The Convenience That Is Japan

Please welcome Lulu from Cherry Blossom Adventures to the blog –

This is the first time I have guest blogged on somebody else`s blog which is why this is out of my niche for me…

I grew up in Australia and was 19 the first time I lived in Japan…. after coming from a place where I had been driving since I was 16 and had to drive anywhere to be able to do anything it was an interesting transition to be able to walk outside 50m and buy an orange juice, or a beer…at 3am in the morning or any other time I chose. I also had to get used to riding a bike again, since there were no cars for us students and at that time we lived 20- minutes away from the station.

I had lived in Brisbane, just outside actually, most of my life in a place called the Redlands….it was near the water but my house really was in the middle of nowhere (My family lives bayside now)…..the closest shop was a 10-minute drive. My closest friend was a 10 minute drive….and my highschool boyfriend at the time was a 20 minute drive away and when we met neither of us could drive so we had to rely on our parents to shuttle us around.

Going from that to a place like Tokyo was a bit of a shock. Perhaps not as much of a shock as it would have been for someone from the country but a shock all the same.

I moved back to Tokyo 2 years ago now, to live with my boyfriend. He is Japanese, and yes we communicate in Japanese (one thing that isn’t convenient about Japan is the language…although it is not so much a problem for me anymore)…we lived in a tiny tiny apartment in a place called Kichijoji, which is in West Tokyo. It was a beautiful place, and I wish we still lived there now, except the 25m sq apartment wasn’t for me. But we lived a 2 minute walk from the closest train station, we had a 24hr 100yen shop across the road and a supermarket 100m away that was open until 2am everyday…If I had a craving for some chips at 3am I just had to walk across the road. If I ran out of beer during a house party, I just had to go across the road. If I wanted MacDonald’s I only had to walk around the corner…and it was a five-minute walk to the one of the nicest parks in Tokyo.

We still live in an apartment that is convenient (but thankfully bigger) a 6 minute walk from the station, a 3 minute walk to the supermarket and about the same as that to the local convenience store…We live closer to downtown Tokyo now and a taxi to Shinjuku costs $15 or a five minute train ride costs $1.60. It is not as convenient perhaps as where we lived before but it is a hell of a lot more convenient than where I was in Australia….We don’t own a car, and to tell you the truth we really don’t need one.

I am moving back to Australia in July this year for six months to a year so that I can spend some time with my family before my boyfriend and I get married and move back to Japan….he will study English and I will work in the city. I am not sure how I will go with having to drive to the supermarket or train station….or how I will go with paying $5 to catch the train when public transport is so much cheaper here. I love Australia, I really do, but will the convenience that is Japan have ruined me for Australia living?

Lulu is a 23 year old Aussie girl living in Tokyo with her Japanese boyfriend trying to make sense of the crazy but fun Japanese world she lives in.

And remember, you can get out of your niche tooall bloggers are welcome. Just contact me.

Get Out Of Your Niche

Fibromyalgia Skeptics – Walk A Mile In My Shoes

Please welcome Sandy from Fighting Fatigue back to the blog –
Ever since the FDA approved the drug Lyrica for Fibromyalgia patients, skeptics have been crawling out from the woodwork to post their “opinions” on the validity of Fibromyalgia.

It amazes me that in this day and age, millions of people who are sick (3 – 6 million to be exact) with Fibromyalgia still feel as though they have to defend themselves and defend the fact that they are truly, physically ill.

I have been reading on different websites across the Internet comments such as:

– We are whiners who complained until someone gave us a drug to treat our so-called condition.
– People who legitimately suffer from chronic pain are few and far between.
– We are taking the easy way out by popping a pill and refusing to deal with the realities of life.
– We have so-called psychological issues due to the fact that we were neglected or treated unfairly as children.
– We expect the world to revolve around us and expect people to bow down to us because of our illness.

Yes, these are statements that I have been reading! All I can say to all of the Fibromyalgia skeptics who are out there, come live with me for one week. By the time you have spent 24 hours a day with me for 7 days, you will realize that it is impossible to fake this illness. Walk in my shoes for one day, one hour even, and you will have a new appreciation for what real strength is.

To those who don’t believe, I pray that the day comes where you are not struck down with a chronic illness. If you are, and if you seek out compassion, understanding and acceptance, remember how you treated others.

Sandy Robinson is 38, Female, live in the Northeast, married with a 6-year-old beautiful son. Sandy started the Fighting Fatigue website to help raise awareness and offer support to others for the chronic illnesses I Sandy personally suffers from: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Interstitial Cystitis.

Sandy the incredible thing about this post is I could easily replace the words Fibromyalgia and chronic pain with words like depression and everything you wrote would still apply. I don’t think sufferers of Fibromyalgia are alone in feeling that lack of compassion, understanding and acceptance.

I sometimes think many illnesses are like the existence of God – either you believe they exist because you personally suffer from them or you know someone who does, or you don’t believe they exist. People with mental illnesses like depression often feel that same need to defend themselves and rather than try to prove they are ill, they’ll just shut up. :( Good on you for not being silent about this.

Sandy also wrote – Maintaining A Positive Attitude While Chronically Ill previously as a guest poster for get out of your niche here on the blog.

And remember, you can get out of your niche tooall bloggers are welcome. Just contact me.

Get Out Of Your Niche

Sue Blimely – Out Of Her Niche

Please welcome Sueblimely as today’s guest poster –

I haven’t suffered the agony of writer’s block since I started blogging, that is, until my mind turned to this guest post. I have learned, with trial and effort (there have been many trials to practice on) that life does offer solutions, if you open your mind and let it . Something I read yesterday brought the solution that I should have thought of myself. I will write about a subject that has been a daily part of my life for 17 years now.

If you have heard of Fragile X Syndrome, you are probably still in the minority. When I heard the word 14 years ago it was only after 3 years of searching for the answer and 3 years of doubting my ability as a mother. Surely it must be my fault that all my son’s the niggly little illnesses, infections, ear infections, rashes and 3 years of a runny nose were due to lack of proper care and hygiene; his slow development a result of post natal depression, which saw me hospitalized for a month when he was 6 months old. Three years of doctors and nurses ignoring my concerns: “he is just a slower developer than your other two were my dear – he is doing things within the normal limits”. I can imagine the notes they made – “neurotic mother, suffers from anxiety and depression ” Doubts were my constant companion. Certainly having two older children who walked by 9 months, could read by 10mths, play the piano by 11mths … must be clouding my judgment – you detect exaggeration there – quite correct but they were in general earlier than the norm in all their ‘baby steps’.

When my son was 3 my health center nurse saw the light and referred me to a Pediatrician. I wanted to switch that light off again, wanted to believe all I had been told over the last three years. I did not want to believe a dismissive doctor who told me my son had a developmental disability, that it was unlikely the cause could be found (so he was not going to try) and “please close the door on your way out”. The first stage of grief hit, knocked me for six – denial and isolation. Thankfully the second arrived soon after; the anger that propelled me to action. If this b… doctor is not going to bother to even try finding an answer then I damn well was. My normal determination and single-mindedness returned in strength. A couple of months later I found my savior, a pediatrician, specializing in disability, who had heard of Fragile X and knew of a few things to look for. Seeing my son constantly flapping his hands in excitement (throw him off a cliff and he would probably be able to fly), noticing that he had only one palmer crease instead of two on his hand and that he was quite double jointed (he still relaxes on his bed with head resting on his foot!), he sent us for tests. Yes us, plural.

The results: my son suffers from Fragile X syndrome, the most common known cause of inherited intellectual disability and I believe the only known cause for an Autism Spectrum disorder. I am a carrier, as is my older son. My daughter is clear of the condition, as she inherited my X chromosome that does not have the Fragile X fault on it. Both my daughter and older son have an IQ near genius level.- not telling you mine :-). My mother was a carrier too, as I suspect was her father.

Was I upset by the results – no way. I had had to accept my son’s disability, but not being able to do anything had been tearing me apart. Now I went into action.. Read, research, learn, teach. A foot high mountain of bits and pieces of medical research from around the world was soon transformed into 20 pages of information, written in layman’s terms. This was then used by a fledgling Fragile X Support Group as an information package for those impacted by Fragile X – and to teach the medical profession, which was required regularly in the early days.. More importantly I had an insight into why my son behaved as he did, which was a huge help to me in dealing with it and helping him cope in life. My self esteem improved, there was a reason for his autistic tendencies, ADD, allergies, rashes, ear infections, eye problems, vomiting 30 times a day, lateness in talking, walking, hand flapping and why he could put his legs over his head with incredible ease. There was a reason why this adorable child could melt hearts with his smile even though he could not look them in the eye. His is a sociable kind of Autism. The world and its stimuli full of sights, smells, taste, touch and sounds are often too much for my very precious “Fraggle” to deal with but he is interested in it and its people.

I also found an answer for my own intermittent problems with depression and constant anxiety, which had ranged from mild to “stop the world I want to get off.”. Us female Fragile X carriers tend to be like that. I eventually, stubborn fool that I was, got the whole gamut of help I needed for this; which changed my life. Life is good.

When I read yesterday that a drug to cure Fragile X Syndrome is likely to go into clinical trials as soon as this year imagine how pleased I was. I have written about it on a site that I am developing for a friend who was part of that fledgling support group I mentioned earlier.

Please take some time to read the details on Fragile X and check out the links for more info. There are many children out there with Fragile X who have not been diagnosed. Male Fragile X carriers suffer from a condition known as FXTAS which can be misdiagnosed as Parkinsons. Female carriers are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, early menopause and have twins. The more people who are aware of the condition, the more children and adults will get the help they need.

Snoskred – My nephew is autistic, though it wasn’t diagnosed until he was around 4. It can be quite frustrating to communicate with him. I absolutely adore him but I don’t think I could handle it on a daily basis. Enormous kudos to all the mothers out there with kids who suffer from any kind of disability, no matter how small it may seem.

You can read more from Sueblimely at Blogging Sueblimely.

And remember, you can get out of your niche tooall bloggers are welcome. Just contact me.

Get Out Of Your Niche

Kelley Out Of Her Niche

Please welcome Kelley from magneto bold too! with today’s guest post.

I was 6 when my dad got cancer for the first time.
Hodgkins lymphoma. Back in the late 70’s there was not a lot they could do.

They gave him 3 months to get his affairs in order.

I remember him coming home after that diagnosis. My brother and I in bed in our shared bedroom. An enormous room in our newly rented house after coming ‘home’ from a year living in rural Queensland. A room with a huge scary picture of the Queen in one corner, a wall of window and a makeshift partition to give us our own space.

He was drunk. Although I didn’t understand that at the time, as my father never drank. He was yelling and screaming and my mother was crying.

I was worried that he might wake the bird.


He went to hospital. We played. We went to school. We made cubbies in the yard and collected skinks in an old pool.

One afternoon I was sitting in the lounge marvelling at how amazing eyes were. I was eating an orange and it squirted in my eye. It stung. Then I started contemplating how eyes work in my fascinated, unlimited imagination. It involved little men with levers and a boss with glasses giving out orders. And they were yelling cause I got orange juice all over their floor.

My mum came in and told me we were going to visit Daddy at the hospital.

We went on the train. We had icecream. We went to the bookstore and bought a book for Daddy and a book for me. Kids Own Book. It had activities and fun stuff to do in it. I was so excited about showing Daddy that book.

Down streets, up elevators, walking down scarily long corridors and finally we were at Daddy’s room. He was smiling. He looked tired. And skinny. But the other people in the room looked worse. But that was OK, cause this is the place that would make Daddy feel better and then he could come home and I could sit on his lap and cuddle again.

I looked out the window while my parents talked like adults. Boring adult stuff. I don’t remember the details. I was staring at the Nylex sign. The time keeper of Melbourne. An icon. Not that I knew that at the time, it was just a really cool, really big clock.

The Nylex Sign

Soon it was time to go home. I don’t remember leaving. We went to McDonalds.

Kids. Funny the things they remember. So insular. Such a blessing.

A few days later Daddy was due to come home. But we weren’t allowed to go near him. Something about being radioactive.

I told the kids at school and they thought it was so cool. They said he would glow green! So in the middle of the night my brother and I crawled on our hands and knees to look under his bedroom door.

There was no glow. There was no pulsing light. We were jipped.

I don’t remember any more from that time. And that is because this is a happy tale.

Almost 30 years later my Daddy is still here. He was the doctors guinea pig. They tried every single experimental drug they could find on this young strapping healthy man with a death sentence. Drugs that today are common place. Therapies that are now saving thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of lives today.

Not that my Daddy had a choice in the matter mind you, but I like to think that my Dad made his mark on the world. A wonderful positive mark. And he did it with grace and quiet dignity so that all his children remember of that time is what they ate and a huge freaking clock outside his hospital window.

Now how was that for out of my niche? Seriously. No potty mouth in sight.

Kelley is a self-confessed potty mouth blogger and shoe addict. A fellow Aussie Blogger, Kelley is part of a new project which I am a big part of – one of the reasons I haven’t been around so much lately, details to follow soon. I am a huge fan of her blog and admire her for feeling free to use language on her blog which I was a bit gutless about using here.

You can read more from Kelley at magneto bold too! but be aware there is language present which may offend some readers.

And remember, you can get out of your niche tooall bloggers are welcome. Just contact me.

Get Out Of Your Niche

Lightening Out Of Her Niche!

Please welcome Lightening to the blog –
When I first contemplated taking part in Life in the Country’s “out of your niche”, I discounted the idea on several levels. The first of which was my own confidence in my ability to write something that anyone else would want to read. That’s kind of a funny attitude for a blog writer to have really. But when I first began my blog I wasn’t considering the fact that anyone would actually read what I had to say. It was more for me than for anyone else.

It wasn’t until I began venturing out into the wider blogosphere (wider than myself and a few friends) that I read the idea that a blogger should really decide exactly where their “niche” is if they’re going to have a successful blog. The idea of a “successful blog” did appeal to me somewhat. I liked getting up of a morning and discovering that people had actually visited the blog. Even better, some would take the time to stop and leave a comment. I even got a few “thankyou, you really made me think” or “thank you, your post today made me smile” type comments. Wow! What a buzz!!!!

But having a “niche”???? The concept continues to allude me. My blog isn’t JUST about being a mum, or cooking, or gardening, or someone on the path to recovery from a nervous breakdown. It’s not really about simple living or frugality or making others smile. I can’t really claim to have menu planning down pat or say that my blog is mainly about home organization (okay, it’s not even a little bit about home organization lol). It’s all of those things and more. The only common denominator I can put it down to is “me”. My blog is about “me”. Is that a niche? I have no idea!!!

So if I don’t really know what my “niche” is in blogging terms, how can I really write a post that is “out of my niche”? Hmmmm…… maybe I was overthinking this idea just a tad (who me??? LOL).

After some thought it occurred to me that I could write what I DO know about a “niche”. To me a “niche” is a place where I feel comfortable. So, I consider the idea of “stepping out of your niche” as being similar to stepping out of your comfort zone.

Well, I certainly stepped out of mine about 12 years ago. I took pride in my standing as a “city girl”. In fact, it never occurred to me that I might be anything BUT a “city girl”. I spent my teenage years in Melbourne (the capital of Victoria in Australia) and it’s a place I’m still very passionate about. So how did I end up living out in the middle of nowhere on a farm? I married a farmer!

The day I met the man who is now my husband, carries with it quite a funny story. In the first conversation I had with him, I told him point blank that I didn’t want to be a farmers wife. I have no idea why! I don’t usually make comments like that to blokes I’ve just met. It wasn’t some premeditated decision I had made at some point in my life. In fact, I wasn’t even AWARE that I didn’t want to be a farmer’s wife until those words flew out of my mouth that day.

Admittedly, like many girls, I had wonderful visions of a knight in shining armor galloping into my life and whisking me away to a life of beauty and luxury. Never once did said knight come wearing a dusty old Akubra and a blue bonds singlet!!! LOL. But still….it was a rather strange conversation to say the least. If nothing else, it made good speech fodder for the wedding reception!!!

I’ll skip over all the boring bits of the past 12 years. I did suffer withdrawal symptoms for MANY years over the fact that I couldn’t just pop out for a few hours shopping. BUT I was rather relieved to discover that the farm did indeed have electricity and even a TV! Hey, these days we even have Broadband internet access – we really do live in the real world! (well….. almost).

I stepped out of my “niche” and married a farmer. Am I glad I did? Every day! Mostly because he is the most awesome man I could ever imagine being married to. But there is more to it than that. I love the open space, the beautiful views and the peace and quiet that we have out here. I love the way my children have plenty of room to move and run around and numerous places to explore. I love many parts of the lifestyle that living in the country has to offer.

It has occurred to me that had I not been prepared to step out of my comfort zone, I would have missed so much that life had to offer me. Yes, it is scary to take that step away from the comfort zone but many times it is oh so worth it! It is at these times that we learn and grow so much.

To me, that is what life is really about – learning and growing every day! In fact, if you visit my blog you may notice that one of my own definitions of the word “Lightening” is “to learn and grow daily”. It has become an important part of my own purpose in life (and therefore in blogging) that I learn and grow daily.

Recently I took another step out of my comfort zone when I took up Snoskred’s offer of moving my blog to a self-hosted site. This also meant switching from a blogging platform I had become very familiar with (blogger) and moving to the unfamiliar (WordPress). I am enjoying WordPress but I can also say that it is stretching me in many ways. I sure am learning EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. But oh, what I would have missed out on had I not been prepared to take that step. My blog looks like a million bucks in comparison to my tired old Blogger blog. It far surpassed my wildest expectations. And the options now available to me with my blog are so much wider than what I had before. Well, I have to learn how to use half of them first, but that’s okay….that’s good in fact! :)

I could have stayed with my old blog where I was nice and comfortable. But to have done so would have meant I’d have missed all the wonderful things that my new blog has to offer me. I have gotten so much MORE than a new blog out of this experience. My confidence in my own ability to learn new technical stuff has grown in leaps and bounds. I have met some wonderful bloggers and discovered the generosity that abounds in many sections of the blogworld. I have learnt that some people don’t mind when you ask them questions. That in fact they LIKE to be helpful. Every day when I open my blog, it makes me smile. That in itself is a wonderful gift.

(When I first planned to write this piece, I hadn’t yet decided to switch my blog to a self-hosted site. But it has ended up working in just nicely with what I was planning to write about.)

I want to encourage each one of you reading this to have the courage to step out of your comfort zone today. Whether it be deciding to take your blog to the next level, applying for a new job or promotion or simply saying hello to a neighbour you’ve never spoken to before. Take a step away from your comfort zone and watch how you and the world around you grows. Spread your wings and fly. It’s time to get “out of your niche”. ;-)

I cannot remember how I stumbled across Lightening’s blog originally. The amount of times I have just been surfing around clicking on links and found someone who eventually becomes such an important part of my daily internet life still amazes me. Lightening is one of the people I truly adore – though this may come to her a a surprise because I don’t normally tell people that.

I watched Lightening struggle with Blogger for a long time. The truth is that Blogger is not the most user friendly when it comes to wanting something unique and special. Sure, you can install your own template and change the colors but you really have to know what you’re doing to make it work. Those like me who didn’t have the confidence or technical ability found it much harder. Sephy was the one who made my Blogger theme work – I messed with it for days and just ended up angry and frustrated.

So I’m thrilled you made that move Lightening – and I do think you are probably finding self hosted WordPress to be a lot easier than you expected? I know I am. People often think I am this technically capable person but the truth is – I often have to find how to guides, I often have to ask for help from The Other Half, I’m always learning how to do new things too. So to find now that not only can I do website design to the level that I’ve recently managed, but I can also do graphics that I think look incredible.. If I can do it, anyone can. :)

Remember, you can get out of your niche tooall bloggers are welcome. Just contact me.

Get Out Of Your Niche

Maintaining A Positive Attitude While Chronically Ill

Please welcome Sandy from Fighting Fatigue to the blog –

As someone who has suffered from chronic illness for almost 20 years, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to maintain a positive attitude while sick. But in order to survive, and because my illnesses are “chronic”, never going away, I have had to learn how to deal, adjust and cope despite multiple health problems.

I have been sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Interstitial Cystitis for most of my adult life. Being afflicted with just one of these illnesses can be disabling, but put all three together and life can be pretty miserable at times. I have had to give up my career due to my illnesses, but I refuse to let that stop me. Even though I am sick, I do not use that as an excuse to give up on life. I may not be able to do the things I once did, with the same energy and focus, but I am still alive and each day is a gift and I’m grateful to be alive.

I have seen too many people who are sick just give up and not try. I know that being chronically ill takes a toll on a person’s body physically and emotionally. But there are ways to keep from getting depressed and from living in the “pity party” mode 24 hours a day. I don’t want this to sound as though I think I’m better than anyone else who is chronically ill because I’m not. It has taken years of my own pity parties, depression, and mastering coping skills to get to where I am today. I still have times where I think “Why me? Why can’t I go and work like everyone else?” but I only allow myself a five-minute pity party and then I move on.

Here are some coping skills that I have learned over the years to help deal with being chronically ill and in chronic pain:

Keep a journal and write in it daily what you are grateful for. I call this my “gratitude journal”. Even though I might wake up and not be able to do anything other than wash my hair, I record that I am grateful that I was able to do that small task. It helps through the difficult times and it makes you realize that even though things may be bad, there are still positive spins you can put on each situation.

When you feel like complaining, smile! A lot of people are usually amazed when they find out how many health problems I have because I try not to let it show. When I am very miserable I am not able to be out in public, but I never feel good – ever. But I always try to keep a smile on my face because smiling just makes everything seem better.

Read positive, uplifting books. I have found this to be especially helpful. When I start to feel a little down or depressed, I will go to my small library and choose a book that has inspirational sayings or quotes and I will read those until I feel better.

Instead of becoming a victim of “poor me”, become a victor and learn from your experiences, grow and help others. I have used my struggles with chronic illness as a positive in my life by starting my Fighting Fatigue website and my Fighting Fatigue Forum to offer support and resources for others suffering from chronic illness. When we first become ill with a chronic illness, we feel as though we are alone. It’s important to have people to talk to who can share what you are going through.

– Never give up hope! One thing that keeps me going is believing that there will be a cure found for the chronic illnesses I suffer from. I always have hope and when you have hope everything looks brighter.

Sandy Robinson is 38, Female, live in the Northeast, married with a 6-year-old beautiful son. Sandy started the Fighting Fatigue website to help raise awareness and offer support to others for the chronic illnesses I Sandy personally suffers from: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Interstitial Cystitis.

Sandy also runs the Fighting Fatigue Forum and Message Boards for chronic illness sufferers to support each other about what they are going through.

Thanks for a fantastic post Sandy. All of us can benefit from the coping skills you mention. Please check out her website and message boards and if you know anyone suffering a chronic illness be sure to point them in that direction.
And remember, you can get out of your niche tooall bloggers are welcome. Just contact me.

Get Out Of Your Niche, power of positive thought

Apologies to Lightening and Sandy..

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and I have to say my email inboxes are becoming a major problem for me – I just can’t keep on top of everything.

Last week Lightening sent me an Out Of Your Niche post. I got so busy late last week I totally forgot to post it.

Then this week Sandy from Fighting Fatigue sent me an Out Of Your Niche post. I was going to post them both yesterday but again, I totally forgot.

Today I am going to post both of them and I deeply apologise. I am going to find a way to get on top of all of this – a habit to get into so I can find things in my inboxes. I also have to go back to shutting down my email and focusing on what I’m doing because I keep getting interrupted with new emails and I drop what I’m doing to tackle those. The main reason for that is because I want to be able to help those I am hosting with their issues and problems as soon as they contact me, but this isn’t working out. Especially when I’m getting 50+ emails a day!

So if I don’t reply to your email right away please be patient. There’s only one of me. :) I do type fast, but there’s a lot to cover sometimes.

blog housekeeping, Get Out Of Your Niche

CerebralMum Out Of Her Niche

Please welcome the one and only CerebralMum!

I’m fair-skinned and freckled. I look very Australian, in that Anglo mother-country sort of way. But I’m not. My father’s heritage is Spanish-Portuguese and my mother is Dutch, born and raised in Indonesia until Sukarno’s “guided democracy” made it unsafe to remain there. While the bullets penetrated the fence of her privileged, colonial, guarded home, my mother’s family caught the last international flight out. To New Zealand. Where I was born.

I don’t know what that makes me, but my mother, my adoptive father, my sister and I migrated to Australia just before I turned seven and North East Victoria will always be the landscape of my childhood and the image I see when I think of home.

My adoptive father was a dentist and only had a position as a locum when we arrived, working in different towns throughout the week. We moved 3 times in that first year, first Mt. Beauty, then Bright, before we finally settled in Myrtleford, where I spent the next 9 years of my life.

Myrtleford, then, was a town of about 3000 people (it still is), with 3 pubs, 4 schools (2 primary, 2 high), a Chinese restaurant and a large Italian community. It was surrounded by farms growing hops and tobacco and sheltered by a large pine plantation which provided work saw milling and pulping to make Scott’s tissues. It was close to the snow fields and in winter, on sports days, we could go and ski at Mt. Buffalo and still be back in time to hear the final bell.

But I always remember it as summer.

Even with the evergreen hills behind me, and the skiing and the floods, I always remember it as summer. Hot. Dry. Hard. With the smell of sweet, green tobacco drying in the kilns. With the tar on the roads melting, and the river calling.

We lived in town, because my adoptive father was one of the local “professionals”, the big fish in that small pond. He, along with the doctors and the businessmen, were members of the Rotary Club and played golf at the weekend. I spent as many weekends as I could out of town on my friend’s farms.

You never had to go far to see long stretches of empty, dry land; fields overgrown and long past browning. Australia is golden. I loved catching the school bus on Friday afternoon with my pyjamas in my bag, driving over the creeks and criss-crossing the countryside over roads growing increasingly rougher, stopping to drop off the other children before arriving at one of the farmhouses where the wood-burning stoves were always on and my friends’ mothers would greet me with the words “Mangia, Mangia”. (Eat. Eat.)

These were my happiest times, and the happiest places. My friends’ families were larger, and noisier, and extended. I remember hanging upside down from a big brother’s muscular arm and swinging as though I were on monkey bars. I remember strong, feminine arms elbow-deep in flour and gnocchi. I remember being teased about boys by fathers in gruff, strongly-accented English, and being offered glasses of vino for my breakfast.

I was teased a lot, actually. Because I didn’t have their native skills with spaghetti. Because I lived in town. Because I didn’t know how to pick the chickens up to put them away for the night. One of my friends swore that if I grabbed them by the ankles and held them upside down they would tuck their heads under their wings and go quietly. Let’s just say, I still don’t like picking up chickens.

But I loved being out on those farms. We would climb in the haysheds, moving ridiculously heavy bales to make cubbies, oblivious to the discomfort of the hay working its way through our clothing, until we grew bored, then itchy. We would run down to the creek and swim, ride motorbikes, play in the empty workers’ accommodations. But there was always work to do.

We were just young enough to escape most of it and only had small chores, but I was just old enough to recognise the way their lives and their work blurred into each other, seamlessly. I was just old enough to recognise the breadth of their hospitality and I treasure those values I learned from them to this day. Nobody “brings a plate” to my house.

I had other friends of course, town friends, but it still wasn’t far to go to reach wilder parts, slow river beds where we collected dragonfly wings and hunted for leeches. I spent many afternoons during the week riding “my” horse through the pines with the doctor’s daughter. Her mother and mine had started the local chapter of Riding for the Disabled and I took care of Misty in exchange for my freedom.

Freedom. Summer and freedom. That is my country.

I have no national pride or national identity. I lack sentimentality. My family is spread all around the globe and I now live in Melbourne, a city I love and will always belong to. In spite of that, I can still raise a tear listening to Hey True Blue or Tenterfield Saddler. I still know, when I hear Dorothea McKellar’s My Country, that she is speaking for me.

I love the sunburnt landscape of my childhood. It isn’t an easy place. It is hot and dry and hard. But it is golden. And it’s air is sweet. And it is home.

CerebralMum – You have no idea what a flurry of activity this post set in motion. I went within 20kms of the snow – just past Jindabyne – in 2006 and I could swear I took photos, but I cannot find them anywhere. The photos are in my mind, I just wish I could post them to my blog as well.

This post is a perfect start of summer post. If only we were having some summer here! The weather is all haywire and right now it’s blowing a gale and probably about to thunder. This time last year I was snorkelling. It isn’t hot enough to go and do that just yet.

You can read more from CerebralMum at her blog – The Cerebral Mum.

And remember, you can get out of your niche tooall bloggers are welcome. Just contact me.

Get Out Of Your Niche

An Invite To All – Both Readers And Bloggers..

I’m running out of guest bloggers for the Get Out Of Your Niche series. I know that coming up to Christmas everyone is busy and all, but I am hoping that people will put up their hand to guest post if I ask nicely.

What Is The Deal?

The idea is to create a guest post for my blog. You can write on any topic you like. Anything and everything is welcome, with a couple of small exceptions like swear words and material which is disturbing or graphic or overly sexual. The guest posts are published on Fridays each week.

How Do I Do It?

Contact me and I will give you the next available date sometime in the future. A week before that date I generally try to remind you via email that your guest post is coming up. You send me your post – it can either be in text, or in HTML format. If you want me to add pictures attach them to your email and tell me where in the post they go.

Why Would I Do It?

Life In The Country is currently sitting at number 14 in the Top 100 Australian Blogs. On average the blog sees between 2-5,000 unique visitors a week. This is your chance to speak to an audience which might not find your blog otherwise.

What Did Other People Write?

How Do I Contact Snoskred?

Simply use the contact form.

Get Out Of Your Niche

Sephy Out of His Niche – My World In Pictures

I was approached by Snos a couple of weeks ago to do a quick post “out of my niche”, which for me could be hard, since I don’t really have a niche, per sé. However, I’ve gone with a cunning plan – show off a few of my favorite photos of animals and stuff in my world.

Just so you know, I’m using the thumbnail option, so if you click on the photos, they will load full-size. ;)

A horse in its field

As I was perusing the photos, I found this one of some of the horses that one of our neighbors has not quite staying in their paddock earlier in the summer. True story – a couple of weeks ago, I was walking and I saw a shadow cross the road ahead of me. I didn’t know what it was, but as I got further down the road, I looked down this same driveway and saw one of the horses standing there. ;)
Live Turkeys!

This is, by far, the best photo of a (living) turkey that I have, even if it is walking away. It was taken a couple of months ago as the pack were moving across the road and up the hill that is there.
More famous than Goldy?

Here’s the web’s most famous gopher, I would suspect. You might have seen this picture before. I’ve used it for a few other things around the show. ;)
A camel. And not the cigarettes.

I had posted this camel way back in August of 06. It was literally standing there with its owner on the side of the road next to a community park. Apparently the owner lives right in that area and is well-known for having his camels.
Fall colors. Spelt right in the title, hehe.

One of the neatest things about the fall where I live is that we have such vibrant colours in our trees. This year wasn’t too spectacular, but this picture from 2005 more than makes up for the lack of decent colors this year. :)
Down by the lakeside…

Another thing that we’re somewhat well known for is the abundance of lakes in the area. This was a shot taken early this summer alongside one of those lakes. It was a weekday, so there weren’t too many people out there using the lake.
Pink flowers

I spotted these in a flowerbed along the road as I was walking in August; they’re pretty good looking, aren’t they?

Thanks, Snos, for letting me show off my photos. I had another 20 to show off that I had processed for posting when I was reminded that it was only “a few” photos. I posted them a couple of weeks ago – More of my world in Pictures. ;)

Get Out Of Your Niche, Sephyroth