Happy Birthday, Percy!

March 27, 2015

To our darling girl,

A very happy eighth birthday to you!

All week I’ve been pinching myself and saying to Pappa that I cannot believe you will be eight on Friday.  And now Friday is here and you are eight years old!  Perhaps not so astonishing to you but remarkable to me.  Remarkable what you have learnt and how you have grown- you’re nearly up to my shoulder!  I’m going to start feeling quite short soon.  You have also grown in other ways.  You are showing us inklings of the woman you will become- head strong, focused, funny, compassionate, friendly and with some nudging, thoughtful too.  You understand more about relationships with other people, particularly with Tally and me.  You understand consequences, apologies and reparation.  Often times you are still ruled by your emotions, and that’s okay.  Don’t ever stop feeling or lose the sense of what your emotions can tell you and help you with.  Just try also not to let those emotions get you in places where you will get too hurt, or hurt others.

The past twelve months have seen you master some pretty impressive skills.  Picking up from our Rocky Mountain taste of snow skiing last winter the whole family now have boots and skis of our own, ready to put to the test on the slopes nearer home.  You’ve already surpassed me; whizzing down blue level runs with only one or two topples.  I still swoop slowly from side to side, not sure where I’ll end up.  You are fleet and fearless.  Getting yourself up after those topples, dusting yourself off and continuing with a laugh and rosy cheeks is a strong testament to your resilience and perseverance.  These are qualities that you will need throughout your life, particularly when the task at hand is not as fun or transitory as skiing.  Develop these now so that you can call on them later when you really need them.

The training wheels are well off your bicycle.  You can zip around quite well now.  As the weather warms we’ll be sure to practice more and more.  Got to find some single track soon.  A bike in the bush is nearly as good as a horse!

You began Grade Two back in September at yet another new school.  Your easy landing and quick assimilation have proved your sunny, friendly nature yet again.  It’s hard to keep track of all your friends, from Grades above and below yours too.  Mme Graham tells us you are friendly, chatty and helpful; sometimes too chatty!  She tells us you must concentrate and not become distracted or be the distraction for others.  Probably we could all do with having Mme Graham pull us into line sometimes!   You are progressing well in all areas of your school work and I know you particularly enjoy dance and drama, music and mathematics.  I am totally awestruck that you are successfully completing high school level algebra equations.  I hope you pursue your special loves and interests throughout your life.  It may not make you rich, but there are other ways to count your quality of life than in dollars.

Hopefully there is a dollar under your pillow tonight; for that eighth tooth that fell out yesterday just in time for your eighth birthday.  Across the world the number eight is tied with significance to the idea of cycles of things- birth, death, karma, power, influence, money, momentum, success.  It’s probably all a little silly, really.  I find it resonates with me though, that Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher who was a great contributor to math and music thought and practice, is attributed with the idea that humans have eight “organs of knowledge”, these being; sense, fantasy, art, opinion, prudence, science, wisdom and mind.  Make of it what you will, I find significance in the change and growth and likely cycles in your maturation that have shown themselves in your eighth year.

One of the harder things I have been thinking about in the lead up to today is that I must let go of my little girl, Percy.  You are no longer a little girl, still a girl, but no longer little.  Perhaps as my fifth cycle of eight years draws to an end I’m just feeling sad, after all, two cycles of eight was the age I was when I left my parents.  But let’s not be maudlin, it’s your birthday!  Time for celebration and happiness, and here’s to many, many, many more!

You are so very loved my dearest daughter, by all your family and more besides.  Enjoy your special day, and know we can’t believe our luck to be a part of it.

with all our hearts and minds,

your mum, petra


free two cents

March 6, 2015

i feel i don’t qualify on much to put in my two cents worth.  maybe a bit about travelling with kids (take a proper pillow) or how to deal with canadian banks (don’t bother with anyone less than the branch manager, preferably higher) or perhaps how to enjoy chocolate (unadulterated and lots of it.)

nevertheless i’ve had this notion pop into my head more than once, and this morning i found myself refining it.  so i will write it down and offer it up.  one day i might see if it would work in a story.  here goes…


“there’s nothing more attractive to a woman than a man who can both fight and dance, and is smart enough to find every excuse not to do the first and is confident enough to find every excuse to indulge in the second.  add in a uniform or barring that a tux or a kilt and there my boy, may be the only useful thing i’ll ever be able to tell you about dating and deserving a mate.”


(*obviously referring to hetros)

housekeeping and childrearing skills could also be thrown in the mix but at least i feel, these are secondary considerations.  evolutionarily (not a word i found in the dictionary, just in my fingertips) women seek a mate that complements and continues them- clever and self-assured does that.  by complements i do not mean praising her bison-gutting skills while keeping her manolo blahniks pristine.  that word is spelt with an “i”.  i mean the complement that means two parts fitting together into a better whole.  and by continues i mean not just continuing the species by providing sound sperm and protective and bread-winning abilities, i also mean emotional, intellectual and goal-achieving support.

the perfect guy can lay out another clean with a well placed punch or two, but exhausts every option not to beforehand; can tango, waltz and cut loose and will, holding on to you, at a moment’s notice; pursued an education to earn the stripes, wings, stars or whatever on his epaulettes; knows you are his equal and expects to give you his considered thoughts, advice and wisdom, his shoulder to cry on, his arms to hold you and his unwavering support in pursuit of your ambitions.  in addition, he expects the same in return.

two years in canada

March 3, 2015

as our plane landed in vancouver percy lamented the lack of snow and tally barfed so hard he covered himself head to toe and the entire of his seat.  poor kids.  these unfortunate things did not stand as markers to a disappointing stay in canada.  tally was stripped, cleaned and re-dressed in new clothes; his previous set, well past any rescue tossed wholesale into the trash.  the airline removed the seat from the bolts in the floor up, and replaced it with a new one.  just as well really because we returned to the same set of seats for our final leg across to toronto.  in toronto percy’s unhappiness due to the want of white stuff, was rectified and she bounced happily in her taxi seat all the way to our temporary digs in Richmond Hill exclaiming “look at all the snow!”

over the next two years we’ve flown some more, nearly always successfully (percy left a small deposit on the carpet in hong kong airport when travel sickness struck her too.)  we’ve done a number of other things successfully too; start school, learn french, kick butt at work, complete a novel manuscript, ski blue runs, make friends and the general growing and learning that happens every day, with the added twist of doing it in a different culture, through a different lens.

it hasn’t all been straightforward.  there have been frustrations and surprises; the antiquated banking, the cost of living, the salt, the ice, the temperature and the distance we live from the downtown area have taken getting used to.  far easier here than many other places, ie. kiev or anywhere non-english speaking.  in hindsight i’m sure i really wanted this move, this stint, in canada to be successful, not just for me but for my family too.  i realise i feel an attachment to my birth country that made it a matter of pride that all of us should feel happy and at home here.  something must have happened in my first four years, or some residual imprinting in the following years, that left me with the notion that canada, much like australia, is a great country and we should be able to thrive here.  i can see i also wanted this move to be a success because we were leaving so much goodness behind.  we have very dear, close and wonderful friends in oz, parents, or grandparents depending on whose view, a community, a home that we’ve much improved and can only get better, a history, a level of comfort that comes with the meshing of all these important things.  it would be a terrible wrench to think we left these people and things for something less, or worse, or not worth it.  i’m pretty sure that’s not the case.  we’ve seen parts of the world, done things and met people that we never would have staying safely put.

meeting the people, many of whom have become friends, is a terrific bonus.  i have terribly missed my friends back home.  it tells in the gabble i subject on most anyone i meet!  being garrulous, loving the telling of a good story and intensely curious about my fellow humans i now talk no-end to everyone; by asking them teasing out their stories, launching into mine in return.  i think everyone is pretty happy to get away from me after a while (sorry.)

i hope we’ll have an invitation to return and visit our new buddies, once we’re homeward bound, just as we’ll extend our best hospitality to anyone that makes the trek down under.

of particular delight to me, possible only by proximity, was our passage and pilgrimage to and about pommie land.  i am super chuffed to have finally properly met and come to love paul’s relatives.  it is utterly fitting that he’s not the only product of a thence broken mould; his cousins are cast in likeness.  our whole family was happily held in the hearts we met, while ours just about burst to hold the little boys, as well as their parents and grandparents.

all in all, a good two years.  a growing two years, a galvanising two years, at times glacial, others galloping, not glorious nor gloomy, a little grieving, a little glitter and i’m glad we did it.