The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Aboriginal woman and the snake

Last night, I had a weird dream... so strange that I had to look up the symbolism in it. It's said that dreams are the manifestation of the subconscious mind, and if so, the objects and cast members of our dreams are symbols for other things.

In this dream, a middle-aged Aboriginal woman came to me with a snake and she put it on me while I was in my bed. The snake tried to crawl in my sleeve, but I cut if off before it got to my shoulders and could get completely inside my shirt.

Now, you have to understand... I do not like snakes. Especially in Australia, as most of the ones here are deadly poisonous. But I wasn't afraid of the snake, because I knew the snake would just assume that's as far as the "hole" went. So, the snake came back out of my sleeve and decided to go under the covers.

There I was, dreaming about being in bed, under the covers, with an Aboriginal woman standing next to me, and a snake crawling in and out and over me and under the covers. The snake was making the sign for Infinity across my chest. And the weirdest thing about this? I wasn't scared and I didn't wake up with my heart pounding, as if I'd suffered a nightmare.

I looked up the symbolism of the dream. Did you know that snakes are ancient symbols of wisdom and knowledge? And so are old women. The fact that the woman was an Aborigine suggests that I need to be more in touch with my intuition and natural side.

Ever have a weird dream and want to look up the meaning? Try using this dream dictionary: Now if only I could figure out what the heck to do with this information!


posted by Melanie O. at 3:18 AM - 2 comments
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A Day on the Hawkesbury
A glimpse into our day on the river.

Watch it in High Definition on YouTube:

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posted by Melanie O. at 7:54 PM - 2 comments
Monday, September 14, 2009
Messing about in boats
Our friend D recently received his boating pilot's license and invited a few friends to go on his maiden passenger voyage down the Hawkesbury River for the day.  Of course, in my imagination, I immediately saw a scene from Wind in the Willows, where we, the intrepid band of adventurers, meander our way down a lazy river and have a lingering picnic along the banks somewhere.

The day started out fine. It was warm and sunny without being too hot. No one got lost on their way to the boat ramp. Everyone brought food for our picnic and wore the right clothing. It promised to be a fabulous day.

It took a little while to get used to the powerful motor on the boat, but after the initial learning curve, we were on our way with great confidence in our captain, and enjoyed the Australian sun, which had finally decided to end its winter hibernation.

We hit some rough water near the headlands, where the river meets the ocean, and bounced our way into the river mouth. Fortunately, despite the jarring, we were as well-padded as nature intended, and no harm was done. The water smoothed out and we wound our way up the river.

Now, I'm used to the rivers and lakes that I grew up near which are fresh water, and the worst thing you have to worry about is the occasional eel or pike. The Hawkesbury is brackish and has known to host sharks as well as jellyfish and other marine life. I looked in amazement as a huge pink jellyfish went swimming by. I had no idea that they could move that quickly! I always thought they just drifted lazily on currents. But then I also thought that about boats.

We motored our way up past Akuna Bay and found a little sheltered spot to anchor in for "first lunch" as we dubbed it. No restaurant could have provided better. There were sandwiches, fine cheeses and crackers, cold meats, gourmet olives, wine, spicy rice salad and pickled vegetables ... a feast fit for our intrepid band. Friend N got out his fishing gear, determined to catch something with a large prawn. Sadly, there were no nibbles this day; however, the fun's in the fishing, not the fish and we laughed and joked and in general, overate.

We then made our way back out to the main river and headed past Cottage Point, where there's an inn to which you can charter a sea plane for lunch or dinner. Living on the river must be idyllic if you can afford it.

We motored our way past Cottage Point to Bobbin Head, which is near the end of that branch of the river. All out for a stretch and an ice cream. There's a lovely inn at Bobbin Head as well as a public dock and all the mod cons. I could have happily spent a couple of hours there, but there was still much to see and do!

We then got back into our boat, which had become our little island home. We explored to the end of the branch, and then headed back up towards Dangar Island, passing under the railroad bridge. We found another little cove and anchored again in true Wind in the Willows fashion for "second lunch."  This time, Friend D2 decided to join in the fishing. No nibbles. By now it was late in the afternoon and we had to head back to the dock to return the boat.

This is when the fuel ran out. The engine sputtered and then died. Not to panic, though. We had a spare tank of fuel and with one phone call to the boat owner, we had it hooked up to the motor. For the next 20 minutes or so, we motored back through the rough head waters. The waves were getting higher and forming white caps. The ride was bumpy, but exciting! The sun was going down. Were we going to make it back to Bayview before it became too dark to see?

Of course not. About 10 minutes before we reached the dock, the spare tank went empty. Something was wrong with the motor. It was leaking fuel. We ran out of fuel a second time and had to call for a rescue, which came a half an hour later, in the dark. The five intrepid sailors, Ratty, Mole, Badger, Rabbit, and Hedgehog sat and regaled each other with tales of Mad Men and District 9 hoping, with each passing boat, that our rescuer was upon us. We thought perhaps we could bribe someone to fetch us fuel with a couple bottles of beer and a bocconcini cheese sandwich.

We were fine, really. It was cool, but we had jackets. We had food. We had drinks (although no toilet). We had a sense of humour. We did not break into song, however.

Finally, with another spare tank of fuel, we made it back to the public dock and disembarked a little tired but happy and congratulating our "captain" on a job well done. So much excitement for a maiden passenger voyage. It was a day we won't soon forget.

As Ratty said, "Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

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posted by Melanie O. at 9:20 AM - 1 comments
Monday, September 07, 2009
Travelling - now.... and then
I remember, when I was growing up, I desperately wanted to be a flight attendant. The first time on a plane, I was ten years old and on the way to New York City with my sister and my grandmother. We dressed up in our Sunday dresses and white gloves. We flew Mohawk Airlines and held for three hours over Kennedy airport, waiting for our turn to land. The plane was hot and stuffy, but I had a window seat, so I didn't care. I stared down on Manhattan and was mesmerised. I knew I wanted to fly again and again.

The next time I flew, it was with my mother and sister and we were on our way to Hawaii. I was so excited! It was a long flight in comparison to that little hop from Syracuse to New York City. This time, it was completely across the country and half way out into the Pacific! I think we flew Pan Am. It's kind of sad to look back and realize that neither Pan Am nor Mohawk Airlines airlines exists any more.

Things have changed a lot since those days, however. Flight attendants' uniforms are less alluring and more corporate. I guess that had to happen eventually, once people moved on from seeing flight attendants as more than just glamor girls with badges. Flight attendants became responsible for flight safety and had to rule obnoxious passengers with an iron thumb. They have to help heft heavy baggage into the overhead compartments. They have to intercede in passenger disputes.

Things didn't used to be so complicated. I remember when I was a kid, flying was a privilege. Not everyone could afford to fly. For many people it was a once or twice in a lifetime thrill. I can still recall people dubbing their trips to Europe as a "once in a lifetime experience." Now I know people who fly to Europe several times a year.

When I was a kid, people knew how to behave politely on planes. Every once in a while, someone had too much to drink and got a bit loud, but the flight attendants kept that person occupied until the drunk either passed out or the plane landed. Most of the drunks were in first class, though. The rest of us managed with Pepsi or tomato juice. In my dreams of life as a grownup however, I imagined that as a flight attendant I could have first class meals and jet-set around the world and not have to worry about the passengers once the plane landed. I could see the world and get paid for it!

There used to be more leg room on flights, too. When did we all start getting squeezed in like sardines? You used to be able to put your seat back and sleep, without landing in the lap of the person behind you. I can't remember when all this started to change. And with less room to move, passengers became more cranky. We stopped wearing our nice clothes - who wants to come out of a cramped space with a wrinkled suit? We also became less friendly and less civil. We stopped tolerating people who took up more than a seat width.

When the passengers became more surly, so did the flight attendants. I recall one domestic US flight where the flight attendants all seemed angry - even though we had all just boarded the plane and there had been no incidents. It was probably because the flight had been delayed by several hours and it was now 2am. Everyone was cranky.

Now, flight attendants have to deal with cranky passengers, screaming children, and crazies trying to open the emergency exit in mid flight. And don't even get me started on "terrorists." The security screening in airports is over the top ridiculous. A million illegal aliens come into the USA every year, but grandma is having her boots checked before her flight in case she's smuggling gelignite.

We used to be able to fly into a friendly country and get a tourist visa on the spot. Now you have to apply online and declare your intentions before you leave, and even after that, you may not be let in.

Yes sir... flying has changed. I'm kind of glad I was too short to be eligible to be a flight attendant. Now, I'm just a passenger and I try to grin and bear it with everyone else, including the flight attendants.

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posted by Melanie O. at 5:59 PM - 3 comments

About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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