Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Change of Season

Long before December even rolled around, we knew this summer would be a scorcher. Intense, steamy days that barely cooled at night were set to plague us for months. But on one unbearably humid day, everything changed.

His name was Murray. He stood on my doorstep holding a long, rectangular cardboard box. I managed to contain my delight momentarily but I really wanted to squeal and kick up my heels like Iris in 'The Holiday' when she discovered the swimming pool at Amanda's house. Yes, I was that excited.

Murray laboured away most of the day and each time he passed through the house, he looked even sweatier. I wanted to apologize for the extra-steamy conditions but I also desperately wanted him to finish his work. I felt torn. I paced back and forth like an expectant father, trying in vain to busy myself with insignificant tasks - my mind locked on the frenetic activity occurring just metres away. Finally, the call came.

A Significant Moment

Tentatively, I opened the door. My stare fixed to one particular spot. There, strategically positioned on our bedroom wall was the Mother or perhaps even Grandmother (it was so impressive!) of air conditioners. It could do almost anything, possibly make a cup of tea - I wasn't going to rule it out.

Murray passed me the remote. I felt like I'd just been handed the Olympic torch and entrusted to light The Flame. A respectful hush fell across the neighbourhood. With one slight touch of the on/off button, the unit responded instantly. Did I mention it was whisper-quiet? The bedroom temperature quickly chilled from a sticky thirty-two degrees to a pleasant twenty-four degrees Celsius. I flopped weightlessly onto the bed. A big, cool breath in - years of stuffy, sleepless nights breathed out. Bliss. (Incidentally, the girl in the photo just had her aircon installed too. She gets what I'm saying.)

I'd waited fifteen years for a beautifully cool room during summer and sometimes I wondered if it would ever happen. There always seemed to be other things that took priority.

As I lay there, I remembered some of the stressful moments; babies with heat rash, horribly warm furniture that was never pleasant to sit on, trips to the shopping mall for a reprieve from the heat (window shopping only back then *sob*) but I couldn't exclude some of the fun times; water play outside in the shade and... yep, that's all!

I used to feel sorry for my children when it was unbearably hot but they didn't seem to mind. That's all they knew whereas I had come from a much cooler climate. I tried my best to make it fun and it worked even if on the inside, I felt like I was suffocating from the heat and on the outside I was melting.

But summer does come to an end. The reward for me is a glorious autumn and a long, mild winter. So, as you can see, just as nature's seasons change, so too, do the seasons of life. The secret to happiness is learning to take a close look (not just a quick glance) to find something good in every season. You'll be amazed by what you find. Then you will find that you can scramble out of the troughs and valleys to experience your mountaintops with renewed gratitude and joy.
copyright 2010 Philippa Vette

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Like a Dream

REALITY - Beautiful Big Mama

As odd as it sounds, sometimes when we've wanted something so badly for so long, a serious case of the jitters can kick in when it starts to become a reality.

The decision had been made some time ago but now we'd put 'legs' on it by meeting with our designer, Lisa. (Sorry Ikea - we were such amateurs we needed someone to hold our hand and babysit us all the way. Still love your kitchens!) She assured me, what we would get would be both functional and would look great.
But even on installation day, I was still unsure because I only ever knew this kitchen one way. For eight years I'd wiped down the 80's inspired, grey benchtops, shuffled plates and dishes into the narrow cupboards and longed for overhead cabinets. What would it be like if that all changed? What if it didn't look any good? This was unfamiliar territory.

No Turning Back

When my husband, Mr Practical (see previous blog: Seduced by Square Footage) ripped out the old kitchen just days before the new one arrived, I got nervous. At that point I knew we'd gone past the point of no return. We didn't even have a sink. Was it awkward? It was like camping without the fun of going somewhere exciting. There were dishes stacked in piles, pots and pans flung into oversized cardboard boxes, absolutely no benchspace to work on and I still haven't located the electric mixer. So, I did what any desperate person would do; I went away for the weekend!

The Transformation

At last, installation day arrived. By lunchtime, the installer had most of the cupboards in place and even with a thick layer of dust over everything and I mean, everything, from all the sawing and drilling, the transformation was well under way. The following day all the new appliances were installed and with one flick of the light switch, downlights beamed soft streams of light onto the benchtops. Sigh. I fell in love!

It was better than I had hoped. I stared for the longest time. My fingers ran along the smooth cupboard edges. I rolled the soft close drawers in and out with glee. I marvelled at the new fan forced oven which was light years ahead of my temperamental old stove and pure joy zipped up my spine. I even got up in the middle of the night just to check to see if it was real and not one of those nasty dreams that seem real, but when you wake up, reality bites.


Standing in the new kitchen now, it's like a dream, but better because it really happened. Even the memory of the old kitchen has faded becasue it's been superseeded by something far better. But many times when I couldn't see how it was going to turn out, I felt like pulling the plug. And so it is with change. It can get messy and hard right before the breakthrough. When you swing back and forth wondering if you're doing the right thing after already giving the matter thoughtful consideration and arriving at the best decision, it's a sign that you're so close to something new and wonderful. That's the time to chill and trust and just keep moving forward. Even if you feel like freaking out - don't.

The new kitchen is a beautiful place but it's not the hub of our home, (see previous blog: 'I'm Dreaming of a White Kitchen') as I originally thought. The true hub of our home is the people - my family. Another insight.

So, when you're not sure how to get to your destination, enlist the help of someone who does know ... and have a little faith it will somehow take shape and you will arrive safely. Otherwise you'll always wonder what might have been.

copyright 2010 Philippa Vette

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Surprise in Store

The good thing about travelling with a friend is the company. Sharing memorable moments with someone else definitely makes the trip more enjoyable. However, travelling with someone for the first time, may slip into the category of "Prepare to be Surprised," as I discovered a few days ago.

Airport security is there for a reason. We're all getting used to the heightened measures we must endure if we want to fly anywhere. A security officers job is to decipher those who may pose a threat, to the rest of us. But for a brief moment, my travel buddy (TB) and I stepped over into that other category and all I could think was... 'If this turns out well, this is going to make a great blog, if not, please check visiting hours at the local prison!'

My TB is a young, organised and articulate woman, so it came as a surprise when she was challenged at the airport luggage x-ray about aerosol cans. She'd been asked if she had any aerosols and she even checked and thought she must have left them at home, until the x-ray machine confirmed they were in her luggage. I just smiled, thinking it was quite amusing that just like a women's handbag, a carry-on suitcase was just as impossible to find anything and perhaps even more so because it was bigger.

When she walked through the metal detector her underwire bra set off the alarm! I giggled. It was so entertaining. The aerosols were located and her bag was put back through the x-ray machine once more for good measure. I was still giggling because she looked so surprised and so incredibly innocent. It was all fun and games (though trying to be composed and mature about the seriousness of the situation. Ahem!), until I got selected for a 'random' explosive test while I was waiting for her. Not giggling now. I didn't say a word. I knew it was just routine so there wasn't really a problem but we were still stuck at security and our plane was due to board any minute.

So the test was all good but TB was still being questioned at the x-ray machine. Apparently they'd found a pair of scissors too! Who was this person travelling with me? After seeing the movie, "Are We There Yet?" I'd been so careful to double check my hand luggage in case my toddler had slipped a shiny, metallic object inside so Mummy had something pretty to 'play' with on the plane. "Oh great," I chuckled, "I'm travelling with Angela Scissorhands!" The Underwire Lady strikes again.

As soon as the scissors were located and disposed of 'responsibly' we were on our way to the plane... or so we thought. Enter, centre stage, yet another explosive testing security officer, who approached us and flashed her laminated A4 notice at ME.... not Scissor Lady. I promptly informed her I'd already been 'randomly' tested but she didn't believe me and thrust out her hand in the 'stop' position. Hrmph! After a quick check with the other officer we were given permission to proceed. Given the "all clear" we were now able to laugh about it all the way to our gate, until we discovered our plane had been delayed for an hour. No more laughing.

And so the moral of the story is: carefully choose who you travel through life with. While good companions strengthen us, give support and help us flourish, the wrong associations could lead us along an entirely different path, that may involve surgical gloves and some cold lubricating gel! Seriously though, it may cause regret, limit your options and make you want to give up on your dreams.

All in all, we had a good laugh and no one was arrested. It was amusing for others too. My husband sent me a text message which read: ENJOY THE STRIP SEARCH. Hilarious. But next time I fly with TB, I'm checking her luggage myself!

copyright 2010 Philippa Vette

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Simple Solution

I love practical ideas. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon when my teenage son and I ventured into a previously unconquered realm commonly referred to as the linen cupboard.

Fed up with towels getting forced into odd places and sheet sets tumbling out whenever the door was opened, my linen cupboard was crying out with angst, for some serious attention. Argh! Boring. Hate it. Then as I looked at the unruly manchester strewn and stuffed I got a brilliant idea.

Label the shelves.
Yes, of course. It seemed so obvious. Why hadn't I thought of this before? I knew where everything went but everyone else seemed oblivious with a care factor of zero. All this time, I expected others to know and care about what I already knew and what mattered to me. They just thought if it was in the cupboard and the door actually closed that was good enough but no one could find anything.

Many times I have tidied the linen cupboard, always assuming everyone in the household understood that towels went with towels and were not to be stuffed into a vacant spot next to the tablecloths, creasing them into tight wads of unrecognisable fabric. An hour later it was done. Immediately it returned dividends. When I asked one child to retrieve a hand towel his first objection was, "I don't know where to find it." My answer: "You can read, you'll find it!" Moments later he sauntered out swinging a hand towel with a big grin on his face. Tick. One more step towards a more streamlined and functional life.

Remember; if a tiny pebble was stuck in your shoe, after a day of walking you'd have a sore foot. Better to take the time when you first notice the irritation and deal with it then. Afterall, life's too short to remain angry with the people we're supposed to care about the most. Next stop... the new kitchen!

copyright 2010 Philippa Vette