Thursday, October 20, 2011


Steam is rising from the poo that Milly has just laid in the Parc de Trembly. Autumn is now well and truly here with the tiniest hint of snow on the distant Jura mountains and dew drops like diamonds on my dog’s nose. She’s already scurried off to sniff for squirrels as I bend down with the obligatory black bag and pick up her produce. I can feel the warmth in my hand before it gets flung into the bin.

I’ve just sent off two girls to school this morning. My own: dear Sapphire, still suffering from a cold and asking if I’d drive them there ‘because it’s windy.’ She knew the answer before I needed to say it and grinned. “It’s always worth a try, Mum.”

And Nafeesa: on her first sleepover ever if you don’t count school camps.

She rang Sapphire two days ago. “My Mum has had a stroke. Can I stay with you?”

Sapph was home with me, sick with a cold, still in her dressing gown when she rushed out onto the balcony where I was sipping coffee. “Can she stay?” I nodded, getting up to find out more. Sapphire was already striding towards her bedroom, the annoyances of a sore throat and raw nose forgotten. “We must help and I know where you keep the guest sheets and towels....”

Nafeesa’s mother, Yasmin, rang her friend at midnight. The words were all clear but jumbled into nonsensical sentences. John thought it was a joke until there was silence for a while and she moaned, “Help me.”

He rushed over to her house, arranged an ambulance, woke up a frightened Nafeesa and spent the day at her hospital bed, telephoning everyone whose name he recognised on Yasmin’s blackberry.

Nafeesa’s father died of cancer six years earlier and their family are scattered outwards from Lebanon, Netherlands, UK and Brazil. As an only child, poor Nafeesa must have felt so alone, so tiny and helpless as doctors bustled around her mother, now paralysed down one side and unable to speak.

A friend was contacted and arranged to move into Yasmin’s house and take Nafeesa to school every day. “That’s when I rang you,” she told Sapphire later. “I knew that I wanted to stay with you.”

And so she is. She and I travelled in the rain to the hospital yesterday, passing through a dozen smoking nurses up towards the intensive care unit. The ward also held five men, all several decades older than Yasmin.

This proud and beautiful woman who I’ve always envied for her style and youthful looks banged her left hand – encumbered by several wires and catheters - against the metal bed rail when she saw her daughter. Nafeesa buried her head into her mother’s chest, whispering I love you I love you I love you over and over. Yasmin’s eyes filled with tears and she cried. It wasn’t a sniffle or a sob but a loud wail that made all of us – the nurse, the best friend, the work colleague visiting during lunch hour, Nafeesa and me, look down, unsure of what we could do to help.

I dabbed at her eyes with a tissue, awkwardly. As nominated guardian I was required to be there - if only to transport her child to the bedside - but my relationship was with Nafeesa who I saw often, whereas Yasmin and I mostly traded pleasantries during drop offs and pick-ups. With one side of her face dragging downwards and puffy eyes without their customary eyeliner I felt as though I was intruding, seeing her at her most vulnerable.

Patting her hand gently, I explained that Nafeesa was staying with us for as long as was needed and that she wasn’t to worry. As I pulled back to leave and sit outside to wait for Nafeesa, Yasmin grabbed my hand. She tried several times to tell me something but the words were incoherent and each one took a lot of effort to produce. Her eyes blazed and it was clear that being trapped inside a currently-useless body was isolating and frustrating.

It was one of those key moments in life when you know that you need to – must do – say the right thing and yet, as a self-deluded writer, nothing emerged but a faint “It’s okay, it’s okay. You have such a lovely daughter and we feel honoured to have her. It’s okay.” Her fingers clanged the three gold bangles along my arm in response. The eyes glittered: the message was understood.

I left Nafeesa with her mother and stepped outside to speak with Yasmin’s best friend, an AIDS specialist from the World Health Org. “She’ll be here for weeks and then....” she put her hands to her lips, as if to stop them from saying the next few words, “ could be months. And months.”

We’d only met each other fifteen minutes beforehand but found ourselves hugging each other. This was the woman who emailed all the key players involved in Nafeesa’s care – who was dropping off, who was picking up and who was hosting her where and when; even during the upcoming week of mid-term break when Sapph and I were heading off to Basel. She also provided a list of emails and contact numbers and the evenings since have been full of conversations between people I’ve not yet met as we discuss some very intimate and important subjects.

And Nafeesa......? She’s a painfully skinny kid who barely eats anything beyond chicken nuggets and spaghetti adorned only with grated cheese. We’ve cuddled a few times and Milly has done her utmost to trot over and lean up against her legs, offering her own furry version of comfort. LC has been away at a conference in Germany, kept updated with SMS messages from Sapphire and on his return last night did the manly thing of repairing the sagging blow up mattress. Nafeesa knows that her mother will recover and the relief is evident. She sleeps on the now acceptably air-filled bed on the floor in Sapphire’s room and they both whisper and giggle into the wee hours.

Sapphire has come into her own. Helpful, funny and good at finding things for them to do after dinner. She’s very tired and not happy that Nafeesa will take Friday off school so that I can take her to meet her uncle at the airport while she sits in beginner French class. However this is just a momentary huff as she's quickly accepting and showing a maturity mixed with a wicked sense of twelve-year-old humour that is just what her friend needs. I’m in awe.

I lay in bed with LC last night, telling him all this. He reached out his arm to provide what he thought was a comforting pat to my shoulder but in the darkness it ended up as a vague grope of my chest and then a slight whack to my nose as he withdrew. “Gee thanks for that love – I knew that there was something I needed – a fondle and a punch!” We laughed louder and longer than was really necessary.

And so I find myself earlier this morning holding a still-warm bag of dog poo while the beast who made it is in the wet grass, front paw lifted as she freezes for a moment, locks in a new scent and runs in a different direction.

It’s hard not to smile at these tiny observations and yet at the same time realise how fleeting they are. Life is so damn short and can alter in an instant. I run to catch up with her and kiss her nose, even though it’s wet with dew drops and has a stray blade of grass plastered on it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


For several weeks I've been wondering if some Aussie litter bugs had taken residence in Geneva because the local park has been festooned with McDonald's bags, coke cups and burger wrappers.

To make matters worse, the rubbish has all been dumped right next to the bins in a rude 'up yours' to the SCRASA* employees who dutifully sweep the streets and tidy the parks first thing every morning.

However, today I found out who the filthy fools were - black crows. Milly was off sniffing the side of the road that is dotted with tiny rabbit burrows and as I enjoyed the view of the city, several of the blighters landed on the edge of the bin and proceeded to remove every item they could carry, drop it on the ground and have a good old peck and feed. Who knew that our feathered friends had a thing for stone cold fries and abandoned pickles?

Returning from my run this morning, I stood out on our eighth floor balcony to cool off. It's been a rare day because the fog had lifted and, despite predictions, there was still no snow on top of the Jura mountain range.

My attention therefore turned to the garden below where, if I'm patient, the quivering leaves reveal squirrels leaping athletically from tree to tree. Apparently they're scientifically known as 'Sciurus Vulgaris' which seems a little bit uncharitable. Any creature who can tell off my dog in a sharp little wittering tone and still hold a couple of acorns in its cheeks whilst jumping to safety deserves a nomenclature considerably more flattering in my opinion.

On the grass; that acreage of pristine green growing velvet that no dog or human is allowed to sit or walk on, a shadowy shape emerged, stretching itself with a lazy confidence that only a frequent visitor can pull off.

At first glance, I thought it was a ginger tabby cat, but as it scratched its ears with a hind leg and faced the rising sun, the fluffy tail revealed that it was a fox.

I'd never seen one during the day, let alone here, of all places. A huge apartment building housing several hundred people on one side of the narrow garden and a senior high school on the other, and it seemingly in no hurry or overtly alert to any dangers.

What did it eat? Lazy, ground-bound squirrels? The ginger cat normally seen but not today? Leftovers thrown over the fence by fussy teens? Kidnapped sparrows offered as food alternatives by nervous Sciurus Vulgarii keen to avoid becoming the meal of choice themselves?

No matter; I had to get ready for a brocante with three friends. 'Brocante' sounds better than a flea market and the one in Plainpalais often features more trash than treasure but it is exerting a strange power over me. My visits have become weekly and what initially seemed like a heap of junk that turned me into a female Darryl Kernigan muttering 'They're dreamin' when the price tags were shown has now become an opportunity to leisurely rummage and spot a bargain.

A tiny tin caught my eye. "Combien, monsieur?"

Twenty francs. No way Jose. I shook my head and was about to move onto the next stall.

He called out something to me, but I didn't understand and didn't particularly care as my attention was now on a box of dusty old art books.

He tried again, this time commenting to his friend and they both laughed. Now I may spend a goodly part of my life here in a bubble of ignorant bliss when it comes to the language spoken around me, but I know a ribald snigger when I hear it.

I tapped Monique's shoulder. She's French Canadian and despite being in the company of three Aussie women would have understood every single word. "What did he---" I thumbed back to the man now holding up a fox fur stole for a customer "----say about me just then?"

She took her time answering, which can't have been a good thing. "Um he said he'd shave for you."

My eyebrows are blonde and therefore invisible, but even she could see that I had one raised in that 'oh come off it' expression. "Monique, I can handle it."

Her cheeks flushed red. "Um he said he'd um, have a shave and then um, be ready to, ahh, do a few rude things to you if you'd buy the tin for twenty francs."

Not sure if I was supposed to be insulted or complimented, I called out, "Dix."

He nodded. My offer of ten francs was accepted and I gently placed the tin in my pocket. Maybe he'd eaten the goodies inside which was why he'd so cheaply offered his sexual services?

* No, I have no idea what SCRASA stands for either. They are efficient and friendly blokes but the acronym reminds me of something you'd want the doctor to remove.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Me too, me too, ME TOO!

Now, my mate Pandora has run four half-marathons in two years and my awesome buddy Jill completed an entire marathon last year before suffering a serious brain injury after falling off her bike during the Jacob’s Creek Down-under 120km bike race, so they’re both fully fit, full-on, determinedly powerful women.

...and I feel a bit left out.

See, I’ve been running since making it my new year’s resolution back in 2001. It’s the only resolution I’ve stuck with as stopping being too noisy; picking at my finger nail skin until it bleeds; giving up sugar/chocolate/cake; and trying not to be jealous or too much of a ‘Me too Me too ME TOOOOOO!’ person have all failed before the day was out.

So, here’s my Me Too contribution.

My first run, on 1st January 2001, was three laps around the second cricket oval at Trinity Gardens Primary School. Four hundred metres times three. I didn’t have the energy to jog the two blocks home afterwards. Walking and gasping my way back, an elderly Italian gent hosing his roses offered to spray me down too. I accepted.

September 2002 saw me run my first City to Bay fun-run in Adelaide – twelve kilometres. My training consisted of asking Love Chunks to drive around my self-designed running courses and measuring them on the car's odometer. 4km, 6km 8km and 12km which I ran regularly. I carried a water bottle in a bum bag for the 12km runs and could always tell what the Robern Menz factory were making that morning from the smell that wafted along Glynburn Road – mint for Crowns or sweet peaches for Fruchocs.

Time achieved – One hour, three minutes for 12 kilometres.

September 2003 – running was now ‘my’ thing and my four year old baby weight had finally gone. It was also the valuable alone time that didn't involve sitting on the toilet or sleeping with the aid of a sedative to figure out a few solutions and ideas. City to bay time – 58 minutes.

August 2004 – My twice-weekly six km runs and a weekly 12km run had swelled to a 6km, 12km and a 17km run by June. I was in my ridiculous workaholic career phase then and used to get up for a run at 5am in the dark. I figured that potential robbers and rapists were more likely to have headed home by then and, besides, they’d have to catch me..... All that and I had showered, dropped Sapphire off at daycare and be at my desk by 7:30am. But I was happy. Wasn't I?

Love Chunks and I had an argument the night before the race. He was (justifiably) concerned about the long hours I was putting in at work, my increased physical symptoms of stress and noticeable decline in energy, happiness and interest in life at home. I disagreed and we went to bed with it unresolved; both of us furious. The last thing he said was, “Oh and I’m NOT going to see you do your half-marathon tomorrow.”

Sunday morning arrived and I was at Pinky Flat by the Torrens River at 6.30am. We were bussed to Lockleys and froze in the darkness until the starter pistol fired at 7.30am.

I was sleep-deprived, lacked the appetite to eat anything before the race and felt utterly depressed. Instead of this being a physical achievement that would set me apart as not only an amazing career woman (already failing) and wife/mother (whump whow!), there’d be no-one to see me or even care if I was there.

By 14km I hadn’t stopped but also hadn’t bothered to check my time or distance. At 15km, I threw up on the bank of the river near the Convention Centre. I wanted to stay doubled over and lie on the cool, soft, unjudgmental grass but..... No. I’d trained too hard and on my bloody lonesome for this and wasn’t going to give up now. Wiping my mouth and sipping some water I started up again.

Soon after I heard Sapphire and LC call out from the other side of the bank. “Go Mum!” “Go Kath!”

They’d come! Just six more painful kilometres via tiring little hills up to the zoo and back with the whiff of gorilla poo in the air before staggering across the finish line in one hour, 52 minutes.

I cried with disappointment: I had estimated one hour, forty five but clearly hadn’t foreseen the technicolour yawn that had left smears of fragrant reminders on my leggings. As LC and Sapphire hugged my saturated, stinky self, my tears changed to those of pride. I’d done it!

That was as far as I had ever run and after having a complete and utter breakdown roughly seven months later I found myself on medication, seeing a psychiatrist, unemployed and exhausted. Clearly it was only going to be little runs for me from now on, in all senses of the word.

However, chocolate reviewing started and became rather serious and time-consuming. Unless I yearned to be the human embodiment of a Lindt ball I needed to do more than 6km trots three days a week.

From 2006 to 2010, give or take a busted Achilles, I’d do three 10km runs and two 8km power walks to counteract the effects of inhaling around 2-3 kilos of chocolate per week. Eventually however, my shins, Achilles (both legs), several toenails, two incredibly painful infected blisters, blood-soaked bras and a couple of severe colds saw me grudgingly accept the fact that my ageing body needed to be treated just a tad more delicately.

Which leads me to now. Geneva. Autumn with fog, rain and slippery footpaths due to the accumulation of wet and increasingly slimy leaves stuck to them.

Five kilometres from our apartment entry door and back.

First phase: Posing under the red light. I jog around 300 metres before being forced to wait until the little green man allows me to cross the road. Swiss lights are ultra careful – pedestrians get to cross without any cars from even the opposite direction allowed to drive as you walk. Nice in theory, but it can mean a five minute wait if you just miss your turn.

Wearing a baggy man’s t-shirt complemented by sticky bed hair and hairy white legs goose pimpled in the breeze means it’s a challenge to stand there pretending to be nonchalant when surrounded by several stylishly dressed women ready to totter across the road in stacked heels, designer leather and furs to work. They don’t bother to hide their stares - I’m a big alien – unkempt, unstylish and publicly prepared to be seen puffing. And not on a French cigarette.

Second phase: Gracious descent. Downhill for half a K, baby! What are my legs – springs, steel springs. And how fast can they run – as fast as a leopard! Oops, that’s unless it’s rubbish day when the mini street sweeper fights with the garbage truck for total ownership of the footpath and I’m forced to leap out into the bike lane and incur the wrath of surprised and then annoyed scooter owners....

....not to mention reaching bus stop Trembley and – without fail – involuntarily letting out a series of sharp and loud ‘Parp Parp Parp Parp’ farts as I run past a bunch of more well-dressed workers....

Third phase: Jogging up Jill Hill. This is in honour of my best friend, who is slowly recovering from a brain injury. This is the hardest spot in our local park – winding cruelly upwards with the cracked bitumen path peppered with chestnuts that could twist an ankle if stepped on. Not to mention skirting around little old ladies smoking like chimneys and ‘omitting’ to see the huge crap just done by their poodles.

Fourth phase: Suffering through Sapphire's Slope. I leave the park and jog back into the suburbs, winding further uphill past several large apartment blocks, a patisserie, Milly’s vet surgery, the most famous fondue house in the city and a primary school. I think of Sapphire and how she’s got through the worst of things with being bullied by an ex-friend in Melbourne and the uncertainties of starting high school at a new school in a new country. She’s happy, stimulated, busy, interested, funny and utterly lovely. My eyes sting as sweat mixes with moisturiser but I smile as well.

Mercedes and Beamer drivers with diplomatic licence plates stare at me blankly as I go by, usually wheezing in agony by this stage. Sophisticated couples and US-accented people having ‘work meetings’ are mildly entertained as I trot past their petite boulangerie, dripping sweat as I pass and trying not to slip on the pretty-but-dangerous cobblestones.

Fifth phase: (barely) Mastering Milly's mountain. Another bloody school up on top of the hill past the Red Cross and John 23 American church. I now think of my dog who would always choose to come running with me no matter how much her arthritis agonised her. Even now, four years after the diagnosis, there’s reproach in her eyes when I put on my sneakers and leave her behind.

Final phase: Kath's Cruise. Downhill for 400 metres all the way home. The apartment keys slide in my left hand, sticky from sweat. The second my feet touch the outdoor mat and the doors automatically slide open, I stop.

Hands on my knees, head down, gasping. A quick glance at my watch shows 26 minutes from start to finish. This is no great distance or time but when factors such as motivation, weather, laziness, time and dagginess are considered, I feel just as proud as I did in August 2004.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Thanks to you for playing my 'Let's Ask the Jovial Douche' game.

I've been to Avignon recently - and yes, had Bryan Ferry's 'Avalon' playing in my head the entire time - and returned to a series of questions that can only be described as .... varied. Here goes:

Andrew said...

Are you in Geneva for a set time and then you will return to Australia? If so, when?

LC was offered a two year contract with the World Meteorological Org (or OMM – Organisation Meteorolique Mondiale) which is the standard length. However, if he likes the work and Sapphire’s happy at her school, we’ll stay longer if they roll over his contract.

Lidian said...

Is it true that one picks up a language by just living somewhere, and if so, is it hard or not so hard to do? (I ask as someone who wishes she were good at foreign languages but is not at all)

Errrm, I don’t know yet. Sapphire and I did two one-hour lessons a week during the summer holidays and I seemed to be able to parrot-learn more basic words, but Sapphire could pronounce them with the right accents, understand all the little doo-flangers that appear above letters like ‘e’ and is now studying French in school and connecting the dots. I’m rapidly losing what French I learned but am relieved that I can get the gist of most large adverts on buses and menus. However, the UN has a language-swap program and I’m about to have lunch with a lovely lady who wants to speak English to me and then we’ll swap to French. I’m inclined to ask her to bring along the French equivalent of ‘Go Dog Go’ and ask me to read it to her!

Anji said...

Does it smell nice?

Mostly. Cool and fresh in the mornings now that fog, mist and dew has arrived. The bread smell is heightened here – absolutely fresh every single morning with no preservatives.

Bitumen – the Swiss love their roadwork, with fences, lights and workmen everywhere.

Outdoor markets can be challenging when all the hundreds of varieties of cheeses mingle together and create a vomity-aroma that makes it easier to breathe through my mouth.

Are you settling in okay now?

Yes. Seeing Sapphire happily settled in school was about, oh 99% responsible as it was not much fun to only have her mother as company for a long three months. I’m familiar with the key parts of the city; the public transport system and where I like to shop. I’ve made friends (hugely important), received some terrific advice that you can only find out from someone who did the hard yards before you and love that Milly needs a few outings a day. I feel like I belong here now.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

The first is about something close to your heart: You are a self-confessed chocaholic. How much chocolate have you eaten in Switzerland so far and what is your favourite?

I’m eating bucketloads of the brown stuff. However, despite Geneva’s apparently famous chocolate boutiques, I’ve never stepped in one long enough to buy anything. Instead, I’m still discovering that the blocks available in supermarkets are pretty damn delicious. There’s very little dark chocolate available here, so it’s all the ultra creamy milky stuff made with Swiss milk (something they are very, very proud of). So, whilst my tastes do range from rock-bottom to uber-posh, I’ve been more than content with supermarket level for now. Favourites are too numerous to mention but I have loved the new Lindt dark caramel with almonds; a Frey’s version of a Toblerone but with some Aero-style bubbles included and a Migros home brand blatant copy of Snickers bars that all three of us hoover down with ruthless efficiency. Five packs don’t last very long after they’re inserted in the spot in the fridge door that’s normally used for butter!

The other is: What is the secret to being a good writer?

I have no idea. Practice plus envy plus loads of reading of other writers that interest and inspire, an inquisitive nature and perhaps an ability to notice the small things? That said, most days I read online articles, blogs and second-hand novels and wonder how I dare call myself a writer compared to the brilliant stuff that’s available. Then again, as long as Jeffrey Archer and Bryce Courteney are allowed to publish what they previously wiped their bottoms with, there’s hope for everyone....

Have Myelin? said...

Are there any deaf people there? Do they go off to a "deaf school" or what?
If so, what kind of sign language do they use?
Do most deaf people sign or get cochlear implants?

I’ll admit to not doing much homework on this one, HM and hope you accept my apologies. Instead if we move to the eyes instead of the ears, Sapphire and I have noticed a lot of sight impaired people around the city with the long white canes. However, the traffic lights here don’t go ‘Pippity pippity pip pip pip’ when they turn green which seems rather mean-spirited.

The Elephant's Child asked:

What is the biggest risk you have taken? And was it worth it?

Punching a potential rapist right on the nose in London, January 1991. It came out fast and hard and the shock to him (and me) gave me enough time to leap out of his taxi, dash around the corner in the early afternoon darkness and icy streets and escape. I was surprised to discover that I was in the ‘fight’ instead of ‘flight’ category. Boy, was that punch worth it!

Imogen said...

Do you miss Flemington?

YES. For a start, most residents speak the same language as me and I felt like I knew most of the streets, the little character spots and a lot of fantastic people. I liked being in the triangle of trams, train lines and the Frog’s Mouth city link entrance: it felt like a separate village but was so close to the city that I always felt privileged to live there. And let’s not forget The Social Roasting Company, Vy Vy, Chef Lagenda, Crisp pizza, Laksa King, Pepper, Verb, The Quiet Man and all the top folk in the Flemington Association. *sniffle*

Jilly said...

Kath, dear Kath.... my question is, doesn't douche in Europe mean something else????? (ie something to do with a woman cleaning one's nether regions??) xx

Yes indeedy. That’s why I still chuckle in an immature fashion when it’s everywhere here as ‘shower’.

nuttynoton said...

What is your favourite cheese?

Gruyere. Rarely found and always expensive in Australia but the most commonly available cheese in Geneva. Stinks like an AFL player’s butt crack even when stored in airtight tupperware in the fridge but is delicious on fresh bread and doubly delicious melted over stale bread the next day. The key ingredient in a fondue too which has to be tried to be believed. I’m a convert. Roquefort is a close second - moist, so old it zings on your tongue and incredibly smelly.

Why do men find sport interesting but women do not (mostly)?

We can’t really see the point of it. Lots of running around by fairly unattractive men sweating and swearing a lot and a heap of annoying rules overrun by commentators who seem to assume that we, the viewer, are not able to see what is happening in front of our faces and must describe every single move loudly and in patronisingly excruciating detail. Then, just to add an extra layer of boredom, we have the endless discussions of statistics for each player, each game, each move, each season and, finally, the fruitless exercise of interviewing a meat-head who is only famous because he can kick a ball for his opinion on the game just played. “The boys played good but we’re already looking ahead to next week to conflagrate ourselves. We can’t afford to rest on our florals.”

Pandora Behr said...

1) Same as I gave to PM - what bit of advice would you pass on to your daughter?

That she’s beautiful. That any boingy bit of hair, spot on her chin or wobbly bit will NOT be noticed or nastily remarked upon by anybody who truly loves, likes or notices her. Oh and that blokes do not pick up on tiny little signals you send via osmosis their way or over-analyse everything to death afterwards. Turn up, smile, say what whatever it is you really mean directly and hope for the best.

2) If there was one moment in your life you could change - one event/ one period in your life/ one moment - what would that be?

March 2005, when a combination of exhaustion, depression, failure, humiliation and utter confusion found me believing that my family, friends and the world would be better off with me gone. Not a day goes by without me thinking of it and realising that not only was I seriously ill and tragically wrong but also of the huge amount of damage such an action would have caused, let alone the beauty, fun and challenges I would have missed out on. Thank god for professional help and the utmost kindness, patience and understanding from LC and my family.

Vanessa said...

If failure was not an option, what is the most daring thing you want to do?

Act or sing. Sometimes when I’m happy or have the ‘please like me, please please pleeease’ anxiety, I’ll show off a little and occasionally I wonder what it’d be like to be a character actor in a comedy......

Red Nomad OZ said...

Does living overseas make you feel more, or less Australian??!!

More, I think. Not because I yearn for more news on Julia and Tony or the drunken antics of AFL players, but it highlights the differences between the countries. I look different, dress differently (although you could say that was true back home too) and can sometimes be seen examining or photographing an object or situation that they’d consider an everyday one; ie a fat bloke riding a vespa this morning with a cigar in his mouth. Helmetless. Or picking up fresh conkers because I love the look of them shiny new.

Jackie K said...

(1)Does Sapphire read your blog and if so what does she think of it?

Sometimes. I have to run a few Sapphire-specific things past her to make sure that she is comfortable with how she’s being portrayed but she told me that she mostly reads the non-Sapph articles. She liked the recent one about our filing cabinet.

(2)What do you hope to bring back to Melbourne from your time in Geneva?

Hopefully not just a heap of travel photos – I’ve found in the past that no-one wants to see those unless they’re funny ones with people that they know in them, and that’s fair enough. There’s nobody you want to slap more than the bore who sits in a Melbourne cafe and sighs, “Oh but the macchiatos were magical in Firenze.”

So for me: an almost-grown, happy, fulfilled daughter with dreams to do more, see more, be more. A husband who set out to achieve what he hoped to do in the job and who still wants to come home to me at the end of every day. A feeling that I helped our little family make the most of our time here with friendships, travel, experiences, a new language and culture and an ability to judge less and learn more. Or something like that. Anything OTHER than an extra two stone!

drwife said...

I eagerly read your blog because we are moving with our children to Geneva in January. I feel a bit rude reading the personal blog of someone I've never met, but I appreciate every ounce of info about getting on in Geneva. My question is odd, but could I meet you when we move?

YES! My advice may not be exactly what they’d give you at the Geneva Welcome Centre, but it might be more helpful in terms of what you’ll really face instead of what they hope you’ll face. Come on over for a coffee, lots of chocolate, hopefully some laughs and several friendly licks from the dog.

Nicole said...

OK Kath - I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be using you as my personal psychic or psychiatrist here, but:
a) will I be able to cope with study while working and with small children under my feet?

Honestly? No. I’ve found that most of us can snatch thirty minutes of time on the computer when our kids are aged between zero and ten but when they’re otherwise occupied and you think you have time to read, digest, draft, write or study the phone will ring, the kid will throw up, the hot water system will die, the groceries need to be unpacked or you’ll feel so tired that it’d be more fun to visit a few blogs and see what those LOLdogs are up to.... Be kind to yourself and don’t set goals that several weeks of gastro, flu and a kitchen renovation aren’t going to ruin.

b) will my sister have a boy or a girl?

A boy. Now, I have about as much psychic ability as a left over lamington, so your guess is as good as mine.

ropcorn said...

I'm sure you have written about this somewhere in your blog but why did you guys move from Australia to Switzerland?

Love Chunks is a physicist/meteorologist/data analyst and was the Aussie rep for a certain project involving information gathered from aeroplanes and relayed back to each country. He was keen to see what coordinating the whole shebang from the World Met Org in Geneva would be like. So far it’s hectic, stressful, overwhelming and, from the little he’ll tell me, coming along quite nicely.

drb said...

Do you think it is easier to be a woman or a man?

We are weaker in physical strength yet have to give birth; yet men are expected to always be strong and can’t daydream in meetings without being betrayed by the bulge in their trousers. I’d call it a tie.

What is the secret of a happy marriage?

Still being in love with them. Being able to compromise and consider their needs along with your own. Liking their smell when you hug them. Glowing inside when they compliment you or you make them laugh out loud. Daydreaming about them when they’re away and reaching for their hand when they’re not. Knowing you can cry or moan and they'll listen. Then again, a shared interest in wine, flopping on the sofa and some free neck rubs helps too, doesn’t it?

Will you go to the moon?

Nah. If you want to wear an uncomfortable outfit, see only dirt and travel for ages, why not do it cheaper and become an outback fruit fly sprayer instead?

If you can name yourself, what name will you choose?

Lauren always sounded nice, but I’m pretty grateful that my mother chose Katherine. It’s not a name that dates me to a particular period in time like say a Narelle or Sharon or Darryl or Shane might have.

Which actress will you choose to be you in your biography film?

Cate Blanchett for now (hah!), Meryl for later (in my dreams) and a younger Dakota Fanning for the childhood scenes?

What is the meaning of life? ;-)

Feeling as though you’ve tried your hardest given your fair share of human failings and temptations. And had a few laughs along the way.

LJP said...

What do the Genevans and Australians do in the same way?

Talk incessantly on their mobile phones. Try to get their arses on the tram before the other passengers have stepped off. Enjoy their beer, love their doggies and have the same mysterious Bermuda Triangle effect that sees blue pens constantly disappearing from our house no matter how many I steal or buy.

Which are better - salt and vinegar chips or cheese and onion?

Cheese and onion. The last time I enjoyed salt and vinegar was during my pregnancy.

Whew! Time for a cuppa and a lie down.