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, April 30, 2009

If the doctor told me I had 6 minutes to live I'd type a little faster. Issac Asimov.

We have sickness in the house. Funny tummies & headaches ~ & lots of lethagy. May be just the changing of the seasons? One can only hope. Liddy working in the freezer does not help. She tends to have a drippy nose pretty constantly. Ditz is the only well one ~ naturally! Just what the rest of us need!

Dearest & I finished one of the many building projects around here & finally, after 20 odd years, put in a missing window upstairs that has only had a sheet of ply preventing anyone plunging 2 stories to the ground. As neither he nor I like heights it was quite some project. Now I get to shift things round some more so he can build the storage space I have been begging for for 20 odd years! :) All things come to those that wait!

Our new schedule seems to be working reasonably well. Ditz has at least done every subject this week. Must be a first!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pictures ~ because I'm too tired to think.

Sewing: A creative mess is better than tidy idleness. ~Author Unknown

Ditz in her new teal coloured jersey.

Cushions by Ditz & Liddy.

Cutting out is easy.....
Sewing up hard to do.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday Trivia.

Trivia ~ unimportant facts or details that are considered to be amusing rather than serious or useful.

Is after dinner conversation lacking at your table? Do your dinner guests surreptitiously yawn & glance at their watches? Do you want for a topic of conversation? Then you are not a homeschooling parent...but never fear. This conversational lack can be remedied.

A little to the south of us there is a rather large block of ice where the white stuff makes a permanent home. You can see it from out in space too.This charming place has the rather dubious honour of recording the lowest temperatures ever ~ -128F at the Russian Vostok station. Brrrr! Too cold for me.

Despite all that ice & snow it has two active volcanoes. Active. Only 2 have peaks that rise above the ice. Mt Erebus on the Ross Shelf is the larger one.

Now in this inhospitable terrain there are whales & penguins ~ things like that ~ but there is only one land animal & I'll bet you don't know what it is! You do?! Yep; The anti~freeze mite!

This is not an insect. It is related to spiders & scorpions ~ which is unlikely to make it any friends on the unlikely chance you ever run into one. I'm not in any hurry.

You have to wonder about a place that produces an animal that's just big enough to be seen without a microscope, whose system produces chemicals that prevent its blood from freezing & that when it freezes freezes from the inside out.

You're welcome!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Memories

We do not remember days; we remember moments. ~Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand
Everyone has stories & I've been thinking about this for a while ~ well a whole weekend, two days & two nights! I am cautiously putting out a tentative feeler because I have crashed 2 blogs so far ~ every time I fiddle in fact ~ so I don't know how to do those cute linkies & I ain't a gonna try! BUT I thought it might be a nice way to share so if you want to play & share a memory leave your link in the usual place. A link back here would be nice but, hey, I'm not a stickler for rules so as you like.

Twenty years ago we packed all our worldy possessions & three children into a twenty~five foot caravan & moved to our block of land on the island. We had been planning the move for some time but when the nappies started freezing on the line & that white stuff fell there was no more arguement about moving. We do not like the white stuff.

We moved in August. The island had been in drought for years. We had organized for the electrician to put up our electrical pole so we could hook up our washing machine etc. We had ordered our water tank because there was no town water. We had cleared the block enough to park the van & to save money had stowed absolutely everything we owned in the van because we had an annex we could move it into once we arrived. It was, quite literally, packed to the ceiling.

I haven't moved often & there is a reason for this. Nothing ever goes according to plan. I had Jossie, who was nearing 5, & Theo & Dino, who were heading for two & as the truck that had towed our overladen van headed back down the dirt road in a cloud of red dust racing to make the barge, the first big fat raindrop fell.

We sat in the car with the rain drumming over us as only torrential rain can & contemplated our new life. The electricity pole had not arrived ~ no electricity. The annex was stowed in the bottom of the caravan ~ no annex. The caravan was chock~a~bloc with our belongings ~ no gas to cook on, no beds to sleep in, no food to eat, no clean clothing. The rain was falling but we had no water tank to catch it.

Eventually Dearest braved the elements & clambered into the van to shift & squeeze, & wedge & jam till he had made enough room for everyone to crawl into a bed. We drove to the shop for bread & sandwich makings & picnicked in the car before we sent the boys crawling through the maze to bed. Thank God we never had a fire because we would never have got out.

It rained all night & all the next day...& the day after that...& the next one. The drought had broken with a vengeance! The change in water gave all the boys diarrhoea ~ & I had no washing machine & no water to wash with; no bathroom & no easy access to clean clothing. About here I will point out that things like laundromats & motels don't exist on the island. When we moved here it was pretty primitive. No mail delivery. No garbage pick up. No doctor. The boats ran 1/2 a dozen times a day & the last one was at 6pm. If you missed it you were done for. So why on earth, you're probably asking, would anyone in their right mind move here? Well for starters the islands are absolutely gorgeous! The air is clean. The soil is fertile & the community was so tiny there was a real sense of community back then. Everyone knew you. If you walked someone with a car stopped & picked you up. If you missed a boat a neighbour picked your kid up from school as a matter of course. No silly nonsense about permission in writing! People borrowed your car without asking & topped up the fuel before they returned it to you. If you ran out of coffee you walked to a neighbour's & helped yourself to anything you needed, knowing that next week you would be visited in like manner.

Eventually a neighbour ~ & they were few & far between back then, ~ realised we were in rather serious trouble. She turned out to be the most brilliant friend, garrulous, interesting [interesting is important!] & incredibly kind. She rounded up my poor children & took them home with her & gave them her floor to play on with her kiddie. She rounded up my disgusting washing & put it through her machine & out on her line. She rounded me up & fed me massive doses of caffeine & chocolate. One can't ask for more than that from a friend!

Then clouds rolled away, the sun shone, we put up our annex & began building a house. We moved into it 2 weeks before Liddy arrived. When the cyclone season rolled round & we weathered our first cyclone our friend arrived with two kiddies in tow to sit it out at our place because her house was so old the roof was lifting & the floor slithering along its stumps. We all piled onto the bed upstairs, all nine of us, & watched with disbelief as a our cyclone strength windows bent in 4''! Not the easiest thing to live through but I can top just about anyone else's story these days! How about you?

Scheduling, music & curriculm

You are the music while the music lasts.T. S. Eliot

Some days just rock. You know the feeling ~ the sky is brilliant blue, the sunshine warms your very bones & things tick over the way they are meant to tick. It doesn't happen all that often round here so days that rock, well they're treasured.

Over our break, while Ditz was doing nothing much, I was thinking ~ & don't ask if it hurt! While I humped furniture & lugged timber & passed things like hammers & clouts I thought because I am so tired of fighting with Ditz about her work & I was trying to pinpoint where it all started unravelling. Don't get me wrong. Ditz usually works hard but it was very clear she was not a happy camper & learning is a blessing, not a curse so...

With homeschooling it takes two to tango & as I reviewed our homeschool journey it dawned on me just how busy we've become. That business is good but in the process I've allowed my priorities to shift until they are not my priorities I'm concerned with but someone else's ~ in our case worry about meeting our umbrella school's criteria. As this is not the first time this has happened you would think I'd cotton on faster. Unfortunately I rattle from day to day not thinking too much about this stuff because most of the time I'm just exhausted.

First thing: I know perfectly well Ditz works better & more happily if I work with her but we do that. However, over time, the structure of our days has changed. When I stopped to look I found we'd managed to eliminate almost all physical activity. This is so not good but not all my fault. We've had so much rain & our music schedule clashes with all the sport on offer. Today we walked before we settled down to work. Bingo. One happy Ditz. Then I decided trying to do every subject every day was insanity making. It's overload for both Ditz & I. I reverted to doing two subjects a day ~ only one on Thursdays when we are extra tired. This way I know math & science can't keep disappearing to the bottom of the pile, never to get done at all.

OK, I cheated. I put the two subjects least likely to have Ditz kicking & screaming up first: English & Music. For some strange reason Ditz likes dictation & grammar work. The music I've been itching to get stuck into but Ditz was rolling her eyes & making gagging noises. *sigh* Before we'd even begun I was thinking I'd made a very expensive mistake but away we went anyway. Ditz happily did the map work, making a side list of all the places she wants to visit that we now have to learn about. Uh~huh.
This curriculum comes from Beautiful Feet. I've never used them before & going through the IG I wasn't so sure how it was going to work as we're not really bookwork sorts. More reading for Ditz too.
It starts with Corelli & the baroque period, when the orchestra as we know it began forming, up until Stravinsky, detouring along the way to look at the spiritual lives of the great composers.
What had really attracted my attention though & ran up my bill was the CD set. I think there's about 20 & this really had Ditz cross because she keeps telling me she doesn't like classical music. For a child that was singing the aria from Mozart's the queen of the night in the Magic Flute since she was 8 that is a really weird statement but Ditz made it.

Surprisingly, given how vocal Ditz had been prior to us starting this, she was pretty engaged from the beginning. I gave her the Wagner disc to put in & told her to find the Ride of the Valkyries ~ you know, the Star Wars bit, pointing out that she'd know this from the movies ~ & of course she did! Her face was a study in disbelief! She then went hunting through the discs saying she wanted the Swan Lake one. Well, Swan Lake is an entire ballet & there is more than one piece of music to choose from & of course it wasn't nicely labeled Swan Lake! Thankfully Ditz did know Tchaikovsky! And she did eventually work out Symphony no.6 in B minor was the bit she wanted ~ which is the bit Billy Eliot ends with. At this point my ho~hum daughter got excited & was conducting away with both hands. Then she found the Nutcracker suite & began dancing round the room. I think we have a hit.

This curriculum seems to be multi~sensory so should reach most learning styles but after just one lesson it seems to be very intense & the lessons quite long. I had pre~prepared the map but Ditz still had the capital cities to put in, her first time~line figure to do, a list of Baroque composers to do & the music to listen to ~ & I never got the colouring books or card game! They suggest 2 ~ 3 lessons each week. well, I know straight up we'll never manage that. Just the same, it's pretty cool that my disinterested, disengaged, cynical little daughter got excited about this curriculum.

Oh, & our whole day rocked. Ditz was on a roll & a really happy little vegemiter, school or no school. I thought she might be flagging by the afternoon but she sailed through a two hour violin lesson, vibrato included, with barely a wobble ~ almost unheard of. Maybe I should think more often...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Leetle Think on Revelation

Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, & blessed are those who hear, & who keep what is written therin; for the time is near. Revelation

My favourite gospel is John; my favourite all time book in the bible is Revelation, closely followed by Isiah & Song of Songs. I have a thing for the poets, ok. It helps me remember what I've read. The practical prosaic leaves me cold & clueless, but the poets! Ah, the poets I understand even when their meaning is unclear.

Revelation is where we began this Sunday. Now I love this book for all sorts of reasons. I love the language. I love the sweep & scope. I love the imagery & the awesome sense of fear & power but mostly what I love is the hope & the promise it gives. Friends, says John, it's going to get bad before the end. Real bad, but do not fear. Christ is coming. He will return.

So many Christians don't read Revelation as being too difficult, too impenetrable, too incomprehensible & that is a pity because there is a blessing attached to just hearing & reading this message. Others say, well it's just metaphorical gibberish, not to be taken literally, or it's just meant for the first century church but that's not what John says Christ says : Now write what you see, what is & what is to take place hereafter.

Now I grant you, Revelation is not the easiest book to study. I don't understand most of it. Nor do I expect to. It's the bits I do understand that should worry me ~ & there's plenty of those to be going on with! That being the case I've dug out John MacArthur's study on Revelation. MacArthur & I don't always see eye to eye on things. Well, as a Quaker & a Fundamental Baptist we wouldn't, would we?, but he is still one of the best expository bible scholars I know. {His exposition on the prodigal Son is absolutely brilliant. If you've never heard him on this try & find it; it will reward you in unexpected ways!}

The Lord has a leetle trouble getting my attention. I have a flibberty~gibbert mind, interested in more things than I really have time for & prone to going off at unexpected tangents but just now I have my plate full of good things from the Lord. I can not be spiritually lazy ~ my preferred catlike position, tucked away in some warm, quiet corner, appearing nochantly to be feed then slinking away again. Nope. Because in our very small gathering I am considered the scholar. Ouch. I don't know much but I do love research; it makes my heart merry. So while Dearest makes my eyes glaze over happily planning menus for these things my mind is grappling with what it meant to belong to one of the seven churches in Asia Minor & the various ancient symbols in the Old Testament that have New Testament applications.

Meanwhile I have a child to dig out of bed & convince that she really does like school work, she just needs to look at it with an unjaundiced eye!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A little haberdashery & a movie.

His name's Gwin. And I know he looks charming, but you know what they say about books and covers. Dustfinger

Friday: officially the last day of school break. Dearest & I have been building so Ditz has spent most of her free time on the computer; Liddy has brought a cold home from work & summer is definitely over so Friday I took the girls to the mainland to do the sort of shopping not possible on the island & to see the movie Inkheart.

Inkheart might have charmed me anyway but I was delighted to find Paul Bettany in the role of Dustfinger. He amused me as Geoffery Chaucer in A Knight's Tale & I generally find him to be a convincing actor. This time he had a pet marten in tow & was a fairly disreputable character but no sex, no innuendo, no bad language & enough fantasy to keep Ditz & I happy. Bonus!

However the movie was the sweetener for what else had to be accomplished: black closed shoes for Ditz; another jersey & long duds for Ditz, Liddy's banking & the buying of a sewing machine for Liddy. We managed Ditz in record time & unbelievably Liddy & I managed to convince her that she could wear something other than black & still look slim, sleek & ravishing! Yes, her dress pants are black pin stripe but we got a teal coloured jersey that looks lovely with her hair.

The jersey was a bonus. Liddy, who owns jerseys to burn, walked out of the house this morning without one. Ditz walked out of the house wearing one Theo had left behind. When, inevitably, Liddy got cold, Ditz handed over her jersey because she rarely feels the cold but of course sitting round for hours in air conditioning she did get cool. Liddy was in no mind to part with Ditz's jersey either & in the end it was simplest to buy another one. It's not like Ditz has more clothes than she knows what to do with. Quite the opposite in fact.

Tracking down a sewing machine was something of an eye~opener. It seems that along with cooking from scratch, sewing your own clothes is passe. The haberdashery department is a thing of the past. My sewing machine, which provided shorts & Ts for 3 boys & a small Liddy & sewing lessons for the boys has a few quirks now that make it unsuitable for a learner ~ & Liddy always likes to have her own things.

To the sewing machine Liddy added 4 lots of fabric, pins & shears & pillow stuffing, & 3 patterns. I pulled her away from Vogue for Simplicity & Butterick ~ patterns than I'm pretty sure I can manage without too much difficulty because while I can sew it has never been something I'm totally thrilled to be doing. Meanwhile Liddy kept saying, 'But how difficult can it be? Cut it out, sew it up.' Um, yes, well...Would you like to instruct her?

Anyway Ditz decided that seeing domestic arts were in the offering haggling for knitting needles & wool was a good option. Perish the thought that the child chose a nice big pair of needles & nice thick wool! Nope. 4mm needles & that fluffy feather wool. Seriously. I can't even see to cast it on let alone knit with the stuff. Nor was I going to be left in peace to take my time working out how much I can remember of a skill I don't use. Knitting is even worse than sewing. All that counting. Anyway, seeing as Liddy couldn't take out her sewing machine & play with it on the boat, she dug out Ditz's knitting & begged me to show her how to cast on. Ditz took the other needle to practise on. Two lots of that feathery stuff to be pulled undone!

All well & good but no sooner were we in the door than Liddy had her machine out of its box & was setting up in the living room. A kinesthetic learner & a visual just approach life from completely different viewpoints so I pointed her in the general direction & left her to it...until she yelped for help ~ a matter of knowing what she needed to do next.

Liddy had bought some bright & pretty material to make some throw cushions, enough for her & Ditz to practise straight sewing & get used to the machine. True to form Liddy tackled the project like a bull at a gate making 3 cushions to Ditz's carefully thought out one! Generously she passed on what she'd gleaned & helped Ditz out but the hand sewing to close the final seam was too fiddly for Liddy & Ditz was lumbered with that but both girls have managed their first sewing project & the machine is still in one piece!

The next project should be interesting. Liddy has chosen two blouses & a skirt to try & I'm not sure either is a sensible project for a child with no patience, & no application to the finer details. Should be interesting. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl StreepHow things change over the years! I do actually remember my daughters like this. They were the clinging limpet sorts. Liddy is notorious for not even speaking to her father until she was 3. If he so much as looked at her she burst into tears. I couldn't ask anyone to babysit her because she cried heartbrokenly the entire time I was gone no matter how much she liked them if I was around & available. The child that at 2 was marching round issuing orders became the young girl who wouldn't make a decision. Best not to even mention Ditz. My mother would remark tartly that the child would never learn to walk if she were never put down & when, against the odds, Ditz walked at 6 months, bribbed by her siblings with strawberries, I heard, "She has two perfectly good legs of her own"...but Ditz liked to be carried on my hip, close to me & where she could be in the thick of things.Demure? Ditz? Photos are deceptive & the camera has always liked Ditz but we have gone from that to this:My girls have grown up. Liddy spends her days away from me making decisions & issuing orders. Ditz walks perfectly well on her own two legs & occassionally tries to pick me up & cart me round. The balance of power has shifted imperceptably. Children do grow up. Only the memories remain. I look at my girls, who are now bigger than I am, & I don't regret one minute of the hours I spent cuddling them because the hugs are fewer these days, the hurts less easily mended with a hug & a kiss & our time together grows short.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One & two &...

"Musicians say that a flute can do anything!" --Jean Craig

We are moving into that time of the year. The initial foray has been made, the battle lines have been drawn & it is down to the hard slog.

Ditz has been tackling her flute practice in 10 minute increments. Trying to hit the low C & the high B are giving her a headache & though she can manage both notes she has new scales to master that include them & scales have always been Ditz's downfall.

Jan is tackling the scales differently this year. Rather than hoping Ditz might apply herself to the boringness of rote learning he is showing her how the system works hoping that understanding will lead to application. Hm. The thing is Ditz does have some sort of a grasp on this {Thanks, Alison} but fails to think before she toots more often than not. Or she thinks of something else & gives answers that are so off the wall one can only wonder.

Just like I like sitting in at theatre rehearsals & choir rehearsals & dress rehearsals for the ballet I like siting in on Ditz's flute class. I like listening to the way a piece of music is unravelled note by painful note then painstakingly reconstructed ~ & it is very painful. Ditz won't count & Jan is a martinet about giving each note its correct value. I like watching Ditz's face grow intent, fierce with concentration, & I like the new way she has of talking shop with her teachers. It tells me she is very comfortable musically, that she understands enough to discuss & question. What's more I am seeing her pick up her mistakes when they happen & discuss what went wrong & how to correct it. She is doing this with violin as well.

The violin has driven Ditz nutty from day one but she won't give it up. There is something about it that captivates her despite its difficulties & though her practise is sporadic, flute being far easier & far less demanding musically, she has plugged along. She really enjoys her lessons & her teacher, Althea, has always said violin is a group instrument so has played with her; really good for Ditz's counting! Twelve months ago when Ditz got her first spontaneous vibrato she ensured it never happened again. The strings vibrating under her fingers like that made her skin crawl. Althea has waited patiently & is now very gently encouraging vibrato. Ditz still isn't keen but she's at least trying for it now. I think it's a good thing we never went for an oboe or clarinet. If Ditz is like this about vibrato she'd never have got on with a reed vibrating in her mouth!

Now we begin to see the framework grow flesh. No longer are the notes limping uncertainly after each other. Now Ditz begins working on her timing & pace. The difficult passages are isolated & rehearsed separately, slowly at first until she can play them at pace without faltering. Passages get strung together. By term four this should be at exam level even though Ditz has opted not to do her exams this year.

Five years ago, when Ditz had her first piano lesson, she whined the whole way through. "I can't. It's too hard. I'll never be able to do this." It took a lot of hand holding, a lot of encouragement, to convince Ditz that she would get better, that what seemed so hard would one day be easy. I still see her get that look in her eye when faced with a new piece of music & then you can practically see her cogs going round & round. She has done this. She can do this again. As Sian has always told her, not many people become musicians because it is really hard work!For a child for whom so much musically has come far too easily this is an invaluable lesson in persevering... & we are starting to reap the rewards.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The changing of the guard.

I shall not die of cold. I shall die of having lived. Willa Sibert Cather

I know most of you get snow but my thermometer was in the low 60s this morning & that is definitely on the nippy side round here. Plus, there was this sharp little breeze around, the sort with razor teeth & ice tentacles for fingers & straight off the Pole. Brrr.

I know it was cold because the cat parked himself across my thighs last night & every effort to budge him only resulted in him entrenching himself further as a dead weight. Issi loves the cooler weather because the idiot child who acquired him never stopped to think how much a double coated animal was going to suffer through a Queensland summer ~ & suffer Iss does.

We find him draped in odd places trying to catch the slightest whiff of cool air. Eating becomes a huge effort & he grows thin ~ though it is hard to tell under all that fuzz. As the weather grows cooler he waxes plump & is happy to snuggle into available laps.

This is my shopping week & I am contemplating my almost bare cupboards. The boys have been home & have mowed us down to the bare boards but what do I do? The weather has been unseasonably warm. Everyone is still munching on toast & fruit for breakfast but should I buy rolled oats & semolina now or wait a few weeks longer? Decisions, decisions. Is it time to start stocking up on the tinned soups & noodles or are carrot & celery sticks still in vogue as snacks? Extra milk & Milo? And what to do with Ditz who has suddenly declared she is vegetarian but will eat neither mushrooms nor lentils? So not going there.

And then there is the house renovating which now means the moving about of my entire library. I'm a homeschooler, ex~librarian, a Bachelor of Arts in Language & Literature & a writer. Trust me. You don't begin to want to know how large my library is.

And a sweet friend who knows we have owned children rather than nice possessions graciously gave us another lounge. It is badly needed but where am I going to put it? My entire living room needs to be reshuffled. I loathe moving furniture around ~ with good reason. It is round about this time of the year we always started finding snakes in the house looking for somewhere to hibernate & invariably one or other of the children would find one in the room they were inhabiting. The finding of a snake in one's room necessitated the immediate vacation of said room no matter the time of day or night & I can assure you, lugging mattresses & bed frames up & down stairs at midnight with a hysterical child in tow is not my idea of fun.

I enjoy this sort of thing so much I am in serious denial. *sigh* The Lord wasn't mistaken when He said in this life we would have trouble & tribulation.

[OK, I'm joking, all right?!]

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thinking & Planning for a Rosh Hadesh.

Return to us, Adonai & we shall return; renew our days as of old. Lamentations 5:21

Rosh Hadesh. This is where we have decided to start with our exploration of the old testament festivals. To put it bluntly I am floundering.

I'm used to having loads of different ways to make connections because I have always read widely & see quickly how things interconnect because of it. Not this time. I'm holding all these strands in my hands with not the least idea of what to do with them. It's not that I don't understand what I have read. I understand all too well but I have no idea how to apply it. At times like this I really wish I knew someone else on this journey because I'm not innovative. I can take what I know & see & twist it into new shapes but making something from random bits is really hard for me.

So where am I? Rosh Hadesh was given equal footing with the Sabbath in the O.T. It was an important festival that waxed & waned with the uncertain fortunes of the Israelite tribes. One of the themes of Rosh Hadesh is the redemption of Israel through the coming of the Messiah. In Isiah 66:22 ~ 23 we read that when the Messiah returns so will Rosh Hadesh.

I think one of my problems is that I was expecting a bit of glib scholarship & cursory reading would get me by & I can see already that it will not suffice. Not by a long shot. The more I study the more I can see I will have to approach this in much the same way that I would a sermon. [Just breathe if you don't like women in the pulpit.] I am going to have to study & meditate. I am going to have to go before the Lord in prayer & fasting, seeking His will, seeking His guidance, waiting for Him to show me what He wants. Patience is not one of my virtues. This is the sort of thing that can make me a cot case faster than you can say Kalamazoo.

It starts all the way back in Genesis 1:14. The Hebrew for seasons is mo'ed/mo'edim meaning Adonai's appointed times by invitation ~ the festivals! The same word is used in Leviticus 23:1/2 when speaking explicitly about the feasts. These celebrations were ordained to bless us & there is rampant symbolism in Rosh Hadesh, which is the festival of the new moon: new beginnings; God meeting with His people; a time to let go of the past; a sign of hope; a reminder that our God restores & renews. One rabbi I was reading pointed out that the quote from Lamentations was not a plea for things to be restored as they once were, which is impossible, but a reminder that God has redeemed/renewed us before & can do so again.

Intellectually I get all this. Really, I do, but what do I do with it? How do I plan a celebration that is meaningful, relevant & incorporates all the things it should? Uh~huh. I shall be pondering this for the next month, won't I? Praying, waiting on the Lord ~ having a mini~meltdown because it's always the practical bits that stump me. They're the bits I don't like. I am happy to accumulate knowledge like a broody hen on a clutch of someone else's eggs but the chicks that eventually hatch flummox me!

Dearest has suggested communion. I have a list of relevant bible readings. I have the 13 principles of the Jewish faith with a Christian response ~ too long & too rich a meat to do all of, all at once, for beginners. I have a meal planned. It is tying it all together into a harmonious, united flow that centres our thoughts on Christ & honours Him in the way He wants rather like a church service that is going to take my time. I will let you know how we do. We are hoping to be able to plan for the 24th of next month, which is a Saturday & will allow us to invite others to worship with us for the evening. Some times I think I must be mad.

Radio astronomy.

Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job

Radio astronomy. Did you even know such a thing existed? Seriously. Well, I didn't. OK, so weird things grab my attention & this is weirder than most.

Radio astronomy studies celestial objects at radio frequencies. Why anyone ever wanted to do this I'm not sure. It may have evolved from Einstein's insistence that *God doesn't dice with the universe* & he set about proving just that [say what?]. Current thinking is that apparently God does but just how they've proved that escapes me. Math stuff. lol. And studying this stuff found things like *dark matter*. Don't you just love the names scientists give stuff?! Can't just say outright , "We've got no idea what this is but mathematically it has to exist." Oh no. That is far too simple. Nope, gotta call it something exotic like *dark matter* that people have to look up before they know what is meant. My imagination runs wild at this point. Dark Matter. Really? Dark matter is stuff that's undetectable from its emitted radiation but whose presence is inferred from the gravitational effects on visible matter. Almost sounds like a description of God to me but I don't think that's what they mean because they then go on to talk about *missing Mass*. Hey, what can I say? Scientific jargon has some of the most exotic language I know. Try cosmic microwave. Serious term. No, really.

Half a page of this stuff & my mind's about to implode. I don't have the scientific mind, line upon line, precept upon precept, but when God bails up Job to demand who he thinks he is & why is he whinging about his lot in life because He was round when the morning stars first sang each to each ~ I get that. I get the scope & the majesty, the dark matter & the missing mass & that, after all, God may indeed dice with the universe. He can afford to when He controls how the dice will fall.

I don't think I should read this stuff. The more I read the less I know; the less I know the more I read...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Vices, indulgences, these are the things which never change but which disguise themselves in a thousand forms beneath the mask of prevailing morals: to lift off this mask and expose them, this is the noble task of the person who devotes himself to the theatre.
-Beaumarchais, Pierre Augustin Caron de
Masks: the hiding & revealing of personalities to create a *false face*. They so fascinate the human soul they have been around since Stone age times & have been made from every conceivable material for every conceivable purpose: spiritual, theatrical, erotic, party extravaganza, simple deceit.

Ditz became enamoured after I introduced her to Amadeus. Gorgeous masks. We did masks for Art ~ several times. It only slowly dawned on Ditz that masks served a purpose other than purely decorative as a theatre prop. I admit it. I happily escorted Ditz to piano lessons & art classes. When she begged for a violin we went out & bought a violin. When she did band we forked out for a flute for the girl. Then it was singing in choir & now the whole AVAE experience which looks set to age me before my time. What I very consciously did not do was drama. I always, always, avoided it, even when it was set as part of our school work I never did it, not because I have an aversion to drama but simply because I own Ditz. Ditz does not need any encouragement along these lines. Drama comes naturally to her.

Besides I did drama. All those stories about theatre people... they're true ~ but it was inevitable. Sooner or later something theatrical was going to come Ditz's way & once bitten I knew she'd have the theatre bug~ & so it did, & so she does. For a while the drama class on the island, the only way I would even consider Ditz being involved in something else! was so amateurish even Ditz didn't have blinders on & so it didn't have a very high priority in her life.

Things have changed. The drama class is still an amateur thing but it makes it a very social event for Ditz & it is her top priority so she was delighted when the drama teacher took the class off island to do their street theatre on the Mainland. Everyone turned up. Everyone had a go. Were they any good? Probably not. I wasn't there so I am in no position to evaluate it all but I do know the kids & their abilities; one reason I wasn't there.

I know when I was at school drama was one of those classes for losers or most definitely extra~curricular along with music, sport & art. None of the Arts got a very high priority because, after all, what are the arts good for? You can't make a living from this stuff unless you are very, very good at it. Most of us aren't very good, barely mediocre, often just plain bad but I hardly think that is the point.

Firstly drama & music teach survival skills. Oh, yes they do! Do you know one of the first things you learn in a drama class ~ to own your space! This means you stand tall & move confidently ~ a huge detraction to bullying. Most instruments insist you stand with proper posture just to play the thing. We had so many education majors do drama just because it taught things like moving confidently, projecting the voice, making things more interesting with a touch of the theatrics. Ever done some theatre or played in a band? Yep. It's a major team sport. Co~operation is the name of the game. Even if you have *stars*, even if you have soloists, even if some are noticeably better than others, the one cannot shine without the others support. In my mind these things alone mean the arts should have a much higher priority in our society.

Then there are the aesthetics. Beauty feeds the soul & is as necessary to life as air. Without it something within us withers & dies.

And if you are the practical sort then quite simply put music teaches discipline & that pervades other areas of one's life. Even without that, studies show that children who play an instrument do better academically. There is something wrong when it takes 4 years or more to teach our children the basics of mathematics but we ignore skills that will enhance their quality of life, giving it that extra dimension that lights the spark of the divine within each & every person, who is, after all, made in the image of God.


I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves. ~Author Unknown
Once upon a time we owned a dog; a spotty dog, a dog with the sweetest temperament but absolutely no brains.

Christy was probably the wrong dog for us. I had too many small children & Christy required more exercise than my oldest boy could reasonably give her so we took the opportunities that came our way & gave thanks.

In those days I had one in school, two year old twins, a brand spanking new baby girl, & a large dog with more exuberance than sense. That being the case I occasionally took the opportunity to strap the burgeoning Houdinis into their twin stroller, strap the girl into her sling, tie the exuberant puppy to the stroller & hike the 2 miles up to the school to pick up my oldest son.

Luckily for us this was back in the days when actually seeing a car on the road was a noteworthy event & we strolled serenely down the middle of the bitumen ~ the middle of the bitumen being the only sane place to push the stroller as the edges crumbled away into rutted ditches that were completely unnavigable by anything bar a mountain goat.

The school was a one room, two teacher outfit ~ on the side of the road that didn't have a decent footpath. Naturally we waited on the other side. When the hand bell released the 30 small scholars interred inside the building I jammed on the stroller brake, tucked my daughter securely in with her brothers, told the dog to sit & crossed the road to escort my small son across the unmarked street, school dismissal time being the only time there was any traffic.

When I turned round to check on my children I was horrified to find the twin Houdinis had escaped their harness. Theo had slid down to release the brake. Dino had clambered onto the hood of the stroller & was urging the ecstatic dog into a trot. My daughter was wedged bolt upright gurgling with delight as the traffic whizzed by & the stroller began to gather speed down the hill.

Less than impressed I did the only thing possible under the circumstances. I bellowed, "SIT!" at the top of my lungs.

Three dogs, 2 adults & 4 small children, none of them mine, promptly sat. *sigh*

Yep, they were my kinesthetic learners & destined to drive every teacher forced to endure them completely round the bend because "You need to exercise your mind as well as your body" only as a wide eyed Theo once confessed to an irate teacher, "But I don't come to school to learn. I come to play sport & socialise." A simple philosophy but highly effective. They started young.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Trouble is,son, The farther you run, The more you feel undefined For what you have left undone And, more, what you've left behind. ~ Stephen Joshua Sondheim

I love Autumn. I find the bright, glittery days invigerating. I love the coolness of the mornings & evenings. I love that it doesn't get too terribly hot for me & I can work solidly in my garden without feeling like I might just melt away at any moment.
This morning I was out early moving gently through my yard before the rest of the household was up tidying up the chaos my sons invariably leave behind them ~ petrol cans, bait buckets, plastic bags, buoys & floats & lengths of rope. Then I swept down my verandah & put all my garden furniture back where it belongs, got the shears & cut back some rampant shrubbery, filled the spray bottle with my poison of preference & sprayed the weeds. I think it was Kipling who said you're closest to God in a garden. I happen to believe that's true.

My garden will never win any contests for beauty. A lot of it has been left just as God designed it. I've just filled in the gaps, provided water for the birds that entertain my nutty cat & made somewhere safe for the firebugs to play. While I worked I contemplated the goodness of God.

It has been 3 years & counting since I spoke to my oldest son. It's complicated because he is a complicated person, highly intelligent & socially inept, prone to violent rages for no reason...yadda, yadda. Total emotional rollercoaster. For a while he was living in Brisbane. People would say, 'Oh, BTW, I saw Jossie in town,' but we never did. I probably don't frequent the parts of town Jossie did. So we knew he was o.k, or as o.k as he could be, & we knew he knew where we were because however difficult he was he was still our son & we've never turned our backs on him. I don't imagine he finds himself very easy to live with either. Then suddenly he just dropped off the radar.

I contemplated filing a missing persons report...but he wasn't really missing. He just didn't want to talk to us. Now I know the majority of the world would have done something. I'm not the majority of the world. I have the novelist's appalling habit of sitting back & watching to see how events unfold. Besides, God had already told me in no uncertain terms to take my hands off & leave Jossie to him. You've got no idea how hard that has been!

So I waited & watched...

I have this friend, an American friend, with whom I was pen pals for a while & very occasionally we'd chat on MSN but she had an old computer & she kept disappearing on me so when she suggested Facebook I reluctantly opened an account ~ as some of you now know! The girls have had one forever because that's how they keep in touch with cousins spread over 1/2 the country. So paddling round in this unfamiliar territory I typed in Jossie's name ~ & lo & behold he has a Facebook account too. And now I know why he dropped off the radar. It seems he has joined the army. As a Quaker it's certainly not my career of choice but I do see that the imposition of external discipline is probably exactly what Joss needs to get his life on track. More, I know he's not homeless...or in jail...or derelict, drug addicted, hungry & in need of the basic things in life & he could have been. He so very easily could have been.

I am so very grateful to know that he is ok.

God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We prayed for rain & God gave us rain ~ by the bucket load, the barrow full, the sky full until the tanks overflowed, the dams over ran & the rivers burst their banks. The drought seems to have ended.

I woke this morning to a pristine new washed day glittering with sunshine. It doesn't come much better than this. I am going to go & garden & while I'm at it I will give thanks that in this world we get mornings such as this.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Give a man a harp...

“Harpists spend ninety percent of their lives tuning their harps and ten percent playing out of tune.”–Igor Stravinsky
The Gaelic for harp is clarsach. I have no idea how this should be pronounced but the older form of the word is cruit & thus a harpist becomes cruitire or clairsair. I like clarsach which seems to have a nice splashy sound.

I began studying about the clarsach when I first investigated the file ~ an order of druidism ~ & initially I made no distinction between the poet [file] & the cruitre, harpist, because in our time & world they are all too often the same thing. That was not the case in the ancient Celtic world. The file was the important subject, the harpist a mere accompanist. The file was allotted magical properties ~ or if like me you are a little more cynical, the file were good students of human nature & they played upon their knowledge.

Why, oh why, would anyone waste their time investigating a dead musical tradition? Well my lovelies, if you know your Celtic mythology you will grasp the inherent possibilities for a fantasy writer when music is credited with the abilities the Celts gave it ~ able to induce sleep, awaken passion, transport the soul. Add in the glam, a curse or two, a pretty maiden & voila! Fantasy 101.

Now I once read an Alan Garner quote, & Alan Garner has a very interesting Celtic tradition of his own, wherein he said of the Weirdstone of Brisingamen, why use a made up word when a real one is available? Yes, both weirdstone & Brisingamen are real words. This thinking intrigued me. Why invent something when you can use a tradition that already exists? Reality gives the sort of hard edge fantasy writers would kill for. It is why their books are riddled with bits & pieces of other people's mythologies ~ though not always well done.

I can be a little obsessive...all right then, a lot obsessive because I read & the first thing that struck me is how the Celts described their harps ~ strung with silver & bronze & gold! Can you imagine how the light would have shimmered through the moving strings?! These instruments were beautifully decorated, lovingly carved & painted. I know nothing about music so I kept reading & read all sorts of people saying all sorts of things about how you couldn't string a harp with gold wires ...& then I read about Brian Boru's harp, the Lamont harp & Queen Mary's harp. These are the oldest Celtic harps in existence ~ The Boru harp is in Dublin, the other 2 at Edinburgh museum. I don't understand the maths or the mechanics but I understood enough to realise that the reconstructionists were having massive problems tuning these things. They just wouldn't tune across the whole soundboard! It didn't matter if you used nylon, hair or wire the harps would not tune. The bottom octave remained stubbornly out of tune.

Then Ann Heymann came along & went into cahoots with a goldsmith & they came up with a way to make a gold wire hard enough & strong enough to be used as harp strings. Guess what? Gold wire tunes on an ancient Celtic harp! The stories are literally true! I was flabbergasted ~ & I'm one for thinking there is always a grain of truth in the old stories. I forget which way it works but a mixture of gold & bronze strings means you can tune these harps across the octaves. Funny that.

Now the old Irish & Scottish harpers grew their nails long because the strings were plucked rather than stroked. This gives the notes a bright sort of tinny sound that lasted & there is some evidence that fake tin nails were used by some harpers or if a nail got broken.

That is all fascinating enough but what has always intrigued me because it is such a Celtic way of thinking are the stories of the great war harps that stood taller than a man & were strung untuned for the wind to wail through. Can you imagine? Serious nightmare stuff I'm sure!

The harps that remain are old & fragile, too old & fragile to be restrung & played now & they are relatively late ~ Medieval pieces. We know that the harps were round earlier than that. There are pics carved on Pictish standing stones showing a left handed orientation & we have the metal harp keys used for turning the tuning pegs. We also know there was an unbroken music tradition in both Ireland & Scotland until Good Queen Bess took it into her pretty red head to outlaw harping & kill off all the harpers. I'm sure she had a good reason for this. I should look into it. Then again the Harpers were druids & the druids were patriots of a rather rampant sort. The only patriotism Bess wanted was the sort that adored her. Neither the Irish or the Scots were good at admiring the English ~ for good reason, but we won't go into all that.

So when I finally get to see one of these harps, a harp I can neither touch nor play, yet passed down through generations of tenured families who held the secrets of the strings in their very souls I hold all this history in myself & the harp becomes more than just a harp. It is the story of a people nearly destroyed, stubbornly clinging to survival.

Meme 4 8.

"You gotta dance like nobody's watching, dream like you will live forever, live like you're going to die tomorrow and love like it's never going to hurt." Meme Grifsters

Jillian, over at Homeschooling4Christ, has tagged me for a meme, which is lovely but the thing with meme's is how to make them interesting rather than just a list. So lets see...hmmmm....8 things I did yesterday.

Well yesterday I was travelling...with Liddy...& Liddy's car...but you knew that already. What I didn't tell you is that Liddy diverted me into a 2nd hand shop ~ & then couldn't get me out. They had books. Lots of books. Thick books. I bought one; On the Side of Angels.

And we went to the movies. I told you that. What I didn't tell you is I weep at sad endings; always. Every single time. No matter how corny it is. It was very corny. I cried & Ditz laughed at me. *sigh*. Sometimes I hate being the emotional sort.

Oh, & I hugged my mother goodbye. My mother is smaller than everybody. I've been taller than her since I was about 10 years old. I can remember watching the inches as I crept up to her height then began to look down on her. It was weird when my daughters did the same thing to me. Seriously. I always thought I was tall & I'm actually not. My mother is short; shorter than short. Every time I wrap my arms about my mother I appreciate the fact she's still round to be hugged.

I played with my cat. Until you've been loved by a cat with personality you haven't been loved. Issi has loads of personality. He danced up to me letting me know he'd missed me, letting me know he was ready to be chased round the room, flopping on his back so I could rub his belly & tickle his paws while he purred. Yep. Being welcomed home by Iss is a welcome fit for any queen.

I assessed the damage. Leaving home for 3 days can be disastrous round here. When I got home only Dearest & Issi were here & I'm pretty sure Iss isn't responsible for the stove top I had to scrape clean or the loads of washing I had to put through the machine. Nope. Not Iss.

I ordered a grenadine at lunch. This intrigued both girls who were horrified by the colour, the cream sitting on top & the taste. My poor drink did the rounds before I got it. What can I say? I've eaten & drunk some really odd things in my travels. Grenadine does not rate as one of them.

I walked bare foot along a beach with the surf curling around my ankles & the foam frothing. The ebb made me queasy. When I mentioned this Liddy looked at me as if I was quite mad. Ditz understood completely. She was having trouble staying upright herself. Thank goodness for Ditz!

I travelled on a boat. This is not unusual but I always enjoy listening to the engine throb under me as the mangroves slide past knowing that I am going home at last.

Eight shows I watch....?! Sorry. Should have asked about books. I very occasionally watch the Mentalist, on the rare occasions I'm home on a Wednesday night, but I don't like t.v & rarely watch it.

8 things I wish I could do...

Visit Skara Brae. Next time I'm in Scotland. That's two in one. I loved Scotland & I want to go back. When I go back I want to do all the islands ending at Skara Brae. And I want to visit the Edinburgh museum & look at the oldest harps they have there & the harp keys. You don't want to know what I know about these harps.

Publish at least one of my books....yes, well. Writing them is not a problem but I seriously loath editing so any volunteers please leave your mark & I'll get back to you.

Do the 3 day hike from O'Reilly's to the Gold Coast. This one is at least plausible & I have some hope of achieving it in a reasonable time frame.

Have a bakers dozen in cats. Thirteen is my number. Cats are my animal. Dearest just rolls his eyes & says Iss would never agree to it. Nor he would but I have my methods, Watson.

Learn more Gaelic than the odd swear word. I'm telling you this is not conducive to an intelligent conversation but Gaelic is much harder than French & my French is pretty appalling too. Another language I can swear in better than I speak it. Wonder if there's something in that?

Study archaeology my next life, maybe? I can't see how I fit in archaeological digs around schooling Ditz & running her to & from music because if I could figure out a way to do it I'd be in Scotland now with my trusty trowel & a fine sieve trolling round some Pictish standing stone & making outlandish guess at what it all means.

I am supposed to nominate 8 others to do this but knowing how busy you all are & that some of you don't do memes I'm leaving this up to you. If you'd like to play leave a linkie. I'm on holidays. I have plenty of time to play. ;)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday, Sunday

If you don't believe in ghosts, you've never been to a family reunion. ~Ashleigh Brilliant
For whatever reason I spend at least one day of our time at mum's in bed with a migraine. I haven't worked out what the trigger is. Travelling knocks me about & that's all I can think it would be. Whatever. I was in bed Saturday morning when the bunny arrived. My mother took us in for Easter even though she was leaving very early Sunday morning for a fortnight in Sydney catching up with lifelong friends ~ though that is sadly not always a joyous occasion these days. Friends are getting fewer each year & those that remain are not always in the best health. Hard on mum who is a robust & energetic 70 something & likely to outlive us all!

Mum's cat, Pixi, began displaying a range of psychotic behaviours at all the bags & it was showery ~ cold & showery. When I surfaced enough to be functional we dragged Liddy off her laptop & played Gin ~ which Ditz was winning consistently through the simple process of going out before anyone else could get their cards down on the table. So we changed the rules slightly, which made her think a little more & slowed her progress somewhat though poor old Lid kept getting the most atrocious hands while Ditz consistently got both jokers & I at least had the advantage of age.

Mum had organized some special treats, though because of Sunday's chaos we did them Saturday morning rather than Sunday. The girls are old enough to understand that it is the celebrating that is important, not the day. The craft group had made little knitted bunnies; the girls got one each while I got the mauve butterball who apparently begged mum to buy him. As my mother is not given to impulse buys he's rather a surprise but very cute & he came home with me. Dark chocolate too! mmmm. image:MYSA

We were out of the house before 9 on Sunday giving mum a chance for some peace & quiet & a quick tidy up before a neighbour drove her to the airport, Pixi crying bereftly as she drove away. Most of the traffic was coming north; the school holiday crowd I'm guessing.
Liddy has seriously wanted to detour out to Bribie for years & years so this time we did. It started well. The first thing we saw as we crossed the Bridge was the model yatch club racing on a pond. We bailed out of the car to watch & chat with the competitors.
We then began hitting the beaches. Serious disappointment. The water was shark territory ~dark & murky, churned up by the rain, big seas & gale force winds the previous week. Nor were the parks particularly attractive though we appreciated the effort the council had made to ensure the foreshore was public property & not cluttered with either private housing or high rise apartments.
We drove round for a bit but Bribie is great for young families; lots of child friendly parks with great play equipment, safe beaches & plenty of close parking but not what Liddy had been expecting or hoping for so we kept on coming down the coast. Close to home we stopped for lunch & headed to a movie [Race to Witch Mountain ~ a Ditz pick] but Liddy was heachachy by then & disappointed with her day so we just came on home after the movie & a good thing. She's working today.
We were just about to have tea when the phone rang ~ my mother checking that we had arrived where we should be safely & letting us know we didn't have to worry about her either. All's well.

Come fly with me...

Christ is our Passover! And we will keep the feast With the new leaven, The bread of heaven: All welcome, even the least! - Dr. A.R. Thompson

We celebrated Easter with my mother. Ditz was madly enthralled to be informed she was on a 6am boat on Good Friday! I'm always up by then but the girls were much less impressed. Liddy was prone to be ratty because Theo had borrowed her car & we stood in the early morning chill being buffeted by a nippy little breeze awaiting his arrival so we could claim Liddy's car & hand over the island car keys. Nothing is ever simple around here.

Liddy is usually a good driver & as nearly all her recorded hours are for long distances she has done plenty of highway driving, which she likes because she can travel fast & Liddy dearly likes fast. I am happy so long as she leaves plenty of distance between her & the next vehicle. Tailgating is one of my all time pet hates. It is only when the traffic, which has been travelling at speed for some time, bottlenecks & slows to a crawl that Liddy has trouble. Ditz & I had one moment when we thought we were going to land amongst the bikes strapped to the rear of the car in front. Liddy's guardian angel gets worked overtime on occasions! Thank God she realised the car wasn't moving forward as she'd thought & she managed to brake in time. Ditz & I were both a little wild eyed.

We are in the midst of our autumn. The weather has cooled off considerably & as always at Easter is prone to showers. This year was no exception. We got a little rain as we drove up the coast but not as much as we were expecting though the clouds continued to gather ominously. However neither we nor anyone else caused any holdups on the highway & the traffic travelled really smoothly all the way. We arrived at mum's just on 9am & in plenty of time for a late breakfast.

My mother has a very nice self contained villa in a retirement village where she can still garden her own bit of earth ~ & does~ with water views over the canal & beach front a 5 minute walk away. We don't always walk to the beach because we prefer to walk along the beach ~ miles & miles & miles of it.

Hamish [remember our cyclone?] trashed the beach. The northern end is all exposed black rock flowing lava like towards the sea yet again. The surf was pretty choppy too but ma does know that if the girls don't get their walk in the park [so to speak] they are both pretty impossible to live with. In anticipation of the odd fine hour of sunshine & horrible swimming conditions she had bought a *Sports Kite*. It looks pretty much like any other kite to me.

Liddy spent a profitable twenty minutes putting it together then we vacated for the beach. It is pretty hard to tell from the pictures [we are having massive camera issues] but the wing span is actually arced allowing the air to get under & lift the kite ~ or at least that's the theory. We had plenty of wind ~ in gusts. The kite was going up all right ~ & plunging straight back down again!

It is also dual controlled. Yes, we had plenty of tangled lines until the girls got the knack of it. Ditz did better at first. Liddy wanted to do tricks & figure out what happened when you pulled the lines. Ditz was just happy to get the kite in the air.

Then they decided I should try. I'm a bit of a klutz ~ at least until I figure out what I'm doing & multi tasking at this level gets me in a tangle. While the kite was whirring & fizzing about me uncontrollably making a noise like a bomb coming in Liddy yelled instructions. At the height of her diatribe the kite zoomed towards her head, she took a precautionary step backwards & disappeared suddenly down the other side of the dune with the kite plunging after her.

By the 2nd day the girls were getting pretty good but as you can see from the pictures the weather was pretty miserable & uncertain, though not really cold. I was the only silly sausage all wrapped up in a jacket.

Look & envy ~ yep, they call us the Sunshine State!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Making Hallah.

Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. - Eccl 9:7Dearest makes a mean soup. It has taken some time but it finally registered that while I don't mind a thick soup I really object to bits floating about. No chunky soups for me. So Dearest, bless his heart, began experimenting to render all the goodness down then strain it so that we are left with a very rich broth that everyone in the house really likes & appreciates, especially on those nippy winter nights when nothing warms the cockles of the heart more than a hot bowl of good rich soup.If Dearest was making soup I decided I'd better do some experimenting of my own because to my utter surprise as I began sharing within my own household what I have been learning in regards to the biblical festivals I found everyone, bar Ditz of course, was interested. Not interested enough to do their own study, mind you. They are all quite happy to leave the hard slog up to mummy but they are far more interested than I expected

Dearest went so far as to suggest the new moon festival was a real goer so we are planning for that soon. It always amazes me how when something is truly of God everything just falls into place, hearts already prepared to receive & follow His leading, information miraculously arriving. It looks like we are about to begin a journey away from the man made traditions of Christmas & Easter back to more biblical roots. Should be interesting ~ especially as it will require that one skill I am so noticeably lacking ~ organization!

So I got my act together to try my 'prentice hand at hallah. It's been a while since I've made bread & I've never made bread with eggs. Nor have I ever made a braided bread. Oh, & I'm not the world's best cook either. When I had trouble with the yeast not really doing it's job I thought I'd have to ditch the first lot & try again. The weather doesn't help. Cold & drafty. In the end I chucked the bowl in the car & there was some improvement but not as much as I would have liked.

I went with what I had knowing that American recipes & I are barely on speaking terms most days & I would have to do some tweaking. There must be a knack to braiding too but I'm bound to get better with practise, aren't I? I'm sure the bread isn't meant to *pop its lid* like this either but it smells fine.
Tonight I will make a simple savoury mince to go with the bread, & a few buttered beans. Ditz isn't at all sure about this. She saw how *sticky to the touch* this was in the early stages & doesn't seem at all convinced that cooking it has improved the texture somewhat.

music ramblings

For disappearing acts, it's hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight of sleep and eight of work. ~Doug Larson

Ditz does astonish me. I wasn't round to supervise her for much of last week so I was surprised that Jan, her flute teacher, was more than happy with the work she'd done over the past few weeks.

Meanwhile Dino wanted running round while Ditz was at choir so Liddy came over too & did the driving because after Easter, as soon as she has all her hours up, she can try for her P~Plates {provisional licence}. I'm exhausted so I was more than happy to let her do the driving though she gets a tad fraught with 2 people issuing her instructions. I can understand that.

We then dropped Dino at the boat & went & sat in on the end of Ditz's class, which always has Liddy in fits of the giggles. She can't believe the choir. She considers the entire choir to be completely & absolutely mad, Ditz not excepted. Ditz was a little ratty because Alison was late & whenever Alison is not around the choir behaves like unruly school kids. Why Ditz would ever think she'd enjoy regular school I can not think. She ranted on the way home about everyone talking & not doing as they were told. Mmmhmmm..

One of the things that has always astonished me about Alison is that she can get a bunch of unruly school kids to behave like professional musicians. Honestly. And she does it with good humour & in a fun way.

Having Liddy along is always amusing. She was feeling terribly sorry for the young man Alison has employed as accompanist. Little does she know the subtle art of revenge so when Ditz was free I got her to demonstrate the complicated rhythm clapping & introductory song said young man tortured the choir with. Ditz, whose sense of rhythm is wonky, can't do it. Most of the choir can't do it. Liddy just looked at Ditz as if to say, 'They're all barking mad.' Well, she is the child who's never had an imaginary friend either.

Next term sees a series of concerts ~ not big & important concerts so Alison's equilibrium should remain undisturbed. The exposure & performance keep the choir on their toes & used to working to a deadline ~ & they are usually fun as well, for the kids at least.

I don't think anyone in my house gets it. They all feel rather sorry for me lugging Ditz of to choir week after week & enduring 3 hours of sustained rehearsals but I have never felt sorry for me. I actually feel rather privileged. I get to listen to some of the most beautiful music ever invented sung week after week in close harmony by people with the voices to carry it off. I get to hear how the patten is loose & raggedly when they begin a new song but by the end of a few weeks it is tight & unbelievably beautiful. A concert to hear this stuff would cost me more money than I can afford but I get to hear it for free, week after week after week. I do take a book along & read but choir nights are pretty entertaining. See Liddy brought a book to read too. Within 10 minutes her book lay forgotten in her lap & she was sniggering away at the choir's antics. Better than any comedy on t.v! I think it does our Liddy's head in that there are so many people like our Ditz in this world.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Completely random.

Life has never been easy. Nor is it meant to be. It is a matter of being joyous in the face of sorrow. Dirk Benedict
The Man of the House likes his creature comforts. In fact I don't know any animal that can relax as completely as a cat. It is a gift to be sure. With the boys home he expects fresh seafood to be on hand constantly. I don't do seafood unless it comes in a can. A can is not what Issi has in mind. Like he's starved, poor thing!

Liddy has a couple of really big days ahead of her ~ bigger than big & a long drive to finish it off. It is so strange to have a house full of young adults again. Mostly Liddy & Ditz are very quiet, which the boys are not, & into sharing things like chick flicks & chocolate. I can handle chick flicks & chocolate. At present I want to leave home. My house sinks like the local fishery & it is not a smell I enjoy.
Ditz, finally, thank goodness, has wrapped up her term's work. It is labeled & enveloped & about to leave in the post. We had tears before we were done with the science. Why on earth anyone insists kids not gifted in an area persist once they have the basics I do not know! Trust me; Ditz is not gifted in math or science. English & even history, is another matter despite her fusses. I am about to make another shift in her curriculum because she does really enjoy home economics.

I have looked at this curriculum several times & think it is the one I will go with if I can find an Australian supplier. Cooking Ditz does enjoy & she has asked about sewing. While I can sew my mother, being an excellent seamstress herself & something of a perfectionist, has always put me off doing much along those lines & teaching my girls. Silly I know but I'm going to try & overcome it. Math & science practically applied! Seriously. I have a girly~girl. Her eyes glaze over when anything involves chemistry or physics that doesn't blow up. Even my Dearest can see we are fighting a losing battle in this area & is looking at a more *applied* approach to the sciences. Frankly I wouldn't let someone who thinks like Ditz anywhere near a spaceship. She argued for 20 solid minutes that being half an inch out would not cause a shaceship orbiting earth to moon & back to miss the mark. Angles. Even I can see how this one works. Not Ditz. She stopped arguing in the end but I don't think she believes me. Okaaay....

Monday, April 6, 2009

A small matter of communication

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. ~Dorothy Parker

I can't believe that this term is already over. It has been a really short term & we don't seem to have achieved much though I've certainly been running around as much as usual.

As is traditional for Easter it looks like being wet ~ as in sodden, drenched, soaking wet. As in damp all through the house. As in piles of laundry to the ceiling. As in good weather for ducks & not much else.

The girls & I had been going to go camping. I pulled the plug on that. Camping in the pouring wet is no fun at all. Worse is the clean up afterwards, especially if there is no dry weather for doing it. So my poor mother, who leaves for Sydney on Easter Sunday, has agreed to accommodate us for the Easter weekend until she leaves. As Ditz's music schedule picks up pace from now on we may not get another opportunity to visit for quite some time but giving us bed & breakfast is a rather different thing to a flying visit for morning tea. However she is luckier than she knows.

Theo announced last night that he wouldn't be here for the weekend. Oh? No, he was going to spend his long weekend with ma. Really? The girls & I just looked at him. He was thinking of inviting Liddy to go with him. We began to giggle because Liddy owns a car & Theo does not.

'You do realise,' Liddy said cooly, 'That we will all be at ma's?'


'You can still come.' [snicker, snicker.]

We explained kindly that ma wasn't even going to be around for the full weekend & we would be departing very early Sunday morning & doing a day trip, weather permitting & by God's grace, out to Bribie Island ~ the only bridged island in Queensland & somewhere Liddy's been itching to go for ages.

Somehow I think the lad will make alternative arrangements. Now I'm just waiting to be told that Dino is thinking of going to Ma's for Easter too. I swear, the people in this house don't communicate!