Wednesday, November 24, 2010

IT'S OFFICIAL.......I'M AN OLD BAG!

Well, the big day finally rolled around, I’m 60, aaaaaagh!! How on earth did I manage to make it to such a milestone. A friend surprised me with a jumbo sized badge which cracked me up, and I have worn it with pride today!

Had a definite moment of encouragement when I went to renew my driver’s licence. Noticed I was wearing the exact same shirt as I had worn the last time I renewed my licence, so the lady behind the counter asked if I wanted to use the same photo. Opting for a new photo she showed it to me and reckoned it looked exactly the same, making me feel good that at least I hadn’t visibly aged too much in the few years since the last one.

So, sixty, my goodness, what on earth have I been doing all this time? Have I grown any wiser with age? Probably not, but there are some advantages to growing older besides being eligible for a Seniors Card.

I’ve mellowed, even though I’ve never really had much of a tendency to be anxious. Worry doesn’t change anything, only action does, so whether it’s big stuff or little stuff to be dealt with, progress will only be made as you chip away at it bit by bit.

I don’t rush about feeling like I have to fix everything. It’s one thing to feel the weight of the burden of responsibility when all you see around you are things that need attending to, but I’ve managed to consciously remind myself of what has been achieved. Life will never be perfect and we all live with the ambiguities and tension of things when they’re not as we would like, but if I hold up my end and contribute where I can, the result as we work alongside others can’t help but be a positive movement towards achieving a fruitful outcome.

And being with others is a good thing, being able to offer help as well as feeling free to ask for help, not isolating yourself. Contributing to a sense of community where everyone feels valued. My daily desk calendar thought for today is Love is best found when looking to give it to another, to which I agree wholeheartedly. I visited a friend today whose husband passed away last weekend, and it was as much a blessing to me to spend time with her, as it was for her to receive a card and flowers and the assurance of the love and prayers of our whole community.

Despite the often bleak news we witness on a daily basis, life is still good. No matter what has gone before, each new day is a fresh start, and here’s hoping my sixty year old body will allow me to experience many more.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

PICNIC AT FRANKLIN HOUSE


Franklin House in Launceston is always open for afternoon teas, weddings, parties, anything, but at various times of the year they stage particular events to welcome visitors to the charms offered by this 1838 historic home. Today was their annual Victorian Picnic in the gardens, and with a light cloud cover, conditions were perfect for my outing with friends Bev and Cheryl who were treating me to a special pre birthday lunch. (Bev on the left, Cheryl on the right, me the little piggy in the middle)

To the accompaniment of a group from the Launceston Youth & Community orchestra, we picnickers munched away on either our traditional squire’s or clergyman’s lunch hamper, definitely more than I usually eat in the middle of the day, but very tasty. Children ran around the garden rolling hoops a la Victorian style and playing croquet, though one young guy couldn’t quite get the idea you weren’t supposed to use the mallet like a cricket bat.

Relying on volunteers for the upkeep of the grounds, the garden was a delight, with flower strewn arches leading from one area to another, an infinite variety of real roses with beautiful perfumes, a tasteful combination of colourful garden beds and formal features, and a 180 year old oak tree providing masses of shade. A delightful afternoon, well worth the visit, don’t think I’ll need much dinner.

Franklin House’s next event is just round the corner, Carols and Cake on December 12th from 2 – 4pm.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

ARACHNIDS ON THE MOVE

Just when I thought I had written my last spider blog, what should I confront while doing the vacuuming this morning but a very suspect spider web. It wasn’t there last night, and the last time I had seen a similar one appear overnight, in my kitchen utensils container no less, what crawled out was enough to make sure I was very careful in ferreting this one out.

Not a huge fella, but big enough and mean looking, a nasty piece of work. You know the sort, the ones you can't quite identify, but just by looking at them you know they’re not the sort to mess with. And was he in a nice accessible place? Of course not. He inconveniently decided to take up residence in the recliner chair, in the space between the back of the chair and the back cushion, lots of nice folds of material to crawl up in. So, with vacuum cleaner at the ready I sucked the web out of the way, gingerly pulled the cushion forward and hey presto there he was, pretending to be nice and innocent as if he had every right to be there, so in one fell swoop the big sucker did its job and he disappeared to the innards of the machine.

Not one to be satisfied that was the end of the ordeal, I thought it best to empty the bag once I’d finished vacuuming, for some spiders show remarkable resilience, and because I hadn’t actually squashed him I wasn’t sure if he’d actually choke to death in his dusty trap. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be an issue, but what I hadn’t mentioned was that before I started vacuuming I put a colour through my hair. I knew thirty minutes was all I needed to zoom from one end of the house to the other, but with this added task I was wondering what hair shade I would end up with.

So, there I was out in the back yard in my tatty old dressing gown, hair all gooed up and a towel round my shoulders, emptying the bag of its contents and going through it with a stick half expecting him to crawl out coughing and spluttering, but in typical fashion I couldn’t find the blighter.

Now, I didn’t think he could have had the strength or wherewithal to hang on to the inside of the tube, but I wasn’t taking that thing back inside if he was still in there. Took the bendy bit off the end to find there was a bunch of stuff clogging up the end of the tube so I thought I had him now. Was very brave and pulled it out with my fingers, very fast mind you, but still no spider. Out came the broom next, shoved the handle up the tube, up the bendy tube, took the head off the tube, no matter where I looked, he wasn’t appearing.

So, in the end, I had to assume he was actually curled up in all that dust, but just to make sure even though I’m 99.99% positive I sucked him up, I gave the chair a generous serving of surface spray, just in case it happened to be a she instead of a he and there were some eggs laid in there.

Hair ended up ok, but it looks like I’m still on the hit list, only hope this summer isn’t going to be as bad as the last.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON

Feels like not so long ago Spring had only just arrived with all its unpredictability weather wise, but already it is on its way out and the end of the year is just around the corner. The prospect (or is it dread) of Christmas shopping is looming, and the feeling of not wanting to go near the shops festooned with Christmas fare is with me yet again. After last year’s disaster of doing it all in two days as I got the flu, here’s hoping I can be somewhat more organised this year. Completed the first step just in time, did the tax return which rewarded me with the refund within a week, so at least I have something with which to start planning the shopping list.

Fortunately there are other things of more immediate importance marking the fast approaching end of the year, like exams. Not mine thank goodness, done enough of those in my time, but a friend and I have the annual task of supervising Year 11 and 12 student exams for the local school. Amazing how long three hours can feel when you have to sit still and be quiet and not distract the oh so studious ones suffering writer’s cramp in their efforts to extract all that information from their brains and get it down on paper.

We take the opportunity while they’re doing the exam to read the exam paper, and for some subjects I’m eternally grateful I’m not a student any more, but today was Modern World History. Covering all manner of world conflicts and revolutions since the start of the twentieth century, there was an abundance of material to have a field day in the three essays required.

I was fascinated how the majority of my own reading matter has been set amid these conflicts, portraying the human stories within the context of war, oppression and terrorism. The seeming disbelief of the horror one group of people can inflict on another, the mixture of bewilderment and fear, the gravitation of some towards ignoring the suffering of others in order to simply survive while others pull out all stops to care for others amid the chaos around them, the struggles of displaced peoples as they flee their homelands and are transplanted into new countries and new cultures totally foreign to them.

The issues which emanate as they attempt to assimilate while maintaining their own identity and integrity, as well as the issues arising from the responses or reactions of those around them, are all collateral damage of war. Whether refugees have a hope of moving beyond their nightmares and creating a new sense of home depends largely on whether there is a welcoming spirit of acceptance and support, or a sense of reluctance wanting to distance itself from the supposed imposition of a new culture on to their own.

With so many displaced persons dotted all over the planet, the feelings are often those reflected in the book I’ve just finished, Bone China by Roma Tearne, where one by one the children of a Sri Lankan family leave behind the turmoil in their country for what they hope will be a better life in England. Despite having physical safety and new opportunities, what they unfortunately discover over time is that they gradually lose their sense of identity, feeling like they no longer belong to the culture from which they came, or to the one where they are now.

History was what made you what you are. History was what made you feel at ease with yourself. History gave you a solidity, a certainty, in everything you did.

I’d hate to think that if I was a stranger in a strange land, I would have to live out the rest of my days feeling like I belonged nowhere.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

HERE CHOOKY CHOOKY

Dangle a Shmacko in front of a dog and you’ll have a friend for life. Try to take it away it away from him and you’ll make an arch enemy. Finding out what goes on inside the heads of our furry and feathered friends with regards to their eating habits is not always straightforward. Take the humble chook for instance.

Never having had chooks of my own, I find it valuable to have friends nearby with chooks who can benefit from my food scraps. I haven’t exactly always been particularly partial to these clucking, pecking egg producers, having had a couple of run ins with rampaging roosters over the years determined to display their dominant macho psyches while keeping me away from their private harem.

What I have noticed though, and it reminded me of my observations of the eating habits of sparrows in the back yard (March 5th), is that like various species in the animal kingdom, chooks will eat anything put in front of them, but there is some sort of system and an obvious preference about how they go about it. Usually all they get from me are vegetable peelings, bit of leftover rice or pasta, furry things from the bottom of the fridge, a bread crust or two, but I had a bit more than usual the other day after having visitors the night before.

Into their pen went the bag full of scraps, and along with it what they obviously considered a real delicacy…..pizza. Everything else was ignored while each chook descended on the pizza scraps, retreating to a space within the enclosure to devour their find ready to fend off in no uncertain terms any poacher encroaching on his or her ground. Only after each morsel was successfully defended and consumed did anything else get a look in.

Besides wondering about the junk food cravings of chooks, made me think about our own tactics when we’re presented with something irresistible, whether we can see beyond the initial urge to have something all to ourselves, whether the primal urges can give way to awareness of the needs of others. It may be easy to defend and justify our position, but the easy way might not always be the most helpful.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I SEE YOU, YOU SEE ME, HOW CAN I SEE ME?

It’s been a long week, have lost more than a few hours sleep in the middle of the night thinking of Nev and praying for him, trusting all will be well, and fortunately things are looking up a few days down the track. Nev was brought out of the coma, none the wiser about what had happened, had no memory of falling which I understand is quite common for traumatic accidents and head injuries, but will remain in hospital while all his injuries are assessed and treated.

So, with the lack of sleep I was wondering whether I was looking a bit older than my years when a customer in the General Store where I was working this morning commented when my friend Cheryl was talking to me “Oh, is this your daughter?” to which we both cracked up, seeing as she is only five years younger than me. Wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or an insult to either of us, think it was more that he wasn’t really that observant, was quite a funny moment.

It’s interesting in those moments to wonder what other people are seeing when they look at you. We spend much of our lives projecting ourselves in such a way that we will be thought of favourably, that we will come across as halfway decent and competent, but we never really know how we’re seen. We don’t have the luxury of living inside someone else’s skin, to look out through their eyes, to experience the emotions and responses our behaviour has on others, to see ourselves as we are seen.

One of my all time favourite books is Mister God this is Anna by Fynn, the true story of 5 year old Anna who was found on the streets of London in the 1930’s, and how she viewed the world in the light of her relationship with Mister God. I recently found a second hand copy of Anna’s Book, also by Fynn which includes much of her own writing, complete with spelling mistakes (quote below has correct spelling to make it easier to read).

For Anna, every life experience and everything around her was useful in her pursuit to understand ‘what it was all about,’ and this whole idea of seeing yourself became quite obvious to her. It was one thing to think about a person, where it’s all in your head, but another thing entirely to love them, where what’s on the inside is brought to life in outward action.

When it all comes out of my head….Mummy goes inside me and I go inside Mummy. If I don’t go inside Mummy, how can I look at me, because I look the wrong way. So when I love Mummy then I go inside her and look out of her eyes and see me and see how much Mummy loves me…

If someone loves you they let you come inside. But if they don’t love you, they don’t. Well, Mister God is like that too. He lets you come inside and see yourself, but you got to let Mister God come in too, because he wants to look out to see himself. You see, if…Mister God doesn’t look out of people’s eyes, how does he know what people think of him?

Wrap your brain round that one. If you want your brain stretched, your thinking challenged and your heart stirred, I can’t recommend Mister God this is Anna highly enough.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

HANG IN THERE BRO

Not feeling much like writing. My brother in law Nev is currently under sedation at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne following a 4 metre fall from scaffolding while working yesterday. He was conscious after the event, but in a pretty bad way, was airlifted to the Alfred and put in an induced coma.

After 24 hours, not a lot has changed. He has broken ribs, a fractured skull, some bleeding round the brain, will be in intensive care for several days as his progress is monitored. For the rest of the family, especially his wife and children, the waiting is the worst part.

As the one who usually comes to everyone else’s rescue and lends a hand doing whatever, he’s now the one who will be on the receiving end, which won’t sit comfortably with him.

Spare a prayer for him, it’d be appreciated.