She comes up to about my chin, which is to say 5 foot tops, which all my boys think is hilarious because she makes them stand on the bottom step to talk to her, while she stands on the top.
She was widowed years ago, and lives on her own in her own home in SE Qld. During the drought, when she lived out of town, she carted water and milked cows and chopped wood. Now she lives in town near my uncle and she doesn't have to do those things for herself, although my uncle had to take her ladder away from her after they found out she'd been up on it cleaning her guttering out. She complained to everyone who'd listen that her son stole her ladder, so they bought her a new one and made sure it's too short for her to reach the guttering.
For her 80th birthday, my cousin bought her a beautiful statue for her garden, but he warned her that she wasn't to move it around by herself. If she wanted to shift it, she had to promise to ask him to do it. "Well." she huffed. "I didn't know it was going to come with strings attached!"
She grew up with the Depression mentality that you make do or do without, and her idea of luxury is to buy some new plants or handicrafts materials. She used to let me, as a treat, take all her hand-made doilies out of the drawer and look through them, and when I got older, I was allowed to iron them. Her meals were always good old-fashioned affairs, like sausages with 3 veg, and she made the yummiest rice pudding ever.
When I was a little girl, her farm was the coolest place in the world to be. We had endless hours of delight playing in the creek or wandering through the rainforest, or tagging around after her, probably driving her mad although I never remember her even snapping at us. We never wanted to go home, ever. (sorry, Mum!)
Her house has it's own smell, and it makes me think of woodsmoke and pumpkin and kerosene, which might sound a bit odd but I love it. It's also filled with hand-crafted items, from her own exquisite embroidery and crochet, to the furniture my grandfather made, to the quilts my mum made for her.
Every kid should have a grandparent who loves them. I'm so lucky to still have mine.
Currently, TC Bianca has decided to take a trip down south and is coming to see us. She's rated at a 3 right now -- they say she could degrade to a 1 as she hits us, but then again, cyclones are known to be capricious and she could gather her skirts and stomp right over us.
It's REALLY hot and sticky today, and the leaves are just hanging down like they've been painted on. I've got one eye on the sky (very grey) as I run around, taking down hanging baskets, gathering kids toys and bikes, shifting the barbie, the outdoor setting and the stuff in the shed (which we know leaks in any heavy rain) They're saying it'll cross the coast on Sunday morning so I have plenty of time but a LOT to do. The beach is only 200 m away and this is a low lying area, but truly you don't expect cyclones this far south. If you stand on tiptoe you can nearly see Antarctica, for crying out loud. We've only had one before, as far as anyone can remember.
Anyway, I must be off. I have to tape windows and panic buy all the milk and bread in town.
This house has a fairly small backyard which is mostly full of a tree and a huge shed, so there isn't any room for a veggie garden. So I have to grow stuff in pots or in the front garden. Being a fresh herb addict, there are a few 'must-haves' which I've already planted, and now that I know I won't be moving overseas anytime soon, I can start planting the rest. It's amazing how much will grow in pots in a nice sunny position.
Here's Basil. He's delicious with some warm pasta, a little olive oil and a few grape tomatoes.
And here are the Scarborough Fair Quads
You're singing the song in your head, right now, aren't you? Uh-huh.
oregano. Or maybe sweet marjoram.
chillies (yes, not a herb, but aren't they pretty?)
Lastly, mint -- for the mojitos, you know. MMMMM. Mojitos....
(poor mint has had a beating from the caterpillars but he'll bounce back in no time.)
I'd like to get some tomatoes growing soon. I have 4 or 5 different varieties to plant. I would like to track down more varieties of basil, and try to get coriander to grow (never have had any luck with it).
If we had the space, I'd plant corn and beans and snowpeas and capsicums and lettuce too. Home-grown tastes so much better than supermarket!
* This post was inspired by River's garden. Thanks River!
While I get the whole point that Aboriginal people have good reason not to want to celebrate the current Australia Day, and I get that Jan 26th is the day the British landed here, not the day Australia was formed as a nation, I don't get the inflammatory and accusing tone of the whole 'Invasion Day' thing.
I, for one, am sick to death of this assumed collective guilt that some (mostly non-Aboriginal) sections of society seem determined to force upon all of us. "We" did not invade Australia. I wasn't even here then. Were you? In fact, I'm 'only' a 3rd generation Aussie. And I come from mixed German and Danish heritage on my mothers' side, so half of me isn't even of British heritage. And I'm tired of feeling pressured to assume a guilt I don't feel and haven't inherited.
Don't get me wrong. I don't believe that the Aboriginal people were treated fairly or well. They lost their lands, their culture, and their lives. They deserve national recognition of that. They need to shake off the remnants of that enforced heritage, and national recognition of the crimes committed against them is a huge part of that.
But there are two parts to this story.
Noel Pearson says " It is a terrible thing to encourage people to see themselves as victims. It concedes defeat, and it can literally kill. Victims do not take responsibility for what they eat and drink, for their health and mental well-being; their families become dysfunctional and their children are damaged.
We need a proud and principled defence against racism. Many Aboriginal people possess this dignity and strength. We must make it the dominant outlook of our people and abolish the absurd notion that "my rights depend on you fulfilling your responsibilities to me." "
How does it serve reconciliation to keep forcing us (all Australians) into this position? Why can't we all just be Australians first? instead of having to decide how much guilt we own? whether we're invaded, or invaders? victim or victor? black, white or Asian? Christian, Muslim, or atheist?
We all live here now. The past has happened. As someone wise once said, "If you live in the past, you're doomed to repeat it."
If you feel pressed to comment, remember -- mean people suck.
I woke up a while ago from a disturbing dream, about a tsunami. All the water had disappeared from the shore, leaving a lot of black mud...
I really believe that some of our dreams are subconscious manifestations of issues or problems in our daily lives, and I dream about water a LOT.
Water, in dreams, represents emotion. My water dreams (ooh, that sounds much racier than it really is) are usually about fish tanks (repressed or contained emotion), or a car I'm in accidentally driving off a bridge (too complicated and requiring much explanation).
The tsunami dream apparently means that 'you are being overwhelmed by some repressed feeling or unconscious material that is rising up to the surface. You are experiencing some unhappiness and emotional instability in a waking situation.'
I also often dream of houses. Houses represent your own soul or self, and the different rooms are metaphors for aspects of your psyche. I dream of houses with lots of kitchens (the nurturing part of me) and bedrooms. Hmm. I'll just say that maybe I need more... sleep.
So -- dreaming of a tsunami threatening my home... you don't have to be Freud to put that one together, right?
A couple of weeks ago, we found ourselves in a local toyshop, which has a dollshouse set up on a little table. There's furniture and some Little People (of the non-dwarf kind) to live in it, and The Princess threw herself on the floor in front of it and gazed longingly for all the time it took me to say, "You're allowed to play with that, sweetie." Then she was like an octopus, trying to play with everything at once.
A chubby, petulant 8/9 year old came stomping over, slapped the table and demanded loudly, "What are you supposed to do with this? What does it DO?"
I was dumbfounded. For all kinds of reasons. As you all would have been.
But it got me thinking about imagination. And here is proof that kids don't need electronics to have fun.
Meet Pilot Gingie. She sports a fancy cap designed and made by The Princess, who coincidentally built her plane as well. I accidentally threw the plane out and it had to be rescued, with much scolding. The cap has ear holes cut into it, so it stays on Gingies' head. Clever.
And this is what happens when Boy Meets Lego.
This is an airplane hangar. The plane is from an Indiana Jones set, but the rest is right out of Mr. 9s' imagination.
There are spare tyres, for the inevitable flats, and even a guy who's clearly been listening to his OH&S rep, because he's wearing protective headgear.
There's a crane for lifting those heavy darn wings into place.
And there's a giant to winch the crane. Everything you need, really.
So -- I'd love to see other posts on kids' imaginations. Any takers?
The actors are all superb -- of course -- Mr Rush is in marvellous form, and Colin Firth is simply perfect. All the supporting cast are fabulous, and the sets and costumes are beautiful.
Our movie theatre was fairly full with NOT ONE smart-arse teenager (huge bonus) and I really enjoyed hearing so much appreciative laughter rolling around the room. This isn't a 'Hollywood funny' movie - the humour is dry and very English somehow.
I really can't recommend this movie enough. If you haven't seen it, go. I'm giving it 6 rubber duckies --- out of 5. Yes, it's that good.
You know when a blowie gets in your house and buzzes around and around, driving you mad? And then it vanishes when you find the fly-spray, and as soon as you give up it re-appears? My GF had a BF like that.
His name is John (really) and this is what happened.
John was (most likely still is) a control freak in a relationship. He was (most likely still is) a carrier of the worst kind of STD -- Sexually Transmitted Debt. He wasn't a kid-friendly guy, had no job, no prospects, no clue how to run a relationship or, indeed, his life. Understandably, my GF -- let's call her E -- got jack of this and kicked him out. The problem being, John, like a blowie, wouldn't go.
It's hard to put into words just how much he wouldn't go away.
He physically wouldn't leave, and then when he finally did drive off, he kept coming back. He rang constantly. E was reluctant to answer the phone, so he would ring and ring and ring and ring until she did. He took the sliding glass door off its' tracks one night and let himself in, which scared the crap out of E, who had thought she was safe in her own home. He crept around in the dark under my windows, listening in to our conversations. He followed us around town, mysteriously appearing in the shops we were in.
He even disabled her car in the main street, so she couldn't drive away from him.
Of course, we went to the police, and took out a restraining order. Which he promptly breached, not once, but again and again.
One time, he broke into her house and destroyed my much-loved grandmother clock, which Es' dad had repaired for me. We went to see his (much more sane) brother, to see if he could help, and John was there. We snapped. I grabbed him but E got her arm over the top of me and slapped him so hard his glasses flew off and folded themselves up in mid-air, landing neatly on the nearby table, as if to say, "Oh, no, I really don't want to see what happens next!"
Finally, the police took him on stalker charges. We appeared in court, and gave evidence, and at last, he was put in jail. We weren't overly happy about the jail part, but we were thrilled to bits that after all this time, we could finally know exactly where he was, and not have to think about him every minute of the day!
Until the letters started arriving from jail.... he gave my name and address to his CELL-MATE, who was in clink for 6 years and would love to come see me when he got out!!! I countered that problem by getting married and moving house (thanks, honey)
He drove us completely bat-shit for a while. But I'm so thankful that at no time did he actually hurt us -- and I don't remember being afraid that he would, even at the very height of it all. (although I was very concerned about Cell Mate.) There are women out there who are living with much worse every day, and while we can laugh about the whole mad episode now, for many, it's not a laughing matter. Ever. It's never OK to bully, intimidate, hurt or frighten people. (I'm cool if someone wants to intimidate Cell Mate though)