Watch what you say!!! It might hear you.

I have spent some time over this weekend looking for a new watch.  You see a few weeks ago, Mr K had the audacity to suggest that my watch, which is 11 years old, might be in want of replacing soon…. and I think it heard him.   I’ve had the same Citizen Ecodrive watch since about May 1998 and it’s never missed a beat (with the solar panel face it’s never even need a new battery!) until HE mentions that I’ve had it for quite a while and maybe I’d like a new one.  Naturally it’s out of warranty and getting it fixed with the complex solar technology in these things is apparently prohibitively expensive so… watch shopping I went. 

Normally I rarely set foot in a retail jewellery store… Surly (my brother in law) is the most talented jeweller in the whole damn pizza business so we’ve often been able to get unique and lovingly handcrafted jewellery items through him.  So wandering around the retail jewellers always feels kinda odd nowadays.  I managed to find a very lovely watch… it’s certainly far more dressy than my old one and is nothing like what I thought I was originally looking for, but I think it is quite elegant and I will no doubt suit me well enough with my manicured nails and expensive looking jewellery.   I’ve already come to think of it as my Flashy Tits watch!!!   🙂

Oh my God! I’ve just seen what the RRP is for this watch!
Never pay full retail people!

Last time I found myself trolling jewellery stores like this was when my Dad asked me to arrange a Christmas gift for my mother when he was wheelchair bound so myself, my little sister Trish and Surly (yes if I thought wandering around retailer jewellers was surreal I can’t imagine how Surly felt about it ?!?!?!) hit the shops to find the perfect gift.  The perfect gift from a dying man for his wife.  Yes  🙁  This was pretty much the task at hand and this was our brief – he wanted a gold and diamond dress ring that was delicate and feminine but well made enough to withstand daily wear and it must NOT look like an eternity ring.  He was quite specific on that last point.  It was a rather sombre shopping trip to be hitting the jewellery stores with a hefty budget looking for a particular special ring for Dad to give our Mum on what would be their last Christmas together.

So I guess that is another good reason to avoid jewellery stores….

Totally self indulgent, long winded post – I’d skip it if I were you.

I’ve started trying to write this paragraph four times now (this is the fifth attempt) and each time I have deleted the sentence to have another go at trying to get my thoughts out.  Today it’s been two years since my Dad passed away and I’ve been feeling really unsettled for the last couple of weeks realizing that so much time has passed already.  Last year, I was still feeling very melancholy and was trying hard to remember my Dad the way he was before MND (Lou Gehrig’s disease) but this year, I’ve been quite wrapped up in what changes the last two years have bought to my life.

Being of a conservative generation and possessing a calm, steady and even temperament – my Dad wasn’t an overly demonstrative man so whenever he talked to us on personal or emotional topics it always carried significant weight and usually left an indelible impression on his daughters.  Before my Dad’s illness had deteriorated to the point where he lost his ability to talk, he sat me down and told me that he was very worried for me with all the IVF treatments we had been going through (Yes – my Dad was the one in the room with an insidious terminal disease and he was concerned for MY wellbeing) and told me how much it pained him to see us going through the continual round of surgeries and hormone treatments, the increasing financial burden and the emotional devastation of repeated failures.  At the time I didn’t know how to respond except to try and reassure him that it wasn’t that bad and that we were holding up okay.

A couple of months after that I had another discussion with my father about IVF and I told him that we were giving it away as we had decided we’d done all we could… and I lied to him and told him I have the Small Child and Mr K and that our little family was all that I wanted it to be.  He seemed visibly relieved to hear that I’d given up trying to have a second child… but the truth of the matter was that Mr K and I had decided to put it on hold until after my Dad’s inevitable death.  The physical and emtional stress of IVF, the grief of a recent miscarriage and three years of pain watching my mother struggle and my father slowly die certainly took its toll.

Dad passed away quietly in his sleep early on a Sunday morning 21 January 2007.  My Mum called me at 5am to tell me he was gone.  Unfortunately, I had been at a party until 2am and was still legally way over the limit so I had to wake Mr K and the Small Child so Mr K could drive me to my parents home.  When I got there my mother was in tears, my older sister BigSal was likewise messy and my younger sister was in her car driving up from Bryon Bay.  I was feeling overtired, overwrought, still judgement impaired from the wine the night before and somehow – totally numb.  By the time my younger sister arrived she, my Mum and BigSal had all been crying for hours…. while I had been phoning the extended family, the funeral directors.  It wasn’t until I called Edouardo at nearly midday that I felt myself become tearful.  This was in no small measure attributable to the distance that had sprung up between us (his wife hates us) and his obvious sorrow at not being around during my Dad’s last years.  It was an emotionally draining day – one which I wish I had faced without the haze of sleep deprivation and a hangover.

The next day, Monday was the day I was scheduled to start my first full time job in many years.  Strangely enough the position was with Goliath, the very same organization my father had worked at for 37 years.  I mulled over and over whether I should show up or not amidst all the emotional turmoil… when I did finally decide to turn up for work on that Monday morning, it was largely due to my Dad’s pragmatic outlook – he was never one to sit around feeling sorry for himself and he wouldn’t applaud me for doing so.  I knew I could sit around with the family watching them continue to cry or I could go do something useful… in this regard I am just like my Dad.

I remember that first day feeling really rather shell shocked and wondering if our friends and family world would think me a heartless baggage for showing up at work the day after my father died.  I vividly remember thinking ‘What the fuck am I doing here?’ while we filled out a pile of paperwork.  I remember having to tell the Induction trainers that I was going to need time off in that first week to meet with the funeral directors on Tuesday and the whole day off to attend my father’s funeral on the Thursday.  I remember the way they looked at me like I had suddenly sprouted a second head or something and said ‘should you even be here?’  I remember assuring them that I was fine so long as I didn’t have to talk about it…. to this day I’ve wondered why I never had the nervous breakdown I feel I so rightly deserved back then.

I remember spending my evenings that week feeling overwhelmed at what I’d gotten myself into with that job (I was hired to be a Wireless Broadband Consultant… me!  With zero IT experience!)  I also spent my evenings that week putting together a slide show of photos of my father that I had been collecting since his diagnosis.  I felt the need to remind everyone that Dad was not always sick and immobile and stuck in that fucking wheelchair.  I wanted to remind everyone that Dad climbed mountains, went white water rafting, fixed cars, loved camping, laid bricks, cooked a mean BBQ, liked a beer and a laugh.  I wanted everyone to remember him as he was…. not the shell of himself he had become from MND.  It was really important to me to try and overshadow the sad memories of his last years by reminding everyone what he was like before.

Travel around australian three speed no handbrake long range

I put that slideshow to music and burned it to a disc that we could take to the chapel for his memorial.  The music was The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ as this song reminded me of my Dad going skydiving when he could barely still walk.  It reminded me of how he hung in there doing as much as he could while he still could.  On Wedesday before the funeral I shared it with my Mum and my sisters and my sister BigSal didn’t like the song.  I said it was done and I didn’t have the energy or the motivation to redo it.  She then did something that I don’t think I’ve fully forgiven her for… she complained to our mother who then came to try and convince me to change the song.  I still can’t believe she dragged my Mum into such a petty thing on the day she was burying her husband.  It is beyond belief.  In hindsight it may have been her way of trying to control things, something, anything during a time when everything felt out of control… I don’t know.  I do know that instead of spending the morning of my father’s funeral with my family at my parent’s home I was stuck at my PC redoing the video because my sister wasn’t coping.  Instead she wanted it set to Bert Kaempfert as it was one of my Dad’s favourites but it’s was so 70s lounge music uptempo and all solemnity was suddenly lost.  So I redid it a third time to Jeff Buckleuy’s ‘Hallelujiah’.  As you can imagine it was heartwrenching and left now a dry eye in the place, not even Fr Ray managed to hold back the tears – Fr Ray who has had the misfortune to preside over the funerals of many of his friends over the years.

Through some damn miracle, though I know not how, I managed to get through that week, and the following weeks of training at Goliath.  I was working ostensibly to help pay down some of our IVF debts.  I was supposed to be working to give us a boost in the lifestyle department (we hadn’t had a family holiday for years) and I was supposed to be going back to IVF and my ten little embryos that I have in storage in 2008…. that was until a stupid woman in a fancy RX8 failed to stop and rudely ripped the rug out from right under my feet sending me headlong back into a world of unending pain, stupor inducing drugs, restlessness, hopelessness and (I admit it) depression.

So with my father gone now two years am I thiking about him?  Or am I wrapped up in my own petty problems?  I know he’s been more on my mind over the last few weeks… mostly the little things over the holidays .  I’ve been thinking about my Mum a great deal and wondering how she was feeling whilst being reluctant to broach the subject when I spoke with her earlier.  But today mostly I’ve been thinking about how the last two years feel like they’ve been wasted.  I haven’t been able to work since the fucking moron with the RX8 damn near killed us. I haven’t been back to IVF as we had planned and I don’t honestly think my body could with a pregnancy, nor do I think a baby could survive my ridiculous pharmacological regime.

Right about now, I really wish my Dad was around to figuratively slap me upside the head with some sound advice or a wet haddock… which ever was nearest to hand.  😐

Bring me another Mai Tai!!!!

Buy bananas…
Clean up after linen party….
Pick up Small Child and friend for swimming…
Book tickets for 12 on P&O Cruise around New Zealand….

Yay!  We’ve gotten the gang together (finally on the same page after a little wailing and gnashing of teeth) for the

Second Not-So-Annual Cross Family Cruise Holiday!!!

We last went cruising with the Family in January 2006 – and by "Family" I mean… 

My Mum and Dad
Mr K, Myself and Small Child
BigSal, Surly and Fishy-Bob.
LittleSis, Noisy BroInLaw and B1 and B2
Unc and SpiderMeg 
and Poppa II of course.

We did a trip that went through the South Pacific to Vanuatu, New Caledonia etc.  which was quite a departure from our usual style of family holidays.  We used to be the 4WDing, National Park hopping, camping, bush walking, cooking over an open fire sort of family holiday people. 


But when my Dad became wheelchair bound (from MND) we had to take a massive departure from our regular holiday program and do something that I never in my life thought I’d see my parents want to do… take a holiday on a cruise ship.  The very idea of it seemed so off the planet for people who’ve put over 400,000kms on two very sturdy 4WDs over 40 years of camping holidays around Australia that I think my Dad shocked us all into agreeing to go!  It probably didn’t hurt that he had decided to shout everyone’s the cost of their passage either!  I found out later that it was a deliberate ploy on my Dad’s part… he’d tried several times to negotiate family trips and always one or more of us would end up going into work or taking laptops along to get some work done and he kinda figured if we were all stuck on the boat with no decent internet connection then he’d have our undivided attention…. and it worked a treat.

We had a huge time.  The best thing about it?  Being able to sit down to dinner every night with the extended family … all 14 of us (until we figured out we could feed the rug rats early and send them off to the kids play center and have nice adult dinners) without any of us having to cook, serve or clean up.  It was fantastic – all fun conversation and no work!  So here we are planning ahead and booking to do it all again in December 2009 – booking this far in advance gave us 2 for 1 prices which is great too.  Just hope my back is up to it by then.

Shame Dad won’t be there with us next time… but I think he’d approve of our efforts.


I was cleaning up my dresser this morning and discovered a long forgotten piece of paper which had a small toast written on it that I gave at a dinner I arranged to celebrate my Dad’s retirement.  Dad retired in August 2002  and little over 12 months later, December 22nd 2003 actually he found out he had MND (I remember the date all too well… I was in hospital at the time myself with a post operative golden staph infection in my abdomen after a laparoscopy which you know… nearly kinda killed me). 

Anyway I found this toast that I had jotted down and then promptly left behind on the night and had to wing it in the end anyway.  I have obviously kept it for nostalgia’s sake and thought if I copied it into here… then I could chuck the bit of paper 🙂

“I remember in primary school being asked once ‘What does your Dad do?’ and I remember answering confidently that my Dad was a draftsman for Telecom.  Unfortunately… the next question went something like ‘What’s that?’ to which I was forced to awkwardly reply ‘I have no idea.’  😐  I recall growing up with this vague awareness that my Dad worked in an office somewhere and spent all day drawing “stuff'”…. ???  As I got older, Telecom became Telstra Fleet Smart and the ‘stuff’ became ‘designing/engineering mechanical vehicular modifications’.

So yesterday when I went to a farewell morning tea for My Dad at his Postle Street workplace where he had worked for the last 30 odd years, I thought this would be my last chance to find out a bit about what Dad had actually been doing all these years.  And while I didn’t get to see 36 years of his ‘drawings and stuff’ … I did learn a few things.

Amongst his colleagues, it was obvious that Dad was respected as an integral and valuable part of their team for his many different skills.  I heard Dad praised for the quality of his work, the dilligent, reliable, methodical and tenacious way in which he approaced it and for his stability and resilience when dealing with his co-workers.  What I didn’t expect from a gaggle of mechanical engineers and draftsmen was this constant ribbing about Dad’s meticulous, precise and exacting nature.  At home we always thought his anal retentive exactitude was an occupational requirement, but it seems they’ve had on going jokes about Dad’s thousandths of a millimetre for as long as we have.*

I also discovered that, for years we had been labouring under the misapprehension that all draftsmen (and public servant types) wore shorts and long socks to work.  We had long thought this to be some sort of regulated dress code for people working in the Telstra drafting profession, but not so!  It turns out that our Dad has been the only long sock advocate these many years and fortunately with Dad’s retirement, The Long Sock Brigade will haunt Postle Street no longer  (by the way the official sock burnings will take place next week for any interested parties 🙂

Well, Dad, we thought you might be at loose ends for a while, and to help you ease into retirement, we have compiled a few necessities for budding retirees.  So congratulations on your retirement .”

And then we gave him a box of ‘stuff’… funny things we thought he might appreciate.

A roll of toilet paper with a new little ‘dunny shovel’ to take camping.
A giggle hat… all old fogies gotta have a giggle hat.
A copy of War and Peace… cos now you’ll have the time.
A bobble headed Elvis for the dashboard in the Nissan.
A dreadful country and western CD.
A book of 4WD treks across Australia.
A packet of boiled lollies for dirty old men.
A brochure for a retirement village.
And there was other stuff that I’ve long since forgotten


* the OCD thing
runs in the family.

Swingin’ Safari

I was out doing grocery shopping today … a task I absolutely loathe.. and yes, yes, yes… I checked the fucking eggs with the same little disheartened sigh that I always do.  But I’m not bitching about checking the fucking eggs – for a change.

Today when I walked into the shopping centre I heard a very familiar tune playing on the PA system….

My Dad used to play Bert Kaempfert’s Swingin’ Safari when I was a kid.  Which on it’s own sounds like a fairly innocuous sort of statement but it masks a gross understatement.  My Dad played Bert Kaempfert’s Swingin’ Safari EVERY single time we had people over for dinner…  since time immemorial.  This album embodies all my most enduring social memories of my childhood… rabidly cleaning the house up before guests arrived, putting on our nicest dresses, running amok while the adults fixed dinner and sitting at a kids table in the lounge room.  Dad must have been playing that record from the early 70s – long before I was old enough to be allowed to touch the record turntable and we were throwing it back at him right up until he passed away.  I can still hear him telling us not to jump or dance on the (timber) floor because the record player was on and he didn’t want the needle to skip.

Over time it became the quintessential Cross Family Dinner Music and would be faithfully trundled out not only every time we had company for dinner but eventually for family dinner gatherings too.  I remember hunting down the album on CD in the mid 90s at some point and I can still recall the curious and incredulous looks from the HMV staff when I ordered in 5 import copies of a dodgy old fashioned album they’d never heard of … for me, one for BigSal, one for Edouardo, one for Equinom and one for Dad of course.

I remember too giving the CD to the DJ at my little sister’s wedding and insisting he play the album during dinner… which as it turned out was all together too complicated for the idiot DJ and when the silly guy changed to something else after only the first song  Edouardo had to go over ‘sort him out’ until he understood that he had to play it right through with nothing else.  We also played the album at my wedding and at BigSal’s wedding too (DJ’s properly briefed this time so Edouardo didn’t have to play music Nazi).

It reminds me so much of my Dad that I only just realized that we haven’t really listened to it since he passed away and I was quite taken aback to hear it at the shops this morning.  It was quite unsettling actually.