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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Cat~astrophe.

Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be. ~ Clemintine Paddleford This is Kirby. Kirby is the world's dorkiest cat.

Sunday being chicken day, the boys were beside themselves, fawning all over our guests & everyone else ~ as they do. It was worse than usual on Sunday because the girls had gone overseas to the morning service & it was Dearest who broke up the chicken. Dearest does not hoard scraps to sate the boys the way Ditz always does. Dearest does not spoil the boys the way their alpha females do. In point of fact there was quite a lot of chicken left over when Dino came home from cricket & being the half starved man that he is he promptly reheated all the leftovers. Unfortunately he left his scraps on his plate instead of disposing of them & before I discovered this Kirby had discovered them! He thought all his Sundays had come at once!

Now I have kept cats all my life & I certainly know better than to let any cat have cooked chicken bones. The boys think I'm mean but I am always careful to dispose of the scraps where the boys can't get at them ~ & Kirby certainly knows this. He was in a hurry to scoff every last scrap before he was discovered & threatened with annihilation. In his greed & hurry he tried scoffing this...
Yep. That's the wishbone. It wedged halfway down his gullet on a Sunday evening on the island! We spent a disturbed night listening to our cat hawk & cough & spit in his effort to spit this back up. First thing Monday morning I rang the vet & rounded Kirby up. He was not a happy boy but it was Marlow who became psychotic in his distress & fell apart completely when I lugged Kirby out to the car, in the carrier, & disappeared with Ditz & him.
Four hours later & considerably lighter in the wallet I lugged him back home again. In his relief at getting everyone back together again Marlow curled up with a drugged Kirby in my chair. I know I have one very relieved & happy Kirby because I was woken this morning by a whiskery face being pushed into mine, a wet nose pushed into mine & catty kisses. I had to duck for cover so Kirby sat on my head instead & purred.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Special Needs Marriages.

"I take Thee to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; & thereto I plight thee my troth."

Where is the little girl who hasn't dreamt of the knight in shining armour & the white wedding gown, the woman who hasn't shed a tear as two all too human beings plight their troth before God & man? People don't get married so they can declare marital warfare on each other. They may get married for the wrong reason, or for selfish reasons, from boredom or fear or because all their friends are getting married but the general idea is that they have found one person with whom they desire to share intimately for the rest of their life.

Australia's divorce rate stands at one in three.

So what goes wrong? If there is one thing I would like to scream from the roof tops it is this: Love is not a noun & passive; it is a verb & active!

The truth is most of us are not destined for greatness. Most of us won't be called to do anything much out of the ordinary ~ & there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. That is exactly what gives a nation stability. All marriages have their challenges but some have special challenges. So it is in our marriages more than anywhere else we will find ourselves in the Refiner's Fire.

The marriage vows from the Book of Common Prayer are very noble but down in the trenches amongst the nitty~gritty things can look very different than they do before a church altar with the candles & the incense & the hopeful air of expectancy.

Somewhere along the way Christians got the mistaken idea that they were going to get an easier ride than the Plebs, that their marriages were sacrosanct, that somehow the various trials & tribulations that are the common lot of mankind would not afflict them...& it just ain't so!

Now I am not talking here of marriages where one or both partners enter into wilful sin: pornography, adultery, abandonment. Nope. That is a choice. Rather I have in mind all the other things over which a person has absolutely no control but somehow have to find the strength to live with & deal with day, after day, after day: the partner who becomes mentally ill & whose behaviour becomes erratic & unpredictable; the partner, who through no fault of their own, loses their income plunging the entire family into financial crisis; the strong healthy partner who has worked hard physically all their life & suddenly finds themselves jobless, medicated, in constant pain & confined to the house where they feel underfoot & cut off from the world; the partner who contracts the sort of disease that necessities constant trips to the hospital for treatment, or prolonged stays away from the family; the partner who through medication or accident ends up as little more than a vegetable unable to participate in family life or contribute to decision making; the partners who desire a child & can't conceive & the ones who's child is different to the perceived norm. Any or all of these things can strain a marriage to breaking point & Christians are not immune but Paul says succinctly that marriage is honourable & to be esteemed by all.

A couple of things come to mind about Special Needs Marriages. Firstly I always remember Hosea. You remember Hosea, don't you? God told Hosea to marry the prostitute Gomer & she led him a pretty dance all around town. Just because your marriage may not be picture book perfect does not mean God doesn't have a stake in it. Indeed he may have more of a stake in it because He wants to shine His light & glory through you & your circumstances as a witness & a testimony & as Jillian pointed out in her post on the refiner's fire, when things start heating up God never takes his eyes off you for even a moment! He is, however, refining you as silver or gold, getting rid of the impurities that distort His image in you.

Words are easy to say. Love is an action. When you have to care for a partner day after day, wash them, dress them, medicate them, it is a challenge to continue to do so in a loving & God honouring way. It is tempting to envy those with strong, healthy partners & to long for the personal freedoms such a relationship gives. It is a challenge to deal with the mental confusion & delusions of the mentally unstable with constant compassion. It is frustrating to see the same things repeat again & again with no end in sight but we are not to lose hope for God is our Hope & our sustainer. It can be isolating because people are afraid of what they don't understand, of what is abnormal to them & may not understand the sort of crisis that can lead to the sudden cancellation of plans, delays in meeting appointments & deadlines, the mental & physical weariness that comes with constantly carrying someone else's burden.

The marriage self help books are not for Special Needs Marriages. They can be down right discouraging. Seriously. You cannot plan a romantic night out followed by intimacy with a partner who is bedridden, or having a psychotic episode, or vegetative. You may not even be able to have a sane conversation so forget the communicative advice! They may not be capable of taking their place as the spiritual head of the family & it falls by default to the woman to lead her household.

I have a sneaking suspicion God doesn't view marriage the same way we do. He has no romantic delusions about it. He views it as a covenant contract & those marriages that are less than perfect but hold & love just the same are a perfect image of the marriage contract God has made with His church. We may be broken, unstable, delusional, sinful, broke but God always acts towards us as His dearly beloved bride as if we were indeed pure & whole.

Sisters: if you know of a Special Needs Marriage the very least you can do is pray for them. They need your prayers. Bless them if you can, remembering there are multiple ways to ease their burden by taking their children for an hour or so so mum can catch up on chores or have a quiet hour out; a home cooked meal that can be frozen & saved for a night when everything has gone catawumpus & everyone needs a good feed but are too tired to prepare it; visit & ignore the state of the house, or those things about her partner that may upset & frighten you; sit with the partner &/ or children so she can shop unencumbered & worried; little gifts to show you care will be appreciated out of proportion to the size of the gift. Being different can be exclusive but we are the household of God & called upon to bear each others burdens in love.

Lastly, if you have a good marriage & a healthy loving partner, thank God every day because there but for His grace, go you!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

There is no sincerer love than the love of food. ~ George Bernard Shaw.

While the rain drizzled down & our temperature did things no good sub~tropical climate should ever do & the cats draped themselves around the heater the way cats do, Dearest & I plodded along with sorting his stamps for the stock books. It is a mindless task rather reminiscent of doing a large complicated jigsaw, & like a jig~saw becomes compulsive. I won't do the footy stars or locomotives; they all look the same to me. Everything else I can wade through. Australia has a huge variety of stamps. Probably Australia Post's only source of revenue. Luckily the vast majority of them are really pretty, which helps, & I can get through a lot of stamps in a short amount of time.
Meanwhile the girls put on the radio & retreated to the kitchen. Anyone who knows my Liddy knows she completely adores her food. No idea where she got this obsession from; not from me!
It's been a while since they've had a really big cook up but the results were yummy: caramel nut slice; banana cake; apricot balls & raspberry cheesecake.
Yeah, that's a heart. Ditz gets creative sometimes. At one point I was called over to admire her melting heart [a butter heart in a hot pot] *sigh*

Friday, May 28, 2010

The rain clouds slunk down the bay from the nor'east yesterday, gradually blotting out sky & mangroves, islands & sand banks, enclosing the world in a leaky grey cauldron.
The cats were not impressed. The important morning activity of staring bug~eyed into the ferns was severly curtailed.

Marlow was definitely not impressed. Meanwhile Ditz & I curled up on the lounge to watch the movie version of To Kill A Mockingbird. Needless to say it didn't impress Ditz. For starters it is in B&W, an effect I rather like. Ditz nearly died. Wonder how she would have coped in the good old days when the only sort of T.V came in B&W?

I have nothing to say. How unusual is that?! It is wet & cold & rather miserable & all the jointed bits of me feel old & want to ache. If I can find any chocolate in this house it's mine!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Practical Math.

I never did very well in math ~ I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn't meant my answers literally. ~ Calvin Trillin
You all remember that Ditz & I aren't so good in the math department, don't you? And this semester's math was practical application? Of course you do!

Ever wonder how I get away with the attitude I have when there's a man in the house? I'll tell you how. He's worse than I am! In all seriousness. Dearest is the Practical Man ~ & he's detail oriented. Drives me insane BUT...

Ditz, having waded through yet another syllabus where she gets to practise but never apply all this theoretical math got her come~uppance from Her Father, who in his infinite wisdom decided it was time to upgrade our t.v, now before all the digital changes actually take effect ~ & the person he decided was best suited to do all the on~line research, compare & contrast etc was...wait for it...DITZ!

I had nothing to do with this. I so rarely watch the t.v the last thing I am interested in is purchasing another, bigger, better & brighter model but like many men, Dearest loves his sport & as both Liddy & Dino informed me, there is the World Cup this year & even I crawl out of bed at unmentionable hours to watch our favourites get done over like dog's dinners.

I also need to point out that despite the fact Dearest is now the proud owner of 3, yes THREE, blogs, he is almost completely computer illiterate. [ so no, he doesn't maintain his own blogs] I think he knows how to turn the thing on ~ & so long as no~one has fiddled he can get to his sites & his forum & at a pinch he can type in a comment but he still has trouble uploading & downloading his pictures, he forgets things like signing in & then blames the computer for not working ~ & he can't e~mail. Nor can he work out how the search button operates so he went into cahoots with Ditz while I was sleeping the sleep of the deserving.

Would you let your 14 year old do this? If you're a homeschooler you actually might. Dearest put Ditz in charge, told her what he wanted, told her how much she had to spend, gave her her size restrictions & let her rip. When she had made a decision she had to justify it to him & he ok'd her choice. When I got up they were waiting for me like 2 eager puppies pretty pleased with themselves but wanting my debit card so they could actually implement the purchase. Yep, Ditz had to do all that bit too! As a consequence the package is coming in her name ~ & she is carefully monitoring progress via the tracking code.

Did she do good? Oh yeah! Will she remember anything? More than she will from her books. The thing is though, my Ditz can be a very practical little bunny but there are times I really can do without the practical application. I have no problems when Ditz is applying her common sense to buying a pair of jeans, which we did on Wednesday before choir, but I really object to being told it is cheaper to buy a set of sheets rather than just a fitted sheet. I do know a set is cheaper but the fact of the matter is it is not really cheaper in my house because absolutely no~one sleeps with a top sheet & the tops sheets languish unused in my cupboards & take up room that could be better utilised. Nope, we're a household of bottom sheets & doonas so, no, Ditz, I am not buying a set no matter what the price tag says! I can't win any way I jump.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A little of this & that.

Liddy is home ~ bearing gifts. I don't often wear bracelets but aren't the colours pretty?! Ear~rings I do wear. Long & dangly ear~rings. It's my one girly vanity. I wouldn't have chosen the colours but they looked really lovely on & I shall wear them today when we go out.
The boys know to~day is the day they find themselves abandoned for hours on end. Kirby began making a statement last night by sprawling in my chair.

Later they tried the old dominance trick. If they sit here they are both right beside me but higher than I am. Hm.

We have been getting winter mizzling rain & it has brought all the small birds out. Sorry the shot is so bad but it was taken through our rather grubby windows ~ for which I feel no guilt at all. If I clean them the doves & pigeons commit hari~kari & everything else brains itself & becomes a temptation for the cats. If I leave them grubby we get what happened yesterday: the willy~wagtails & flycatchers come in & feed off the cobwebs & play in the bird bath. The willy~wagtails are absolutely delightful in & of themselves, so cheeky & playful, but I get another thrill because they are ecologically sensitive & the first bird to disappear when an environment starts to go downhill. That we have a breeding pair says volumes about our garden & I am absolutely thrilled to bits!
Last week I indulged & bought Philippa Gregory's new book: The White Queen. I nearly didn't. The Plantagenet's & Tudors were absolutely frightful & it's right out of the period of history I really like & know a little something about. What I do know about this period appalls me. Not all the head chopping that went on, & there was certainly plenty of that, but the religious hypocrisy. I've never been able to get my head round all those whopping great churches, the churches iron grip on the monarchy yet the aristocracy running round totally immoral while pretending not to & tut~tutting like mad whenever anyone got found out. Yet everybody had very vivid impressions of Heaven & Hell. Too weird making.

Actually there is nothing about this period of history that I like. The fashions are awful, the living arrangements draughty, life expectancy short & there was a huge family bru~ha~ha about who was actually going to rule England ~ & it went on for years & years ~ & years! About the only thing I've ever found to like is the music & I'm really incredibly ignorant about that.

Anyway I picked up The Other Boleyn Girl before it became a movie & was much talked about & really enjoyed Gregory's easy to read & informative style ~ as well as the fact she gave the history from the women's point of view, & a fairly unknown girl as well. Yes, we all know I like my history odd. So, on the strength of The Other Boleyn Girl I was fairly certain The White Queen would be highly readable ~ & so it is proving. Mind you, it is confirming what I always knew ~ those Plantagenets & Tudors were a nasty lot!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? Traditional

I'm not complaining, really I'm not...well, actually I am. *sigh* I know, I know. If I will keep cats, especially cats like Kirby, then the odd victim is bound to land on my doorstep. He looks so sweet. Such a pretty cat but he is totally feral.

Having one of my boys home I am constantly losing a cat outside after I have safely brought them in for the night & it is always Kirby who escapes & it is Kirby who hunts. Dino just doesn't see why I insist on the cats coming in at night but tonight is why. EEEEEW! Sooo, so, gross.

Now keeping cats I expect to have to rescue the odd bird, a stray bandicoot or two, even the occasional snake & we all know I'm a sucker for those itsy~bitsy field mice with their black button eyes & twitchety whiskers. The cats can take down all the rats they can catch & those huge ugly mice that look like they're seriously on steroids. That's what I keep cats for. I seriously do not like vermin. What they do out of my sight & I never know about is unlikely to bother me. If they behave like rabid nut cases in plain view I have serious issues.

It's not that this mouse was the size of the Sydney Opera House ~ more or less. We all know how phobias enlarge things out of proportion. No. It was large but very, very dead. Believe me this is a good thing. The dead bit seemed to have completely escaped Kirby's attention. He was tossing that body about like a pro ball player. This is a cat thing & I might have coped if that's all he was doing. Simply remove one's cat, dispose of the body & while the cat may run round dementedly sniffing the ground there is no real issue. It was the removing the cat bit that got decidedly icky.

Why do I end up with cats that act more like a dog ~ notably beagles, who are notorious for rolling round in the smelliest things they can find ~ & believe me, they find them! Yep. Kirby was madly in love with his prize. He was rubbing himself all over the body in an absolute frenzy. Oh, pleeeese. There is no way! Absolutely. no. way. that cat is coming anywhere near my face!

Worse, nary a man in sight when I need one so I lit the fire & disposed of the body that way from the end of a very long handled shovel. Worse, Marlow watched these antics & I could just see him thinking he now has a point to make & the next body to land on my doorstep is likely to be even bigger! Is it too late to go all Victorian & swoon?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Splish~splash, mish~mash.

You should not be here ~ Neytiri, Avatar.

Certifiably insane. I'm pretty sure.

Saturdays are often busy. We're playing soccer again, which is good, I guess. At least it's good in parts. Playing with hormonal teen boys is occasionally a little fraught & after Saturday's fisticuffs when half the players walked off the pitch we only got half a game anyway. Ditz & I just waited things out & then toddled home.

I was looking forward to a hot shower & some down time but Ditz had other plans. Someone was running a movie night on the cricket pitch. I wasn't going down for Brother Bear. I'm not a big fan of animation, even good animation, but I did let Ditz talk me into taking her down for Avatar. I'm not sure why. Ditz & Liddy saw this at the movies & I wasn't real keen but I knew Ditz had really enjoyed it. I see why. The special effects & visuals are absolutely amazing but what is Wednesday's quote? Your work is puerile & under dramatised. You lack any sense of structure, character & the Aristotelian unities. Pretty much sums it up for me. Can't see what all the fuss is about but I am hard to please & it's just not my sort of thing. I know. You would think it would be but despite the thin line between sci~fi & fantasy I am rarely attracted to sci~fi. I just couldn't care about any of the characters so nothing about this movie really worked for me. There really is nothing to say about it. I found it banal.

Maybe I was just too cold. It was absolutely freezing on the cricket pitch. Sian, if you are reading, I wore my Springbrook beanie, yes the one with the blue feathers that you swore I would never be game to wear out in public; I told you I would. And lovely & warm it was too.

Dino is home; Liddy is coming. I think I am happy about that. Full house again.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hearing from God.

And after the earthquake a fire but The Lord was not in the fire: & after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:12

I'm an experiential Christian. So long as something isn't actually unscriptual I'll try it at least once. Nor is this more true than in the area of prayer because I have serious issues with thinking I am just talking to myself. I prefer conversations. I think God does too.

Because I am experiential I tend to think other Christians think the same &, you know, often they don't. Surprise, surprise. This has been in my face a bit because I have an acquaintance, definitely not a kindred spirit, who asks me mind boggler's like, "How do I know Liddy's a committed Christian?" & " What do I mean I hear from God?" My instinctive reaction is, " What? You mean you don't hear from God? Then why on earth do you pray?!" I suspect my acquaintance means only yeses classify as answers from God but I could be wrong about that.

I also know God is God, you know. Just when I think I've got Him all worked out & we're good to go He pulls the rug out from under my feet but this far down the track with God I've reached the point where I know God can respond to prayer in absolutely any way he chooses to. Scripture is good, nice solid ground to stand on, but less & less is this the only way God communicates with me. The old Quaker saying , "Way will open" is one way. Sometimes doors just slam shut & you know something's not a goer. Other times you just have to wait on the way opening. You know it will but God's not on my timetable.

Prayer is more than just praise & petition, though those are aspects of prayer. It is not just intercession, though standing in the gap is an important work & I have the utmost respect for intercessors. It is also listening, hearing, understanding. A pricking conscience can lead us into prayer. It's one reason God placed a conscience there. Similar, but not the same, is the weight of the Lord's hand between my shoulderblades. This usually comes as an absolute propulsion to stand up & declare the word of the Lord ~& it can come at the most inopportune times.

There are the one~offs. When I returned home after my father died, exhausted by grief & the practicalities of getting myself home down the highway, too shattered to deal with anyone or anything, I opened my bible randomly, something I do a lot but rarely with such results, & found my thumb resting on Psalm 68:5 ~ Father of the fatherless & protector of widows is God in His holy habitation.

I have heard from the Lord in dreams. In meditation He may show me things in pictures. More rarely, but the times I treasure most, He has manifested his presence as Love & spoken aloud & if I could have my way I can assure you I would let the world go to pot & dwell in the Shadow of the Almighty forever.

Now my acquaintance thinks I'm completely heretical ~ & I never did get round to discussing the issue of tongues with her ~ but I have scriptual evidence for absolutely every way the Lord has ever communicated with me. I have done the whole Job thing & absolutely ranted & raved like a lunatic at God ~ & He was gracious to me. I have wrestled with God like Jacob did & been overcome. Joseph dreamed. The prophets prophesied. I am slow of understanding & not always obedient but God & I, we continue this dance where I try & listen for His voice amongst all the babbling of the world & He tries to calm me long enough to hear Him for He has promised that His sheep know His voice.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up. ~ Robert Frost.

One of the first things you learn as a parent, particularly as the parent of teens, is: never ever cede ground unless you are absolutely certain you can afford to because you will never get it back. It makes for cautious parents & rambunctious teens but there you have it. Never even hint you may cede ground because the pressure will mount in proportion to how big a hint it was.

So having ceded ground on so large an issue as their child sailing solo & unassisted around the world, how do Jessica Watson's parents parent her through the rest of her teens? Seriously. How do you now tell a child [ & legally she is still a child, technically not able to drive a car unsupervised, have a drink at the pub, vote or join the armed forces] who has risked her life battling 40 foot seas & been totally responsible for her own welfare for 210 days, that maybe her most recent decision is not as mature & reasonable as she thinks?

One thing is absolutely certain; Jessica Watson is not the same child she was when she sailed out of Sydney Harbour. She is older & has faced the sort of life & death situations many of us never face until we are much older. That does not necessarily make her wiser. Or more mature. Or even sensible. Teens mature unevenly. Granted, boys on the whole are worse. There is a very good biological reason why Jewish men weren't allowed to serve in the temple until they were 25 yrs old! I've had boys, & boys with more nautical experience than Jessica & I would tell you straight up, nothing in this world would induce me to get into a boat with any of my sons & sail around the world. Let's face it; I'm reluctant to get into a car with them.

This bothers me. I dread teaching Ditz to drive. She may surprise me but somehow I'm pretty sure I have her pegged right as a ditzy driver. Yikes! Mind you, I could trust her down to her bare skin to be cool calm & collected on any stage in the world. Jessica is one child & she has done an amazing thing but the stats still show that the majority of teens don't always make wise choices ~or have the experience to do well when things go catawumpus. That's why their car insurance is higher than mine. That's why more of them die on our roads.

I think Jessica's parents are now in an awful position. Their daughter now holds all the high cards: an independent income, a high estimation of her own self sufficiency, a she's been encouraged to pursue a completely independent course of action in something really big so why would she listen on smaller matters? How does she return to *normal*? And the fact is even those who have done great things have to return to *normal*. Not everyone manages it, & of those who do, not everyone manages it well.

Nah. Every way I look at it this whole venture gives me nightmares.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A dog is a dog, a bird is a bird & a cat is a person ~ Mugsy Peabody.
The boys are waxing sleek & glossy. They look enormous & have bear~sized paws but they are mostly fur & I dread to think what they will be like when they begin to moult in spring!

However a long day out from Ditz & I did not make them happy & they spent yesterday keeping a very sharp eye on me indeed. Kirby likes the dryer beside the computer from whence he can keep an eye on both me & the food dishes all at once. Every so often he lands in my lap, crawls all over me in affection then feeds his face. At times I dread that his carnivorous instincts will get the better of his good manners & my face will feed his but so far it hasn't happened.

Marlow takes up residence on the printer ~ which was in use yesterday. He was fascinated as the paper disappeared & paw & nose both followed. Luckily the gap wasn't big enough to accommodate him.

It is a little disconcerting to be so thoroughly chaperoned by something so small & furry but it is nice to be loved & missed & it makes coming home into an Event.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday's Outing.

Cait Blanchett is really brave! She kissed Russell Crowe!. Eeeew ~ Ditz
Wednesdays are choir days. Without the car we do a lot more waiting around & I realised something. Once Liddy got her lisence it was usually Liddy & Ditz who went to the movies together ~ or to church or anywhere else for that matter. It had been a long, long time since I had taken Ditz anywhere just for fun. One reason, of course, is simply that Liddy had the car on weekends & of course anything Ditz was remotely interested in doing Liddy organised. No wonder two such very different girls are so remarkably close.

Anyway I realised there are a number of movies around just now that we both wanted to see & if we go to the mainland early on Wednesday we can squeeze in a morning session before going on to singing. Being the good mummy that I am I dutifully checked movie times & bus timetables & off we toddled ~ to the cats' absolute horror!

Ditz kept asking me if I was excited so maybe she was ~ just a little. We had opted to see Robin Hood with Cait Blanchett & Russell Crowe. Why not? A good English tale full of Aussie actors. Mind you, Ditz usually avoids seeing these sorts of movies with me because I am likely to sit there & go completely rank at all the historical inaccuracies but she must have been feeling brave yesterday ~ or she simply had one of her regular brain farts & it never once crossed her mind. Whatever it was it was Robin Hood we went to see.

Now I have never seen Cait Blanchett be anything other than stunningly beautiful & totally convincing as an actress ~ no matter what part she is playing. Russell Crowe on the other hand did not make a very convincing Robin Hood. My opinion. The critics I've read seem to think otherwise. Perhaps it is merely that overall I found this film really, really disjointed & extremely uneven. It bounced all over the place in France at the start so we kept getting subtitles up saying where we were ~ which means nothing unless you have a much better grasp of geography than Ditz does ~ & presupposes one has at least the rudiments of the historical background. Let's just say Ditz had heard of Richard Cour de Lion before & leave it at that ~ though not for want of trying on my part. It also left out all the messy & unflattering things about Richard ~ which make him a more understandable & rounded figure ~ his sexual preferences, his dislike of England, the fact he never wanted to rule there, his reluctance to return & rule. Why the English have always so adored him rather escapes my understanding but they do.

Nor do I understand why this particular story ends up with at least one actor camping up their part to the point of lunacy. This time round it was Oscar Isaac as Prince John. Sorry but the spoilt brat number [& there is no doubt in my mind John had an extremely large chip on his shoulder] was rather over done.

Were there things to like? Surprisingly yes! The action shots of Medieval warfare were exciting & made you feel you were right there in the midst of the noise & confusion. Watching how the archers were directed & a castle fired was fascinating. I at least appreciated the historical background & that Robin was put into context for once. There were some lovely scenes of Medieval farming & living arrangements. Someone was meticulous with their background detail. When the story settled down in England the disjointedness dissipated somewhat but I still felt too much was squeezed into too little time. A good editor was needed or more care taken with the original structure of the screenplay. Oh, & there was Mark Addy as Friar Tuck! Such a small part but so well done! Conveyed an awful lot more than was actually scripted by the way he tackled his part. Really well done. As I said, a rather uneven movie & I wouldn't actually recommend paying for it at the movies. Wait till it comes out on DVD & goes into the cheapie pile.

Anyway we reeled out of the movie theatre with our ears ringing from all the clanging swords & smoke of warfare & toddled into town only to find out singing had been cancelled. Most of the choir is down with the flu it seems. Oh well. Ditz & I went to the Gelato shop & indulged. Pistachio for me; caramelo & Rocky Road for Ditz. Ditz's was too sweet for words & I was so pleased I hadn't ordered either of those. We ate them as we wandered off towards the hospital to visit Dino who is still hooked up to drips & things & totally bored out of his brain. We handed over his phone charger so he could be a little less bored, declined to eat the hospital dinner he was too ill to even think of eating, chatted for a little while, then headed home. It took hours & hours. Why is it these things happen when we no longer have personal transport?!

Dearest was relieved to see us. The cats go into meltdown when all their women leave home & Dearest had been loved to death, poor man.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Morning has broken.

Climb up on some hill at sunrise. Everybody needs some perspective once in a while, & you'll find it there. Robb Sagendorph
Winter sunrises: short, sharp, vibrant.
Within seconds the colours are fading.

Liddy, of course, is still playing with her alpacas. Instead we got to play with our sons. There are easier things in this world. Theo arrived for a flying visit from Hamilton & disrupted the entire household for one night. Dino arrived home with him & promptly landed himself in hospital. I believe he will be all right but just how do you poison yourself with your own bait? Life is full of unanswerable questions when you have sons.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another unpopular opinion

Anything really is possible ~ Jessica Watson.
Like the rest of Australia it seems I watched 16 yr old Jessica Watson sail through Sydney Heads on Saturday to complete her solo round~the~world trip. I think what she did was amazing & brave & lots of other adjectives but....I also think it was incredibly stupid, irresponsible of her parents & thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach.

Why? Well I'm an old sailor. I could just about sail before I could walk. I've sailed dinghies & cats & Cherubs & Moths. I've sailed large mono hulls. I've been the trapeze man & the skipper. I know what it is to pull down rigging in a blow. I've been in boats as they've cartwheeled & flipped. Indeed my whole family are old salts & even now my brother & his family are holed up in Munda waiting on a weather window to the Louisiades & then a second window to bring them home to Cairns. More than most, including our idiot media, I have some idea of what sailing solo round the world entails &, no. It should never have been allowed. Not because Jessica isn't capable; clearly she is, but I seriously object to these sort of competitions. Sooner or later someone younger is going to want to break her record [I believe even now there is an American girl attempting it] & that someone may not be as competent, well prepared & just plain lucky. Sooner or later someone will die. There are enough adults out there having to be pulled from the sea at great expense & the risk of other people's lives chasing a dream.

Jessica is lucky ~ seriously lucky. A smidgeen of luck the other way & she would not be here to bask in triumphant glory ~ & everyone would be singing a different tune! She faced the sort of seas that devestated the 1998 Sydney to Hobart fleet ~ & claimed 6 lives. However good the boat, however competent a sailor, however well prepared Jessica thought she was she is still only here by the grace of God. The next youngester out there may not be so blessed.

The ocean would still be there when she was 18, legally an adult & entitled to run her own risks. It would still be a wonderful & amazing achievement. She would still be part of that small, elite club who have sailed single~handedly & unassisted around the world ~ though that is questionable in my book when she had so much satellite coverage & help. Just my think. In reality this was a self~indulgent trip, something Jessica wanted to do that benefited nobody. I have far more admiration for the men who first sailed these seas, making the maps as they went, & even thinking that if the world was really flat they'd sail off the edge. Now that's really brave.

What's more, there are plenty of wonderful teens around doing far more laudable things minus the media hype & pay package. There are teens in all sorts of places all over the world working with orphans, the starving, the destitute. One young lad has changed the face of Africa forever, one well at a time! That is truly commendable! Mother Theresa ~ who believed God had deserted her yet took His love to the unlovable ~that is commendable.

We have indeed become a shallow people when we elevate the Jessicas of the world & ignore those who choose to work in obscurity for the betterment of their fellow men. As a nation we're rather known for making national heros of our sporting elite but amazing & wonderful as Jessica's trip is, it just doesn't rate, not for me. It will be forgotten in a month or two when the media has something else to fuss about but the poor & hungry will still be there & there will still be people quietly doing whatever they can to fix that. Lots of them will be teens & no~one is lauding them but in my book they are the real heros. It would be a better world all round if there were more of them & fewer Jessicas. Not that I expect anyone to agree with me, especially Jessica fans, but there you have it; I am full of unpopular opinions. Image from Photobucket.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Alpaca: a sheep like ruminant of South America having long, silky wool. For those you you who don't have access to Liddy's Facebook page...[like my mother ☺] this is what Lid's been up to this week. Yeah, lovey, I know I just nicked the pics out of your album but you have absolutely cruddy reception & you know you would just say yes so you pretend I asked permission & I'll pretend I actually asked, ok? Apparently she went from retail to retail; Minding the shop.
Driving this. Less sure about this one. There is the little matter of a car...

Lugging this round for
Apparently the spitting is mating related. I'm sure you don't want to know any more than that.
TMI? Yeah, I thought so too.
Whatever. It sure tires a girl out.
It is quiet & peaceful & Liddy sounds the happiest she has in a long, long while.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

There isn't a child who hasn't gone out into the brave new world who eventualy doesn't return to the old homestead carrying a bundle of dirty clothes. Art Buchwald.

This week Liddy is farming alpacas. All I know about alpacas is that they spit ~like camels & llamas. I'm not keen on animals that spit. The cats drool & that is quite bad enough.

I know she doesn't want to live in Sydney. Can't think why. Alpacas will make a nice change of pace. We are missing her...but it is warmer where we are. Lots warmer. Somewhere it is snowing but that somewhere is not here. Here the sun is shinning in a blue, blue sky & the cats are madly chasing each other through the garden. It is very pleasant & I am off to join the cats in the sunshine.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On Mother's Day I have written a poem for you. In the interest of poetic economy & truth, I have suceeded in concentrating my deepest feelings & beliefs into two perfectly crafted lines: You're my mother; I would have no other. ~ Forest Houtenschil. Yes I know Mother's Day was on Sunday but when Liddy left she took her camera with her & Ditz & I couldn't do anything about that until Wednesday. Actually we very nearly did nothing then either. I'm not technologically minded & I dithered. Do I take pot luck on middle of the range old technology, which is what we've been using, or do I plonk down our hard earned cash for a giddy top of the range just released model? The new model will survive being dropped in a puddle : both shock & waterproof. Given what happened with Liddy's first camera I forked out the extra ~ & then realised it was on special & I'd actually got quite a lot off. Ditz, naturally wanted the fancy purple thingy but I really couldn't live with a purple camera.

The new toy seems to take quite nice pictures. Mind you, this morning was exceptionally lovely & it's hard to take a bad pic when your surrounds are so lovely.

However I believe Miss Tomato Soup wanted a picture of these! These are my Mother's Day gift from Ditz. She is a thoughtful & generous little soul & truth be told my feet have hardly been out of them since I was allowed to have them. Mmmm. Warm & huggly. Now I have had the knee huggers at different times but wrestling them on & off my feet when they don't really give me any extra warmth is no longer worth the drama so I opted for these lovely slipper~y Ugh boots & they are doing the job just fine, thank you. Every time I pull them on my feet I feel so loved.

There was chocolate too ~ but chocolate doesn't last long in this house. Ditz & I have eaten it all already, including the chocolate mousse she made for desert! Yes, we're chocoholics & without Liddy there is more for just the two of us. This is no good for my waistline but oh! my tastebuds did enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sew Informal.

The sewing machine joins what the scissors have cut asunder, plus whatever else comes in its path. Mason Cooley.
My mother is a most extraordinary woman. I say that as a daughter who could not be more unlike her if I tried. It is Liddy who is like her. My mother is a detail oriented, left brained thinker & everything she does she does well. I think I gave up trying early on. How does one compete with perfection?

I do however appreciate my mother enormously. Different is good ~ though I'm not always sure she would say the same thing about me ~ or Ditz for that matter! Ditz & I ~ well, we can get most people thinking the pair of us belong in the loony bin. We are good for the big picture stuff, for a riotous giggle when things are at their bleakest & a hug when you need one most but we are not the people to ask when you have a practical need. Oh, our heart is in the right place but, well, the doing comes hard & the end result may not be exactly what you had in mind.

This was certainly the case when Liddy needed something special to wear for her Formal. Now I can sew...after a fashion: straight seams, crotches in shorts & certain sorts of pockets. A ditzy glitzy dress out of shimmery shiny fabric ~ no! That is very definitely my mother's department. I believe she even sewed her own wedding dress. I hope I remembered that right or I will get a phone call to tell me I have remembered yet another bit of family history wrong. Well, if my mother didn't sew her own wedding dress she was more than capable of doing so! And just as well because Liddy is my daughter after all & enough like me to decide, in the end, she just wasn't going to be like everyone else & go for some gorgeous floating gown that would make her look like Cinderella & feel like a prize idiot.

Nope, Liddy wanted something that would make her feel like herself ~ only super special. She wanted something flamboyant & oriental ~ & she didn't have a pattern!

She had material ~ thanks to her paternal grandmother so armed herself with her material & spent a long weekend with my mother to sew up this. She looked absolutely stunning despite towering over her ever so handsome escort. [That's my youngest boy there, proudly escorting his sister!] Just look at that sweet Chinese collar & the nice stiff way the barely a sleeve at all sits. And the clasps cleverly matching! And this material is no joy to sew! Everything, absolutely everything, has to be hand tacked otherwise it slip slides all over the place & frays like nobody's business.

My mother sews beautifully. Everyone wanted to know where Liddy got her outfit but mum's not going into business. I have made it abundantly clear however that she is not to die before I've got my girls safely married off because I just know the pair of them will want something that just isn't to be found in the shops & guess who I will be turning to to run up that little white number? Yep. A girl's best friend is her mum!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A voice says, "Cry!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" Isaiah 40:6

A highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness...But only the redeemed will walk there, & the ransomed of the Lord will return. Isaiah 35: 8 & 9

The most important work of the Christian, the work with the most potential to impact the world around them, the work that is given as a command [1 Peter:16] is the work of personal holiness. I am not talking here of the poor counterfeit version with it's lists of man~made dos & don'ts but the heartfelt cry of a soul that so desires God it cries with the prophet Isaiah & the apostle Peter, " Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."

Everything else flows from this basic understanding. We have been bought with a price, ransomed, set apart ~ not for our own salvation though we get that too, but as priests & vessels of the Lord & the Lord will not use the unclean thing.

I'm not knocking the work of prayer or outreach or mission but in my view it is plain that these are adjuncts to the primary work of holiness. My reasoning is simple. Nothing is as attractive as holiness, genuine holiness. If we want to reach our unsaved neighbours, unsaved family, unsaved children then we need to have something they want. No~one wants to be someone's outreach project. No~one wants to be someone's prayer duty. No~one wants to be someone's mission. It is insulting. Really, it is. Everyone is attracted to Holiness. They can't help themselves. It spills like light into a dark world. It draws people like a moth to a flame. How do I know? Jesus was God come to Earth as man, the son with whom God was well pleased, the perfect keeper of the Law & the holiest man to ever walk the earth. The people flocked to him in crowds: men, women, children.

To stand in the presence of genuine holiness is to be made aware of how far we fall short of the mark but it is a calloused heart indeed that does not hunger after that righteousness for from it spring all the fruits of the Spirit. Without holiness we will not see heaven.

Now I'm as human as the next person. I have a filthy temper. I struggle to perform many of my daily duties because they bore me to tears & I really object to being bored; it is so unnecessary & there are far more interesting things to do. Left to my own devices I would wax fat on coffee, chocolate & thick books. God knows this about me even better than I do. The holiness mandate still stands. It is not optional.

A peculiar people, a royal priesthood, called out, set apart, A gift both from the Father to the Son & the Son to the Father [see John 17] ~ & why we desperately need to be people of the Spirit because only the Spirit can empower us to walk the Way of Holiness. We can no longer compromise with the world. We cannot have it both ways. It is time to choose & become once more salt & light in a world that knows not God.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Once is not enough.

Make voyages. Attempt them...There's nothing else. Tennessee Williams.

Our house, which is a very fine house if rather unfinished, perches at the top of a hill. It's not a particularly big hill but it is steep ~ & choked with bracken fern, a particularly sturdy & wiry fern, through which the iron bark & soap trees push & beneath whose deceptive green lurks rotting fallen tree trunks & potholes of the virulent & nasty kind to fall into.

From the house to the beach there is a winding path through bracken, which after so much rain, swishes as high as my shoulders & obscures the path ~ a path that after so much rain has washed away in places leaving it steep & slippery & in need of one of my sons with a mattock to chip some decent steps into the clay again.

Nasty things live down among the green stuff. Ticks of various kinds & shades. Rats, native & otherwise. Snakes. Goannas. When the boys are home the track is used daily. Without them Ditz & I only occasionally venture onto the waterfront if low tide co~ordinates with when we are feeling like some sunshine & a walk.

Marlow gazes into the green darkness from the safety of the verandah without any desire whatsoever to venture further but Kirby is my cat of another colour. From the first day he arrived & gazed through the big glass windows upstairs at the vast unexplored territory he could see beyond the glass partition his one desire has been to get out & expand his horizons.

Now even I can see the attraction for a cat of Kirby's calibre...but must he explore at night? Once it gets dark I call my cats home. Usually I do this right on dusk but occasionally it is somewhat later that this & the boys can usually be found in the side paddock pouncing through the grass at each other & having a delightful time. Kirby is however something of an escape artiste. While Marlow is happy to savour home comforts & snuggle in somewhere Kirby prowls the house seeking an escape route. If he happens to find one it might be some time before I notice he is missing.

Like most animals Kirby can usually be lured home by banging a spoon against his feed dish & arrives at a great rate of knots, loosing traction as he hurtles across the verandah in his rush to see what tit bit I am now providing. Guaranteed. Every. Single. Time. When no cat arrived at the speed of light I called. And called. And called some more. Eventually a plaintive meowing could be heard deep amongst the ferns. I called thinking Kirby would hone in on my voice & orientate himself to bring himself home. No such luck. The rotten cat was as lost as he could be & couldn't see enough to walk out of a paper bag let alone navigate the ferns in the dark.

I swiveled our outside lights down the hill & resignedly went to look for him. He was tangled in the thick fern roots but realising help was at hand desperately clawed his way towards me & when I picked him up burrowed into my neck in a flurry of relief. Lesson learned I thought.

No such luck. Barely a day later he was missing again, failed to arrive when his dish was banged & on calling him I was answered by a plaintive & desperate meowing, not, this time from deep within the ferns! Ditz & I looked at each other. It was pitch black & about to rain & although we could hear Kirby we had no idea where he was ~ except that where ever it was it wasn't close by. Eventually we realised he was right at the bottom of the hill, not even on our property but several along, & was calling frantically as he searched for a way back up the hill to us. Eventually he found the path but only made it halfway up the hill before getting stuck. Ditz, in high dungeon, had to go down & rescue him. He practically lept onto her & squirmed up her in his relief at being found & brought home, being roundly scolded by Ditz all the way. He seemed to like it & only purred louder nibbling her ear lobes while her hands were otherwise occupied pulling herself, with Kirby draped round her shoulders like a scarf, back up the hill.

Do I think he has learnt his lesson? Phuleese...he's a cat. The best I can hope for is he will grow enough common sense to find his own way home.


I exercise ~ run my mouth, push my luck & jump to conclusions.
I am getting old. I am never more aware of this than after a game of soccer. I seriously creak. A few years back one of the oil companies ran an add about a creaking little old lady ~ well, that's me! Ooooh! Ouch! Mmmhmm. One ball to the face. I don't mind when it's the kiddiewinks kicking it but when it's one of the teen boys it's an ouchie...& I do so try to stay out of the way of those thumpers! I sit on my butt a lot. Something happened to my centre of equilibrium with menopause & I have trouble staying upright these days. One way or another I rest a lot. I look at the sky from way down amongst the green stuff. I huff & puff my way round the pitch for about 20 minutes then I studiously move to any place the ball is unlikely to be & navel gaze while I attempt to get my breath back. Even in my hey day I was no distance athlete. I was a sprinter but I can't compete with the teen boys. If they are running for a ball it's theirs, no competition!

And in case you think I'm huffing round that pitch in all my glory I can assure you I am not. I compete decently clothed in long protective clothing, armed with a pair of Liddy's old studs & my plait under its headcovering. I am completely useless on the pitch ~ for the most part ~ but all the boys know my name & I'm sure think I'm completely batty but Ditz doesn't see why, if I make her run down the pitch, I shouldn't run too. Mind you, Ditz is a star gazer extraordinaire! I have never known a child to be so completely oblivious to what's going on around them in a competitive game. And don't ever let her play goalie. She thinks the little kids should be allowed to score 'cause it makes them feel all warm & gooey inside. Ditz doesn't mind losing but there have been occasions when her own team has threatened to scalp her!

That was the 2nd half of my day. The first half consisted of a trip to the tip ~ & way overdue too ~ like about 20 years overdue. I rounded up every old crab pot, every old bike outgrown by 5 children, every hunk of iron & old mattress & enough glass to have gone into business & a friend borrowed a trailer & helped me take the lot to the tip. It doesn't seem to have made an appreciable difference but it's hard to tell for all the books cluttering up the place. I culled the books some time ago but they seem to be promiscuous & indiscriminate & like rabbits multiply at a phenomenal rate.

My cats aren't speaking to me. How dare I abandon them for the better part of an entire day! I am sitting here typing away so I don't have to move. I need to shower & while the thought of warm water is alluring the getting there is a massive undertaking for a braver soul than mine. I know why people who play sport drink. Oooh, where's that hot water?

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Discipline of the Lord.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves & chastises every son whom He receives. Hebrews 12:6.

Discipline is not the same as punishment. Often it is training. Liddy, who has been walking a lonely path of uncertainty & bewilderment, is learning about the discipline of the Lord. I, who am not called to walk this path, have inspired her ire by saying she is lucky , the Lord's hand is so clearly upon her guiding & directing & isn't it exciting?! I think it has been a little too exciting lately.

Now I do not know how other families do these things but in ours, as the girls have got older & their spiritual awareness & their relationship with God has developed independently & deepened, we use each other to discern God's will & direction. I have had an appalling week spiritually. Most of what God has been trying to show me I still haven't discerned properly but it has certainly given me nightmares & plenty of disrupted sleep. One thing at least was relatively clear. I did feel the Lord was saying quite plainly Liddy was not to replace her car. In one foul swoop God simply removed Liddy's independence, her status symbol, her escape route, her ability to gad about the place with ease & a monetary drain while preserving her life. Church & friends ~ gone. When I finally plucked up the courage to broach the matter with Liddy I found God was telling her exactly the same thing in no uncertain terms. I think Lid can live with that. It's the rest of it that is going to be both hard & exciting.

I've said before, Liddy's a planner. She's known for years she'd be heading overseas. She has planned accordingly, saved diligently, incurred no debt with her end firmly in mind. This is sensible, smart & worldly thinking. Ouch. God is systematically stripping all her self made props away. He is making it very, very clear Liddy is to rely on Him for all her needs. You have no idea how difficult this is for someone like Liddy!

It does not get better. Money, one of the sticking points for getting overseas; we thought OM wanted Liddy's other church to support. I do not think this is what God wants ~ & as I pointed out to Liddy, God has been placing person after person in her life who has pledged monetary support. Oooh so much scarier! In all the upset & uncertainty of Liddy leaving her secure employment it is becoming apparent there are to be no *things* that will tie Liddy to Oz. Not cars. Not possessions. Not pets. Not friends. Not boyfriends. I think she gets to keep us. Lucky Lid!

I said I thought she needed to reread God's Smuggler just now. She wants to know what's wrong with ordinary? Plenty of people head off to be missionaries without the sort of hoo~ha Lid's going through. Ordinary's good. What the Lord seems to be showing me is something extraordinary & just so Liddy it almost makes me smile.

I am glad I am not Liddy. The weight of the Lord's hand is between her shoulder blades just now but after weeks when we have not been able to discern a clear direction ahead it is finally clear it is one step at a time as the Lord leads. Liddy is a leader, not a follower, so you can imagine for yourselves how well this is sitting with her!

What's more, I can stop breathing fire & brimstone to myself because God Himself has pointed out she needs a time of prayer & fasting. There is now a sense of peace, as if things have settled of their own accord. Liddy is stepping out in Faith in ways that many Christians never experience, or experience only in small ways. Psalm 32: 8 [I will instruct thee & teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will counsel thee with my eye upon thee.] is for Liddy just now.

The discipline of the Lord is very personal, very intimate, very thorough. It is a measure of His love for His children, an assurance that we are indeed His. It is not a punishment, but preparation for what lies ahead, trials & tribulations that we can not foresee but that the Lord knows all about & prepares us for before beforehand. It is a blessing in disguise. One day Liddy will look back on this time & go, Ahhh! So that's what it was all about. I learnt so much. God taught me so carefully. Indeed.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The things I learn.

He had to stoop a little to accommodate me, but if Miss Stephanie Crawford was watching from her upstairs window, she would see Arthur Radley escorting me down the sidewalk, as any gentleman would do. Harper Lee. Since I first read Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird way back when, I have been in love with this book. Periodically, when I happened to think of it at the time, I would peruse the local library catalogue for other books by the same author ~ without success. It never once occurred to me that someone who wrote so outstandingly well would never have published another novel ~ but such is the case.

Now I am doing this novel for the 2nd time [I gave it to Liddy as a Chrissy present several years ago, not as a school study] I thought it high time to acquaint myself with certain issues I have glossed over for several decades. Mockingbirds just don't exist in these parts. The chances of me actually ever seeing one are remote so not a priority, no. Harper Lee looks a lot like I always imagined Scout ~ & it is no surprise to find many of the details in the book are autobiographical & based on fact ~ though I was a bit stunned to find the character of Dill based on Truman Capote. Truman Capote? Really? But such is the case. Boo too was a real person who lived down the street. No wonder the book has such a gritty realism till I can smell the hot summer dust, hear the low, drawling, southern voices carried on the night air, hear the collards rattling in the wind ~ but what, under all heaven, is a collard?!

Member of the cabbage family apparently. Glad to know that. Unnecessary information but nice to know & I will still hear it in my mind clanking more like cattle cane than any collard probably sounds like because collards are another of those things, you know, I'm unlikely to meet.

Harper Lee was 34 when To Kill a Mockingbird was first published. She was born in 1926 so she's over 80 now & I can't help but wonder ~ that 2nd unfinished novel she put aside, & that non~fiction discussion of a serial killer, has she burned her papers or will we be lucky & when she has gone will we finally be able to see the world through the unique lens of Harper Lee's eyes? I do hope so. Not that I actually wish the woman dead or anything but I have waited a long time for that 2nd novel!