Recently at the Home by the Sea, I met a new friend. So that he can remain anonymous, I’ll call him, ‘Old Mate,’ (as we sometimes do in Australia).
Most people who met Old Mate, thought him brash and cocky, but I was utterly charmed by his youthful exuberance. He’d entered my world uninvited and I’d welcomed and even encouraged him to visit me whenever he liked. “My door is always open. Come over anytime,” I told him nonchalantly.
Perhaps that was my mistake? I can be naive about such things.
Being a good neighbour, or so I thought, I’d offered him food and refreshments whenever he rocked up. He really did like that. So much so, that he brought his partner over to meet us. We were chuffed.
Both Old Mate and his partner were talented singers and would regularly entertain us when they popped in. It was obvious they were planning to settle nearby and start a family. I was looking forward to sharing their world and continuing our wonderful friendship.
I had no inkling that Old Mate would take liberties with our friendship in a way no one else has done before.
It came to a head this week.
Jumping around on my Dining table was, to say the least, extremely unsettling, so I was forced to do something I’ve never done before: I told Old Mate he had to leave – ordering him out of my house.
He didn’t take my announcement well: becoming angry and flustered, making excuses to check out several rooms in the house, before finally agreeing to leave.
That was the final straw. I abruptly terminated our friendship.
I feel bad. I miss him, but it has to be this way.
Are all Bloggers would-be storywriters, in disguise?
I had to think a little more about why bloggers are attracted to write in the first place?
Is it because we have a desire to express ourselves and communicate to others, using the written word?
Blogging is like a Facebook post on caffeine!
Writing Your Own Story
I believe the stories we, as bloggers, write are to entertain or inform. Whether that is a work of non-fiction or a completely fictitious story, it can be entertaining for the reader.
Mostly, for the reason that people ARE interested in the details of other peoples’ lives and happenings. If you are in doubt, just look at how many Reality TV shows are on TV.
It can be a levelling experience for us to be watching or engaging with others. In doing so, we also learn about ourselves, as well as the journey through life.
Attracting More Blog Followers
Sandy and I have been discussing the art of blogging and the purpose of maintaining a blog after WordPress kindly reminded me I had begun this gig, ten years ago! This revelation was, for me, a little embarrassing when I looked at some bloggers who had acquired massive followings, in that same period of time. [And I say this trying hard to not focus on that number that pops up in my sidebar or notification lists.]
I do not blog to gain more followers, but I have to be honest: I do look at that number for feedback. I question myself: Am I writing something of interest to another person? Was my post boring? Is anyone listening to what I am saying? Did I communicate that well?
I worried too that my blog wasn’t focused enough, that I hadn’t found my niche. The thing is, I don’t know my niche.
Sandy from Thesandychronicles.blog
From the comments on these posts, it seems many of us, including me, might have this niggling doubt that our blogs. We worry our writing is not focused enough to gain interest, that is, unless we are a committed food/photographic or travel blogger, who posts solely on the one chosen topic.
Then I thought about the fact that we DO have people visiting and taking the time to post a comment, so that seems to prove otherwise. Thus, I’d like to challenge this almost subliminal notion many of us have, that our blog should be more defined.
Does it really matter if our blog is diversified in its topics?
I have some followers that enjoy my Sunday quotes, others who only like and comment on the photographic challenges and still others who will presumably only read the art, or lifestyle, posts.
With just a single focus for blogging, I would miss out on, “chatting” to this wide spectrum of readers via their own blogs and the comments they make.
Each and every one of my readers bring, with them, their own individual opinions and thoughts, which results in a wonderfully rich tapestry of backgrounds and perspectives that can only be beneficial for me, as a writer.
The number and content of comments on our posts, are perhaps the real litmus test for any Blogger. Growing a dedicated Blogger community will never happen overnight. In the meantime, we can continue to hone our craft and have a lot of fun in the process.
What is it that attracts you to a certain blog?
Join the Conversation with Sandy and Amanda
This post is a part of a new series of CONVERSATIONS between Sandy and myself. Over the next little while, we’ll talk about a topic, compare notes, share Q&A and invite you to join in.
Do you have any topics to suggest for our Blogging Conversations?
Pingback to join in and write a conversation post.
Several years ago, we endured a heart-stopping trip toThe Remarkables Ski Fields in the South Island of New Zealand. Australians flock to the NZ ski fields, every year, as it is more cost effective for them, than skiing in the limited fields in Australia.
After the 8 Kilometre, nail-biting transfer to the Remarkables Ski Field, in a very old bus, we checked “in,” to receive our NZ Ski My Pass Card, microchipped to follow our progress around the ski fields and were measured for clothing, boots, and skis.
Hiring Skis and Clothing on the Ski Fields
The Ski Centre, (at 1610 m a.s.l.), was awash with bodies of all sizes in snowsuits, teeny tiny kids sliding about on snowboards and loads of skis resting in the snow.
Travel tip: Visitors can hire ski gear for their skiing adventure, (pants, jackets, and boots etc) but they do have to bring some items of their own, as I was to soon discover.
“No, you can’t hire gloves, Ma’am, for hygiene reasons” – the attendant in the Ski shop told me sternly, upon enquiring. What was I thinking? (Even in this pre-Covid vacation). Ski gloves would be a personal item you couldn’t and wouldn’t want to hire!
I regretted not thinking through the Travel agent’s vague advice: “Travel light, you can hire everything over there.” I cursed leaving my own super-thick Norwegian gloves at home and regretted passing up the opportunity to buy a pair at our local supermarket, (which had so many on sale, as ski gloves aren’t usually a popular commodity in Australia). Thus, having a captive market, I succumbed and purchased a pair for $50.00 at the small mountain Ski shop. It would be impossible to ski/toboggan without gloves.
Storage Lockers for Hire at The Remarkables
I also regret not hiring a storage locker at the ski centre; however, the locks appeared dubious and I preferred to have my passport, drink bottles and asthma medication with me so chose to carry it around on my back, whilst skiing, not realizing how destabilizing this would be on my balance.
Update: The Ski centre now offers secure day storage with automated pay lockers and if skiing the next day you can store your used gear overnight in the Rental Department. This is available downstairs in the base building and you can pay by credit card or EFTPOS.
I’d opted to introduce my daughter to the thrill of downhill skiing in New Zealand, so I attempted to teach her what little I knew from a trip to Thredbo Ski Fields, as a school student, some 30 years ago.
Unfortunately for my pride, it fast became apparent that following the lead of another beginner skiers in the very generous Beginner’s bowl as well as eavesdropping on a few instructors was far more successful for my daughter, than listening to Mum’s antiquated knowledge. Physically adept, she quickly got the hang of it, having been cross-country skiing in Norway, several years previously. Before long, she was going up and down the magic carpet in the Beginner’s bowl area, while I watched on from a distance.
Lifts at the Remarkables
It is useful to bear in mind that lift passes allow you to access both The Remarkables and Coronet Peak ski fields and do not need to be used on consecutive days.
From the ski centre, we jumped, (literally), onto the chairlift, to travel up to the Tubing area. With skis on, it is no mean feat for a 10-year-old, new to downhill skiing, to manage this without any assistance. What happened to those nice attendants I remember who were there to help you on and off the chairlift with a modicum of grace?
In this age of economic rationalism, they had been replaced by a single safety officer, who replied to a request for assistance with a lackadaisical, “You’ll be alright!” That is Kiwi skiing for you and his confidence in my skills, as anticipated, was sorely misplaced. Getting on the lift, was managed fine, but getting off was quite a different matter.
Busily advising my daughter, Miss 10, on what to watch out for when alighting from the chair, (which she managed with incredible finesse), I suddenly realised I’d left alighting from the chair a second or two, too late!! By which time, I had to jump, as the lift had started to turn and the ground was fast disappearing beneath me. The sharp decline on the slope meant I promptly lost my balance, falling over right in front of the turning chair!
With not a soul to help, I got up with the help of Miss 10, which was humiliation enough. I was then relieved to see a friendly face approach me, thinking this stranger was going to assist me to maintain my precarious balance on the snow. Alas, she was a photographer out to take an obligatory-first time ski portrait- the kind they sell in kiosks at somewhat ridiculous prices.
Snap snap snap, clicked the camera.
I inwardly hoped she didn’t get one of me falling at the top of the chairlift. On second thoughts, that could have been a better tourist photo! With my mouth wide open, gasping for air and scrambling for something on which to gain a solid footing, (said backpack swinging around on my back), it is little wonder the photographer suddenly hesitated, thinking I was about to sneeze, or collapse. No, it was me with a mild bout of asthma, gasping for a little more air.
Tubing and Snow Fun at The Remarkables
After that mild mishap, and a few more falls and runs down the slopes, we arrived at the Tubing area – which is a short walk from the lift.
Riding a Rubber tyre tube down a huge slope is a real blast in the snow. I can’t tell you how much fun it is, even for a person of my age. It is not just for children.
Miss 10 and I tubed up and down for over an hour, and I would have continued if I could have. I think sometime we may have reached speeds of 20 -30 km/h. It was heady! I felt young again!
Back then, the Tubes are pulled up by a rope tow, which has to be held taut whilst you are seated on the large rubber tube. For me, that meant holding the tow rope in a position that rather awkwardly was between my legs! Yet this was so much more preferable to walking up the hill in the snow dragging the tube in thick snow. And it meant we could get more downhill runs in. Yay!
Of course, the ubiquitous Tourist Photographer was there too. I think two photos cost near to over NZD$60.00 – you have been warned!
After several more hours, I was utterly exhausted and needed some fuel and asthma medication to continue. We returned to the beginner area instead of attempting more advanced runs. We’d fallen over too many times to remember, by this stage.
Despite seeing a nasty beginner snowboarding accident which to me looked like a flip gone wrong, we had so much fun, going up, coming down, going up, coming down, throwing snowballs, sliding down the snow cave/tunnel etc. And the view from the Remarkables was well, remarkable!
Ski Transfer to Queenstown from The Remarkables
The return trip from the ski fields is simple enough. No need to book as apparently shuttles leave the mountain every hour, or as soon as they fill up a bus load, from 2 pm onwards.
Before the orders to stay home were given, the Moth and I were returning home from casting our vote in the local elections, in a suburb we weren’t familiar with.
This particular suburb is notorious for its colourful residents, an interesting “teeth to tatt” ratio and frequent domestic altercations. That didn’t faze us at all, as I’ve a dear friend living there, who really loves it. Never a dull moment, she says. Always a police siren to wake you up from an unscheduled Nanna Nap! Lol!
Not really knowing the directions through this delightful beachside suburb, the Moth decided to “chuck a U- ey,” (which is Aussie speak for making a U-turn in one’s vehicle), in order to return to our Home by the Sea.
It was a straightforward and technically correct maneouvre, but shortly after we made the turn, a silver commodore, with heavily tinted windows, overtook us at great speed. Not really registering his presence yet, my Moth (Man of the House), and I continued our merry banter discussing the predictions for the upcoming elections, when that same silver commodore slowed to a snail’s pace, this time driving in front of us.
The Moth clicked the indicator to overtake this car, muttering something about a ‘smart ass’, when the same silver commodore swerved again, deliberately blocking us. The Moth indicated back to return to the original lane. The silver commodore did the same.
This cat and mouse game repeated itself several times until the Moth began frothing at the mouth.
I was nonchalant, but suggested we might take a side road detour to avoid him, but the Moth was worried he would continue to follow us. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “This isn’t the Fast and the Furious! He’ll forget about his game in a minute.”
The Moth, then, had a change of heart veering quickly down a back street, far too late for the silver commodore driver to follow.
Phew! I thought as we closed in on the road towards home. I was relieved the silly incident was now over.
On turning the next bend, a lump of bile coalesced in my throat. For there, parked on the side of the road, with the engine running, was the same silver commodore! I hoped he wasn’t lying in wait for us. Unfortunately, he was!
In scenes reminescent of the seventies film, “Duel”– this dude, continued to stalk and harrass us for the next 10 minutes. I can only assume it was a dude from the size of his hand on the steering wheel, as that was the only body part visible through the heavily, (possibly illegally), tinted windows.
Perhaps he had just had a bad day, or lost his job from Corona, I am not sure, but the dude in the silver commodore with his rapper-styled Air Freshener dangling wildly from his rear vision mirror, continued his road rage game for several more kilometres, at times tailgating and overtaking us and just as quickly slowing down in front of us, causing us to brake suddenly.
It began to get a little frightening.
“I don’t want to go home,” I told the Moth. “I don’t want him to know where we live.” But the Moth had a plan.
The Moth took us for a drive, not to our home, but directly to – the local police station! Luckily for us, the parking spot right at the station’s front door was free when we reached it. The Moth parked the car and got out.
Strangely enough, the silver commodore with its heavily tinted windows drove straight past our parked car, and the Police Station entrance, with due care, observing all the usual speed controls.
I suppose he did not want to attract attention – for some reason.
It was a Saturday morning, 2012 and my phone rang impatiently. When I picked it up, an unfamiliar voice asked,
“Is that Amanda?”
“That is me,” I answered.
” It’s Susie. I’ ve got your crap here.”
“Sorry,” I said, about to hang up, thinking that this was a prank call.
But then I was a little curious, so I tentatively asked, “What kind of crap have you got?”
[Believe it or not, this is the second time in my life, I have had to ask a stranger this exact question. This time I was not in Denmark, but that’s another story.]
The Caller continued.
“Well, I dunno. There’s a box here, with your name on it and it says that it’s umm, filled with crap.” It had your phone number too, so I rang you, ‘cos, you know, I don’t want it!” Susie exclaimed.
The penny dropped.
“Oh, okay. I know what it is. It’s my toilet paper,” I said with sudden clarity.
[Frustrated with too frequently needing to change the toilet roll and attempting to shop more ethically for environmentally friendly products, I’d purchased a regular delivery of toilet paper from a profit for purpose, online store, Who Gives a Crap and hadn’t received a notification that delivery was imminent.]
“They’ve delivered it to the wrong street address,” I squirmed inwardly, realizing how ridiculous it must have sounded to Susie, to have toilet paper home delivered, in the days before online shopping really became mainstream.
What? Susie asks, sounding confused.
“I bought some environmentally friendly toilet paper online – it is recycled, you see.”
“Recycled? Toilet paper? What?” She asked, seeminly incredulous at my wild suggestion. [Apparently, the hole I was digging, was getting deeper]
“It’s a little crazy but it is a genuine product, from a company called Who Gives A Crap, and they are, you know, all for sustainability and helping the environment, you see. Their sales speel is really corny Dad jokes and puns about toilet humour which they print on their wrappers.”
Susie was not convinced, but eventually agreed to a suitable time to pick up my box of “crap.”
On collection, she cheezily remarked, “You’re finally here to pick up the crap, are ya?” The toilet humour was wearing a little thin, by then. I wanted my loo paper and to get out of there. So, I thanked her for her honesty in calling me and offered her a roll to try out for herself.
“No, I don’t use it,” she said.
Now it was my turn to be confused. How could anyone in this day and age, get away without using toilet paper? I pondered.
I had to know more.
Let me say that Susie was only too willing to share the finer details of her medical condition which required her to use soft wipes instead.
Before we delved into the realms of TMI, I decided to take my environmentally friendly crap and trot off.
Can you imagine if the same incident happened today?
There’d be some kind of snatch and grab feast in the burbs. Not only is Who Gives a Crap now a widely known brand, but a free box of 48 rolls of EXTRA LONG Toilet paper, would be akin to finding the golden ticket to Willy Wonka.
Who Gives A Crap?
Let’s face it anyone brave enough to call their company, Who Gives A Crap, is worth a look. Plus 50 % of profits get put back into Water Aid and projects that improve sanitation in the Third World. I love that. And according to its founder, it has a low PTR!
What is PTR? you may ask. It is a Poke-Through-Rate because no one wants crap on their hands: as Simon explains in this promotional video.
To test the poke through rate yourself, you’ll have to wait a little, as the current runs, (no pun intended), on toilet paper has Who gives a Crap stocks completely SOLD OUT, in Australia.
This story was promptly by Barb at Barb’s blog, discussing the Corona pandemic.
If you want to live on the edge of life, you need to be flexible.” ~ Kim Novak
“I just can’t do it! I can’t,” he implored. Manfred was clearly beside himself.
Holly paused to let the tension digest before replying, “Can’t you negotiate with them, Mannie?“
Manfred looked sad, then stubbornly fixed his jaw, explaining, “No, I just can’t go back. It won’t work.“
Holly decided Manfred wasn’t going to budge. It was hard to understand why he was so fixated on quitting the job he’d started just a day or two before. After all, working in a food truck was good work experience, even if the Manager had indeed abused him and rostered him on at weekends.
Holly also suspected that if Manfred quit this job, he’d find it difficult to survive and worse still, he’d lose the routine and direction he sorely needed in his life. Teenage boys with time on their hands created trouble; something Holly had witnessed with her own brothers.
“So, ah – what’s your plan now?” she ventured, after letting the silence hang for a minute.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about doing street entertainment, so I can start my own business,” Manfred began enthusiastically. “I’d love to remodel shipping containers as cheap accommodation.” “They’re portable, cheap – everyone wants one.”
“A business, hey? thought Holly. “You could call it, Home, ship, Home,” she joked.
Manfred’s face lit up, giving Holly a warm feeling inside. Since meeting Manfred on the park bench months before, she’d grown to like his confidence and enthusiasm. He’d charmed her with easy conversation and a good dose of charisma, but she knew he was dangerously impulsive. And that was worrisome.
After promises to meet again, they parted ways. Holly back to her family in the suburbs, and Manfred to who knows where. Holly wondered where he’d sleep that night. He said it was often safer to walk the streets at night and ‘crash’ in the park, when daylight came. Holly also knew on those nights, he used pills to cope with his inner demons. She resolved to find help for him, when they met again, the following week.
It was whilst clearing the dishes from Mum’s lamb casserole; the 6 o’clock news blaring in the background that Holly’s legs suddenly collapsed – her head hitting the floor.
“MAN FALLS from the CITY BRIDGE in DARING STUNT.”
When Holly came to, it was easy to forget the news story. Surely, she’d see Manfred’s smiling face again, at the end of the week.
After work on Friday, Holly rushed down to the City Bridge, anxiously looking for Manfred’s slouching figure, waiting as he did, in their usual spot.
An empty seat.
A gut wrenching, tearing despair mixed with utter hopelessness blinded her thoughts. Was Manfred really gone?
With trepidation, Holly peered over the police tape cordoning the City Bridge’s narrow railing, her throat filled with bile.
A wilted flower was forlornly tucked in the wires. As Holly pulled it out, a gum wrapper fluttered to the ground. Her heart broke as she read the words scrawled thereon:
“Home, ship Home”
Something different for Sunday Sayings this week
Appreciate and treasure the moments with others.
There isn’t always a second chance.
“The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest” – Bob Hawke
I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.
Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking.
I hope you will too.
“When it rains soup, the poor man has no spoon.”
– Swedish Proverb
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”
– Robert McKee
Robert McKee, A Fulbright Scholar, is the most sought after screenwriting lecturer around the globe. He has dedicated the last 30 years to educating and mentoring screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, poets, documentary makers, producers, and directors internationally. However, McKee has been criticized for teaching screenwriting without ever having a script of his made into a film.
Thinking about the Swedish proverb, does it seem a little shallow or simplistic, to you? Poor communities can after all, have a very rich life, albeit not in materialistic or monetary terms. Is the proverb referring only to financial matters ?
And what do you make of Robert McKee’s words? Media can be used as a propaganda tool but is the media capable of suggestions of thought? Storytelling can teach us lessons in allegorical form, but can it also lead to misconceptions by the reader or viewer? Take, for example, teenage girls who think they should look and act a certain way, based on watching mainstream TV? Do you think that media is purely entertainment value for the discerning viewer and that entertainment value can be separated from unrealistic impressions that relationships should be always be blissful, and an institutions such as marriage is always just a walk in the park. If this is true, could storytelling still be conducive or counterproductive to happiness?
I would be pleased to hear your thoughts.
Proverbial Friday – Something to ponder deeply about