Category Archives: Traveling

The Cabin

When a miller-moth commits suicide in my Gentleman Jack, I transform into a huntress like you’ve never seen.

It’s Friday of Labor Day weekend, the last “un-official” weekend of summer in the US and as tradition holds, my family goes to The Cabin. Lucky for me, I am still in the States on my whirlwind vacation and am able to bring Charlie here for her first Cabin experience. I haven’t been to this place in over two years and while nothing has really changed, aside from the motion sensor lights my dad installed last weekend, the raw beauty of this place has stricken me in yet another new way.

All week I have been organizing, making lists, and gathering my supplies for this trip. It used to be so simple. Pack duffel bag: check. Pack firearms and ammo: check. Pack fishing pole: check. Pack adult beverages and cheeky snacks: check. This trip was different, I had to plan how much food I would need for Charlie because Tajmagrocery (King Soopers HGH version) and/ or Whole Foods is a fair distance away. Not to mention packing her 90 bajiollion necessities and trying to remember my own tooth brush is a feat in and of itself. Thankfully, the weather was forecasted to be so ridiculously hot on the Front Range that they closed school because the green movement has halted air conditioning of many schools. I say thankfully because that meant I had my awesome helper, JoLee, all day.

JoJo Beans, aka Auntie JoJo, has been so excited to help with Charlie at any moment. Which comes in really handy when my beloved Lucas goes back to Oz for work. Bath time is easier, I have a diaper changing assistant, and dinner time entertainment has never been better. That sister of mine is worth her weight in gold, even if she is twice and tall and half as heavy as an eight year-old should be. We spent the day lunching, shopping, getting fuel, and driving to The Cabin.

As we wove our way through the hills of the Eastern Rockies in Northern Colorado and Wyoming and Jason Boland played thanks to my iPod, I was taken aback at the majestic quality these peaks have. For many years I had a steadily growing appreciation for their pristine beauty but I realized today; I had been taking it for granted for so many years. This part of America is just like the rest, it’s absolutely different from any other place in the country. From the bright red dirt roads, to the evergreen pines, to the herds of speed goats munching away on grass in the distance, there has never been a place like it on earth. Wait, what’s a speed goat you ask? It’s an antelope.

A twinge of sadness pulled at my heart strings as we made our way to the place I’ve know for more than 20 years. I was sad for all the time I don’t get to spend here anymore. I was sad that I didn’t get to bring Lucas here for Charlie’s first trip. I was sad knowing I have to leave it all again very soon.

What I wasn’t sad about was the 15+ miller-moths I killed.

After we chowed down on Granny’s chicken and noodles, and I finally got that adorable little girl to sleep, I settled in for a bit of reading on my Kindle app and a night cap. If you know me, you know I appreciate whiskey. But never scotch- I have taste buds. Having been out of this place for so long I forgot about the moths. Perhaps I repressed that terrible memory of those shriek inducing creatures. Nevertheless, I overcame my lifelong fear of those nasty little winged devils and I’m pretty sure I’m now widely feared in the moth community. Deeply engrossed in my chapter about businesses that go small again and survive, I found myself being kamikaze bombed by some fluttering assassin. Luckily both Charlie and JoLee were fast asleep and missed out on my myriad of red colored words, which were whispered ever so harshly. I settled back in only to find myself whipping my ponytail around Tourette’s style and checking my little drink for bugs. When one finally appeared in my cup, it was on like Donkey Kong. I may have dated myself with that last bit but if you know what I mean you’re just as old. I marched for the flashlight and fly swatter. In the first few minutes I had successfully exterminated eight of those dusty, wretched, idiotic wannabe butterflies. Nobody messes with my charcoal mellowed fire water and lives to talk about it.

In the morning, 6:30am to be exact, when my little darling roused me from my slumber, I expected the floor to be littered with my casualties of the previous evening. I was surprised that they seemed to disappear through the night, even the bodies I thought I would have to look out for when I’m on my way to the portable crib seem to have vanished. Perhaps I made a bigger creature’s thanksgiving dinner come early- as long as he or she does not crawl or fly on me in the night we are cool.

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The highlight of my morning here at the cabin was first the sunrise rolling over the eastern hills. Although, when I snapped this photo of Charlie, my entire year was made.

The magic in this place is held in my heart and the hearts of my family. Our simple place, made with a huge amount of sweat, blood, and over eating, is so special we rarely share it with outsiders. I’ve seen my father, grandfather, and uncles all work until their backs were sore and their brows dripped. I’ve seen my grandmother sweep the floors of this place until she needed a new broom. I’ve watched as we raced toward Laramie after a lightening strike burned my family and electrocuted the dog. I’ve seen where that lightening blew a hole out the back side of this cabin. I remember when my Dad cried out after a face to face encounter with a little cinnamon bear. I remember my own encounter with a large bull Moose, and when my friend wrecked on a motorbike. I recall the drama of my new jeans being dunked in the black mud of the creek bed when I fell off my cousin’s four wheeler, and when a bumble bee and I went fisticuffs. I remember when we trailered the horses up here to round up a few renegade cows in October- I have never been colder and more like Encinio Man in my life. I remember the dirt tracks for our hot wheels, and the copious amounts of Tang we all drank. But most of all, I will remember the feeling of this place. The way the sounds echo off the trees down below and how the screen door sounds.

As I waited for my Dad and Grandma to secure the doors and get in their trucks, I took a moment to drive around the property and soak it all in. Nothing has changed here, but so much of me has. I’m ever so grateful that I can still recognize this place and it’s magic.

xxOHM

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Not American Anymore?

On more than one occasion now I’ve been told I’m not American anymore. Or I’ve been told I’m an Aussie. While I’ll take the latter, I will not take the former. I had to conduct some personal research as to why I felt this way. Why, after each instance of someone attempting to strip away a piece of my evolving identity, I felt so defensive and ready to rumble like a back alley cat over the last scrap of chicken. I’ve narrowed it down to a few reasons.

I love my country. Sure, the US is a functionally dysfunctional shit show at times. But she’s also full of diversity and ingenuity. Sprawling cities and small towns, both of which are filled with incredible people. A plethora of nice neighbors, and acquaintances you love to hate. A smorgasbord of political ideas, religious differences, and people either seeking or running from enlightenment. There is a Miranda Lambert song I love, “All Kinds of Kinds”, and not just because Stoney Larue also sings on the track. My interpretation of the song is that this circus of a world wouldn’t go ’round if we didn’t have all kinds of kinds. People who work their whole life in the same grocery store, or people like me who go out into the world, take a leap of faith and hope it all doesn’t go pear-shaped. I didn’t leave the US because I didn’t like it there anymore, or I was tired of the glorious Colorado sunshine. I left because it was the best decision for my daughter. She could have the best life her father and I could offer her at the present time in Australia. In all of my One Hot Mess glory, I found myself making the hardest decision I’ve come across in my short 28 years, and while I put on a brave face, it was scarier than watching Freddy Kruger at age 7. Selling just about everything I owned and jumping on a plane at 5 months pregnant with two suitcases and saying goodbye to my family seems almost unreal to me now. Thankfully, I have been welcomed into this beautiful country by an incredible family and some amazing friends. Now, let’s get back on track and I’ll tell you about my second reason.

I used to know who I was. Then, the sweetest, screaming, squishiest, little miracle known as Charlie graced us with her presence. Anyone who has become a parent, and especially the moms know, your identity changes when that time and date is forever stamped in your memory. I say especially the moms because not only do people start referring to you as Mommy, (who me?), your clothes don’t fit anymore, and you don’t recognize that puffy faced woman with the bags under her eyes in the mirror. Not to fear, you do begin to look like yourself again but on the inside you’re totally different. Scary! There are risks I won’t take anymore that I wouldn’t have thought twice about in the past. For example, eating cookie batter is a no-no. Not only because I’m not about to have time to make cookies, but I’m not eating raw egg. Who will watch the baby and take care of me if I am calling dinosaurs? Last time I checked I was only married to one man and there’s no nanny! Ok, bad example but you get the gist. I also haven’t done some of the things that used to be staple activities in my life in quite a while. Part of leaving the US was leaving behind the cold steel of my firearms, and the cozy leather of my saddles. Luckily, I still have my yoga pants and mat. Phew! I will ride again, and soon, but even then I will have to take up a different style of riding. Change, a necessary evil.

My last reason is this: I do what I want, you’re not the boss of me, and as long as my passport is issued by the good ol’ US of A, and I have to file taxes, I’m an American! One day, hopefully, I will carry dual citizenship. It’s a long and expensive journey but worthwhile. Just as one day, Lucas will become a dual citizen. When I moved out of my parent’s home at the age of 18, y’all didn’t quit calling me a Huffaker (maiden name, have fun trying to pronounce it if you’re new here). I posed the question of renouncing citizenship to a group of Americans living in Oz and the large majority of them said they would never give it up. I deduced from their reasons this, being an American is something we are born with, we become, and we (hopefully) take pride in. Now if we could just get the government to do that… Oh wait, that’s a whole other topic. I see myself as a representative of our great nation. When I meet new people, the first thing they ask me is where I’m from. Just as your mother isn’t perfect, you still love her, and that’s how I feel about my country.

I have no doubt that my little family will live in the US in the future and when we do, I will have this rich experience under my belt. Hopefully, that will only stand as something even greater I can offer my homeland having lived abroad. It’s a great big world out there, and it’s a short life.

xxOHM

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One Hot Mess and a Koala

Nothing makes me want to live off the grid more than dealing with government agencies. The only problem with off the grid living is the lack of niceties and little comforts I’ve grown accustomed to. I mean, where would I get the vanilla almond butter I’m addicted to or a pedicure? First world problems I tell ya.

I’m currently in the process of applying for Permanent Residency in Australia and holy mackerel is it a long and loaded process! As an American a little part of me is an entitled, spoiled, white girl who thinks I should just be able to fill in a form, tell them I’m not a baddie (Aussie speak for bad guy), and go on my way. But no. I have to trudge through all the bureaucracy and mountains of paperwork like the rest of the population and wait my turn. (Cue foot stomping). Let me share with you a tiny bit of what is required. Fingerprints, sent to the FBI (12-16 week turn around time), Australian National Police Check, Blood Tests, Chest X-rays, family history (including step and half siblings and their marital status), certified copies of everything from my passport to my first library card (ok the library card part is a lie), four new passport style photos, three different forms all five plus pages in length, a personal story as to how I came to be in Australia and married to that handsome guy with the cute accent, and a little more than $4k. Just for starters. Thank goodness for Google and the really nice lady at Immigration who answered my questions! I’m hoping the process for Lucas’ green card is less painful, but I’m not betting on it.

During all of this I have to keep reminding myself it’s all worth it. Australia is a pretty great place to live and I was lucky enough a couple of weeks ago to experience even more of what this great country has to offer. My little family packed our bags, left our coats in Canberra and headed for warmer, sunnier weather at the Gold Coast. It was exactly the little break we needed, and bonus! We were able to spend quite a bit of quality time with some old friends of Lucas who I now get to call my new friends. The feminine half of our friendly duo is also an American and I wish she lived closer! It was so refreshing to spend some time with someone who knows what it’s like to challenge yourself with a move to a new country. Dare I say, it made me feel human again! Little victories.

20130527-110454.jpg Lauren and me, a couple of American girls in Oz.

Since moving to Australia I’ve been hearing about all these fabulous things there are to do and aside from visiting some of the most pristine beaches on the planet, I’d yet to experience anything truly Australian until we visited the Gold Coast. While it is yet another gorgeous beach, a little bird told me that I could cuddle a Koala just twenty minutes up the road. Stop. The. Press. A lifelong dream of mine was going to come true! We toured the Currummbin Wildlife Park and paid $30 to have our photo taken while cuddling the cutest of wild animals known to man. I was so stinking nervous and heart-poundingly excited to hold the little guy I was afraid he would feel my nerves and claw me to death with the sharpest, longest claws I’ve ever seen on a 1 and a half year old. All went well however, and he was as snuggle-riffic as anything called a bear could be.

20130527-110858.jpg I can’t remember his name but he was so soft!

Charlie also wanted to get in on the Koala cuddling and in true Australian hospitality, the handlers let her have a pat as well.

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After feeding Kangaroos, cuddling Koalas, seeing Dingos, Tasmanian Devils, Wombats, and the largest Crocodile I hope to ever see, I feel a little more experienced here. I can’t wait to take my family and friends on these adventures when they visit us here. Life is happening here and now and I’m busy living it, and loving it!

Stay tuned for the One Hot Mess adventures that I am positive will ensue as I proceed down this Immigration track, dual citizenship is so much easier when you’re born with it. Count your blessings Charlie!

xx OHM

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Oh No She Didn’t!

I’ve been called a lot of things in my short life, but not being compassionate isn’t an old favorite. Today an article was passed under my nose regarding immigration and Australia. It also included the name of the particular type of Visa I hold in the title. Of course my interest was peaked! After making a dispassionate (Merriam-Webster defines this as cool, composed, unbiased), remark on said article, I was clobbered with a follow up comment which was an obvious reaction to a misinterpretation of my original thought. Now, I don’t tend to argue with people. Not in person and certainly not online. There is far too much lost in translation to ever have a proper debate in the land of cyber geniuses. A woman (I’m sure she’s a nice lady) who I have never met and isn’t privy to my political leanings, or even my view on humanity assumed I was being a meanie poo-poo head about refugees who come to Australia on risky boat trips. I can’t blame her, we live in a highly politicized society, one where many believe one party is a totally different than the other.

20130428-202714.jpg This photo, courtesy of the Herald Sun is of some Boat People.

Normally, I don’t give a rat’s pahtoody (like my creative spelling on that?) what people think of me. But in this instance, I needed to stand up for myself, and make it clear to those who don’t know me in all of my crazy pants glory, that I DO care about my fellow man. More so now than ever before. Why?, you ask. Because a little person came from my body and changed me forever. It’s a little sad to realize we live in a world where this is a normal assumption, and I have to defend myself, but that’s the next point to my little rant.

I wouldn’t say that prior to becoming a parent I didn’t care about people, or shelter animals, or whether or not my wine bottles in the recycle bin actually were recycled. I would say that after becoming a parent, I am keenly aware of the horrific goings on of our world. Tragic stories, crimes against humanity, acts of war, all violently thrash at my heart strings. I know there will not be peace in my lifetime, as there has never been peace in anyone’s lifetime. I know that I, one woman who has stood up for her rights and won, one mother who would go to the end of the earth to ensure a better future for my daughter’s world, will not make a big difference but I can make a small difference. I can nurture that difference, teach her to do things in the name of peace, not to harm others. To embark upon this world with an open heart and mind, a wisdom to know the right battles to fight when necessary, and a compassion for her fellow human and the nature that surrounds us all.

xxOHM

p.s. I know this was a bit of a “deep” post and not in my normal comedic fashion, but I promise to post something funny very soon! For now, here is a funny photo to satisfy your insatiable appetite for a laugh…

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Jet Lag, A Natural State of Drunkeness

When I was in my early twenties, and certainly never before I was twenty-one, I would find myself in a state of fog. Perhaps this was alcohol included fog, unless you have photos, I may never admit to it. We can all relate to this “fog”, the one where you think you’re handling yourself really well. You carry on coherent conversations, wax philosophical, and look really, really good. At least you think you do. When in all reality for us ladies, your mascara is probably smudged around your eyes, your forehead is a bit sweaty, your nose is shiny, and those cheeks are giving off that tell-tale pinky color. If you’re of the male species, your forehead is sweaty as well, your eyes are a bit droopy, and your undershirt is sticking to you like you’ve just completed an Iron Man. You’ve probably repeated yourself three times, slurred at least five, but when you did, you stopped, slowly corrected yourself and thought, “not too shabby, they have no idea I’m drunk!”

It’s all fun and games until the next day you realize, I don’t remember 85 percent of last night. That’s what jet lag is like to me. Without the hangover thankfully! I’ve traveled internationally quite a few times in my short life, and hope to be so fortunate that I can experience the delights of jet lag many more times. The thing about drunkeness and jet lag is that you remember the most unimportant details of your travels. You can’t recall where the hell your shoes are, but you know that the guy who tried to buy you a cocktail was wearing a “Tapout” t-shirt. Hey, at least he has gumption if no style sense. And you can recall that the flight attendant had purple nail polish, but where on earth did you jam those customs forms!? The fun continues when you land and bumble your way through the immigration interview, the man at the end of the line asks if you have any trail mix or beef jerky. Seriously? I just told him I had some baby food, and he comes up with trail mix and beef jerky? Yup, my ten month old just loves her some beef jerky!

The fog continues for the next two days I’m convinced. You put on a straight face, and act like an adult. Yet, at the end of those two days when you finally feel less like an Alzheimer’s patient, you know you had conversations with people, but about what, you’ll never know. One day, I think I’ll try to enjoy jet lag, when I can lounge around for a couple of days, Charlie can feed and bath herself, and I won’t have to worry about who I told what to. Unless its Charlie and I told her she could date. Because that’s never happening.

OHM xx

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The Best Laid Plans

I’m a planner, sort of. Not one of those control freaks, down to the minute, exact details planners. I’m one of those, Libran planners. The ones who have a general plan but can’t make up their mind about the details until they ABSOLUTELY have to. I blame it on my star sign, it says I’m indecisive and anyone who knows me remotely well will agree. Becoming a mother really forced me to start planning a whole lot better. I’m a work in progress.

When I travel, I am forced to make concrete plans. Especially when traveling with an infant. My gorgeous Charlie is a blossoming ten and a half months now which requires both all the baby things, and big girl things. Boobs, and lots of distraction. Not at the same time of course, that’s just hazardous.

This trip, I traveled back to Colorado to visit my people, alone. Alone?!?! With a baby?!? Yep, you’re not the first person to say that to me. Especially after last night, when a shuttle bus full of Australians and myself checked into the Holiday Inn. Unexpectedly. Apparently a bird hit an engine on our plane. Unexpectedly. Unless it was a suicidal bird, but what can birds be so depressed about? They have wings! I digress, myself and many other passengers are “delayed twenty one hours and fifty minutes”. Awesome. Me, my baby, LA and a whole day to kill. Just when I was feeling pretty proud of myself for thinking I had all my plans sorted and would be passing this jumping bean of a baby off to my husband and family in Sydney very soon, the universe reminds me to tap into my inner Buddhist.

As I push my ten dollar SmartCarte from one terminal to the next so I can obtain my new itinerary and hotel voucher I panic. One wrong bump will send my overpacked suitcase off the edge and my zippered chaos will be unleashed on the sidewalk. Then I start thinking about the fact that I will have to unzip those monsters in the hotel. I feel as though I can hear the contents laughing at me. The little cans of green chiles are snickering, “are homemade burritos and enchiladas worth it? hahahahaha”, the five plastic canisters with these awesome rice puffs Charlie loves are shaking their contents ominously, shck, shck, shck. But they’re organic! I NEED them! Truth be told, Charlie wouldn’t care one way or the other if I didn’t jam those puffs in my cases. But I want Australia to see what’s out there, we need more and better options.

FLASH, FLASH, FLASH, CLICK, CLICK, CLICK!

What the heck?! Oh, paparazzi. The gawker inside of me pokes her little head out for a minute. Who could it be? Anyone I care about? No! I tell her. As I near the scene it’s obvious the shutterbugs got excited over a nobody and they’re actually still waiting for their target to appear. I hear one of them cracking jokes, and some middle aged woman cackles as though he’s the celebrity! Get real, people. I then have to manoeuvre my cart and its overstuffed contents through this mass of lookielous who for whatever reason have no where better to be than near a celebrity for five seconds. I only ran over one woman’s heel with my cart as she did not get out of my way. All the while, in my head I’m thinking, “Lady with a baby!” Like that scene in Grease, when Rizzo thinks she is knocked up. As I make my way through the crowd I secretly hope this celebrity tries to rush out as I’m passing the doors and doesn’t have the path cleared for them. My baby is way cooler than any movie star. I’m sure all moms think that, and they’re right!

After I am past the mob I have a sudden rush of gratefulness. I can wear my baby, push my breast pads, cans of green chiles, 42 diapers, and 97 baby toys through LAX without someone snapping my photo. Except for the government, which is a whole other issue. It doesn’t matter that my make up has probably all been worn away by Charlie’s, “fountain on the mountain” ponytail. Or that the baby bjorn is squishing my back into a muffin top. I am free to be Charlie’s mom without the whole world judging me. Or, asking me what is in my suitcases, but I guess I just told them.

Now there are sweet little murmurs coming from the hotel crib, and I have Intelligentsia to get to. That gorgeous husband of mine says its the best coffee. Plus, it’s near the beach. Winning.

xxOHM

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