Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 23. Day 113. You can tell a lot about a person by the company he greets

 You can tell a lot about people's relationship by the way they greet each other. The polite nod, the smile, the half wave, the awkward embrace, the warm embrace, the kiss on the cheek, the kiss on both cheeks, the kiss on the mouth, the tongue kiss .... they all speak volumes without saying a word. Working out what those wordless exchanges mean is a bit of a game I like to play when bored in places like airport arrival and departure lounges. It not only kills time but it is a genuinely interesting study of the human condition. It also melts the heart watching when nearest and dearest reunite after absences. I witnessed such a reunion of sorts today when the Fur Friend Rumple and his adopted half sibling The Fed had a play date after being apart for a week. Such a cute but odd couple they are. When they are together I find myself referring to them as one entity - calling  for RumpsyFeddie (one word, rolled together) in much the same way as in the past my father would hollow MarieSusanLisaMichael if he wanted one or all of his offspring. The teen tells me I have this naming convention all wrong. In the way of Brangelina, I'm told the couple name for Rumpsy and Feddy would be Ruddy. Regardless of what they are called, I must say that when it comes to greetings, we humans have a distinct advantage over canines. The greeting ritual of Ruddy is exhausting just watching it. They jump on each other, roll around a lot, bite each other's ears and mouth, sniff bums and run round around like possessed creatures until they run out of steam. Then they break for a bit and repeat. And that's because they like each other. Goodness only knows how they would react if they didn't get on. Probably much the same way....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 22. Day 112. Stranded

There is something of a magnetic attraction to Noosa for me.
I am not talking about its glorious beaches, the wonderful national park, the  nudist beach or even the shops and restaurants on Hastings Street. For some reason "disasters" befall me in Noosa forcing me to extend my stay here.When my now husband first came to Australia he managed to lose his passport just before he was due to fly back to the UK. We were in Noosa and were "forced" to stay at the rather delightful On The Beach for a few extra days while new documents were fast tracked.
This time it's the car. The new car. The car I bought because I wanted a reliable vehicle that wouldn't break down. The car that is still under warranty is about to be towed. So instead of driving back to Brisbane last night to get The Teen to school this morning as planned, I was on the beach this morning working out what to do next.
There began a long, tiresome standoff. The Holden Customer Care man hung up on me telling me "there was not a damn thing he could do". Bad move, sir. The customer might not always be right but you sure as hell don't hang up on them. The problem was this. The nearest Holden dealership couldn't even assess the car until tomorrow. Holden "policy" is that the vehicle must be assessed before a courtesy car can be considered. So I guessed I was supposed to walk with all luggage, the dog and the teen back to Brisbane when we got kicked out of the accommodation this morning.
Seriously, just quoting your policy doesn't make the policy good. Surely there is such a thing as a case-by-case basis. And while we are at it, surely there is a moral obligation to sell a car that actually works for more than a year without being towed.
So the bulldog was activated. On to the person who sold the car, back on to customer care and finally an agreement to tow the car to Brisbane and provide a hire car to get us back. So the thing that Mr Hang Up on Me Man said could not happen did. That people, is what customer care is and for this I am very grateful. My gratitude also goes to the agents who said the cleaners were not due until lunch time so ignore the 10am kick out time. 
There are far worse places to be stranded than Noosa but it's hard to enjoy it when you are being messed around and treated like shit. The car breaking down may have been an act of God but it is how men deal with it that makes the difference.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21. Day 111. Three's not a crowd

There is nothing that terrible about the terrible twos.
No defiant tantrum, no wilful disobedience, no dummy spit comes close to what a teenager can dish out. The more I see of it, the more I love my dog. But for all their hormonal unpredictability there are real payoffs in the teenager years. More independence, greater reliability, easy banter and intelligent conversation are definite plusses. You just need to be very aware of which version of the teenage creature you are dealing with at any given moment (and it can switch in a moment). Which left me with a big decision – should I take just one teenager on the Easter vacation or share the love and take three. I decided on the latter and my own son was joined by his cousin Scarlett and her boyfriend Alex. It was a flash of inspiration. I still got to enjoy the solitude of the dawn walk with dog along the beach because no self-respecting teenager sees that time of day unless they are still to go to bed. Then when they eventually stirred they were happy to join me for a swim or for the afternoon play with the dog as we ran along the beach. And at night we had a quorum for board games. Three is not a crowd. Three is a happy group of teenagers who enjoy each other’s company and are good fun to be with. I’d be delighted to do it again some time.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 20. Day 110. A race against time

The best thing about holidays is that you never have to be anywhere at a particular time - at least the type of holiday I now favour. Get up when you want. Nap when you want. Eat meals according to no particular schedule (and because it is Easter that includes chocolate for any and every meal if so desired). It is just as well there was no race against time today because quite frankly I would have been on the losing team. My pre breakfast stroll took an impressive four hours in no small part because my walking buddies (one human, one with four legs and fur) got lost. This is itself is no mean feat. We were just walking from one section of beach to another in search of the dog off leash areas. Pretty much everyone should be able to follow the Coast without having to follow stars or the movement of the sun or tides or anything else - but not us. And even when I resorted to the GPS on the phone I refused to believe that its directions were right (they were) further delaying the return. Now this sort of delay would normally see my stress levels reach boiling point because being late and lost is one of my least favourite combinations but not holiday mode Susan. Holiday mode Susan just enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of the seaside and the walk with two buddies. Time and tide wait for no man but today breakfast did wait - and even after the four hour walk we arrived home just in time for breakfast with the stirring teenagers. That's something else that doesn't like to be raced.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19. Day 109. As good as it gets

George Orwell had Room 101. JK Rowling had the Boggart. These were the living embodiment of a person’s worst nightmare; being confronted with thing we fear most in the whole world. I know what would be in that room and even to speak of it brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. I can not go there. But what about the opposite? What if there was a Room 202? This room would not just be like the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts that brings you what you need at the time. This would be the room that represented not only want you need but what you love. This would be utopia. I would call that room Beach Access 30. A long uninterrupted sandy beach represents just about everything that is good in the world. The smell of sun screen, the sand between your toes, the warm water lapping at your feet. It is not possible to feel sad, or mad or bad on a warm sunny day on the sand. Well I can’t anyway. The shrieks of the children as they charge down the dunes, the way the dog’s ears are pinned back as he charges after the ball, the laughter as families roll in the surf or jump on a newly-constructed sand castles. The whole Garden of Eden thing may have been ruined by a woman and an apple but there is no spoiling the beach in the Bible according to Susan. This is as good as life gets.

April 17. Day 107. A Good Friday

 For the following reasons I make it a rule not to go away for the Easter long weekend:
a) Meeting the accommodation cost requires a second mortgage
b) It almost always rains
c) It is the most crowded time of the year
d) Massive traffic snarls are inevitable
e) The Easter Bunny may not know where to find me
But there's no need to be silly about it. When I learned that my husband wouldn't return from his Shanghai conference until Monday and my mother, sister and niece would be in Hong Kong for Easter I decided to be a little home body no more.
I called the credit card into action, booked a palatial beach home and recruited the boy, my niece Scarlett, her boyfriend Alex and Rumple and off we went.
When the Bruce Highway turned to carpark just outside Brisbane, the plan suddenly seemed insane but the bottle neck soon cleared and as soon as we hit the beach all was forgotten.
Even if the Easter Bunny can't fine me, the weather is glorious and the decision to go to the beach is the best one ever. If necessary, there should be just enough money left on the credit card after paying for the accommodation to buy my own chocolate.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 17. Day 107. Making bunny ears

The Easter bonnet parade - an annual ritual which I used to joke was devised by early childhood educators to torture parents and laugh at their truly awful creations. All those years trying to create something that looked even vaguely festive out of a combination of cardboard, feathers, glue and egg cartons or other equally implausible craft items. But today I got to get all misty eyed sentimental about how cute it all was and how fast time flies. Today, having passed the test, my "baby" is the proud owner of a learner's permit and legally able to learn to drive in Queensland. And I thought making an Easter bonnet was cruel and unusual torture. Now the fun really begins. With the bit of paper in hand we walked into the Queen Street Mall where the signs of last minute Easter shopping - and Easter bunny ears - were everywhere. My favourite was he stall making the balloon bunny bonnets. How I wish I'd been able to create something like that back in the day. But you know what? Whatever I came up with, it was always received with the same great pride and joy. And that, and not parental torture, is what it is all about.