Wild Goose and Palm Cards Chase

The man of our house is good with directions, on most occasions. Really good. It’s very handy because he usually finds his way around without a problem and we get spoilt for it because we can rely on him to get us to places. He also loves exploring new places and going to events and a friend of ours has called him “Jacques Cousteau” for good reason, and he does it all with unconquerable enthusiasm and insuppressible energy. He keeps going and going like the Duracell bunny (while I’m the tired one bent over double catching my breath) which means that we don’t really do anything slowly. We’re forever moving at a fast pace but every now and then we do that whilst chasing a wild goose when Ironman’s usual steadfast aim and command desserts or fails him momentarily and since we don’t get that many opportunities to tease the one who loves teasing the rest of us relentlessly, we grab one when it presents itself.

Going to an event like the Caravan and Camping Show in Perth back in the days when the kids were little he strode off in a direction assuming that the rest of us will follow but without taking into account the fact that a show such as that is like a wonderland for young kids. There are so many different tents, caravans and camper trailers to discover and explore that all three kids kept going into different caravans at the same time while I’m trying to keep an eye on who’s where and where my husband is headed in the throng of people and I end up like a cross between a mother hen and a kelpie (trying to herd her young) whilst also watching my husband’s back disappear amongst the crowds. And it all seemed to happen in fast forward; there was no slow ambling through the displays to take it all in in a relaxed way. By the time we went home I was completely worn out from running around after the kids, couldn’t remember having seen anything worthwhile and didn’t achieve any objective other than assuring my kids all got back home safely afterwards. Suffice to say we didn’t go back for another ten years (and this time sans kids – much to their relief by that stage).

On another occasion we were in Albany (Southwest WA) for a long weekend and ended up watching the vintage car races in town on the Sunday afternoon, which was great fun. Most of the roads in the centre of town were closed due to the races and while we were watching Ironman and Child No 3 decided that it was a good idea to go and get a gelato. The only problem was that they had to take such a detour on their way back due to all the road closures that they went up and down roads just to find themselves at dead ends several times and eventually just about got lost despite a great sense of direction (temporary lost, I think) and a quick trip to buy ice cream became an extended and diverted wild goose trek.

The vintage car races in Albany

The vintage car races in Albany

Vintage car races in Albany

Vintage car races in Albany

Last year on our trip to Namibia we had a few hours to spare in Windhoek before our flight to Cape Town departed so we decided to stop at the craft market and we also had to refuel the vehicles. Driving around Windhoek with friends of ours following behind in their vehicle proved to have its own set of challenges (especially for our friends who were foreign to the city) as my normally determined husband changed his mind so many times about which way to go and each time it involved a split-second last-minute decision to change lanes or make a U-turn where there’s not enough room to turn a 4×4 around causing us (and our poor friends) to drive over kerbs and sidewalks and all the while they’re trying to keep our vehicle in sight otherwise they’d be lost when eventually I said that we were taking them off-road in the city of Windhoek. There was a fair bit of backwards and forwards chasing until at long last we found, firstly, parking outside the craft market and secondly the filling station on the way to the airport. It seemed such a crazy pursuit of something as innocuous as a craft market or filling station, but add to the picture pre-Easter weekend traffic,  Windhoek road works and the fact the we don’t drive around Windhoek every day (more like once every five years) and it made for some interesting CBD off-road driving.

And then when The Giants visited Perth earlier this year I was reminded of our wild goose chase experiences in the past. We decided to set off for the city early on the Sunday morning to avoid the massive crowds we got stuck in the day before, the plan being to have breakfast in the city somewhere. We caught the train and arrived in the city bright and early. The thing we didn’t reckon with was that most of the malls in the city were still closed that early on a Sunday morning and we couldn’t walk through them to where we wanted to go and every time we got to a dead end Ironman would turn around and march off in a different direction without saying a word, and us slow bunnies with our inferior non-Duracell batteries scuttled behind trying to keep up until we got to the next dead end where he’d again suddenly change direction without warning. The other thing we didn’t take into account was that other people might have had the same plan as ours, also wanting to have breakfast in the city so it wasn’t all that easy to find an open café or restaurant with a free table either, and again at the last minute when Ironman saw a queue of people he’d turn around without a word and start walking in the opposite direction as fast as we’d come. We were still headed in one direction when he’d already turned around and passed us going the back the way we’d come. In the end we found a lovely breakfast spot though, had a delicious breaky, and then started the march again towards the area where we were hoping to see the Giants. It was all well worth it after we made it to the spot where we decided to wait (and subsequently waited for about two hours), because the show was spellbinding.

One of the Giants: The Pearl Diver

One of the Giants: The Pearl Diver

The Diver's Boots and the lilliputians or acrobats handling him

The Diver’s Boots and some of the lilliputians (or acrobats) handling him

In his defence, I have to add that my husband does willingly go on wild goose chases in search of some or other obscure thing someone in the family needs, usually at the most inconvenient of times. Whether it’s a specific rare type of cheese or sherry vinegar that I need, running shoes for the kids or in the latest instance, palm cards for Child No 3, he’ll be content driving from shop to shop to find the right thing. Last weekend when Child No 3 decided that she needed a multi-coloured pack of palm cards for her Science exam revision it was my husband who happily went to three different shops (which were miles apart) to find the right thing for her (study aids are important). When closing time drew near I ended up phoning the last shop to check if they had this very specific item in stock, which they did, and asked them to hold it while our hunter-and-sourcer-of-hard-to-find items-at-times-when-no-one-else-is-in-the-slightest-inclined-or-motivated-to-drive-from-shop-to-shop went along and bought it, brought the prized item home and saved the day.

Road Runner

Let me start off by saying I’m not a road runner, I’m not even a runner in any form and I don’t look like a road runner either, and neither is this about road running in the traditional sense.

I do a lot of running around though, as mums (and some dads I’m sure) all over all do all the time.  In our house there lives a dad and husband who is fanatic about exercise, trains all the time (when he’s not working or updating his exercise spreadsheets and graphs or having the occasional bit of time out), has done close to a hundred marathons and ultra-marathons, ironman etc (let’s call him Ironman); a big boy and his two high school sisters, and of course, mum.  Most of the time I love getting up early in the morning and going for a walk, getting organised for the day ahead and just getting things done. The kids aren’t up by 5am but Ironman generally is, so the house is quiet as he minds his own business updating his general knowledge of all the relevant news sites for the day and other not-so-important information (in my opinion) before he goes out training, which leaves me free to do all the organising I have to do.

Sadly Ironman is injured at the moment though so there’s been no training for a while, which is really hard on someone who is used to that amount of exercise and I honestly don’t envy anyone who is injured (been there and done that). Suddenly he has a lot of time on his hands that he’s not used to, so not only is he injured, he also doesn’t know what to do with all this free time all of a sudden, and finally said in exasperation the other day that he was bored.

Now this was early in the morning before work and school, and I had a fair bit to do before going to work so I told him, as I was walking past him on my way to hang up the second load of washing, that I was definitely not bored! Picture this: going backwards and forwards between kitchen and laundry, front and back gardens moving a sprinkler, turning the timer on, checking that the tap is open just the right amount, back to the laundry to take one load of washing out and put another one in, outside to hang up the washing, out to the front garden to move that sprinkler and repeat the timer and tap process, back inside to the kitchen to prepare the marinade for the lamb for dinner, back outside to move the sprinkler as the timer has finished, repeat the timer and tap process, back inside to cut the lamb and put it in the marinade, make myself lunch to take to work, out to the front to move that sprinkler and repeat the timer and tap process, shower and get ready to go to work, eat breakfast, hang up the second load of washing. Now picture all of this in fast forward and you get a blurry picture of someone or something running backwards and forwards resembling a cartoon Road Runner.

This is the thing: there is always something to do. I remember as a kid sometimes being bored, but as a grown-up I haven’t experienced that luxury for a long, long time. Some days I find myself going backwards and forwards doing so many things, and while I’m busy doing one thing I’ll notice something else that needs doing or attention so I’ll stop what I’ve been doing and sort out the other thing, at which point I might interrupt myself again to organise a third thing, and so the day will go by and I’ll be completely exhausted by the end of it but sometimes I haven’t even finished the one thing I started out to do! Doesn’t really bring about a huge sense of accomplishment, but expends a lot of energy and takes up a lot of time. Other days I’ll set out with a clear sense of purpose and a list of things that need doing, whether it be phone calls, appointments to be made, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, gardening, filing, cooking a big pot of soup or some other project such as marinating and bottling my olive crop or making dukkah, and by the end of the day I’ll have accomplished what I’d set out to do. And yet there will always be something else to do!

How come it’s so common for men not to understand that a mum’s job is never finished though? And that there’s no point avoiding chores as they will not go away and are better done sooner rather than later? Training for an Ironman event takes up a lot of time, and in our house it basically means that with work and training Ironman is not around most of the time, which really makes it impossible for him to help with a lot of housework, and he’s honestly the only person I know who will sign up to do Ironman (resulting in hours and hours of gruelling training every week, getting up at about 4am most days to go training sometimes in the dark, cold and rain and other times in extreme heat in the middle of summer for 7 hours on a Saturday or Sunday) to avoid doing housework! The funny part is that quite often it’s an hour’s housework that’s been replaced by about 10 hours of training (and repeating this for a few months, and then eventually doing a 3.8km swim followed by a 180km bike ride, followed by a 42km run all on one torturous day). Replacing 1 hour of housework with 10 hours of torturous training? The maths just don’t add up.

Now that there’s a break in training at the moment he’s had to find other ways to kill the time, such as going into our shed a while ago looking for something useful and important, but returning instead with 25 year old marathon photos and then spending an entire fruitful Saturday afternoon scanning and sharing them online with his old running mate. Another deliberate distraction to avoid doing housework, and he hasn’t shown this much interest in the shed in the last 7 years (until he discovered that it offered a distraction)!

Funny that boredom is the alternative to training with no other options available. I’ve never thought of it that way before! Ironman and other related distractions aside, there’s always something that needs doing.

The bottom line is: I’m not bored.

Got to go.

Beep Beep.

Road Runner pic