The greatest of these is love

I read this this morning on Facebook, and it’s possibly the truest thing I’ve read there in a long time, especially on the subject of love.

It goes alongside the wisdom of not comparing someone else’s public face with your loved one’s (or your own) private one.

And it goes alongside something I read yesterday, a note from an old, old diary where I’d expressed my deepest fear that I was, at best, tolerated. I lived like that for a number of years. I don’t any more.

And with that I bid you good morning. Go. Love. Forgive. Or think about being forgiven. Remember that you, too, are more than just tolerated. You too, by someone, somewhere, and by the creator of the universe (whether you believe it or not) are loved.

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Welcome to…Legoland!

It’s Monday again! I’ve been thinking some terribly deep thoughts over the weekend; terribly TERRIBLY deep thoughts. So deep, in fact, that I’m over deep thinking for now, and have decided it’s time to share some photos with you instead. People keep asking me about our experience in Legoland (most often “is it actually made of Lego?” which, I’m pleased to say, it’s not), so I think it’s about time I showed you all what it’s like.

We LOVED Legoland.

Legoland Hotel Carlsbad

Legoland California Hotel

When I was a kid I was a passionate Lego collector, and I dreamed of one day visiting Legoland in Copenhagen, not ever really believing I’d get a chance to do it. I have no idea how that original Legoland differs from this one, but this one was an absolute joy.

The hotel is designed with kids in mind. We stayed in a lot of hotels while we were away, but this was the only KIDS’ hotel. Check out the decor:

Legoland Hotel

Legoland Hotel

Each of the three floors has a different theme: adventure, castle, or pirate. We slept on the second floor, the pirate rooms. The kids loved it, but what they loved most of all was that the elevator turned into a DISCO the moment you pressed the button for your floor. Why doesn’t the one at Myer do that?

The elevator host

The elevator host

The hotel had a huge Lego play area, model building competitions and entertainment for the kids in the evenings, and Lego to build in your room as well. Even the restaurants (there were three) were in on the Lego-themed fun.

IMG_2528The restaurants were full of large-scale models like this, all made of Lego. Unfortunately I’ve lost a whole bunch of photos :(. And the food was GREAT, too!

And then, as if the hotel alone isn’t exciting enough (which, really, it isn’t. It’s a hotel, and unless you want to spend your entire day swimming, eating and building Lego, it’s nice to get out), there’s the theme park!

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Lego Safari…

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IMG_2560and plenty of just plain old amazing Lego stuff. There was a whole area dedicated to Star Wars (including a life-size…ie, big enough to really fly in…X-wing fighter) and my favourite, Lego San Francisco. We started and ended our trip in California. I hadn’t realised though we’d be able to start and end it in San Francisco!

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Lego Pier 39. The kids went on the real merry-go-round on the real Pier 39 as well!

Lego Pier 39. The kids went on the real merry-go-round on the real Pier 39 as well!

The (Lego) seals at Pier 39. Much less smelly and noisy than the real ones.

The (Lego) seals at Pier 39. Much less smelly and noisy than the real ones.

Well there you have it folks. Legoland California. Definitely worth a visit, especially if you, like me, still have a few kids and a secret passion for Lego.

 

 

 

 

The dangers of orange juice

When my kids were small we started following the Failsafe diet. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s basically eliminating artificial food chemicals known to cause adverse reactions in people, as well as foods containing naturally occurring chemicals known to cause adverse reactions. (If you want to know more about it check out www.fedup.com.au) I can’t recommend it highly enough, it cured my daughter’s sleeplessness, stomach pains, and my son’s out-of-control eczema.

However…

This blog isn’t about the Failsafe diet. It’s about the time I poured my son a glass of juice and had to fight the guilty feeling. Fruit juice, when you’re on the Failsafe diet, is baaaaad.

Don’t get me wrong This isn’t a fad diet. This is a life-line for people whose children have unbearable, unbelievable problems with naturally occurring chemicals in naturally occurring food, and although it may sound extreme and limited it’s…well okay, it IS extreme and limited, but it’s nutritionally balanced and scientifically tested at the same time. Do I need to explain a bit more?

When my Ginger Ninja was a baby his eczema was so severe that once I went to check him in his crib and thought he’d been murdered there was so much blood. No joke. He was fully breast fed, and when I started cutting out the “bad” foods of my own diet (strongly flavoured fruit and vegetables, tomato, citrus, pineapple, kiwi, strawberry) his eczema cleared up.

No joke. I stopped eating tomatoes and tomato-based pasta sauces and he started looking normal. And my daughter, who’s diet we also limited, started sleeping through the night again. We didn’t look back.

It turned out, after some tests at the paediatrician, that my Ginger Ninja also had copious amounts of allergies as well as food intolerance. Pretty soon the list of foods we had to avoid was longer than the list we could eat from: no cow’s milk. No soy milk. No eggs. No peanuts. No sesame seeds. No preservatives. No artificial colours. No tomato, grapes, citrus, kiwi, apples, tuna, grapes, sultanas, chocolate, broccoli, raspberries, cheese, yoghurt…the list goes on.

Gosh.

To cut a long story short, gradually we were able to introduce some of these into his diet, and gradually increased his tolerance to some of these things. And his allergies are almost completely gone (still can’t eat peanuts). And we discovered a wonderful probiotic that he takes daily to help his digestive system process food. And he’s growing, so he can tolerate larger doses of things. It’s just good. And so, lo and behold, now we can give him juice.

I bought juice the other day. I felt like a rebel, like I had to look furtively around the supermarket and make sure nobody noticed I was putting such a dangerous and banned substance in my trolley. It wasn’t even for visitors, just…for us. I know! Crazy living. That’s what being on holidays will do to a person: make them break out of years of training and REBEL!

It made me pause and reflect though. I remembered when I was quite young and my dad brought home two cans of beer to put in a snail trap in the veggie garden. I’d been brought up in the Salvation Army church, and had been taught again and again about the dangers of alcohol. I figured then and there that my family was going downhill fast and it was the end of everything. Dad’s bought beer.

(Incidentally, next to the bottle of juice in my fridge right now is a half-empty bottle of wine. My dad didn’t turn into a rampant alcoholic, even though his garden snails might have).

Sometimes we need to do a re-think of what we believe, and why. It’s easy to carry on out-dated thinking, old memories, decisions that are no longer relevant, attitudes we no longer need to own. Or, conversely, remember the old mindsets we’ve forgotten (too many lollies WILL rot your teeth and make you fat, even if you are an adult now) and embrace them again.

Anyone care to join me for a glass of juice?

Happy Monday people!

Thanks so much to all of you who took the time to read and/or respond to my post about Tasmania last week. It was so interesting hearing people’s stories and opinions, and it made me proud all over again of my home state, and sad that there’s been such a negative stereotype around it. I think the people who felt it the most are the ones like me, who grew up here but had relatives interstate, or who lived there for an extended time. Tasmanians who spent all their time in Tasmania seemed to be more immune.

I’m glad to see this now for what it is. I’m glad to be able to see outside the walls of my own experience for a little while. And I’m glad to be home.

We went bushwalking (okay, leisurely strolling) on the mountain over the weekend, and ate a mouthwateringly good picnic in the most beautiful rainforest a mere ten minute drive out of the city.

Whatever you think about Tasmania, whatever you say about the smallness of Hobart, this is something it’s pretty hard to beat.

How about you? Had a good weekend? Hope so. Happy Monday Australia! And, well, Happy Sunday to everyone else 🙂

Proud to be Tasmanian?

Back in the day, back when I was about twelve years old, there was a show we all used to watch on TV, called “News Free Zone” (okay, it was a while ago. In the interests of full disclosure I have to admit that Mr. Google helped me out yet again with the name of the show, although he doesn’t have much at all to say about the rest of this post. The rest of this is all my thoughts and memories, so you’ll just have to put up with any inaccuracies).

Where was I? Oh yes.

Back in the day, back when I was about twelve years old, there was this sketch comedy show, and none of it is particularly relevant, except that it had this one regular segment called Australia Street, which chronicles the stories of the inhabitants of a share-house, each resident reflecting a state of Australia. Remember that show anybody? With the prissy Victoria Bitter, and Sunny Queensland with his floppy hat? Okay, it was the 80s. It was a long time ago. But it was kind of funny. And even if I didn’t fully get the jibes about the stereotypes of each state at the time, I did get the bit about Tassie. I was from Tassie. Heck, I was IN Tassie, and one thing I knew was that you don’t get many representations of Tasmania on TV or movies, or in stories.

So in this share-house on Australia Street, Tassie Franklin was a large hippy-ish woman living in a shed out in the back yard. She wandered in from time to time, eating an apple (Tasmania is famous for growing apples), and she’d say dim-witted, random things, and everyone would humour her for a few minutes and then tell her to nick off so they could get on with what they were meant to be doing. Something like that.

Good old Tassie. Left off maps and generally forgotten. Lives out in the back shed. In-bred. Two heads. Something about a convict past.

The other day I asked a friend who was born and raised on the mainland how she’d seen Tasmania while she was growing up, back in the 80s and 90s. I can’t remember the words she used, but the slightly patronising smile is one I remember from mainlanders years ago. The “oh, you’re from Tassie! How…sweet.” Like we were all a bit simple, a bit on the slow side. A bit not quite with it, with the notion that they should slow down their speech and thought patterns a little. My friend apologised, she’s a passionate Tassie advocate now, and I told her thank you, I was glad to hear that it wasn’t just my perception, or my own poor interpretation of memory. I remember visiting my cousins on the mainland and hearing that same patronising tone in their voices sometimes, or those of their friends. “Oh, you’re from Tassie. How…sweet!”

I remember the attitude back then, whether implied or spoken, that anyone with a brain gets out of Tassie as soon as they can. That the obvious step for anyone with some intelligence is to leave for the mainland. And many did. My friend questioned too, what does that do to a place when all the thinkers are encouraged to leave.

When we were in Canada we stopped at a bakery in a little town in Southern Alberta, run by an Australian woman, from Wollongong. We chatted a while, and she said “Tasmania eh? You don’t meet many Tasmanians!” We talked about how long she’d been in Canada (some twenty years now), and how she’d had a Tasmanian friend once, and how expensive it was to get to Tassie, which prohibited a lot of Tasmanians from travelling to the mainland, and limited others from travelling as often as they’d like. I remember the miracle that happened in the early 90s when budget airlines first began their Tasmanian operation, and suddenly poor students like me could travel, some for the first time in their lives.

I remember the feeling of “stuckness”, that of “missing the boat” because the man I fell in love with and married had no desire at all to leave Tasmania in spite of his wild intelligence. I remember feeling “dumbed down” by the sheer fact that travel was such a limited option. I remember resenting Tassie’s smallness, its apples, the vast expanses of treacherous water surrounding it, the attitude still of “Oh you’re from Tassie. How…sweet!”

Tasmania from space (source: Wikimedia Commons)

Tasmania from space (source: Wikimedia Commons)

I never chose to live here. I just…did. And after a while you learn to accept that people are coming now, moving TO Tassie and not just from it, intelligent people, thinkers, and not because they think it’s…sweet.

Here’s an amazing thing though. When I was in the US I met people who thought I was interesting, fascinating, exotic even, because I was from Tassie. I met people from cities wider and vaster than my entire state who thought I was the exotic one–not the simple one, not the stuck one, not the one who’s obviously inbred-two-headed-less-than-intelligent–the exotic one.

It made me think about Tassie differently. It made me see the stereotypes for what they are–stereotypes, from people who had little real experience of the a place rich and beautiful and steeped in history. It made me happy that, even if by default, I chose to live here. And, most importantly, it fuelled my desire to write Tasmanian stories.

I’m doing it now. I’m kicking off on a new novel, a Tasmanian novel, which is partly why I’m exploring these thoughts. I’d love to know how common these thoughts are. Are you Tasmanian? From the mainland? From elsewhere, and never heard of Tassie until you started reading my blog? Drop me a line. Help me with my research. Tell me YOUR Tassie story. Please?

This is My Hobart

I’m tired. Really tired.
I went back to work a few days ago (I work a few hours a week as a distributor for a marketing company). It’s funny being in Hobart again after so long in cities wider and grander and a million times bigger and a million times more foreign.
The familiarity of these places threw me. I think it’s because I’m tired. Really tired. But also because I’m different and they, for the most part, are not.

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It’s a funny place to be in, and I’m very aware that window of observation will be open to me for a very short time. Soon enough I’ll walk these streets and not notice them at all, not think about anything except a thousand memories of walking these same streets a thousand times before. But right now, while I’m tired and while that window of observation is open, I thought I’d show you my city, the places I’ll walk a thousand more times without noticing. It’s a good city, really.

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This is the mall. It rained today, all day, which is unusual for Hobart. Two days ago I got sunburnt. That contrast in weather is pretty normal.

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I got a coffee in town, which is pretty normal, and thought about how many old buildings  there are. Hobart is over 200 years old, which is an infant by European standards, but compared to Calgary, a mere babe at 100 years, it’s an ancient city. We have some beautiful architecture that for the most part I take for granted. I didn’t even get to the older, genteel parts of the city.

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And then there’s the modernist 1950s influence. We have a lot of that, too. Those blue windows you can see poking out the back are the library, by the way.

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And this is it. This is looking down from the street I park my car on, down onto the main road, and beyond that is the highway. There are other, prettier views of Hobart. I wasn’t coming to capture it’s beauty today as much as it’s familiarity. This is My Hobart. Two lanes of traffic. Peak hour that lasts five minutes. The mountain that comes and goes with the weather. These are the scenes that I know like the back of my hand.
To tell you the truth it’s good to be home, but at the same time familiarity makes me a little sad too. It makes me, strangely, nostalgic for places that are different.
I’m tired, really tired. And it’s good to be home. But to tell you the truth, today I’m homesick for America.

Cripes! It’s Thursday already!

Hello my lovely friends, how are you all?

I’m home. Truly home. It’s good…except for the part about the blowflies waking me up early in the morning because I left the back door open yesterday, and the part about me having to go to work in the rain today. But it’s good.

So many wonderful things happened, and we took so many wonderful photos. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

But not today.

I’m sorry.

Heck. At least I remembered that I had a blog, and was meant to be writing something on it. Content will come…at least that’s what I tell myself. At least I’ve figured out what city I’m in again, and generally what time zone.

Bye for now.

Talk soon,

Megan