning (after my little expedition to pick up the items I have on hold @ Petstock), I've got to hurriedly write a two page cover letter to my education provider, detailing exactly why they should choose to accept me (although, technically, they already have...), what classes I'd like to take (although, technically, I've already been going to them...) and why it is I think I shall excel in Professional Writing and Editing (although,, wait - this is the problematic one) before I mosey on down for my Journalism class. After school, I've been invited to Cam's sister's for dinner with them and his father, but before that Sahara has a return visit to the vet (she ain't gettin' no better, sigh) and Cleo is having her microchip implanted. I can potentially see myself arriving to dinner, sans limbs and bleeding from my remaining stumps as Cleo's not a huge fan of the vets. But, to be honest, she does look darling sitting in my handbag in the waiting room. I still haven't gotten that darn pet carrier...something else to add to my list of goodies to get from the pet store, which I need to get to... right now, if I have any chance of getting any work done this morning.

Hope y'all have a lovely weekend, and Vanuatu: Day IIII will be coming shortly, I promise. Just need to find a spare hour or two...

Thursday, February 19, 2009


- Sahara -

- Cleo -

- Phoenix -

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

...there's always something.

I woke up yesterday morning with one thought, and one thought alone : I wanted to go home. Usually this occurs every few days or so. Mostly I just call mum and chat for 3 hours, as it tends to save me a few hundred dollars in petrol. Some weeks, though, I can't shake it - it's like having to be close to the sea, it just kind of urges me on. So yesterday, I packed up the dogs and the cat - who just happens to love herself a road trip and a chance to play with Mum's kitten once we finally arrive - hopped in my car, and merrily sang to my Vanuatu Ipod playlist for the next hour or so. As I left home, the smoke from the fires was terrible and encasing the road for as far as I could see, and as I looked back at Cleo happily resting on the dogs in the back seat, I told myself I would get a cat carrier the second I arrived at my destination, in case I was ever in the horrible situation of having to evacuate. As I drove, I thought about what I would do if I had to leave - and couldn't think of any options, as she can escape cardboard boxes and the like. I gave up; hoping it will never come to that, and concentrated on the terrible traffic. After I'd finally cleared all the infuriating roadworks (don't these people know that road works signs should be taken as more of a guideline than actual an actual speed limit?) I was powering up the hill to the roundabout that signifies I'm nearly home - once I come over the crest, all I can see is cliffs dropping off to azure blue sea and the wind turbines that tell me I'm so close to home. It's one of my favorite views, and I could look at it all day - or so I thought. Just as I reached the top, my car lurched, lurched some more...and died. Right in front of an enormous water tanker doing 110km who clearly had no intention of stopping for my tiny buzz box rust heap. I managed to sort of veer it off the road up an embankment, cursing my previous mechanic who had 'fixed' this exact problem only a few months ago. I looked around at the dogs, and wondered what my next option was. I started thinking through what I was going to do, then thought better of it - come on! My car is a beast! It'll make it home, it's just a bit tired after struggling through the road works, I told myself instead. I sat for a moment, then tried the ignition...and bam! She came back to life! I eased out of my ditch, slowly, gently changing gears, and made it through the roundabout and up the next hill before lurch, lurch and death again. Again, in a completely inopportune place - no emergency lane, just a tiny gravel strip next to an embankment taller than me, to which I had to struggle out on as cattle trucks and the like came flying past, inches from my side mirror at 100km an hour on the highway. It was time for thinking of my next option, and as I picked up my beloved phone to threaten my mechanic with disembowelment call for help, I realized I had no network coverage.

The next five minutes were spent wondering if I really had to do what it was I did. I came back to the answer that yes, yes I did have to do exactly what it was I did. I was stuck in my car with two dogs and cat in 30c + heat, unable to open any windows in case the cat jumped out. Why was it I didn't have that damn cat carrier?! I needed to call someone, and I needed to get the kids out the car before they overheated dramatically. As I leaned behind me unclipping them out of their harnesses and into their leads, I still wasn't sure what I was going to do with Cleo. I looked around the car, hoping for inspiration, and none hit. My only available option was to put her in my handbag - which is fine when I take her to the vet and she's in a secure location, but not so great as this particular handbag doesn't zip up, and we'd be walking along a highway with trucks and the like zipping past only a metre or two away. I rummaged around, and found an 'enviromental bag' - those kind of hessian ones you get from supermarkets (or in this case, with my Steve Madden shoes). I carefully put her in the bag, and, as I called myself many names revolving around the fact I was a terrible mother, I tied her closed in the bag. I knew she was able to breathe as it was very loose fabric, and I knew it would make it dark for her, so she would be less scared, but I still felt awful. I put her in my handbag, along with my iPod and any other valuables, and set off my hot, dirty and slightly terrifying trek up the highway with my dogs on lead and my cat trying to escape my handbag. People driving past must have thought I was smuggling a child in it; the whole thing was quivering and shaking and emitting horrific squeals as I struggled up the blackberry encrusted dirt and gravel that consisted of a verge. I eventually made it to a bus shelter, where I gratefully tied the bemused dogs up, and reached in and grabbed Cleo, hoping she was still alive. She was, and I sat with her on my lap as I begged and prayed I would have phone reception - and luckily, I had enough to call my mother. She set off to rescue me immediately, and as I waited with the kids and cursing my bad luck, a bus full of old dears suddenly arrived and disembarked. All seemed fascinated with the fact I was sitting; bedraggled and sweaty, covered in flies and dirt with my two dogs - who were both straining at their leads to attack, kill and eat the bus driver - and a cat on my lap in the back of beyond. They were all lovely, and after the driver tried placating Sahara with cuddles and nearly losing an arm, Mum arrived about 40 minutes later to find me sitting amongst the lovely old ladies chatting about dog breeding and trying to stop Cleo having hysterics about the fly situation. Obviously, they clearly thought I was insane - who on earth sits on a hot Summer day in Nowheresville with a cat on their lap and two enormous, killer dogs waiting for their mother? - as I couldn't seem to make them understand my car didn't want to go any further.

After I spent the day at Mums, I had to call Chef to come and pick me up. I felt a bit weird, and just a little worried at Cam's reaction to calling my dear ex for help, but my options were limited due to the size of my fur-family and the fact Cam's lovely convertible has just the two seats. I couldn't quite imagine Phoenix sitting on my lap, drool flapping and fur flying in the wind, whilst Sahara barked at all the pretty cows in the distance and Cleo hiding under the brake pedals of said convertible. When Chef did arrive, there wasn't a lot he could do anyway. Eventually, at 9:30pm, I called out Roadside Assist - who quoted me up to $600 for the part alone - and I got the damn thing taken away even further into the middle of nowhere, with me having no plans on seeing the blasted vehicle again.

Cameron called this morning to say we would be leaving this afternoon to pick it up.
After all that waiting around, nearly getting squashed on the side of the road as I attempted repairing my fuses and wondering if the cat had eaten a wire to the car's computer - apparently one of the connections had come lose, and wouldn't, after all, be requiring major surgery.

Still, at least I gave the locals something to talk about. I really am living up to my Crazy Cat Lady name. All I need to do now is wear some furry slippers and go out in my rollers next time my car breaks down on the side of the road, and the image shall be complete.

..and even thought I am slightly pissed at being taken care of/having things sorted out for me I grudgingly have to say I am so effing thankful to Cam for doing so.
Ugh, that nearly killed me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Vanuatu: Day III

Saturday, January 31st:
We set our alarm (one of the few times we needed to rely on a clock, except naturally to check we were in time for Happy Hour each evening) bright and early so we could feast ourselves on breakfast before our bus left for our day at Hideaway Island. As our little van bumped and jiggled its way over pot holes and through small rivers on the way to the jetty, I was beginning to get slightly apprehensive: the only time I'd ever attempted snorkeling was on a school camp at the age of about 9, where I became slightly hysterical at the claustrophobia of wearing a mask I was unable to breathe in.
What I presumed would be a one way ride...
When I saw the state of our 'boat', thoughts of OHS standards and just how much our travel insurance would cover lost of limb due to dilapidated boat sinkages flew into my mind. But, Cam's hand firmly leading my own, I ventured into said decrepit vessel and made it safely across the ocean, to the incredible Hideaway.

A very handsome man arriving @ Hideaway.
Once we arrived and signed in, we had a few moments to lather ourselves in sunscreen, take off all surplus clothing and run to the bathroom in sheer terror before it was time to embark on the glass bottomed boat across the reef. As soon as we set off, there were fish everywhere - big ones and little ones of all shapes, swimming right up to the glass and all waiting to be fed the bits of bread we threw over the side of the boat for them. I'd never seen anything like it, and was getting more and more excited to see the 'pretty' ones further out (and getting more and more agitated by the large, newly married lady who hadn't yet discovered the joy of silence, and to whose life story I had sat, captivated by, the entire 15 minute bus trip to the boat. I think each and every minute detail of her wedding - and various medical and emotional difficulties along the way - were shared intimately with the occupants of the back seat, and naturally I had to eavesdrop. I regretted it almost instantly, yet couldn't seem to stop...

Coral through the glass bottomed boat.
As we drifted out further over the reef, we were told where we would be able to snorkel - and where exactly the world's only underwater post office was, should we wish to send a postcard. The further out we got, the prettier the coral and fishys. I was starting to let my excitement outweigh my worry, and was looking forward to seeing the fish close up.
Once the boat docked back at the shore, we kitted up with our snorkeling gear and walked past the bar (I know. Hard to believe, right?) to the other side of the island where we could put our flippers on and start swimming out to the reef. As I fumbled around in my enormous flippers on the dried coral beach (no sand, just old, washed up, bleached coral) I started to get a bit anxious. What if I couldn't breathe properly? What if I had some sort of claustrophobia induced panic attack and wrecked the day for Cam? He was giving my directions for how exactly to put my mask on, while I hopped from foot to foot looking like some sort of ridiculous duck, getting more and more agitated at the thought of failing and letting him down. He told me to just shove my head underwater to get the feel of it while I was still standing, and as I did so, I opened my eyes to an entirely new and magical world. There were fish everywhere - coming so close they were nearly touching my legs - and after a split second of pure wonderment with my head submerged, I came up splashing and spluttering, something along the lines of - 'Oh My Fuck! There's FISH!' - before I shoved that mask back on and off I went.

The only time I stopped for the next 40 minutes or so was due to Cameron's silly underwater behavior - I found every time I laughed at him trying to give me a big sloppy kiss - resulting in us banging our masks together - I ingested about a litre of water and came up gasping for air. A whole while later, breaking the spell of enchantment in my newly discovered world of underwaterness, I swam to the nearest pontoon for a rest while Cam kept going. I hauled myself up, and basked in the sunlight for a few moments while I caught my breath. I closed my eyes for a second, reveling in the hot sun, and then opened them with a start as I asked myself what I was doing. I looked up and around me - for as far as I could see, there were wispy clouds playing hide and seek with the sun, ocean in shades of beautiful blues all the way to our little island where to the right were others; hilly islands covered in lush green jungle like I've never before seen. Except for the faint strains of the string band emitting from the bar, all I could hear was laughter and splashing - I was in one of those truly amazing moments where you have to stop for moment, and realize life just can't get any better. I was in utter paradise where happiness was the only emotion possible, as every one else around me was so easily demonstrating, and as I looked over the side of the pontoon at Cam coming up to pull me back in the water, I almost burst with contentment that I got to share something so incredible with someone so amazing.

Pidgin English - Rispectum Rif Blong Yumi. Say it out loud, you'll get the idea - Respect the reef, it belongs to you & me.
After another float around the reef, we headed back to shore for a break, and some much needed lunch - and a beer, of course. We sat on the picnic bench, drying out and devouring our meal before we realized we were the last to leave for our afternoon Snorkeling Safari. This time, we went out in a boat to the far end of the reef, where our guides took us out in the water and showed us giant starfish and the tastier less pretty but bigger fish. We snorkeled around for about 45 minutes at the drop off to the reef, where we saw some amazing things, as well as hundreds more fish that were so inquisitive you could reach out a hand and almost stroke.

Kicking back waiting for the storm to hit.
When we were all snorkeled out, we laid down on the sun lounges and watched the storm start rolling in over the water, as Cam bought me possibly the most amazing alcoholic beverage I have ever consumed - my first ever pina colada. I was in heaven, and lookin' mighty fine, as you can see. Oh yeah.

We're cool. No, really.
Later that afternoon, after we'd laid on the beach and let ourselves get soaked by the heavy tropical storm, we took the tour bus back to the resort, where we had a little time to kill before Happy Hour. Figuring we were already wet (and pretty much resembling drowned rats at this stage) we made our way to the pool where we happily filled in time talking to a couple we met at the pool bar. We discovered they lived quite close to us in Melbourne - Saranga, the girl, is only 5 minutes away from my fathers' house - and we had ourselves a great time, giggling and mucking around as the Happy Hour cocktails flowed. We passed on all the information we learned from Matt & Hayley on our first day, and shared stories of how fabulous Hideaway Island was - I even reassured David that snorkeling wasn't scary at all, as he was feeling exactly the same way I was before we set out. We soon had at least two frozen margarita's on the go each, and in no time at all we were making friends with the bar staff and trying new cocktail combinations. It was here I discovered my love of Sex On The Beach - each cocktail having a bare minimum 90ml of alcohol in each, slightly different to the standard 30ml shots you get in Melbourne. We only figured this out when we went to abandon the pool for a bathroom break, and realized our legs no longer worked. Happy to stay in the pool, we did so for the next few hours, not noticing the sun setting or the storm clouds forming overheard. As we chatted away and did a few occasional laps to get the drinks pumping through our veins nicely, it started to rain - and then not just rain, but pour. I've never seen rain so heavy and fast, and yet so warm and somehow extrinsic. As we swam out to the middle of the pool, into the darkness and with cocktails in hand, the rain came down heavier than ever, and seemed to encase us in a world that was entirely our own.
Drunkeness before the storm.
I spend my life constantly dreaming; plotting and planning exactly how I would word each experience and turn every moment into words so well written they take you there. All day, through everything I live through, I want there to be that one amazing moment I shall never forget, and I always thought I would have the power to makes my words turn to imagery, to take you that moment, make it feel like you were really there.
There is nothing I can say to explain that moment we shared, when the warm rain splashed down on our embrace. The world seemed to slow to a halt as we spoke of everything we felt, and saw the relfection of everything we wanted in each others in each others eyes in the middle of that moonlit pool.
It was that moment I will never forget, and although I will never be able to explain just how incredibly amazing it was, there's one person that knows.
He's the only person that needs to know, and the only person who will understand without being told - and that's all that matters to me.

...Oh yeah. And then we drank a few more cocktails, and thought it would be hilarious to use the hilly slopes that were the resorts garden as a Slip N Slide, and returned to our room entirely covered in grass, cuts and quite possibly some insect life, where we discovered an enormous, mangy sewer rat and were subsequently moved to another room - next door to the nice couple we'd met in the pool. They'd had a little difficulty 'keeping up with us' as we smashed down our cocktails, and as a result hadn't quite made it into their own room before 'falling asleep'. We were informed that security had to step in to get them to bed as they had somehow misplaced their room key.
They didn't talk to us much after that...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Watermelon Grin.

I had an emergency shift at the RSPCA today. I was doing my usual job - walking and socializing the inspector seized dogs - but today I had several that had yet to be temperament tested with the view to being adopted. I had a great few hours, doing laps of the walking track with Kouta, the most beautiful blue eyed Husky I've met, and an adorable American Staffordshire terrier. As I went to walk my favorite, a 10month old black and white English Staffy with the biggest watermelon grin I've ever seen, I noticed he'd had his temperament test, along with my other pooches - and all had failed. I couldn't believe it - usually I go in knowing which dogs are not suitable for sale, and find I can just about deal with it. But thinking those beautiful, friendly pups that I spent hours chatting to and playing with were to be put to sleep in just a few hours absolutely devastated me. I'd been so happy to see car load after car load of people bringing in donations for the bush fire animals; I could barely walk through the kennels for pallets of donated dog food and kitty litter. It made me so happy to see first hand how the community can come together, and how the human spirit is a wonderful thing.

But when I realized my little Staffy and that gorgeous husky were being killed because of the upbringing they'd had with some horrific person, it was just devastating. I know I've been prepped for this kind of thing; I knew I had to deal with it when I started working there. I've turned a blind eye to it as much as I could each and every time I walk those dogs, but today it really hit me.

I took that Staffy for his final walk, and sat with him on my lap, saliva flapping from his enormous grin as he snuggled his way into me. I sat with him on my lap, smirking at the world at his good fortune that he was getting love and cuddles. I sat with him on my lap, and I cried my eyes out into his fur. He had no idea he was being led to his death because his previous owner hadn't take the time to socialize him; he was simply over the moon he had someone new to play with. 10 months old, and no one had loved him enough to give him a chance. He should have another 10 years of someone waking up everyday with him being their first priority; another ten years of love and playing and grinning his watermelon grin.

His little tail didn't stop wagging until I shut his cage door and walked away; completely unable to help him. It absolutely broke my heart.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This email just made my day.

When did I get so corny that something like that makes me melt?

Note: I simply couldn't get a photo without some part of Cleo in it.
And those notes were to remind me to confirm my melanoma's being hacked off next month. I heart post-its.

H is for...

I've been waiting, in nervous anticipation, for my very own letter to be assigned to me by Melisa from Suburban Scrawl so I could do my very own Letter Meme, just like Melisa's.

I got my darn letter in an email this morning.


H?!? Melisa, c'mon! I can think of PLENTY of things I love starting with T (like TGI' y'all didn't know that!) M (Mmmm, McDonalds French Fries and a hilarious story that goes with it) or even C (cooking shows that feature ruggedly handsome men like Jamie or Gordon).

But H? How am I going to find 10 things I love starting with H? goes.

1. Horses. My first great love, and my biggest passion. For as long as I can remember, all I've ever wanted to do was have a horse of my very own to love and care for and ride to Olympic victory in the 3 Day Event. My entire bedroom is adorned with books, toys, posters and models and horses and ponies - which, at my age, you must admit means I'm fairly dedicated to the cause.

2. Hockey, of the Ice persuasion. Follows on directly from my great passion at #1. My second greatest ambition was to grow up, move to Canada and play hockey - and naturally beat the crap out of and body slam all the grown men like the tomboy I am. Ooh, yeah.

3. Honey Mustard. It's practically the sole reason I go to TGI's (and why I've frequented Subway 4 days in the past 5...). I'm absolutely hooked on it, and it actually got me started eating salad, which is more than my mother could do for 19 years.

4. Hotels. I love going away, and there's nothing quite as exciting as knowing you're going to a hotel and having someone else clean up after you, make the bed and give you soft, fluffy towels. I also enjoy stealing anything that isn't actually bolted down, particularly those novelty miniature body lotions and the like. I realize this makes me sound like I don't get out much.

5. Happy Endings. I am addicted to chick flicks for this very reason. I love sitting down of an evening or lazy Sunday afternoon and chucking Love Actually/The Notebook/Where The Heart Is or similar on, and ensconcing myself warm fuzzy feelings for 2 whole hours before having to return to reality, and the banality of my own life.

6. Hats. My life is one big bad hair day. My mother and Sarah are constantly and infuriatingly telling me how 'cute' I am in them. Winter days aren't complete without a furry beret, and Summer means cowboy hats and trucker caps for days on the beach. I almost have more hats than belts and...

7. Heels. My life would be incomplete without asserting my 6ft2 authority in heels over small, inconsequential men people on a night out. I love being tall (it's only taken 21 years of stooping to realize this) and I love wearing heels. Ironically, being as tall as a guy is one of the few times I feel like a girl. I don't, however, like the sound of my ankles snapping or the severe knee bruising I seem to gain from wearing them. One day I shall be elegant. One day.

8. Horoscopes. I read mine every day. I am the quintessential firey Aries, born in the Tiger sign - let me give you a little taste of Katie (idea stolen from Melisa...thanks for that!)
Because I am an Aries, this means I am:
Headstrong, passionate, opinionated, courageous, selfish, assertive, restless and impulsive, competitive, open minded and a natural leader.
I have a great need for freedom, a quick tongue, find it hard to show feelings of weakness, love adventures and making friends, have a short attention span and don't like losing.

Yep. Think that's me in a nutshell, really. If you believe in star signs as I do, then as an Aries, my best friend should be a Sagittarius (Sarah) and my future husband lover a Leo (Cam). My mother is also an Aries; we butt heads quite a lot, and my poor Virgo brother didn't cope so well with the high energy all the time in our household.

9. High Rise Buildings. Because I'm a country girl through and through, I still get a jolt of excitement when I visit big cities - there's this sort of electrifying feeling of anonymity and excitement; no one knows your name, and there's so many hidden places to explore and adventures to be had. I love sitting at Starbucks with my big sunnies on, people watching and wondering about the tiny fragments of life I'm seeing as someone walks by; where they're going and who they really are, all the while with the beautiful backdrop of huge architectural monstrosities. I love that feeling of being so small next to such amazingly big buildings.

10. Happiness. I know it's pretty close to my Happy Ending section, but I mean in a whole other way. Those random moments every day that make you pause for a second and smile. I've no idea what 'real' happiness is; I'd like to think I've got a few years to figure that all out. But in the meantime, I love those tiny flashes of 'this is what it's all about'. Simple, everyday things like a text message from my mum about one of our longstanding jokes that no one would understand, a paw in the face from Sahara when she's in a silly mood or a handmade card arriving in the mail. Then there's those somethings that I'll never, ever forget, like seeing everything I felt reflected in Cams eyes as we swam in the pool in a tropical downpour in the dark on one of the most amazing days I can remember. There's always a glimmer of hope when you have those happy flashes, and I hope that I'm a little bit a part of other peoples happiness each day.

...*breathes a sigh of relief*
It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Whatcha think - are they all valid "H's"?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

3 Things.

I've been having trouble signing into Blogger. As a result, I've got the next two days of my Vanuatu diary awaiting publication, but first, I thought I'd do a bit of a news brief.

Firstly, and most excitingly, I got accepted into my Diploma of Professional Writing & Editing course. I managed to skip through the induction process due to having been pre-accepted into the course previously before I flew off to England to 'find myself'. Funnily enough, the course co-ordinator (whom I met at a poetry reading at an Irish pub and shared some Guiness with a few months back) had just returned from Vanuatu himself, so the enrollment process took slightly longer as we had a merry old natter about Cascade Waterfalls and the like (which y'all can read about on Day 3!) As a result, I start my first class - Journalism - in...well, in 3 hours. Yay!

Secondly, to the fires. I've had a so many emails, and a couple of comments asking how things are going - in general, they're awful. Horrific story upon even more devastating story emerge about girls my age dying trying to save their horses, children burning to death in cars trying to leave their homes - everyone you talk to knows someone who has died, and many people who have lost their homes. On a more personal note, many of Chef's workmates have lost homes, friends and family; his own brother is still out fighting the worst fire in Bunyip. I have several school friends who are currently working 14-20 hours a day fighting to contain the fires only 30 minutes away my hometown, as well as acquaintances who lived in the town that has been completely destroyed. I still haven't heard if they and their horses are alive. My mother is fine; and the smoke has cleared from around her house.

And although I don't know exactly how I feel about my him, spare a thought for my father. He has been deployed to the worst fire zone with his Army unit to drive tanks, bulldozers and heavy machinery to attempt containment lines, back-burn and to try and reopen roads and escape routes. He is also doing body retrieval; some soldiers are finding up to six bodies per day. I can't comprehend how horrific that must be, and I simply can't think of a more gruesome task.

Thirdly, on a brighter note (although still deeply upsetting). A certain someone with whom I recently flew to Vanuatu with is flying off again soon - minus me. Which is fine. Absolutely fine. Until I discovered when and where he was going. He was originally going to be away for my birthday, but fortunately he is (hopefully) able to make his trip the next day. This was the good news. The bad? He's off to the place in the world I most want to see, and would do anything to do so. The one city I've longed to see, for as long as I can recall. Home of my favorite person; Carrie Bradshaw, of Central Park where I've always wanted to walk, to the Chrysler Building I've always wanted to see the view from, Barneys and Bergdorf and Save Karyn and ice hockey and...

Yep, he's off to New York.

*sobs into the keyboard*

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vanuatu: Day II

Friday, January 30th:

Our second day dawned bright and...well, raining. After hearing all the exciting things the other couples were telling us the night before, we decided it was time to explore and work out what we wanted to do while we were there. We headed downstairs to the Guest Relations desk (which had me in fits of laughter, but that's simply because I have a filthy mind) and looked through hundreds of brochures before deciding on booking ourselves in to a snorkeling safari the following day, a half day horse ride and the sunset yacht cruise around Port Vila at the end of our stay.
As I was pretty tired from our Sydney Passport Impounding flight, we decided to take it easy and see the sights of the town before taking a kayak trip around the lagoon in the resort.

I've got a lovely pair of...pineapples. Me enjoying the 24/7 Market.
We headed downstairs to get ourselves a cab, and made the short journey into the heart of the town towards the 24 hour fruit market we'd seen the night before. Once we'd wandered around the street and had a gander in the duty free stores, we discovered the market - and it was unlike anything I'd experienced before. We'd been told that entire families went, and took it in turns to sleep while the others served. There were so many smiling faces and colorful characters in amongst the coconuts, bananas and pineapples, and more sweet potatoes than I've ever seen and in every different color. I also discovered piles of crabs; tied up together in stacks with baling twine. I had every intention of setting them free, but was dragged away before I could spend all my Vatu on freeing them.

My mangled foot.
After we got back to the resort, we life-jacketed up, set out on our kayaks, and I found that although I am ridiculously uncoordinated and untalented, I managed to take to it like a fish to...well, water. Although apparently one isn't supposed to do it cross legged. As we paddled to the other side, Cam seemed to think it would be hilarious to climb into my kayak and...cuddle, and as he did so, we sort of...well, we capsized. And as we capsized, my foot hit the side of the flimsy plastic...and damn, it hurt. Like, really badly. Who would have guessed I'd hurt myself in the most innocent way the second day in? (note the use of sarcasm).

The only upside? I had my first experience with room service. It was delicious, and totally worth the agony and hideous bruising.
As I wasn't feeling particularly great during the afternoon, I had a quick nap while Cam finished reading Lance Armstrong's biography...and my little nap ended up with me sleeping all the way through Happy Hour and into the evening. I wasn't impressed, but knew I needed the sleep after my neurosis on the flight wore me out.

Cam getting ready for the fray.
I woke up starving, and we decided to go to Chill, the restaurant we'd heard so much about from the evening before. Once we got there, the debate about how upset I'd be regarding Cam's choice of crab vs lobster began. I eventually guilt-tripped him out of the lobster, and shortly afterwards an enormous coconut crab arrived, complete with nutcracker to break the little suckers legs and minion to tie on a bib for him (Cam, I mean, not the crab). It was quite possibly the most barbaric act I've witnessed. Even after devouring my (extremely delicious) Efate Satay (the name of the main island in Vanuatu is Efate, hence the name) there was still an hour of watching Cam dismember the poor invertebrate with relish. We learned later in the trip that coconut crabs are endangered, and just exactly why they're named coconut crabs (wait until day 5, y'all!)

Waiting for the world to change? Nah, just those creepy crab legs to be taken away.
As I sat awaiting the end of the destruction, I watched the view from Chill. The restaurant was literally built hanging over the water, and the rain was coming down in straight sheets, which looked almost like snow as it swirled down magically in the glowing light. As we left, we stood under shelter to look at the rain, and watched, mesmerized, as several fish swum in a school on top of the water in synchronized patterns. It was another lovely - and early - end to our second night in Vanuatu, and I was getting filled with nervous excitement about our third day, when I was to go snorkeling for the first time...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Vanuatu: Day I

I had every intention of keeping a travel journal on my recent jaunt to tropical heaven Vanuatu. I took an empty visual arts book with me. I stuck things I stole from the in-flight magazine in it. Heck, I even wrote a few paragraphs about the excitement of the first day. But not long after, it all kind of fizzled out, with the exception of me writing myself notes beginning with 'Don't Forget!' and a list of all the amazing things we'd done on that particular day. I still keep finding them; in my wallet, my handbag, my skirt pocket...and they've worked. I still haven't forgotten. I just haven't quite gotten around to editing them, and actually sitting down with pen and paper and completing my travel diary.

So, as a way of getting myself in the mood - and because, let's face it, I can type a WHOLE lot faster than I can write, and I have the added bonus of attaching pretty pictures - I'm going to blog it. Right here, right now, from start to *finish. Enjoy.
*maybe one day at a time...

Thursday, January 29th:

Sunrise over Victoria as we take off.
I stumbled out of bed, bleary eyed and sweating at 2:30am. As I hastily boiled the kettle for an eye-opening, middle-of-the-night-and-need-to-stay-awake-for-another-20-hours coffee, I Googled the current temperature in my suburb. It as a toasty 35.4c, and rising. At 3am, I was sitting on the front lawn awaiting my ride with Sarah, who rose above and beyond the call of duty to drive us at that ridiculous time to the airport. At quarter past, I start to panic, and call Sarah to make sure she did in fact wake up in time. Her phone is turned off. I panic some more. Ten minutes later, she arrives, and the process of emotional eating begins as we set off to pick up Cam before arriving at our terminal. Another coffee, cheese & egg McMuffin and some raspberry licorice later, we're ready to board - and sheer terror sets in.

Getting acquainted with the emergency exits.
I don't fly well. It's a well known fact. Given the engine blowing up and catching fire on a previous trip to England, I feel I have every reason to indulge in histrionics each time I board a flying tin can and hurtle through the sky, cheating death and... oh. Where was I?

Trying - in vain - to relax on the flight.
At Sydney, where we had an hour to transfer from domestic to international terminals and board our flight to Vanuatu, I discovered a little problem at Customs. My passport was confiscated, due to it's expiry date being a week or so earlier. Not a problem, our travel agent assured us - I was safe to fly on my British Passport, without needing a Visa. She was right - I could get in to Port Vila, but not back in to Australia; my Aussie passport providing me with my Visa back in to the country, which I no longer possessed as the rather unpleasant Customs man impounded it. After discussing the matter with Cam, and calling my mother to tell her of the issue, I decided to fly out anyway, and deal with the situation after our holiday. Ahh, the power of Dealing With It Later.

Cam & I once I finally settled down on the flight.
After adorning Cam's shirt with my mascara on take-off, we had a smooth flight to Vanuatu - until we were preparing to land. Apparently there were some large tropical storms blowing up over the hills surrounding the airport, and visibility was too low to land safely. We circled for quite some time, waiting for the storm to abate, while all the while I was indenting nail marks in my traveling companion's arm as I was terrified we'd fly into a mountain in the rain.

Once we finally cleared through the cloud to land, I was shocked at the size of the airport; it was tiny, with none of those sucky walk-way things that attach to the plane for you to disembark on. We literally climbed down some steps directly on to the tarmac, and walked in to the main room of the airport, and waited to clear Customs - luckily without incident this time. As we stepped outside to await our transfer bus to our resort, the first thing I noticed was the heat - it was humid, and the air seemed almost wet - so different from the dry, scorching 44c heat we'd been experiencing back in Melbourne.

Our resort :)
As we drove through the village on the way to our hotel, I was amazed at the lush vegetation - it was amazingly green as fas as the eye could see. And then we saw some villagers - and all waved at us, smiling, as we drove by. I had no idea what to expect when we arrived, and the squalor shocked me a little - but more than anything, the happiness and openness of the village people was beautiful. They were so colorful, and their radiant smiles lit up their faces; it was a dramatic contrast to the surly and rude people from Melbourne airport.

Got pothole?
Our resort was a 15 minute drive from the airport, over roads ravaged by the rain to form massive potholes, but it was one I will never forget - that first breath of foreign air and the feeling of tropical storms brewing as we drove through the enchanting - and rather bumpy - roads to our hotel.

Being welcomed to Le Meridien.
As we arrived, we were welcomed from the bus by Chief Sam, a local in traditional Melanesian dress blowing a conch shell, and I fell in love with the architecture and sheer size of the lobby.

The beautiful lobby. There was a bar behind that glass wall... my kinda place!
We were given our room key - which bore the name Mr & Mrs Cam's Last Name, which was to be attached to all documentation from our holiday, as well as the tags on my suitcase - and settled our bags in before we set out to explore the resort. As we walked out into the grounds to see the lagoon, we noticed the Pool Bar - and soon seated ourselves down and ordered the local beer and some burgers, which were amazing - and of which I had to take a photo for Melisa.

See? It's not just an Aussie thing - Vanuatu has beetroot and pineapple on their burgers, too! (It's kind of in the background, next to that vile weed known as tomato which both Cam & I detest)

My first tropical rain.
After consuming our delicious snack, we took a bit of a walk around the grounds. As we headed towards the lagoon, we found the 140metre suspension bridge we'd read about in the travel brochure - the one I'd been having fits over since I got it into my head we had to cross said terrifying bridge of death to get to our hotel - and decided, since I'd done so well on the plane, I'd have another shot at cheating death. As soon as we stepped out onto the shaking structure, it started raining - and in a way I'd never known. It absolutely bucketed down; a torrent of warm water which soaked us through in seconds, and which smelt amazing as it hit the hibiscus and frangipani's around the hotel. We stood on the bridge and watched it splash down into the lagoon; one of the many beautiful tropical storms we encountered whilst we were there.

Rain over the lagoon.
Deciding we were already drenched and a little more water wouldn't do us any harm, we made our way back to the pool, and had a splash before realizing it was happy hour.
We soon ordered ourselves some frozen margaritas, and polished them off quickly, discovering to our joy that they consisted mainly of alcohol, which a little lemon flavored ice. As we were happily consuming our next round, we got chatting to another couple - Matt and Hayley - who were from Sydney, and were more than happy to share their own travel tales, and pass on tips and information about the best things to do and see in Vanuatu, as well as how to deal with taxi drivers and so on. We talked for a while in the pool, and soon we had an invite to dinner with them and another couple from Sydney who were leaving the next day.
A very happy me @ Happy Hour @ Pool Bar.
After getting dried off and changing back in the room, we caught a cab into Port Vila and met up at a restaurant called Waterfront, which, funnily enough, was right on the waterfront. We ordered some mojito's (which again, were mainly all alcohol and went straight to my head) and Mexican, and chatted the night away, dodging awkward questions about how long Cam & I had been married, and listening to recommendations for things to do during our stay. After dinner and more chatting, we listened to dodgy karaoke - until 9pm, when I was ready for bed. It was a pretty common theme while we were there - restaurants closed early, which fitted in fine with me as I was exhausted from the days activities, and was keen to get back to some air conditioning and a good nights sleep.
I had no idea what to expect when we arrived, and was shocked at how relaxed I was, and how quickly I'd fallen in love with Vanuatu - and I went to sleep wondering what the next 6 days would bring.
And then we were ready for Day Two...

P.S Cam - feel free to comment me on anything I fail to remember! My poolside 'don't forget' list we did on what day is a bit confusing now I'm sober...

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Today is Victoria's hottest day on record - 46.6c - and the winds are over 90km an hour. Bush fires are going crazy all over the state - and are currently setting in to the area Chef's family lives, burning 600 hectares an hour. My mother is around 100km away from that area, but is on ember watch. There's a cool change due this evening, and as soon as it hits and the wind changes, it will head toward her area. We're both listening to the emergency radio, and discussing her options for if there is any direct threat to her area. From my living room window, I can see an enormous wall of smoke coming up over our area, and listening to the radio saying that as two of the main power sources are out due to fire that we'll soon be on power restrictions for the evening. I hope everyone is safe, and that the fire's are soon contained, and don't pose any real threat to my mothers area.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

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