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...

Friday, July 30, 2010

One grown up haircut

Daughters are like flowers: they fill the world with beauty & sometimes attract pests ~ Anon

In her own mind Ditz has always been a Star. I am so used to her blog name I have been known, on rare occasions, to forget what we actually christened the child & refer to her by her nickname. Mortifying, that's what it is.

Star, like my oldest boy, inherited their father's gorgeous red/blonde hair ~ with gentle wave ~ which Star says makes her shine like Rudolph's red nose ~ or the beacons in the bay. Not something she's thrilled about. She has been after me to let her get her hair cut ~ not something I've been wild about agreeing to. If you'd seen some of her suggestions as to a suitable cut you'd understand why. I am not walking round town with candy pink spikes! OK, not quite that way out but too out there for my 15 year old daughter!

However said child has a birthday coming up & 15 is no longer a child ~ though hardly yet a grown woman, so I cautiously agreed to a cut & style. Cautiously because Star didn't have anything particular in mind but wanted to leave the choice of cut up to our hairdresser. Now our local hairdresser has daughters of her own so I felt fairly sure she wasn't about to given my cherished daughter a buzz cut, spikes, or something involving multiple piercings, a razor & rude words indented on her cranium. Just the same, you do all remember this child is part of a semi professional ensemble which is performing tonight so I was really hoping we wouldn't end up with a disaster that necessitated a serious meltdown on both mother & daughters part.

It turned out rather well ~ though a tad more curly & bouncy than Star wanted. She likes the dead straight look, a look I can assure her from sad experience is no fun at all! All of a sudden she looks terribly grown up. On the other hand Older Irish lad & my Star have birthdays within a day or two of each other & when they are in OZ we always do a joint celebration. This year they want to go paintballing. An activity, sad to say, originally initiated by my child. She has been on~line for days tracking down paintball venues, comparing prices & tweaking dates because both children must be 15, have photo id & signed parental permission to do this. And this is my girly~girl!
Next week a certain young lady has a birthday & in view of the forthcoming celebrations & her newfound maturity, or more precisely because she hates her blog name, we are celebrating prematurely with a change of blog name.

The individual previously known by the nome d'plume, Ditz, will henceforth be known as *Star*. Sorry folks. What can I say? It's better than some she's come up with. Love her anyway. ♥

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sewing exercise number 2.

If I stitch fast enough does it count as aerobic exercise? UnknownDitz, having managed the long flanelette PJ bottoms was allowed to rip on the pretty,
slippery~ slidey fabric that I was dreading.

The straight seams presented no difficulties. It was the hems I just knew would cause trouble so having thought about it I made another trip to the fabric store for some pretty pink matching bias binding & gave Ditz a lesson in the fine art of bias binding & the joy of using it in a difficult situation.

Her stitching isn't so very straight but her garment is wearable & she made it her very own self ~ well, mostly. I admit I did most of the waistband on this one as Ditz was having all sorts of trouble thanks to the cut of the pattern.

And to finish it off I found these charming apple buttons! Isn't that sweet?

Voila! One pair of boxers.
Next week's assignment is the long PJs for our Irish friend. Same satiny material but now we know what we are doing Ditz should be able to whip these up in no time at all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some weird...

A visitor to a Quaker Meeting stands up after 5 minutes of silence & asks, "When does the service begin?" An old Friend rises after a brief reflection & says," Service begins when the worship ends."

Most Australians are cognizant with the Backhousia ~ or lemon scented myrtle. It is endemic to the sub~tropical rainforests of central & southeastern Queensland & if you haunt the foodies court at the EKKA you will have come across some of the various culinary concoctions & oils made from this plant.

What you probably don't know is who the plant was named for. James Backhouse was an English Quaker who visited Australia in 1832 under a *concern* for the convicts. He had begun his working life in a drug & grocery store but developed tuberculosis & decided an outdoor life would be much better for his health so studied to become a botanist. He & his brother Thomas then purchased a nursery at York & in 1824 he was admitted as a minister in the Society of Friends. Yes, we have ministers ~ people who are acknowledged to have a spoken gift ministry. Elizabeth Fry was also a Quaker minister. As part of her ministry to convicts she ministered to every ship that left the Thames for the colonies in Terras Australis. Quakers have always had a social conscience & a social impact disproportionate to their numbers.

Backhouse traveled & ministered throughout the Australian colonies for 6 years from Hobart in the south to Brisbane in the north. He published A Narrative of a Visit to the Australian Colonies in 1843 discussing the colonies, the Aborigines. the convicts, the social conditions ~ & the botany!

He returned to England in 1841 resuming his nursery & ministry until he died in January of 1869 & was honoured by having the lemon myrtle named for him.

The Backhousia is an evergreen that can grow to 66' in height & gets clusters of creamy white flowers from summer through to autumn. As an oil it can be used for flavouring, as an essential oil or as an insect repellent. Aborigines used it both for cooking & healing. As a *bushfood* the leaves can be crushed & used as a tea, flavouring, or lemon replacement. It can be grown outside its native habitat if care is taken to protect it from frosts while young though it rarely exceeds 16' in height when grown as cultivated plant. After a scraggy adolescence it grows a dense canopy & the scent can fill a garden with its heady aroma.

As an aside & a really random bit of trivia, James Backhouse's son, also a James, grew the first pink daffodil! That's some weird.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A true friend is someone who thinks you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked. ~ Bernard Meltzer.

Time always slips away faster than we like & despite only seeing our friends briefly every 2 years the rest of life does not go on hold while they are here ~ not that Ditz isn't trying! She is having a more social time than usual. Boys her friends may be, & as they grow up Ditz has been dismayed to find they do not see eye to eye with her on fundamental things, but they are still good friends & manage to get along without squabbles & slights.

Yesterday my friend & I sent both lots of kids across the sea to the movies in Ditz's more than capable hands. They were going to bus in but at the last minute Liddy went too & drove everyone, which I'm sure was less fun but much nicer given the weather was deteriorating fast & becoming totally misery making. They saw the Karate Kid, which Ditz seems to think wasn't worth her hard earned cash, but her choice.

As for Liddy, I am joking that she is sleeping here but we haven't seen too much of her. She is rushing round catching up with church activities & all her various friends. She will return to work at the end of the week for a rest! There is so much coming & going the cats are in a state of constant anxiety & I am overwhelmed with furry love after doing something as ordinary & harmless as dropping someone down to the boat.

Today, however, is a school day & Ditz will not be happy. Her maths has arrived. Worse, having assured the child this is the last year we have to do math I have now been informed it is compulsory for years 11 & 12 as well. When did this change? There must be some way round this. Ditz & I will never manage another 2 years! And as I never tire of pointing out her everyday math skills are excellent. She is the one who works out the cost on sale items & which way to buy offers better value for money. It is the abstract stuff we come apart so spectacularly on & I have ditched plans to do a course in logic given both Ditz & I have no use for algebra. We will try negotiation first, then if that fails we'll see what stubbornness will achieve. I will be so happy when we are done with Ditz's formal education & she can get on with what she does so well: Living Life.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preparing the heart for corporate worship.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting each other: & so much more as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

If you are a Christian chances are Sunday is your day for worship ~ unless you are a Sabbath keeper or Seventh Day Adventist or one of the other denominations who keep the Sabbath, rather than Sunday, holy. If you have kids, if you have a special needs person in your family, if you care for the aged, if...any number of things, the chances are also good that you will arrive at your church building more than a little frazzled & in a state of mind hardly conducive to worship because everyday life doesn't stop just because it is Sunday morning. The baby will still be teething, Gramps will still loose his teeth 5 minutes before he has to get in the car, the 2 year old will still piddle his pants on the way to the car, the car keys will mysteriously disappear from their hook by the door, the car will cough & splutter like a demented old lady & threaten not to start at all, the dog will jump the gate & tear down the street into oblivion...Yeah, you know it's true as well as I do. Sundays are something else.

I spent years sitting up the back of our little church playing zookeeper to a horde of little animals ~ oops, children ~dolling out drinks & snacks while attempting to hold back our own personal Red Sea in the shape of 5 of the most wonderful little people ever to walk the earth, but you know, church was hard for them. They had to sit still. They had to be quiet. The Liturgy went over their heads. And quite often I used to wonder what on earth I thought I was doing & why I even bothered?! Especially when the charming elderly lady informed me we had no business ruining her Sundays by attending her church. Um, but there's only one...

Now scripture enjoins us to meet together in no uncertain terms so the question is not whether we should or not, or even how we do that, but how we prepare to come together as a body & participate in corporate worship. I don't care whether you dance up & down the aisles in a demented frenzy praising & worshiping; I don't care if you work your way formally through the Book of Common Prayer; I don't care if you spend a whole hour in absolute silence meditating on God because these are outer formalities & quite beside the point. Yes, they are.

As with so much of one's Christian experience corporate worship is firstly a matter of the heart. If the Sunday worship service is all you experience of worship you have missed the point ~ completely & utterly. Because Sunday worship is merely a formality, in a sense, of something deeper & more encompassing. If we have grasped who we are in Christ & what we are becoming then we understand deeply & profoundly that all of life is sacred. Out of that sacred centre we live our lives with a grateful & worshipful heart.

That is easy for me to say. I step out my door & God's thumbprints are everywhere. It is easy to be grateful when surrounded by so much natural beauty ~ but I still grump when the car has a flat battery. Paul summed it up concisely: pray constantly. Now I have no idea what exactly Paul had in mind with that admonishment. What I do know is that the more we are focused on God, Christ, the Holy Spirit throughout the week, the harder we listen for that still, small voice, the more often we say a quiet, "Thanks", as we go about our daily tasks, the more we bring to corporate worship.

Corporate worship is less about receiving [anointing, blessing, teaching, exhortation, encouragement] than it is about giving. If we do not focus our hearts & minds throughout the week to think on the things of God, the heart of God, the mind of God, we arrive at church on Sunday empty handed & rob our fellow believers.

Part of the trouble of course is that many denominations have trained their members to be passive. I have news for you. God recruited you into His army & there is no such thing as a passive soldier! Even if you belong to a highly formalised denomination you are not excused from active duty. During the week we are to be training ourselves with the Holy Spirit's help to become more like Christ. Remember Paul says let each bring a psalm or teaching or revelation, interpretation or tongue when we come together. In other words we are to bless each other. How can we do that effectively if we are not seeking God throughout our week? Together we are the body of Christ. Seek out those whom God has placed upon your heart & share what God has revealed to you of His goodness & mercy & lovingkindness.

Wait a minute, I can hear you exclaiming, aren't we meant to be worshipping God? How, I ask you back, can you worship Him on Sunday if you have not worshipped Him throughout your week?

I'll let you in on a little secret, one that many people in formal ministry already know but others sometimes don't. Even when members of a ministry team are unable to meet together to decide on their program if all concerned are actively seeking God the program will flow seamlessly because the Holy Spirit has guided each person! Now expand that. So what if you aren't in formal ministry! You think God only blesses those who are? What, you think He only talks to the formal team?! It's not true, you know! If every person in a church is seeking God throughout their week, worshipping Him, praising Him, actively practising an awareness of His presence in every aspect of their lives hearts are prepared for the ministry of the Holy Spirit on Sunday.

There is another aspect to this too, churches inevitably being made up of fallible, sinful human beings like you & me. When we live our whole lives as that *living sacrifice* [which is another name for worship] we are far better prepared to extend grace & mercy to our brothers & sisters in Christ & the petty things that can fray & fret at the very fabric of church life fade into insignificance. I am not talking here of unrepentant sin within the body, which can destroy a church; we are not to tolerate or condone blatant & unrepentant sin. I am referring merely to the difficulties of rubbing along with people very different to us.

Worship is not a once a week activity. The very air we breathe should be one of praise & worship. I learnt the power of this when I was called to speak to a body of believers. If you read here you know how garrulous I can be. Hard to shut me up really. I can rabbit on forever with no trouble at all. Thank God I didn't try that! Rather I found myself locked in a battle ground seeking the Lord for His perspective. His word. His thoughts. His perception as to what His people needed to hear. It shattered me in ways I would never have imagined. It changed my heart completely. Despite the fact that I can no longer worship with this body of believers I cannot ever think of them except with a heart of love & mercy. And that is the point, really. Worship changes us, brings us into the very presence of God, & before that throne every knee must bow & very tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal. ~ Peter Ustinov.The rules state that a recipient of the Beautiful blogger award must
*add a link & a note of thanks to the person giving the award
* Pass the award on to the most beautiful blogs you love
*Share 7 things about yourself

While I was off~line alecat @ Serenades & Solace gave me an award. Being the egocentric person I am I get a kick out of getting awards. Needy, that's what I am. Stroke me the right way & I'll purr all day for you! If you haven't yet met alecat do pop over & have a read. Not only is there always something fascinating & unusual to read at alecat's but she is one of the more creative & artistic homeschoolers I've been fortunate enough to meet! And she's musical. When Ditz is driving me nuts I go over there & read & console myself that one day Ditz too may be serene & mature so that her music blesses all who know her. A girl can dream, can't she?

I've done a few of these now so it is challenging to come up with 7 less obvious things people don't know about me. So here goes!

1. I've abseiled over a waterfall. My mother always taught me to be polite & thoughtful so I politely & thoughtfully waited while all these big lumps of boys shot over the waterfall & plummeted the last few feet into the pool at the bottom of the rock face. This might have been polite & thoughtful but it wasn't smart. Wet rope swells. By the time my 7 stone nothing began the descent the rope was waterlogged & clogged the crabs [what the rope goes through when you abseil.] When I hit the overhang & no longer had anything to bounce off I stuck ~ 80 feet in the air jiggling about like a spider on the end of its silken thread. Obviously, since I am writing this, I didn't stay stuck, but it was a hairy 20 minutes.

2. I have only ever once been a bridesmaid. The cousin who shares my birthday & I were bridesmaids together at our favourite cousin's wedding ~ as she had always promised. I lived in N.S.W at the time & had to fly up to QLD alone because my dad couldn't get holidays. It always reminds me how important it is adults keep promises to children. For reasons I have forgotten I desperately wanted to be bridesmaid for this particular cousin. I cherished my *bridesmaid gift* for years, until it literally fell apart.

3. I talk odd. As a child I was always being asked what part of England I came from & I got tired of explaining I really truly was a born & bred Aussie. Now my girls get asked where their accent is from. Liddy finds it funny; Ditz less so.

4. I can't do accents. Or rather I do them rather too well. I automatically mimic any accent I hear. Can't help it. Hysterical when I was doing drama at college, not so good day to day. People think I am taking the micky when actually I'm not.

5. I grew up in a house named Bungawitta ~ Aboriginal for home of the possum ~ & yes, we had plenty of possums. They would race along the rooftop at night & every so often there would be the most unearthly screech when one overshot the mark & hurtled into the dark! Mum used to feed them & tells the most charming story about mama possum. One evening mum opened the back door to a soft knock, most irate to find no~one there. The knock came again. Thinking it was one of my brothers playing tricks she wrenched the door open prepared to give them a blast to find mama possum proudly sitting in the light to show of her brand new baby! Even wild animals know who their friends are.

6. I was never going to have children. No need to count. I have 5.

7. I was an athletic child ~ but why run when you can read? Now if you could run & read at the same time I might be more interested in exercise!

And for the beautiful bloggers...:

A Peaceful Day. Interesting lady & she writes wonderfully!

Keep Calm & Carry on. A variety of interesting & witty posts ~ & she does some glorious photographs too!

Jo @ Stop..have a chat; Art posts Wednesdays, introducing lovely & little known artists. Cat fancier; there's no higher praise! ☺

Amanda @My Secret Garden:some treasures buried in here.

& last but not least, Blessed to be my kids mum. yankee~doodle dandy in New Zealand. Have to feel for her. For all the similarities *Down Under* is a whole different world!

Enjoy, people.

I have a farm & I love it there. There's really nothing to do, but even watching the chickens it's fun. ~ Salma Hayek It was bitter this morning & far too early for Ditz. Even the sun was having a hard time & the view from the jetty wasn't promising but...
We had promised to make the long drive out to Rathdowney to pick up the girl for a 5 day break.

We made a day of it. Poor old Ditz was navigator. I handed her the sheaf of papers downloaded from the RACQ site & we headed off rather apprehensively. It's reached the point where we sort of expect to get lost. Being Big Picture thinkers we don't follow point by point directions well but this time Ditz did really well even though we took a route we'd never been on before. Liddy just shook her head & said, "Trust you two!"

Liddy shouted us lunch at Rathlogan Grove amidst their 1200 olive trees. I love olives trees! They have such interesting leaves. This was a very substantial lunch right on top of morning tea & a long drive so I'm afraid we didn't really do it justice but the surrounds were lovely & we sat outside in the sunshine consuming one steak sandwich with an iced chocolate
[Liddy], one grilled chicken & salad sandwich with an iced coffee [me] & a grilled chicken & salad with lime milkshake [Ditz].

I'm afraid there was some exchange of food items as Ditz doesn't eat half the things that were in her salad & Liddy never eats egg. It is always interesting eating out with my girls.

Rathlogan is an olive grove & produces interesting things like Dukah, which is best eaten with a sliced french stick dipped in olive oil, as well as olives & olive oil. I had a fascinating chat with the owner who has hiked in Nepal ~ to the very foot of Mt Everest, no less! The interesting lives people do lead!

We continued on, stopping briefly here. As a young man my father & one of his brothers bought this property & farmed it jointly. My uncle bought dad out when he married but the farm is still in the family though according to my cousin no money is to be made.

It's still a dirt road in, steep & rutted, but the verandahs are deep & the welcome warm ~ once the cousins discovered we weren't Jehovah's Witnesses!! Within half an hour all the family from the surrounding district was gathered on the verandah consuming cold drinks & sandwiches & discussing Scotland. I think my girls were a little overwhelmed ~ though it takes some doing to overwhelm Ditz! I am not the only one in my family obsessed with Scottish history ~ or any history at all for that matter! And my girls thought I was the odd one.

Liddy dropped Ditz & I at the jetty & went on to a church function, which is bound to be only the beginning of a very social week. Ditz, on the other hand, has announced she has had quite enough of the mainland for the time being & if she has to go over again within the next year it will be too soon. Guess she's out of luck.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Quaker Worship.

If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. ~ Mother Teresa
I want to share a little about Quaker worship because it has occurred to me that many of you, my dear & beloved friends, have never experienced this kind of worship & perhaps some of you are curious.

I need to say right up front that I rarely attend Meeting so my experience of corporate worship is limited ~ & my Meeting is really small, barely half a dozen people. Firstly my closest meeting is some distance away & very difficult for me to get to. Secondly it clashes with other commitments I have on Sunday & those other commitments are where I feel the Lord would have me on Sunday. Thirdly, the blessing of Quaker worship is that one does not need to be physically present to participate. It is better, but not necessary.

Every Meeting I have attended has been unprogrammed. This means there is no order of service. There is no designated time for music or preaching. The Meeting unfolds as the Spirit leads. If you attend a more regular service I'm sure this sounds weird & chaotic but in fact it is never anything but orderly & restful.

The Meeting hall is always very plain & simple, completely unadorned in any way so creates no distractions. Mind you, on a nice day the Meeting is just as likely to pick up their chairs & cart them outside for worship.

Now I am sure you are used to arriving at church & everyone is standing around chatting before they move into the church. They may even be chatting in the church. The organ may be playing some quiet hymn, or if you belong to a more progressive church guitars & drums will be warming up near the sanctuary. This is not the case as Quakers arrive for Meeting, not in my experience. Quakers arrive silently, already preparing to centre down & enter into the presence of God. Each arrival moves quietly so as to cause as little disruption as possible, quietly takes a seat & begins preparing their heart for worship. My Meeting has no littlies so I do not know from experience how that affects worship.

When everyone is gathered an elder leads the people into worship simply by bowing their head & closing their eyes. Not everyone will immediately do this. Some people will read for a while, either their bible or a devotional or some other inspirational book or pamphlet. People are also likely to do this at any point throughout the hour of worship.

I have spoken elsewhere of the different stages one moves through in silent worship. At some point the leader may invite anyone who has a word from God to speak, or someone inspired by the spirit will speak or sing or read a verse of scripture but most Meetings will pass the entire hour in complete silence.

How, I can hear you all asking, can you worship together when there is no set program that everyone is following? No songs to sing? No prayers all will pray together? In my experience, I need to keep saying that because it can be different for everyone & I dare not speak for another on this issue, the silence is what binds. How to explain?

Silent worship is a discipline. Well, it should be. There is a rythmn to it just as there is a rythmn to the Catholic liturgy or a Baptist gathering or Charismatic worship. Times aren't set in stone but the flow goes something like this. The first 10 minutes or so everyone is settling down. You are aware of lots of little movements as people's minds try & discard all the everyday clutter we carry around with us. Every little noise is a distraction. Gradually this dies away & you sense a shift in the tone of the Meeting. People's bodies are quieter. You can literally feel people centering down, entering more deeply into the silence, & as they go deeper the silence envelopes everyone drawing everyone together into the very presence of God ~ whoever or whatever they concieve him to be. This is how leadership can *take the sense of a Meeting* when something is to be voted on. Silence is tangible. It literally has weight & substance.

It is at this point God will often speak. I get all sorts of things once I am here: songs of praise & worship, answers to problems, a timely word of encouragement or discipline, messages for others, scripture verses, images, a sense of the real presence of God. It is out of this silence that anyone who has a message to share with the Meeting speaks.

Gradually people shift out of the silence & become aware of the noises & movements around them again until the whole Meeting is present. The leader will turn & shake hands with the person closest to him, signifying meeting is over. Hands will be shaken & only then will conversations start up ~ usually quietly. Not everyone moves through the stages at the same pace. The beauty of this style of worship is how it accomodates each individual while maintaining unity. I know the time my Meeting meets & when I am able I can participate even though not physically present. There are no barriers to God.

Here you will find another's perspective on what happens during Quaker worship & it's practise. Those of you who practise silence as a way of worship please feel free to contribute your experiences in the comments section for the edification of us all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dont needle the seamstress. ~ anon

Last week I took myself over to the mainland & a very nice lady slathered my joints with gunk, rolled her scanner thingammy around in the gunk, poked & prodded & pushed & pummelled my poor shoulder then announced I had a *stiff joint* & how long had it been bothering me?! Makes you wonder about the medical profession doesn't it.

I dutifully took all the pretty B&W pics they gave me back to our own medico, who didn't look at them, merely read the report & announced what I had already told him ~ my shoulder hurts! Yeah, well.... Honestly. Anyway he wants to shove a dirty great needle in there. Serious meltdown on my part but he promises if they can get the swelling down I can go & do something useful like have Bowens on it ~ which is far more my thing than dirty great needles. They always say it won't hurt; I won't feel a thing & it is never true. It hurts; I feel it & I get huge bruises from their promises. I am NOT looking forward to this one, not even in the dubious event I will be pain free.
Erratic as we are, Ditz & I are getting some school work done. The first attempt was as much to orientate me as Ditz. I am not really a sewer & certainly not a confident one. Just reading the instructions is mammoth. I'm an English Lit major & 1/2 the instructions don't make sense. Hence choosing something really, really simple for starters.
Both Ditz & I tend to be *immersion learners* ~ at least for some things ~ so last week was sewing week. We did do other things but mostly we sewed. First we had to decide which was the right side of our material so we could pin that together. I'm blind & Ditz had no idea what her selvage should look like. My mother would have a fit. She thinks it matters but these are pyjamas & no~one but us is ever going to see them [well, you ladies are but you're not going to be able to tell from these pics whether we got it right or not!]. I think we did but as right or not it is the same side out everywhere all's good.

Ditz has decided she doesn't like laying out, pinning or cutting out. I can understand that but as you can't sew without doing those 3 things first it's just tough bikkies. We had waaay too much material. I had a feeling the girl had cut us too much but better too much than too little. We ended up with just 4 pieces & most of that was straight seams.
I carefully pinned the right sides together with the correct components. I did this. I was having trouble with the instructions as it is not the way I would have gone about constructing this garment & as it was so difficult to tell which side was which I was taking no chances on Ditz muddling up the pieces.

We set the machine up in Liddy's room on her desk as everything could be left out & returned to at a moment's notice. Once Ditz got the hang of the machine again she was buzzing along at speed. Managed to not go too crooked ~ mostly.

The crotch, which was on a curve, presented a few difficulties but overall this was a really good first pattern choice. It took Ditz about an hour over three days to finish the major sewing, then another hour for the finishing off which included measuring & threading her elastic, sewing the elastic down along the seams to prevent it twisting in the wash [ thanks mum, great tip! ☺] & snipping off all her loose threads. The finished product is baggy & apparently really comfortable. Ditz has hardly been out of them since we finished them but I have no pics. Her bum really does look big in these!

Database: the information you lose when your memory crashes. ~ Dave Barry.

Four hours locked in a car with Ditz & this is what you get....

...with the camera.

For posterity. I'm sure her kids will be proud.
Liddy is the reason we were locked in the car ~ with the Irish lads. It's been a while since I've had to travel so far while so much chaos reigns in the backseat! Liddy bused out to finalise her car & since we were driving her back we took the opportunity to show the boys the alpaca farm. Trouble is, as I did warn them, it is 4 hours travelling for barely an hour wandering around ~ & that is a long time to be without much to do except look out the windows. Not even too many places to pull over.
Liddy did try to ensure we had our directions clear ~ but it is not her end that is the problem. I actually like driving on the highway. You can go fast. The roads are pretty decent. And you just go straight ahead. It's the turning off that presents all the problems! Well, we made the right turn off ~ & then couldn't find the next one we needed, *sigh* Ended up heading for the Gold Coast in the dark. NOT what we wanted to do. Took the first available overpass & headed back the other way, which both Ditz & I knew. I'm going to owe a small fortune in tolls!

Besides alpacas there was one caged possum due for rehousing.
So that is one of the things we did while the computer was down. Ditz has also completed one set of PJ bottoms. I will post some pics tomorrow. We are reading How Green was my Valley. Ditz hates it, but that's ok. I'm enjoying it again. She has a concert coming up in a fortnight & the seconds suck. Ditz is a second. Some serious rehearsal time now needed. We are starting a serious music theory study. Ditz has chosen to do this. I just have to buy the books. I thought she was never going to ask but every so often Ditz shows signs of maturity. The oven blew up. That was exciting. Marlow caught his first mouse & promptly took it into Liddy's room. When he took it upstairs into my room I got Dearest to bribe him with a chicken neck & remove the body.
Yep, life went on as usual but nowhere near as much fun when you can't share.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On the run...

The trouble with trouble shooting is that trouble shoots back ~ anon.

Just a quickie to say we are back up & running now that a very dear friend has shot Trouble ~ hopefully quite dead. I am suffering serious withdrawals but today is Wednesday & Wednesday, as you all know, is choir day so Ditz & I are about to depart for places over the water. Regular programming will resume shortly. Lots has been happening ~ besides computer issues. I must say, I am super happy to be back on~line. ♥♥♥

Monday, July 12, 2010

Everything beautiful has it's moment & then passes away.~ Luis Cernuda

We had one of those days when you're just glad not to be pushing up the daisies. Seriously. We've had an unusually wet, cold, old winter but today the sun poured down like honey. It was springlike & the birds celebrated. The cats basked in the pools of sunlight until their fur was too hot to touch. Ditz & I took her work onto the verandah's dappled light while birds dunked in & out of the birdbath & shook themselves in paroxyms of joy.

The sun gradually receeded with the tide leaving the sea grass beds exposed. The last of the light glinted of the leaf tips & the world grew colder, sharp with brine & mud & the lingering aftertaste of rich sunlight. Wouldn't have missed it for worlds!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Soccer & a book.

It is with relief that I can report Spain actually scored a goal in the World Cup final. In extra time. I thought we were going to a penalty shoot out. I hate penalty shoot outs. I think it's an appalling way to decide a game. Eat your heart out Liddy. Spain played beautiful, beautiful football. The Dutch, sad to say, played like Neanderthal thugs for most of the game. As they were bigger & heaver than Spain it was like watching a little car go into the crushers but in the end the better team won. Whew. All done for another 4 years.

More interestingly [yes, I know my interests tend to swing from one extreme to another; sorry about that] I was browsing the YA section of our local library for something for Ditz to take away. I'm rarely enchanted with anything I find in the YA section. Vampires, vampires & more vampires. Ditz isn't allowed vampires. They give me nightmares.

Anyway, I brought home two books, both of which had Ditz rolling her eyes. She's read neither of them. I, one the other hand, read this one: A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd. Firstly, not sure that it's a YA book. If you are fussy about your child's reading matter then it's definitely not suitable reading matter as it includes themes of alcoholism, illicit sex, out of wedlock births & murder by exposure. Sound nasty? Surprisingly it's not. Frankly I didn't find it depressing either though it seems plenty of readers have.

What's to like? Lots for my money. The language is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. A little idiomatic in places but not so as to be obscure. It captures exactly a particular place, a particular mindset [of being Irish Catholic in a very small conservative Irish village] & a particular age. Mind you any girl who goes with a boy who's idea of courting is to make up rude rhymes about the girl is a little peculiar but Shell has her reasons. Her mother has died. Her father has retreated into the bottle & religion & Shell is responsible for her younger siblings. Put like that it does sound depressing but Shell never feels sorry for herself. She just gets on with things, muddling through the best she knows how. Shell doesn't always make the best & brightest decisions [whoever does?] but she is brave & staunch & she makes what she can of the opportunities available to her.

No, not a Ditz book; but I enjoyed it very much indeed. I'll be looking for more of this author's work. What is depressing me is we're back schooling this week. *sigh* Material cut out & ready to go. How green is My Valley on our reading list for this that is something to look forward to whatever Ditz thinks. A social whirl for Ditz while the Irish are in town. We're all good.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Whatever happened to...?

In Seattle you haven't had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it's running. ~ Jeff Bezos.

The haberdashers. You remember the haberdashers. Every department store had one, once upon a time. There you could buy by the yard [it was sold by the yard back then] lengths of pretty & interesting material for summer dresses, skirts, blouses, winter coats, warm flannelet for jammies, crisp linen for that chic work skirt, satin for girl's party frocks, silk ~ well, just because. One needs no excuses for silk. Whatever happened to the haberdashers?

You see we need one. This term Ditz is sewing. Not that I'm any seamstress. That designation belongs to my mother, who is quite extraordinary, but I can sew a straight seam. If pushed I can turn a crotch. Extra patience is needed for collars & button holes but I can manage if I must. I don't have my mother's eye for detail or an obsession with perfection ~ possibly a good thing when teaching a child to sew.

In the entire shire there is just one place I can buy material ~ plus those other essentials of a well turned out seamstress: spare needles; thread; elastic; patterns; pretty ribbons, lace, bias binding; I do not make my own bias binding! At least there is one place. Unfortunately that seriously limited our choice of materials. It was pink ~ or We aren't pink girls.

I said, I did say, didn't I? I'm not really a seamstress so I squashed Ditz's visions of *that nifty little number with the full skirt & a train for gala concerts*! No way, Hosea! "Girl", I said, "you need to learn the basics before we tackle anything that big" ~ & if I have my way I'm packing child, pattern & gloriously shiny material off to my mother to do battle with! But I digress.

Ditz's idea of *something simple* was boxers & flannel bottoms. Hmmm. I can actually do shorts so I agreed, having limited Ditz's choice of patterns to either Butterick or Simplicity ~ two firms I know make their instructions super easy & clear & who's patterns don't cost an arm & a leg. As stated, our choice of material was pink...or pink. We will start with the flannelet. Nice long seams to practice on & material that won't slide all over the place. If that is reasonably successful I will let her loose on the shiny fabric she wants for her boxers.

Dear & beloved readers, pray for us, now & in the hour of our need. I think extra doses of patience will be needed this term. On the plus side, Ditz has actually chosen to do this...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy is the home with a least one cat ~ Italian proverb.

And now for the news I know you're all dying to hear....! Drum roll, please. The cats survived without me! Not well, by all accounts, & Dearest had his problems as the days waned & we still hadn't returned home. Marlow in particular, who is quite needy but reserved about asking for a cuddle [would never believe it from this pic! lol] was starting to think I'd gone for good. Yes, he has been in my lap a good bit since I've been home. Kirby, who is outwardly a little more independent & has always gone to Dearest as well as me for cuddles has shown his relief by holding me down with one paw & attempting to groom me. I object rather strenuously to having my face licked by a cat! He has been sidling up in the middle of the night too.
Guess I was missed.

And it never rains but it pours. I was returning from my shoulder scan & feeling rather sorry for myself because my poor shoulder had been pushed & pummelled & then I arrived at the jetty just in time to watch the boat pull out without me! Nothing makes me wilder. It is a very depressing sight. It was bitter cold too & I knew I had a 1/2 hour wait for the next boat but God is good. As I was feeling terribly sorry for myself a voice wildly flavoured with Gaelic vowels hailed me. There on the jetty, having also just missed a boat & fresh off the plane from Dublin, was my very Irish friend! The half hour wait was nowhere near long enough.

We have plans. Oh, yes, we have plans. Ditz has been anxiously waiting to hear if Sile thought they were all old enough to go alone to the movies. I'd said ok if it was ok with Sile. Alone is not good but a responsible group is fine. We have a yes. Ditz is so excited. The older two want to try paintballing. We want to take them out to Liddy & her alpacas for the day. They want to take Ditz to the EKKA [country fair] & overnight on the Gold Coast. Somewhere in there there is schooling but Ditz doesn't want to know.

Then Liddy invited us to the farm for a week. No can do. The cats would never survive another separation so soon & while 6 weeks seems like forever we know from past sad experience how quickly the time will slip away & our friends will be gone for another 2 years.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Adieu! I have too grieved a heart to take a tedious leave. ~ Shakespeare.I hate goodbyes. I hate them & I'm really, really bad at them. It was a family joke at how I howled each & every time I had to say goodbye as a child. The art of saying goodbye cheerfully is one I've never mastered.

Our small family has shrunk so much in recent years & we each know there are no guarantees. We hope there will be many more shared times together ~ but there are no assurances that this will be so.
Not that ma & I are the noisy sorts. Often we are each immersed in our book, cuppa to hand, but the shared quiet, Pixie snoring contentedly in whichever lap will accommodate her, the sound of Ditz singing through the empty rooms, the water feature gurgling softly in the background ~ the small things are the very weft & warp of time itself. Life is made of the small moments.My mother has a knack for managing the everyday beautifully: the well appointed table; flowers in a cut glass vase on the dressing table; hand made soaps in pottery dishes in the guest bathroom, pretty hand towels. It's not always easy to make time in our schedule to head north for a day or two. Ours is a large, noisy & disorganised household prone to sudden & complicated changes of plan & a day or two of any of us can systematically ruin my mother's well regulated life. Liddy hikes her up Mt Coolum & for miles along the beach. Ditz provides constant music but my mother has no say in the programming. I invariably abscond with the book my mother is currently reading, having picked it up to browse & slowly submerged. For a brief moment our lives touch then spin apart again. The phone is not the same; it doesn't hug back ~ but the love never changes. It is the same yesterday, today, forever. ♥

There & Back Again.

Grown don't mean nothin' to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that supposed to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing. ~ Toni Morrison.
So what did we do while we were away? Well, we wandered up to the Leisure Centre to look at the most recent artwork: some rather good, some simply awful & the occasional stroke of pure genius.
We ambled out to the ginger factory, which is always rather nice. There's nothing quite like the smell of ginger growing abundantly in a garden. There are nifty craft shops too. And ginger. Do you like ginger? We do.
And the nut factory. Macadamias. Or Queensland Nuts. Candied; Wasabied; sweet chillied; limed with black peppered; honeyed; plain & roasted. Mmmm. I don't care; any way they come.
We read while the rain dripped down, drank proper coffee or hot chocolate, ate chocolate biscuits & smooched with the cat who bites everyone the day they go to go home. She doesn't like partings either. Admired the wildlife in mum's bedrooms. The little geckos are so cute but not safe with a cat around so out they have to go. Ditz wanted to bring him home but we have two cats.

Laugh, Liddy, Laugh.

My computer is having an absolute spac attack & I'm not sure what's wrong so it may be a while before I can post pics. Certainly the graphics are very strange just now.

However, to my mother's bemusement, I managed to completely miss the Gateway Bridge on our way north to her. Who knows how. Neither Ditz nor I have a clue. Instead we meandered through the stony heart of Brisbane & through the Clem Tunnel! As I hyperventelated begging Ditz to stay alert & make sure I was still heading north, Ditz cheerfully fed me a steady diet of rasberry drops. "Breath, mother. I think you need another raspberry drop." By the time we were actually on the highway I was probably overdosed on sugar & a serious danger to myself & everyone else.

I have decided the difference between Lid & I is Lid is detail oriented like my mother & Ditz & I are big picture thinkers. That we took the long way round didn't faze either of us. We got to look at some new scenery & found suburbs I didn't even know existed. I would, however, like to know how where we went wrong. Ditz agrees with me that there are 2 turns off Old Cleveland Road & we take the 2nd ~ which apparently is not what the map says. Given we didn't look at a map we wouldn't know. I do know we didn't do what we should have but we got there safely in the end & we were always meandering in the right general direction. It's only the specifics that do us in ~ each & every time!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Off Again.

If you have a mum, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been. ~ Robert Brault. Ditz & I are heading north to my mother's on Sunday. She has a birthday! Back Wednesday because my boys have a birthday then. It will be a fleeting trip & not long enough but better than nothing. Besides Deasrest thinks it best to break the boys [my cats, that is] in gently to my occassional trips away. Yes, he is worried about being left with the cats on his own. I think he should be. *snigger*

A No Brainer.

I love it when a plan comes together ~ Hannibal Smith. Back in the '80s they made this no~brainer t.v show called the A~Team which got slammed all the time for the amount of violence it contained. Someone should have a word with the makers of Mythbusters ~ but I digress. I'm not generally an action fan. My line tends to movies that have the kids going "Muuuum!!!" in horror struck tones. Sinfully wicked, delightfully witty ~ & absolutely no~one will watch with me.

I did, however, become a fan of the A~Team. It was quirky. Howling Mad Murdock was my man. I had an affinity with someone who owned an imaginary dog & was so attached to him he had him run beside B.A's van on an imaginary leash because B.A wasn't having no imaginary animals in his van. I have a feeling Liddy would sympathise with that sentiment. Howling Mad had the best lines, always so surprised to be caught out & the sight of him with a thumb out attempting to hitch a ride with a jumbo jet still makes me smile.

Somewhere along the way someone brought the dvds into the house ~ probably me though I don't actually remember doing so ~ & strangely enough Ditz was charmed. She likes things getting blown up ~ & yes, she's a Mythbusters fan! When she heard they were redoing the show as a movie she was charmed.
I believe Dirk Benedict, who played the original Faceman, assessed they would screw up the remake. I think he got it right. There were certain elements in the original that enabled you to suspend reality for the duration of the show ~ mostly because no~one at all took it seriously ~certainly not the actors & certainly no~one expected a viewer to. It was fun silliness, silly fun, often quirky & even more often hilarious.

Ditz lacks for discrimination but I indulged her. After all, Liam Neeson is hot ~ an observation that elicited: "Muuum! You're married. To my father! Eeew!" I think that's what I missed. The movie wasn't funny. It took itself way too seriously but lacked the necessary depth of character & story~line to actually be taken seriously. Ah, well. Ditz was happy. Just about everything got blown up.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable. ~ Plato
They will tell you that boys are different. Not like girls at all. The older mums with a gaggle of kids wag their heads sagely over your adorable button in his blue bunny rug. "Just you wait," they say. Wait till he's walking & talking. Wait till it's fast girls & faster cars. Wait...

It's true. Boys are different. Not like girls at all. I was sharply reminded of this while reading Time Bandit this week. Time Bandit is the name of a crabbing boat that crabs the Bering Sea ~ that wild & half frozen devil's playground up Alaska way.

I have 3 boys & I admit, there were days I wondered if we'd survive each other. I'm for non~violence so we didn't have guns...correction; I never bought any of my kids toy guns & no way would they ever own a working gun of any description. Guns we had aplenty. All it took was two fingers & a balled fist, two bits of wood hammered together, an obliging bit of driftwood. I would have traded for a gun any day after my clever & inventive war band discovered they could make working bows & arrows from a length of fishing line & a she~oak sapling. Naturally the first thing they did was shoot their sister! That the child still has two working eyes is by the grace of God alone.

I was chagrined the day I learnt the island referred to my lads as "those wild potato boys". Like boys since the beginning of time they took a diabolical joy in pushing the envelope to the limit. It's a boy thing. My uncles sat my father up a tree. His job was to swing the can so his brothers could practice shooting at a moving target with their .22s. I believe my Nanna protested. "John," she informed my grandfather, " You need to speak to your sons!" And my grandfather, who was a sweet natured & gentle soul, replied, "And what would you like me to say to them, Dorothy?"

Being short my boys waded out up to their armpits to caste a line when they went fishing. They were a tourist attraction off the point. The passing boats would slow & point them out, afraid the wash would sweep them away. Until they learnt to swim they weren't allowed to take the boat out ~ which didn't stop them from tying ropes together to form the longest possible painter... which got tied to the furthest mangrove...& there they sat halfway to sea having honourably kept the letter of the law if not the spirit.

They had sharp knives because they fished & crabbed & I do neither. They had matches because I can't stand seafood & the only place they were allowed to cook their catch was in the fire pit outside. They battled the seas in the bay & learnt their basic seamanship in full view of my nervous constitution. It was inevitable that one of them would go to sea. He chose the hardest, the most difficult, fishing grounds in Australia, of Carnarvon in Western Australia. His first trip he got caught between two cyclones & saw the sort of seas that give me nightmares. He did not come whimpering home. He rang from sea & said, "Guess what, I'm doing, mum?" I said I thought he was at sea so wasn't he fishing? Apparently not. No indeed. He was scurfing behind the trawler. In big white territory. In the full knowledge that sharks follow the trawlers, just like dolphins do ~ & gulls ~ & terns.

My boys are pussies compared to the Hillstrand brothers. They had trucks & bikes & guns & a multitude of other ways they could kill themselves & each other. They spent a lot of time at the local hospital & their book reads like a rip roaring tale straight out of the wild, wild west. I'm reading it bug~eyed but I'm not male. I have no desire whatever to risk life & limb in any of the multitude of ways these men do. And yet I do get it.

When the seas get up & start rolling down the passage in a thunderous roar trailing a long trail of froth & spume something in me responds to the sea's savage nature. The air prickles. The skin tingles. There are no atheists at sea. Every sailor is superstitious. Every sailor is spiritual. Miles from land, in the elemental grip of nature, they are witness to both the beauty & the terror of sights few men ever see. The only way to live in the midst of certain death is immediately, with all of yourself because there may not be a tomorrow.

Girls are different. Fundamentally. I had boys first so the day I lost Liddy I was frantic. I had every house within cooee out looking for her. She was two. Tiny. Fearless. She couldn't swim & I knew she knew how to find her way to the water by any one of a multitude of routes. As the minutes dragged by I went upstairs for a jacket & there was Liddy, curled up under my doona, sound asleep & so well hidden I had missed her when I searched the house. It's not that Liddy is timid or more sensible, or braver. She simply views life differently. The boys say, "Don't worry, mum, nothing's going to happen!" Liddy says, "I'll ring to let you know I'm safe." Completely different mind set. If you want a glimpse into how the other half thinks try Time Bandit.