A Visit to the Shire


One of the things that happens when I come back to NZ to visit the family is that we default into just having family time, we’ll go out, sure, but I never feel like a tourist in NZ, because, quite frankly, I’m not one… So it’s been lovely to have a friend visiting from the UK who was happy to be shown our little corner of the world.

If you know the Waikato at all you’ll know that our biggest attraction down here is Hobbiton… the set tour of the Hobbit village from Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie fame… I’ve wanted to go for ages, and so today we went over for the guided tour which finishes with a beer at the Green Dragon pub… The weather was stunning, NZ in spring is green and glorious and it was a really fun way to spend a couple of hours… here’s how it looked.

Casting off the Bowlines

Cast off the Bowlines


I’m back in the motherland… home of nephews, nieces, siblings and the rest of the family. I’m working; it’s basically business as usual, but I’m also marking time before I go adventuring next week… 90 days in the US of A.

It was a bit of an accident, the idea of spending an extended period away… an offhand thought said out loud that turned into a reality. One that still surprises me.

Good surprise.

So, I’ve dusted off the blog, spruced it up with a new theme, and I’m hoping to update it with tales as I go, starting with WordCamp San Francisco. I’ll be going from there to Portland, back to San Franciso and then on to Raleigh, NC and finally touching down with dear friends in Asheville, NC in mid November.

So, if you’re so inclined, feel free to follow along… I’ll be posting pix, no doubt on Flickr and on Instagram, and then occasional longer form thoughts and updates here.

I hope you’ll come too.

A Funny thing Happened on the Way to a Meeting

photo credit: Ahmed Rabea via photopin cc

There are things that happen that in life are so out of the ‘norm’ that you really have to document them before they disappear into the vortex that is your past; ephemeral and on the edge of your memory, almost as if they were way to weird to have been true.  This has been one of those moments…

I flew from Melbourne to Sydney on Wednesday. It was uneventful at that time, but I should already have been in New South Wales that day, having had my flight cancelled the evening before due to unseasonable (and frankly, unreasonable) fog.  Given that I was meant to be in a meeting at 10am and didn’t actually touch down in Sydney till 12.30 I ended up with a couple of hours to kill before the rescheduled meeting could occur at 2.30. (There’s the context, it’s probably too much detail really, but to perserve my memory, there it is.)

I went to Starbucks to wait. (I KNOW, sorry, it really was awful, the coffee is ghastly, and I still can’t believe there were as many people in there as there were.  But hey, free wifi.)

So, I unpacked the laptop for half an hour to get a bit of prep done for the meeting and as I worked, was generally in my own little world as I usually am when I’m head down over the computer. (Stay with me, it’s about to get good).

When I was done with what I needed to do, I started to pack up my kit ready to head around the corner to my meeting and as I did, I was approached from the left by a not unattractive guy who said, “I just had to stop and tell you, you’re stunning!”

My internal reaction was… “Is he trying to distract me, do I now need to go and change all my passwords, is he standing here cloning my laptop, is my wallet safe, did I log into anything that needs protecting while I was on open wifi?” and so on.  What I did, of course, so as not to appear rude, and so as to ‘live in the moment’, was reach out my hand to shake his and say, “Hi, I’m Dee, nice to meet you.”

We chatted a bit, and while I wasn’t in a big hurry I was mindful of time, so he asked where I was off to. I told him, and before we moved away he wrote down his number for me on a discarded receipt. I, again in the moment, wrote down my web site’s address so he could find me if he wished.

As I moved away, he asked if he could walk me to where I was going, I assented, and we chatted  companionably along the way, and when we got near my destination, we said goodbye and he going one way while I the other, I walked up the street to the office rather bemused by what had just occurred.

I conducted my meeting, travelled across town to my destination for the evening, stopped to catch up with my host and have a good laugh about the events of the day, and then checked my email to find that he’d reached out through my website to connect almost as soon has he’d got back to the office!

The events of the next couple of days unfolded slowly, I have had the busiest time on this trip, going from north to south and back again across Sydney, (if you’ve spent ANY time here at all you’ll know that doing so is never a straightforward thing), and in the end when we did try to co-ordinate a meeting, the planets and our timetables just didn’t align.  The scheduling discussion then devolved into a long and completely flattering text conversation that left me feeling both delighted, if a little sceptical.

In the days since there’s been no ensuing contact, just in case you were wondering if this was going to turn into a scene from one of those hopelessly romantic movies.  I am now back in Victoria with a cracking story and a saucy text conversation to look back on to remind me that such things actually can happen from time to time.

The whole situation got me to thinking about what exactly IS the norm?  This brief exchange has certainly been outside my norms. Having spent so many years inside a culture where such a thing never occurs it’s been a refreshing experience.  But I’m curious to hear from my readers, particularly those who don’t live in an insulated (i.e. religious) culture; if you have one, what’s your outrageous pickup story? And, for those of us playing along at home, how did it end?



As I write this my adored little sister is under the surgeon’s knife 2,600km away.

This isn’t minor surgery, this is a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and free flap reconstruction. (You can google those if you want) In short, she’s seeing off her ‘girls’ (the ones who made overt threats that they wanted to kill her in November) and the surgeons are recycling other parts of her torso into new boobs. All in the name of removing that long term, underlying fear that one day she might have to hear the words ‘the cancer’s come back’.

It’s sobering, as I know that had my own journey last November taken the same turn, I too, at some point, would be doing the same. The idea is sensible and good, and brave. And the reality is bigger than I expected.

When she and I spoke earlier in the week, she talked about the fear of not waking up from surgery on one hand, and almost in the same breath we joked about Deb Cohen’s Mastectomy Beyonce Dance off (neither Hills nor I have Deb’s killer moves). We also sent the video below to her surgeons for a laugh (no doubt they get sent it often)

We talked about the after and the prospect of going from a D to a B, from an hourglass to a pear, and how her middle son who loves to snuggle in will be sad about there being less snuggle room.

I sent her a text yesterday full of love and empathy about becoming gorgeously dainty in the boob department, she replied with love and with calm. The decision is made, the post operative bedlam will be weathered with great support from friends and family, and I get to travel those 2600km on Saturday and be big sister, and auntie Dee and I am glad to have the flexibility in my world to make that happen.  I am glad that family is only 2600km away and no more.

But above all I am awed by her bravery, and in making a big decision, a big change all in favour of a better chance at a long and healthy life.

It’s made me wonder what changes I am, or am not prepared to make for the same.

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