I’ve been back in the good ole USA for two weeks now. I go back to Australia on February 19 and we land on the 21st Australian time. I returned to the USA because another sibling has died. To say I am a basket case would be putting it lightly. I feel like a yo-yo emotionally. This is my last full day in Crestview with Judy and Eric. Adam and I fly to Oklahoma City to visit Margaret’s daughter, Cassie for six days tomorrow.
Please don’t feel sorry for me. We all lose loved ones at sometime. Bittersweet is how I feel most of the time on this trip. I have been reunited with loved ones that I haven’t seen in a very long time. Next year when I comeback, it will be celebratory. I guess you could say that this trip is celebratory as well but it’s filled with sorrow. I am happy that my sister Margaret is no longer suffering. She is with God and other family members who have died. I just wish I had more time with her but I can hear my mom’s words of wisdom echoing in my head when I was trying to feel sorry for myself when my dad died, “Be grateful for the time you had with him. There are others out there who never got to know their father or had their father as long as you have.” Mom was right though as moms usually are.
Those who were blessed to know Margaret Mason know exactly what the world is missing now. Margaret was a very humble lady who didn’t think she effected those she had come into contact with but I can assure you, Margaret may have been quiet but her presence will be sorely missed. She tried to live her life by the example of Jesus Christ and from the outpouring of condolences that we have received I can proudly say that my sister exemplified her Saviour and lived a surrendered life.
Chuck, Judy and Cassie spoke very eloquently about Margaret at her Mass. I know Judy wanted me to speak at the Celebration of Life that they had at Lifepoint Church but I was not drawn to do so. She and Cassie both spoke of Margaret eloquently. It is now that I will share my experience of Margaret and of loss but also of the expectation that I have of hope.
Margaret Alice was the 6th child of Alice Margaret Miller and the first child of Clement Miller. She was a quiet child with a gentle disposition. She had a great love of the Lord and lived by his example. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Cassandra Marie when she was 28 years old. She was a kindergarten teacher for a time and then became an enrolled nurse.
Margaret, Judy and I were very close. The last eight years, Judy and Margaret were pretty much inseparable. Margaret moved in with Judy after her husband Glen was placed in a nursing home because Margaret’s mental state had severely declined. She was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder which effected her so much she could not work. The stress had gotten too much for her of working, taking care of others, and neglecting her own needs so much to the point that she could no longer function.
Margaret was a staunch supporter of Adam’s and my relationship from the start, she trusted my decision to move to Australia and always knew what to say to make me feel better about what was going on in my life. I would say that she was like this with everyone she knew and loved because that is the type of person my sister was.
On this trip as Judy and I go places and people ask her about Margaret, I am moved to see just how much she impacted others. We went to a restaurant that they frequented and Judy had to console the waitress because she was shocked and horrified to hear about Margaret’s death. Words can’t seem to do justice for the way I want to express myself about my sister.
Margaret and Kevin are both now in heaven. Why is it that I have lost two siblings that I felt close to? I always thought that I would have more time to spend with Kevin but that didn’t eventuate. With Margaret there is less regret but the shock of not having on this earth is still feeling unreal. I thought that she would be here for my 50th birthday but I have to be thankful that I have had her as a sister. What a gift I have been given! Kevin was the fifth child of Alice’s and Margaret the sixth. They were 4 years apart I think. I thought of this parallel as I lay in bed with Adam. Chuck is the eldest boy of Alice’s with 3 younger sisters and a younger brother with the same father. Kevin was the youngest boy but the eldest to Alice’s three youngest daughters with the same father, Clement. 4 children with an older brother and 3 girls with Edward Koval. 4 children with an older brother and three younger daughters with Clement raising them. I grew up idolising Kevin and Margaret and now they are with God watching over us.
I will miss singing with Margaret and Judy at Mass like we did growing up or around the house harmonizing. It is such a beautiful memory to have but at least i was blessed to have the experience. Yesterday Judy and I went to a birthday party of one of our cousins that we hadn’t seen in 40 years. She has two sisters as well. We were all together and I felt Margaret with us. We learned how to paint a weeping willow and the colors we used reminded me of Margaret. I hung both paintings in Margaret’s room where Adam and I sleep. It just felt right to me.
Yes, I am sad that I have lost my sister but I live with hope that she is in heaven with all our loved ones who have passed because I believe in the resurrection of Jesus who lives and reigns now and forever more.
Maybe you have been reading my thoughts for a while and maybe this is new to you. I always try to keep things light and breezy. I know I don’t like being the one who is dark and gloomy. Who likes being around somebody who is all doom and gloom? Realistically it’s not possible to be little miss sunshine either but I do try to stay positive.
My husband and I traveled to America for my brother’s Memorial and decided to turn the trip into a month-long vacation. We were hoping to come back on happier terms. You have to make the best of a situation however you come across it. I think that is a no brainer. We wanted to do this trip next year. We had wanted to see all my siblings individually. We are doing this now; it’s just been expedited. I had wanted to be reunited with my brother, Kevin, to hug him and get to know his lovely wife, Lisa, and his step-daughter Sandy. I did get to see Kevin when we face-timed. Nothing though can compare to actually being in the same room with the one you love. I do take solace that I had got to see him even if it was through a video link because I hadn’t seen his face for over 20 years. We laughed and looked forward to seeing each other. Every thing though changed for us all as it is apt to do.
We are getting to go places that we had never been to before. Adam and I have never been to West Virginia. We have gotten some really great quality time with Lisa and Sandy. I know Sunday the 15th is going to be a very hard day for Lisa and myself. We have been pretty much inseparable since I have hugged her on the 21st of May. We felt as if we had known each other very well even though it had been long talks on the phone or typing on Facebook. I am dreading the 15th pretty much. We are going to have to part sometime. I know we will stay in contact because Kevin got us together. I feel very strongly about this.
I asked Lisa to join me on a road trip to see my brother Chuck in Philadelphia and my sisters Judy and Margaret in Florida. I would love to take her to see my other sisters in Nevada and California but Lisa has things she has to take care of back in West Virginia. We fly back to Australia on June 24th. The 25th won’t happen for Adam and myself because we will be flying across the international date line. We are used to losing and gaining days when we fly back and forth to the USA. Lisa and I had a great time traveling together down the eastern seaboard of the USA. I had never driven that much in the United States. We even took a trip to NYC with Chuck. Chuck was born in Brooklyn and I had traveled to NYC in 1996 with my mom, my sister Judy, and niece Cassie. Sandy, Adam, and Lisa were the “virgins” in NYC.
We started off in West Virginia and drove to Philadelphia. After Philadelphia we drove to Georgia so Sandy could stay with her cousin Mary. We then continued down to the panhandle of Florida to the city of Crestview. It’s sort of funny but I lived in the Fort Walton Beach area 20 years ago. It was interesting seeing all the changes and growth in the area. I looked forward to showing Adam the places I used to work and play at. We played in the Gulf of Mexico for a little bit. Today we are going to get our hair cut.
On the 15th we fly out to Las Vegas and Lisa returns back to West Virginia. I can’t wait for her to get her passport so I can show her our little piece of paradise. I know we are going to have a blast like we have had here. She has things though that she needs to sort out first before her trip to see us. I do know we are going to see each other again which is making me look forward to the reunion we will have. I know another post will be happening when that happens. After Las Vegas, we are heading to Los Angeles and then it’s back across the Pacific Ocean to Australia for us.
Yes, I know I had better laid plans in my head for our trip in 2015. I meant to take more time to visit friends as well as family but sometimes life happens and you have to make do with that you can. I know things didn’t turn out the way I had expected or desired. It’s not a perfect world. I had to make the most of what I have even with the sad ugly bits. I can build on what I have to make things better even if it’s just a little change.
If I can make someone smile or lighten the load even a little bit than I know I have done something good.
I have been driving back and forth from my piece of paradise to my newest place of employment which is at Park Beach. I am not going to go into details on this blog about my newest job. I wanted to share some humor about driving and road construction.
The Pacific Highway is undergoing an upgraded between Sapphire and Woolgoolga. It will save travelers eight minutes when it is finally completed. The Woolgoolga bypass had been completed right before Christmas 2013. They are about to do another switch back on Monday somewhere on the stretch of highway between Sapphire and Moonie Beach or Emerald Beach so I could probably write details about that as well because they are expecting delays. Thank goodness I don’t have to go to work Monday when it actually happens.
I have heard some people complaining about the speed that the construction is undertaking but I just laugh at them in my head because I can recall living in Louisiana as a child and our parish priest was talking about the construction of 4 lanes between Leesville and Alexandria. The actual year it got completed was 2006 I believe. The priest was talking about this in 1976 or even earlier. When Adam and I moved to the northern beaches of the Coffs Coast it was announced that they were going to do the upgrade in 2010. It is projected to finish in 2014. I believe they will do it on time but even if they don’t I think they will bet the Louisiana project hands down.
My enjoyment of travelling or driving isn’t hampered that much due to this construction. Many trees have been cut down. There are some really spectacular views that I have noticed especially when heading from Woolgoolga to Moonie Beach. I never noticed the mountains until the construction was taking place. I know it can be a bit bottle necked after Moonie Beach going into Coffs Harbour but when it’s finished I think the flow will be much smoother.
During my morning drive an ambulance was going south on the Pacific Highway. I was pulling to the left as you do in Australia when the person behind me tried to pass until they realized why I was pulling over. They moved over to the side as well. I had always wondered if I would have gone to the right instead of the left. I might have at one time when I first moved to Australia but it’s now second nature for me to keep to the left.
I wonder if they will bypass Coffs Harbour one day; however, even if they do, I don’t think it will stop the tourists from coming to the Coffs Coast. It’s a really wonderful place to visit. They might even get the sea change bug and decide to stay like we did. I wouldn’t blame them but I got my piece of paradise staked. Visitors are welcome but this yaussiechick is here to stay even if there is road construction.
I often write about Australia but tonight I thought I would share some fun thoughts I have had about my heritage and growing up in Louisiana. My father was native to Louisiana and grew up in the southwestern part of the state known as Acadiana. His childhood was in Jefferson Davis Parish and he went to USL which is in Lafayette, Louisiana. I take pride in having Cajun in my bloodline but I also have another boot place in my heritage.
My mother’s father immigrated from Naples, Italy at the age of 9 through Ellis Island. I find it quite amazing that my father who was born a sharecropper’s son was born in a state that looks like a work boot.
My mother’s father was born in a country that looks like a lady’s boot.
I was given the name Dianna because my dad didn’t like the name Johanna and didn’t want me named Alanna because he thought his brother-in-law Alan would think I was named after him. My mom tried to name me after her sister Anna and I loved the thought of Alanna because I would have been named after my mom and her sister. Dad was still adamant I would not be named Alanna. My middle name is Louise and that is supposedly after my grandfather on my dad’s side (John Louis) but Alan’s wife, Louise is my dad’s sister. I really loved Aunt Louise but I am supposedly named after my grandfather. I had asked my mom about this long ago when I was a child. I know she always tried to name her children after family members or some sort of variant of it because it was her family tradition to do.
Every time people notice my accent, they often wonder where I am from. When I explain Louisiana, they automatically think of New Orleans. I have to explain that I grew up on the west-central side of Louisiana. It’s known as the Crossroads. The parish I was raised in for the majority of my childhood was Vernon Parish. Louisiana isn’t a very large state in comparison to Texas, California, or Alaska but it is very distinct in its own right. It has 5 distinct areas to it. The northern part of the state is predominantly protestant and the southern part is predominantly Roman Catholic. I could do several blogs about the different things in Louisiana but I grew up in the Crossroads. I always feel a special closeness to Acadiana. We would visit Aunt Dolly and Pawpaw who lived in Jefferson Davis Parish. It was about an hour and half drive. The accents also vary in Louisiana according to where you lived the most. My dad’s Cajun accent wasn’t very prominent until he was with his family. People who live in the Greater New Orleans area sound different from people from the northern area of the state.
Every time I look at boots,I am reminded of my heritage both on my mother’s side and my father’s side. I like the idea and find it quite funny. Do you have any fun facts about your heritage that you would like to share?
Here is a link to learn more about the different facets of Louisiana. http://www.louisianatravel.com/louisiana-map
I was driving Adam and I home from our training in Coffs Harbour when I took the turn off for Woolgoolga and noticed the name change to the road we take to get us home. It’s called Solitary Island Way. This gave me an aha moment which I wanted to share with you today.
Today we heard a lot of things at training however I am not really wanting to share all the pearls of wisdom that I heard there because I am still processing everything in my own sort of way. Please bare with me as I muddle through my thoughts to express exactly what my aha moment sprang from. I am always searching inside myself wanting to improve things not only for myself but for those who are in my life. I was just driving when I thought about how sometimes we all feel like we are alone but in actuality we are all connected.
The Solitary Islands are on the eastern coast of Australia. The Coffs Coast which is part of the Mid North Coast of New South Wales is also part of the Solitary Marine Park. You can see these islands dotting up and down the coast of the area where I live. I was thinking to myself today how alone I could feel about my life if I let myself fall into that trap but I have to take a look at the bigger picture. Things are not so black and white. We are only as alone as we make ourselves. If we reach out to others our sense of loneliness diminishes. We just have to watch our attitude because that is a key to impacting on others. If we have a can do attitude we will be able to do whatever we put our mind to. If we get in a rut and are happy to wallow in mediocrity, mediocrity is what we will sow.
I always love going to Muttonbird Island because I always see things in a different perspective. I am very blessed to live so close to Solitary Marine Park. I live in a country for the most part that values its environment. Australia isn’t perfect but I find that I am very blessed to call it home. I can choose to live a solitary life or I can choose to share what abundance I have been given be it a kind word or positive thought to someone I come across.
The Solitary Island Way may seem alone but it is part of a wonderful environment which impacts on every living thing it touches. Even a rock or grain of sand can make a difference to the world that it is in. Take a part of it away and it could impact something or someone else in a negative way.
May you find the blessing of another day and never feel alone. There is someone out there who needs to hear from you. You can be the difference to brighten someone’s day!
Photo Credit for lighthouse Michael Scott taken at Woolgoolga Lookout
I am not that great at making lists but while Adam and I were visiting his sister last December I had been talking about doing a blog about blunders that I have done since I have become a yaussiechick. I know I want to make a top ten list but I don’t think I have done too bad since I have immigrated to Australia. I know in my early days I could be forgiven for my blunders but there are only 3 that I find truly embarrassing.
Growing up in the United States, I had been used to keeping to the right and sitting when driving on the left side of the car. After I had stepped off the plane for good when we lived in Homebush Adam and I would take the train to Burwood to do shopping at the Westfield’s. I was so excited to do a big grocery shop but didn’t have a car so we decided to take a cab back with the groceries. Adam told me where the taxi rank was. We go there and I am looking for a cab. I see lots of passengers but no drivers. I see the cab pull out but there is no driver and I say very astonished to Adam I don’t understand how that taxi is moving with out a driver. There is a passenger but no driver. He explained to me that it was the driver not the passenger. I want to die or be swallowed whole by the Earth because of that mistake. Adam ever the patient when it comes to me, prompts me to look again at the cab rank. I move us to another waiting and we take the cab home while I ponder how silly I can be. I could be excused for still suffering from jet lag but honestly, that is pretty lame!
My second blunder which I am revealing to you happened a few years ago when Adam and I first went to go see Hedonna’s and John’s investment property in Coolangatta. We were very happy to stay at Tondio Terrace because of its close proximity to the beach. John had gone to do something as he was giving us a tour of the area. I turned to Adam and said I wish you could see this. It’s so lovely and isn’t that Brisbane across the bay. He proceeded to explain that no, it wasn’t Brisbane; it was actually Surfers Paradise or the Gold Coast. Again, I wanted the Earth to swallow me whole. How could I have made such a huge mistake? I had been living in Australia for almost 6 years when I did this blunder. I know I hadn’t driven to Brisbane yet but still I guess I should have known better.
The top blunder though that I have made in Australia by far can not be outdone. I have mentioned it previously before in one of my earlier blogs entitled Humorous Double Meanings but it’s a real beauty. I don’t think I have ever been so embarrassed in my life. I will give you a recap just encase you haven’t read it yet. We have to go way back to 2003 when I was very new to Australia. I hadn’t gotten my Australian driver’s licence yet. We travelled everywhere by train. I don’t like crowded beaches in Sydney so we took the Illawarra Line to Thirroul. It was an easy walk from the station to the beach. Adam and I were just walking when he said matter of factly Oh that’s a huge truck I can hear. I shot back, “My fanny that’s not a truck that’s the ocean.” “What did you just say?” I shouted back very loudly, “My FANNY! My bottom, my derrière, my butt! That’s the ocean.” There were little kids walking with us and some teenagers too. Adam whispered to me, “Do you know what you just said?” “I just yelled it out again didn’t I?” I retorted all bluster. He very coolly responded back to my vicious retort very discreetly, “Fanny means this.” And he pointed towards my crotch. “Think about what we call bum bags? We never call them fanny packs like you yanks do!” I am not sure when my regular colouring returned to my face but I can assure you, I have never shouted out that word in Australian public since.
This is my 100th published blog on this site. I hope you enjoyed the revelation. If you are thinking of coming to see Coolangatta, Queensland and are looking for great accommodation that is close to the beach may I suggest you check out: http://www.goldcoastrainbowbay.com/index.html
Have you ever made any blunders as bad as mine???
We have been experiencing some king tides of late. Yesterday was especially a big one. I took the Kodak Sports Video Camera and the playlist below is the following montage of footage that I took. I hope you enjoy what I took!
I know it’s been a long while since I have actually sat down to do a blog for Thoughts of yaussiechick. I have been working pretty much none stop for 6 weeks which was awesome. The place I am temping at now has not wanted me since Monday. I am not sure when I will be in next but at least I did get a chance to take Adam and myself up to Dorrigo National Park last Thursday. I am finally feeling like sharing again. I always want to share but after not working for ten years and then going back to work for 6 weeks I didn’t really feel like being at the keyboard. Now that I have the time to do it, I am looking forward to showing you a couple of clips that I took at the Skywalk at the Discovery Centre at Dorrigo National Park. Adam and I also did an audio blog but I am not sure how interesting it would be for you guys. It is almost 47 minutes long. I did take quite a few pictures on the little walk that we did.
At the end of the Skywalk, there is a little pedestal for you to place your camera on so that you can take pictures on yourself with a timer. The camera that I had didn’t have a timer so I choose to do a tiny video.
I followed this up by trying to take a picture of the view of the ocean from the Skywalk platform but forgot to switch the mode on the camera so you get to see a glimpse of it as video.
It’s winter now in our little piece of paradise. It’s cooler in the mountains but as you can see, Adam and I don’t have to rug up like we would if we lived in a cold climate such as the northern regions of North America. I think we sort of regretted not bringing light jackets but over all, when we were walking we didn’t notice the coolness in the air. I am pretty spoiled.
The drive up to Dorrigo National Park off the Pacific Highway is on Waterfall Way. It took me almost 2 hours to drive up there. It would have been quicker if there hadn’t been construction going on but hey, I am not really complaining. When you drive on the Waterfall Way, you do get to see a couple of waterfalls as you drive past Thora to get to Dorrigo National Park. In the town of Dorrigo there is another waterfall that you can drive to and then walk up to. It’s called Dangar Falls. Adam and I have done that before. I will have to delve into my computer to try to share more of the sights I have seen to share with you all.
This has got to be one of the best reasons why I feel in love with the Coffs Coast. It is to me like a piece of paradise on earth. If you ever have the inclination to come to Australia, I would strongly suggest visiting this area. Imagine being able to live either in the mountains or down by the coast and be able to drive up into the mountains to see the beauty of nature so close to your home. It’s a real mind blower! I still pinch myself when I realize that I actually live here.
I have always loved waterfalls. I have always loved being out in nature. I have always loved the mountains and the beach. I look at the beauty of Australia and know I have only begun to scratch the surface. This land is ancient. It’s people so wise because they valued the land and spirits. I know I am not born Aboriginal but I really appreciate their outlook on their heritage. There is so much to learn from them.
I had never seen fern trees until I came to Australia. I get to see them when I drive to work on Toormina Road. I still feel wonder. You know you are looking at something extraordinary. You see how timeless this land is and how blessed it was to still have trees and grasses that haven’t really changed much at all.
I realize that I am not really doing Dorrigo National Forest the great write-up that it deserves. Adam and I only ventured a little bit. We want to go again in the summer but it was a nice change all the same for us. I don’t think I will ever fall out of love with the Coffs Coast.
Here is a link to help you decide if you would like to come see the beauty of the area http://www.coffscoast.com.au/
One of the most wonderful things about where I live is that the weather here is so good. I have heard that the Coffs Coast is one of the most habitable places climate wise. I happen to agree with that sentiment. I also like the fact that where I live is pretty rural but I can drive to two regional areas in less than an hour. I am close to the beach and can see beautiful mountains in the distance that aren’t snow-capped but full of eucalyptus trees. One day I am going to drive the Waterfall Way again in hopes of doing an audio blog on Dorrigo National Park. This is on Adam’s and my to do list but today we decided to do our usual walk of sorts.
Today’s adventure took us down to Mullaway beach. We walked the entirety of the beach. Along the way, Grady will forage for sticks for me to throw just for him. Mitch and Lenny will head in the surf or they will go bush bashing then run into surf with their treasure of decaying sponge or something foul-smelling. I am forever yelling furiously at them to drop it and leave it alone. The joys of owning labradors gives just disgust at times. Grady proceeded as usual to drop a stick which Adam trod on and I tripped on. Adam let go of me. I went forward spilling to the ground not taking him with me. Adam was not impressed with Grady. I wasn’t really either but that’s just the way it goes at times. It’s not like I am a clumsy sort of person. It can be a bit daunting though being the only eyes of the operation. I was thankful Adam had let me go because frankly if he had gone down with me, we both could have gotten hurt. Other than that, the walk was really nice.
I decided to walk us up over Mullaway Headland and took a couple of pictures to share with you. This shows a view of Mullaway beach heading over towards cabins beach. The name of the headland on the far side is Oceanview Headland. There is a walking path there that takes you to Mullawarra.
This is a view of Cabins Beach which we often walk to as well. There are two set of rock pools. We normally like to go to Cabins Beach at low tide to wallow in the shallow water of the south rock pool. There is also a path that takes you to the top of Darkum Headland. We didn’t do that walk today because I wasn’t so happy about the fall that happened. Woolgoolga is the town that you can see in the left corner of the shot. There has been quite a bit of beach erosion on most of the beaches.
Today as we were walking I noticed how the waves were making this really beautiful spray. I tried to take a shot to share with you. I didn’t think I had accomplished what I wanted to do but I actually did. I swear you could see rainbows but the camera didn’t capture it. I still think it’s quite lovely though.
In this shot, you can see Woolgoolga better but I really was happy with the water spray. I was pretty pleased with myself. Next time we go out, I don’t think we will take the boys (dogs) with us because their panting gets picked up when I am trying to capture the sound of the birds on our walks.
I don’t mean to brag about the wonderful place I call home but I do take pride in the beauty that I get to experience every day. I am truly one very blessed lady!