COPE training

Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience

This weekend, Matt and I went through the COPE facilitator course. Some of you may be wondering what COPE is. It stands for Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience. It’s one of the many programs run by the BSA, (Boy Scouts of America) and it’s a lot of fun.

Here’s the official explanation.

What is A C.O.P.E. Course?
C.O.P.E. is an acronym for “Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience.” a COPE Course is a custom built challenge course or ropes course designed to meet the Boy Scouts of America (BSA)Project C.O.P.E. installation and operation procedures. COPE Programs are based on attaining seven goals outlined by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

The seven C.O.P.E. goals are summarized as

Teamwork Teamwork is the key that allows a group to navigate a C.O.P.E. challenge course successfully. The C.O.P.E. challenge ropes course experience makes it clear that each individual can accomplish more as a member of a team than by  going it alone.
Communication A C.O.P.E. challenge course encourage in the moment active learning of critical listening and discussion skills important for any group, troop or individual attempting to accomplish a difficult task.
Trust Participants completing difficult tasks on a C.O.P.E. challenge course develop trust in the C.O.P.E. staff members, their fellow troop members and themselves.
Leadership Team members attempting to solve problems on a cope course have abundant opportunities to develop and exercise leadership skills in small and large groups.
Decision Making Project C.O.P.E. requires groups and troops to make decisions by developing one or more solutions to a  the specific obstacle, problem, or initiative. Teams must consider all the available resources and alternatives, and evaluate the probable results before moving forward.
Problem Solving Project C.O.P.E. challenges groups and individual to develop solutions to interesting problems. Participants must step outside of the box and frequently use creative ideas. Participants can then test their solutions and evaluate the results.
Self-Esteem Meeting the challenges of a C.O.P.E. challenge course allows individuals and groups to develop self-esteem  and encourages them to set challenging yet attainable goals.

If you’ve ever seen some of those high adventure courses that companies like to send their executives on for team building, it’s the same kind of thing.

sarah on belay
Here's me on belay. We're showing even the smallest in the group can belay a bigger person, by using an anchor.

On Friday night we started off with some trust exercises. These vary from the one on one where you have to fall backwards and trust the other person to catch you, standing in the middle with your eyes closed while you get pushed around the circle, having everyone join hands and pass through a hula hoop plus several other mind games. Most of these are designed to create communication and trust in the group.

Saturday we started off on some of the low courses. These are mentally challenging and really focus on problem solving and teamwork. Then, in the afternoon, we got to my favourite, and Matt’s dreaded, the High course.

I have no fear of heights. None. Never have. I have more issues with the low trust exercises than I do with the high course. Which comes in handy when you’re also the smallest person in the group. I have no problem with being used to show rescue techniques. I was a little more nervous when they asked me to be on belay a much bigger person, but that was just because I didn’t want to screw up and get them hurt.

Climbing the pole at the start of the high course

Turns out a smaller person can belay a bigger one, you just need another person behind you to hold on to make sure you don’t go flying up in the air. I got about a foot in the air, but it was all good. I got him down on the ground safe and sound.

When it was my turn to go through the high course, they used me to demonstrate a rescue technique. On the first wire, which has ropes hanging down that are each spaced further apart they had me let go and fall so they could show that if a person wanted to stay on the wire and complete the course, you could hoist them back up onto it. It just takes a few people puling really hard.

After I got back up onto the wire and got to the first crows nest, it was onto the Burma wire. We had to hook onto the second line and let the first line go. Since we were the facilitators, we were doing all our own hooking and unhooking. The Burma wire has a central highwire, with two other wires that you hold onto to make it across to the second crowsnest.

reaching for the first vine

From there, it’s on to most people’s favourite, the zip line.

On Sunday, they had a team of athletes come out from the local university and we had out first day as official facilitators. We put them through some of the team building exercises. Then, they went to the high course. I stayed up on the crowsnest between Burma and the zip line. My job was to get them across Burma and re-hook them onto zip and talk them over the edge. I was surprised how comfortable most of the girls were. Only one of them was terrified. We’re not supposed to push people off the edge, as tempting as it is, because it’s challenge by choice. But I did ask her if she wanted to be pushed, and she said no. One of her team mates made it over to the nest, and we kept talking her through her fear. After about 10 minutes, I asked her again if she wanted a push. As soon as she started to say yes, I pushed before she could change her mind. Everyone heard her scream and they all looked at me. Her teammate yelled down it was ok, she heard her say yes to the push. She was still shaking when she got off the line, but after a few minutes she came back to encourage her teammates and let them know she was really glad she had done it. Sometimes in life the fear can be too great to do something, even though you rationally you know it’s safe. Sometimes you need a push, and there’s no shame is asking for it.

hanging on the wire waiting to be "rescued"
Hanging on the belay rope, getting "rescued"

After the team left, we went and did one last exercise, which unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of. It’s called the Leap of Faith. Basically, there’s 3 poles set up in a triangle. You have to climb one of them, and then basically jump off and try to tap a hanging rope between the other two poles. It’s called the Leap of Faith because you have to have faith that the person down below will hold the rope and not let you fall. I was good climbing up the pole, but trying to get both feet on top so I could stand to take the leap was hard. The pole wobbles, and trying to hoist yourself up with nothing to hold onto is hard. Its a telegraph pole, so the top isn’t that big. Just enough room for two small feet. It was the first high challenge that really pushed my boundaries and got my heart pounding. I finally got up there. Stood for a few seconds, eyeballed the rope to tap, and leaped out to hit it before plummeting to the ground. Obviously, since I’m writing this, I didn’t really plummet.

Almost to the end on the Burma wire

It was pretty awesome. My group had the rope and I swung back and forth a bit. The only real danger was swinging back and hitting the pole. They lowered me to the ground. Then, I got to belay for the others going up there.

We had a great weekend. Poor Matt is terrified of heights and he couldn’t bring himself to get up on the wire while a bunch of newbies were holding his belay. So he was in charge of the camera. 😉

Next I’d like to go do the COPE Director course. It’s a week long course out at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

Flying down the zip line. The Leap of Faith poles are to the left of me. You jump off one towards the middle of the other two.

If you ever get a chance to try a COPE course, go do it. It’s an awesome personal challenge.

You’ll find that you’re much stronger and braver than you think you are.


Miners v’s Military

Seriously Miners?

Do you ever see an article in the paper and just feel absolutely no sympathy at all? Maybe I just woke up grumpy, or maybe it’s because my new comat boots have arrived and Matt laughed at me for walking around the house in them and nothing else, but when I read the story on the poor sex lives on West Australia’s miners, I just thought, Wow, Suck it up. Are these people serious?

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand what it’s like to be in a long distance relationship. My first husband, (yes, I was married before) was in the US Air Force. He was in a unit that was always deployed. BEFORE the war. I spent most of my time in Australia, and flew back and forth to visit him. We had been friends since we were teenagers, so we decided to go back to being friends. We both met our new partners while we were still married, and when he comes to San Antonio for training, we all go out for a beer together.

Matt was on the road for the first 8 years we were together. We met because he was working in Brisbane. He has also worked in China, Canada and in almost every state in the US. Back during the tech boom, he used to fly up to Canada and back every week. Eventually, he asked his boss to just let me come up there and overlook the extra expenses instead of flying him home every week. It worked out cheaper for them, so they did. Then, Matt took a different contract. He was all over the place, most places for one or two weeks at a time. Eventually, we bought a motorhome and could travel together. We didn’t like being apart and we missed each other. Of course, me traveling with him meant that I couldn’t really work. We never knew how long we were going to be in each place. Finally, while were were up in Iowa, where I actually did get a part time job teaching acting, Matt got a full time permanent stay at home daytime job back in San Antonio.

The thing about San Antonio, it’s a military town. It has 3 major bases. Lackland AFB, where they train every new airman in the USAF. Randolph AFB trains some very advanced pilots. Fort Sam Houston in a HUGE Army facility, BAMC is attached, which is Brooke Army Medical Center and is one of the leading trauma and burns hospitals in the US. There’s also Brooks AFB, Camp Stanley and Camp Bullis. You’ve also got a bunch of smaller national guard armories. Basically, you can’t get from point A to point B in this city without seeing someone wearing a uniform or displaying Purple Heart or Disabled Vet license plates.

Sure, all of the people in the military today have chosen to be in the military. We no longer have a draft. However, many people join for the benefits. The military has great health care, housing and they’ll pay for your college. Of course, there’s also long deployments and the chance you’ll be killed in a desert in the Middle East somewhere. Or any of the other 100+ countries the US currently has troops stationed in. At some point in your military career, you’re supposed to do a long deployment. Lots of Airmen end up on a year tour in Korea or Japan. If you elect to take your family, you have to do 2 years. If however your spouse or kids are attached to their home, you get to go alone. You don’t get to fly home every 2 weeks to see them. They don’t get to come see you. If you’re getting shipped off to Iraq or Afghanistan, you might be gone 6 months without a trip home. If you make it home. Some people have already made 3 or 4 tours of the ME.

While the military folks do get good benefits, it’s not the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year miners are making. Miners aren’t getting shot at, don’t have to go for weeks without a shower while down range, don’t have to worry about ending up on a video on CNN with a gun to their head. Sure, there’s mining accidents, but that’s a risk of the job too.

Every job has it’s good points and bad points. Everyone has to make sacrifices. Life is not always rosy.

But surely, while we’ve still got boots on the ground and have good men and women coming home in body bags, do we have to see money spent on a study of miners making sure they’re getting laid?


Snow in San Antonio!

Freak snow event in San Antonio, TXsnowman in san antonio texas

So while Australia is cleaning up after  Category 5 Cyclone Yasi and volcano’s are erupting in Asia, the US is in the middle of “Arctic Blast 2011”. The local news people are loving it!

We’ve had snow is San Antonio about 4 times in the last 16 years. The last great snow was the year we had gone back to Australia for Xmas. The year on the Boxing Day Tsunami. Seems like all the big things happen the same years…

The local weather people had been predicting the possibility of snow for almost a week. Most locals were skeptical. Usually, if they say snow, we might get lucky to have a real light flurry that lasts less than 5 minutes and doesn’t stick. I was at work on the other side of town. We close at 9pm and then clean up and get out about 10pm. We were watching the weather. Originally they had said snow starting at 11pm, but then an update said 10pm. So we hauled ass and started packing up. We were out to our cars at 9:30pm. It had started to sleet. The cars were getting an ice coating. Thankfully, Michelle and I both had our ice scrapers. We both laughed cause for weeks we’d had people ask us why we sold ice scrapers at work. People kept saying, we don’t get snow in San Antonio. We’d have to bite our tongue to keep from saying, “good thing they’re not snow scrapers then…” So, we did our cars, then helped scrape windshields from the girls leaving next door. I hit the road, driving as carefully as I could. The roads were icing over. Thankfully, we had spent a winter in Iowa, and I knew to just take my time, leave plenty of space, don’t slam brakes, etc. Closer I got to the house, the more people I saw sliding. Made it home safe, but I could hear sirens as I walked inside.

Matt was watching the news. I made it home with about 10 minutes to spare. They were shutting down all the highways. The city isn’t prepared for freak events like this. There was over 200 accidents in the first hour! There had been a 9 car pileup right behind me. (No, I didn’t cause it!)

They local news people stayed on TV all night, keeping the city updated. Matt tried to stay up to see the actual snow falling, but he ended up going to bed. About 1pm, it started to really fall. I ran outside to take pictures for Matt, in case it melted by the time he got up. It sounded really cool. It was soft snowflakes yet. It was freezing rain to start with. Tiny pellets of ice, so as it hit the ground and the house, there was a constant chink chink sound.

Thankfully since it had been freezing the last few nights, all the plants and pool filters were covered. The backyard and side yard were quickly covered in white. I watched the neighbours roof slowly turn white. Our gutters were filled with snow. I let the dog out to go potty. It seemed like she remembered the cold white stuff from Iowa. She ran around in it a little bit, just like a small kid would.

The whole street out the front was turning white. It was so quiet outside. No noise of cars since everything was shut down. Just the click click of ice falling. I was pretty impressed by the local news people who were up all night, following the snow. They made me laugh when they said that one reporter “Had drwn the short straw” and was stuck on remote locations. The same people were still on air 12 hours later….

About 11am, the snow was finally starting to melt. The highways were still shut down. There ws still ice on the roads, but it was slowly melting. The sun was doing a good job, but anywhere there was shade, it was still icy. The roads finally opened up again at Noon. Of course, it was like morning peak hour traffic. Thankfully, my work had already cancelled me for the day, so I didn’t have to go driving in it. Matt finally headed in to work about 12:30.

It seems funny that such a little bit of ice is such a big deal. We had snow everyday in Iowa for 5 months. Sometimes a couple feet at a time. Here, we had some freezing rain and a light dust of snow, and the whole city just shut down! But, up north, they are set up to deal with it. Here, there’s no ice scrapers, no snow ploughs. No trucks to lay down salt. Well, I take that back. Apparently, there was city trucks, but the TXDot people were waiting for it to get above freezing before they went out to try to de-ice the roads… It seems that the people in were terrified of the ice and were scared to go out in it. The TXDot spokeswoman said they weren’t prepared for ice, which made Matt laugh and yell at the TV. We don’t get snow here often, but we do get ice a fair bit in winter. Just not usually that much.

So now the sun had come out and it’s a beautiful day here. Everyone who got the day off is probably pretty happy. It’s supposed to get way down below freezing again tonight, but no precipitation is expected.

Hope everyone in Australia is doing ok. Between Sydney getting record heat and North Queensland getting all those storms and bushfires in other parts of Oz, it makes my little snow storm story seem pretty insignificant…


Camping in Autumn

The Ranch in Stockdale, Texas

red dirt in stockdale texasIt’s finally cooling off here in Texas. Today I actually needed a sweater when I got up. I love this time of year. It’s cool enough to go outdoors and actually do stuff. Most people like Spring, because of the same reason, but I have such wicked allergies in Springtime in Texas, that all I want to do is leave, so I guess Autumn is my favourite season here.

Matt’s parents bought a ranch in Stockdale, Texas when he was a kid as an investment for his college fund. He didn’t use it, so they still have the ranch. It’s just over 100 acres, about 40 minutes away from our house. I love it out there because it’s all red dirt and reminds me of the Australian outback. The only difference is all the cactus and oil wells.

We’ve spent the last couple of months cleaning up the ranch so we can actually go camping out there. It’s primitive camping. No water or electricity. However, Matt had them run a meter a couple of weeks ago, so we’ve now got  electricity. We also rigged up a water tank. Matt had one of his old jet ski trailers laying around, so he put a 120 gallon water tank on it to take with us. We went to the RV store, got a small pump, attached a shower hose, and now we’ve got an outdoor shower!

Last weekend was the first time we actually went and camped down there. We had a 24ft enclosed trailer with AC which we put all our stuff in; food, chairs, the 4 wheeler and then we took tents to sleep in. Matt invited the folks from the Jeep Club to come on down too. A few people turned up the second day we were down there.

The first night I set up the tent, Matt assured me we didn’t need the fly. It was going to be cool, and we weren’t expecting rain. The tent had just mesh on top, so you could lay there and look at the stars. Towards the morning, he kept poking me because he thought I was farting. (I do that in my sleep) But, it wasn’t me. It was the condensation and the dew on the inside of the tent plopping on the tent floor. The second night he let me put up the fly. The first night he was also worried because we rent the ranch out to a guy with cattle, and thoughout the night we kept hearing the cows mooing getting louder and louder. At one point, Matt got up and moved the jeep closer to the tent so it was blocking the path between the tress, the trailer and us. When I got up in the morning to go find a tree,  I was surrounded by cows getting closer as the were curious while I popped a squat. Better than rattlesnakes I guess….

Maya loves going down to the ranch with us. She gets so excited when she sees us packing to go anywhere, and anytime while down there we go 4 wheeling, she runs up to the jeep wanting to go with. You’d think she’d hate it because she gets bounced all over the place, but she loves it. She also loves the ranch because we let her run free. Everywhere else we keep her on a leash and she loves all the news smells out there. At night we keep her close though since we’re worried about her getting taking by a coyote. Hawks are always a danger during the day, so if we see any circling, we keep her in sight. The first few times we took her down there I was worried about her running off, but now she just seems to follow us around and really doesn’t wander off too far. It’s funny watching her try to get into the tent during the day. She likes to sleep in comfy places, so we have a bed for her in the trailer too, but she prefers the air mattress… She’s such a little snob. At night I bring her bed into the tent, but then daddy lets her crawl in under the covers with us. He likes her keeping his feet warm as much as she likes to be close to us.

So the whole weekend turned out pretty nice. It was Columbus Day weekend, and Matt had taken Friday off, so we got in 3 days down there. We though about spending Sunday night too, but we both had to be to work early, so we came home Sunday afternoon to get everything cleaned up. Now that it’s all set up, I think we’ll be spending a lot more time down there. We’ve already organised a big trip for Matt’s birthday weekend in December. By then, most of the insects should be gone, it will be nice and cool out and watching the stars by the fire will be awesome. Living in the city, we don’t see many stars, but out at the ranch, you can see the entire milky way and so many shooting stars and meteors. One of the other jeepers brought his kids down just to see the stars. It was pretty awesome.

So, now I’m looking forward to the next couple months. We’re heading on a train trip with Matt’s parents up north of Austin next weekend. The Hill Country in Fall in supposed to be beautiful. Then, back down to the ranch.

The best thing about heading out to the wilderness is getting back to nature. No TV, no internet, no noisy neighbours and seeing a million stars. It also makes you appreciate the little things in life when you get back home again. Like indoor plumbing.




You know how most people don’t like their in-laws?

Thankfully, I do not have this problem. Growing up in Oz, I had 11 cousins on my Dad’s side. I don’t know how many are on my Mum’s side. She doesn’t like her family, so we really didn’t get to know them. I only knew her parents because we would go stay with them and they used to babysit me a lot. I knew she had a sister that died when she was a kid, and an older brother. I found out recently that there was in fact 2 older brothers…. The only other person on her side that I ever talked to was my cousin Allan. I always liked him, but Mum didn’t like us talking to anyone from her family, so we didn’t see him much. She hates her family so much, she didn’t even go to her own dad’s funeral…

Dad was one of 3. He was the youngest. His oldest brother had 5 kids and his sister had 4. We spent most holidays together. My aunt had a pool and so Christmas was usually at her house so we could all splash around. I remember getting together for Xmas and Easter but not many other holidays. My brother is 6 years older than me. I love him with all my heart, but we’re really not that close. I am the baby of all the cousins. Like everyone, I have my favourites. (That’s you Matthew and Julie!) However, I’ve lived here for 10 years now, and not a single relative has visited me. I bet if I lived in Hawaii, LA nor NYC, I’d be swamped with visiting relatives. I do have one Aunt who does write me nice cards and emails me. Thanks Aunty Helen. I love getting mail from you. Otherwise, I get left out of the loop. A few years ago, someone had mentioned my uncle was sick. I was one the phone home and I asked about him. Turns out he had died about 4 months earlier and nobody bothered to tell me…. I had to tell my Mum she couldn’t email me when someone died, she had to pick up the phone and call… We all have Skype. They still don’t keep me in the loop.

Matt has a large family. His dad is one of NINE kids. So when we get together for holidays, it’s HUGE and they get together for every hallmark holiday. I first met them all at his family reunion. There was about 50 people there for me to meet all at once. Matt’s an only child, and his cousins are a few years younger or older, so there’s really not anyone right around his age he grew up with. He always preferred hanging out with the adults. They like to bicker amongst each other and play favourites. It’s quite amusing. His grandpa was a sailor in WWII and is one of the sweetest people ever. His grandma was a nurse. It’s like an old Hollywood movie.

The only thing I didn’t like about all the get togethers is that they are all huggers. They want to hug you when you walk in, they’ll hug you again when you leave. They may not seem like a big deal, but when there’s 40 people in a room, and they all want to hug you, it gets a bit much, especially when you’re not a hugger. I’m fairly big on my personal space. I don’t mind kissing someone on the cheek. I’ll gladly shake your hand. But I really don’t like to hug people. I’ve gotten used to it, and I’ll hug a close friend. But to have to walk around a large room and hug everyone is just silly. I almost had them trained to just shake my hand, but there’s one uncle who insists on grabbing that extended hand, pulling me in and bear hugging me. There’s one other foreign in-law. An Aunt from France. She’s not a hugger either. One day, they were talking about her behind her back, bitching about how she didn’t like to hug. That’s when I just let it out that I didn’t like to hug them either. They all looked at me like I was crazy. Oh well. At least I’m honest about it.

We used to hang out with them more, but lately, we’re taking them in smaller doses. Several of the Aunts have been mean to Matt’s mum, so we’re boycotting them. I’ve just learnt to accept their bickering and find amusement in it. Since his head injury, Matt’s not so tolerant. Funny how just as I get over the hugging, he says we don’t have to go anymore….

We do hang out with Matt’s parents a lot. I’d say we eat with them at least once a week. I’m not sure how to describe them. His Mom is a cross between Leave it to Beaver and the Mom on That’s 70’s show. She’s super nurturing and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad word come out of her mouth about anybody. So it was highly amusing the other day when they came over to dinner at our house and she saw the cookbook out on the table. Matt had wanted to see the recipe for potato salad which was in the book. But when she saw the title, she questioned it. It was the Australian Women’s Weekly Beginners Cookbook. Now, bear in mind, I had just cooked a roast duck. I’ve worked in restaurant kitchens for years, including some 5 star restaurants. I make killer dishes for the family get-togethers. So, she looks down, and ever so sweetly confused, says, “Why do YOU have a beginners cookbook?” I explain that I had asked my mother for a cookbook one year, with Australian recipes in it. Now, she gets even more confused. “Why would your mother buy you a beginners cookbook?” At this point, you can see that slight shake of the head, with that does that person know this girl at all? look. It was highly amusing. Matt had to explain that a lot of the recipes that I was looking for were in that book, but I was however happy that my mother in law recognized that I was in no way a “beginner” cook and had no qualms in saying so. Truthfully, I had been slightly thrown when my mother gave me the beginners book. For some reason, she thinks my brother is a gourmet chef and I just make crap food. I think my mother in law knows and loves me way more than my mother back in Oz. I’m grateful every day that I lucked out and got such a great MIL. So many people have horror stories about their MIL. I love mine dearly and we hang out even when Matt’s out of town on business.

So I quite enjoy being over here. Even though sometimes I get sick of having to be the one to cook all the time, I do enjoy that everyone over here loves my food. People always ask what I’m going to be bringing. Our friends ask when we’re doing another party, since I always cook. My Aussie friends always ask me to make meat pies and sausage rolls. After our friends go hunting, they bring me the deer to butcher, and then I make some great backstrap for us all.

Sometimes I wish I could see my relatives in Oz more often, but after 10 years here and having made the trip home several times and nobody coming here, I’ve gotten happy with the idea that at least over here people like me for who I am.  Who I really am, now. Not who I used to be, or who people perceive me to be. They don’t know about Hey Dad..! or that I’m some former child star.  My in-laws accept me for being some strange foreigner with weird taste in food who doesn’t like to hug. I accept them as weird Americans who like to be way too into each others business and personal space.  But, the most important thing is that we accept each other. Nobody’s perfect. I know I’m not. I don’t expect others to be. It’s our flaws that make us interesting and endearing to each other.

I just wish some people in my family back in Oz understood that.


G’day, Hallo, Hola, Ciao, こんにちは, مرحبا

Hello out there!

As I’ve said over on my ShrimpTank blog, one of my favourite plugins on WordPress is the Visitor Maps.

I’m getting a lot of visits from countries I never thought I’d get hits from, so I’d like to say a big Howdy to all of you!

I expected a few Aussie’s and Germans to be visiting, but it’s always interesting to see hits from places like Libya, Mexico and Japan. It also shows how many times someone has visited as well as where they were before coming to my site. So I can see what search they performed or what forum has linked to my site. I know I can do all this with google analytics, (and I do) but the visitor map is much more fun. It’s right there in my dashboard and I can see instantly when I’ve sent out a tweet and it’s bringing people back to my site.

I guess most of the American hits I get on my site are either other Aussie expats or twitter bugs. The Germans all seem to come from Hey Dad..! searches and the Aussie’s are obvious. I can only guess who the 100 hits from Singapore are from…. But who’s the person in Japan who’s visited me almost 200 times and why the sudden interest from Libya? Was Hey Dad..! ever shown there? I remember in one episode we made a reference to Gadafi. “The despot, not the duck.”

Anyway, I’m fascinated by all of you and why you’ve chosen to spend a couple of minutes checking me out. So leave me a message. Ask me a question. Just say hi!

Don’t just cyberstalk me, feel free to communicate with me. As long as it’s not about the case, which I can’t comment on for legal reasons, I’ll talk back. I’ll answer your questions. Whether you want to know about the weather in Texas or my favourite dessert, just ask!


Springtime in Texas

Texas in Springtime is beautiful. All the wildflowers come out, in reds, blue, yellows and if you’re lucky, fields of rainbows.

The other great thing is this is when all the quirky festivals start. Growing up, you’d see all those movies about small town life in America, with the corn festival, or the local fair or carnival. Around where we live, there are dozens of them.

This weekend was the Poteet Strawberry Festival. South of San Antonio is the “Strawberry Capital of Texas”. Every year on the weekend of my birthday, they have a huge event. There’s all kind of carnival rides, food galore and of course, everything strawberry that you can imagine. I started off with a Strawberry Margarita, had a turkey leg, then chocolate dipped strawberries and a Strawberry Shortcake. Thoroughly stuffed, we walked around all the vendors. People had home made jams, salsas and BBQ sauces. There was everything from parasols, clothing and then I saw something that caught my eye.

While talking to the police in Sydney, they told me that the mascot for their squadron was the scorpion. Reason? The scorpion is the natural enemy of the rock spider. Well, guess what I was wearing home?