Thursday, January 26, 2012

Friends of Science in Medicine know best? Alternative therapies under fire

I appear to be uncharacteristically on my soap box about public issues this week. Forgive me. And bear with me. Please also remember this is a post written from my perspective and experience - I don't intentionally mean to denounce anyone else's experience.

There is no denying that western medicine and science is crucial. I won't even begin to count the ways. In saying that, for treatment of minor (and medium, bordering on serious) conditions, I try to avoid it as much as possible.

So today, when I read this article that is reporting an apparent global uprising of doctors and scientists to prevent universities and health funds from recognising alternative medicine, I felt a sense of dread. The article states:

Almost one in three Australian universities now offer courses in some form of alternative therapy or complementary medicine, including traditional Chinese herbal medicine, chiropractics, homeopathy, naturopathy, reflexology and aromatherapy.
But the new group, Friends of Science in Medicine, wrote to vice-chancellors this week, warning that by giving "undeserved credibility to what in many cases would be better described as quackery" and by "failing to champion evidence-based science and medicine", the universities are trashing their reputation as bastions of scientific rigour.  

Okay. Now, I am all for everyone finding their own method of wellbeing. I also realise there are "quacks" out there - but you can find those sitting in GP's offices in proper, accredited clinics anywhere in the country just as easily as the oft-joked-about "slapping fish", "hocus-pocus" (etc. etc. etc.) alternative practitioner. Obviously, any healthcare provider needs to be good at what they do. I just take deep offense at my choices being limited by this ruling. What about all the families out there who rely on these sorts of treatments for their children? How will they afford it if they whip out the health cover rug from under them? They want to take away my right to choose - I mean, sure, the treatments will still be around, but I won't be able to receive a rebate because of my choice and what works for me and my family. And damnit, they're going to win, aren't they?

My experience with doctors has pretty much been along these lines:

Scenario 1 (which actually happened)--
"How can I help you today?"
"My daughter is pulling at her ears and crying. She's too young to tell me what's wrong, but I'm sure there's something happening with her ears."
"Any other symptoms?"
"No, none apart from the crying and irritability... oh wait, sometimes she pulls at her cheeks lately."
"Well... I've checked her ears and they're clear." *shrug* "My best guess is that she had a cold or something like that and her ears were blocked for a while."
I left the office with no treatment or solution being prescribed or suggested.

After several days pass, I take her to my Homoeopath, desperate for some relief for her and sure something is happening but she just can't tell me. My Homoeopath takes one look at my ruddy-faced grizzly baby and says "She's getting more teeth! It can affect the ears..." and goes on to describe the mechanics of the sinus region and why this would be impacted by Lolly's teeth coming through. He prescribes a remedy, I diligently give it to her every four hours. The change is remarkable within the first day. I am relieved, she is relieved.

Scenario 2 (which actually happened) --
"How can I help you today?"
"My child is very sick but I don't know what it can be. She has some spots but they're fairly insignificant at this stage and only around her nappy area. She won't eat or drink and keeps crying and thrashing about." (Of course the crying and thrashing stop when we're in the office...... don't they always?)
"Well... I've checked her over, she has no temperature and looks fine. Keep an eye on those spots and watch for any new symptoms. If anything changes or if you feel she is getting worse, bring her straight back."
"Ummm.... o...kay? I guess?"

Dumbfounded, I head to my Homoeopath for help again. This time, I think my child is far too unwell to be helped by the "quackery" (as so belligerently described in this article today) of something so, frankly, mysterious as homoeopathy. I've heard the opinion that the pillules they give out are no more than placebo tablets. I also know that, either way, I don't care if they are if they relieve me - but I'm not so certain I want to risk testing the theory with my child on something that appears to be quite serious this time. More over, I don't want to risk looking to others like I am doing nothing for her but giving her sugar-placebo tablets!
But with little else to do, I turn again to my trusty Homoeopath.
This time, the result convinces me without doubt that I would turn to him before a GP any day of the week for almost anything except broken bones!

As it turned out, Lolly had hand, foot and mouth disease. She passed it on to both Steve and me. I didn't shake the horrible disease for five months (largely because I was stupid and was so concerned about getting her back to health that I ignored the pain and literally swallowed it down every day without focusing on my own wellbeing and getting myself treated... in hindsight, that was the end of my phase of subconsciously inflicting pain on myself). It was a horrendous time. But we got through it with little more than a bit of Pain Stop and the homoeopathics to treat the symptoms. I did take her back to the doctor to discuss it and was there for little more than five minutes, being shown the door and told that it couldn't be treated by them. What the....?

I could go on and on, listing examples of more minor ailments I or Lolly have had over the past six years. I now naturally call on my Homoeopath for things that I am initially sure cannot possibly be treated or eased but will contact him "just in case" they can. One memorable time, I just happened to mention a grotesque little-fingernail-sized cauliflower wart (oh, yes... ewww) that had grown on the side of my chin while I was pregnant. The thing was there to stay. It grew so large that Steve started asking it how the heck that thing grew on the side of its face ("that thing" being, my head... oh he is soooooo funny, no? sigh).

With barely more than a week's worth of aggressive treatment with the correctly prescribed homoeopathic remedy, the bloody thing fell off! And just two months ago, Lolly and I worked together with our Homoeopath to get rid of a painful papilloma (one of those warts that grow inwards in a conical shape usually on the underside of the heel). They're yuck and in my teenage years, I had one removed with quite a bit of discomfort, local anaesthetic, freezing it out and bandaging. I thought I'd try to avoid that for her and see if we couldn't give homoeopathics a go. She was over the moon when it shrivelled up and died and painlessly fell off in her sock one day, about a month after we started treating it with a 3-times daily remedy. I was pleased she was able to see how the treatment had worked for her, as it had been troubling her and making walking uncomfortable - I offered her the choice and explained what the doctor would do. The word "needle" (even though I reassured her it would only sting for a moment) was enough to make her try the (in my opinion, better) alternative.

Placebo? Quackery?  I don't believe either of those ill-advised descriptions for ONE second.

And finally, I just want to say: please note that my Homoeopath was not the one who didn't do anything for you... if you have been given poor or ineffective treatment by one - as with doctors, there are good ones and crap ones. I have the great fortune of having found a damn fine Homoeopath, whom we actually call "Dr K" because he's just as good, if not better, than any I've seen in my entire life and certainly treats me and my family more effectively and more often.

What have been your experiences with doctors, alternative therapists, or otherwise?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When cyclists attack: Dog vs Man

"If you don't know how to do it, I'll show you how to walk the dawg."

The other morning, the LGBB and I took Jazz for a walk to her school. It took us around an hour. There is a bike track that goes all the way there. It's a really lovely gently downhill walk all the way, and there are many spots where you could almost imagine you're walking on a path through the bush, not through the back of suburbia.

On this deserted path, I decided to allow Jazz some free roaming time. She is harmless. I know this. Despite knowing this, I have the eagle eye of an experienced dog owner. Some, granted, would say that an "experienced dog owner" would not have let the dog off its lead on council land where it is common knowledge that dogs should be walked on lead only. Weighing up the risks compared with the short bit of off-lead time I was giving her, I made the measured decision to keep a watchful eye on my dog and let her run in the grass verge to the side of the track. Many groups and individuals passed us over a ten minute period, mostly on bike but a few on foot. They passed us without fuss or fret. Jazz gave them barely a glance, if that, and continued her foraging in the lush grass - she loves to scratch her back and snout in grass for some reason, I've heard other Kelpie owners say their dogs love to do this too, perhaps it's a trait of the breed.

Lolly and I were making good time. Steve was going to meet us at the school with the car to give us a lift back, a wisely pre-arranged plan we made before we left home, sans phone.

Along came a man of quite decent, solid build. He looked to be roughly in his forties and in very good shape. He was riding a bike and coming towards us. I checked where Jazz was as he headed our way; she was sniffing the base of a gum tree at the edge of the path. I saw by the way the rider's face was set determinedly that he was in some sort of deep concentration and deduced he would not be an individual who would share a nod, a smile or any grunt in recognition of sharing the path and early morning with us. That's cool. I've been in the zone before while exercising. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't acknowledge a passer-by.

When he rode past us, I was only mildly alarmed that he came quite close to the LGBB - thankfully, she kept her gait steady and didn't wobble into his path or he would have clipped her. Perhaps he felt we should get off the path completely, for we had already moved out of his way over to our side of the shared walkway. It was a fleeting glance, but I saw him jerk his head sharply in the direction of Jazz as he rounded the tree under which she was gaily sniffing. In a moment, he was gone - mere seconds and he had passed us by - and we continued on.

Not more than two minutes passed and, just as Lolly was launching into some new endless sentence without a break about some desperately important bit of information she needed to impart in one continuous breath, I heard someone shout something from behind her down the track a ways. It took me a few moments to register the words in my brain... something about "dog on the fucking lead"...

The man on the bike was making his way back, obviously reaching some turning point in his ride and coming back the way he came. Lolly was oblivious and thought I had stopped ahead of her to turn back and wait for her to catch up - it's hard to concentrate on your single minutes-long sentence and keep a good walking pace, didn't you know? - but I was mostly watching the situation with my dog and this fast-approaching bike rider who by now I realised had the shits up about Jazz being off lead.

"She's fine," I assured him as he cycled past Lolly making his way past me next. The dog hadn't even lifted her head and was at this point a few metres from the path to my right, still under my control and posing absolutely no obstacle or danger to anyone, least of all the big burly man.

"Get FUCKED," he shrieked like a madman. "Should be on a lead." He rapidly rode into the distance past me. The whole exchange took less than five seconds.

The moment got the better of me and I was instantly riled, as if something had leapt off the rider and onto me. I was baited, hook, line and sinker. I took it. Without hesitating (or thinking), I fired back, "Calm down, sir." I have absolutely no idea why I added "sir" the way I did. Perhaps I thought it'd soften it. I immediately wanted to gulp my words back in. It was wrong to shout anything after him. I had visions of him dismounting and coming back and punching me in the face. I felt like I had been hit in the stomach as it was. He was just so angry!

The LGBB was concerned. She caught up to me, asking questions about "the man" and wanting to know - word for word - what he said and what I had called after him. I tried to wave it off but she persisted. I had to feed my words back to her, regurgitating them as if she was trying to make me be more accountable for my part in the exchange. Mostly, I was mortified that having the dog off lead, despite her perfect behaviour and temperament, had been so gruffly pointed out to me.

"What did he say to you?" Lolly probed.

"He said Jazz should be on her lead... and he's right," I replied truthfully.

"But why was he mad? And what did you say to him?" she asked, a most concerned look on her face. She's at an age where such juicy social exchanges are referenced and filed for use in her next dollhouse or Barbie game - there's always an antagonist these days if I listen in long enough.

"He was telling me Jazz should be walking next to us because maybe he thought she would trip him over," I said. It was the first logical thing that came into my head, probably not far from the truth either. I'd like to think he was an upstanding citizen who was concerned for the safety of others.... something tells me that wasn't the reason for his policing attitude, but still. I'll never know. "And I asked him to calm down because he seemed angry."

I felt a fool, spelling it out to her. I shouldn't have yelled after him. It was idiotic and made me feel worse because I was contributing to the exchange and buying in to whatever he was already carrying. That kind of venom isn't spat out at a stranger without it having brewed to that point long before the situation even arises. He was just seizing the opportunity to let some steam out of his inner pressure cooker. I get that.

"But why was he so angry about Jazz?"  See? Even a five year-old knows Jazz is nothing to be concerned about. That dog is the definition of "nice".

"Because..." getting a little frustrated now, just drop it already, sheeezus! "...some people are just so angry in their hearts that they yell at other people, even sometimes people they don't even know. It's a shame, isn't it?"

It was the closest to a full explanation as I wanted to get that day. Lol seemed satisfied after that. Her face relaxed back to neutral and she changed the subject to something completely unrelated. I love the way kids do that! I wish more adults could do it. But that's an entirely different blog post......

Look, I knew it was essentially wrong of me to have Jazz off her lead. But I'd love to take a poll of dog owners and ask them if they haven't given their dog a few minutes off the lead here and there over the life of the dog. Come on. I'd like to think I am a sensible, responsible person (some would say I am often painfully too responsible and morally upright!)  - I know my dog and I know she would no sooner rush at someone than take down a wildebeast.

Other dogs are a different matter: as soon as another dog comes along, mostly for the safety of my own dog I will restrain her if she is at that point having a sniff off the lead. It's just not worth the potential for a dog-barney in the road. A brief exchange with the other dog owner will determine whether we let them have a run together. It seems the unwritten rule of engagement out there and most, if not all, dog owners I have ever met have been very reasonable and more than keen to let Fido have a run and tumble with my dog too - we know the joy these social creatures get from connecting with their own kind. In fact, it's a big part of the joy of owning a dog.

It's a can of worms, I know, asking where you stand on the issue of dogs off lead. I myself would not like to be anywhere in a shared public place with a dog off its lead - heck, some people seem to have a hard time stopping/controlling their dog even when they are on lead! If I see kids - on foot or on bikes - she goes back on straight away. If I see other dogs in the distance, same thing - back on straight away. If there is nowhere for her to roam or get off the path and it's being shared with walkers and cyclists, she also doesn't get off the lead. If there is anything unpredictable (a windy day, poor visibility, anything that just doesn't feel right), she stays by my side and doesn't go off lead. You can see that there isn't much opportunity for time where she is let off! An rightfully so. Dogs should come last in the chain in public spaces, always. BUT... if it is mostly deserted and there's plenty of space and a decent stretch of path where I can see people coming in either direction from a fair distance away, then yes. I let her off.

What are your habits walking your own dog? What are your thoughts? And ummm... what's better or worse: having a harmless dog off its lead or shouting expletives in a threatening manner in front of a small child in an essentially deserted area? I have to tell you (now I'm safe at home) it was one of those hair-raising moments where I saw in a flash what can happen - and how easily these road rage (bike path rage?) bashing stories end up on the news.

Update: Wed. 25/1, 11am - I am closing comments on this post now. If you feel moved to add something that hasn't already been discussed, please feel free to visit my Facebook page instead. 
I would like to point out that the second last paragraph in this post clearly describes the conditions in which I give my dog a rare chance to walk off-lead - in a safe and controlled environment, not in parks full of people, at shopping centres (heaven forbid!) or anywhere where there are children. 
I would also remind, respectfully, that I am not representative of (or advocating for) irresponsible and inconsiderate owners who seem not to respect shared public places with their out of control dogs. They give all dog owners (and dogs!) an unfair bad name. 
Thank you to all who contributed to the discussion.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Good night, Australia!" #YTT is back!

I had no idea Young Talent Time was coming back until, oh, about 4.30 last Friday afternoon. WHY DIDN'T I KNOW THIS???

When I was growing up, Sydney had all the other Aussie-made shows but in Melbourne, we had three of my childhood staples:

Hey! Hey! It's Saturday. Neighbours. But most beloved of all,

Young Talent Time.

I ADORED this show. I loved Johnny Young. I felt like I had a personal connection to each of the kids. When one would leave (Karen Knowles, you BROKE MY HEART........ it's ok, I forgive you already) and another would join, I'd warm to them eventually. I had my eighth birthday there and thought I was the luckiest girl on the planet when Tara Falconer invited me to her birthday party and I got to go again (it seemed the "done" thing to go to tapings of the show for birthday parties). It was the place to be. If you were a little kid with stars in her/his eyes. And you lived in Melbourne.

It finished in 1988. I can hardly believe it was that long ago. How can it be that it was never resurrected until now? But my goodness, what a resurrection.

I am going to admit right now, I am hopeful. So very, very hopeful. That this doesn't go down the chute too quickly. That there are no scandals, that there is no hard time made or had by any of the team or contestants. That people don't unduly bag it without first stopping to realise the gaping hole in wholesome children's entertainment these days.

Because I need this to work!

This show is vital. It is very much needed. Yes, there is a saturation of talent shows but they are so formulaic and rigid and narrow-focused. They smack of greed and almost unhealthy competition and materialism. They are not and will never be YTT.

Like looking into the past... The LGBB sits, riveted by the new show

After the show, they sang "All My Loving". I cried. Like a bit of a baby. In a flash, a warm blanket came over me. I remember being all rugged up in my 'jamies, towel-dried wet hair, fed. With my family, that was so often at war and fractured. Safe for a moment. I would sit there and allow myself to get pulled in to the TV. Tuning out all else except those twinkling studio stars behind them as Johnny Young sat and swayed while he sang my weekly goodnight song. To me.

Tonight, the LGBB was overcome at the very first notes of the song. She bundled up her little dog, Scraps, and jumped off the couch to come and cuddle up to me where I was stretched out on the floor, probably pulling a pose very much like the one I used to 25 years ago. I looked down at her and remembered the happy I used to feel. That childlike, nothing-can-beat-it, innocent Happy. She led me back to it in a split second. Because of that song. She was beaming from ear to ear, hugging me and her little dog so tight I almost had to ask her to tone it down a little. But I daren't, for I never wanted the moment to end.

It did, a few bars into the song. And she turned to me and begged, "Can I PLEEEEASE watch this again? Right now!"

So from me to you, Johnny Young.... You are on a winner. You always were. Genius! I saw the emotion in your face tonight and had to swallow past a sudden lump in my throat watching how happy you were. It was so good to see you. We love the new format. Don't go changin'!

And to you, young Robert. So-called Millsy. You did well, Grasshopper. I was pleasantly impressed and surprised. The Talent is strong in you. Use it wisely, because if you don't there is a legion of mothers out there who grew up on YTT and need you to get it right. For the sake of their littl'uns! We've glimpsed the legacy. Don't you be messying it up, boy-o. Y'hear?

Image credit

"Good night, Australia!"

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012: The Year of.... Getting my house back

Well, sort of.

I'm not going to bang on (much) about how I'm walking around the house already crestfallen that I will be alone for most of the day five days a week. And that it will at times probably remind me of all those days, years ago, where I would roam the house while Steve was at work and I had empty arms and only the memory of my baby to reach out to.

How times have changed. Why won't I dwell on this?

Because yesterday, it dawned on me:  when the LGBB starts school, I'm going to get my house back! I mean, I am going to be able to clean and tidy a room.... And it's gonna stay that way for the whole day!! This is a big deal when you work at home, tidying around a child (or children). Years ago, I gave over to the notion of being able to keep every room of the house spotless while there was a young person living here. Hell, I gave over to the prospect of having a house get all messed up when I started living with a man. But that's another issue entirely.

It seems like such a small thing. But I have a feeling it's going to actually be huge for me this year - the fact that I will be able to create some order, and I will be able to cast my eyes over things and my brain will register the orderliness. I think it will go a long way to brushing away some of the lingering blues, which I can safely call depression this far in to my life's journey, let's face it. That constant sense of never getting to the bottom of my list of what I would like to do in order that I feel like I've achieved anywhere near anything useful.... it's almost over.  I know it!

I hardly want to imagine it, but I am beginning to look forward to the days of mopping the floors and them actually staying dust, fluff and footprint-free! For up to 5 hours at the very least! Mercy me. And that I will be able to clean rooms completely without a single interruption, meaning I will be free to actually finish cleaning them and not just give them a cursory once-over saying "That'll have to do" because duty calls in another part of the house.

Mind you, this doesn't alleviate the issue of the three animals we share this home with. Sigh. I feel like I am running a créche for animals some days, what with all the mess I have to clean up after them. Not that I'm calling my child an animal..... Although sometimes.... hey, if the shoe fits.

"Let It Snow!"  This is why beanbags are evil.....

Is a house with some sense of order and/or cleanliness something that cheers you? Or do you not give a hoot either way?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dear Miss Ellanor

Hello, lovely girl.

I'm getting swept up in wistful thoughts again. Wishing you were here this week.

Your little sister and I are getting ready to make a sweet feast on your birthday. You would have turned eight this Friday. I know 8. I remember 8. I felt so old, so grown-up. So ready to take on the world. It felt like an important birthday to me. Seems like such a wholesome number.

I feel a bit cheated this year for the first time in several years. Perhaps because I can remember being 8. And that hope-filled eight year-old in me is confused by all the hurt and pain. I have to nurture her, too, you know. Break this to her very gently. The world hurts. But it is such a beautiful hurt.

Thank you, my darling soul mate, for teaching me that lesson as well.

The other day, I was distracted in the kitchen. Stirring something on the stove, thinking several things at once. Deep in concentration. Out of the corner of my eye, my little girl walked in from the next room and stood a short distance away, saying expectantly, "Mum...." I looked up and said "Yeah?", expecting to see Lolly. She wasn't there. No one was. I stared at the vacant spot, disappointed my head hadn't turned a split second sooner. Lolly was metres away, caught up in her Barbie website. She looked over at me when I spoke and asked me, "What, Mum?" "Oh... nothing," was all I could stammer.

It was you, wasn't it? Well, thanks for coming, anyway! It was so wonderful to glimpse you. It's been too long.

You're there. I know you're there. Here's our song again, just for us. You and me, sweet pea.

You gorgeous, soft, strong, delicate rose. You hold the whole world, the entire Universe, in your soul. I know you do.

I miss you, Boo. I truly do.




Your Earth-bound Mother x

To view more letters to Ellanor and anniversary posts, please click here and scroll down.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012: The Year of.... Contentment

We're reaching the pointy end of the holiday stick here in Australia, folks. I am getting to the stage where that blissfully still week between Christmas and New Year is going to be all but a distant memory soon. The past two years, I worked over that time. I've done it before. Doubtless, in my future years, I will do it again for various reasons/projects.

Not this year, though. This year I relaxed so much I almost became a liquid substance version of myself.

I am interested to see how long I can remain connected to the feeling and stretch it into this exciting new year.

When I think of the feelings and concepts that come up for me in this prayerful time, I have a pretty sublime looking list that I hope to carry with me into my Year of Contentment:

...anticipation. Despite (or because of) all its hardships, life will be good to me and my family.
...goodwill. Quiet, without fanfare or accolade or advertisement. The real kind. True service.
...frugal. Waste not, want not. This is the year to clean out.
...purge. As above, so below. mindful of my mind. Where it goes, what it thinks, who it thinks about, why it believes it even has any business thinking about who it does. Further note to self: turn thinking "about" into pure... thought.

And just on that note, I am reminded to take with me this pearler that I picked up during my studies in 2011:
What others think about me is none of my business

For want of a more freeing statement, this has held true for me and has really helped me keep the "nah-nah-nah's" of my mind at bay more than once. Try it (if you need it too). It works.

Now, although I am not necessarily the one praying, there are others in the world in very zen states at this time of year (granted, you may not be/feel like one of them and fair enough!) - I am a great believer that (us being connected on some cellular/animal/vegetable/mineral level to the All) this group-conscious collective state filters through on some energetic level. How I react to that is varied. Sometimes it feels repellant to me and I resist, wanting to lash out, wanting to be pained... Not necessarily consciously realising that this is what I'm doing. Other times, I allow myself to align with the Zen State! I know it's the preferable way for me to be. But I don't beat myself up about not being there these days. Instead, I observe my behaviour and reactions with hindsight and move forward, better educated about what triggers me (and how I, in turn, affect others around me energetically with those triggered reactions).

If there are enough beings focusing their inner strength on being in a prayerful state, then surely it follows:

As within... so without.


Are you in your prayerful state? Have you found it over the festive period? Or have you filled every single space in your time and mind so they are cluttered once more, before a new year has fully begun?

Defrag yourself! Hit that Reboot button in your psyche and refresh/clear the old patterns now so the new coding can be laid down afresh and set you on your true course for 2012.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012: The Year of.... My Book finding an agent

Otherwise known as Chasing Pavements.

By the end of 2012, if I have not exhausted every agent (Australian or otherwise) and started croakily imploring "Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements even if it leads nowhere?" Adele-style then please slap me, all of you, and tell me I should've tried much, much harder.

Here's the thing:
...I have a memoir ready to be published ... okay, polished by an editor of their choice then published.
...It's in two parts.
...Part 1 is 84,000 words - it loosely chronicles Steve's and my journey to parenthood for the first time and the abrupt end of our daughter's life.
...Part 2 is 77,000 words - it branches into the awakening of the positives to be found in the death of our baby, our IVF journey and culminates in the eventual "success" of a take-home baby. Enter stage left: The LGBB!
...I have been short-listing some agents since November but haven't nearly exhausted the list yet. It's a long process, trying to decipher who would be interested in my work.

I have had the diligent, supportive and helpful readers. I have had the critics. I have had the "you haven't written a book, you haven't even nearly finished writing yet" helpers who haven't read a single word {way to confuse me! I'm preeeeetty sure I have a well-rounded, well edited book here, or so I am being repeatedly told by very intelligent readers, so - with the greatest respect for your experience - perhaps offer to read it before you offer to tell me I don't have anything worth publishing yet!}. It's time to push the baby out of the nest.

But in which direction?

Ultimately, I feel the pressure of knowing none of it will have meant anything if I can't get this thing out there. I know, I know... the healing in the writing has to have been worth it... Blah-blah-blah. I'll cut to the chase and just say, no. It won't have been. If I can't get this off the ground, I will have fallen short of my goal and I can't let that happen. Not when Ellanor's memory is all over the darn thing. Besides, I never started writing it for any other reason. And I haven't written the book for that (self-healing). I was well through the worst of it when I began writing. As for the actual logistics of distributing the book, I'm not keen on self-publishing. I want to truly leave no stone unturned as I go down the traditional route of publishing. So I will be boning up on what I do know about how it all works - and will be scrambling to fix and change things according to what I learn, because there is SO much I don't know about how it all works! It's kind of like trying to find the end of a piece of string amongst a balled-up mass of intertwining threads and other people saying they have a vague idea of what you're looking for and where you'll find it, they saw it, oh... "over there somewhere, you'll find it, just keep looking..." Aaaaaargh. Just TELL meeeee!

*composure*  Now I'm just starting to sound like Veruca Salt.


What I hope to achieve is only going to be possible if someone has faith in the project. This is where I am going to call on the support of any readers out there who want to see it happen. Plenty of you have said "It HAS to get out there!" and "I am going to do all I can to spread the word... because the story needs to be told!" and words to that effect. It has buoyed and humbled me to the ends of the Earth. I truly hope that sometime in the not too distant future, I get to call you on your words and ask you to come good with them!

So, uh...... anyone know any good agent/s who don't mind a bit of real-life nitty-gritty wrapped up in a positive message??  Then help to hook me up, dagnabbit, starting with sharing this post!  pretty please with a cherry on top

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012: The Year of.... The garden

Ummmm.... yeah, so weeding isn't our forté

There are a number of projects still tying up here post-renovation/extension. Just the words "extension" and "renovation" still make me shudder. Sure, the result is fantastic! In the end. That bit towards the end, though? When you see money draining out of your account like there's no tomorrow and EVERY single purchase is in the $thousands, you don't feel so much excited and sure of what you've set out to do, but more terrified you've made a huge mistake.

As the dust continues to settle - literally - and we patch up various natural disaster events and nail marks on architraves and skirting board sections that are still missing, the outdoor part of our humble compound abode is going along swimmingly.

A couple of years back, I joined Gardens For Wildlife. It's a council initiative that I have so far managed to convince two of our adjoining neighbours to try out. For the sake of their lawns/soil quality, the bird and other native wildlife, the insects, and their water bills (the neighbours' water bills, that is, not the fauna's...). What's not to love about contributing to the green belt we actually live in by regenerating our small areas of back and front yards with the types of plants that occurred naturally here until it was cleared 100 years ago??

In 2011, we made small changes to the garden. I have planted a hedge of indigenous natives along our front side fence line. Already, in just three months, the little single-stemmed 20cm tube stock plants have bushed out into beautiful, healthy knee-height specimens.

<------ Look at that! I have clipped this back three times.

And get this: I didn't even water the things in! This is where they grow best. I just bung them in, they will do the rest. This particular plant can be sculpted into any shape you can imagine. An elderly neighbour across the way has three of them. He has his shaped like a sphere, a box and an oblong sort of thing. They are works of art, to be sure (oh to have the spare time! One day...). Now, while I'm not going to go pruning mine into chess pieces anytime soon, it is wondrous to see a native looking every bit like the kind of expensive landscaping plant you'd find in the back yards of my website client's clients (just check these out for incredible!)

One of our random grevilleas, with its crazy-beautiful strange flowers

Lolly's frog pond
So, 2012. The year of the garden here. Over the year, I plan to...

...finish downsizing the roses that are struggling in the front yard.
...reintroduce indigenous native grasses to the front garden beds.
...reclaim some of our beautiful front yard lawn to accommodate a butterfly garden. Steve create a small paved area off the front porch next to the frog pond the LGBB and I made out of her old baby bath in '10 and screen it with fast-growing, bushy feature natives.
...clear a decommissioned vegie patch in the back yard and turn it into a screened "fairy garden" area - the request has been taken from the LGBB to plant "tall grasses that you can't see over so I can hide behind them." Point: taken.
...plant a small (ha! are they ever truly small?!) flowering eucalypt in a bare back corner, away from the house.

How does your garden grow? Have you ever considered investigating local native species?

I would highly recommend you research what grows naturally in your area. For instance, a native in Gippsland could be a noxious weed here where I live, just four hours away. Not all natives are the same! Still Australian native, yes, but not necessarily ideal for your area. Talk to the experts, if you have any at your council or other such body - if nothing else, they might be able to advise what is best *not* to plant. You may be surprised what they recommend!

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