Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ode to the grande old dames of Queensland's past.

There is also a sense that Queensland is still a long way away, so far away it hardly matters. John Harms.

Queenslanders: houses identifiable by the large verandahs & the French doors that open onto the verandahs.
High set ~ to allow for air flow & escape the flooding; even on the high hills around Brisbane. No, the floodwaters don't reach so high. And for some strange reason ornamented so there are plenty of cracks & crannies for the redbacks to live [a poisonous spider whose bite can be fatal; at the very least it will make you very sick.

Set on 1/4 acrea blocks with ample room for the mandatory poinciana or jacaranda, the chook pen & veggie patch out the back side by side, back in the days, with the outdoor dunny. Originally the hallway from the front door travelled in a dead straight line to the back door [called a breezeway] to allow for the flow of cool air straight through the house...but unless the house is orientated to catch the prevalent breezes it's not much good.

In these days of downsizing the expense of maintaining & upkeeping these grand old homes is exorbitant & Queenslanders are rather notorious for abandoning their heritage to make room for new fangled monstrosities completely lacking any soul. Given how well the Queenslander burns, making a grand bonfire in the muggy sub~tropical conditions, brick & cement might seem a safer option. But safer options make Queensland just like everybody else. The old Queenslander is instantly recognizable by any Australian. Plagued by fire, eaten out by termites, expensive to maintain, these grande old dames are going the way of the dinosaur but where owners have the wherewithal to maintain them with dignity they reside in the splendour of their opulent gardens with genteel elegance like frowsty old ladies dozing away their last days in the sun; charming, slightly eccentric, a little tatty around the edges & with their less pleasant attributes politely hidden from view. I'd own one if I were a millionaire. I love them anyway.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We Found Monty's!

There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now .
Wandering down LaTrobe Terrace we discovered Monty's Chocolates. Oh my! This is serious decadence. Serious chocolate. Do not enter the premises unless you have serious self~control ~ which I don't when it comes to chocolate because Man cannot live on chocolate alone; but woman sure can!

Now what really took my fancy were these glorious glass jars which display the small chocolate goodies beautifully. I thought they were absolutely charming & old worldy & just the ants pants so I asked as nicely as I know how if I could take a picture...& because I can be completely extroverted when I don't know people, will probably never meet them again & even if I do it is extremely unlikely they will remember one twitty woman out of the hundreds they probably run into in the course of a week ~ I asked if she'd mind being introduced to the world via my blog? No? Luvverly!
And then... Oh. My. Goodness. She let us taste test some of the chocolate!!! Rich. Exquisite. To die for chocolate. Scorched hazelnuts. Scorched almonds in dark chocolate & then as a very special treat, she let us try the speciality of the house ~ their hot chocolate. I am running out of superlatives but honestly. Remember that classic line in When Harry Met Sally, "I'll have what she's having."? That was us. Drooling. Ecstasies. A hint of nutmeg. A touch of cinnamon. Subtle. Mmmm. And the best bit? It's not really sweet, just rich & chocolatey. Exactly the sort of chocolate Siano & I like. There's not much left of it in our house.

We didn't have a lot of time but we were charmed by the ambiance of Monty's & next time Siano's in Brissie I'm sure we'll find our way back. We got friendly, excellent service & the store was jam~packed with all sorts of wonderful goodies we wish we'd had time to investigate. If you are in Brisbane & out that way do drop in & try their chocolate. It is even worth a special trip. Really it is. Good chocolate is always worth it.

We brought a take~away home with us & a bag of the scorched hazlenuts.

Hen's Day Out.

Girls are like phones. We love to be held, talked too but if you press the wrong button you'll be disconnected! I am battling a bit of a wog, probably thanks to Liddy who likes to share, but nothing irks me more than letting a little thing like a cold spoil my fun ~ so we went into Brisbane as planned; just Siano & I. Ditz opted to stay at home & this was probably a good thing. One way & another we didn't leave as early as we'd hoped so had a slight change of plans & opted for Siano's old stomping grounds out Toowong way.

As anything to do with Brisbane necessitates negotiating a rat's maze of unmarked streets I venture into the city only when I have no other choice. I do not like cities. I dislike cities so much I opt to live on an island but as Siano pointed out Brisbane has pockets I would like very much indeed given the opportunity to investigate them though these areas tend to encompass the sort of environment I can have without the city drawbacks. Being driven round by someone who actually knows what they're doing & has some sort of internal refedex regarding the relationships of suburbs to each other certainly helps. Old helps too. Old & a little tatty around the edges. Old & green. Which is one reason we began out Mt~Cootha way driving into the grounds of Stuartholme College, which sits on top of a hill & backs onto the botanical gardens. It was founded in 1920 by religious of The Sacred Heart with just 5 students & is a rather imposing edifice. Fantastic views from the grounds of Brisbane.

However having got so far we were absolutely ravenous & in desperate need of sustenance so Siano dragged me off to the perfect place to eat: MaryRyan's fine books & coffee. The coffee & eats is out the back. We chose the terraced verandahs which was just extraordinarily pleasant, thumbing through the catalogue discussing books while consuming salad & Italian dressing before heading back inside to sample the books. If I were a coffee table book sort this might have beguiled me. I holidayed quite a bit on the Pittwater as a child as my folks were *boaties* & I remember the old Pittwater, which was isolated & stunningly beautiful & a little quirky. However with limited money one is forced to choose wisely. Very wisely. And coffee table books are not something to waste money on. This & this I will order through the library. Probably not worth my money but at least worth a cursory look. I see Rude People wasn't available to have a look at but probably worth a library order too. I spotted something for Ditz too. Reminded me of the Lemony Snickett books & at some point I think we will round this one up & read it. Yes, I came away with something but I went for an author I know is excellent value for money & whose books have never disappointed: Tracy Chevallier's latest offering Remarkable Creatures. I adored Girl with a Pearl Ear~ring, The Lady & the Unicorn & Virgin Blue. Others I have not found so intrinsically interesting but still very readable & I have my eye on a long, long year of rehearsals with Ditz.And then this sign!!!! I sooo wish I had found this little shop when I was hunting for that little black dress for Ditz. Unfortunately the window was full of lovely things to be worn under the little black dress for optimum effect & not terribly suitable for a family oriented blog.
Bardon, where all these tantalising things reside, meanders up & down & along one of the Brisbane ridges. An older suburb that appears to be getting something of a facelift ~ a least in places. Gorgeous old Queenslanders built high & ornamented. Every time I begin to drool I remind myself of the cost in time & money just for upkeep ~ but they are sooo lovely!
This one sat on the edge of a roadside cliff & must have had spectacular 360 degree views. Bougainvillea all along the fence line which would be amazing in full bloom but just nasty, spikey, thorny & rampant otherwise. Not sure I'm a fan of Bougainvillea.
Paddling up & down the vertical streets to look at a row of workers cottages that probably date to around the 1920's. Workers could have trammed into the city proper at the time. We speculated which factories : the brewery [XXXX], Arnotts [biscuits] or maybe the docks. Most were 2 bedroom dwellings & only single walled as evidenced by the exposed external struts. Siano lived in one of them for a time.Just opposite was a tiny patch of green space with the most enormous multi~trunked ficus & a handy seat.
We sat & surveyed the view of Brisbane CBD. Yeah, I know. The contrast is rather ironic. Eventually we hoyed ourselves back towards the car but not before stopping at Monty's. Monty's, however, deserves a post all to itself.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

From ghosties & ghoulies & things that go bump in the night...

Our problem is that sound is not important in our culture. We know the world from the visual, not from the other senses. I had to be taught other ways of understanding.- Bernie Krause

Just after my brother, Mark, & the Duchess were married they came for an overnight visit with us. The Duchess did not sleep well. She complained our nights were very noisy. Having not heard a thing all night I was more than a little perplexed ~ until I realised I was used to the curlews shrieking, the bitterns booming, the plovers craking, the mopokes mopoking, the thump of wallabys down the hill & the scuttling of bandicoots through the ferns but for the Duchess each & every noise was unknown ~ & there were a lot of them.

I will also freely admit Australian wildlife is notorious for making a wide variety of weird & wonderful sounds but I know most of the regular sounds round here...& yes, I sleep through them all.

Just recently however there have been a whole series of weird shriekings, chitterings, coughs & splutterings, hissing & spittings going on in the branches overhead at night. I was pretty sure it was an owl but which one? Not one of our regular visitors who make a range of strange sounds but nothing like the shennanagins going on recently. So Siano & I went on~line. We're pretty sure we have a barn owl nest in a hollow tree close by. This is what we're hearing. Sorry, you'll have to scroll down to the barn owl calls & hit *typical call*. Unnerving is what it is. The other sound we are hearing must be the chicks.
I was just getting used to the owls fussing when something much closer to ground level started up. Not the Ooomp ooomp of green tree frogs sounding as if they've been jammed headfirst down our drain pipes but a aaaaa~ak, aaaa~ak like rusty hinges, only very loud!
This beauty belongs to the green tree frog family~ the orange eyed tree frog, Have a listen & see what I'm complaining about. Scroll down to calls & click on the link. All night long he's been going. Nice from an ecological point of view & I guess I'll get used to it in a night or two.

Monday, December 28, 2009

“A visitor to a Quaker meeting stands up after five minutes of silence and asks, "When does the service begin?" An old Friend rises after a brief reflection and says, "Service begins when the worship ends” Anon

The boys have gone home. The cousins have left. Siano has arrived. It has been raining steadily for a week & the kids have used every towel in the house. I am down to my last spare set of sheets. Siano was lucky. There were sheets & under a pile of wrapping paper in a bedroom someone's forgotten present turned out to be a brand new towel! It looks like it will be a while before my house returns to some semblance of order though last night we had the first proper meal in 3 days! You know, one I actually had to cook rather than throwing together leftovers.
Issi has collapsed from the heat ~ & sheer exhaustion. All those strange people wandering through his house! He has been very rattled & not himself for days. Siano he loves. Siano brings goodies for him in her bag ~ & he knows it. He was twinning anxiously around her ankles the moment she was through our door. She did not fail him. Such a spoilt moggy!

Siano has plans to educate me. As a Brisbane girl she is about to take it upon herself to introduce me to the hidden delights of Brisbane, delights that have so far evaded me. She assures me that Brisbane has its Darlinghurst/Paddington/Glebe equivalents; bookshops of note; the weird, the wonderful & the strange just like The Cross [Sydney Cross, which is an experience, I can assure you, though the real Cross is the beautiful old houses & gardens out of sight of the red light strip!☺] I am happy to be educated. We shall make a day of it. Take Ditz. Now that should make things interesting. I have never met anyone so resistant to learning. So enamoured of the fine art of ennui. It's a teen thing. One day she'll grow out of it & be mightily embarrassed by herself.

Meanwhile we will talk till our tongues are like to drop off. We have a friendship that goes back 30 years to our uni days & all night coffee benders to get essays of acceptable standard written before deadlines. We both majored in literature but Siano has a logical. rational side to her that is missing from my genetic make~up & did her minor in biology ~ a quirk in her nature that gives me peeks into a strange & alien world unavailable to me by other means. Siano is enough the right~brained novel~reading book~writing friend to explain the fascination of biology in a way I can actually understand & appreciate ~ minus the ooey~gooeys. I don't do ooey~gooeys. Yuk!

Ah! Old friendships are the best friendships. There's nothing quite like someone who's known you most of your life, seen the best & worst of you & likes you anyway.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Standing on the promises of Christ my saviour.

A drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up: for it is a land of graven images, and they are mad upon idols. Jeremiah 50:38

We have rain ~ steady, drizzling, mizzling rain; the sort of rain that soaks into the thirsty ground & washes the world bright & clean. I have been checking the rain gauge. Over 3" now & it is such a blessing. It is so needed. My big gums, the saplings that rejuvenated after we built our house & have watched grow into big sturdy trees, have been drought stressed for months & I have lost some of my smaller water dependant shrubs.
This is the first year my Illawarra Flame Tree has flowered. It drops all its leaves before producing a spectacular show of red flower which is a little hard to see in the smaller pic but one click & you should get a better idea.

As I listen to the steady drip of rain I am reminded that the world will never be destroyed by flood again as it was in Noah's time. Next time it will be by fire. That is a terrifying image. Then my flibberty~gibbert mind wanders onto all that lies unseen in the spiritual realms & the raging war that can sometimes be felt but is very rarely seen & I wonder what victory has been claimed that we have rain because I have lived here a long time & I know certain spiritual truths about my beloved islands.

I know that like many isolated communities it has attracted its fair share of misfits, rebels & downright weirdos as well as those of us who seek a simpler, less fraught, Godlier lifestyle far from the consumer driven society of the mainland. Small island. Smaller community. There are Pagans & witches amongst us, astral travellers invading where they have no business to be, those who are merely ignorant of spiritual things & those who scoff but the warfare can be felt & sometimes at its peak we wonder what on earth is going on because we come under attack from every direction imaginable.

Hey, I'm a Quaker. My desire is to walk cheerfully over the earth seeing that of God in everyone but ~ sometimes I have to question what god they are serving. Warfare is so not my thing but having done what I can I cling to Ephesians ~ Having Done All, Stand! Ephesians 6:13-15

Stand. No, I'm not good at evangalizing, taking the attack to the enemy. I don't see the point of debate because simply, I am right, you are wrong. God is God & nothing anyone can say will change that by one wit or iota. Serving? If I must, but seriously, my kids eat here only because they have no choice. I am not the Martha sort & though I manage the practacalities of running a large household we are always barely a step away from disaster. Give me the knotty problems, ask the unanswerable questions, ponder the imponderables & I am right there because that's what I'm good at. I can research & build an arguement that rests solidly on fact. I can spot a flaw in an arguement. I am empathetic to the hurt & suffering in other peoples lives & my children all assure me they get the stubborn streak in their natures from me. These are my strengths & when all else fails the very least I can do is stand.

I know that my redeemer lives. I know His sheep hear His voice. I know that He has overcome the world. However it looks, however it seems, He has overcome the world. I know He will come again in glory. He makes it to rain on the just & the unjust, the believer & the scoffer & for that I am grateful. These are the firm truths I can stand on, nothing me dismayed. I don't think I need to shout it from the rooftops. Not everyone is going to like me. Not everyone is going to agree with me. Not every Christian I come across is going to see things my way but that's ok. All I have to do is stand. By God's grace that is more than enough.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Now the tumult & the shouting's died...

Memory is a crazy woman that hoards coloured rags and throws away food. ~Austin O'Malley

What is left after the food is consumed, the presents opened, the visitors departed? What remains in the memory after 5 decades of Christmas' Past? The tawdry tinsel & rags of memory. A patchwork of odds & ends. The fleeting moments.

Early mass ~ & it was early, too early for Ditz; Liddy was barely awake ~ & Liddy staring at me wide eyed as I rambled my way through the mass that Liddy was uncharacteristically silent for. She might as well have shouted from the roof tops," How come you know this stuff?" Anglican up~bringing; not enough difference in the prayer book to matter though I do always forget the pause before the last bit of the Lord's Prayer. I know great gobs of it by heart. And so I should. Even now, come January, we will worship with my mother at her Anglican church.

Liddy again, whispering anxiously to ensure I understood I couldn't receive communion because she rocks up to mass occasionally with friends. For years, when I didn't drive, the Catholic church was the only one I could get to so as I hadn't put my wafer in the bowl I knew I wasn't taking communion . As to whether I can or not, well every Catholic church seems to have a different take on that these days but unless I know I don't usually push the issue though I can do without trying to explain the theology of *the real presence* halfway through mass! Yikes. Thanks Lid. Yeah I know, but what is a Quaker lady to do when there is no local Meeting? Besides Catholicism shares more with Quakerism than one might think at first glance. They have kept the practice of meditation for one thing.

Meditation. Like oasis there are those pools of quiet contemplation within the mass, most apparent just before the homily while the father thumbed through the scriptures communing with God before he spoke ~ & then I was surprised! I don't think I have ever, not in all the years I was around Catholic churches, not even amongst the progressive charismatic Catholic churches, have I ever heard an evangelical message ~ but I heard one Christmas morning. Simple, direct & to the point. All another might ever know of God they know from you. Yes indeed.

Images of the cousins hugging Ditz to death ~ Ditz, who is so not keen on being hugged. It's an age thing. Dino lighting the fire. Cold enough for one & not too windy. The kids all sitting round it under the summer bright stars yarning the way only teens can while the sparks lept skywards & the flickering flames curled around the dark wood. The smell of coming rain, of heat & burning wood, of chlorine & damp earth. Issi crying under the car, surprised by rain & oh, so happy to be scooped up & brought inside, snuggled in my arms. Lunatic cat.

Dino proudly showing off his girl. Great drifts of rain scudding across the bay & swirls of cloud gathering in the wind until all the world is reduced to the sound of drumming rain & the Christmas tree lights winking steadily through the gloom while the kids work their way steadily through the pile of toffees on the coffee table. Other Christmas' have been more exciting but in the end Christmas is about just two things: Christ with us & we were all together. Next year Liddy won't be with us so this year may be the last for some time. Tuck the memories away safely for the empty times when we can't all be together.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Birthdays? yes, in a general way... ~James Kenneth Stephen

Christmas immediately gives way to a birthday & Boxing Day is just a really hard day to work with. Everybody is suffering from too much Christmas cheer, too much too much & leftovers are the order of the day. I tried convincing Dearest he should choose another day in the year, any other day in the year, & celebrate then but he, quite rightly, pointed out that then that would not be his birthday. Me? I'd have changed in the wink of an eye but with Dearest & I it is definitely a case of opposites attract.

So today is Dearest's birthday. Today is the day I stop being his *older woman* again [as I am for two months out of every year]. Today is the day we clean up the rest of the presents left under the tree, eat the dessert we didn't touch yesterday [trifle this year], & bear the endless watching of the cricket with equanimity. At some point we will pause to watch the Sydney to Hobart fleet pass through Sydney Heads, spinnakers flying. It's not every year the fleet can put a spinnaker up before they are well down the coast but one year we were sailing north & arrived as the fleet emerged, a veritable rainbow of spinnakers bobbing through the twin cliffs of Sydney. I'll never forget. My mother has a squeamish stomach at the best of times & the sight of those luridly coloured spinnakers lurching across the waves towards her completely did her in & she was violently sick. Ah, the joys of a life on the briny sea!

The world this morning has narrowed to a white swirl of cloud & the steady drumming of much needed rain. Life moves forward, past the Christmas festivities that have consumed so much of December & already other things are on my agenda. Siano is due any tick of the clock ~ & how we all look forward to her flying visits! The girls & I will spend our annual January visit with my mother though now Lid is a working girl she will drive us up, have her weekend, drive home for her working week, come up the following weekend to pick us up & take us home. I must e~mail Alison about what we are going to do with Ditz this year [snigger] & do something about Ditz's curriculum. We finished the year in a shambles & apart from her math I really don't know what we've finished & what we haven't. Could be interesting.

And the lads being here think that specialty pancakes two mornings in a row is no bad thing. Really? I guess they think I'm gullible enough to make them. Ok, so I have a weak point for my sons! The trouble is I will eat them too & pancakes with walnuts, maple syrup, cream & ice cream two mornings in a row I really do not need. I was happy to settle for left over cheesecake for breakfast but unfortunately there's not enough to go around! Being a good little mummy I guess I'm off to make pancakes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Merry Christmas to All....

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

It is Christmas Eve Down Under because Christmas will arrive here a day before the rest of you. I have a list [in my head]. I'm checking it twice. I have places to be & things to do. The no bake cheesecake needs to be put together. I have a trifle to make, starting with the custard. I have stockings to fill.

What I don't have is small children. Christmas Eve with small children is another realm entirely. The excitement. The fizz of expectation. The wide~eyed wonder. After the carols, after the reading of the prophets & the gospel, after the iced chocolate, chips & sweets, after the teeth~brushing & last peek at the tree they would be tucked into their hot little beds to dream of sugar plums & fairies & things that go bang for a surprise but before they fell asleep I read them Clement Clarke Moore's wonderful, 'Twas the night before Christmas. Eventually they outgrew it, as children do outgrow things.

We have never had much in the way of worldly possessions, the tallest tree, the flashingest lights, the biggest pile of presents, the richest food but we have the most important things of all: each other & Christ.

May you all have a happy & blessed Christmas & may Christ be glorified in our hearts & homes as we celebrate His birth.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday's Trivia.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Luke 2:8

The problem with Christmas is we think we know what it's all about. We have heard the story of the babe in the manger since we were born. We gloss over details because we know them so well.

Guilty as charged.

We know that Jesus was born to Mary & we know that Mary belonged to the House of David. Technically unless your mother is Jewish you are not considered a Jew so that looong, long genealogy in Matthew is important. It is important for other reasons too but Mary's lineage is essential.

Joseph, as Jesus earthly father, would have been given an opportunity to bless the reading of the Torah in the synagogue at the next opportunity after his son's birth. Don't you wonder what he prayed?

We know that on the night Jesus was born Shepherds were on the hills watching their flocks. Forget the snow, people. If the shepherds were watching their flocks on the hills the shepherds were still at their summer grazing pasture. A birth date of late September/early October is far more likely.

From both Mary's & Joseph's lineage Jesus could claim Davidic descent; David, who once declaimed, The lord is my Shepherd...The prophets declared For out of you will come a ruler who will Shepherd my people, Israel...Jesus, at once both the sacrificial lamb & the Shepherd is proclaimed first of all to shepherds watching their sheep. And you know something about sheep, who are easily agitated & upset; they take great comfort just from the presence of their Shepherd! I don't have time but the rich symbolism just in this short piece of scripture is multi~layered going all the way back to Genesis.

Then Jesus was the firstborn son. The first born of anything was to be redeemed & set aside for God. Originally they were to serve as temple priests but there was that little hoo~ha with the golden calf in which only the tribe of Levi didn't partake so the priestly role went to Levi but with Jesus you see scripture reverting to the original intent of God. Things return to the way they are meant to be. Jesus is our High Priest.

Jesus, as the son of devout Jews, was circumcised on the 8th day. Circumcision was the outward physical sign of an eternal covenant between God & his people Israel. It would have been at his circumcision that Jesus received his name.

When a child was born a messenger was sent at once to bring the news to the father, saying, "A child is born to you." And we all know the meaning of angel, don't we.

We read of the Heavenly Host suddenly appearing & glorifying God. For me this is one of the most poignant passages in all of scripture. If Mary & Joseph had been at home in Nazareth when this birth took place their home would have been swamped by the rellies & musicians would have arrived in droves to serenade the new babe. Far from home, closeted in a stable with the animals, there was small chance anyone was going to arrive to celebrate this birth. Joseph may not even have had the money to pay for the musicians but even in these little details God did not forget. There were musicians that night, rejoicing in the heavens & the Glory of God shone around for The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Read the scriptures carefully. Christmas means so much more than we think it does.

Monday, December 21, 2009

All done ~ sort of...

Only in souls the Christ is brought to birth, And there He lives and dies.~Alfred Noyes
This is why I love the island. This morning's sunrise flushed the sky & water with faintest pink. Clouds were piled magnificently along the horizon & the water lay so still everything mirror imaged.
Twenty minutes later the sky was summer blue, the clouds perfectly reflected in blue water, the edges of the tree~tops ablaze with gold tips & the air! Oh how sweet the air smells after a night of gentle rain; sweet & damp & alive & faintly scented with salt. Why, oh why, would I want to exchange all that for cement & tarmac & crowds of grumpy shoppers? But yesterday I did.

At least Ditz is easy to buy for. Expensive but there is always something! The Ibanz was given to her but it only had a soft case & it is such an expensive guitar I felt a hard case was in order. Of course it's not something easily hidden when you have the child with you ~ or to gift wrap so Ditz won't be surprised Christmas morning! She is, however, absolutely thrilled. It's all about the look.

I saw this & thought it very Liddy~ish. Lid's not fussy; a jig~saw [I actually got her a 3~D one as well as this. *snigger, snigger*], a DVD or Cd & she's perfectly happy but every so often I see a piece of jewelry I think perfect for her & nab it because she does actually wear it & I seem to choose well for her. All her friends keep asking where she buys her jewelry & she has to confess she never buys it for herself.

As for the lads, they'll be drowning in hooks & sinkers because not only I, but Ditz & Liddy as well, invested in fishing tackle which is not only cheap but a commodity they are always in desperate need of!

Food the day before because unlike colder climes nothing is going to keep real well in this heat & I don't want to risk mouldy cherries & other unmentionable things growing on the food. Always possible. We have had 2 blackouts in 2 days & no~one seems to know why. Dearest swears it's the extra use of air conditioning which our power supplier seems incapable of accommodating but it's as likely to be yobs shooting out the transformers ~ or osprey nesting somewhere odd. Lightening strike? Anyway we have been without cuppas & cold drinks for hours at a time & this does not bode well for the festive season. Dearest has asked for Lamb Roast & salads but I am considering an investment in cold meats just in case. And the power people charge us an arm an a leg for power we can't rely on!

Now that we have the hoo~ha out of the way it is possible to concentrate a little more on what the hoo~ha is all about. Christmas eve we open the first of the goodies. We listen to the Lord Mayor's Carols & I choose scriptures from the prophets & one of the gospel accounts to read. I have a cork ~ just in case I need to bottle Ditz! See how she fizzes!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal." ~ Lenore Hershey

Rain for Christmas! That is an awesome gift. It has been so dry for so long & I am noticing some of my bigger trees are now looking drought stressed.

It is overcast & muggy & the temperature doesn't seem able to decide whether it's going to cook us or freeze us. Lightening keeps flashing about the horizon & thunder rumbles but the stockings are hung & at least some of the presents are wrapped.

Ditz & I are off to the mainland today to finish up the shopping. Ditz hates Christmas shopping nearly as much as I do but with extras to feed we need to stock up on one or two goodies: cherries; a tray of mangoes; watermelon; pistachios. Can't forget the pistachios. And I have nothing at all for Liddy yet. I knew what I wanted but when I went to get it there wasn't any to be had & the old mind just went completely blank. Ditz's gift is dertermined by whether or not I can cash in my Singaporean dollars. Gotta love the trip that never happened!

How many sleeps are left? Somehow I don't think there are enough.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Summer is here...

"The open air, it should be closed during the summer!" Hercule Poirot

Summer ~ & Iss really gets into sneaking round the place after stray passerbys with exposed ankles! Yep, he's a nipper. And he likes to roll around in the dusty paths with the fallen leaves & the bark & lots of scuttling little lizards.
The cousins have arrived. Our place has Ditz so is naturally more intrinsically interesting than their granparent's. Ditz has guitars & flutes, her own mini stereo so they can sing along together, drawing paper & paints, monopoly & cluedo, jig~saws & lego. The game boy has unfortunately died but it doesn't seem to matter.

Art is a serious business & the girls take it very seriously indeed. So nice to watch Ditz doing the girly thing with her much younger cousins. She's a great little hostess & it is soooo quiet...apart from the giggling. Lots of giggling. Ah, summer on the islands....With the rain drizzling down, the mosquitoes arriving in droves & a game of cluedo on Ditz's unmade bed.

For Britwife!

In several of his books Eugene Peterson makes the astonishing assertion (following C.S. Lewis' idea about only lazy people working hard) that pastors are busy because they're lazy. 'How can I lead people into the quiet place beside the still waters if I am in perpetual motion?' (The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson.

Britwife: This church has been bricked in underneath but you can see along the side, especially if the image enlarges when you click on it, that it is actually supported on stilts & the underneath allows for *air flow*.
This is a fairly typical country Aussie church. No steeple. Porch out the front. The steps have been strengthened by the addition of the rail; didn't used to have one. lol Sits in a vacant paddock which becomes the parking lot. Round the back you will find a tall stand & a water tank ~ which supplys the church with water for the kettle for the cuppa after Sunday's sermon.

This is St Peters. A fisherman for a bunch of islanders, may of whom earn a living from the sea. It is used by the Anglicans & the Catholics for church services. We're actually going to go to mass [sung] Christmas morning. I can't be accussed of being denominationally intolerant! It is also used for Bingo & art classes, scrapbooking classes & choir rehearsal & on Saturday morning the Thrift shop operates here. When the ladies pack up the shop they set everything ready for Sunday morning's services.

This is one of the oldest buildings on the island ~ as us religious sorts like to point out! Christ was here from the very beginning. It has been carefully maintained & the Anglicans, who actually own the land & the building, have fought hard to keep it. When the mini supermarket went up next door the mainland church was made an offer they very badly wanted to accept but the islanders rightly pointed out that as St Peter's has always paid it's own way & has cost the mainland church nothing they should have the right to keep their own church!

I'll try & get pictures of the inside one time. It's different if you're not used to it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And the report card's in!

"True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country." ~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

You know I keep a homeschool blog but I don't keep it up much. Homeschooling a highschooler is not as much fun as homeschooling a younger child. Just as interesting, for sure! but very different. And I'm always feeling so inadequate these days. The whole math/science thing. The whole, " Do I haaave to?" thing. The eye~rolling. The heavy sighing. It's like trying to precipitate the ocean upwards. Love the child to bits but we're constantly doing the kentucky~ducky, pulling hen's teeth, dancing with the Taming of the Shrew. And that's before all the running around scrambles my brain until I don't know whether I'm Arthur or Martha, coming or going, up or down.

On top of all that Queensland is a bit funny about homeschoolers. I'm not often jealous of anyone unfortunate enough to live down south but I envy the freedoms they have with their homeschooling. Oh, it's legal ~ & we get choices. You are supposed to register & the government likes to keep you in it's sights just in case, you know, you want to be really outlandish but anyone who wants to do that simply doesn't register. The rest of us either write up & submit our program to the powers that be like good little automatons, register with the state Distance programme or register with one of the alternative Distance schools. We've tried the 2nd & have gone with the third. Our supervisor comes & visits us once or twice a year & we think she's the ants pants. Really. She's absolutely lovely & given the shenanigans Ditz goes on with she's got the patience of Job. She even likes Ditz. She really does. ~ though perhaps it's stretching things a bit to say she likes doing math with Ditz. No~one likes doing math with Ditz. It's painful.

Every term ~ & there are 4 of them in a year ~ I round up 3 examples of Ditz's work in each subject, shove it all in an envelope & post it off to be assessed & make the government a happy little government. It's a small price to pay to homeschool is how I look at it. I choose our curriculum. I decide what goes in. I ditch what doesn't work. I cut & paste & twist & tweak & then I just tell the school that's what I've done & they nod sagely as though I've actually made sense. Sometimes I even do. Twice a year they send out a report card ~ which always gives me a bit of a giggle. Seriously. I teach the child. I hardly need a report card to tell me if there's anything stuck to her grey matter at all.

Fourth term & because we were going to Singapore & I was running round like a headless chook I never actually got around to submitting anything. Ouch. Tell me about it. It's all sitting here in an envelope but it never made the mail. Anyway, it doesn't seem to have mattered. The report card arrived on cue anyway. Now, dear readers, you read here regularly & you know as well as I do we were out more often than we were in last term. We were scrabbling to keep our academics up. It was a losing battle. We were tired & ratty & sheer exhausted & frankly Ditz must be mad to want a career that creates such bedlam all around her. Even Dearest was a tad concerned. I was way past concerned. I thought we'd really blown it & we really had managed only the bare minimum.

The good thing about report cards is the detached evaluation. It gives me some idea of whether Ditz is above, below or on par with her peers. Screwy as our last term & a bit were our supervisor is more than happy with the standard of Ditz's work. She hasn't got anything below a B+, some As & a lot of A+s! Yes, even in science. And the child who once upon a time used to refuse to write. At all. Anything. For any purpose. got this on her research paper: The research paper on *Gypsies* recorded for SOSE shows that she has the ability to produce formal essays of a very high standard. Just that one comment made my day. The battles we used to have over her writing! Real Ditz moments. The tears. The tantrums. The refusals. The coaxing. The threats. The yelling & screaming. That was back in the days when Ditz liked math & it was English she hated.

Gentle readers...Ditz has come a long, long way from those early ADD days when just getting her to sit still enough long enough for me to issue a single instruction was a challenge. Brains to burn. Perspective. We are facing different challenges now. Ditz is still Ditz & her main interests are never going to be academic but for a child who constantly says no~one needs to be educated past 5th grade she has shown herself more than capable.

I have 6 weeks to gird my loins for next year's fray. I kid myself not. Dealing with Ditz is never going to be a slow coast on easy street but it is possible. One day, one week, month by month, year by year, at a time. Every so often I think she's showing signs of maturity...As her supervisor's final comment says: It is always very satisfying to see a student like Ditz, whose main interests are in the arts, achieve a set of impressive scores.

The Ghost of Christmas Past...

There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries. ~W.J. Cameron

I had visions of simplifying Christmas this year...helped inordinately by Singapore,Ditz'spox & the fact the boys are coming over late ~ & won't stay long. I wasn't even going to put up a tree.

"But where", wailed Liddy, "shall I put my presents?!" And put up the tree so she had somewhere to deposit all the things she doesn't want cluttering up her room.

Tradition has a strong grip on the heart & the imagination. Habits are hard to break. God has moved me so far to the left of centre I would be happy to let this season pass unmarked ~ & unmourned ~ but that journey is mine alone. The girls, who have shared so much of it with me this year, are still rooted in the Christian traditions of their childhood: tree, nativity, presents, Christmas pancakes, festival food. There is nothing wrong with any of these things.Except....I worked for a number of years as the house mother of a refuge for homeless youth & Christmas is the saddest time of the year. I'd have a houseful of kids 12~16 with nowhere to go & no expectation of receiving anything at all. Used to break my heart. One year we were a little more solvent than usual & I bought a dozen cheap K~mart mugs with a bag of lollies inside ~ one for each kid. You'd think I'd given them the moon.

That was the kids but there was a shelter for homeless men ~ always full ~ & the shelter for battered women [always full for Christmas] ~ & the one for the Aboriginal kids. So much sadness & it all comes to a head at Christmas. Christmas comes with ghosts. I always wonder where those kids are & how their lives turned out come Christmas. Did they turn their lives around? Did things get better? Did they recover from the drugs & the abortions & the sex? Did they make a better life for their kids & love them more? Or did they repeat the cycle of poverty & lovelessness? Did we make a difference at all? And one particular girl ~ not the brightest spark in the fire ~ a baby with the sweetest little baby but whose baby was horribly murdered by a boarder staying at their house. I never think of her without a pang.

The first year we shut the house at 10am as we were told to do because we had no funding to stay open for the day & turned our houseful of kids out onto the empty Christmas streets. We never did it again, arranging our Christmas at the house so we could stay open all day without pay...& every year there were more kids. Every year there are more kids. Kids with nowhere to go Christmas morning. Kids nobody wants. Kids with no expectations of receiving anything at all from anyone. I'm not even game to look up the stats on this one but hey, despite the recession we had to have Australians are spending more than they ever have in the shops. The retailers are looking a fat bonus in the eye. The bins out the back are full of food that won't keep over the Christmas break.

Is it any wonder I look at Christmas with a slightly jaundiced eye?
A pox of her autumnal face, her pieced beauty! Ben Jonson
A week to go & I finally got some Christmas shopping done.

A week to go & Ditz's spots are scabbing up nicely.

A week to go & Ditz is suffering serious cabin fever.

A week to go & Liddy got desparate enough to put up the tree herself.

No it hasn't been a real fun week. Poor old Ditz had the pox bad & she was a very, very sick little girl. Then as she got better we lost the internet & now she is feeling her usual chipper self she is going demented with boredom. She made me take her for a drive yesterday just for a change of scenery. She is hopeful that she can attend the traditional carols night tomorrow. We'll see. If all her spots have scabbed up she should be right & things can return to their normal chaos around here.

Now she is well missing Singapore stings. Next time...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tuesday's Trivia.

Medieval justice was a quaint thing. Frederick Pollock
I am reading Ash ~ a Secret History, which is quite simply enormous & hard on the wrists...& not recommended for the faint of heart. Apart from anything else the language is realistically mercenary foul, the battles gruesome & the characters morally questionable. I have a hard time imagining any sort of woman running round in hose & codpiece in Medieval Europe but a suspension of reality is my forte & I am managing ~ at least some of the time. The second character posing as a man is a little too much...

On the other hand there is Eleanor of Aquitaine to consider ~ who caused so much trouble over a good part of the known world. Even Henry II, much as he tried & despite his numerous mistresses, wasn't able to ditch Eleanor but after all, she ruled Aquitaine from the time she was 15. She was one tough biddy & in an age when the average person was lucky to live to 40 she passed her 82nd birthday. She also produced a litter of cubs that was all teeth & claws, yet still managed to outlive all but John & Joan.

Eleanor I like. She amuses me & I was corrupted young by seeing Katherine Hepburne portray her in The Lion in Winter. [Glorious film!] I am far less taken with her sons who seemed to inherit all their father's filthy temper & none of their mother's refinement. She was a patron of the arty~farty's so my biased little heart warms to her on those grounds alone.

They were an incredibly arrogant lot though I do remind myself, the times, the times. Times or not it's a sad king who can't even speak the language of the kingdom he rules. Alright, alright, Richard was meant to rule Aquitaine; England was for Henry but Henry died of dysentery & Geoffrey died in a tournament so Richard got England & not only could he not speak English & never learnt, in the 10 years he ruled he was in England for something like just 6 months ~ & he spent those 6 months raising funds for his crusade! No, I don't like him much despite the glorious title, Cour de Lion. He didn't like England much, refering to it as "cold & always raining". Ok, so it's true but going round saying " If I could have found a buyer I would have sold London itself" is a bit much from London's king.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Practising silence.

Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most. Bob Dylan

Meditation has got itself a bad rap in the Christian church yet meditation has a long history within the Christian tradition. I have no idea when we so lost our way that we thought we had to do all the talking ourselves when it comes to communing with God. We give lip service to the idea of the Holy Spirit within us & then deny the reality. Worse we refuse to listen when He gently nudges us; gag Him; grieve Him; silence Him. And then we grip about how to know the will of God & His direction for our lives. Meditation is one of the keys.

It is no surprise to me that so many of the great men of God were yokels; country bumpkins; farmers. Plodding in the slow wake of a plough pulled by oxen, leading sheep out to green pastures, crumbling the rich soil between dirt encrusted fingers to gauge whether it was time to plant yet, waiting for the harvest ~ these are activities that breed a meditative spirit born out of loneliness & a vast silence where the sounds of nature do not obliterate the voice of God in the way that t.v & radio & city traffic does.

When it comes to prayer we have been taught to talk. From the moment we stumble through Now I lay me down to sleep till we graduate to Our father who art in heaven, we are taught prayer is about us talking. Sometimes that is true. There is a time for laying our petitions before our father. There is a time for praise prayer. There is a time for lamentation...& there is a time to shut up & listen.

Thanks to yoga & a host of eastern meditation practices many Christians have become very leery of words like meditation. Silence. Waiting on the Lord. I have even heard people say it's not scriptural. Phluesee. Psalm 119 ~ Oh, how I love your law; I meditate on it day & night. Gen 24:63 ~ And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, there were camels coming. Psalm 119 again, verse 148 ~"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises." Jesus made it very clear that he had come to do His father's will ~ & the gospels tell of how he would go out to a lonely place well before dawn to commune with His father. Praise, petition, requests were all a part of his prayer life I'm sure if the Lord's prayer is anything to go by but so was silence ~ just resting in the presence of God, receiving His instructions, meditating on God's law & His promises ~ & Jesus knew His scriptures!

Meditation is scriptural & what we are to meditate on is scripture! The nature of God. The promises of God. The glory of God. Confession time. I am a contemplative at heart & by nature. I am drawn like a moth to a flame to the contemplative arts ~ & I am lousy at them! True. Being quiet. Centering, Silence. Stillness. These are almost impossible yet whenever I make the effort to practise the discipline of meditation I am immeasurably blessed.

The noise of the world is a real curse. It drowns out the still, small voice of God. When I sit down to meditate that is the very first obstacle ~ because everything immediately becomes louder: the whirr of the washing machine, the hum of the fridge, the radio playing next door, the cars chugging down the main road, the crows cawing in the trees, the motor boat's engine throbbing...anything & everything becomes a distraction. Worries descend like flies on the carcass of my mind & breed a zillion squirming maggots. I spend the first 15 or 20 minutes uselessly scurrying down bunny trails & it is hard to sit still & persevere through this. I am nagged by all the things I should be doing. Doing drowns out everything else.

I sit. I scurry after disappearing bunnies but you know what? If I last this long I begin to become still inside. Everything starts to settle, like mud settling at the bottom of a pool. I feel like I'm falling into the silence, tumbling into the very presence of God. There is, sometimes, an interim period of tumbled images floating past. I ignore these, concentrating on meeting the God of Abraham & Jacob & Issac. I'm sure this is different for everyone so I can only share my experience but as I settle into the very presence of God I am likely to experience two things: laughter & tears. The presence of the Holy Spirit manifests in those two ways for me. I know. Weird or what? The laughter is born out of sheer delight. As if God were saying, "You're here! Welcome." The tears are grief. Grief for my sin & unworthiness, grief for things the Lord lays on my heart to bring before him in prayer, grief for the world that has rejected him, grief for everything that separates me from God. I weep.

Towards the end, usually, God brings to mind solutions to problems that may have been bothering me, or gives me a clear directive or reassurance on something. Seriously, I've been given solutions to housecleaning problems! When all our household appliances carked it at once God told me very clearly He was Jehovah Jireh, my provider [& everything was provided for!]. And this is something I have learned experientialy too. God cannot lie. He does not contradict Himself so anything I think I've got from God will line up with scripture! Absolutely every time. This is why, in practising the art of meditation, it is important to know the word of God because so often it is that word He brings to mind to communicate with me. Scripture I've forgotten. Scripture I never even knew I knew. Scripture I've loved all my life. Scripture that doesn't make sense & verses I don't like. God is a master at making His wishes known very plainly indeed!

Why do I bother? Meditation isn't the easiest discipline to practise. Easier to garble a quick prayer & get on with the doing of things for God. Why? Joel nailed it centuries before I was born or thought of. This is why. This is what I desire. This is why I persist. Simply, I want more of God, far, far less of me. I want to become like Christ & this is one way I can let the Holy Spirit transform me from the inside out.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas is coming...

It's Christmas on the islandsThe air is warm & still/ The sounds of night are loud & clear/ The tree frog's voice is shrill./ The stars are bright as diamonds/They herald Christmas morn/We wait & we remember/When Jesus Christ was born.

The cards have snow on them. Icicles hanging from the trees. Warm mittens, glowing fires. Can't think why they do it. There isn't an icicle in sight round here unless you open the freezer door. Nope. No snow either.

Granted it is still overcaste. We had thunderstorms rattling round the horizon last night. Lots of thunder & lightening, no rain. It is warm & muggy. Iss is sprawled on his back to let the breeze ruffle his tummy. We are dripping perspiration & the poinciana is bleeding red petals onto the brick path.

The cicadas are chirring wildly in the trees & today is officially the first day of the school holidays. The kids are swarming through the streets in their swimmers with towls drapped across their shoulders heading for the pool & the jetty. Well, Ditz isn't. Ditz is confined to the hot old house to grow spottier & spottier eating jelly & custard & chicken soup that will just slide down her throat.

Cold drinks in tall glasses with ice. Sitting on the verandah in the afternoon shade as the breeze springs up. The air is thick with heat & it smells of overblown roses, of cattle cane sweet as burnt toffee, of eucalyptus, of seaweed & mud & salt. How Christmas is meant to be if you live south of the equator. Who wants snow & ice & hot toddies when you can have sun & surf & icecreams melting in the heat?

This too shall pass.

"My friend told me later he got the chicken pox. I told him I caught politics and never got over it." Jack Johnson

Yes, it is true; Ditz has the pox. I think she is too sick to care about Singapore. She has spots in her mouth, her ears, on her tonsils, on the soles of her feet & her lips. She is swollen & blistered & itching like billy~ho.

I am counting our blessings:

One: we missed dress rehearsal so are unlikely to have infected anyone else in the choir.

Two: This happened before we flew out. Can you imagine if Ditz had become spotty in Singapore?!!!!

Three: Insurance will reimburse us for most of our expenses so we can put the money aside for next time. Next time may be Europe ~ much better! ☺ Siano; we need to talk.

I am trying to get over the fact I am now left to try & do all my neglected Christmas shopping [because I was going to get everyone something from Singapore, wasn't I] in the 2 weeks left to me while I have a very sick little girl on my hands who cannot leave the house.

We want pictures. Ditz is covered in so much calamine lotion she looks like a geisha but there is no way Ditz is letting anyone with a camera near her!!!!

Still, I'm pretty sure Ditz is now immune for life. Theo did the pox 3 times. Every time I cleared one of the other 3 up Theo got it again. Unbelievable! I was going nutty dealing with spotty kids. We were dealing with chicken pox for two months. Some mothers do have 'em.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The wheels of the bus go round & round...

“Kenney knows two essential truths about melodrama: First that it is most powerful when combined with irony and understatement; and second that it is a salient feature of modern life.” Stefan Kanfer.
If I live long enough my household may eventually learn to do things in an orderly & restrained manner without the melodramatic theatrics. We are just dealing with drama, drama, drama. Despite a meeting an ongoing issue still has no resolution but hey, we had a meeting with lots of angst & grown adults throwing the sort of hissy fits better suited to an overtired 2 year old. And I do sooo well with confrontation...

The boys arrived. They took the car. They ate the food. They left their washing & they departed.

Ditz went from little cold to raging temperature & now Ditz has spots!!! I assumed the worst & have been watching her spots with growing alarm. Measles? Chicken pox? Thankfully, so far, please God, her spots are not behaving like measles or chicken pox. Nervous reaction? Who knows.

The cat has ticks. I have been chasing him round the house armed with the vaseline & tweezers. Iss is not impressed but Iss sleeps with me & he is not bringing his parasitic friends into my bed with him.

So how's your week shaping up?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sean Nos.

Traditional irish singing. And because I don't really know anything about it but I like here's a link

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tuesday's Trivia.

"There was a joke at that time (early 1950s): Raffles Institution rules Singapore; ACS owns Singapore." Dr TAN Cheng Lim

We are nearly there. The bag is out ~ just one. I believe in travelling lightly. The clear toiletry bag holds little vials of moisturiser, shampoo & conditioner. The shoes are in plastic bags. There are neat piles of socks & undies, shirts & pants & a little flutter in the tummy. This time next week...

So here are some more fun facts about Singapore. I'm allowed. This is my blog & I'm just a wee bit nervous ~ which is understandable if you have ever travelled with Ditz anywhere. So meet vanda Miss Joaquim, discovered by Agnes Joaquim in 1893 & adopted as Singapore's national flower. What an absolutely stunning orchid!

Singapore consists of one main island & 63!!! other tiny islands. It is one of the 20 smallest countries in the world. As an islander myself I have some basis for comparison. Singapore is to America as my island is to Australia.

The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve contains more species of trees than the entire North American continent! And Singapore is one of only 2 cities in the world with a tropical rainforest. The other is Rio de Janerio.
Jeanne, at A Peaceful Day, has suggested a must do is a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Long Bar ~ & I might just do that. A Singapore Sling consists of gin, cointreau, cherry brandy, Dom Benedictine, pineapple juice, Grenadine, Angostura, bitters & limes. It was first served in 1915. I might need one before we're done!
Then there is the Rafflesia ~ the world's largest, the world's stinkiest, parasitic flower, discovered by Sir Stamford Raffles' team in Indonesia but common throughout South east Asia. This is one weird plant. Apart from a stink reminiscent of rotting meat the raffelsia is peculiar in that it defies traditional understanding of plant life forms by not producing chlorophyll & therefore not able to photosynthesise. The flowers are huge ~ up to 3' in diameter. When you smell this bad I guess you have to have something going for you.

Tuesday & counting down; 5 more sleeps. Do NOT mention the word Christmas!