Friday, 22 July 2016

Scenes from Warwick...

One week after we landed, we were still suffering from the jetlag and Jimmy's body clock was still a little all over the place. Jimmy woke up around 4 or 5 am and sometime after 6 am we realised that there was no going back to bed, so we decided to go outside. 

It was a beautiful crisp morning. A little hazy from woodfire smoke but frosty and fresh - the kind of morning that I love. The kind of morning I used to walk to school in, imagining living overseas in a colder climate where this sort of weather was longer lasting (England preferably) and yet hurrying to school where I could warm up my legs because my heavy school skirt was not good protection from the cold.

We were hoping to pat the horses, but they were too far away and too busy eating grass. It was a vision straight out of my childhood and it was extra special to have Jimmy there taking in the scene.

The only thing we were missing was a wallaby or two. We had magpies singing their morning songs, our breath making little puffs of mist, and a kookaburra too. The gum trees and dry grass were magic too. The sky was the same winter blue I remembered. Magpies still sing from the tops of power line poles.

And seeing our breath-puffs, or "blowing air" as Jimmy says, was just as entertaining that morning, while we were on our way to feed Pop's chickens, as it was when I was a child. It might not have been snow, but the frosty morning was a nice change from the Manhattan, KS, summer and +40 degrees C temperatures we had been experiencing.

The sight of my little boy running towards Pop's chickens, rugged up against the cold was just a bit too much and my heart melted: he's wearing all his Manhattan clothes but he's in Warwick. He is simultaneously at home and out of place.

He is definitely at home amongst the chickens. As his first turn pouring out the couscous, he had a little trouble, but he loved it. He pats the chickens, talks to them, and thanks them for their eggs. The chickens were not affected by the cold and happily ate up their early breakfast. They are lovely birds.

Our early morning walk ended in a familiar scene: Jimmy asking to be carried because his feet were cold. And they were - his canvas sneakers were wet from frost melting as it settled on them. My sweet boy... he needs new gumboots, and then he'll be set for all the frosty morning walks he can handle.

Except that his body clock has adjusted, he wakes around 6:30 am, and we no longer need to entertain him in the wee hours.

Thursday, 21 July 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Three!

Yikes. My baby is a little boy. His face is changing but sometimes it takes a photo taken at just the right moment to see it. Jimmy is three years old and will tell you, if you ask him.

On coming home...

This is our Manhattan living room, photographed by Jimmy. This was our home for a little over two years.

And now, we're back in Australia. We're back home. But is it home?

We've managed to make Manhattan a home for Jimmy and our apartment is the only home he remembers. It was a nice home, despite the stresses it (and being in the USA) caused. It was the first place Michael and I could set up from scratch (which stressful given how tight our budget was), and the lack of stuff was simultaneously refreshing and frustrating.

And now we're living with my parents, and my childhood home is home once again. Only most of our old stuff is still in storage, here with us and with Michael's mum. Stuff doesn't make a place home, but having some of our old things around us helps.

For me, the biggest things that make Warwick (and Australia) home are the colours of the landscape, the colours and sounds of the native birds, the smells of eucalyptus leaves, my parents cooking and the wood they burn to keep the house warm in winter.

It's actually weird to look at the photos of us in Manhattan, because the colours of my childhood home are so familiar, so right, that in some ways it feels like we never left...

But we did.

Well, I left my childhood home many years ago, only to keep returning. Like we did a month ago...

We drove from Manhattan to Kansas City International Airport, and flew to LAX, and then to Brisbane. The choice was more about reducing air-time and transfers, as much as reducing costs (it was slightly cheaper, possibly because of the 7+ hours in LAX). It was also an emotional choice. Once we landed in Brisbane that would be it - we would land and be in Australia and home and not have to take another flight.

And it was totally worth it. Landing in Brisbane was so worth the 7+ stopover layover in LAX. I wouldn't recommend arriving in LAX with anything less than 2 hours between flights, only because the place is huge and poorly signed, but with a long stopover layover and no need to go through a second security check and with our luggage checked through to Brisbane, it was the right choice.

We had a late breakfast at an old haunt (our flight was delayed a few hours in LA... hence the 7+), and the old haunt hadn't really changed, but many places had. Our old stomping ground had changed without us, but we have changed too. Our breakfast buddies have also changed in the last 2+ years since Michael, Jimmy, and I called Brisbane home.

Taking Jimmy to the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens was too good to be true. Another old haunt, the gardens have hardly changed in nearly 30 years, and we took Jimmy there every Saturday for a while, keeping up family traditions after a fashion. And then we moved... Jimmy looked at home in the Botanic Gardens and it was all we could do to stop him from wading out to join the ducks.

And after a while we drove to my parents place in Warwick. It is where I grew up, but Brisbane became my home and still feels like home, after living there for nearly 10 years.

As we drove to Warwick, the ever familiar landscape rolled by. I took photos from the car, even though the mountains are etched into my memory. The place that lays on the other side of the mountains is a place my soul can rest, where I can recharge. It's part of me, even if it's no longer my actual home.

And now it is my home again. But is it? We are in a state of limbo - applying for jobs, hoping for something with a little stability so we can stay in the same place for at least 5 years, hoping for something in Australia but knowing that we will move overseas again if that's where the work takes us.

And that's just it. This is our reality. We cannot make a home until something comes through and we don't know when that will be. We are home in Australia, and we are calling my parent's place home so that Jimmy understands that we are not visiting, but in some ways we are visiting because we are most likely going to have to move again, sometime in the coming month(s). We're hoping for Brisbane, Melbourne (where we have family and friends), or Manhattan KS, because they all feel like home.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Taking it all in...

One week in and jetlag was still causing disruptions... including waking at 4 am and not going back to sleep (as may have been the case the morning this photo was taken). It was cold out and as we had given up on the notion that getting any more sleep, we rugged up and went to see if there were any horses across the road. There were no horses, but there were a few magpies. 

Thursday, 7 July 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: At LAX...

This was not our gate. It was also 6 hours before our estimated departure time. And I just missed the moment Michael's hand was on Jimmy's head (sadface), but we were there. We'd made it and we could relax because we had a 7 hour stopover to recover from the last of the clearing out of our apartment, the drive to Kansas City International Airport, the returning of our hire car, the check in and baggage drop (and shuffle) and the flight to LAX. It was a long, long day and Jimmy was a brilliant travel companion. 

And that night we left the USA...


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Mopping the balcony with Daddy...

While I as at work Daddy and Jimmy cleaned the apartment. Inside and out. I was home when Jimmy and Daddy were cleaning the balcony and managed to capture Jimmy getting in on the action.