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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, January 30, 2012

Yes, it really is that bad...

The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.~Mr Wiki

We all know the story of how to cook a frog. The frog is our education system & the water's been heating up so gently the majority have been lulled into a false sense that things are pretty ok & pretty much just like when we went to school.  OK, so we know that numeracy & literacy levels are down but we just need to get the kids of the computer ~ or perhaps we just need to change our expectations for a computer literate society.  Either way there's not much wrong.  Not really.  Anyone who homeschools has gotta be ever so slightly out of their teensy little Chinese mind.

So here is the thing.  I don't do the political thing.  I know there's a political agenda to all this.  I do my reading & keep in touch but you can argue politics till the cows come home & people will still sit on the same side of the fence they started on.    Nope it's much more personal for me, far more experiential, because we sent our kids to school.  Not my idea!  Even 20 years ago I had issues but Dearest wasn't in favour & so ours dutifully toddled along to the local school, which was a tiny 2 teacher affair with about a whole 30 students across 7 grades.  And because I was a good & dutiful mummy I signed up as a helper ~ not in the tuckshop.  Heaven forfend!  I don't do food.  Nope, I trained for the reading program.  Then I trained for the writing program.  I even trained for the math program.  For 10 years I worked the numeracy & literacy program at our local primary school & however bad you think things are, believe me, they are that bad.  Actually they are probably worse than you ever imagined because our government in it's infinite wisdom has turned our schools into a toothless tiger.  They are unable to discipline & so the kids have turned them into a laughing stock.  They know full well there's really nothing the schools can do to them.

Ok, I was working the remedial program so I got to see first hand just how bad this can be.  I worked with the older children because some of the boys were so out of hand others were frightened of them.  I was not.  Most of them were super clever kids bored & frustrated beyond endurance.  I worked with grades 5, 6 & 7, ages10~13.  I had kids with no phonics ~ no decoding reading skills at all, who couldn't even read at a grade 2 level.  How do you do grade 5 work when you can't read your instructions, let alone understand them?  Bad, but ok.  Most of these kids had good reason for being behind: sickness, interstate moves, travel, learning problems but then someone decided it would be a really good move to give their good readers some read aloud practise & sent them out to me for some one~on~one reading time.  BIG mistake.  Remember these kids weren't considered poor readers.  This was the cream of the crop, the bright kids who were considered to be doing well academically & they weren't beginning readers, yet child after child came unstuck on words like: abbreviation, abdication,  abduction,  aberration,  abjection,  ablation,  ablution, station, stationary, fruition ~ how do you get to grade 5 & not know *ion says shon*?  I was apalled.  And that was the easy stuff.  It was about then I twigged that if I wanted my kids to read well I was going to have to do the work myself ~ & I did.  It's why Star never went to kindy.  Why should she compete with 25~30 other littlies when I could give her all her pre~reading skills one~on~one at home?  I didn't expect her to read.  That was not my intent & purpose but hey!  Guess what?  She learnt to read in about 6 weeks of 10 minutes or less a day.

And here's the thing; poor readers are usually poor writers.  Good readers generally write well.  They have a good grasp of literary usage.  They understand how language is put together on paper because they read it.  Don't get me started on math!  Star's concret, everyday math is excellent ~ far better than mine, & I taught her.    I found what motivated her & went with it.  We had no math problems until the experts started meddling & accssed the child of cheating~ at which point said child dug in her heels & refused to co~operate any further.

How did we get into such a mess?  We gave children rights but did not require a corresponding sense of responsibility.  So here's some of what I witnessed first hand in the playground because I was there at the time: a child try to push my son's head through the iron bars of the verandah railing [required 7 staples]; my high achieving athlete bullied unmercifully by younger girls [only when I threatened to remove said child which would have resulted in a monetary loss for the school was this issue resolved]; knives in school bags; one child arrived with dad's gun minus the cartridge thingy; A child throw pine cones at a teacher's face [drew blood; we were told it would go no further as the paperwork wasn't worth it & the parents, who were not there at the time, abused the teachers for inciting their son to violence; they didn't]; a child write F---on the sole of one shoe & YOU on the other.  Every time he didn't want to do something he put his feet up on the desk & his epitaph in the teacher's face.  I have been asked to not enter a classroom because the class teacher felt they could not guarantee my safety.  I have heard children use words I don't even know the meaning of & utter threats against teachers' personal safety.

Oh well, you might be thinking, you live in a low socio~economic area.  These things happen. Nope.  I went to an exclusive private girls school, which I hated, & I would stand in assembly Monday morning while the money went down the line one way & the drugs came back up.  I listened to 12 & 13 years olds recount their sexual exploits over the weekend. [That was an education!] We had girls flipping out on acid ~ & the teachers wondered why I was always reading a book under my desk.  Far safer than the real world! But that at least was high school.

The difference is the escalation in violence, drug usage, sexual exploits at increasingly younger ages.  I remember chatting with one lad who was yawning his way through yet another lesson & always seemed to be tired about the whys only to be informed he'd been up half the night smoking pot & watching t.v. He didn't even blush at the admission.  I did that for him.   I have worked with girls not yet out of primary school who were sexually active ~ & proud of it.  I've watched kids sit through classes & not do a tap of work.  When I mentioned this to their teachers I was told there will always be those kids who will slip through the cracks.

You might think my experience was with a particularly poor school, bad teachers.  You would be wrong.  The teachers were wonderful, very dedicated.  They tried hard within the constraints of the education department.  They employed people to cater for those struggling & for their gifted students.  They subsidised excursions & camps but I started timing the amount of time wasted each day on discipline, lining up, issuing instructions, resolving problems & it was in the hours each & every day!  A class was lucky to get a full hour of instruction time on any given day.

High school is even worse because the kids are bigger & so many of them do not really want to be there.  They are over school but required to be there by law.  Locally, on any day of the week, you will find the shopping centres full of kids from every school in the shire who have simply walked out of class & are wandering round the shops till it is time to catch the bus home.

I do not wonder why people homeschool.  I do wonder how any loving parent can subject their children to the sort of *education* I have seen in our schools.  Even when Star was pressuring me, even when it would have been so much easier to give in & send her to the local high, there was never any question in my mind that however hard it got, however difficult Star decided to be, however bad I was as a teacher, Star was far, far better of at home.  I have seen our schools.  They are not a pretty sight ~ & most of it will never make the news headlines ~ but that is part of the political agenda & I did say I wasn't going there!


Nobody wanted to be a Pommy. Pommies might be gallant in wartime, but they had an unfortunate ancestry. They were descended from all the people who had declined to found America and Canada and South Africa and New Zealand and Australia ~R. Stowe

Some time in the next few days Star & I resume school.  Her last year, a last chance to share & so I have been scanning my bookshelves to see what is there that I just know I am going to love reading aloud to her & that I hope Star will love as much as I do. I have picked Randolph Stowe's The Merry~go~Round in the Sea.

Do you know this book?  I have owed a copy for years & periodically I reread it for the pure pleasure of the language used by someone who knows how to use English.  It is a most beautiful book ~ but then Stowe is a published poet as well as a novelist.

I have heard this book described as a *coming of age* story ~ which does not in the least do it justice!  It is far more than that.  It is one of the most evocative books I have ever read ~ partly, I suspect, because my experience of family was very similar.  I came at the tail end of one generation yet was closer in age to my cousins of the next generation, crossing boundaries & experiencing both the closeness & the inevitable pulling away, the history & stories & clannishness of a people who are secure in who they are, where they have come from & what they believe.  For a child it is mesmerizing & the deep core stability generates a feeling of strength,  invincibility & security.  Stowe captures this in his central character, 6 year old Rob.

Rob's world is idyllic & part of Stowe's magic is his ability to capture the sights & sounds & smells so richly that one can read his words with the sense that one could find their way blind~fold through this world.  Inevitably the world as Rob thinks it is is revealed to be something else entirely.  Beyond Geralton & the family station the Second World War rages.  It consumes Rob's favourite cousin, Rick, unravelling everything Rob once believed until, like the merry~go~round in the sea, the cruel light of day reveals an uglier, less kind world that had always existed, lovingly hidden by the blight of family loyality.

One of Stowe's strengths is his ability to show things as they are without preaching.  Thus Rick's struggle to fit back into an Australia that was determinedly provincial, narrow~minded, bigoted & claustrophobic is unsentimental; Rob is sentimental.  It is he who clings to a vision of a world that only ever really existed in his own mind but oh! it is a beautiful world!

 Knowing my Star she will hate everything about this book but it's one of those books everyone should have read at least once in their lifetime ~ like To kill a Mockingbird.  Some books are just too good not to share.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Not what I was expecting?

And you're gonna make it

You're gonna make it after all

Did they hurt you ?

Was it worth it after all ?

Worth it after all ? ~  Garrison Starr

So what happened with the fast?  Honestly, the woman has a flibberty~gibbert mind, can't concentrate on anything for 2 minutes at a time!  Well, actually I can,  just other things got in the way.  It gets complicated because you can't hold God to ransom & I reached a point towards the end when I really wondered what I was doing ~ besides missing out on some really good food [& who did steal my cornetto out of the freezer anyway?!] & getting rattier & rattier as I tried to juggle the complicated mess my life suddenly became.
Fasting is interesting because it is never what you think it is going to be when you begin your fast.  I had a long list of things I wanted to lay before the Lord ~ family things & there are some of you who have asked me to pray for specific needs at different times; anything still unresolved went down on the table again, but just because I wanted to talk about stuff didn't mean that was what was on the Lord's mind.  Uh, uh. 
One of the things I wanted to talk to the Lord about was Dino because Dino felt he was supposed to be in bible school & heading into some sort of ministry.  Confirmed all round as we all went into prayer about this with Dino but over the years Dino has made some really poor choices which naturally came back to bite him ferociously on the bum so although the spirit was willing there were some major roadblocks in his way: still on his learners, no savings, no bible college...yadda yadda & I really thought the Lord would be more interested in having a chat about the whole sorry mess, don'tcha know but nada.  The Lord wanted to talk to me about stuff in my life ~ & no, I did not want to talk about that.  I'm just dull.  My sins aren't of the spectacular variety.  I mean if you're determined to be a sinner you should be the best sinner possible don't you think?  Ok, maybe that's a little out there...
Anyway Someone had mentioned Rhema to us & we went visiting because we still aren't real settled in a church.  We went to the Friday night service because nights work for us & Dearest & I both went "Sabbath!" & thought it was a really great way to begin our Sabbath. [This is to do with the fast.  Be patient.]  Rhema has a bible college attached & within minutes of mentioning our interest someone was dragging Dino away to chat about it some more & give him the paperwork to look over & make sure he knew when classes began.  Dearest was keen on church.  I went hmmm.....I'm the cautious sort when it comes to churches.  Star was freaking because half the youth group surrounded her & asked the Dreaded Question: So which school do you go to? Then Star & I went away.

Dino had been at great pains to remind me that often the blessing doesn't happen during a fast.  It happens after & here is what has been happening after: Dino's driving manual got passed so I rang & booked Dino's test; the test is for the day his first class starts so we will be over on the mainland anyway;  It is booked for the time we arrive back in the shire & was the first available time; His tax return will be exactly what he needs to cover his tuition & books; the course is Centre~link accredited so he will have a small income & can put fuel in my mainland car; Classes don't clash with Star's stuff; I will have to go with him to orientation & the first day [please pray he passes his test or we will have a major nightmare on our hands!!!] but the first thing that got said to me [remembering I'm a lurker & it was Dearest who was getting all excited & chatting to people] was, Why aren't you taking classes too? Umm....I have Star....Now Dino is talking about when I can start classes & Dearest is juggling money so I can start classes.  What is with this?  I haven't even asked the Lord about it yet!

So we toddled back on Sunday with all Dino's paperwork & went to Sunday morning service. Dearest is happy.  Star's half~asleep; mornings are not her thing.  I was prepared to endure some truly awful music & ho~hum preaching.  Saying I was a reluctant participant is putting it mildly.  Not that I had said anything because Dearest is the spiritual head, right?, & there was a good bit more at stake that a Sunday morning church service but I had a real heaviness of spirit & a migraine kicking in, so thrilled to bits I was not. 

 I know about corporate worship.  The key word is worship ~ not corporate & after about 5 minutes of being majorly distracted by the hand waving & the clapping & the general bibbing & bobbing about to music I didn't know & didn't appreciate I felt the Lord say, Well, why don't you sit down, shut your eyes & worship as usual.  Lightbulb moment ~ so I did. The music bothered me far less & I let the actual words minister to me.  I just became a non~participatory participant. Then the preaching began. Yes!  For the first time in a long time I wasn't screaming inside at getting fed slop, or worse, incorrect slop. Do I have a critical spirit?  You betcha!  Our critical faculties were given to us for a reason.  It's misapplying them is the problem.

So this is Dino's last week landscaping.  On Saturday he goes to orientation.  On Monday he begins classes.  And this is how I know our God is a God of miracles: Dino hated school & doesn't even have a year 10 leaving certificate.  All he ever wanted to do was fish ~ for which he didn't need school.  It's taken a shattered shoulder & some serious disciplinary action on the Lord's part but the Lord finally got his attention & now has him where He wants him to be!  One by one the Lord is mowing our lot down to keep the promise He made to me that His word would not depart from our house & that all of our children would be taught of Him. Blessed be the name of the Lord God Almighty.

Friday, January 27, 2012

An Australia Day Interlude.

That's my wife; she's the lemon ~ The Dish.
 It began to rain within minutes of us walking through my mother's front door ~ & it continued to rain solidly all week.  I like rain but enough is enough & there is no escaping the fact it severely restricted our activities because no~one wanted to drive in the sort of monsoonal downpour that engulfed us all week.
 Australia Day was our first sort of dry day; our only dry day in fact.  We made the most of the sprinkle & headed out.  First we popped into the Leisure Centre to view The Dish ~ a movie we have all seen before but it takes such a quirky & gently satirical jab at the best & worst of Australia [& our love/hate relationship with America] that I still laugh myself silly. It is full of brilliant one~liners.  And who can forget the sight of the Aussie scientists playing cricket in the dish to level it up? Or the Ambassador's face as the band plays Hawaii Five~O thinking it's the American National Anthem?

[ Do you remember the Moon Walk?  Where were you?  We were dragged out of class to watch the grainy & impossible images & I was very bored.  I think I sorta missed the point.]
 Then it was on to Trader Dukes for lunch.  Star was the only one able to manage dessert on top of mains ~ a mudcake that had Ma rolling her eyes & Star in seventh heaven.
 Despite the fact  lunch wasn't even interrupted by a light sprinkle the lowering clouds kept threatening something more serious so we cautiously went for a wander along the Maroochy River & through the caravan park.  Not to my taste maybe but the long term residents certainly get points in my book for creativity.  This lot went Hawaiian...
 but this lot thought going for another Big Queensland thing [& seeing as pineapples & such like were already taken] opted for The Big Boot.  Whatever rocks your boat.
 All along the river, & then the beach, the water was a fetid & putrid brown with ugly yellow scum.  The sand was littered with all sorts of debris that drew the kids like magnets.  We saw tepees & pirate ships made from the scraps but the jagged timber floating in the water just looked nasty ~ & this was after the clean~up crews had been through.  The colour of the water was a shark's dream come true.  Not the sort of water to swim in ~ but people were!
 We beat the rain home ~ just.  Not that we let the rain bother us.  We played Racing Demon, Rummikub, table tennis, pool & darts.  We did jig~saws.  We talked a lot & we ate a lot.  We drank hot chocolate & nibbled on Ma's Christmas shortbread, saved for our visit.
 Today we came home.  Star drove.  I don't know what RACQ was thinking but their web site failed to notify us that the southbound lanes of the Bruce Highway were under water at Donnybrooke.  We crawled at 5mph for over an hour, got diverted, got screamed at & honked at by an irate truck driver [gotta love that road rage because none of his anger was going to make the traffic move any faster], got rained on some more & finally crawled in our own door to find that somehow the cats knew I was coming home today & were beside themselves with anticipation.
We love our Ma. ♥♥♥

Monday, January 23, 2012

. Great Rummikub players are the ones who can enter that zen state where they can just look at all those numbers and then start flying around moving things around until poof, they win.~Clint Walker.

The rain is raining.    True, it's our wet season but the rain puts the beach  & the bush both out of bounds.  The beach is just unpleasant but the bush is full of leeches.  Perhaps to short circuit the Star yodelling the whole village into insanity my mother dragged out the   Rummikub tiles & suggested we play a round or two.  Growing up the family game of choice was 500  & I can still play a mean hand of 500 but despite the number of children we own, as a family we have never been much into board games & what was played tended to be chess.  We had our own tournament going through any wet holidays though inevitably Liddy & Dino were wiped out fairly quickly & the tin tacks came down to Theo & Joss who were both incredibly competitive & stubborn.

I'm not sure my mother will ever ask Star & I to play Rummikub again.  Have you ever played?  If so you will know all the little tiles have numbers on them.  That alone is enough to do my head in but nothing loath I was prepared to have a go despite the fact, like Gin, you need a run & 3o points to go down.  If I have to count above 10 I'm in trouble ~ so I was in trouble before the first tile went down.  My mother does not normally have trouble with numbers but I think Star & I have done for her, Star & I both being *numerically challenged*.  Star became completely dyslexic & incapable of putting any of her tiles down in sequence because she knew what she meant.  Sadly this lack of sequencing did not bother me ~ but then I was chronically putting down runs that were missing essential numbers in the sequencing.  Let's just say it was not Star who noticed!

Naturally my mother cleaned the pair of us up with very little trouble. 

Meanwhile the men are holding down the fort & attempting to comfort two cats who have completely lost the plot & blame Dearest, or so Dearest says, for my absence.               

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Well, it's a marvellous night for a moon dance,
With the stars up above in your eyes....Moon Dance: Van Morrison

We are spending a few day with my mum up on the Sunshine Coast ~ minus the sunshine!  Star drove us up after her audition, & did a very nice job of it too ~ the driving, not the audition. 

 I think her audition piece went all right.  She sang Van Morrison's Moon Dance ~ a song she had to lift about an octave for her voice but she is still cracking & disappearing all over the place & had to work very hard in the days prior to have some chance of it sounding even reasonably ok, which she says it did.  Both Dimitri & Alison were auditioning.  Star was rather tempted to do Figaro & take of Dimitri because it is a piece that lends itself to being taken off rather beautifully but she restrained her impulses!   Apparently she got a very nice Jazz/bluesy/classical feel to it.  Not sure if that means she's versatial or just all over the place!  Her sight reading was a disaster!!!  She couldn't pitch her voice anywhere near where she knew the notes should go although she could hear them perfectly well in her head.  And people think singing is easy! How little they know!

We arrived up north a lot earlier than we were expecting to, about mid~afternoon, so squeezed in an afternoon walk around the village admiring everybody's gardens before the rain belted down in true tropical torrential downpour!  And I break my fast this morning.Yay!  I am looking forward to breakfast.  Fruit & yoghurt ~ & coffee!  How I have missed my coffee.  Have a blessed weekend peeps & we'll see you on the other side.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This & that.

Star & I were up waaay too late last night watching the SBS movie we came in halfway through so I don't know the name.  I do know it was French & let's just say I have a weakness for French movies.

My understanding of French is semi~reasonable ~ depending.  You know how it is.  Some days the brain just won't fire & recall vocabulary.  Anyway I am not as completely reliant on the sub~titles as Star is: she gave up around mid~night. 

However part way through & before Star abandoned me to my fate we heard a rattling round the kitchen area & on investigation, in case we needed a cat to deal with an unwanted intruder, we discovered the most humongous green tree frog I have seen in ages., all covered with cat hair & dust he'd collected from scrabbling round on our floors.  We admired him & shoved him out the door having no idea at all how he managed to get in in the first place.

I am down to the last few days of my fast & all of a sudden I just want it to be over.  The psychological aspects always seem to be the hardest for me to deal with but at the same time Ezekiel was rabbiting on about cubits & however often I did the conversion I just couldn't hold the numbers in my head.  Now there's a conversion you would think the translators would just make.  Why wouldn't you?  Especially for people like me who still think in imperial despite the fact we converted to metric back in 1966 while I was still at school.  I didn't convert then & still think in feet & inches so what hope have I got with cubits?

Now it's not that I'm physically hungry; I'm not.  I'm feeling pretty good physically with that lovely clarity of mind fasting brings but I am just tired of being out of routine & having to make all these adjustments because of the fast.  The temptation is to pack it in early so I am hunkering down in the hope that this too shall pass & the last few days will be beneficial.  After all we are done with the cubits for now so at least my reading shouldn't be so fraught.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reuse, Recycle, Refurbish.

My hobby of not attending meetings about recycling saves more energy than your hobby of recycling. ~ John McCarthy

When Liddy came home to school I gave up my desk so that she had somewhere to study.  Being a kinesthetic learner she was rarely to be found at it but the drawers accumulated a variety of her junk & the top served as a clothing depository.  Meanwhile Star, who also deigns to use a desk, ditched her secretariat, which moved into my bedroom & served the useful purpose of holding a variety of writing paper & the presents no~one is supposed to know about.  Meanwhile I used Star's outgrown desk with it's world map sprawled across its surface & strangely convex top but I missed my desk.  For one thing it was a present from my parents.  For another it had working drawers.  Thirdly it was longer rather than wide which suits how I work much better & allows for whichever psychotic cat needs the close comfort of my presence to perch alongside of me without either of us getting in the other's way.

Now Dino is looking at some serious study & is working his way down a list of theological colleges who may, or may not, offer the sort of course he is interested in. He is looking here at present.  We like this one as it is close to home which means he isn't travelling forever & can borrow the shared mainland car without causing major disruptions.  So as the rain was belting down this morning & Dino got an unexpected day off work we did a major recycling job.  I cleared out Liddy's desk & dragged it out into my space freeing the desk I had been using for Dino, which he gratefully lugged upstairs ~ & I have my own desk back!  I believe I've been possessive about my things from an early age.  My mother tells the story of returning from a holiday only to have me march round the house proclaiming, My house.  My bed.  My chair.  etc

And you remember Star did the Gatton thing?  Well Star arrived home with some rosemary growing in one of those tacky seedling pots because at the close of the service everyone was encouraged to take a pot of rosemary in memory of the floods & those who perished in them.  Each pot had a little tag.  Star's was rather appropriate we thought.

The problem of course is that if I plant it in the garden Star can't take it with her & rather than go out & buy yet another pot I have been considering an alternative.  When my mother moved house she passed along to us a most delightful set of spice jars ~ which we have never actually used.  They don't make very good spice jars so they have been sitting in a cupboard while I worked up the courage to pass them along.  I think they would make beautiful & attractive herb pots because I have inherited a terrible family failing & there is always something [several somethings] sprouting in a peculiar variety of jars on my windowsills.

I know rosemary grows into a rather big bush if let go but kept pruned & indoors it should do ok in one of these small jars & we can get the pleasure of them without feeling guilty they serve no useful purpose.  If it works [& gosh I hope I don't kill Star's special plant off!]  I may do the entire collection.  What do you think?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

We can't cross that bridge until we come to it, but I always like to lay down a pontoon ahead of time. ~ Bernard Baruch

It is wet.  It is cold.  The wind is scything across the bay & I am snuggled into a jacket & draped with the brown checked rug you can zip up like a coat that my mother gave me one Christmas.

It was overcast & showery yesterday too but nowhere near as cold & the lad went off to play cricket on the island oval where the sight of dolphins lazily cruising down the channel generally generates more interest than the game.

  I arrived in time to watch Dino lob a six & a couple of fours around the oval before being caught out on the boundary but by then, naturally, we were running late.  The boat we should have been on had left before Dino was out of the shower so we went to church in the tinnie.  This is not a major deal.  I make sure I'm not all dolled up.  Depending on traffic & where the car got left last time someone was over, the wind & tide et al I might find myself cumbersomely climbing ladders, clambering out onto a beach, the rocks & slippery ramp of the boat ramp or bouncing onto one of several pontoons.  Last night it was a pontoon.

Given my drathers, I'd drather the ladder & a stable jetty to cling to ~ especially if the weather is a bit rough, as it was last night.  There are 2 patches that are dodgy on the bay.  One is the Ws between 2 of the islands where tide & current battle the wind & the channel froths & bubbles like a witch's cauldron.  The other is the entrance to the marina which narrows artificially into a man made channel that periodically silts up & tends to be shallow & unstable.

Dino chose to tie up at the old pontoon.  It's further up the channel & generally more stable.  I am not a big fan of the pontoon thing.  I've seen too many near catastrophes on the things.  Last night I was a victim of said pontoon though in all honesty I was at fault for badly misjudging the shift in ballast as I clambered out of the boat.  I am now sporting a massive bruise on my foot where it caught the gunnel & a stinging scrape along the bone.  I am feeling sore & sorry for myself. 

Just the same, there is nothing quite like being out on the open water under a big night sky to make you appreciate the awesomeness of God &  just how small & ignorant you are.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Little Light Reading.

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? Genesis

My specific reading at the moment is Ezekiel ~ he of the dry bones set dancing  up out of the dust of the ages ~ & don't you just love that visual imagery.  Ezekiel is all about idolatry & how much God hates it, about how the nations about Israel will be reduced to nothing & less than nothing for rejoicing over Israel's downfall, & about the faithfulness of  God.  It is probably the only time in my life I have read all of this book sequentially.  I tend to dance around, bob back & forth, & read completely out of sequence so I have found reading it through straight, from beginning to end, hard going. 

The 2nd commandment addresses the issue of idolatry & yet from beginning to end Israel's besetting sin is idolatry.  I'm a fast reader ~ which is what happens when you spend 3 years of your life wading as fast as possible through impossible texts so you can write a not very enlightened paper about them, so I had got about 3/4 of the way through scratching my head because we all know idolatry is wrong.  We all practise it, of course, but we know it's wrong & when we realise we try & do something about it. 

There is the whole issue of God's holiness & the glory of His name of course but there is another reason, one that rather shocked me because I tend to think of myself as a little person, someone of no account, & I spend a good bit of my time trying hard to so blend into the background as to neither draw attention to myself nor have to engage in social situations I find difficult & unrewarding.  Enter Derek Prince.

I like Prince.  On the whole I think he had an excellent grasp of the importance of the middle east to the End Times & the centrality of Israel & the Israelites.  I had listened to his preaching for years & found it thorough & vivid but had never had the good fortune to get my hands on one of his books.  Not that I was trying over hard, there being so many excellent books around I have yet to read, but last time I was in Koorong  I got his On Experiencing God's Power.  Weird title but the insides looked ok.  Stuff on fasting [which was really good] & tithing, controlling the tongue ~ & holiness.  I have a thing about personal holiness because God has been on my case for years about how important it is.  What I never really got [except that without it none of us will see God] is why it was so important.

I mean, seriously, I'm a common little garden variety sinner saved by grace.  There's a lot of us around & I don't think anyone who knows me really well would choose holiness as an adjective to describe me.  Au contraire, mes soeurs.  Anyway, Prince is my *light reading* just now.  That almost seems like a contradiction in terms but then Prince isn't difficult.  Not really.  Deep, but not difficult. And because I was reading him on the boat, & in the green room, & tucked up in the back corner of Max Brenner's I was constantly losing my place & reading fairly randomly when I stumbled on his chapters on The Salt of the Earth.

In here Prince lays down the principle established  in Genesis when Abraham pleaded for Sodom, starting with: for the sake of 50 righteous men & working his way down to a bare 10, would God not spare the city?  Ten righteous men were not to be found & so Abraham & Lot flee the city with their families.  In the process Lot asks God a favour because he doesn't think he can make it all the way to the mountains he's been told to retreat to in time.  He requests that he be allowed to find refuge in the little village of Zoar.  

And what does God say? “Behold, I grant you this favour also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.”  For the sake of one righteous man [& make no mistake, Lot was righteous, the bible says so] little Zoar was spared.

Now that is the principle.  The application is for us. Remember we have been told we are salt & light.  We get sprinkled across our wider communities, usually numerically small, to act as salt.  And what does salt do?  It acts as an antiseptic to cleanse filth; it aides the prevention of corruption; it is necessary to good health; it adds flavour.  For the sake of the righteous on Earth God with holds His judgement but if the salt should lose it's flavour.....

The wider application is that we are a priestly people after the order of Melchizedek, watchmen called to stand in the gap & plead for God's mercies on our communities, to act as an astringent & cleanser, to slow corruption, to aide health  etc.  So long as we do our job there is still time to reach the unsaved ~ which is one reason why a great apostasy, a great falling away, is necessary before the judgement because there will then be no~one to plead the world's cause.

Prince points out that we are also ambassadors, Christ's representatives on earth, & one of a Nations final acts before declaring all out war is the withdrawal of their aambassadors.

So the question becomes:  How much do we care for our unsaved family? Our neighbours? Our communities?  Our Nation?  Our entire world?  For the sake of one righteous man God spared Zoar.  Do we care enough to strive after  holiness?  We are made righteous by the blood of Christ but do we actively pursue it?  Are we quick to repent & confess?  Are we diligent in working out our salvation?  A huge responsibility rests on our shoulders; the fate of the entire world in fact ~ & while Christ will return, let it not be because we have failed in our duty.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Organized slaughter, we realize, does not settle a dispute; it merely silences an argument. ~James Frederick Green

Our teens are brain deficient.  Especially the boys.  The frontal lobe of the brain  [that area responsible for the ability to judge consequences & control impulses] does not develop until our children are in their twenties.  Which begs the question...

Once upon a time, yes, I'm that old, you had to be 21 to enlist in a war.  I remember when it changed.  Draft Beer, Not PeopleMake Love, Not War.  Join the Army, see the world, meet interesting people - and kill them.  Remember the slogans?  Our government, in it's wisdom, lowered the drinking age, not raised the conscription age.  We now have a lethal cocktail of teens who can both drink & drive yet lack the ability to control their impulses or judge the consequences of their actions.

Which is not my point.  Do you know the age God  allowed for Jewish men to be sent to war?  Yep, 20! [Numbers1:2~3]  We should've paid attention 'cause you know who makes the best soldiers, don't you?  Children!  And there are plenty of countries around the world doing just that: Eastern Europe, large parts of Asia & the Middle East, parts of South America & Africa.

Frankly I think the people who declare war should be the ones made to fight it but as that ain't gonna happen any time soon ['cause these people don't have a teen brain & are perfectly capable of seeing where the consequences of such actions will land them] it seems only reasonable that those on the front line should stand a fighting chance.

My boy is 26.  I would hardly say he's fully capable of controlling his impulses or judging the consequences even now.  *sigh*  Some days living in a fallen world just make me mad.  I think today is one of those days.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Checking for Monsters.

I remember when the candle shop burned down. Everyone stood around singing 'Happy Birthday.' ~Steven Wright.

We all know the Star.  She's a bit out there.  A bit goofy.  She's funny & witty & she lights up our life.  Our house was very quiet while she was gone.

It is not, as it so happens, the very first time Star has been away from home while not accompanied by some trusted family member but  Alison checked anyway to make sure she'd be ok all alone in her strange hotel room.

"I'll be fine," Star assured her breezily, "Once I've checked for monsters."  Alison laughed.  She thought the Star was joking.  The Star was not.  She checked under the bed & in all the cupboards & behind the curtain & the bathroom before she was convinced nothing lurked in some hidden corner that could grab her in the middle of the night.  Even so she missed the curlews & the frogs, the bitterns & pheasants that serenade us with our night~time lullabye.  Instead she had traffic & people walking past, big trucks & the sound of a busy city.

This morning Dearest & I watched rather besottedly the ABC coverage of the Gatton Memorial Service. For us there was only one performer.  Here's Star.  If you catch the news coverage of this Star is in the top right hand corner wearing a green shirt ~ & beaming ~ as she always does when she performs.

How to complicate a life.

Ever since I first ran across the idea of beginning the New Year with a fast the idea grabbed hold of my imagination.  There was just something so *right* about the whole concept & so I purposed in my heart that this year I would go for it ~ not because I'm super spiritual or anything like that ~ quite the opposite in fact; & not because I like fasting.  I don't.  I like the results but getting my get up & go to actually start one takes a rather large spiritual bomb. 

It probably helped that due to a combination of circumstances there was far less junk food in my cupboards than is normal for this time of year & I knew that simply starting was going to be the hardest part ~ or so I thought.  Unfortunately I do not live to myself alone.  Dearest does not believe in fasting & while he will cook the odd meal he dislikes doing it now because my house now consists of 2 semi~vegetarians [one of whom will eat no mushrooms, the other no lentils!], & one on the Daniel Fast.

Food is an issue.  Watching me dice vegetables for yet another curry & rice dish Dearest complained loudly that he did not understand anyone drowning the taste of good food in sauce.  I tartly replied that he should given the 1/2 inch layer of salt he pours over good food! Ick. Stopped him dead in his tracks because he has never thought that what he does is the least odd. 

Now Dino, like my Dearest ~ & Liddy too for that matter, is a confirmed red meat eater.  He works in landscaping doing heavy physical stuff & it is nothing for him to consume large amounts of food.  He burns through it fairly quickly.  As a rule I make him a meat & salad sandwich for lunch, throw in a muesli bar & a couple of pieces of fruit & we're done.  On the Daniel Diet Dino gets no meat.  [Star has been snickering no end about this one!]  I have found myself making quantities of pasta or rice or potato salad, salsa~y things with our abundance of tomatoes & cucumbers straight out of the garden, tabouli ~ all just for the lad to take to work.  I make a large container.  It comes home empty every night & he is always hungry!  Always.  Dino is having trouble, particularly with his energy levels but on the weekends he joins me on a liquids only regime.  I suspect that is most of his problem right there but I don't want to discourage him.  He wants to make some effort, however small & incomplete.

When I planned this January stretched ahead as a long empty expanse with very little happening.   Expecting the massive headaches & a variety of lesser evils as my body detoxed I very deliberately left January as that vast & empty landscape. That all changed with one e~mail.  Yesterday, as Star drove into town, Brizzie's temperature was skyrocketing past 38 degrees C & my water bottle was emptying fast! I was not looking forward to the drive home.

So here I am juggling a variety of eating habits, trying to time it so that Dearest's meat is ready  just before I pour sauce into vegetables so that I can put Dearest's on his plate unadorned, & watching Star's supply of lentil patties deplete rather fast.  And please, don't bother pointing out this isn't strictly a Daniel Fast.  I know it's not ~ not exactly.  Dino didn't do his reading & I got bored before I was half done so we are doing what we can.  All this fuss about food! *sigh*

Meanwhile Star is having a massive meltdown because her voice, while improving, has not improved either enough or fast enough for her liking & finding a song that she isn't going to completely maul for her audition is proving difficult & angst~making.  I have been roped in for personal performances late at night while Star runs through her  repertoire & I make judiciously encouraging comments ~ & try not to giggle when her voice disappears completely!  Oh. My. 

And I have yet to get up to my mother's.  Hopefully we will head to Star's audition on the 21st then just keep heading north.  The cats will have a fit when we don't come home.  Yes indeedy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back in the Green Room.

I believe in professionalism, but playing is not like a job. You have to be grateful to have the opportunity to play ~Wynton Marsalis
January is usually pretty slow with us.  Generally we are in recovery mode after too much December with Star involved in rehearsals & concerts up until Christmas Eve.  January is usually hot.  And muggy.  Humid.  Unbearable.  We sprawl under the fans with cold drinks; ices; wet cloths, mopping our dripping faces.  We watch too many movies & generally sloth about.  The only excitement is our annual trip up to my mother's which we like to leave as late as possible hoping that by late January the crowds will have dispersed, the weather will have improved & the break will revive us enough to deal with the year ahead.

Which is why I chose January for my longer fast.  Amongst other reasons but knowing I had nothing much on was a great motivator.  That has all changed.  Naturally.

It changed without warning.  One moment I was happily clicking windows on my computer anticipating another slow day.  The next I was reading an e~mail with growing alarm!    So I am back in the Green Room.  I am back with a vengeance.  I think I was asleep in about 20 minutes.  Gosh those couches are comfy!  Everyone sleeps in the green room.

Mary Poppins is in full swing.  The place was overflowing with children & chimney sweeps.  Angelina Ballerina is showing.  As is James & the Giant Peach.  Star is in rehearsal.  QPAC is providing the music for the "One Year On"  First Anniversary Commemorative Service at Gatton to remember last year's devastating floods.  This is by special invite & Star is incredibly lucky to be doing it.  Four pieces to be learned in 4 days ~ one of which is our National Anthem.  I know.  Call me slack, but seriously when does anyone ever actually sing this thing ~ unless you are on a school parade ground for assembly [which Star obviously isn't] or accepting your gold medal at the Olympics? And hands up if you even knew there was another verse.  I did but I don't know any of the words.

We were chatting on the way home, as one does on these occasions, because this event necessitates Star travel with the choir to Toowoomba & overnight there so they can run their sound & light checks & do a run through & stand around while the powers that be confer about whether everything is working as it should, & we realised that we could literally count the number of times Star has been away from home without me on the fingers of one hand.  No school camps for the Star & even something like Guides Star hasn't done because music has eaten up her life. Oh. My.  It's not that Star needs me; she doesn't.  She just likes to have her *Mummy Admiration Society*  out in full force when she's performing.  What I am not doing is travelling out to Gatton!  The crowds.  The parking.  Not this little black bunny.  Nope.  I shall stay home & enjoy it from the comfort of my lounge chair in front of the tellie!

So yeah.  Star is required to be absolutely professional.  The PM will be there.  The GG will be there.  The Premier will be there.  The television cameras will be there.  So if you happen to be watching the news Tuesday night scan the alto section for our Star.  She'll be there somewhere.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Last Bird Standing.

I realised that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes ~ Charles Lindbergh.

*Quiet time* was something of a misnomer this morning. 

 I have a cane chair upstairs in our overlarge bedroom where I can prop my feet on the low windowsill & look out through the canopy to the slow swirl of water that is our bay.  There are usually lots of the little birds:finches, honeyeaters, silvereyes, flycatchers & fantails flitting through the leaves & warbling away.  It creates a happy background noise for prayer.  That all changed this morning.

It wasn't that the sound was unhappy ~ just, well, noisy.  Lots of squawks & squeaks & arks punctuated by a shrill trill.  I just had to open my eyes & peek.  There, perched along my verandah rail, was a whole family of butcher birds & despite their extremely grotty feeding habits I am very fond of butcher birds because they have the loveliest song of all the bush birds.  And they were all very intently watching the very fat grand~daddy of a butcher bird try to fit himself flat in my bird bath & roll around making sure every last feather  got a good drenching.  The peanut gallery had plenty of advice to offer about the process to boot!

As I watched more & more birds arrived until there were over half a dozen in various stages of either attempting to get into the bath, drink from the rim or dry off after their ablutions. 

Half an hour later all that remained was one lone half~grown chick perched forlornly on the rail & a seriously depleted bird bath!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Not really me?

I would appreciate the irony more if I was feeling better.  Yep, I'm as crook as a chook & have spent the best part of 2 days in bed nursing a massive & debilitating headache along with various other aches & pains.  Actually I'm heading back there very soon.  Such a waste.  Down south has a heat wave.  We just have blue skies & lovely sun.

So I thought I would show you what Star gave me. It is very pretty ~ though not really my colours, well I like the cream but red, not really me.  The material is beautifully soft so it's nice & comfortable to wear & wear it I do, to church.  Star, however, was not satisfied with just buying me a pretty shirt for special.  Nope, not the Star.  She had to accessorise.  The ear~rings are fine.  The bangles  are pretty but I can't think the last time I was so accessorised.  Well before my first child was born!

The child does not have a Quakerish bone in her body.  Obviously.  So what did she buy for herself?  Glow~in the~dark nail polish!  Yep, she's wearing it.  It works.  She's absolutely delighted.  I wonder about that child.  I really do.