Monday, January 31, 2011

It's a freaking twister, alright

Nay, a Tropical Cyclone. Yasi, to be exact.

I cannot stop thinking about this monstrous testament to the change of our El Nino to La Nina weather effects that we're experiencing here at the moment in Australia. Off the back of the downgraded Tropical Cyclone Anthony crossing the coast last night and causing a bit of havoc to our northern friends (further north of the mop-up under way after the terrible floods in the southern end of the state), they now have a (currently) category 4 cyclone looking set to cross the coast over an area covering Cairns and Townsville. And it is kinda alarming me a little. I hope with all my might that it fizzles out or at least downgrades to even a 2. But it may not, even if only because they're beginning to refer to it as 'TC Anthony's ugly big sister'. They've started evacuating beautiful Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays and more are to follow in the coming days, I have read.

As of 4pm today, it was already a Cat-3, characterised in part by wind gusts near its centre of "185km/h and intensifying." And that's now. It is expected to reach land sometime Wednesday or Thursday this week - you can just see the front of it peeking in at the eastern side of the radar images as it updates on the BOM website. If it gets to what they're predicting, those gusts could get up to anywhere around 260km/h. I mean, it is almost unimaginable to me, that sort of speed from wind on the ground. Cyclone Tracey (which of course hit Darwin, 1974) was a category 4 and the stories from that are sobering. Some survivors are still reported to be living with post-traumatic stress from the disaster. And I think to myself, what would I do if faced with this? Seriously? I am not good in pissy storms, this would just about send me into a padded room. Not that that wouldn't be handy during a cyclone, mind.

Yikes. But this is fast becoming a naturally more dangerous place to live out one's existence lately, no?

News reports tonight were warning Melbourne residents to be vigilant about snakes indoors at the moment *checking under computer desk now* because of three bite cases being reported in the past 24 hours - they like to escape the heat, you see, and slither indoors to curl up in some cool, dark cupboard... Where's Harry when you need him, huh?
"It's over there... under the couch, 'arry!"

Welcome to summer in Australia! Floods in most states at the moment, fire weather warnings prevalent in at least three states, dangerous thunderstorm warning in the west, an enormous monster looming off the north eastern coast right on the tail of another smaller one.... But a bloody bewdiful country still to live in. Huh? Are you with me?

And you know what, because I don't know who knows this information and who doesn't know - and who watches the weather and doesn't in the tropical north of this country but reads this here teeny tiny part of the web - I wouldn't rest unless I just do a little copy and paste job from the Bureau..... Those who need to know, I'm sure, probably already do, but just in case:

Issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane
Issued at 5:02pm EST on Monday the 31st of January 2011

A Cyclone WATCH has been declared for coastal and island communities from Cooktown to Yeppoon.

At 4:00 pm EST Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi, Category 3 was estimated to be 1780 kilometres east northeast of Townsville and 1630 kilometres east northeast of Mackay moving west at 30 kilometres per hour.
The cyclone is expected to intensify as it moves west over the Coral Sea.
Damaging winds are expected to develop about coastal and island communities between Cooktown and Yeppoon Wednesday morning.
People between Cooktown and Yeppoon should consider what action they will need to take if the cyclone threat increases.
- Information is available from your local government
- For cyclone preparedness and safety advice, visit Queensland's Disaster Management Services website []
- For emergency assistance call the Queensland State Emergency Service [SES] on 132 500 [for assistance with storm damage, rising flood water, fallen trees on buildings or roof damage].
Details of Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi at 4:00 pm EST:
.Centre located near...... 13.8 degrees South 162.5 degrees East
.Location accuracy........ within 35 kilometres
.Recent movement.......... towards the west at 30 kilometres per hour
.Wind gusts near centre... 185 kilometres per hour and INTENSIFYING
.Severity category........ 3
.Central pressure......... 970 hectoPascals
Please ensure that neighbours have heard and understood this message, particularly new arrivals or those who may not fully understand English.
The next advice will be issued by 11:00 pm EST Monday 31 January.
This warning is also available through TV and Radio Broadcasts; the Bureau's website at or call 1300 659 212.  The Bureau and the State Emergency Service would appreciate this warning being broadcast regularly.
Check the latest weather warnings. And stay safe, North Queensland people!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Social Symmetry

My work is consuming me at the moment and I am carefully balancing it with being home with Lolly - she is increasingly bored and particularly testing of my patience these holidays.... and I read with dismay (for her and me) last night that she doesn't go to kinder properly until MARCH!! Days are staggered until then, during Feb.... oh Lord, please help us both - so I have been (probably not exactly notably) absent from many of the blogs I usually love to dip into and read. I'm surprised I have been able to post anything on my own blogs. But I need to do that, it's like my salve, my little back-to-me space, in all the madness of my various jobs.

Anyway, I wanted to point you over to my other blog - if you're so inclined - because I have posted something there that I am currently sitting with (cocooning myself in, really, in order to remain professional, unemotionally involved and untangled) and the words may just be useful to some of you reading, too.

Catch you again soon!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Playing favourites

I know you're not supposed to. I've read people's confessions saying they do, sometimes. And last night was our turn.

I asked Steve, "Who's your favourite? Out of our animals, I mean?" We looked at each other resignedly, sighed and said simultaneously, "It has to be Jazz." And then we laughed uncontrollably over what we'd just done before patting Jazz and congratulating her for beating her two unworthy opponents.

We had weighed up instantly in our minds the pro's and con's of each of our beloved pets and then chosen the least annoying one - "the most independent", Jazz was voted. And we laughed because we had actually had to hesitate even to choose her.

Let's look at their stats a moment, shall we:

• Pepper has on average 1-2 elderly incontinent puddle accidents a day. She must be chaperoned around the house due to this, and also the fact that you must ensure she doesn't slip anywhere as she has terribly unstable legs not made easier by her claws that can't grasp the floorboards. She's had a bit of a larynx problem for years now which, in her old slow age, has meant that we now have to watch the tv at least 10 levels above what we used to (this is no exaggeration). She farts constantly - not one long, continuous one, I mean just pops every few minutes. She barks to salute the morning on first rising when she gets up to relieve herself, usually just before 6am daily - a dog that uses her bark as a sonar wave, I'm sure of it, so that she can gauge whether she's going to slowly stagger into that big mass (the house) in front of her and barks to judge the distance between herself and the house. She has dementia, is totally deaf and is completely in her own, retired world.

• Tabitha is .... I have no words. She's a nice natured cat and all but she's a lunatic. And a killer. The recently purchase cat bib that's supposed to stop her killing birds, if not hunting them, apparently still allows her to catch rodents - not an altogether bad thing ("and let that be a lesson to the rest of you residing under our house") until she brings the dead things home and plays hacky sack with them on the front porch, flinging them in the air and not caring that they are landing in our shoes. One day, I shudder to think what I will find if she doesn't cart all her kill away after maiming it on the front verandah balustrades. Ugh. And she pesters. This cat nags and nags and nags and bloody nags some more, even if you fed her five minutes ago. She's constantly darting ahead of you and across your path if you look to be walking up or down the hall anytime soon, which is where the laundry (her bedroom) is. And that's another thing: the cat litter tray. Can't stand them. Will never get used to them.

And that leaves Jazz. The crazy six year-old 30kg puppy with a tail the strength of a kangaroo and at just the right height to sweep all the pieces off the Junior Monopoly board game you'd left paused to grab a bite of lunch. Just the right height to swipe glasses and cups, plates and papers off any coffee, side, end or kiddy table she walks past. And if she doesn't knock them off with sheer force, the wind her tail creates makes sure they find the floor with the updraft created. She's boundy, expectant, pushes herself ahead of everyone in the family just to "win" and causes us exorbitant amounts of money on vet bills when she eats stupid things she shouldn't or causes damage to property that has to be replaced..... But she's our pick.

Do you have a favourite in the family? G'arn, you can tell me! It'll be our little secret.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The score is 14-10 and I've gone mad

This post comes to you from a slightly more than usual deranged mind. In the past 24 hours, I have managed to get myself so many mozzie bites that I have now taken leave of my senses with the itchiness and am likely to be seen by this evening running down the street screaming incoherent profanities at Banshee pitch.

Ten bites occupy the space between the lower calf/shin to ankle on my left leg. Fourteen dominate my right leg in the same tiny area.

I have taken to rubbing with the flats of my hands. Anything, ANYTHING. Even my old trick - the mild Chinese burn (am I allowed to call them that anymore??) - doesn't work because of the location.

I've always been tasty to mosquitos and things that like to dine on human flesh and blood. Mmmmm, yummo. But these are particularly raging. And now, with all my rubbing ankles together in my sleep and scraping off the top layer of skin with my nails and the palm smoothing, I have angered the bites. They're glowering back at me, their centres a strange glowing golden colour with a halo of deep pink that bleeds out onto my skin.

And if one more person suggests Sting-Goes or Itch-Aid or No-More-Scratch-Til-It-Bleeds, I will gouge their eyes out. Whadda they think?? That I haven't tried these? Of course I have. None of them have worked for me yet. We're talking..... raaaaaaaaging itch. I'd like to go so far as to say I'm allergic to mosquitos.

There are a few natural remedies I haven't tried yet, though. When I was a little kid, I remember my grandparents rubbing a slice of potato on my foot..... I don't recall that it worked, although I think I did say it did because of their hopeful faces (like the grandma giving Adam Sandler the meatballs and watching him taste it in The Wedding Singer). But if I believe what I read online, I'm going to smell tasty enough to roast by this evening after I rub on a clove of garlic, then dab on some lemon or lime juice, vinegar, salt, horseradish and honey. I think I'll go with this recipe first:

Finely grate a potato, add some raw onion and vinegar and mix to a fine paste. Apply.

Sounds intriguing. But I'm desperate. I'm breathless with concentrating on not itching these ITCHY BEYOND ALL MTHRFKNG GET-OUT asshole mozzie bites!!!!  Why don't they go pick on someone their... own.... size?

So, come on. I know you want to. Hit me with your best sure-fire itch reliever. The winner receives a reprieve from getting their eyes gouged out.

Edited:  And while we're at it, any tips on prevention?? We've had a great reminder already in the comments to up the Vit B's (I have heard before that it's a sure-fire sign of B-deficiency if you are devoured by thirsty mozzies, but do you think I remember to take anything? Will be speaking to my naturopath for sure!).

So far, some GREAT itch relief suggestions, all, keep them coming! I know different bodies respond differently to remedies, so hopefully this might help others who happen across this post in the "whenever" too. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I can be a judgemental hypocrite

I think there must be a hierarchy of judgement prevalent in the human condition. Or perhaps different levels of it, for I have been thinking about how I judge (consciously and unconsciously) and how it not only affects me but shapes the way I see the world.

There are times when I wonder if I'm not snarky enough, which renders me feeling inadequate because I don't join in. Or if I'm entirely too stabby and overblown about things, with some subjects that ignite me so much that they cause me to speak out. I usually these days keep to myself because if it's so important to me that I feel the need to state it, I sometimes then get protective of my opinions and can tend to be slightly defensive about them (and, therefore, don't want to be disagreed with).

And this is not even to mention the fact that I sympathised with someone just this morning at the shops who was assuming the position of authority on someone's personal business - by merely standing there and nodding with compassion, I was contributing, but my conscience told me at the time, "As long as you keep your mouth shut, you're not doing any harm." Fact is, I was doing harm. To me, if nobody else (but I know it wasn't just me my actions/inaction was affecting). I didn't do what I innately felt was the right thing (for me) to do, which was kindly but firmly steer the conversation away and not let the person keep going on about it. And why did I do that? I wanted the information, of course. I wanted to be privy to what the townsfolk are doing and saying, be kept in the loop, feel included, not look like a wet rag or that I can't have fun or that I don't like a joke, under the guise of it being "in whomever's or whatever's [in this case, the community's] best interests" because, oh, what a grand scapegoat "the others" are when they're all doing it too. You may as well join in, for if you can't beat 'em, isn't that what we've been programmed to do? And that fear of not being liked, of being seen - judged - as someone who takes everything seriously or has to put a dampener on things.... that's a big one that keeps luring me back in.

"Do as you would have done unto you" - I like this wisdom, for I would like to think if I keep my judgements to myself I'll not be judged as often (or unfairly). But I think I'm fooling myself, really, for although I hope for a world that makes judgement of others extinct, I know there will always be excuses made for the goodness and rightness of judgement - I allow myself to make them all the time, despite being wary and aware of the harm it can do! - and fair points they'd be, too, for who am I to judge?

There's not much that inflames me, not these days. It doesn't make for grand blog posts, that's for sure, because much of the time, by the time I've formulated arguments for/against whatever it is, I've reached the conclusion in my head that 'to each their own, judge not lest ye be judged' and so forth. Ultimately, I can't spare the energy to be so passionate about anything external to me and my experiences because it just seems to fall into the big Gossip or Judgement basket. I do not believe it is fair or just or correct to judge. And yes, I still do it all the time (even if only in my own mind) - I am working on curbing this, as a thought is as good as spoken in the energetic world. And that just contributes to nothing constructive or positive on the whole.

However..... you must have known there was one coming......

This morning, I read a post on Mama Mia's blog about toddlers having their eyebrows waxed, all in the name of a beauty pageant. I think we must surely be far past the oft-touted statements of the parents of these little girls (and boys) who claim their children love the the competitions and they have so much fun, when the parents begin inflicting quite a serious amount of pain on their child, all in aid of being judged for how they look. Wow. Way to perpetuate the crazy, often unattainable without an airbrushing, ideals of the magazine/celebrity industry. And involving such small, malleable minds too.

Far be it from me to judge, as I've spent the past few paragraphs saying, but seriously..... WHAT THE HELL???

This is not some far off country. This is happening here in Australia. I find this just wrong, wrong, wrong. Now, I have chosen to have my eyebrows waxed for nearly 20 years and it STILL hurts. I'm a grown woman who's given birth twice. I know pain!

Deliberately and systematically administering this pain on your own child is causing untold damage to so many areas of that child's life. These are the formative years. I shudder to think what harm it must cause emotionally. What a way to condition your child to submit to unnecessary, avoidable, pleading-to-make-it-not-happen pain at the hands of someone who loves them. The idea of a child having to endure that at the hands of her mother [well, her mother's chosen beauty therapist, but still] leaves me cold.

Perhaps these parents [I'm guessing it's only the mothers, though, who go this far, although shame on any fathers who allow it to happen, no matter what the excuse] ought to go through some sort of counselling to (re)discover their own self esteem issues before forcing their children into some perceived superficial ideal, for subjecting their children to this sort of idiocy has surely got to stem from something deep-seated in the parent??

At the least, this is short-sightedness at its very worst.

Right. Now that that's out of my system, I want to just address a brief tweet that happened to grab my attention as it swiftly moved down my timeline. Along the lines of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban lacking priorities for leaving their brand new three week-old baby daughter (who knew?!) while they went to a party. I began to enter into it, citing a case of someone I knew who left their eight week-old so they could go on a two week romantic 'reconnecting' holiday, and implying this was surely worthy of some perspective - after all, the most amount of time that new parents could go to a party would only be a few hours - but then stepped back.

I was asking for judgement of the new parents to be suspended (no matter who they are, I couldn't give two hoots if it was a couple from up the street or the most famous, or rich, couple in the world). And yet, here I am just a few hours earlier, ready to rip shreds of someone else I've not met and know nothing about because she's beautifying her daughter.

They're hardly in the same league, I know - one is causing pain to a pleading, begging child and (to my mind) is abuse, and the other is a newborn who probably stayed asleep for the entire duration of her parents' attendance at that party, save for possibly a burp and bottle.... But I'm still being rather hyprocritical.

See? I'm bothered by it. By the waxing horror and by the fact that we can so freely and easily judge (with a cute Twitter hashtag to soften the blow sometimes) those we are likely never to even meet. I vow to continue looking at my own spoken/written words and conscious/unconscious thoughts with regards to how quick I am to judge or prejudge people and their decisions.

I think I'm starting to realise why my posts have been lacking of late. More and more, I am seeing that unless I can find a way to make it productive or upturn it to the positive, I don't want to be questioning the morals or actions or decisions of others because I'm just contributing to the group mentality that it's okay. In reality, other people's business is none of my business (unless they offer information directly and seek feedback/opinions) and pretty much no matter what the situation, there's always learning in there somewhere - the only part I have control and responsibility over, therefore, is my reaction to becoming privy to these situations.

Back to posts about picking on my cat for me, I think *sliding rock back over head*

Friday, January 14, 2011

Time to pick on the cat

There's no better time like the present to be distracted a little by dogs dressed up as humans. But first, a recap on this past week for what an incredibly emotionally draining one it has been for many Australians:

• Two of our own blog community are burying and celebrating the lives of their dear loved ones today and my heart goes out to them - Lori from RRSAHM and Lulu from Unperfect Life, both of whom have surely felt the bottom of their worlds fall out this week.

• The floods in Queensland are receding but not after annihilating our Sunshine State. And now, Victoria is being hammered by heavy rains and flooding has already begun to cause damage. I hope no more lives are lost. Not this week.

Victoria is under there somewhere... at least 50% of the state experiencing rains again today

• And in the middle of all this outpouring and shock, much closer to home yesterday we shouldered our personal memories as we quietly celebrated the 7th anniversary of our firstborn baby girl, Ellanor, who entered the world what feels like almost a lifetime ago. It was a strange mix of emotions.

So now, I admit it, I'm in need of a bit of a shaking off of this heaviness, just for a moment. 
Click away now if you don't want to join in, but I've got to do something drastic. It involves a story of a cat, too many dead birds, a daughter who's discovered dogs behaving like humans and me displaying my obsessive compulsive tendencies by finding her more and more vids of exactly that just so I can soak up her infectious belly laughs.


After months of dreading coming home to find what had been left on the doorstep by our cat who, going by the condition of her prey, is some kind of crazy ave lobotomist, I decided it was high time to do something about this cat of ours. She has lost two collars, three bells and my patience for her.

I discussed with Steve whether we should just get her a massive bell, but decided that would look ridiculous. We also floated the notion that perhaps the birds in this area are just a bit slow off the mark, or perhaps simply dumb or inquisitive - maybe they think the bell means dinner, we wondered. Well... I suppose it does in a way. In a ... not alive for them in a few seconds kind of way. But it didn't help us find any answers on how to stop our cat being so darn bird-unfriendly. She needs something bigger than a big bell to stop her, I said. She needs a... a doorbell! 

Rather than call me unhelpful, Steve considered the possibility of attaching a doorbell to the cat's body, one that was wired to permanently "ding-dong", thereby alert any of the dumb slow birds to get out of her away.

Instead, though, I took MacGyver's biggest fan to the nearest pet store and together, we weighed up the options. None of the cat collars looked to have adequate... bell-ringage. We knew with this wily one we would need, like, the Notre Dame of bells. And they just don't make them like that.

However..... then we discovered this! The cat bib!
And doesn't this cat look proud  (img:

Made from wetsuit fabric, supposedly your cat can groom, walk, pounce, run and generally still be the happy-go-lucky nagger to be let in/out, whinger for food when it's just eaten puddytat it always was. Just without the killing of the birds bit.

So we tried it on Tabby. And she's hated us more for it ever since. In fact, mostly she's been sitting sulking on the front doormat. Surrounded by tufts of leftovers (you know, feathers, a bit of matted plumage, some entrails, etc.), she has just huffed there. With her fetching purple cat bib to keep her company. Yeah, yeah, sucks to be her and all that. Steve is concerned she'll get beaten up by the neighbourhood cats for being a dork. Too bad, I say.

When we looked out the window a bit later, Tabitha had gone. Hooray! we said to each other. Perhaps she is going to be okay with it after all. We had both been wondering what she would be thinking of the bib and why we were being so cruel to her. I entertained the image of our vindictive little pussy cat going around the gardens with her bib hoiked around behind her neck, pretending to be a superhero and using it as a cape as she went right on hunting and catching and killing. But when I asked Steve if he'd seen any villains lately that looked suspiciously like a black cat with a score to settle, he said he hadn't.

To be honest, we half expected to see Tabby step deliberately up to the kitchen window with a knife, a fork and a dead bird and a look that said, "This is much more civilised" as she used her bib as a proper napkin.

None of that happened. Instead, this morning I got a message of another kind. A laundry floor strewn with cat vomit. So that's what she thinks of her cat bib.

And as for the dogs dressed as humans?  This is funny AND educational:

This post is dedicated to Lori today. The FYBF blog hop is currently being guest hosted by Kristin at Wanderlustlust...

Can you help? Toiletries and underwear drive for Queensland flood victims

A short and sweet one.....

I'm calling on all the regular readers - and new passers by - of this blog who normally read, then click away without commenting! There are many, many of you who visit here daily without so much as leaving a cheerio. This time, I'm asking you to have a heart and setting you a challenge (and hey, you still get to retain your anonymity!). What could be fairer than that?

A trusted long-time blogging friend has done a very good turn and posted some information on her website. Clarinda at L-Plate Greenie In The Making is calling for any and all help in the form of new (not used) items for the relief of Queensland residents who have lost everything. This is a legitimate and trustworthy drop off point! So rest assured anything you donate will reach flood victims.

A copy of Clarinda's post is below (or you can view the post here on her blog):

Flood Drive
Donate underwear & toothbrushes to help those who have lost their homes in the QLD floods.
Due to many families being devastated by the floods in QLD, getting basic items such as underwear and personal hygiene items will be difficult. Roads are still cut and shops are closed.
By donating men’s, women’s and children’s underwear, singlets, toothbrushes and other small personal hygiene items we can help the flood victims immediately.
You can post any donated items to:
Flood Drive
PO Box 469
By Feb 10th
You can watch the progress of this drive right here
For any queries contact Clarinda at
**items must be new**

Please share this on your blog, twitter and facebook. 
Lets do something proactive.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seven, Ellanor. Seven!

To last a lifetime.

I can hardly believe our baby girl would not even be considered a baby anymore if she was still alive.

Tomorrow, particularly given the current state of the nation, Steve, Lolly and I will be spending an even more quiet day than usual to celebrate the day I gave birth to our first live child. My mind and compassion is split in several different directions this year. But I must pause tomorrow to honour the day that changed my life forever.

For thirty-one surreal and hope-filled days, she brightly shone on our lives. And then she was gone. Suddenly, unexpectedly. And she's been gone seven years now.

The LGBB came out from the bathroom four nights ago to inform her Dad and me that she had left out a toothbrush holder "just in case Ellanor comes back." Cue the gutting. The stomach falling out through your seat kind of sinking feeling. "Darling," I cooed, bracing myself to begin a chat with her once again about why she can't see her big sister. And then she skipped over to her bed and exclaimed something about one of her Tinkerbell fairy figurines. Steve and I exchanged a glance that was half grimace and half relieved grin, with a hint of furrowed brow.

This year on the eve of Ella's birthday, I feel weird. I have a really floating "nothing" kind of feeling. Last year, I felt purposeful. I had direction. I had resolve. I guess I still have all that, but what with all these current devastations - and many more that I can't concentrate on, even I have a sadness saturation point - and the rollercoaster they are about to embark on, one of shock, grief, anger, acceptance, sadness, resilience and peeks of sun shining through so many days of dark clouds, I just feel like a death seven years ago of a baby not more than a dozen people ever met in life has such potential to be insignificant. And just by the way, I'm so sorry for that awfully long-winded sentence but I haven't the energy to go back and make it shorter (or make more sense).

And it got me thinking, while I was in the toily earlier where I do so much of my good thinking... most of my good realisations happen there and at the clothes line contemplating this strange old week, that no, everyone who has gone before us deserves to have the candle held alight and aloft for them, even if only (or especially) on their day - whether that's a birthday or passing or other significant occasion, important to the candle holder. I've heard of babies, even in this day and age, being left off family trees because "they don't count." Ouch.

So just as grief has no hierarchy, neither does how long a person has lived nor their importance in the family diminish whether it be a grandfather, a sibling, a wife, an elderly great uncle, a father, a baby with no siblings, a cousin.... I just wanted to say that, if for no other reason than to say it for those families with tiny babies not here to celebrate each passing birthday.

They count. Of course they count. They were people too.

And just lastly, I implore you to go here and read the post I made last year to celebrate Ella's sixth birth day. It was a real turning point for me, then in the sixth season of our loss and, I think, contains really valuable grief processing timeline information as I linked to each birth day post, looking back over the years and how I have marked each commemoration differently.

My sweet baby girl, two weeks old

Hug your loved ones. Be thankful for your safety and theirs. Life is fleeting, we all know that. But sometimes, you're smacked in the kisser with the reminder.

Monday, January 10, 2011



The reflective nature of lighting a candle has been artfully replicated on for Lori, Tony and family.

And with the wonders of modern technology, you can start your own group, or join one already there, or simply light a candle for your own personal reason, using this website.

If you would like to light a candle and leave a message, I urge you to do so. Knowing that people would light candles for us after our daughter died, and throughout these past seven years without her, brought a strange, almost primal comfort. It seems to be something very deep seated, anyway.

There is a hashtag going on Twitter - #prayingfortony - which has already trended once in Australia, a phenomenal testament to the love this community has for Lori. While it can't be overlooked that all around the world, let alone Australia, there are other families grappling with horrific, hard to hear news about their dearest, loved and cherished, every once in a while, a family seems to be the lantern-bearer for the collective. It's not an easy responsibility, it's not one you'd wish on yourself. But there is somehow a deep sense of comfort knowing that the outpouring is not just about you, but about those 'outpourers' finding their own compassion, sharing heartfelt moments (even with strangers or people they have never met... I know I have picked up at least three new followers on Twitter because we got to chatting and felt rather kindred about certain things, something that might never have happened if it weren't for all of us #prayingfortony).

In every darkness, there is always light. Somewhere. And the coming together of people over something that unites them in their resolve is the thing I think I love most about humanity. It is the sort of coming together that causes over 12,000 calls with pledges in under one minute to happen during the Queensland Flood Relief Telethon, which currently stands at over $11m. People may say money only goes some of the way, but when there is no other physical way to show you care... it has shown that thousands of people have cared a hell of a lot!

The same can be said for the incredible amount of money raised for Lori - over $2,000 in under a week (and if I can get the code for the Paypal donation widget, you will see it added to this post later) - it's "only money" but it will be invaluable to her both in terms of easing financial pressure for the immediate term and also as a visible statement of how much she is adored in our community.

*Addendum: Earlier today, I discovered that another familiar blogger in this community lost her sister, suddenly and unexpectedly, this Saturday just past. My deepest sympathies go to Lulu as she grapples with this huge loss from her life and that of her family's. The outpouring of grief and support for one family, whilst expected and warranted, has overshadowed several other losses that have been occurring these past few days - at least on my Twitter feed. So while I continue to quietly pay my respects to both Lulu and Lori for their terribly tragic losses, I also know that so many others around the blogosphere (and on Twitter) may well have been recently bereaved. To those people, I also offer heartfelt sympathies. It can be really lonely, or make the emptiness feel even more hollow, when one loss is more noticed than another.

I realised this less than a month after Ellanor died - there was a spate of deaths brought about when several babies in the same NICU where she had lost her life succumbed to a sudden illness spreading through the ward. It caused at least three more deaths. And part of me felt so upset that these other losses had been splashed about in the media; in my mind it was as if they were more important or meant something more to my community than the loss of my daughter's life, which is what naturally happens when awareness is brought to an event or issue.  Of course, this was not the case. But it was hard all the same to stand by without a voice.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bloggy silence

In everything I am doing since finding out about Lori's husband, Tony, last night, I find I have them in the front of my thoughts (Lori updated her post earlier today). A loss of appetite is a sure sign to me that I am required to concentrate on this respectfully and do all that I know to do, from afar.

Right now, scores of people across the blogging world are doing their own bit in their own way, in the same united show of strength and support for the Purple House. Marketing To Milk has initiated a call for bloggy silence and, to me, it fits perfectly with what I am intuiting is the correct thing (for me) to do. I hadn't planned to do any more posts due to that exact thing... but I guess this one more time is for just cause.

It feels correct (for me) not to write, as writing is an expression of me – and I don’t want to be focused on ‘me’ right now when my positive thoughts and all my spare energy are required there. I remember all too well the pain of watching people, oblivious as they were, outside the hospital window, chatting and laughing and flicking their hair and enjoying the sunshine.... when inside, in that stark neonatal department office, my world was rubble.

So. While it doesn't mean my life is not going on and I'm not reading things elsewhere away from this community (and getting on with life away from the computer), I can't with clear conscience carry on with any sort of posts here - the place where I house my 'online voice' - until the situation for Lori's husband and family becomes clearer. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

How can this happen?

I was gone from the computer for barely 24 hours. Driving home tonight, I was thinking about Lori's blog and how I looked forward to that little jellybean banner across the top as I waited for the FYBF post to load each week.

Now, of course, the dogs are unfed - pacing around me impatiently as I type this - and thank goodness my own family is not here for I cannot concentrate on them right now. I appear to be unable to think past the news that immediately hit me upon sneaking a look at Twitter. Never, ever in my wildest dreams did I expect to read that Lori's husband is fighting for his life in ICU. Less than 48 hours ago, we were chatting! Sharing quips (and tweets)! How the hell could something like this happen????

The answer, of course, is that it does. It can. And it will continue to. I just get so complacent sometimes with everybody I know, taking for granted that they and everybody they know, will all remain healthy and ever-present in my life, nothing ever changing. Logically, of course, I know this is simply not the case.

It can happen as quick as a click of your fingers and then..... the person you once were is all of a sudden... gone.

The blogging world who now rallies around Lori and supports her young family - solely relying on Tony for their income - is forever changed. This is where we can see what group consciousness can do to effect change, on a global scale. It doesn't have to be reported in the media to be a groundswell of force that immeasurably alters how we live our lives. If you are so moved (and/or have the means), I urge you to make a donation to help ease at least some of the immediate term financial burden - the Donate widget is on the right at Kristin's blog. Of course, money only goes so far, though. All the money in the world can't remedy some circumstances. I only hope and pray, along with pretty much everyone I've checked in with so far since arriving home, that all Lori needs in the end is a bit of financial assistance.

By now, it will be quite obvious to Lori and her family that they are dearly, dearly loved and cherished. Together, you have lent a voice today to a collective that I am so humbled and privileged to be a part of and bear witness to.

Please join the Aussie Mum Bloggers as we linky up in support of Lori for Kristin at Wanderlust's special FYBF:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

She reaps, she sows

This subject has been floating around in my head for a month or two now. I grappled with posting it, as on face value it appears to largely self-promote, yet this is far from my intention; I came to the conclusion that it was taking more energy for me not to spill and mention here what is going on in my changing professional role than it was to just be as open as I have always maintained on here. And it might explain why my posts on this blog could - who knows - become obsolete, or at least much changed (hence my working towards setting up the private blog last year, so that I may continue to post somewhere less open, as I sort of saw this coming) if it begins to impinge too much on my personal life.

You see, what happened was this: I lifted my head up near the end of 2010 for a brief moment and realised.... I have been studying non-stop for six years. That's six years of knowledge all backed up and archived in my head (and in my overflowing study!). And almost as soon as that realisation crept in to my awareness, I began to be sought out for my services as a psycho-spiritual counsellor. Not just friends or friends of friends this time. Real life, no personal connection, paying querents. I knew I had to start cracking a whip on myself if I was going to seize this opportunity to make my life's work (to date) turn into something meaningful for others. Otherwise, what had been the point of any of it?

For the first three years, it was most certainly a heal-the-healer journey, as most often are. And then I turned a corner. Almost unwittingly, I embarked on an extension of the study whereby the manuals referred to this unrelatable, unrecognisable, seemingly unattainable person called "The Practitioner". Before I was even aware, my mentors and class facilitators were going along with me on this ride where I've suddenly screeched to a halt and looked around and gone, "Oh my stars, I have my first paying client!"

Despite my trying every which way to weazle out of my responsibilities here - and stay relatively 'anonymous' online and help who I can, when they seek me out (and you know who you are!) usually via email or even by phone - and also to remain outside of the murky waters of remuneration for a service that I have to this point in my life considered an Earth Healing cause, I am on the precipice of the amazing and unique privilege of calling myself a legitimate counsellor. Rather like the online forum moderator who slogs diligently, voluntarily, until that moment in time where they realise that the energy exchange has become overblown. They're not "married to the job", for it is not a job they are being paid for and yet it seeps into their family and private time as if they were some sort of executive. So they either let the role go to someone else or they get put on staff as a paid contributor to the running of the service. And they're a lot more satisfied and work more efficiently because of it.

There have been lots of to's and fro's, lists of pro's and con's and so forth, all going in to my decision. I find that I have come to a point where I am actually not being as good as I can be in my role when I am sought out on this casual basis by acquaintances - and part of this is because I don't know the defined line; where do I stop relating to them as a friend and giving the support a friend can and should give, and when do I put my professional hat on, treating them somewhat more clinically/distantly so that I can step aside and be clear of mind in order for the assistance to come through and help them more effectively? It seems that when people lay their money down, that line is defined. And it is actually the only way to be effective.

With my skillset largely experiential, backed up by a highly principled mode to healing which ensures my spiritual etiquette and ego are firmly in check to allow whatever is permitted for the recipient, I think I have something unique to offer here.

I feel like the Masters' apprentice. I know what I know, I have no idea what I don't know yet (but I know it's a lot!) and yet, I find myself over-ripened on the learning vine. The next logical step is this. I have great expectations of 2011 being the fulfilling year I always thought it could be.

How about you? It seems there are so many posts going around about not having resolutions. And I for one think this is marvellous. So with all this self-affirmation and confidence that we're not actually going to set ourselves up to fail/beat ourselves up, and with the freshness of a new decade laid out before you,
what do you see as being your one overriding uplifting hope for your Soul purpose this year? Do you have one? If not, why not?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

With every furtive hair on my head

I got a phone call this week that many women (and men, probably) dread.

It was a missed call on my mobile, so I retrieved the message and with each word, I was filled with more trepidation. The news I was hearing was in stark contrast to the gorgeous song I was being sung by the LGBB and I flapped at her and put a finger to my lips to quiet the diva so I could listen.

And then, the message that incites fear into the hearts:

"Kirrily, it's Dianne from (let's just call it the Curl Up And Dye) salon. Unfortunately, Abby is leaving so I'm booking your appointment next week with someone else......."

I dropped the phone (ok, so that's a little dramatic - maybe I just grimaced) and in a slow-motion Apocalypse Now kind of scene, I yelled an agonised, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" The LGBB raised an eyebrow at me and then laughed her head off.

I have had seven hairdressers in eight years at that same place. It's got a bleating revolving door, I'm sure of it. I've had Renae, Lauren, Nicki, Gabby, some other woman I can't remember the name of, Loretta.... And then there's Abby. Best colourist of the lot of them. Knows my hair. Really listens. I've had her for two years (which shows you how many times I've had an inconsistent hair dresser in the better part of the past decade) and I decided I would be damned if I was going to let Dianne on the front desk tell me how it was going down. She runs that place like a prison, you can't get anything past her. I once tried to sneak rations in and she confiscated them. I'm sure they have an interrogation room there. And each time my hair dresser has left, I have let her tell me who I will now be seeing. Granted, that's how I came across the delightful Abby. But that's not the point. I'm not willing to let this one go, she's too good. This time *shaking fist* this time, I was not going to go down without a (furtive) fight. So I planned an ambush.

I did what any self-respecting person would do. I "forgot" to return Dianne's call. I waited two agonising days - hoping like hell that a) Dianne wasn't working that day and b) Abby was working out her notice. Considering the apparently cut-throat world of beauty, I wondered if she wouldn't have been walked off the premises as soon as giving notice, for unless she was going to change her career (NOOOO!) it wouldn't have been wise of them to let her stay there and collect clients to take with her. I could only hope she was still working there by some miracle for the next few days at least (AND was going to still be hairdressing AND had somehow worked around the "going to the competition" thing).

On day three after the message, I got my dialling fingers ready and prepared to hit the hang-up button if I heard her voice. I almost camouflaged up, but that would have been silly. I felt like I was about to commit adultery or something! I tell you, this Dianne... you can't put anything past her. If I got into a conversation with her, let alone ask to speak to Abby to "say goodbye" (wink-wink), she would have been onto me and my cover would have been blown.

As it happens, the phone was answered by Tiffany. A delicious, delightful, squeaky-clean newbie. Good. Dianne mustn't be there, I thought, for nobody else ever seems to answer the phone unless she's got the day off. Which feels like it happens just once a year, to me.

"So, ummmm, is Abby working today?" I ask casually.
"Yes, but she's with a client, can I take a message?" comes the bubbly reply.

Thinking quickly, not wanting to leave a trace (what if Dianne rubs teabags on the message pads to make out what's been written? That would be a disaster), I declined to leave a message. I decided to gush about my hairdresser leaving and being sad that my appointment next week was not going to be with her for the final time. I went for broke. I didn't know what else to do. And..... let's face it, I'm just too damn honest.

"Well, she has a free appointment today at 2:45 if you want it?"

The heavens opened and I heard a choir of angels. No, really. I did. Well, maybe just one angel. The LGBB had started singing on the toilet again (it must be a four year-old girl thing). Bless Tiffany's untainted heart, I got in to see Abby one final time.

When I arrived, we talked hurriedly. Hushed tones, wide eyes, standing close. That actually happened. I'm not exaggerating on that one. This was risky, man! No patron has ever tried to leave Curl Up And Dye to follow their hairdresser and lived to tell the tale. This was the first time I had had the opportunity to see my hairdresser ever again after being informed they "no longer work here, I can book you in with (insert name here), she's one of our senior hairdressers, you're sure to be very happy." I wouldn't be surprised if they had a store cupboard out the back next to the dyeing room where all my past hairdressers are stashed on shelves after being told they were leaving. Just so they didn't have the chance to see their clients again. I've only been told that they'd moved on.... but how do I know that for sure?

So it was fate. Abby was meant to remain my hairdresser. That is, if she was still planning to work in this field. And she was. Huzzah!

"But how are you still here?" I asked.
"I told them I didn't know what I planned to do," she said breathlessly, as if the giddy rush of being blonde but also actually being smart - they tried to dumb her down - and getting away with it was a head rush for her. As it should be! I'm blonde. I know the tricks. And then, Abby handed me the name of the new place where she is going to be working. I slipped the card into my shoe.
"Oh, you're good!" I said in awe.

I have wanted to get out of Curl Up And Dye for so many years, but it's hard to break away. With hair dressers especially, I fear change. I left it up to Dianne, the professional saleswoman who can spot an undecided but loyal customer at ten paces, to tell me who was "reeeeeeally good." I never got a "reeeeeally good" about Abby from Dianne, but I have loved Abby the most. And as I sat listening to her while she did her hair whisperer thing on my hair, I discovered there would be no love lost between them when she walked out that door for the final time.

So, the great escape has been planned. I've paid my last bank-breaking debt to that place and I'm taking Abby with me. Rather.... she's taking me.

We got away with it. The foil of the century. And everybody dyed happy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My neighbour is pregnant and it's upsetting me

Since my last miscarriage (what number is that now.... I think it was #11) four months ago, I have had to endure the blossoming belly of the woman next door.

I found out she was pregnant during an exchange we had at my front door on the day I was suffering the loss - they are virtually par for the course for me now, it was my second miscarriage in 2010 alone - when she had come over to invite the LGBB to play with her son in his new sandpit. Nothing wrong with that. All terribly neighbourly, etc. And really, she's an ace girl. The kind you could throw back a few drinks with, I'm sure, and we have spent ages chatting over the past two years when we pass by the fence.

But on that day, when I said it would actually help me out if Lolly went over for a play because of my current circumstance, I was really disappointed in her that she chose that moment to say with a laugh, "Well, you don't want to know we're expecting number two then!"

Since then, it's been ringing in my ears. She knew and I knew it was inappropriate to say as soon as the words left her mouth. But there it was. Hanging in the air. And now, every time she walks through her backyard, past my kitchen window where - let's face it - we tend to spend a lot of time gazing out on the world, I have to see that belly. That beautiful, growing bulge beneath her increasingly tighter tops. I'm not sure how far along she is now but it must be third trimester. Often, I look away (or walk away) because I want to just shut it out. But I realise that once the little person is here and they're all out in the backyard, I won't very well be able to see past it.

It's had me thinking hard the past few weeks as the belly has been prominent in my eyeline.

Am I really so not over losing all our pregnancies (and Ellanor) that I am reduced to this? I thought I was much more emotionally okay with pregnant women. I've self-checked and know that there will always be residual pangs of remorse that we don't have more than one live child. Perhaps it's as simple as witnessing this person's growing life even though I am in my safe haven, my home, where I usually feel protected and able to recover from whatever confronting pregnancy-newborn-related conversation or situation I find myself in on any given day. I know that my miscarriage talk makes people uncomfortable, especially "the pregnant ones", and my needs have long since dissipated to a point where I am able to compartmentalise my angst so that I'm not bothersome (I've had women physically recoil from me when they have asked and I have divulged some of my pregnancy-related history.... it's not exactly pleasant when they react in that way).

And then, something happened last week to a fellow blogger that sent me reeling. Totally un-pregnancy-related, this was the death of Sarah's (of Ah! The Possibilities fame) beloved cat. As the grief process continued and her family decided they needed a new cat,  I was shocked at a Twitter response that came to my mind at one point and I pulled myself up sharply.

I had thought, "You want a cat? Take mine... please!" Where the hell did THAT come from?!?

It was about as ghoulish and ill-thought out of me as the moronic offers Steve and I used to get from other people to take their children - "Take ours! You can have 'em!" - as if it was some sort of easy thing for them to do, not to mention that they assumed it would be as simple as us taking their children and then our pain and problems would be solved.

Immediately, I berated myself. And then I was left to consider how similarly quickly those quick-witted quips, designed to add lightness to a moment, must have entered the minds and rolled off the tongues of the people I used to encounter. I had to concede that I had unfairly condemned these people, long since in my past now (some of them barely even acquaintances), as being uncaring, unthinking twit-headed meanies. Does that mean I am one too? Or does it mean they were not then? I guess that's all relative.

To minimise the natural processing of shock over a death and grief resulting from the loss in this way is highly insulting, belittling and demeaning. But how quickly it is absorbed back into daily life and how swift we are, as a society, to joke things all away and smooth them over and pretend we can joke along. Because if we don't, we're seen as morose or not coping or "hard work". No. What about, "we're grieving"! And "it's an individual process"! And "we'll be okay if we're not hurried with the flippant comments"!

I could tell you comments that were levelled at us (and others that I've heard over the years) that would make your hair stand on end. One amazing statement came just two months after Ella died - I was told that I needed to watch that Steve didn't "spiral into a pit of depression" because this person was worried Steve was sad every time they talked to him. Ermmmmmmmm, hellooooooooo. I haven't the words now and I didn't back then either, in reply. So it was just said to me and that person went off thinking they'd done the right thing.

It has taken me a number of years (and lots of soul-searching and counselling methods) to broaden my perspective and relax my thinking about those whom I have in the past deemed to have acted incorrectly. It is ignorance, despite my forgiveness. And I was the ignorant one in that moment, when I thought of suggesting I bundle off my cat (even in jest, for I wasn't really going to do it - I knew it and Sarah would have known it, but that's hardly the point). It was a really shocking lesson for me to learn, that I could allow my mind to go there so quickly that if I hadn't been more thoughtful, I could easily have spilled the thoughts out of my brain and into my Twitterstream.

If I had not had my experiences with the loss of Ellanor - after which time I was authoritatively told by people, even strangers sometimes, that it was "probably a blessing in disguise" - and the feedback I have had to endure from people (many of whom have been parents themselves) telling me my miscarriages have been "for the best, there was obviously something wrong with it and you wouldn't want a child with problems"... and even more beauties than that, then I may not have considered twice the prospect that grief is linear. That is, I see that grief has no hierarchy, no boundaries, no exclusions.

I realise there is a time when most of us naturally start to feel better after a loss, no matter what that loss is. But we can either be helped or irretrievably hindered along the way by people turning their thoughts into words.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

OK, don't bust your boiler, Toots

We went for a big 4.5km walk earlier today. A round trip past Lolly's new 4 year-old kinder to see how long it would take me to walk it. The answer is: about 25 minutes and 2km's. Oh, the hills. How they are a-killin' my glutes right about now (the sweet, sweet burn, ahhhhh). I was already kind of puffed and feeling really out of shape by the time we were over half way there, but I knew the last part would be the hardest, having driven it and doing this one particular long hill in second gear in the car.

We made it to the foot of the hill. Steve took Jazz and started virtually skipping up the steep path. And that's when Lolly started with the questions, expecting me to answer. I couldn't even manage a sound. What a disgracefully unfit performance!

I would like to formally apologise now for any residents who may be reading this and were alarmed by the wheezing sound as I chugged up that hill (and the next one.... and the next) pushing 30-something kilo's of offspring, stroller and supplies in front of me. And while I'm at it, I'd better also apologise for my child who, at every peak and downhill run, put her arms out Leonardo-on-the-Titanic fashion and yelled, "WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER! WOOOOO-HOO!" as if she was riding a rollercoaster.  Come on, kid. It wasn't that fast a ride down compared to going up. Or was it?

Anyway, then the LGBB started doing that thing I always warn her against:  grabbing and pulling at random vegetation that's hanging over fences and bordering the footpaths. 

Well. Today, what I had warned her about finally happened. She got that grass-cut. Ooooooooh *wince* I have done that so many times in my misspent youth, probably in spite of my mother's warnings. And so we had Lolly going into shuddering convulsions and hyperventilating overkill about the slicing of her pinky. "THERE'S BLOOOOOD!" came the shrieks, in that hysterical tone that you're sure is going to bring people out of their homes, dialling Emergency-000 as they come to save the little girl from the beastly parents. That was a fun walk home.

Then we had the trilogy of knocks. You know, when your kid bumps an elbow then miscalculates clearance under a metal rod and whacks themselves in the head and then manages to collect a foot with a coffee table leg that has always been there in that position of the room (let alone hasn't moved in the last 2 minutes of play)? Yeah. That all happened. In the space of less than half an hour. Dutiful rocking-hugs on the couch ensued after each incident.

To top it off, as if I wasn't already tipped off about a certain little somebody who may or may not have arisen from the wrong side of the bed this morning, I got challenged angrily just before by the LGBB after I moved around some dollhouse furniture. In my remodelling, I suggested, "The toilet might be a bit more useful off the front lawn", to which the snappy retort was, "We don't have toilets in bathrooms in this world".

Ok, Miss Four. Don't explode your noggin. I'm going to make a cup of tea.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Does my bum look big in this colour?

I thought I'd get all growed up and choose a classy look for my blog for once. How'd you like it? You'd better get used to it, because I'm not reverting back to the old one (Read: I've impulsively trashed the code).

After viewing my blog on the iPad and realising, aghast, that the background image didn't stretch far enough (heck, it looked bad on our 27" iMac as well, so goodness knows what it looked like on all your screens), I couldn't take it any longer. The nervous tic and the anxiety that made my twitchy designer's fingers restless just couldn't sleep at night knowing it didn't repeat (the background image, not my undigested dinner in my churning stomach, that is).

So here we have a hastily chopped-and-grunged-up photo that I took on the family property in April. A bit of picture slicing along the horizon and field lines. A couple of layer masks slapped on and the old "Multiply" filter gizmo applied, a few other tricks snuck in and there you have it.

I'm not so sure the blue text works with the browns and yellows scheme but it was bland otherwise. Pah. I do like it. Even if I do say so m'self.

It was just time for a change. You know?

Do you have any impulsive changes you want to make now that there's a new year to be had?

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