Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Here, enjoy a maple

We asked the LGBB to be our official maple-planting photographer this week. Here's what she saw:

Her parents, Coochy-Coo and Peek-a-Boo

Gorgeous young red branches - this is a Coral Bark Japanese Maple

I love this photo! I love when kids look up through the lens.

Then I asked if I could take the camera for a few shots and this is what happened...

"Take a photo of me! I love this tree! I love it!"
She wasn't kidding. She loves it. 

Really loves it.

Ok... it's a tree. Not a pole, toots.
Lolly asked about its eventual height and its food requirements. She skipped around the tree which, again, got me giggling about that scene from This Is Spinal Tap (look out for a soon-to-be-rewound post that shows the short clip from the movie). Then she hugged the tree.  Lolly's a tree hugger from way back.

"I'm a boat captain!"

Then I apparently had the audacity to take some non-LGBB-related shots:

"Ummm, no, you can't have the camera right now. I'm using it."

This looks so bland, but I tell you, the decibels were quite impressive

The dog was bemused

The cat cared even less


Young leaves are red-tipped

It'll never grow as tall as the Big Kids... but it should reach at least 5m
Already, the view from my room is even more interesting and peaceful

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hidden talents

The other day, I was cleaning out our guest room to get to the LGBB's old cot. It's going to be used by our sweet little nephew - remember this little guy entering the world? Awwwww, he has his Daddy's perfectly round cue-ball head and the most adorable pixie face. I love him to BITS. But that's not why he's getting the cot. And this is not what I was posting about today.

I digress.

I found my old high school studio arts portfolio. In it were bits and pieces - some old favourite paint brushes (the one with the oh so fine tip, great for creating tiny hairflick lines) and pencils, an eraser (as I recall, this was the oldest, most reliable eraser I ever came across and I used it almost daily on my work... I found it discarded on a desk in a classroom and never parted with it again... SCORE!).

My old tattered once-loved art folder was in there as well. Very dog-eared and becoming quite the fragile, ancient relic (aren't we all?), I turned the first page and gasped. Staring back at me was a rather youthful version of my grandfather. I had clean forgotten that he had sat for his portrait when I was fifteen. I clearly  remember him pulling the wide-eyed, somewhat hopeful look you see in this likeness of him - a fairly good one, I think - and I am really shocked to discover that when I sketched him, I was locking him in to a time before another six years' worth of age would show on his face.

I was GUTTED one day to see that someone had been careless with ink on the top of his head. I am still suspicious about the teacher, for she took some of my work (and others) and displayed it without asking - as if it would be some sort of surprise.... which I suppose it was, but not in a terribly positive way - in a local shopping centre where they were showcasing some of the talent from various schools in the area. Okay. All good. No harm done there. But THIS I found almost inconceivably careless of her/them:

"Are you finished yet, Kirrileh? Oh, choogs."
Oh, Granddad. I still miss him, even after he's been gone 16 years

You know why I blame her, that teacher? This paper is quite fine. It has bled through both sides of this leaf. There are no other blots anywhere at all on my book; no, this page was folded out from the rest of the book somehow and rested somewhere it shouldn't. When I questioned her, she shrugged it off and didn't know how it could possibly have happened. I knew damn well she knew something different but what leg did I have to stand on? Unforgivable! Mrs.... Whatever her name was!

Flicking further through the book, I gasped again. A portrait of my mother this time. Decidedly younger than I see her in my mind. Now, I could go to town on myself and critique the proportions, the perspective, the fact that I didn't draw the chair and cushions she was sitting on so she looks kinda squashed..... quite a fair bit, actually. But no. I will give my fifteen year-old self a break and will simply say, what a wonderful keepsake of a time when I was still so close to my mother and wanted to capture her in that moment. Funny that I forgot this entirely in the intervening years.

my mother

There were various other sketches in there, I remember spending some enjoyable time on these two:

Why does that fish remind me of Paul Stanley from KISS???

And then there was my end of year project when I was sixteen. I guess I must have been steeped in the magic of J.R.R. Tolkien around this time because, ah, The Hobbit phoned.... he wants his identity back.

You know what, though, I look at these and think, My God! I made these up out of my own head. Was I really ever that good??  At the time, I certainly didn't think so. I had such little belief in myself and my ability as an artist, as a good... anything. Growing up with emotional and sexual abuse will do that to a youngster, I suppose.

But the final, most amazing thing I found in that folder was the fellow below. I spent hours on this. Blissful escapism, pushed through the grey lead onto the paper. He is an old Mongolian tribesman, from the cover of a National Geographic I picked up one day. When my father left, it took him some time to retrieve all of his possessions - being kicked out will cause that to occur to a person, so I've found - and he had left behind his sizeable collection (okay, it was more like every single NG ever printed from 1968 through to whatever the current year was... 1990 or something). Thumbing through it, as I would do from time to time sitting in the study at the front of our foreboding home, I found this man I couldn't look away from.

Funny thing is, I remember being disappointed with myself because the end result didn't look exactly like the actual man. There was a likeness but I thought the picture was flawed because I hadn't made it identical. Mine was softer, not as harsh-looking or weathered. I look at it now and there is a familiarity about him to me, probably because I spent so much time with him back then. Strange feeling, to think you know someone you've never met, just because you sketched their portrait!

I just loved his face. It looked warm, trusting, honest. So I began to sketch it, without much thought of where it would end up or when I would finish. I don't remember how long it took but I consider it one of my best artistic achievements so far....

Have you ever rediscovered something you were good at? Did you take it up again? Did you enjoy it then and do you enjoy it now? Do you want to start it up again but keep making excuses? (I'm good at those... Hey, something else I'm good at!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Watch those freeways"...

We're going away. Don't worry your pretty little heads... [Are you picturing Willy Wonka saying to Augustus, "Patience, dear boy!" No? Just me, is it?]

I've saved up some of the best drivel posts for the better part of two months and will drip feed your readers for the fortnight I won't be at the controls. You should get a new post every second day or so, mostly posting like clockwork around 6:30am. I hope you enjoy them, I had fun writing these ones.

So if I'm not replying to your comments, it's not because I'm rude or have dropped off the face of the Earth. It's because I can only read them via my phone [if and when I get reception.... Oh God..... I'd better get reception! Somewhere?] so please still feel free to leave your thoughts here.

The house sitter arrives soon - oh, these spoilt, lucky animals, they are going to be so well cared for they won't want her to leave when we come home - and then, after the weekend, we're off! I LOVE a good road trip. There are so many things I love about them so it should come as no surprise that one of my all-time favourite movies happens to be about one.

Those whacky Griswolds Image source
Now, don't forget to check the mail and... have I remembered to put the timer on the living rooms lights and... and... and....


Friday, November 25, 2011

Elderly and infirm: Take note!

Under NO circumstances should you attempt to sleep resting on a football, unless you have a loved one on hand to help fish you out of the predicament you'll find yourself in when you wake and feel all shaky in the bot-bot and then panic when you discover it's because you're resting on a football.

Also? Using an Aussie Rules footy is easier because it will only roll out from under you in one direction. Just a tip.

There are three simple steps to this exercise:

The blissfully unaware stage. Also known as "butt-teetering"....

The "why can't I... Get... Up?" wake-in-panic stage. Upside-down pirouette pose optional.

The "oh shite, I'm really stuck now" realisation sinks in.
If your loved one is kind, they will help you without fuss and keep guffaws to a minimum.
Until they're inside where you can't see them.

This post starred:  Pepper the 18-ish-year-old Wonder Dog with her pointy ears (all the better to hear absolutely NOTHING with, my dear). She's still here. We don't know why, but it appears she is determined to stay for the long haul and/or to prove a point to the upstart "pup" who is now middle-aged herself.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Keep going, keep going, keep going!

Internet, I need your help!

On the eve of the final week of this round of the 12-week body transformation I've been doing, I am ecstatic with what I have achieved.

I only made her walk down... Promise! This hill can only be walked up using your HANDS at one point.
Steep only just covers the word I'd use for the mother of all hills. Beautiful!

• I am arising before 6am five days out of seven to go for a gruelling walk-jog.
• If I don't get up, guaranteed, I get a 5:45am wake-up bark from Miss Jazz who checks her paw-time and lets me know. Uppy-uppy-uppy! NOW!!
• I jog. I am a person who jogs. I am one of those people I've always seen when I drive past them and think, "What possible enjoyment are you getting from running around like that?"
• I feel euphoric after I get home from burning 600-800 calories in around an hour. From jogging. Ahhh... I get it now.
• The mornings are MINE.
• My leafy community is simply stunning at about 6:15am, when the sun just spills over the furthermost mountain peak and splashes its weak rays onto the near hills and they all turn that amber colour. Just mesmerising. I almost feel cheated if I haven't got up there to the top of the opposite hill in time to witness it.
• The public access stairs around these hills are so challenging. They are actually exciting to conquer!
• I'm pushing myself further each week. In the past two months I have improved my 1.25km running speed by a little over one minute! Ya gotta be happy with that effort!
• I go to bed at night still feeling the deep-lung buzz in my body of the morning work-out. I feel more vital. More present in my body, physically, than I can remember ever feeling.
You want this. Buy it!
• Outdoor exercise: a first for me. And it's a definite keeper. On days when it rains, I have the most phenomenal trainer tucked away on my Wii..... my God, but I am grateful to her (Maya, I think her name is?) and actually find myself grateful to this computerised "person" for getting me through a strenuous 45-minute session and 400-500 calories burned. Truly. Amazing. When you think about it. It's a computer image. On the telly. How clever that it can make me sweat like I'm under a running shower!
• Jazz has lost weight. Yes, the dog is not so rotund any more. She is appreciating this health kick just as much as I am, I'm certain of it.

Okay, so that's my list. Not exhaustive but just what I can think of all at once right now.

What 8kg of weight loss looks like over 11 weeks

By far, I haven't lost as much weight as others doing this fitness training. I haven't even reached my main goal. Not by a long shot. BUT I have smashed two of my initial aims: 1) to go below a weight (and some) that has been taunting me and 2) to increase my fitness. Now that I have done this, and on the eve of truly being on my own with this without being on the program any more, it's time to continue with more specific goals.

• I want to get to 10kg lost before Christmas. That will make a 13kg loss for 2011.
• I want to lose another 10kg by the time Steve turns the Big 4-0 (in April). We'll see.

But please, a request of you, dear reader.....

Will you help hold me to it when I check in 
every so often with my progress? 
This isn't a weight loss journey blog by any means, but part of my overall path to wellness and completeness is how I feel about myself on the outside. It was obvious the timing to begin was perfect when I first came across that ad showing Michelle Bridges doing her Bee Gees hair-blown-by-a-fan thing (noice look!).

Now it's time to keep going.

Does anyone have pom-poms, by any chance? Care to give me an encouraging chant along the way until my end goal in April?

Only 99 to go.... Straight up. This is what 50 calories looks like at 6 in the morning

You wouldn't believe it but the fires on Black Saturday were ferocious through here in 2009

Hmmmmm shall we go left or right through the bush today, Jazzy?

Standing at the top looking down my 200-stair escape route after climbing 80m in just 100 steps...

Downward stretch towards home

Monday, November 21, 2011

No one is to blame

I saw a mother get verbally abused by her son today. Absolutely slammed. Loud, unedited, out in the street down by the hospital.

I was with my daughter. We had just been on a phenomenal walk together. So enjoyable was it that she had just finished hugging me tight when I squatted down next to her to see if she was ready to keep going (she wasn't. Daddy played Knight In Silver Shining Armour and collected us fifteen minutes later...)

Awesome view from the top

That fifteen minutes was spent waiting for our steed as an unwitting audience to this pained family's airing of demon laundry.

He was a nice looking man of at least late twenties. Bare footed, angry, hoarse voice. He laid into his mother and young adult sister as they walked back to her car. Unfortunately for us, they followed our trajectory to the park where we were going to meet Dad.

The LGBB was largely unperturbed but this was angry, angry stuff being shrieked and it seemed the further away we tried to walk, the more it followed us. I wasn't upset at them for doing this so publicly. I wasn't frustrated or felt any opinion forming in me. But I was simply gutted for all of them as individuals and a tiny part of me wanted to go and ask quietly if they were all okay (they clearly weren't and it would have been grossly out of line of me). So I did all I could do. I spoke to my child simply but frankly and honestly about it when she started asking me what was going on.

I told her, "Lol, sometimes people who are really hurting inside yell at people they really love. I think sometimes they don't even mean it but they just can't stop even if they want to."
"Why?" she asked me.
"I don't know. Maybe because they feel like nobody's listening..." I pulled myself up from saying anything further. It's one thing to be compassionate and feel empathy for others but I know it's not anyone's business to carry forward any assumptions about any situation. Not even the other side of their own sometimes!

I've been the yeller in my recent adult years. I've more often in my life been the one being yelled at venomously, though. It was par for the course in my childhood home. I know yelling is always masking something else. Sometimes it's so hard to get to that you yourself can't even identify with it. Verbal abuse can leave scars that cannot be seen. But it is possible to recover from it, whether the yeller or the recipient.

The anger continued. The son began using the most painful, horrible language. Lolly was safely in her own world by this stage, upwind of the situation, singing and swinging in the playground and recovering from her mammoth walk. I was upset and humbled by the events going on behind me on the other side of the football oval we were adjacent to. I felt so sad for all three of them. It seems he'd been ordered to go to Rehab. His sister was hurting deeply and saying "What about me?" The mum was at a loss. It was awful, simply awful.

Here I had just spent a great afternoon with my child, who I now wanted to hold so tightly..... I stood staring down at her soft toys that I had been ordered to bounce on a bouncy-animal and I wondered if the mother in my line of sight with the two adult children had ever imagined in her wildest dreams that the son who had a favourite toy he took everywhere - even on long walks and to the park - would ever wish her so much ill. Whether she ever imagined a day where he would be so pained and gripped by some drug that perhaps used to be a drug of choice but was now creating such a sucking black hole in his life that he would wish himself dead. Scream things at her that I could hear he didn't want to say but did want to say, all at the same time.

The unspoken cries for help transcended what these three were actually saying (shrieking) at each other. Each of them was like a wounded animal and it had gone beyond the point of any of them being able to hold it in. Doesn't only love really get us to that point? It was a real shame to hear what they couldn't. Something had broken down so much that this family was at a crisis point.

What I came away with, for I haven't stopped thinking about them since, was the wish for them that they continue - if nothing else - to hope. I really struggle with the generalisations and judgements that get brought out by observers when violence is brought up. Violence comes in so many forms and disguises. I'm not about to excuse anything. I have seen violence, heard violence, felt violence (all directed towards me and most often by beloved blood ties). But I do feel the need to resist the temptation to draw parallels just because what it looks like on the surface is a case of a user abusing his long-suffering family. And perhaps you will do that or go even further, just with the brief picture I've painted here.

Now, I hesitate here because I know I have absolutely NO experience with this kind of human condition - addiction. However, I do have experience with loss of all - and I mean ALL - hope, faith and trust. I do know what it's like to give up. Give over to the blackness that creeps up and chokes.  I don't know what ultimately prevented me from allowing myself to completely surrender to it and succumb. But I also know that at my turning point, when I found myself still alive, I was left with a glimpse of the flipside of that lowest ever point. And all I saw there was hope. Well, me and hope. Like never before, I got the analogy of having had the power the whole time to get myself out of it.... but I had to go through an entire journey to realise it.

Sound familiar?

This man and his mother and sister - and who knows how many others - were all caught up in the tacky tangled mess of relationship to each other. The thing had taken on a life of its own, you could almost see the "other" thing that was central to them all. It wasn't the man. It wasn't even his addiction. It was something other.... I don't know what to call it because I didn't properly look in. I already felt intrusive enough. But it was a really big illustration to me that we (humans, I mean, generally speaking) so often are so quick to make claims and definitive statements and lines in the sand. 

What if there was just the hope for change? And each time the scenarios played out in our heads, whatever they may be (he'll just lapse again, she'll just hurt me again, I'll just lose the only thing I ever truly loved again), they were instead replaced with the hope that something was going to be different this time?

Okay. Shoot me down, tell me all the ways you don't want this to work and that I am naive. And I'll send you some more hope. For the next millennia worth of "next times" if I have to. Because I need hope.

The opposite is what'll eventually erode and eat at you from the inside out.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How a perfectly good ranty blog post was ruined with a kind gesture

My husband, Steve, is a tall man. He has a tiny car.  Let me illustrate:

Image Source:  The Simpsons (of course) and here

No, I mean... He's reeeeally tall. And it's really small. Let me be clear about this:


Okay, so now you know all you need to know, I think, to picture the look on my face when I realised that our pending two-week driving trip to Sydney would have to be undertaken in Steve's car. Not my luxurious, roomy LEMON of a car but his two door trolley sized vehicle.

See, here's the thing (and why my ranty blog post was ruined by kindness):  This week we have been handed a quote from the mechanic for $2,500 worth of repairs to my little French delicacy. We have spent at least that much in less than six months on the blasted thing for incidental "we've never seen that happen" repairs. As one good friend put it, "Ahhh, Kirril, French cars are like French women; they look good, they're petite, appear fun and relaxed... like a secret affair. Then when they know they've got you, they start draining your wallet." He is not far wrong. Not far wrong at all.

There is just absolutely no way that we can a) go to sunny Sydney and back without the fan (note: not the air conditioner, this $2,500 is simply to get the not-working FAN fixed!) or b) spend that sort of money right before we go away. 

Our driving trip has been described to the LGBB lately as "our adventure in Daddy's car." We've had no choice but to use the fallback run-around. The phrase "We'll just have to pack light" is putting it mildly. We both know it. Without saying it, we've been dreading it. But thinking positively. Hey! It'll be memorable. Let's see if we can do it and survive each other. So the plan to take Steve's car has been moving forward.

The plans have been coming together fairly well:

...with MUCH less animation (source: here) and no festive balloons

If you ask me what I picture in my mind when I think of having to "pack light" for two adults and a five year-old in a folding seat two door hatch with a boot space the size of a glove box, it sorta looks like this:

Except these people have it lucky, they have rear doors. Bastards.  Source

Imagine my utter - sputtering, gobsmacked - humble delight, then, when on my way up to Peace Space for a preparatory refresher day of a course I did back in 2009 (I'm taking on some new energetic healing work, it's another post for another time... but I'm excited!) I was sent a message from the mum of one of the LGBB's closest kindy friends.

Turns out, she was telling her husband last night about our car trouble. He suggested, "Why don't I take Steve's car and they can borrow mine? I only use it to run to the station anyway."

Despite the absolutely shitty drizzle that had settled in for the long haul over Melbourne today, the clouds parted and a ray of sunshine beamed with an angelic "Ahhhhhhh". Okay, maybe not that last bit. But I swear, you could have shoved me with a feather.

To say Steve and I are humbled and grateful for this massive offer is putting it mildly. We did the "Are you SURE" dance back and forth a couple of times. But finally, to avoid any offense being inadvertently taken, we graciously accepted this awesome hand-out.

I'm still speechless by it. The generosity of some people still delights and renews me.

So, I guess... Sydney and surrounds, here we come! In a Honda 4wd! And not a matchbox! Whaaat?! This is nuts. Am I dreaming? *still pinching myself*

Are you a giver?
What have you been given that knocked you for a humbled six?

Note to self: NEVER Google "packed tight", "tight squeeze" or "tight man in car" EVER again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Study revisited: It's often just the little things

In order to extend beyond a stuck place, a plateau, I have to tell myself to get past the pattern of "this is what I do, this is what I know." Becoming unstuck is a process in itself.

One of the most genuine ways that I do this and stay true to who I am (whereby I remain closely linked to my own Source and guidance) is to honour my imagination. No matter how menial or basic my thoughts appear to me to be, when I bring conscious awareness into every moment of experiencing my every thought, I become so much more present in my day and in my own life.

No more putting down your imagination! How many of us have deeply contemplated our imagination lately? Respect your imagination and all it brings to you.

Remember, you do not have to prove or justify yourself to others; you only have to be true to what and who you are. As soon as I start concerning myself with how I sound to even just one "someone else", I have moved away from my centrepoint of being. I enter into another (or another's) realm and reality, which dishonours my own. In this manner, I am also able to be more respectful to another's truth (realm/reality) as I am truly honouring my own. Staying true to what and who I am is where I am strongest and living my best and most productive life. It's all good!

And breathe. Don't forget the breath! Conscious breathing connects us to all that ever has been from the beginning of life in all our universes.

Meditate on the base of the sternum. Here you are grounded in Earth reality and respectful stillness. A beautiful space to be. Sometimes, for me meditation is merely uninterrupted focused breathing. If I have ten minutes, I give myself that ten minutes.

This is the energy of Apple.

If you want to get really serious, place/visualise this mandala in your sternum area as you meditate

It's so basic I think we often forget to close the laptop and turn OFF the phone (not mute... turn the thing off!). But the respite these simple acts give back is well worth the effort.

If you ask me...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Shuffling, the Running Man... whatever you call it, she's all grown up now

Yesterday, I stood with the other new prep parents as we waited for the doors to open. It's just lucky for me that I got in a kiss of Lolly's squishy, plump cheek and a hug of her waif-thin frame before the teachers came out to start them on their first day of school transition (a process that will take the remainder of the month) because after that, I was eating her dust.

Whatever sentimental lump-in-throat, emotion-choking moment that might have come was well and truly stamped out by her confident hand-flick wave behind her in my direction - it said "See ya, wouldn't wanna BE yaaaah" - and I was left standing there going, "So..... that was it then?"

My work here is done.

This divine little creature who only yesterday (ok, well, more accurately maybe it was over 3 years ago) was delighting in the post-euphoria of her very first ever plane ride by breaking into dance, barely aged 2:

... and was the most adorable tantrum-throwing twonager:

... and a rocket scientist in the making:

... is now a school kid. Even though she still technically has two months of kinder left for this year. But best not to mention it around these parts, it's a touchy subject.

The LGBB went off to kindy today determined to showcase her latest dance move for the kids and teachers. Today she headed off all full of excitement about the morning spent at her new school which had given her renewed self-confidence to perform and speak up in front of others.

This is it. It's her moment. She is ready to unleash The Running Man on her peers. I hadn't the heart to tell her that *yawn* we've already been there, done that, back in the '80s because she loves Party Rockers just so very much. A little... too much, in fact.

So first, her class. Then... the world. Look out.

Yes. My work here is done.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Love is surrender

I don't care what anyone says, Karen Carpenter is an utter musical legend. And I had to listen to the following song yesterday, no fewer than eight times in a row before even I begged for mercy, after I inadvertently introduced the LGBB to her first living-memory dose of The Carpenters. A band I was raised on as my mother was a huge fan.

There was nothing quite like putting on one of Mum's favourite records for her (I began to learn that it soothed the stressed-out, under-acknowledged side of my mother that if ignored for long enough would eventually turn into the beast - which I now very much appreciate). Once I was entrusted to very, ever so carefully raise and lower that needle onto the record, I took my job as DJ incredibly seriously. I ensured a regular dose of songs from the double The Singles album was served. Daily, if I could help it.

My favourites from this were Masquerade, Love Is Surrender and Sing

I was stirring something at the stove while Lolly made her own fun, hitting the "Back" button so that iTunes would restart her new Favourite Song Of The Day. And something struck me as quite familiar about the situation. Granted, there was no careful blowing of any record before it was set down on the turn-table. No crackle as the needle picked up any remaining hairs and fibres on the record. No need to reset the needle at the start of the track. Just a simple press of a button with her finger.

I appreciate this technology. I admire it and I love it for its convenience. But I am wistful for the days past when there was a certain dexterity and accuracy and, hell, just good "old-fashioned" patience to hear your favourite song.

But there was no denying some things will never change as I saw my daughter skip so joyfully around the island bench with Jazz and telling me with a gleeful smile that "I love this song, this song just makes me so happy, Mummy!" Mostly, I loved that she was listening to it because she was enjoying it. Something undeniable and perhaps unknown was stirring within her, willing her to move so that it became impossible for her not to express it with free abandon. I know that feeling. I respect and want to encourage that feeling in her, when it overtakes her in this way.

No matter where it next takes us, technology will not surpass or outdo the Masters of their craft. Brilliant songs are still exactly that, regardless of whether they're being played on a Nano, through a six-speaker stereo system off a digitally remastered CD, or on a wonky old mono-speaker radiogram with turn-table. I intend to keep this house retro and connected with those greats for as long as I live, with a balanced dose of modern good music, of course. That my appreciation for meaningful lyrics and clever musicians is being passed on to my daughter in this day and age of girating, unimaginative, unintelligent, tuneless commercial "music" makes my heart soar. NB: this is not to deny the countless excellent musicians still out there. Somewhere. Buried under the mainstream mess.

Although, ironically, I realise in a way this is not surrendering. Which is a tad hypocritical of me, given the title of my post. Ah, well. Baby steps.

Can you hear what she hears? Listen.

Talk about love
How it makes life complete
You can talk all you want
Make it sound good and sweet
But the words have an empty ring
And they don't really mean a thing
Without love you are not to be found
Not to be found
For love is surrender
You must surrender if you care
You must surrender if you care
Shout about love
Then the wars will all end
You can shout "we're all brothers",
And even pretend
But you can't cover up the past
Just pretending will never last
Without love you are nothing at all
Nothing at all
For love is surrender
You must surrender if you care
You must surrender if you care

p.s. Ummmmm..... but hands up who can see a tiny bit of Dexter in Richard, around about the 1 minute mark. No? Just me then? Ok, as you were.....

Monday, November 7, 2011

On the importance of walking in your neighbourhood

When it comes to communities, I've only lived in a few in my life. Steve and I tend not to move around very much. As it is, the home we built just before we were married, we thought, would be the place we grew old in. It didn't happen that way.

Good thing too. For if we hadn't moved here, we would never have discovered the way one can truly be happy where they live.

There is no better way to learn about your community than walking or riding or jogging amongst it. I have come to realise that part of my lack of movement and desire to get out of the house and exercise was that I wanted to avoid people. You can see people who don't want to be disturbed or nodded to or "Good morning"-ed at as you pass each other and it is something I respect. It doesn't mean they're rude, it doesn't mean they're unfriendly. It could mean a number of other things, though.

But those who are up for a chat, well.... what a treat. In the past week, here are some new residents I have met on my pavement-pounding with Jazz:

•  Frank. I put out a tweet about him on Saturday because I was so taken by his crack-up line. Picture an elderly, barely shuffling gentleman, baggy walking clothes hanging on narrow, frail frame. Cap on head. Surprisingly unlined rough-shaven face and bright blue, sharp eyes. His lovely-natured Doberman is also elderly, but still has plenty of life in her - like dog, like owner. Frank tells me he's been coming to this particular park for twenty-five years. He and his wife retired here to Australia from England when he was in his sixties. That's some life, I think to myself. Frank takes a daily walk with a woman who specifically comes to this park to walk with them and her dog. They have met like this for over six years. When I meet her, I realise why it is either of them would take the time to walk with the other. They are both such wonderful, warm, friendly people and I can tell it is natural for them to just... be as I find them. Refreshing. I feel very blessed, as we walk, that they have allowed me, the interloping stranger with the dog who is barking shrilly because she's not getting a "turn" of the ball - oh, Jazz *sigh* - to join them on their daily ritual and I give quiet thanks that I have been given this opportunity to meet two people in my community whom I previously never knew existed.

"I'm 98," Frank tells me, half-proud and half-disbelieving tone... and then he corrects himself out loud, "Oh no, I'm not. Wait a minute, I'm 89. Oh, what's another decade."

Loved meeting him. I hope there will be other times. It's funny, isn't it, the instant care and concern one can feel towards another. I think this might be the essence of pure love - the detached care for another. Imagine if more of us felt this for more people (indeed, for all living things) without agendas, conditions, judgement or hierarchy. The world would be a far more evolved place, I can bet safely, I'm sure.

•  This morning, I took a 6-kilometre tough round trip that took me over an hour. Steep hills, blissful scenery and bush. I finally wound my way back down into "civilisation" and paved pathways. Jazz and I turned onto a street where there was a bloke in his forties, turning down the same street but on the opposite path. He was in a suit and carried a small terrier under his arm.

"That's a funny handbag," I nodded to him. He grinned (thank God... as soon as I opened my mouth to let out the first thing that hit my brain before I could censor myself, I thought this could end very embarrassingly).

"I couldn't find his lead this morning," the man replied. "And I have to take him for his walk."

I nearly bent over double laughing at the gorgeousness of this. Here's this guy, taking his dog for his morning "walk" because the dog can't do without it. I am still wiping tears. For some reason, this has struck me as so charming. Perhaps it was his suit. Or the fact that it was such a regal-looking little dog, up there in its chariot. Or maybe it's simply because I am recalling the rest of the encounter was one of those rather awkward moments where you don't know if the stranger is still talking to you.... you hear them talking but you're not expecting any more conversation so you've moved on, moved away. And then you hear them say something else. But are they talking to you? There was no one else, he was talking in a loud enough volume that I think I was supposed to hear. But I couldn't hear him. And he wasn't looking at me. But he was doing that loud-talking thing. Aaagh! So I did what any self-respecting stranger would do: I plastered a smile on my face and pretended I wasn't looking over at him to try and catch what he said and I looked off into the middle distance instead. Still with my smile on.

I think we both came away thinking the other was a little strange/crazy. Him for talking to himself and me for grinning at nothing like a loon.

Who's the crazy one? I ask you.

Do you enjoy your neighbourhood?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wishful thinking: Never give up

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tabitha enthusiastically greeting a new "friend"

So if at first you don't succeed...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One for the Cat vs Dog People: Keeping Tabs

I'm not a cat person. I prefer dogs.

Cats are too aloof for me.

Dogs, on the other hand, are joyous pleasers. I love and really appreciate a doggy's bliss in the simple things - I have been known to laugh myself to tears (quickly) at the image of a dog with its head out a car window. Why, Pepper herself has been the source of amusement at one time or another in this house when she's partaken in a journey in the car. Steve and I worked out many years ago that Pep's speed limit for external-head travel is about 58km/h, for this is the speed - test after test - that she would retract her little red pointy-eared head and concede defeat.

So it was that I accepted with not a little surprise the affection bestowed on me by our adopted cat.

Miss Tabitha.

A skitzy, belligerent (giving Jazz a run for her money), expectant and over-affectionate puss if ever I knew one. This cat has Velcro-ed herself to me. She meaows and bays and mews for me if I go to the toilet and she can't see me. If I go to bed to watch TV, she comes and sits ON MY CHEST. The cat cannot get close enough to me. And only me.

For a non-cat person, this has come as rather a distasteful shock.

But after 19 months now of having her around and getting used to her, I have to say.... she is a gem. Don't tell her I told you. She is here to stay, most definitely. It's as if we always had her. Not that she will ever, could ever, take the place of Steve's first cat, Rusty, though. Now HE was an awesome, none-like-him cat. He has appeared to me in dreams - even recently - like some big sphynx-like, larger than life, living, breathing statue. What a beauty he was.

I still prefer my clunky, dufus doggies, yes. But this cat has wormed her way into my cat-free heart.

That reminds me: Note to self - must worm cat.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just in time for school: My own (belated) Mothers Day poem

I was cleaning the desk this morning and came across an exercise I have been meaning to complete. It's for the LGBB's kindergarten book her teacher has been compiling all year. It's a page where the mother has to write something to the child, their thoughts about the preschool year. In Lolly's book, there's a gaping page waiting for my contribution that was supposed to be made on/about Mothers Day back in May.

I have been putting it to the side. I think I've been in denial. I didn't want to even GO there. Of course, like so many stay-home parents, on some days I am climbing the walls to get away from the incessant nature of Lolly's grown-to-bursting inquisitiveness and hunger for stimulation and instinctive need to learn "stuff about stuff". Most days I roll with it. Some days I am far from civil about it.

Anyway, today was apparently the day where it all came spilling out of me. It wasn't as hard as I thought it might be. And it came out as a poem... which is weird, because I don't write those.

When I think of all the moments
That stop and make me smile
They always feature you
When you were small for a brief while

If I could pause this time with you
Before you go to school
I'd make the most of it all again
With outings to the pool

And visits to the 'cino shop
Which is where you learned to sit
So quietly with such good manners
While we played "Ladies" for a bit

Sometimes all your friends might come
Again as they used to do
Scrapsy, Bunny, and a teddy or Horace
You've more than quite a few

I'd take you to the park again
Or the library with your bike...
And we can do all these things still
Just after school now if you'd like

You and I have spent so long
Together while you've been home
You have made my life complete
Much more than you could know

So thank you for your happy smile,
Always beaming as you go
The way you find the joy in things
Is a treat to watch, you know

Your little golden head
Belongs to a big girl now
It's your last year home with me
We made it! Let's both take a bow...

You've been such a treasure to mummy
So I would like to say
Thank you to YOU, my lovely girl,
On my happy Mothers Day

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