Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Travel Companions

Right now I am probably recovering from my four day Inca Trail hike. Thankfully I have three friends to recover with. I haven’t spoken about my travel companions until now, and we are certainly an eclectic bunch.

I am a dominant personality. (What? You say! How unexpected!). I am literally and figuratively the organiser. I have little patience with inefficiency and disorganisation and as such have serious control issues. I planned this trip and I like to know how it is going to pan out in advance. Having said that, I’m also a Scorpio, so I’ll be the most emotional for sure. I’m a massive sook, and will be the first to spill tears.

I’m also travelling with my neighbour, Mrs B. She was the first person to jump on board my crazy plan of heading to Peru. Her personality type is more laid back and easy going than mine. She tolerates my obsessiveness by countering it with her fantastic sense of humour. She will have us all in stitches; but hopefully only the laughing kind and not the medical kind. Mrs B is an Aries. Aries are impulsive and courageous, so we might have to talk her out of taking home a Nazca Lines tattoo as a souvenir.

Dr E (who technically is a Vet, and is therefore only a Doctor of animals – a technicality) has also agreed to join us. This is her first major international adventure. She is practical and happy to tag along for the ride. She is possibly the fittest of the bunch, and could run circles around me with all her energy. But there will be no Nazca Lines tattoo for her on this trip. She’s far too sensible for anything like that. Dr E is a Virgo, and Virgos like to help others. I’m hoping that her medical skills play an important role on our hike when I am writhing in pain and whinging about my knees. Surely something translates between horses and humans…

Finally we will be joined by Miss Honey. She is the nurturer (just like her Roald Dahl counterpart). In fact she’s possibly one of the nicest people I know. Whilst she is the youngest in our group, she is possibly the most sensible. I’m relying on her sensitivity when I am falling in a heap at the top of Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail. Luckily for Miss Honey, she is also a Virgo. This means that she will really have no say in helping me; she will feel instinctively compelled. She will be like the camp mum. Having said that, I’m also dying to see how she goes after sampling the local Chicha…

I think we have a lovely group dynamic and I’m excited about seeing how it all works out in the end. Also, I don’t think I will cry as much as I wrote above. I haven’t planned for it in my itinerary anyway.

Man Flu

Winter is here, and this year I am prepared. I had my first ever flu shot and (touch wood) so far so good. I am usually pretty good when it comes to dealing with winter ailments. The Farmer (who is as strong as an ox and rarely gets ill at all)… not so much.

I am a woman who has survived over 60 weeks of morning sickness (for which I was hospitalised twice), and I had three natural, drug free births. So I know all about real pain. And if I say I am sick, then let it be known that I am truly very sick.

I don't like to complain about being sick either. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of another. My kids get fed, my house gets cleaned, the washing gets done... etc. So it's possible that sometimes I could be sick for over a week and no one might ever know about it.

Which brings me to the dreaded Man-Flu.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Man-Flu, it works like this...

1. When ladies get a mild cold, and a man contracts the same thing, he gets something more akin to a real flu.

2. When you get a real flu (aches and pains, chills etc.) your partner is bound to be nearly on his death bed when he contracts the same strain.

3. Even male children/infants/babies are susceptible to Man-Flu.

It was only very recently that I read about a survey that had been conducted in Europe that was suggesting that men actually have a lower pain threshold than women. Which brings some substance into the old "why do I always seem to contract a more dangerous strain of the flu than you Jessie?" argument. The Farmer can't help it! He is biologically destined to always suffer more than me when it comes to the common cold. Mostly Man-Flu in our house is greeted with eye rolls, groans of self-pity and avoidance. Mostly. I’m not a complete monster.

Some years ago now, The Farmer fell ill with a suspected case of Man-Flu. Five days into it all, I was becoming frustrated and edgy. I was actually a little over it all. I finally dragged hubby into the local hospital, carefully detailing the 'Man-Flu' symptoms and engaging in a little friendly banter about how 'surely this attack of Man-Flu has nothing on my 60 weeks of morning sickness!' Two days later, the results were in. Food poisoning. As it turned out, The Farmer was lucky to have presented at the hospital at that time, as failure to have done so would have only caused more damage to his body. His otherwise good health had been his saving grace it seemed.

So now when hubby is 'sick' I am reminded of 'that time that he nearly died', and how I need to be a little more sympathetic. Until then, my flu shot, a hot lemon and honey tea, and a turn in front of the wood heater should be enough to stave off any winter chills.

The Long Drive West

The drive west always seems so much further than the drive east. At least for visitors. Maybe that’s why they do it so sporadically. To be fair, it’s always further for me as well. Although I love heading home, the thought of ‘getting away’ seems to make that drive east always go a little bit faster.

My brother and sister both came out to visit with their young families on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. I always get so excited about having visitors to the farm for a number of reasons.

Before visitors arrive I love getting my house clean. Like really clean. Like scrubbing the glass on the windows and pulling hair out of the shower clean. I love baking and organising the pantry so that there will be plenty of food to go around. I can’t bear the thought of visitors thinking we go without because of where we live, so I always make sure there will be enough to go around. I always ensure we eat a variety of home grown meat with our visitors. We are incredibly proud of what we produce on the farm. And as city slickers, my brother and sister are always grateful for lamb they don’t have to pay for.

I organise an array of activities showcasing our fantastic local region. Before children, it was a day trip to the local winery. These days it’s a trip to The Ridge to see underground mines and hot springs. In the summer we all lounge outside by the pool, and in winter we head out in a farm vehicle to show the children sheep and kangaroos and emus. Preferably the live ones.

My brother arrived late Friday and stated that a friend of his from the city had told him that ‘if The Farmer asks you to help him out with fencing this weekend, you’re not really his friend.’ So fencing was out. But what about stick picking? We can always do with a bit of that – especially in the winter – and the more hands on deck the better. But as the cold snap kicked on over the weekend, it was wine and beer by the fireplace instead.

On Monday morning I was left with that hollow feeling you get when something really good comes to an end. As we waved my family off in their cars, I wondered if this is how my parents feel when we all pack up and head back to the farm?

And now that the weekend is over and I have packed up all the spare beds and moved the furniture, I can rest easy knowing that it will be some time before I have to go through all that effort again, all thanks to that long drive west.



The Guilt Trip

The Guilt Trip

There’s a phrase I was introduced to recently that impacted on me so much I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself any sooner. It’s the ‘guilt bake’. It’s actually part of a bigger process called ‘The Guilt Trip’. This is essentially just a holiday for anyone else, but for Mums who leave husbands and children behind, it is a ‘Guilt Trip.’

I’m heading off on my overseas adventure any day now.
Right now I'm over the Pacific somewhere headed here, to Peru.
So much planning has gone into it I don’t even know if I’m excited or relieved about getting on the plane anymore. Holidays used to be about putting some gear into a suitcase or back pack and double checking documents and then just heading away. But since I’ve been a wife and mother I have to add a few other jobs to my pre-departure pack list.

1.     The guilt bake – where you realise that you are leaving your family behind while you head off to do something insanely exciting and selfish, so you leave behind a freezer full of goodies (biscuits, slice, cake etc.) to appease your own guilt. This guilt bake also extends to meals. I will leave behind lasagne, pies, potato bakes and roast meat (cut and frozen) to be eaten while I am away. The Farmer does not suffer the same pre-departure guilt and has not (up to this point) ever felt the need to do a guilt bake before he leaves to go anywhere.

2.     The guilt clean – this is when you run around like a lunatic for the weeks leading up to your departure getting everything spotless, and then chase everyone around your house to make sure they don’t undo any of your hard work in cleaning until you leave. This includes the fridge, pantry and (this time) I even ransacked most of the cupboards in our house. The sad part is that the house will never be as clean upon your return, but there is still some joy in knowing you got it spotless before you left.

3.     The list – I am probably going a little overboard here, but I have been known to leave crazy lists before I go away. During the school term, the lists may include the morning and evening routines for the children. On school holidays it may include location of medications in the house, times for medicine administration and dates for certain events.

The really silly part about all of this is that even without the guilt bake, guilt clean and list making, the children and Farmer would all survive. It’s part of the pressure cooker I sit myself in before I actually head away. Maybe the guilt trip is more about what I expect from myself, and not how anyone else is making me feel. In any event, the holiday will all be over in two weeks and normality will be restored again; and if I’m lucky, most of what I prepared will still be in the freezer for when I return.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Food Connoisseurs

I’m not the world’s best cook. It’s safe to say that there won’t be any cook books coming out of this little chicken any time soon. And I live with a family of food connoisseurs.

The Farmer is fairly accommodating. He is fairly happy to see any food cooked for him, and will (mostly) eat anything I serve up and be grateful for it. Except for my ‘special nachos’; he can’t stomach them at all. This is only a shame because it is also the children’s favourite meal. It’s loaded with salad and guacamole and meat, and The Farmer said he has just eaten it too many times to stomach it any more.

Mr 6 doesn’t like my roasts. Or any roasts. I’ve explained to him that this is a farmer staple, but he still won’t come to the party. He’s a sausage man from way back.

Miss 8 is fairly accommodating of my cooking. She isn’t a fan of chicken, but will eat almost everything else. Yesterday we were out walking and she explained to me that she suffers from guilt when eating fruit. She loves fruit, so this surprised me. I asked what she meant and she explained that she imagines that the bigger {mandarins} are the parents and the smaller ones are the children. She said she feels like she is killing them when she eats them.  I asked if she felt the same way when eating meat (which really does have to die in order to be eaten), and she said that eating meat doesn’t bother her at all. She’s a funny child.

Miss 10 is my fruit bat. She will eat whatever is put in front of her. Unless it is McDonalds or any other fast food outlet food. And I know I should celebrate that, but on the long drive to the city, the convenience of those food outlets is incredible.

I always prefer cooking to eating. Once I’ve spent time preparing something (and usually sampling as I go), it rarely holds any interest for me when it comes to eating. I am always so excited to eat food that has been prepared for me by someone else.

For now I will stick to my day job. I am better at teaching and mothering than I am at cooking. We all eat well, but I’m not setting out to win any medals. There’s plenty of time for improvement.