Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The doctor is often to be feared more than the disease. ~ French proverb
I love Dearest; I do not love his stamps. They have taken over my living room. Notice something else. The long trestles are high & what likes to sleep on things high & airy from which one can have a bird's eye view of their surroundings? Yep. *sigh* They know but like the rest of us sometimes find temptation irresistible.

A month ago Kirby took it into his head to scamper through the neatly sorted & ordered piles of stamps as if they were so many autumn leaves for burrowing through! I rushed to squeeze between the trestles in an effort to reach him before he did irreparable damage & earned the wrath of the Master of the House, tripped & crashed face first into our hard wooden floors.

Meeting the floor face first was no fun. All sorts of bits of me hurt but I limped to bed in the cheerful certainity that given enough time things would heal of their own violition. Well they haven't. My left shoulder has been bothering me no end & I can't even lift my arm high enough to tie up my hair. I have a lot of hair so that is something of a problem Normally it is a simple matter of twisting it in a long rope, doubling it up & whisking a scrunchie around the lot. Just now Ditz is plaiting it for me.

With the cold my shoulder is now stiffening up badly enough to cause me enough pain to wake me at ungodly hours of the night & so I am blogging at 3am!. Bad enough indeed to have me try & get a Drs appointment & doctor's appointments are rarer than hen's teeth on the island. So I am off for a scan on Friday when I take Ditz to the movies but it's not sounding good. Torn muscles? How does one do that chasing a cat?

My body, like cars & computers, is simply meant to work with absolutely no maintainace from me. Nothing gives Liddy more pleasure than obsessing about various body parts but frankly there's a reason the inside bits are hidden by a reasonable layer of skin. Gross comes to mind. I am so not interested. I know, & I have 5 kids but they will all tell you, unless the bone was showing or the blood wouldn't stop flowing they were simply sent for a strip of elastoplast. Sick people were tucked into bed & left well alone until they felt better. There is no coddling in this house. I don't have time to wait in doctors offices, or for fancy diets & health fads. And while I am a big fan of doctors being able to mend broken bones & see inside bodies I don't really have much faith in them for other things are are suppossed to be able to do. They always want to poke needles in me & needles & I, well, let's just say we don't get along. I am not looking forward to dealing with any of this. If I ignore it, do you think it will go away? Me neither. *sigh*

Meanwhile we are down to the working end of Ditz's work to be returned. Three more things to do & we're done. Then we can spend some time with my mum in peace for her birthday & be home again in time for Dino's. This is what I got him. Ditz is complaining that it will be 2nd hand before he gets it. I thumbed through it to see if it would be something he'd actually read because my Dino is least likely to read , & got totally sucked in. It is a fascinating insight into what makes the lunatics on the Bering sea tick. I'm not a fishing fan but I actually get this book. Amazing. Besides I need a good read. It is bitter outside & the soccer is sad, sad, sad.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Home away from home.

Where thou art ~ that ~ is home. Emily Dickinson If Liddy has to be away from home then this is the perfect arrangement. All the boys in her life are of the four~footed variety, she has spectacular views & "A Room of her Own." Virginia Woolf would be proud.
The room is literally that, just one large room that is basically a bed/sitter. It is quite separate from the main house. There is even a hedge between & the windows open onto Mt Barney.

Everything a girl needs is here. The old fashioned wood stove is plenty big enough to heat one small room. It can be cooked on too, if Liddy so desires.
There is an old fashioned 50s dresser with pretty tin cannisters for biscuits & sweets. Sile had thoughtfully filled one with ginger nut cookies, one of Liddy's favourites ~ after chocolate of course!
And the double bed is perfect for the girl who still sleeps like a starfish! Not that she spends lot of time in here but it is a warm & pleasant place to retire to when the day ends. Temperatures out west plummet once the sun dips behind the mountains & most winter nights dip below zero. The morning world is white with frost. I sleep better knowing Liddy is so well taken care of.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Take the back roads instead of the highways. ~ Minnie Pearl. Liddy arrived home unexpectedly for the weekend ~ which was lovely but then necessitated a return trip. On Sunday. In the afternoon. Along unfamiliar highways.

My mother suggested we download directions from the RACQ site ~ which we did, & much good they did us. Naturally by the time we reached the most difficult part of the trip it was pitch dark & poorly signposted & both Ditz & I missed the turn off. The Alpaca Farm is tucked away behind one of the smaller townships at the bottom of the Great Dividing Range. This is Big Sky country two hours inland from the coast. They get frost here. It looks dry but it is just frost bitten. Ditz & I really enjoyed the huge cloud formations rolling away in every direction. I saw a letter winged kite & that alone would have made the trip worthwhile.
Liddy has been raving about the view she wakes to every morning: Mt Barney & Mt Lindsay towering like glowering sentinels in the distance. Ditz was going into raptures about the smell. Every Australian knows the smell I mean, the rich bush smell that reminds one sharply of lantana but isn't.
Just down the road from the farm is the little Uniting church sitting in a bare paddock with gravestones basking about it in the wintry afternoon sun, a barbed wire fence & lots of gum trees. No parking lot. No fancy steeple. It probably has a congregation of about two, if you omit the pastor & the organist.
Sile was delighted to get Liddy back & with true bush hospitality went of to make cuppas while Liddy showed us over the farm. Sile had left a couple of buckets of feed for the girls so Liddy could coax the alpacas up close for Ditz & I.
I must say they weren't shy though the boys were a bit put out to find the food wasn't coming their way! The black lad here is actually a llama & both Ditz & I went for the lad with the fringe.

One or two of the ladies are pregnant & we got a demonstration of spitting from an upset girl. Choice.
Then it was off to be shown round Liddy's one room shanty which is lovely & cosy & which she must keep neat as a pin because tourists will poke their noses against her windows! Sile had spoilt her. All her washing had been done & was neatly folded on the end of her bed! Honestly!

We had a lovely afternoon tea in the picnic area with home made biscuits & an offer to put us up for the night any time we feel the need to come out & catch up with our Liddy. There is nothing quite like country hospitality & I was hugely grateful for a caffeine hit before tackling the highways.

The run is fairly straightforward & the roads were almost deserted for most of the way ~ except for bikers who deemed us incredibly slow & insisted on passing us despite the double yellow lines! I hate people doing that. Freaks me out.
It was dark by the time we hit the highway into Brisbane & we missed our turn off. Everyone agrees it's difficult unless you know as unlike most of the signposting along the highways there is no warning that the exit is coming up. I had visions of landing in the middle of Brisbane, not an expectation to make my heart sing with delight, so when I saw the exit for Compton Road I took it. Ditz remarked cheerfully that it looked familiar. So it should! She landed us there on Sunday too! Despite our little detour we made the 7.10 boat, in time to prevent a total meltdown from the cats & Dearest freaking that something untoward had happened to us.
And Liddy, when I went to go to bed I couldn't find either cat. Guess where they were. Anything look familiar?

Friday, June 25, 2010

No man is an island...

Australia, n. A country lying in the South Sea whose industrial & commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an island. ~ Ambrose Bierce.... We just live on one of the 365 you can choose from in Moreton Bay ~ One for each day of the year. Mainland Australia is just 14 ks away in the giggly~gurgly round~about route necessary to negotiate the mudbanks & islands ~ or 20 minutes by boat ~ & dugong, dolphins & turtles are regular sights along the trip. The skippers will even slow the boats so we can have a good look & the new boats are jet propelled so there's no propeller to cut up unfortunate sea animals we bump into. Very different to the way things were when we first moved here more than 20 years ago.

Twenty odd years ago we had 3 small boys & were living in suburban Toowoomba, which was a large country town & home to the University of Southern Queensland ~ which is why we were there; I took my degree there. Even the big 1/4 acre Queensland blocks were obviously never going to be big enough for 3 rumbustious boys but we had been looking for an alternative for years before we decided on the islands. We wanted space ~ but somewhere accessible to unis. As it turned out we didn't have the sort of kids who needed uni but the islands gave us the sort of lifestyle we wanted: space, bush, water, community. True, travelling has always been a pain in the butt. No doubt about it. We used to shop on the mainland. Juggling 4 kids, a twin stroller & a baby in a sling with the mountain of groceries necessary to feed 6 people & a couple of cats for a fortnight was no joy. The last boat of the day left the mainland at 6pm & there wasn't another till 5 am the next morning.

On the other hand the school had a whole 30 kids. Everyone knew everyone ~ & looked out for each other. Our kids walked to school, trained for long distance runs & fished, crabbed & camped in a way I would never have been comfortable oking on the mainland. How things have changed! Now there is a police station, a swimming pool & an IGA supermarket. The primary school has close to 200 kids & all 7 grades are full to capacity. The population has tripled to somewhere between 3 & 4 thousand residents. We no longer know everyone by sight. Our house was one of 4 on our 50 acre peninsula & our kids had the freedom of the bush acres & the shelter of the bay. Ditz is far more restricted as houses mushroom up around us & the bush disappears.

Dearest is both a bricklayer & horticulturalist by trade. He travelled in his own tinny to & from the mainland until he broke his back. Now he's trying to turn his hobby into a home business. The net makes this a feasible possibility.

Some things never change. The mainland is just there. My older kids travelled regularly to play sport. Ditz travels all the time for music. The cost adds up but none of us like Brizzie. You step on that boat & it becomes a different world. The pace slows. The air is cleaner. People relax & chat. In summer you can sit outside with the salt breeze & the modern world disappears over the horizon.

Islanders, the ones who last, are a different breed. We have our share of ratbags, rebels, outlaws & criminals. There are the recluse & the certifiably mad. Like many small isolated communities world wide alcohol is the biggest social problem. Drinking is what people do. We aren't drinkers but we know how to appreciate our own company & like all long term islanders we can manage things for ourselves that most people take for granted. For years our first aid kit consisted of elastoplast. It covers most contingencies. Salt makes a good antiseptic cleaner. Mail delivery, town water & garbage collection are fairly new. Our older kids grew up without them. Ditz would die. She likes her modern conveniences & toilets that flush.

For all I've loved living here Dearest & I are talking about moving once Ditz is out on her own. Most of the things we loved about the island, the things that made putting up with the inconveniences worthwhile, are slowly disappearing & the islands are being swallowed up in the great Brisbane urban sprawl. We are talking somewhere further away, more isolated, smaller, enough land to put in a decent orchard, run a large cat or two...I reckon I've got a few years left to talk Dearest into seeing big cats my way!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It finally happened. I got the GPS lady so confused she said, " in one~quarter mile make a legal stop & ask directions". ~ Robert Brault.
The blue Barina arrived just in time. Our winter weather has turned bleak & miserable & I can assure you standing on the council jetty under the flimsy structure they deem a *shelter* & which shelters one from neither rain nor howling wind, is no fun at all. Even Ditz donned a skivvy last Wednesday.
Hoever it is not the weather that is bothering me. The public schools have just gone on holiday. Ditz will be working through hers to make up work sickness has put us behind on ~ & travelling. Yep, AVAE has extra rehearsals scheduled for the hols ~ & not locally either. I have no idea what we are rehearsing for but the kids need to lift their act & start nailing these works soon. Naturally Ditz is happy about this. The child who deems any academic work at all *boring* will happily bob up & down like a cork in stormy water singing scales & arpeggios & repeating the same passage over & over until it is exactly right, or, even harder for my ADD Ditz sitting still, silent & focused while the sopranos, who are younger & consequentially in need of a little more help, do the same thing. *sigh*

I'm only whinging about the driving. I am perfectly happy to sit quietly in an obscure corner with a good book letting beautiful music sung by well trained voices flow over me. More than happy. But let's face it, Ditz & I loose in Brisbane are not a good combination. Having set Ditz, who was responsible for getting us lost initially by insisting I needed to make a right turn when I thought we should go straight ahead & who was unusually wrong, to sign spotting last Monday, I then got directions like: "Left for the Gold Coast, straight ahead is, ~ look there's a cat ~ Have we got anything in here to eat? Why is that man waving at us? Do you know him? I forgot what right is but just keep driving straight ahead." No wonder my nerves unravel. It's a wonder I haven't turned to strong drink & a Bex! And Liddy laughs at us because she has some sort of internal map in her head that lets her know where she is. She is also the one who loses the plot fastest when things start going wrong; mostly because they rarely go wrong when Liddy is in charge of them. Ditz & I, well, we know it doesn't help if we start screaming at each other & one way or another we always seem to make it home. Now at least we have a car to make it home in.

Monday, June 21, 2010


This is Marlow: the other half of my nutty duo. Marlow is a chicken fiend extraordinaire. Just a whiff of chicken sends him into an absolute frenzy. It is his favourite food bar none & he's not shy about advertising the fact.

My good friend, Siano, works with Cat Protection so when I acquired my kittens I thought she was the perfect person to chat to about the proper management of my new moggies because in all honesty they were more than a little odd & I was more than a little worried about them. I knew they'd had a rough start in life though well looked after here & it shows, still. They hate like poison any change in routine & in this house that is not a good thing. Anyway Siano suggested raw chicken wings or necks would be a really good addition to their diet, especially as they were teething & leaving stray teeth embedded in each other.

I dutifully acquired chicken necks. They are pretty cheap, even on the island, & I parcel them out at lunchtimes most days if I'm around & remember. They live on a tray in the fridge & you'd better believe Marlow knows it! The sound of the fridge door brings him hurtling from wherever he is in the house & he wedges himself in the opening staring fixedly at where he knows those necks live. He doesn't even move when I go to shut the fridge door. He just sinks lower & lower, eventually allowing the door to close over his head. Only then does he vacant his position & only if he's pretty sure that door won't be opening again any time soon.

On those days I am absent, like on Wednesdays for choir, the cats go into serious meltdown all over Dearest. Dearest can only take so much before he cracks. His solution has been to parcel out an extra neck per cat, hoping I am sure, to occupy the cats happily for a considerable length of time. Kirby, after his battle with the wishbone & little vacation at the vet's, treats his neck with respect. Marlow wolfs his. We began joking he inhaled it, it disappeared so fast.

On Monday Ditz & I had to take Liddy into Garden City as she is returning to the alpaca farm for some serious alpaca farming. This meant the only reliable navigator in the car was not present for the return journey. I am now seriously considering a GPS. Ditz is useless. Worse than useless. She gets distracted & we end up in Wooloomooloo, as we did yesterday, turning a straightforward return journey into a prolonged & circuitous route that took 3 times as long as it should have. At least Ditz remained sweet tempered & accommodating as I battled peak hour traffic, an unfamiliar dashboard & foreign city streets. I was losing the plot ~ but we all know how I feel about Brisbane.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Dearest had 2 cats who had decided I had been absent quite long enough & went into serious meltdown. As it got darker & darker they got loopier & loopier until Dearest cracked & handed out necks. He was still marvelling at how quickly Marlow had disposed of his when there was one of those noises every cat owner knows & dreads, the sound of a cat regurgitating what he has just swallowed. To Dearest's horror & bemusement the neck arrived whole & still in one piece! That idiot animal is merely softening the bones enough to gulp his neck whole ~ in the hope he'll get another, no doubt.

The animals round here are quite mad.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Let's be honest here...

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God & His righteousness...

It has taken me a lot of years & a lot of heartache to work my way backward from the pious platitudes of organised religion to the place that I should have begun. It's not like I wasn't told. I ran into Quakerism when I was about 10 ~ & no, this is not a denominational push. What Quakerism told me was exactly what the bible told me if only I had had the ears to hear & the eyes to see: relationship is always experiential. Religion got in the way.

The first job of any Christian is to build a relationship with God. Like other institutions churches have their lists for achieving this: daily quiet time; daily bible reading; prayer; good works; absenteeism; tithing; weekly church attendance & obligatory attendance at the mid~week prayer group & bible study...they might vary a bit from church to church or in application but the lists are pretty standard. They're a bit like the quick & easy plan to salvation: pray the sinner's prayer & ask Jesus to come into your heart. Don't get me started on that one! The awful part is that those well meaning lists are almost right. Almost. Not quite. They list the things that grow out of relationship. Churches do not make it easy or really help someone when they first come to God & are seeking to find out how to build a relationship with Him.

Prayer is nothing but drudgery when you do not know how to pray ~ or what to expect. The number of Christians I've watched lurch into prayer arrogantly battering at heaven's gates without preparing the heart, without quietness, without considering that however desperate we feel our needs are God already knows all about it; it is rude when what we should be doing first is seeking God alone, simply & purely for Himself, nothing else. There is a time & a place for all the other things that prayer is but primarily it is about fellowship.

Look at it this way. The people who drive me battiest are the ones who think conversation is a monologue. I am ashamed to admit I run from encounters with such people. I have been known to ask my children to hide me, to cross streets to avoid them & occasionally even decide to catch a later boat rather than risk being bailed up for 1/2 an hour with no possible chance of escape while my eardrums are battered incessantly by someone with no vision outside of themselves. And I have been guilty of this in my relationship with God! Ugh! I can be so ugly.

Most of my really good friendships are with people I rarely see. Catching up with them is a delight to be anticipated for weeks in advance. I save up antidotes, choice bits of gossip, funny stories, the intimate confessions I can only share with those who really know me & love me anyway. I ponder on the things I know are happening in their life & stock my pantry with delicacies I know they like...& this is how I am learning to fellowship with God.

For me religion is not a crutch. I do not want comfort or platitudes. I do not like intellectual laziness or trite & easy answers to difficult questions. For far too long that was all I was offered & I threw God out with the religion that did not satisfy. Eventually I decided that even if God & religion was complete & utter hogwash the world was a better place for it than without it & began the long unravelling of dogma & tradition from the Truth of who God is & what He wants from us.

I will probably always struggle with organised religion. It frustrates me. God does not. His Truth is robust & I have been truly blessed. God has revealed enough of Himself that I truly hunger after Him. You can keep your religion. It is God I want. I don't want youth programs or parenting nights; I am over mission teas, pot luck suppers, & fellowship get togethers. I don't need 3 hymns & a 10 minute homily, church elections or crusades. I want to grow deep into God, like a Lebanon Cedar, rooted, firm, strong, not tossed about by any wind of chance as the times grow darker & the swirling eddies begin the slow sifting of wheat from chaff.

This is no time for shallow Christians. We are called upon to mature in the Faith. That requires we actually do some work. It begins with getting to know God. You know, I've heard Here I am. I stand at the door & knock quoted so often to non~believers & yet that quote was directed to believers in the church at Laodicea. Believers! How many Christians have shut God out, quite unintentionally, because they are busy with the trappings of religion & that has crowded out time for God alone? Seek ye first the Kingdom of God & His righteousness...God first. Everything else will then fall in to place.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It takes 8 460 bolts to assemble an automobile ~ & one nut to scatter it all over the road ~ unknown Sending me to buy a car is a little like sending a lamb to the slaughter. I do not do well with aggressive high powered sales types. Either I cave completely at the first onslaught or I refuse to deal with them at all ~ & you cannot buy a car like that.
Liddy does even better.

Car yards are notoriously inaccessible via public transport. We umhed & ahed, weighing the pros & cons of borrowing a vehicle [Dearest hated this one: both his women loose in Brisbane in unfamiliar vehicles that belonged to someone else!], being driven in by someone or catching a cab. In the end we got a fixed price on a cab & taxied in.

My experience with car buying is notoriously limited. Cars & food: necessary evils. However when the taxi stopped I was rather expecting to see a car yard. No yard. Rows & rows of rather grubby sheds in the sort of neighbourhood you expect the Mafioso to inhabit. Hm.

I am people oriented so I had carefully noted the name of the gentleman I had been dealing with but not the name of the company. Liddy was horrified. Saturday however was the day the Lord wanted to deal with my preconceived notions of how the world works.

Firstly I have major issues with Indian gentlemen. I was unfortunate enough to work with one just after I left school & his attitude towards women was so downright apalling I have struggled ever since to be fair & unbiased about his countrymen [men, not women; my experience with their women is they are charming & lovely & their men are far less so] ~ particularly when faced with an accent I can barely understand. No, I am not the politically correct sort but I do try very hard to accept people as they are, not always easy when you are as opinionated as I am.

Our Indian driver then proceeded to take a most peculiar route to our destination in a large, multi seated, very old & rattly cab that smelt of curry & reminded me pointedly of some of my hairier experiences with Indian drivers in Fiji. Not just me worried about that. Liddy commented.

However, just to make sure I got the point, our driver dropped us exactly outside the address I had given him for exactly the price quoted ~ & we were all very happy little vegemiters: we arrived safely & he was paid without a quibble.

There were 3 or 4 cars parked in the yard but no blue Barina but a little wander about showed us we were indeed at the right destination. Any other time I have been involved in the buying of a car I have had Dearest with me & he has fended off the loud, aggressive types who seem to take jobs in sales. I had certainly encountered a few as I was ringing round making enquiries after checking the net but Dearest & I have this little game where I say upfront I am ringing for my deaf husband & can't commit to anything. It stops them dead in their tracks with frustration as there is no point in pressuring me. I just keep saying, "I'll have to consult with Dearest & get back to you on that." Now I had no Dearest, just Liddy in her "Don't involve me in this" mode.

And you know, the Lord really does look out for the vulnerable ones when they belong to Him. No high pressured salesman came out to greet us, just this really sweet older man who explained they were actually in the import/export business & was most anxious that I was happy with the car. He was really upfront with the cosmetic damage to the roof but in all seriousness! The car gets parked out in the open & used only a couple of times a week. You don't want something that is going to attract attention & thieves. You do want mechanically sound & totally reliable. He carefully took me around the block ~ & I hate driving unfamiliar cars! I refused to head out to the main street which was chock~a~block with traffic & would have necessitated a right hand turn with dubious traffic lights but it was enough to tell me it drove better than Liddy's old Barina. The price was dropped quite a lot. The stamp duty & other fees was not paid by us & we were offered petrol money. Eveyone was really patient & kind with us though the seller, who could have been Liddy's grandfather, looked a little anxious when I handed Liddy the keys & let her pull out into the midst of Brisbane traffic. Truth be told, she's probably safer than I am. She certainly has a much better sense of direction.

No, the insides aren't sparkly shiny new & it doesn't have that new car smell but everything is in good repair; new tires, new brake pads, working clock & I'm sure Ditz will know how to operate the radio. Reverse is unusual but the gentleman sat with both Liddy & I until he was sure we had it worked out & answered all our questions patiently & honestly. I felt it was safe to sign papers though I really wanted Liddy to test drive it too before I signed on the dotted line but driving anywhere with a strange & unknown man was never going to happen. She just kept saying she trusted my decision & would go with that. As soon as we had the insurance & registration papers Liddy wanted the car key! Yep, she drove us home. First time driving on the mainland since her accident. A little paranoid but I suspect that is a good thing. She is borrowing it for mainland church today & I will run her into Garden City tomorrow so she can hook up with her lift back to the Alpaca farm where she has more work for the next 5 months.

At home Dearest was waiting anxiously for news. A little taken aback to realise I had barely driven it at all but in these things Liddy is far more like her father than she is like me. How does it drive? Dearest enquired anxiously ~ & Liddy was actually able to tell him something more than, fine. Strange girl.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Live music is better; bumper stickers should be issued. ~ Neil Young.

Ditz has a wicked sense of humour. She's also a teen. Being excited is so not cool but it is ok to cling to your mother & bray innanely, "Mummy, don't leave me!" as you enter the recording studio.

It is a good thing no~one can see too far into that child's mind. Who would have guessed she had fond aspirations of what her first recording session would be like? Apparently I was to be seated on the other side of the glass gazing fondly at my rising young starlet! Phuleeze! I have better things to do & anyway, as even I could have told her, this was a closed session so I got to go & drink coffee & chat with friends while Ditz did her Ditzy thing.

Five hours travelling for less than one in the studio. They were done really fast. I said either they were really, really bad & got thrown out in disgust ~ or they were really, really good & very professional. Apparently they were the latter. We were home again by 1o & here I was stressing about whether or not we'd make that last boat.

Wishlist, coming to a t.v station near you soon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One Blue Barina.

I feel like I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. ~Anon.

It's at moments like these you need...

In the space of 24 hours two things happened, two things that almost never happen. I was asked to pray for two particular things by two different people. I was sick. I was miserable. I felt like I was dying but one request was from a long standing & very dear blogging buddy. How could I say no? The other was from Liddy. Even worse. What mother turns down a request from her dearly beloved daughter?

I umed. I ahed. I procrastinated. I dragged myself round like the living dead but but eventually I wrapped myself in a doona & told the Lord things were not good. My ears were clogged. My nose was running. I had a head full of cotton wool but hey, I promised I'd talk to you & here I am. Not good. Definitely not bright eyed & bushy~tailed & totally, completely brain dead so I need you to be really, really clear. Clear, Lord, as in bright & dazzling white. Not fuzzy~wuzzy. Not murky. No maybes, ifs or perhapses. Clear. As in crystal.

Now dear friends, even on a good day The Lord & I have communication issues. I am very prone to saying things like: What was that? Say again? Are you sure? Do you really mean that? Sick & miserable my *hearing* was even more impaired.

Some of you may remember Liddy owned a Barina. A white Barina. It was a great little car & chugged us safely all round Brisbane & both coasts [north & south] until Liddy took it into her head to write it off. A car is a car is a car & cannot ever replace our Liddy so, you know, we shrugged & went back to using public transport on the mainland. No big deal & besides Liddy & I both felt the Lord saying very clearly Liddy was not to buy herself another car. And so it has been for several months. We have been mainland carless. A pain in the butt for some things, like lugging cats to vets, but mostly just slow.

The Lord is merciful. During this period Ditz has not been stretched musically. I have not had to lug the child all round Brisbane. We have not been running for the last boat of the day. Liddy, on the other hand, suddenly found life was becoming really difficult. All her travelling became impossibly time consuming. She found she didn't like being carless. She liked her freedom...but the Lord had said no car for Liddy!

So Liddy asked would I pray about a car for her. Talk about preconceived notions. I went into prayer listening for a Yes or No answer. I listened really hard for yes or no. I was hoping for a yes but prepared for a no. What immediately jumped into my mind & lodged there in great big letters as if the Lord were shouting was, " BLUE BARINA". Seriously. I thought I was hallucinating. Alliteration is not something I usually go in for & blue barinas are not your usual colour choice. After about 10 minutes of me trying to centre so I could hear a yes or a no I gave it up & crawled miserably into bed. After all, tomorrow was another day & there was some chance I would feel better. Much, much better.

I tried again...& again. Any time I tried asking the Lord about a car for Liddy Blue Barina immediately popped into my head. I was about going demented. Was that a yes, or a no? Was I imagining things? Seriously. Blue barina! Hmph! I told Liddy about my Blue Barina problems & we snorted & giggled all the way home on the boat.

So Ditz & I toddled off to choir as per usual on Wednesday & I started flipping out because how does one lug a child to out of the way places all over Brisbane without a car? Solution; Howl all over Dearest. Dearest is the money man. Dearest is the details man. Dearest is the planner. He'd had July in mind for the purchase of another car but the end of June was close enough. He sent me on the net to research. He suggested a Daewoo, which is our island car. Call me slow but I'd been looking at Daewoos we couldn't afford for half an hour before BLUE BARINA popped into my head.

Um yeah. Liddy & I are going to look at it on Saturday. If it's as good as it looks we'll buy it. Nope. Not Liddy's car but she knows she can have the use of it just as we had the use of hers while she had it.

You'd think I'd learn. I guess I'm just slow. Anyway, Lord, thanks heaps for the blue Barina.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Take a real look at the sharps & flats, we're composing a lot. Izmirliev

You may have noticed things have been rather quiet on the music
front this year. It has been nice. We toddle in on Wednesdays for rehearsals & that's pretty much been it. Without a car I have just quietly breathed a sigh of relief. It couldn't last. It was never going to last, but my, it has been nice!

See Creative Gen, which is about to be all over & which we aren't doing because Ditz is not considered a public school citizen, frees Alison up...& that means she is free to book her choir. We have begun.

Firstly, just for entertainment value, we got 24 hours notice that we need to be in the Chandler studio tomorrow night to record a jingle. I am seriously hoping Alison gets this deferred to next week so I have time to figure out how I am going to get us there ~ & back in time for the last boat. This however is a scream. Lucky Aussies will hear this jingle on t.v with our kids voices ~ & the faces of another choir!!! I don't even begin to want to know. Madness.

Anyway, the kids have been working on medieval music, which I prefer over classical. Something about the sounds appeals to my ear though the kids have had issues. Although their sheet music is lovely & modern looking the plain fact is the music was originally written without bar breaks & modern notation so it doesn't always do what it looks like it should! Beautiful. You can hear Balulalow here or Thomas Weelkes the Nightingale here or Orlando Gibbon's Silver Swan here. It sounds deceptively simple but this is not easy music. Despite this, the kids are starting to sound wonderful. Should be great when they finally nail it all.

Next month the event of the year, the event we have been anticipating for 2 years, occurs. Our leprechaun friends from Ireland arrive ~ & as Ditz so pointedly remarked, sure as eggs she will have music commitments coming out her ears to cut into her time with the friends she only sees on their two yearly visit to Oz for a very short 6 weeks. Life's like that sometimes.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude. ~ Ralph Marston.

I have whinged a lot the last month or so about Jessica Watson, Abby Sunderland & Laura Dekker. This is why. This just blows me away. This kid is 17 ~ about the same age as Abby & Jessica. Among the poorest of the world's poor & just look what he's doing!

Or this young lady. Now isn't that a far worthier ambition than sailing a boat you end up having to ditch in the Indian Ocean?

This young man ~ Ryan Hreljac. He knows his stuff & he is responsible for 365 wells providing clean water to those who need it most.

Why are these not the kids we are celebrating? They get my vote.

A Fishy Tale.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with a fisherman? Woody Allen. From when he was a tiny tot Dino was mad keen to follow in his dad's footsteps. Fishing is his raison d'etre.
This weekend was the big local fishing comp & Dino was out there with his trusty rods, a bin of bait & plenty of patience.

I dunno what it is about setting a date for a fishing comp. The first day is sure to dawn fair & lure every wannbe in the surrounds out onto the water until you could walk from the island to the mainland along the parked boats cluttering every gutter & channel. Come the 2nd dawn the rain has icicles attached & the wind drops the chill factor several more degrees until it is downright miserable on the water. It makes little appreciable difference. By then everyone is convinced they are going to catch the BIG ONE!

Ok. Dino came in the first morning having caught his big one. A keeper. A flathead that measured 61 1/2 inches. The cut off length is 61 inches. Dino put his fish on ice where it apparently shrank a whole half an inch! Deciding it might shrink some more Dino left it there but when he checked back it had grown to a whole 63 inches. Amazing fish. Dead as a dodo & doing gymnastics.

You know what they say; all fishermen are liars.

Friday, June 11, 2010


It can be very frustrating to taste something sublime & not know how to make it. ~ Stephanie Alexander
Nothing beats a cold winter's day than a cat to cuddle...
A good movie....
& Beesting cake.
The new t.v is amazing but I made the mistake, having enjoyed Fly Away Home so much, of also watching season 4 of The deadliset Catch! Oh my! Too realistic for me!
I believe a traditional bienenstich is made from a yeast mixture, which this is not, but it is quick & simple & Ditz managed this unsupervised without any trouble at all. So here's the recipe we use.
150g softened butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 1/2 cups S.R Flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
40g butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
3 egg yolks lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
Beat butter & sugar until light & creamy. Agg eggs on at a time. Stir in sifted flour alternately with the milk until the mixture is smooth & well combined. Drizzle evenly with topping.
Spread mixture into a greased, lined 20cm pan & bake for about 45 minutes until cake is well cooked in the centre. Remove from oven & let stand in pan 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make topping combine butter sugar milk in a small pan. Stir over low heat until mixture dissolves. Bring to boil. Add almonds. Cool slightly before using.

To make filling: blend sugar, cornflour & egg yolks together in a small pan until a smooth paste is formed. Gradually stir in milk, stirring constantly over a low heat until mixture boils & thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in essence. Transfer to bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to cool to room temperature before cutting cake horizontally in half. Apply custard to the bottom half & put cake back together. Leftovers [should you be so lucky] should be kept in the fridge. Enjoy!

The only thing worse than being wrong...

I have no interest in sailing around the world. Not that there is any lack of requests for me to do so. ~ Edward Heath.

Is being right for all the wrong reasons.

Will someone please stop the madness?

Her name is Abby Sunderland. She is 16, American & drifting, demasted & without power in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She should not be there. End of story.

It will be 48 hours before the closest vessel can be diverted to rescue her. Qantas had a search & rescue team up looking for her after she activated her EPIRBs on Thursday.

And, as if that isn't bad enough ~ Laura Dekker wants to try this too. Laura was just 13. Dutch authorities put her plans on hold until July 2010. She plans to leave in September when she will have turned 15.

Abby is incredibly lucky. Only a fool sails the Indian Ocean with the winter storms. She has cost a lot of people a lot of money but better that than a dead kid at the bottom of the ocean. Sadly it looks like it will take a dead kid before authorities act to stop this madness!

Monday, June 7, 2010

a Little Diatribe on Science.

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Newton

This seems to be the year for throwing out the textbooks. Nowhere is this more apparent than with science. Honestly, who writes this stuff? It is so incredibly dull. It burns my brain. And it is sad because science is not dull. Well, not science according to Ganeida.

Having plodded through our Apologia General Science ~ which is very good if you are scientifically inclined, which we are not, ~ & having sampled all 4 main branches of the sciences Ditz declared unequivocally she was interested in none of them. This is not surprising as hormones mean she is interested in very little just now except sleep & the occasional foray into music. Practically her math means she isn't capable of the physics & a lot of the chemistry ~ & given her views on math this is not something to mourn. However science is still a subject we are meant to be doing. What to do? What to do?

Botany is considered so *soft* it is only available for younger learners but botany was something Ditz was sort of interested in. Possibly because she sensed she would not be called upon to make that interest good! Still, this is the child who researched soil needs & growing conditions for carnivorous plants before creating her own terrarium & growing her own carnivorous plants. OK, I helped, but only because I knew she could get sundews for free in the marshy bits of the paddock. And there's the rub. Anything in the *Natural Sciences* will rivet my entire household. We are glued to the t.v if Cousteau is sinking into the murky depths, or Vesuvius is exploding all over our screen. We become slightly unhinged over Big Cats & we will listen with absorbed fascination to the peculiarities of the Rafaelia. I suspect is is partly because we live so close to nature. Faced with an experiment we quail at the knees because they never, ever work the way they are meant to, the way we know they should, the way the text books assure us they do. According to Ditz & I every experiment disproves completely what it is meant to prove. Useless.

I toyed, briefly, with making the child read Hawking's A Brief History of Time...but given I'm not sure I understood it that didn't seem terribly wise. Besides I was enchanted when I thought he was suggesting the Universe was alive & breathing, in out, in out ~ but I believe I have misunderstood & quite frankly I like my theory better with no evidence at all to support it. Did I mention we weren't scientists. Besides I have to come up with some paperwork for our umbrella.

This would not be the first time educating Ditz has forced me to think outside the box. I have thought long & hard. I have surfed the net & been considerably distracted & sidetracked by all sorts of odd things. Strictly speaking what I have decided on isn't science. Not applied science. Not theoretical science. It is however general knowledge about science that most people don't know. Do you know what Dr Carl Djerassi is known for? [the contraceptive pill] Probably not, yet his discovery single~handedly changed the face of Western society. Jonas Salk? [polio vaccine] Edwin Hubble? Yes the man the telescope is named for. [observational evidence for an expanding universe.] So I have given her a list of 10 scientists who have influenced the 2oth century & she needs to find out who they are & how they influenced their fields. Einstein & Hawking are on it but so are people like Oppenheimer & Robert Goddard. Nope, I hadn't heard of most of them before I started looking. Have I mentioned we're not scientists? The net is a wonderful thing. Thank you Tim Burners~Lee.
It's no longer a question of staying healthy. It's a question of finding a sickness you like. ~ Jackie Mason.

We are being very dull. Duller than dull. We are cuddling under doonas with cats, sipping hot drinks & watching the world go by without us.

Winter arrived suddenly with a snap & a crackle. Even the cats are feeling miserable. They want to go outside, stick their noses out for 2 seconds & want to come back in to the warm. Queensland doesn't lead up to these things gradually. One day it is summer, the next icicles are hanging from the eves. OK, so it's not literally cold enough for icicles but you get the idea. We are not used to this chilly air.

Kirby arrived on my face in the middle of the night wanting reassurance that this too shall pass. Poor puss. He was cold & miserable too.

Ditz has been making her wonderful apple crumble with custard & when we finally ran out of custard powder she turned around & made the real deal custard from scratch! Yes, she did. The only time I do that is when I make a Bee Sting cake ~ & only because I never read the recipe the first time & only realised I was making custard when it was all done. Yep. I'm a one step at a time girl in the kitchen. No wonder the food sometimes tastes funny. I should think more about what I am doing.

Even steven as to whether anyone will be well enough for choir tomorrow. Ditz looks & sounds like the plague has struck. I think it is time for a trip to the library.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Brazilians in '82 were definitely the best team never to have won the World Cup. ~ Alan Hansen. Did you get yours? Yes, I'm still sick & miserable but as sitting at the computer is something I can do for short periods that is what I am doing & I want to know; Did you get yours?

The Sunday Mail is giving away Aussie scarves because, people, the World Cup is only days away now! Yes siree, a month of madness & sleepless nights & my Dearest declaring that it's no wonder there's so much soccer thuggery when it takes so much to score even one goal. Frustration levels obviously go through the roof.

Dearest is a League man & sad to say certain other members of this household create the great divide when the State of Thuggery [oops, State of Origin] happens each year, because Dearest is a N.S.W man & all his children are Queenslanders. It makes the Battle of the Roaches & the Cane Toads something I have absolutely no desire to participate in but soccer! Ah now, soccer is another matter entirely.

I must point out that my addiction to the Beautiful Game is an acquired taste. God, in His infinite wisdom, gave me sporty children. He also gave me unco~ordinated runts. No way could I let my small & beautiful children thrash it out in League, or Rugby or AFL ~ though I do believe Theo forged my signature so he could play Union in grade 10. They put him out on the wing where his speed & nippiness was of some use until the big boys just ran straight over the top of him.

That being so soccer was the game of choice ~ & three out of five of mine were very, very good at it. Two were regional reps & the one who wasn't wasn't from choice. Hours I spent watching the kids hone their skills & face off a variety of oppositions but we live on a very little island & back in the day girls didn't play soccer. I fought for Liddy to join the school team. I fought long & hard. Basically I refused to accept the word "No" & the whole QLD Ed., law got changed just for Liddy. The things I am likely to be remembered for!!!

Anyhoo...The kids & I cuddled up together to watch the World Cup teams go down to the wire through our long bleak winter nights armed with hot chocolate, chips & dark bitter chocolate. It has become a family tradition. Even die~hard Dearest takes an interest when Australia steps up to the mark. It happens every 4 years. A bit like the Olympics, only more exciting.

This is serious idolatry on some people's part but my children have educated me well & I can argue off~sides, penalties & questionable tackles with the best of them. Rubbishing the Ref is a legitimate pastime. We have the Refs we like too, the ones who are impartial & fair & play the ball so the game plays fast & zippy without all the stop, start some Refs cause. And we have the teams [besides Australia] we like to watch. Anyone who has watched France or Italy play football understands how it got nick~named the Beautiful Game. We don't like Germany who play stodgy & stolid football. There is no point at all in winning & playing such ugly football. These are arguments never to be heard of other codes.

Dearest finds this four yearly madness a little incomprehensible but he is prepared to join the rest of us & rehash the Italian dive that put us out of the Cup last time & weigh the odds of us defeating Germany in the first round [not good I fear] & whether or not Harry Kewell is worth all the angst & makes that much difference to the team. This is a serious & time consuming business. It is also great fun. After all, we all know the spectators can do it so much better!

Friday, June 4, 2010

One award pending...

Linda, at Simply Living Modestly, has given me an award! Now the best part about awards is seeing where other people read & making sneaky visits to see what new friends can be found in the blogosphere. Now you all know what I do when you give me an award! ☺ The trouble, of course, is that there is only so much time in any given day & one cannot devote all of one's time to reading about other people's lives. Still, it is nice to visit occassionally.
"The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogging world.”

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Award:

Nominate 12 other bloggers

List the award in either a post or on your sidebar

Link your nominees within your post

Let the nominees know you have passed this on to them by commenting on their blog"
You would think, given that 38 people read here, that I would have no trouble coming up with 12 people to pass the award on to but I know many of my readers no longer accept awards to prevent just this dilemma. Some of my newer friends I don't know about when it comes to awards so here is what I am going to do. I am going to list people you may not have read but who I think are fascinating & inspiring & whom you may like to visit occassionaly to read what they have to say. On my part there is no obligation to collect & pass on.
Firstly: Ember at Wabi Sabi Jesus. Author, Quaker, experimenter in simple holistic living Ember's posts are always interesting. She keeps several blogs & I read them all. If wabi sabi & Jesus are not your thing you may enjoy her wry & gentle satire at Diary of an English Lady.
Next, Amanda at My Secret Garden. Lovely blog, lovely well thought out posts. She is an Aussie living even further north than we do so some super gorgeous pictures.
Jeanne at A Peaceful Day. This is one erudite & well travelled lady & while it is predominantly a homeschool blog she posts about losts of other interesting things as well ~ like toilets in various parts of the world! I have a vested interest in such knowledge & tales of my own to tell!
Insatiably curious about other people's lives I have been enjoying getting to know Gerry at The Potter's House. Take a look. Some fascinating & lovely art ~ & poetry. Poetry is always good.
Then there is food. I'm not a foodie so anything that inspires me in that direction is pretty amazing. Try Amelie's House.
And for one of the most beautiful blogs I have ever visited try Erin's Art & Gardens. Beautiful, beautiful photographs. I love her quote too, being the quote lady I am. ☺
Then there is Sandra at World's End Farm ~ who no longer accepts awards but writes a seriously wicked post: satirical, witty, intelligent ~ try her political blog if horses & gardening are not your thing. She cracks me up.
And that's it! I am too ill to do any more so am taking myself back to bed. I may, or may not, get around to letting you all know you've been awarded. Take it as done. Sorry folks but the headache needs nursing & somewhere nice & dark & quiet. Have a blessed weekend.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness.

This is being a really, really difficult year. We are being plagued by a low grade infection that is robbing everyone in the house of energy & making us all feel just blah. I am so over it. Hence the lack of blog posts recently.

This is not how I like to school. Ditz & I literally drag ourselves through the day & sad to say I have been known to fall asleep while reading one of my favourite books aloud to the child. Can you imagine?! Poor old Ditz has had to put her Home Ec studies to practical application & has been wonderful about getting a meal on the table those nights I just can't work up the energy to even think about food. Food & I aren't the best of friends even on good days because there is always something else I would much rather be doing than preparing food that goes in one end & comes out the other. It seems such a waste of time & energy. I'm waiting on someone inventing the definitive food pill. I will be out of the kitchen so fast you won't see me for library dust.

Then there have been all the other changes around here. Each & every one is perfectly normal & ordinary but when there are so many of us & so many changes I just feel I'm on a constant merry~go~round. Dino comes, Liddy goes. Liddy comes, Theo goes. Theo goes as Dino arrives & the cats go into meltdown. Cats at the vet, Dino in hospital, Theo in the middle of a cyclone & Liddy crashed her car ....Actually the year is no better or worse than other years. It's just being so constantly ill makes it harder to cope with everything. I can't remember the last time I felt I really had a grip on things & the energy to do stuff.

If I think about it, it does occur to me every year 9/10 has been a horror time academically for our kids. We pulled Joss out to homeschool then, things had got so bad at his school. Dino took himself out west to go fishing on the most notorious fishing grounds in Australia. Theo joined him temporarily. Liddy got Bamah Forst, Glandular Fever & then Chronic Fatigue & we pulled her out to homeschool. Why should Ditz be any different?

Actually, to Ditz's credit, she is displaying some common sense. She realises her school time is growing short & she has decided she doesn't really want a career in music ~ well, not in the Arts with a capital A world. This is something of a relief but Ditz has seen enough of it to know it is morally fraught but she thinks she might like to teach as an aside & do nannying. Okaaay. Nothing like changing horses mid~stream. As I have a cousin who travelled the world on her nannying ticket I happen to think that nannying is not such a bad idea & considerably better than some Ditz has had [like travelling to London to audition for the next Harry Potter movie!]. We were planning to get her started on her child care 3 next year any way, along with some computer graphics. Her music she will always have & it will hardly be wasted ~ though once Ditz is over the self conscious teen angst years we may find she has changed horses again & is boogeying away up on stage.

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.