Sunday, May 3, 2015

Exploring






















On Monday we headed out to explore some of Forster's other beaches and headlands again.
We love Pebbly Beach, and spent some time searching for special pebbles. I collected some stripey pebbles and snail shells, and we found a smiley rock, also. 

Then we walked around the headland, stopping at lookouts along the way and looking down at the rocks below. Over the years people have attached engraved padlocks at the lookouts, it was interesting to read the engravings. Laura did some more gymnastics, making the most of the spectacular background for some instragram pics. I loved the arched pathways between the lookouts, so green with a glimpse of sunshine at the end of the tunnel.

The weather wasn't great, so after some shopping we headed home for the afternoon.


That night the sun set peacefully, with just a touch of gold.
Just your average, everyday totally beautiful lakeside serenity.
Mosquito count: annoyingly high.

Beach afternoon


One of the reasons we went back to Forster again this April was the beaches.
So many beautiful beaches, and a few extra degrees of warmth than in Sydney.
Once again, we were oh so fortunate with the weather.

Elizabeth Beach at Pacific Palms is one of our favourites. After a slow Sunday morning (but one which included a morning walk for me), we headed there after lunch. Later than we intended, but in time to get in some swimming before the early evening set in.






I usually have a bit of a paddle, and then get out and read.
This day I was reading One.Life by Scot McKnight, a great read.
This holiday I discovered that I love running on beaches, at the water's edge.
Over the week I increased my distance. Loved it.
Laura thinks beaches were created solely for her to practice her gymnastics, it seems.


After the beach it was home in time for the sunset (a bit disappointing that day, clouds had come up while we were at the beach) and more reading, videos and lazing around. This year we girls watched Wives & Daughters. (Last year was North & South, I guess we just like a bit of Gaskell with our sand and surf)

So endeth the second day.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Lakeside










As the rain buckets down here in Sydney, I am enjoying looking at the photos I took three weeks ago this evening, at Green Point by Lake Wallis. We had a wonderfully relaxing week, with lots of reading, walking, thinking, beaches, shopping and watching videos. 

It was a week of summery weather after a chilly week at home. We arrived home in time for plenty of rain and some big storms, and it's still raining on and off, two weeks later. Life has been busy, I'm so glad we were able to take a week to relax.  Just looking at the photos helps me to slow down a little, and remember what I was reading and learning, and how much I was enjoying exercising and eating healthy foods, and how we didn't need so much stuff to have a great time. 

Why can't life always be like that??

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It's peaceful inside


The cold wind buffets my face as I push open the door on this, our first wintry-feeling day. A shell mobile jangles to announce my entrance, but otherwise it is peaceful inside. We say a quick greeting to each other and soon I lie face down on the massage table, the thick white towels enveloping me in warmth. A Chinese flute plays Faure's Pavane, accompanied by harp. I allow myself to relax completely, as strong capable hands seek out and start to heal aches and pains, tensions held for years.

The temptation to sleep hits almost immediately, but instead I make myself think. This is my time - eighty minutes or so to remind myself of what's been going on in life, to process it, and to collect together the learning that has been going on, and let go of some stuff if need be. Two weeks ago when I had my first massage, I was shaking off the shock of an intense fortnight of dealing with someone else's stuff, and getting a property ready for sale, all on top of the busyness of family life. This time I am more relaxed, in holiday mode. Easter with its sadness and then its joy has come and gone. I've had time to remember God and be thankful to Him for so many things.

Hallowed be your Name - I remember what I learnt from listening to a sermon yesterday - the importance of praising God, and the acknowledgement to myself that in my spare moments I'm not thinking about God, but often fantasizing about things for me and about me. Since then I've been trying to train myself to nip those thoughts in the bud, and to meditate on Christ, his sacrifice, God's glory, and prayer.

I think about the difference between holidays and term time, and how I have almost come to a standstill this week, with plenty of time for reading and thinking. And I wonder how next term will play out? Will I have this luxury of thinking time in my days? Or will I be busy, as I was in first term?

Give us today our daily bread - I think about my diet, and am thankful for a peaceful tummy today, after 48 hours of pain and discomfort. I think about self-control, and how I quickly lost it over the weekend and ate one (currently) forbidden food after another in the space of a few hours. Even in small amounts, they caused a large and miserable reaction two days later.  I know that I can continue to stay on this restricted but healthy diet, if I just exercise more self-control. I cringe inwardly in pain as my neck and shoulder muscles are worked on, knowing that I can be strong and endure when I know that something is for my ultimate good. I remember something I read last night in an Elizabeth Goudge novel, quoting the apostle Paul: "I keep under my body and bring it into subjection" and going on about an old man living alone ... "The hard chairs, the straw mattress, the plain food, the water instead of wine, the struggle to turn towards the things of the intellect a nature almost wholly attracted by the things of the body. Well, he'd won the fight. There was no sensual hunger that he had not conquered now except the hunger for a child" ... and I wonder where I am on the scale of self-control, and how much of my life revolves around my own comfort?

I think about this last year of good hearing. It is almost twelve months since my ear surgery, and I am oh, so thankful that hearing is something I now don't have to think about - no more difficult conversations or awkward situations. Interestingly,  though, it seems that the chronic shoulder pains that my massage helped today have likely stemmed from years of holding my head to the side to hear better.

Now I have almost dozed off. The warm, slowly moving hands continue their good work on me, each inch of my body stretched and relaxed. The music stops and now I soak up the silence, punctuated here and there by the sound of a bus, or someone speaking outside in an Asian language.

"Ok," she says, when she is done.
"Ok," I respond, and get ready to head back out into the world.

Monday, April 6, 2015

March


March was quite a month.

 I started to help Steve's mum sort through some of her possessions,
in preparation for downsizing later in the month. She gave me many of her beautiful linen and haberdashery items she has treasured over the years, some of her artworks, and other lovely and/or useful items. Some of these items are yet to find a home at our place, there are still piles of things for me to deal with here.

Laura and I stopped off one day at our favourite Mona Vale park on the way to the chiropractor.
Laura grew beans on the kitchen bench as part of an experiment. It's official - water is better for growing plants than coke is.

At (almost) the last minute we decide to take another Japanese homestay student. We had such a good time with Hikaru last year and agreed to have another girl, this time for almost twice as long (10 days)
Laura gave up her bedroom for the guest, and moved into my newly cleared craftroom for the duration  (and was serenaded the first night by Steve on the violin).


Akiko was lovely, willing to do her best to speak English, helping in the kitchen and generally being a very easy guest. She was tired in the afternoons, often sleeping, and it was a busy time for us, especially once Steve's mum and I started meeting with real estate agents and really getting ready to put the townhouse on the market at the end of the month. But we had some good moments, making origami cranes, playing with boomwhackers and teaching Akiko some of our favourite games.

Some of our highlights of her stay were ...


An afternoon at Palm Beach




with lots of space for Laura's gymnastics ...






 

being a "family" of five for a short time ...


... sharing our everyday life, and having cute Japanese clothes on the washing line,


and enjoying a nice dinner out. 



Soon it was time to say goodbye.



With downsizing in full swing with Steve's mum, I crashed in a small heap at this point, but only long enough to take breath for the final week of decluttering at the townhouse.

Other things this month were ...


saxophone rehearsals with an accompanist for Emily
and many assessments and exams for her, she has worked so hard,


a free ticket for me to a seven-harp concert at North Sydney


Laura conquering a new braid


and getting new reading glasses


some new organisation for the coffee table (small things, right?)


a fun day of shopping for me, once we'd finally got the townhouse ready for sale -
every.single.item. from a lifetime either given away or boxed up ready for a garage sale.
Truly exhausting.


 The open houses are happening this month, and an auction in a few weeks.


 Both Steve's parents are comfortable in their respective new abodes, (one in aged care and one in a small apartment) although it has been so hard for them to give up their independence and so many possessions. For me it has been an eye-opening experience regarding life and possessions.

So, March with it's constant stream of things to do and places to be, has well and truly ended.
I'm thankful that Easter and the school holidays have arrived, a pause before the next chapter, 
wherever that may take me.