rain rain come again…

Dear rain, 

I am very sorry for singing that nasty rhyme at you. It was ignorant and mean of me. Please come back from Spain, we miss you and we need you here.

We have been in drought – officially – since August, and pretty bloody dry for a lot longer. And now it’s getting hot too… Big Sighs

There are a few personal inconveniences… dust from the driveway blows straight into the house, and all over the washing on the line and all over the BBQ too. I have to water the garden more frequently – and compensate by chasing everyone out of the shower early. And remember to top up the reservoir that allows me to wash the dust off my car’s windscreen. Stuff like that.

It’s worse for the wildlife. A crow died in one of our dried out dams last month. It looks like she got stuck in the mud, poor thing. And the few refugee kangaroos from the latest bulldozed-for-ticky-tacky-housing-developments have become so desperate for fresh grass and moisture that they graze in the house yard, rather than staying skittishly in the paddocks beyond.

The trees are suffering too. A row of ornamental pine thingys have died, and fallen over beside the drive. And the gums are doing the widow-maker thing and dropping peripheral branches, sometimes silently, sometimes crashing down in the middle of the night.

And I am worrying again about fire. If the dried out bush just over the driveway catches alight and heads in this direction, we are toast. We do have a plan – to run across to Len’s place, but I’ve seen a bush fire – and know that the trees between our places could well be alight before we get to the boundary…

So dear dear rain please come again, come in buckets, soak us through, force us to get the gumboots out … we love you, we really do.

the ritual insult at my house 6:30pm while waiting for dinner

For one of my day jobs I have been doing a little research on the ritual insult – and now I am hearing them everywhere. An example from tonight’s dinner table…

daughter 1: So at school last week we talked about the appendix and I put up my hand and said I don’t have one and then at school this week we talked about wisdom teeth and I put up my hand and said I don’t have any.

daughter 2: So I guess at school next week you’ll be talking about brains.

Its a ritual insult because you can only trade them if you are in the ‘in group.’ If someone else said this to d1, d2 would laugh – and then kick them in the shin.

Sometimes its a bit scary as a parent hearing this stuff. I go straight to thinking about depression and young people committing suicide and bullying and other dark stuff and then I wake up to them shouting in unison at each other shut up you’re ugly and I hate you! and laughing themselves silly. So I generally get up from the table, remove the silverware (just in case that eye does get lost*) and leave them to it.

*It really is all fun and games until someone loses an eye

sharing sad and bad news and politics on facebook

There’s so much of it. Today they will dredge the reef to dump garbage on the breeding grounds of endangered turtles, torture refugees and lock innocent children in detention turn off the water to Aboriginal communities pass laws that will make it easier for big companies to plop great dirty mines on farmers land. And ruin their water. Frack. Smack little kiddies while shopping, foreclose on the family home. Build housing estates for the disadvantaged on a toxic waste dump. Trick old folk into gambling their mortgage but won’t admit it till they drag the wretches through a court case. Domestic violence kills so many women a week and the government will continue to do nothing. Another species will go missing. Another little kiddie will go missing. And American children will continue to shoot each other and we will follow them to yet another unwinnable war.

My favourite: 99% of people won’t give a damn – share and show you care!

Are you like me – do you care and care and then feel sad and numb and full of despair? Do you wonder – does my garden variety unhappiness make a difference to any of this? Does my clicking on the petition make a difference? Do Tony  or Campbell lose a second of sleep over it? I decided, no, they don’t. They really don’t give a damn.

So, to save my happiness, I did two things. First, I purged my facebook account of all political groups and lobbyists. (Except Bob Brown because he doesn’t post much and he is a hero). I started using the ‘hide all posts from’ button on any post accusing the non-sharer of being a non-carer. And I stopped following a couple of friends who really love to share the sads. It was pretty easy to do – you might like to try it yourself 🙂

And the second thing I did was start acknowledging myself for the ways I do show that I care…

I plant trees and weed with a habitat group, collect eggs from my neighbour, wash them, pack them in cartons (that I collect from friends) and donate this real healthy food to the student food bank. I donate a little money to a group that supports Aboriginal communities in ways that they wish to be supported. I babysit my nieces and nephews at the last minute so their parents can get out and not go crazy. And if a Big Issue I Really Care About and Understand comes up, I use my best nonviolent communication skills to write a cracker of a letter to my local MP. And get a response written directly to me. That’s stuff that really makes a difference.

I would love to hear how others are making a difference too – feel free to leave me a comment 🙂

where did wonderful go?

Myers, an Australian Department store is currently running an ad campaign that asks, ‘Where did wonderful go?’ It starts off rather poignantly, tracing the life of a child where everything is full of colour and promise to adulthood where everything has turned grey. And just when I get suckered by the pretty art work and the tantalising question  … the rot starts… Apparently wonder can be bought in Myer in the form of sparkly dresses, impossibly high heels, and overpriced baubles… sigh.

Myer, I think you missed the point.

For me and many others, wonder stopped being associated with frocks and baubles when we realised that such things are generally mass produced by folk who work impossible long hours yet don’t earn enough to feed their children. And that they are made to make store mannequins (not women) look good… and that those impossibly high heels are pretty damn uncomfortable anyway… I could go on, but instead I will return to the question…

Where did wonderful go?

Well Myer, wonderful didn’t actually go anywhere… Hop up from your computer and walk to your window – take a look outside and see a cloud drift by. Open that window, listen to the birdsong, or to conversation drifting in from the street. Lean a little out the window and wave at a passerby, and exchange a smile with a stranger, or a loved one. Even better, leave your office, or your store and talk a walk round the block. Wonder will be everywhere, even in that grey city there will be a pigeon with a pretty splash of colour, a child laughing, an old lady singing to herself, a puddle that mirrors the sky, a sunset, a star, a balcony with a little washing hanging on the breeze…

Thank you Myer for asking that question. I have very much enjoyed answering it. ❤

some of my favourite things

loki, scrying stick shells and stone from Port Macquarie
loki, scrying stick shells and stone from Port Macquarie

Loki was a crow and also my friend. She had a sense of humour – she would swoop the chooks to give them a fright, and hang around the BBQ to pinch stuff when my back was turned. I once tricked her by leaving a closed but empty egg carton on the BBQ table… she took it to her favourite branch and swore at me when she discovered what I had done… She limped home one day, badly injured, maybe by a car. I did try to help her, but she was afraid and upset when I approached, and still able to keep out of my reach – so I left food and water out and let her be. She died a few days later in the neighbours’ paddock. One of my daughters collected her skull for me a few months later.

The scrying stick I found while walking to work. My girls and I were reading Harry Potter at the time. The stick (and the books) provided a little magic in a pretty humdrum part of my life.

Port Macquarie is a classic family holiday place. Cliff rimmed, facing sunrise, plenty of pretty walks to be had… Some of the beaches are pebbly rather than sandy – unusual in Australia… The waves make the most beautiful shushing sound as they wash along these beaches.

first family holiday with adult children

Today we – my daughters and one boyfriend and Dave-who-is-bankrolling-this-whole-gig are going on a wee holiday to the Gold Coast. The first-to-move-out is popping by and swapping her luggage for her sisters so the young ones are travelling down together. Dave and I are officially the olds. We get to bring the stuff.

We are going to do some holiday things – go to a haunted house, have fish and chips for tea on the beach (the best bit) and walk around the Burleigh Headland too (the other best bit). And in the evening we will retire to separate apartments. For the first time we booked one for them – and one for us. And in the morning, Dave and I (or maybe just I) will sneak out and go for a walk on the beach (ok – this will be the best bit too) and not worry about the girls missing out or anything. And the girls (who are really women now) will probably sleep in peacefully after a night of watching bad movies and giggling at the sorts of special effects that make me sick. These are happy thoughts to be thinking.

When Dave-the-bankroller first booked this holiday I felt a little sad. Mainly because we never felt we had enough money – or time – to take many holidays as a family when our young women were kids. Now I am looking forward and know that having been through some rough patches, we can all cope with all kinds of crap and be happy. And I feel content and quite satisfied. I actually for the first time feel all grown up. These are happy feelings to be feeling.

a family history of eyes

A photographer once said to me For godssake don’t smile your eyes disappear. He meant well. I guess professional photographers mostly work for people anxious to look a certain way – with big doe eyes, or something.

But though his words were true (and have become more true over time) I didn’t care then and I don’t care now because when I look at my eyes I see something special and amazing, I see a beautiful story that started back and back past my mum past my old granny Vik and through her mum, Anna and then back and back through all the grannys who I never ever met, back to a particular one who was born to a peasant girl in Central Europe somewhere. To the one who gave me my particular eyes.

My story goes that this baby girl (I like to think of the baby as a girl) was fathered by some Mongolian hoardsman who may have ridden through with his mates and destroyed the village and murdered those who didn’t get out of the way and left the rest hungry and hurting and scared.

And so maybe my so-many-greats-ago-granny was going to be abandoned or killed at birth, but instead when she opened her eyes her mother looked into them and despite everything, there was that moment.

Mine is a story of women and girls. Of women of the earth and potatoes and of goose girls and girls who spent their summer days gathering good grass to keep the cow fat and happy through the winter. Of women who grew and soaked and beat the flax to make linen. Of women and little girls who whitewashed their cottage with lime to keep it in good condition year after year over generations. Of women who endured cold and hunger and cruelty, who bore many more children than would survive and who loved them anyway. Their stories aren’t written down with pen and ink, though I know some of them through my old granny Vik who still tells them today. However, they are written in my body, inscribed in my eyes.

It is that these stories I see when I look into my eyes. All those grannys. Some of them are stern and serious. But most of them smile and nod back at me, their eyes disappearing as they do so.

The ground I dig is far away from theirs, but I love it like they did. I love my chooks and the neighbour’s goat too. I like trees and birds and being outside in the fresh air and sunshine and starshine. I love my family, the ones living now and the ones long gone. And I will keep passing our precious smile around for as long as I am able.

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