Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Top 3 Night Full of Fancy!

After a year of sadness, I decided to end 2010 on a positive and indulgent note.  So I organised with my Top 3 (Lenore) to cross something off my list, No. 74 - Share a bottle of Dom Perignon with my Top 3!

We planned the event a couple of weeks ago, and waited with great anticipation for the evening to arrive. Lenore organised the food, and I purchased the bottle, an Andy Warhole signature bottle of Dom Perignon - Vintage 2002.  On the menu we had Lenore's home made Salmon terrine, a soft brie, some aged cheddar, a duck terrine, strawberries & home made pork belly. 

The table was laid out with our lavish affair and the grand opening of the champagne occured.  Now, Lenore and I are both champagne lovers, so we were both equally as excited at drinking the most expensive bottle of champagne either of us had ever tasted. And I must say, it certainly did not disappoint.  We sipped slowly and appreciated it's creamy flavour with hints of fruits and bitterness.  It was without a doubt the most delicious champagne I've ever had, and we enjoyed every single drop!  Of course it was all complimented wonderfully by Lenore's fabulous menu and excellent company. We felt like we'd indulged ourselves stupid - just as one should at this time of year!
Now, for the big question..... was it really worth all that money?  It's hard to say exactly, so next year we plan on buying another bottle, plus a couple of other less expensive champagne's, and tasting them along side each other. We'll let you know the verdict after the 2011 night of indulgence.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Tribute To My Mum

2010 has been a tough year for me to say the least.  In April I lost my Dad to Cancer, and I'm sad to say, on the 30th November my Mum passed away from Cancer also.

Unlike when my Dad passed, I was told of my mother's fate in February of this year, and although we had 6 months of her being reasonably well, I knew the end result and the approximate timing it would take to play out.  The last 2 months of Mum's life were spent in and out of hospital & palliative care.  But I'm proud to say that she fought with everything she had until the very end. If I can go through my life with half as much strength as what she showed in her last year of life.... I'll be a force to be reckoned with.

Mum's funeral was held on the 6th December, the day before my 29th birthday.  I decided in the horrible few days before she passed away that I would speak at her funeral and tell people about the kind of person my Mum really was.  To be honest, I think I really needed to do this for myself, to release and share some of my grief.  I found it to be a very cathartic experience, which helped to bring me peace.  So to continue in my journey for peace and healing, here's what I wrote about my Mum and read out at her funeral.....

"For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Lynda, Bev’s youngest daughter, and I’d like to share with you some things about my Mum that made her the amazing person that she was.
Mum was an extremely talented lady who could whip up just about anything with a needle, thread & a little bit of love.
One of my favorite things about Mum was that she lacked the filter between brain and mouth, and would often say exactly what she was thinking! This was so endearing to me, because you always knew exactly where you stood.  If you asked Mum how she feeling that day, and she said ‘Shit-house’ you knew she wasn’t lying!  Mum often said what she thought about people’s hair & clothes to their faces… this wasn’t always said in the most polite way… but it didn’t mean she loved them any less.  In fact, I’m hard pressed to find a person that Mum hated or didn’t like.  She always managed to see another side to people.
I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with Mum alone in her last few months, and she shared some of her proudest and most cherished moments with me.
She told me how she beamed the day she watched her eldest daughter get married… and holding her grandson, Ethan, for the first time was a moment that will stick in my mind forever – only a Nana can have a face so thankful and proud.
When Mum watched her only son march onto the parade ground for his March Out ceremony in the Army – both her and Dad shone with pride, and could hardly believe the handsome young man, who’d come such a long way in only the 6 short weeks beforehand.  Knowing the their son is willing to defend his country is something that they kept close to their hearts with a huge amount of love and respect.
One thing I find simply amazing was when Mum told me about when she met Dad.  She said she could hardly believe that a blond haired, blue-eyed spunk (her words, not mine) like my Dad could ever be interested in her! She honestly believed he was out of her league, and never imagined he’d stick around…. Well guess what Mum… he did, for 35 years.  In fact, I think most people that knew my parents well, would think that Dad was the lucky one, to have such a gorgeous lady by his side through thick and thin.
Mum was often the complete opposite to Dad. He was the social butterfly, and she was the homebody.  Mum liked her own company, and seemed to enjoy her time alone.  I like this fact about her; it makes me think she really had achieved the greatest love of all… she learned to love herself."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Sad Goodbye

On the 14th April 2010 at 5:05AM my Dad lost his battle with cancer.

Although it was almost exactly 2 years to the day since he was diagnosed with bowl and liver cancer, it was a sudden down hill drop in his health that shocked us all.  Yes, he was a sick man and had been in pain and having copious amounts of treatment and pain killers, but none of us knew just how sick he really was.  He always put on a brave face, and had us all fooled into believing he would be up and playing golf in no time at all.

I don't want to go into detail about his death, but I do want to say how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to say my goodbyes.  I spent Dad's last few hours by his side, held his hand told him how much I loved him and how proud I was to say he was my Dad.  This was an indescribable feeling that I will never forget.

I'd also like to tell you a little bit about the type of person my Dad was.  He was very young when he died, only 56 years of age, but a man who had seen a lot of our country and had his own personal battles. He married my Mum at the ripe old age of 21 and became a father at 23.  He worked for the family business as a construction worker, then running the family horse stud, then starting his own carpentry business and finally working for commercial construction companies building bridges and a roadways.  He earned respect from his peers through hard work and determination. He was a straight shooter, no bullshit kinda guy. You always knew where you stood with Dad.

My memories of him as a Dad are varied. I remember being very young and riding his shoulders at the Zoo, and on family holidays. I remember his jokes and his laughter. I remember him taking us camping and showing us how to survive in the bush, how to run the farm and how to ride a bike.

But I also remember him as a stern father, who wasn't at our school sports days, rarely came to our ballet concerts, didn't show support of my brothers chosen sports, and wasn't there when I took up rowing and won a few medals.  He wanted his kids to achieve academically, but didn't help us with our homework.  He wanted us to be great at sport, but never came to our matches or games. He was criticising of mine and my sisters weight. I don't pretend that these things never happened, because the simple fact is that they did.  But at the same time I still loved him with everything I had,  because he was my Dad and he helped shape me into the person I am today.

When I moved out of home and saw my parents only every few months, this was when my relationship with my Dad changed. We became mates.  He had a knew respect for me because I had proven to him that I was a hard worker and wanted to go places in life.  But of course this was always going to be the case, because that's what he had instilled in me from a very young age.  We talked about my work and his work, we talked about the footy, we drank beer together, he taught me how to drink wine and appreciate it.  He learned to relax around his daughter and be the Dad I always knew he was. As I matured as a person, so did my Dad.  He learnt as much from me and I did from him.  It ended up being a relationship I'm finding hard to live without.  My mate has gone. My Dad has gone. This makes me sad beyond words, but it also makes me happy to realise how lucky I was to have him.

I will miss his laugh, his smile, his stories, his look of proudness when talking about his children.  But most of all, I'll just miss my Dad.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Unexpected day of greatness.

It wasn't until I returned my little apartment in St Kilda @ 9:30pm on Monday the 15the March 2010 that I realised just how great the day had been.

I had woken up at about 5:00am in Drouin, feeling like I'd had a decent sleep. Nice.
I caught the VLine train to work with Matt and finished 3 crocheted granny squares for my latest project during the journey. Nice. 
I had a busy day at work but managed to complete quite a few tasks. Nice.
I went to the movies alone and saw Avatar in 3D.  Even though I'd already seen it at the regular cinema, I'd never been to a 3D movie before, and considering how my I loved Avatar the first time, it was an easy choice. This also crossed number 89 (Go to the movies alone) off my 101 Things list. Nice.
I left the cinema at Crown and went straight to my tram stop where my tram pulled up within 1 minute of my arrival. Nice.
I walked home from the tram stop and received a phone call from Matt. Nice.
I opened my mail when I got in my front door and received a letter from my University stating I had 7 credits to go towards my Bachelor of Accounting course, which knocks nearly 2 years off my study time. Nice.
I had also received a card from one of my favorite people in the world.  It was a "You're great and I Love You" type of card. Her words were unexpected, encouraging and beautiful. I cried my little eyes out - but they were tears of happiness, not sorrow. Nice.
I went to bed and slept peacefully with the thought of how great my life really is.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What do you do....?

You sit there, the words exiting the phone and entering your brain. You know you've heard right, but you still question what's been said. Your mind becomes confused, and starts racing in every direction. You answer with standard replies "Ahuh....yep....Ok...". Although you know you have to process the words into a meaning you search for the right one. And then it hits you. Like a car hitting a brick wall. Like the unsuspecting slap to the face that it is. The emotions begin. You can feel it swelling in your throat, you chest tightens, your voice waivers, you blink, waiting for the water works to begin. They don't. You continue with the conversation in a blank state until the words have been said and you know it's time to hang up. You stare at the phone and want to throw it. But don't. The thoughts in your mind still racing. The irrational ones start to slip in. And then the selfish ones appear. This isn't about you, yet you still have your selfish thoughts about how you will be affected.  You look around the tiny room your in. Look at the carpet, at the glass sliding door, checking to see if anyone has seen your reactions so far, and if you look normal. You know as soon as you leave that tiny space it all becomes a reality. You decide to stay in there a while longer, to let it sink in. But what needs to sink in doesn't want to. How can it? And again it doesn't make sense. You want to scream. But don't. You haven't cried. You guilty for not crying yet. Why haven't you cried? This isn't the place to cry. These people don't need to see that. You don't want them to see that.  You wait a little longer thinking the emotion will kick in physically soon, hoping that it does to make you feel normal. Don't normal people cry at times like these? Why haven't you cried? The mental fight continues but doesn't get any easier. You know it's time to face the reality. You have to leave the room. You have to get some air. You feel the suffocation of it all begin to choke you. Let me out. I need to be away from here. I need air.  You slowly slide the door open, you wander to your desk, grab you glasses and wallet and head outside for the air you were gasping for. As soon as you feel the breeze on your face it really hits you. The reality is horrible. It hurts so much more than you could ever imagine. The tears start. You're normal. You thank yourself for having enough brains to grab your glasses. They can help shield the tears. They help shield the pain. You look around for the familiar face you know is coming for you. It's there. You feel safe. You let out the pain the instant he touches you. The tears are unstoppable. You go back to thinking your abnormal. The thoughts start to calm themselves. You look into that face you know will be there when it all goes bad and hope it never goes away. You feel relief. You feel guilt. You feel sad. You feel heartbroken. You still feel pain. But it will subside soon....won't it.....?

At least that's what I did today when I found out my mother has 6 months to live.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Week of Sport and Gnocchi!!

What a productive week I've had! I've managed to knock three things off my list with the aid and assistance of some freinds and family!  Firstly I attended the The Australian Open Tennis on Wednesday, then a Melbourne Victory Soccer match on Saturday and finally I made Gnocchi from scratch on Sunday! Here are some finer details:

#57. Go to the Australian Open Tennis - 20/01/2010.
Matt & I were lucky enough to receive Australian Open Tennis vouchers for Christmas from his sister, Bec, so we traipsed off to the Tennis on Wednesday night after work.  It was a pretty warm night, but that didn't seem to deter the crowds, we couldn't even get a seat on Margaret Court to watch the Andy Murray game, so after waiting in the que for about 20 minutes we headed over to one of the other outside courts and watched the mens doubles.  Nowhere near as many people at this match, and as a result the atmosphere was quite dull, but still it was an eye opener for me having never been to a Tennis match before.  Unfortunately I also realised that I'm not much of a tennis fan.  Although the gift was extremely appreciated from Matt's sister, I don't think I'll be attending the tennis anytime in the future.

#31. Watch a Melbourne Victory soccer match live - 23/01/2010.
Thanks to my wonderful freind Sarah for organising the tickets.  It was a rivalry match between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United so perfect for the 2 of us to attend.  The game began with a Victory goal in the first 20 seconds.... and then nothing until the last 20 seconds when Victory scored another goal off a penalty. It was great experience, but I'm not too sure I'll be going back.  It can be such a long time between scoring and the whole atmosphere is completely different to that of an AFL Match...which I'm used to.  A great night out with my mate Sarah... but not really my cup of tea. Perhaps if I knew who the players were and bit more about the rules I might have enjoyed it more. Oh Well.

#2. Make pasta from scratch - 24/01/2010.

This idea came to me whilst having a drink with Sarah after the soccer on Saturday night, so I ran with it.  None of my recipe books had recipes for making your own pasta, so I resorted to my trusted friend the internet.  Thanks to recipe finder I managed to come across a gnocchi recipe that looked like it would be relatively easy for me to make..... and it was!!  Once I'd got myself all sorted out with the ingredients and decided on what sauce to make I was off and racing!  Before long I had some cute little pillows of gnocchi waiting to be boiled up for my dinner.

I'd decided on a mushroom sauce, which is always a favorite.  It's one I've been making for a couple of years now, and absolutely love it!  There's no recipe for it, just a dash of this and a splash of that type thing, but it always turns out great.  So once I'd got my sauce bubbling away I cooked up my gnocchi just as instructed. It turned out light and fluffy and absolutely wonderful.... and here was my finished product..... DELICIOUS!