Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Outback Phobia

When I first moved out west to teach the Peter Falconio disappearance was still fresh in everyone's minds. For those of you who aren't familiar with the mystery, in 2001 two young backpackers from England were driving through the Northern Territory on a main highway on an isolated stretch of road that runs through the middle of Australia. Joanne Lees (who survived the incident) claims that she was hog-tied by the driver of a car that pulled them over, Peter was shot, and she managed to escape and hide from the killer. Peter's body has never been found.

In any event, I had made a mental pact with myself never to stop on an isolated road for ANYONE. If a situation looked ligitimately serious, I would contact police in the next town I drove through.

On one occassion however, I found myself in an awful predicament whereby one of my tyres had blown when I was still 30km out of town. Faced with any number of horrible situations that could happen to me, I decided to get a lift into town with the next car that would stop for me. I just hoped it wasn't the same person who Peter Falconio stopped for... As it turned out, the next 'car' was in fact a goat truck. It was old and rickety, and it smelled. Of goat. And there was a dog in the front seat. But I was grateful that the driver had even stopped for me, so I bundled myself into the vehicle and nervously rode into town with an old man and his goat truck.

Mostly I was just happy to still be alive.

The Peter Falconio case is the catalyst for a silly phobia I have developed over the years. I still don't stop for ANY car on an isolated road at night, or when I am alone.

So today I was taking the kids to the bus stop (20km away) when a typical backpacker vehicle signalled for me to stop.

A van like this... perfect for stashing bodies in...

As I approached the mini van, the first thing I observed was a Scandanavian looking backpacker at the wheel. (Cue flashes to the crazed Norwegian shooter a few years back - and please don't get me wrong. I LOVE Scandanavians. Hell, I used to frequent the Down Under Bar in my uni years, and Scandanavians and I go WAY back... but I was still nervous. Surely some of the world's best serial killers are good looking!?)

I wound my window down, but kept the car in drive. He smiled a friendly smile and asked me for directions. I told him he was on the wrong road, and offered for him to follow me to the bus stop, where I could show him the direction he needed to go in. He seemed relieved and grateful. And once he was set on the right path he gave me a wave goodbye.

I had survived.

I know... this fear is irrational, silly and unfounded. But I can't help it. It's my sense of self preservation that makes me crazy.

Do you have an irrational, silly and unfounded fear? Or just any old fear? Please share so that I don't feel quite so silly...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Going Viral

So I posted this picture on my facebook blog page last night. I saw a friend 'like' it on HER friends feed. I loved it! I had toy envy immediately, and after showing my husband, I then posted it on my 'Farmer's Wife' facebook page. Twelve hours late and it has gone viral. Not like VIRAL VIRAL, but viral for me. It has doubled my fan base, and has had some crazy number of shares, that are still increasing literally by the minute. All because of this photo. You can never pick what will do it when it comes to social media!

Maybe it's the kid in all of us, marvelling at something we know we would have loved ourselves. Maybe it's the fact that a father could do this for his son, and we like it because of what we want or have for our own children. Maybe we just think it's downright cool. Whatever. So many people have seen something in this picture that they like. And they are sharing it furiously!

Go figure! x

Sunday, February 3, 2013

RURAL LOVE STORIES - Part 1 - Annaleis Topham

2012 was the year I shared my own rural romance. 2013 is time for other people to share theirs! Once a month I will try to publish other people's stories.

First cab of the rank is Annaleis Topham, who some of you will know better as the lady behind the blog, 'Teapots and Tractors'. Annaleis hails from a small farming community in Western Australia, and this is her story!
Our ‘Messenger’ Love Story

I still have the very first email I sent my now Husband Richard. It wasn’t particularly nice. He had searched through online profiles on Hotmail looking for country girls in Western Australia. He tells me he contacted 3 girls that day. He picked my profile because it said I worked at CBH – a grain handling facility. (So maybe I was a ‘country’ chick!) He only looked in the ‘a’ section luckily Annaleis started with an ‘a’!

A couple of things had to line up for us to even get into contact. I was teaching by then and hadn’t updated my profile information – I worked at CBH during Harvest so I could go to University. And that first email that he sent me went to my junk folder, which I never checked.

I would’ve deleted it except that the name was “blokeWA”. That made me curious. So I emailed him this.

“May I please first ask if this is a bulk mailing, if not where you got my email from...”

His reply

“Hello ....this is not bulk emailing.I was looking through msn and came
across your profile.U seemed a nice person so i thought i would add u.U
can add me to your messeger if u want.Sorry if i have wasted your
time........take care rich”

So after thinking about it for a couple of days I added him on messenger – remember how everyone used to chat?

We chatted for a couple of months. It always came so easily. Rich then came to visit Geraldton where I was teaching. We met in a Petrol Station. (I know classy hey!) Luckily we clicked in real life like we did online. That was one of the best weekends I have ever had. Quick side note – When I met him he was in his work clothes – should’ve known then that he ALWAYS wears work clothes!
Before we could see each other again harvest started and end of year reports needed to be written. It would take us 6 months to see each other again. We didn’t let it go that long again. Every fortnight one of us would make the 3 hour drive to visit the other.
I decided to take a chance and transferred with my 11 year old daughter to teach in the next town to his. It was a big risk moving my daughter, selling my home and leaving the comfort of the town I grew up in just when I was offered a Merit Select teaching position.

It wasn’t easy. All the things my daughter did after school in Geraldton weren’t available in Moora. We lived in a tiny teachers flat that even her cat didn’t like. It was hard to make friends. However over time, moving two more times to our own home things did get easier. I will say that in the first 3 years I really did wonder many times if it was worth it and nearly packed up and went home. I may not have been as comfortable in the ‘country’ as my profile led Rich to believe.

But as you see I did stick it out and we were married in Geraldton in 2008 and have two more gorgeous kids and 4 chooks. I have some wonderful friends, I still relief teach and find that by blogging I’m building a bigger community than what I have to rely on here.

Best thing I ever did was answering that email in my junk folder! I’m pretty sure Rich thinks the same.

Lastly not everyone that is part of our lives knows how we met. Rich’s parents don’t like online dating – not that we did the whole dating site thing. And I’m not even sure what Rich told them. However people meet if you’re ready to take a chance on love I think go for it. Life is too short and right now where I live there is only one single female! Sometimes you have to make your own love story come true.

I live in a very small town in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia. I stay at home and look after my two youngest children. I also do a little relief teaching when I can get a sitter and I blog at I love to craft, read, and play netball, tennis and golf. I also love to get involved – the best way to make friends in a small community.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Runaway

Today I experienced my first run away child.

My kids were all fighting - completely normal behaviour here on a Saturday morning. I was tired and cranky and I *may have* yelled at them all to get out of my room and go back to their own rooms. Miss 7 took offence to my cranky response and headed to her room in tears.

Apparently it's 'always' her fault. Apparently I am mean and nasty. Apparently I am the worst mum ever.

In any event, she packed a small backpack - with a change of clothes, shoes and a photo of CP and I - donned a hat, and announced loudly that she was going to run away.

Our nearest neighbours are 60m away, and they are my in laws. After that, there is my friend Leesa, who is about 10km away. There is a whole lot of nothing between here and there.

So I waved goodbye to my eldest child, reminded her that I loved her and that she was welcome home whenever she was ready. I reminded her of the crocodiles under the grids, and the bunyips at the dam (more for the benefit of her siblings, who were watching in amazement). I told her to be careful of brown snakes and goannas, and to put on lots of sunscreen, because in this weather she will burn to a crisp. I reminded her that school was on Monday, and that she would be needing a uniform. I told her I was looking forward to emptying her bank account and spending it in NZ when we head there in May. I told her I hoped she would keep in touch by email, and that if I hadn't heard from her by this afternoon I would come to find her in case she had died of dehydration. I reminded her that if she wanted a lift into town, more traffic was likely to pass on our northern driveway, and that was assuming she didn't get kidnapped by a stranger beforehand.

And then I grabbed my camera and took a photo of her leaving.

That's her about 45m from home.

Less than 10 minutes later she was home and happy again. Apparently the thought of dying out there in the wild was all too much for her. And I have all my babies back together again under one roof.

It was touch and go there for a minute.

Have you ever had a run away child? Did it all end happily? Did you ever run away as a child?