I’m tired and grumpy. Kid 2 is anxious about school because she knows things are different today, so she’s cranky with us about every little thing. My wife is sick. I’ve still got more paperwork to do than I have motivation for. I’m not being as effective at work as I’d like to be. Other stuff that’s private. Our local community open space still hangs in the balance, although it feels like the balance is against us. People around the world are being nasty and insensitive to each other:

  • people are treating Barnaby Joyce poorly, and others around him
  • thoughts and prayers in the wake of a mass shooting
  • decades of something akin to genocide in Myanmar
  • dark web paedophile guy got caught, but he’s just one
  • Oxfam workers behaving poorly and the fallout from that
  • people walking 400km from Yemen to escape, to be attacked by Saudis

So, I’m grumpy. Not depressed, just grumpy. After deciding that I won’t, I’ll probably go eat some more crap food. It won’t help for long, but time will. I’ll look forward to Taekwon Do on the weekend.

Cat Empire helped on the way to work – no more gloomy news, just meandering lyrics to tease the brain onto wandering thoughts.


Airline staff

Daddy, why is that gate so narrow?

So people don’t take their big bags onto the aeroplane themselves, and they check them in to go in the cargo hold.

So the pilot can put them in the aeroplane?

Yes, the pilot needs to put them in the place underneath. Well the pilot has just one special job of flying the plane. Other people do other special jobs like that one. It actually takes a lot of people to help get us and our things to fly from one place to another.

I don’t love flying – and I reckon few people do – but I am still grateful for the people who make it possible. I spend some hours packing, getting the timing and the papers all right, lining up, waiting and then waiting some more. For that, I get to be somewhere else much faster than by other ways. They get a day’s pay, which I guess they consider a fair trade. I don’t know how many flights per week a cargo loader, air steward or pilot might do, or how often they meet that tiny number of passengers who make things difficult, or what they have to deal with behind the scenes. So, thank you. I have time to sit and feel grateful, because the kids are settled.

(This is actually from November 2015, but the words haven’t dated. I’m still grateful to sit still when the kids are settled, and to anyone who helps that happen!)

Out into the bush

Camping feels like one of those activities that is simply a good idea. City life is varied and interesting, but we only see a very small part of the world every day, and it’s rewarding to do something that takes us elsewhere, both in mind and body.


Well, after a few years’ gap, we got out into the bush again. We extracted our camping gear from the back corner of the shed and the spare room cupboard, and went shopping to fill in the gaps. Instant-up tents, now they’re an amazing development, and it’s not a lie: ’tis a very quick job. Finding the Bald Hill campsite in Avon Valley National Park was a pain due to some road layout changes and a rail maintenance area and mine site blocking the way, but after giving up and starting to head home, we found it. Very Zen.

P1040560I was very pleased to see the girls settle into the camping scene very easily. It was simple but well supported car camping, with a drop toilet, a few people nearby, our own stove, and less than 24hrs to make our 20 litres of water last. That said, I have no need to prove a point or beat the elements – just some experience outside of the usual city life, taking the girls along for the ride. They got involved in assembling a stretcher bed, putting a bit of wood on the fire, exploring the area and checking out the view, and even experiencing little differences like limited table space, sitting on logs, keeping dusty feet out of the tent, and enjoying eating and playing with a smaller range of food and toys. We were surprised at how well Hannah enjoyed the entirely different surrounds.


Eleanor took this one

After an early night, Eleanor and I were up a little before the rest of the campsite, and it was even quieter than before. We caught sight of a few small birds and a couple of lizards, and did some more exploring together. It was wonderful to drink in the view and listen to the sounds of the bush while wandering about together.

Goodbyes, Transit Days, Settling in to Michigan

After a great weekend together, the family trickled back to jobs and daily lives, so the group changed a little each day. Young Brylen showed his colours with Hannah one afternoon, following her around and helping with all manner of things, playing one-year-old games and generally being a lovely young man. Eleanor and Ty spent an entire afternoon doing craft – CRAFT, Daddy! – and chattering away the whole time.


Of course, there were grown ups, but they don’t matter, right? Seriously though, it was great to spend time chatting with everyone, since they all found a way to at least drop by. Kaleb started work at some ridiculous hour the next morning, so we had an early dinner with everyone one night: 18 in all, by my count.


It was then time to say goodbye, and spend a full day travelling. Three hours (plus stops, lunch, nappy changes, etc) South back to Dallas, a flight to Detroit and then on to Kalamazoo (because it was cheaper than flying just to Detroit, and less driving afterward), a night’s sleep, and another three hour drive, this time North to Traverse City. The girls coped pretty well, but were a bit cranky by the end of the big day. The Kalamazoo hotel had a much appreciated heated pool, and warmth has suddenly become rather attractive, because …


Yes, that is snow! One more gratuitous photo of that gloriously cold, white, wonderful stuff, since it got properly white overnight:


It is lunch time, so that will do for now.

Dallas and Oklahoma


We’ve arrived in the mighty US of A, on our grand tour. Due to some delays, we arrived closer to evening than early afternoon, so dinner was a fast food Mexican affair, satisfying but not the most exciting introduction to US cuisine. The hotel folks looked after us, and arranged to take me to my Thursday morning appointment. That left Elise with the car so she and the girls could find a park – although the hotel swimming pool was pretty popular. Thursday night we visited the Perot Musem, which had the perfect children’s section for our tired girls to have a play but not be overwhelmed. Free entry with our Scitech membership! Eleanor really liked the lit frogs in the front entry area. Once again the people were keen to be helpful, and helped us out with a few details, including a nearby pizza place for dinner.

As for musems, we headed for the Heard Museum for another free entry and a place for the girls to stretch their legs during a short Northbound road trip the next day, which again was perfect. The full size replica dinosaurs were a particular highlight, and well placed amongst the trees and bushes. Sleep has been a bit of a challenge, with Hannah struggling to change over to the new timezone, or sleeping in strange places, or coughing and going through the tissues, or something. We’re doing well enough, especially since I’ve done my bit of work and noone now has to ‘go to work in the morning’, so we can tag team who gets up with Hannah, and occasionally Eleanor.

We’ve now driven up to visit family in Oklahoma, and that has been wonderful. Last (and first) time we visited was Christmas 2003, on a road trip from Ontario. I’m a fan of The Waifs, and particularly like the song Bridal Train and the personal reference: My wife’s mother’s father’s sister was on that Bridal Train, and we’re staying with her daughter and all the family have arrived – I suspect in our honour, but for whatever reason it’s great to see them all. Four nights in the same place has been wonderful, for the girls to settle in, both to the USA in general, and for all of us to spend time with the cousins. Carter is 5 and while she has different interests to Eleanor, they’re finding common ground and having a good time together. Brylen, Lane and Ty are 11, 8 and 6 and are all great kids, adding more family atmosphere. Next stop, Traverse City!

Southwest holiday part 1

Cycling about the Southwest of WA is a wonderful way to take holidays. I started the week envying most bikes I came across, and scheming how to acquire my next new bike. During those envious cash wielding days I was convinced to replace my gloves, and am suffering buyer’s remorse.

Riding with Elise and towing Eleanor was a new experience, and one I’d like to repeat – especially now that I know we can ride 50km in a day. I reckon NSW, Vic or perhaps Europe would provide good options – weather can be good, towns and interesting places much closer together than WA.