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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, September 30, 2010

The LORD says, "The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles." Isaiah 3:16

I have been thinking, which is always somewhat of a worry & with the girls away I've been free to indulge the practise.  Gave me something to do while I turned out Star's room.

I have had the above passage in my mind ~ one of those ones you just can't shake off, dontcha know ~ for a couple of days thinking all sorts of things, not in any particular order, about what it means to be a woman of God. 

As my girls will tell you, I read books backwards.  Consequently I often find it easier to think my way backwards from the opposite point of view & Isaiah was pretty riled up.   A bit further along he's prophesying baldness & other disasters on the women of Zion.  He gets stuck into the men as well & it's all gloom & doom for the nation itself.

Haughtiness, lovely Middle English word, which contains all the elements of scorn, arrogance, superciliousness, pride & snobbery ~ which is a pretty ugly combination. The next bit always makes me giggle.  Ever seen a gaggle of geese in a hissing frenzy walking along?  Their necks are outstretched all right, heads swinging from side to side, beady little eyes pecking at everything, bottoms waggling crossly.  That is the picture I get ~ as opposed to a more stately walk.  The flirting eyes & mincing steps, well that speaks for itself but as I never was able to master either I'm not quite sure how it's done.  Anklets are cool.

Now this is how it's not done.  I always think of Solomon's brawling woman in a wide house.  These women are brazen, bold, & flaunting their sexuality & availability.  Not the meek & quiet spirit that God so values but the pride that He hates.  What it speaks of is an outward hardness that reflects of hearts of stone.

Now we all know that anything a man can do, a woman can do better.  She has to if she wants to be taken seriously.  The question is not whether she can, but whether she should.  Now I will side track for a minute here because the best analogy I have in my own head is the soccer pitch.  My middle three were soccer fiends.  They all played.  They played hard & they played to win.  I have spent more freezing nights standing in the wind on the sidelines watching my lot hurtle up & down the pitch after that little round ball than I care to remember.  They played at the highest levels for their grade & I will tell you straight up: girls do not play like boys.  No matter how aggressive they are, no matter how skilled they are, no matter how big they are !  I have yet to ever see a girls team succumb to the sheer thuggery boys operate on as a matter of course.  They do not abuse their team the way boys do.  I have watched with growing hysteria female opponents stand & chat about which of them is actually going to kick the ball.  The girls teams often get the best coaches because the girls are better & easier to work with: they listen; they do as they're told; they work co~operatively ~ straight from the coach's mouth.

The world has all it can handle  in the way of hardness, aggressiveness & boldness in our men.  To stay in balance, to restrain men from their more primitive inclinations & bring out a protective streak for the weak & vulnerable we need more of gentleness, lovingkindness, humility, self~effacement, quietness.  Men can't provide this.  A man displaying these qualities too overtly is perceived as weak ~ by both men & women!

When women start acting like men, as a nation, we are in trouble.  We are in trouble because women wield far more influence than the feminists have ever given them credit for.  They wield their influence because of the way God made men.  He made men to be attracted to women,  to desire women ~ & we train them!  By how we dress, by how we act, by what we hold valuable.  We have an absolute epidemic of pornography just now but is it any wonder?  For decades women have been pushing the boundaries of what is decently acceptable in public: in language; in dress; in behaviour.  Now we are reaping what we have sowen. 

This is not about whether women should work outside the house or not.  It is not a question of dresses verses pants.  It is not a question of rights ~ we have no rights as God's chosen vessels.  It is a question of the heart.  Of humility.  We need more women of God who open their mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on their tongue.[proverbs 31:26]  There is no place for the brash, the strident, the arrogant.  There is a reason Peter said an unbelieving husband may be won for Christ without a word by a believing wife.  Our actions scream louder than any words.  St Francis says it well: Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary use words.

We need to study to find ourselves approved unto God, not judging ourselves by the outward things, which will pass away, but by the things of the heart for it is what comes out of the heart that stains our souls.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Riding: the art of keeping a horse between you & the ground ~
or in Star's case, a quad.  I can't believe they let her loose on the thing but this is how farm kids learn to drive early.  Feed supplement on its way to the alpacas ~ & I believe she cooked last night as well.  Nope.  Not letting her loose in the car just yet.  Maybe not ever.  I've driven with her, remember...?

She & Liddy come home tomorrow.  What a shock to the system that will be!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Art, anyone?

 I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him. ~ Michelangelo

Ruby once again had a most interesting post ~ which has some very interesting comments as well ~ & it got me thinking about Art.  In my own mind there is a very clear distinction between an object designed for veneration or worship & an object that is simply a symbolic representation.  In point of fact I feel so strongly about artwork in churches that it is another reason for attending Quaker Meeting.  Quakers do not hold with any form of decoration: no alters, no crosses, no stained class windows; no icons, no tapestries, no priestly robes.

I did a little art history in school ~ very little. I am aware that all those soaring Medieval churches were built to the glory of God & to lead men on the upward path, focusing their eyes on heaven.  What's more, they are, I think, biblically correct.  Have you ever read the Lord's instructions to the Israelites on the building of the temple?! Seriously, the place was weighed down with Lebanon cedar intricately carved & precious gold.  The men even gave up their ear~rings for the temple gold.  Worse [from my point of view] the priests were peacockily gaudy with their breastplates with 12 different jewels flashing in the sun ~ or the light of the lamps.  They burnt incense to the Lord ~ expensive stuff that ~ & butchered their offerings in the courtyard.  Not that I think the priests did their butchering in their breastplates but the overwhelming vision is one of a riot of colour & visual stimulus.

I know too, from my study of the Jewish festivals, that God had no qualms about instigating whatever means he thought would work to make sure the Israelites remembered what He wanted them to remember.  Now I'm a homeschooling mama & I've done my homework on the different learning styles so when I turn to the festivals & find how God has incorporated visual, auditory, kinesthetic & hands on in to the festivals I'm pretty amazed & pretty stoked.  How cool is that?

We have the Renaissance men: Michelangelo, Da Vinci,  Botticelli, Donatello,  Inigo Jones... a long, long list of talented artists & architects who produced some of the most stunning artwork ever seen.  Much of it depicts God, in one way or another, seeing as the church was handing out most of the commissions. Much of it is incredibly moving.  The sight of Mary cradling her crucified son as though he was still the little boy she'd carried sleeping to bed is a stunning portrait of mother & son but do I want to bow down & worship it?  No. Do I think either Mary or Jesus looked like that?  No.  Good grief, it's not even realistic ~ in the sense that I doubt very much a small woman could have held the dead weight of a grown man in such a way for very long ~ if at all. 

In Michelangelo's own head, for example, he was given this great gift by God & he was exercising that gift by glorifying God in his art. Putting aside, for the moment, the vexed question of whether or not such artwork is *graven images* I slam up against modern art.  Our idiot government paid 1.3 million for Jackson Pollack's Blue Poles.  I think my bias is showing.  I do not like Jackson Pollack's work.  We have moved from a position where the artist was glorifying the God who created him to one where man is glorifying man ~ or worse descending into the mire of plain grottiness ~ for those Australians who remember the Bill Henson furore.

I like art.  I like all sorts of art ~ including art that depicts representations of my Lord & saviour but art raises some vexed questions.  When does a representation become an idol?  When does nudity become lewdness & gratuitous voyeurism? [Always, according to Star]  What defines great art & when is it no more than unadulterated ego posing under the guise of art?

The Amish refer to t.v.s [which they don't own] as *the sewer in the living room* ~ & I'm sure that many of us would agree that most of what comes out of our t.v screens is neither edifying nor beautiful & does anything but glorify God. Yet have you ever listened to people interviewed about this muck?  It's supposed to be art!

The old Puritans made it really simple.  Music?  It was a sin.  Dancing? Sin.  Art? Sin.  Going to the theatre? Sin. No choices to make.  Not only does that not make biblical sense to me [ think of David prancing before the Lord & all the psalms, the Song of Solomon...long list goes here] but what do you then do with all those people God has so wonderfully gifted?  Where do you direct their talent?

Now I'm not in the business of telling anyone they must do this or that & not do that & the other thing [children & other aliens excepted] but one thing that seems really clear to me, the missing ingredient in so many discussions on so many issues, is the one simple directive James admonishes us to apply: if any of you lack wisdom ~ ask...

I believe in the Word of God ~ & I also believe, being human & fallible, we often misunderstand it & misinterpret it ~ & I think God has made it this way quite deliberately because it forces us into a position of dependency where we must turn to Him & say: "I don't understand.  Explain this to me."

Just the same, I think I can safely say I'm not about to rush out & buy The Life of Brian.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"My soul to God, My body to the earth, and My material possessions to my nearest relations." ~ Michelangelo's will.

Mother Theresa knew it well.  Jesus experienced it on the cross.  St John of the cross named it the dark night of the soul.  At some point every Christian who is seeking after the Lord with everything they've got is going to hit this wall ~ & I do wish the happy~clappy lot would study the church fathers just a little bit rather than expecting everything to always be happiness & light.  Not only is that not what Christ himself taught, it deprives people of the resources of those who have passed this way before us & left signposts along the way.

The Dark Night of the Soul began life as a poem by Spanish poet, mystic & carmelite Yuan de Yepes  Alvarez ~St John of the Cross.  St John belonged to a Spanish converso family ~ Jewish converts to the Christian faith & was in his early 20's when he joined the Carmelite order.  Along with St Teresa of Avila he was responsible for reforming the Carmelite order ~ for which he was imprisoned by his fellow Carmelites, isolated & lashed before the community weekly.  Yet his poem speaks of love, of the desperate seeking after God, of the mystical union between the Lover of his soul & the beloved.

This poem has become a synonym for the spiritual experience characterized by spiritual dryness, aloneness, desolation.  It is, quite literally, like hitting a prayer wall!  Nothing gets through, neither your prayers to God, nor God to you.  It is a stripping away of everything that delights the soul as it seeks after God: the sense of His presence, the touch of the Holy Spirit, the imagination is bound & the will weakens.  Even strong & experienced Christians like Mother Theresa find themselves hanging on to their faith by their fingernails.  A massive cloud of depression descends like a pall ~ & that is a good metaphor.  This is a spiritual death of sorts.  It is a desert place.

Now in our walk with Christ there are all sorts of ups & downs.  There is the initial flush of first love when we first come to know our Lord ~ but the Lord desires for his babies to grow up & become mature so we find ourselves being set very firmly on our own feet & led to strengthen our faith with knowledge, prayer, good works etc ~ all the bulwarks of the committed Christian life.  There is a danger in this because we can grow complacent & our spiritual journeying grinds to a halt. This is not what God desires for His children  His desire is to bring us ever closer to the inner sanctuary of His heart but we cannot enter as we are & so He lovingly prepares us for the holy of holies.  As this is rarely a pleasant process we do everything we can to escape, seeking *spiritual highs*, new spiritual experiences,  more dynamic worship, ecstasies...actually anything at all that prevents us from facing our own essential solitude wherein the Lord God might deal with us & bring us more fully into His presence.

That is the essential purpose of the *dark night*.  It is not, despite how it seems, a punishment.  It is a sanctification, a cleansing of His vessel that it might be more fully His.  Many of us will experience this in a small way.  Some may experience it for longer & more painfully.  The biggest trap is not recognizing it for what it is & desperately seeking an escape.  It is not meant to be escaped.   It is meant to bring us into greater dependence as any & all spiritual props we may rely on, even unknowingly, are stripped away.  Indeed it is such a common experience that all faith traditions make mention of it.

George Macdonald, who was something of a mystic himself, made an analogy with a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.  The man watching it watched it struggle for hours to emerge from its cocoon.  At last it seemed to have exhausted itself, unable to force its way through the small opening.  Thinking to help it the man enlarged the hole & the butterfly promptly emerged ~ but oh! What a sad excuse for a butterfly!  Its wings were small & shrunken its body swollen.  In the struggle to free itself from the cocoon fluid was forced from the swollen body into the wings so that they could enlarge & support the butterfly in flight.  The easy emergence meant this butterfly never flew.  It spent its life crawling round with its swollen & obese body totally unable to fly.

There is something about our struggles with God that grows spiritual muscle.  There is something about having to strive that grows us up.  There is something about working for our relationship with God that makes us value it more.  Cheap grace is a shallow & unsatisying thing.  True grace is never easy but it eqips us for life, both in this world & the world to come.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scenes from the farm.

The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on.~ Thomas Jefferson

 Halter training ~ I assume.
 The girl's working ~ AND she looks cheerful about it!
Watering the veggies.

Must say Star looks like she's having a wow of a time.  Her father thinks we should ditch the music aspirations & go for Farm Girl. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Women's Ministry.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus ~ Romans 16:3

A friend, a dear sister in Christ who has made herself newly known to me, has left some of the most interesting thoughts in the comments section.  Indeed I have found them so inspiring I want to put this one in particular out here for your thought & consideration.  Please, please be thoughtful & considerate in your responses!  Sylvia has bravely shared her soul so be gentle.

I will quote this section in full.  Sylvia wrote:
As for women preaching, in my native country women preach a lot. While it is tempting to say feminism has crept into the church, IMO it is a response to culture. My native country has buses segregated by sexes, a ladies only compartment in a commuter train, ladies only schools and colleges etc. And in many churches even in cities men and women sit separately. I did not find it different or odd until I came to America. In villages it is more complex as well as orthodox families from other religions. Many women will not enter a room where strange men are or even show their faces to men other than those related to them through blood or their husband, not even to a father-in-law. The only way to preach the gospel to them I have seen is through another women.

Oh how my heart lept within me at these words!  I do not know Sylvia's country of origin.  I know very little except what she has so kindly chosen to share with me here but this, to me, is terribly, terribly important for the extension of the kingdom.  Sylvia has stated a very important truth.  Sometimes the only way to reach women is through other women!  If you reach women you reach their children ~ & even their husbands!

This is probably the best argument I have heard for encouraging our daughters into ministry ~ not to usurp men, but to reach women!  Dare I suggest that women are often more open to spiritual matters?  Within the home sphere they wield considerable influence.  It is no secret I believe the Spirit uses who He will for His purposes, man, woman or child.  We can safely leave the men to the men.  They speak a language I do not understand but who will preach to the women?  Do we damn them to hell because we believe & teach a woman is not to speak or teach?  That she should not preach? That is not the heart of Christ!

Even should a woman come to Christ, if she is submitting to Christ as she should she will be submitting to the dictates of her husband & still ~ the only way to reach her, to encourage her, to uphold her, is through other women.  Oh my dear, dear sisters in Christ, have we been so rigid in our interpretation of scripture we have forfeited the souls of countless women for whom Christ died? 

May He give us hearts of flesh to replace our hearts of stone!
Brisbane's freeway system is insane. It was clearly designed by a person who had spent his childhood crashing toy trains. -- The Lost Continent ~ Adapted from a Bill Bryson quote

Today was one of those days.  It just was.  In preparation for it I didn't sleep well.  Isn't that always the way?  The cats took one look at the bag & had a serious meltdown.  They are still having it.  I keep giving those girls away.  They think I should just keep them!

Anyway the computer had a spac attack & wouldn't print out my trip planner ~ which I had to redo because Liddy so thoughtfully threw the last one out.  Of my car! She says she was being helpful.  Funny that.  My directions got chucked but all the take~away containers were still in the back!  Nope.  Not Star & mine.  I always insist they get out when we do.

So seeing we had to stop at the shops on our way I went to the library & printed out a new set of directions.  An hour behind time Star was finally done & we set off.  Twenty minutes later, knowing I should have had several round~abouts by then, I ask Star if she is following & what has happened?  The child has been happily drawing for all 20 minutes & has no idea where we are!  As we are heading in the right direction I just keep driving.  Is it any wonder I get lost? 

A bit further down the road Star exclaims, "Oooh, look! We're where we're meant to be."  Which we were.  I think I have this finally worked out by the most direct route. Sad, isn't it?  It's only taken me 6 months.  I have an excuse though. 

 See I came to driving late.  I was 21 before I even got my learners & I only got it then because Dearest bought me a little red V~dub, which was the only car I would agree to attempt to drive.  I learnt to drive in an oversized country town which had something like 1/2 a dozen sets of traffic lights & almost no traffic.  It was so small even I couldn't get lost in it & besides I had been hoofing it for 8 months & that's always the best way to get to know somewhere.

Even with a license I almost never drove.  Dearest likes to drive.  He thought he was a way better driver than I was so I was hardly ever allowed behind the wheel.  Besides Dearest made me nervous.  The result was that I never really became a driver.  I never learnt to become confident in traffic.  I never had to navigate myself anywhere.  My 50's is a little late to be learning new tricks.  Seriously.  I'm a homebody.  I like my quiet little backwater & a houseful of neurotic cats.  If it wasn't that I have children to lug all over the countryside I would rarely leave home ~ unless of course it was to island hop through the Orkneys & Outer Hebrides ~ which isn't much of a change really when you stop to think about it.

Anyway Star has gone to spend a week with Liddy & her alpacas.  I drove her out & rather nervously drove myself home again.  Alone.  It was very lonely.  I am used to Star making strange noises in the passenger seat.  I am used to Star telling me to just breath & feeding me sugar every time my blood pressure skyrockets.  I am used to Star sign~spotting for me. There was no Star.  The bonus was there was no~one to complain my singing was flat either.

And you know something.  I didn't get lost.  Nope, not once.  I made it back to our jetty in just over an hour & a half.  Last trip took me over three hours!

Funny  ~ though by now you'd think I'd be expecting it ~ my fond hopes of a quick cuppa & an even quicker getaway fell in a massive heap.  There was the newly established veggie garden to see, & the plans for a hen run to appreciate.   There was her self~defense class to chat about & the minutiae of daily life on the farm. There was theology to discuss ~ & that is always should I put this?  For years & years Liddy has used me to gather her cannon fodder when she embroils herself in theological debates.  She just expects I will have the relevant quote at my fingertips & as I have rarely disappointed her she has never desisted from asking.  Now she is spinning both of us out because she argues like I do!  In no other way is this child like me.  She is the spitting image of her Ma but as she has begun searching the scriptures for herself & applying what she has learned ~ she argues like her mother! Oh my!  I pity whoever she takes on.  Really. I do.  She gave me a synopsis.  It was scary.

I have a whole week without Star.  Good Grief!  What will I do with it. Fritter it away on the computer?  Probably.  Thursday Liddy will put both of them on the bus & bring her home to me again.  Liddy will have a long weekend ~ sort of ~  with us.  So I am going to be very boring for the rest of the week.  I don't have a life.  I am very boring. I am going to veg terribly. I could get used to this. shhh.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I haven't read. ~Abraham Lincon.
It has rained every day of the first week of the holidays ~ a slow mizzling rain that leaks incontinently from the overburdened sky.  It does not make me want to go out & play.  Unfortunately it does not make me want to get stuck into the myriad of household chores that are just waiting to fill my spare moments either.

Tomorrow I drive Star out to the farm so she can spend some of her holiday time with her sister.  I am so grateful Sile is ok about this & is happy to have both my girls so they can spend some time together.  They miss each other but circumstances being what they are Liddy needs to be where she is.  They are shearing again on Monday so that will have Star grateful she's taking up music rather than animal husbandry!  And I've told Sile the girl is a good cook so make use of her!

At some point I really want to get to my mother's but Liddy's timing has rather put a spanner in the works so we will see.  It may have to be the week after.  As we have spent so much of this year behind the eightball, what's another term?!  Dearest gets antsy when I make going away noises because he knows the cats will have a serious meltdown & although they are both happy to have him in their orbit neither will let him do the necessary grooming ~ & it is tick season so groomed they must be.  Kirby, who is the more neurotic of the two, can be very difficult to manage though he is generally a sweetie for me.  However I know that is not the case for anyone else!

Plus I want to go though the pattern books at Lincraft & see if they have any pattens for salwar kameeze so I can make my own in the sort of colours & patterns I like, in the sort of plain dress that I am comfortable with.  I have been looking on~line for ages but I don't generally like the Indian patterns & would so much rather make something in the sort of small floral print cottons many Mennonite ladies wear, at least for the tops, with plainer trousers.  And it will be so much cheaper as well!  Besides it's one of those lovely vicarious experiences where you can gaze longingly at beautiful fabrics in designs you wouldn't be caught dead in in real life ~ well, I wouldn't.  Seriously, I adore looking at all the cutesy little buttons in their long clear tubes & the cards of pretty ribbon & lace edgings, the skeins of soft wool & silk threads for cross stitching.  Never use any of it but I like looking.  Am hoping to do that when I take Star to see Tomorrow When the War Began, which she read for English last term even though I don't like John Marsden.  His writing annoys me but most of mine have enjoyed his books & he is a very strong writer.  Unfortunately his main protagonist is a girl & she always sounds like a bloke in drag to me so  the books don't work for me.  The trailer looks good though so I have hopes the movie will be ok & Dino, who has already seen it, reckons it's all good.

However I had a score at the library ~ which had Star rolling her eyes in horror! I picked up Frances Osborne's The Bolter. Now for the uninitiated I first came across this choice epitaph when I read Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate ~ a hysterical & tragic commentary on upper class shallowness.  Mitford's character may have been, in part, based on Frances Osborne's great~grandmother ~ the bolter of the title, who scandalised Edwardian society, was at the heart of Kenya's White Mischief, married 5 times & had so many lover's she lost count. 

Not the most uplifting of reading I grant you but anyone who has a nodding acquaintance with this family knows 2 things: they write very, very, very well & they are very, very funny. Seriously, Mitford describing the *child hunt* wherein the children were given an hour's start before the hounds were set after them as they bolted for home across England's sporting grounds with their father chasing after them on his horse can have me laughing till I weep.  Only in England. So I was already half intrigued.  The Mitfords, the Sackville~Wests, all mad as hatters, outrageous, scandalous.  I forget which one of the Mitfords turned Commie [when it wasn't the done thing] & fell madly in love with Hitler ~ sorry, but I find that terribly, terribly funny, mostly, I think, because I don't believe for a moment they even believed themselves.  It was all an act & entertainingly funny but with terribly tragic consequences: suicide, depression, adultery, homosexuality.  The sad list goes on & on.  Terribly clever, terribly witty & totally amoral. How not to live a life.  I will enjoy the writing if the content rather less so, especially as ~ did I mention the rain?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide the gate, and broad the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Matthew 7:13

One of the most deeply disturbing things I have witnessed is religion. I make no bones about the fact I am a Christian. I make no apology for that fact ~ but I do not follow a religion. I follow a person. It is an interesting fact that the early Christians talked of their faith as *the Way* ~ as in a path to be followed, as opposed to things that we do.

Jesus himself said, " I am the Way..." so I am grieved to my very core when I witness people who adhere to things & rituals, who believe inviting Jesus into their hearts & warming their pew of a Sunday morning, not kicking the drunk as you step over him on your way in to church & remembering to feed the dog is a free passport into heaven. I'm sorry but it's not.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 7:21

It is a biblical fact that many who think they are saved are, in fact, not. Now, I have no idea who is saved & who is not ~ & I have no way of knowing. That is for God & God alone. However it is a broad path that leads to destruction & given our world it is tempting to allow the *small sins* to slip in so we can fit in better with our world when we were never meant to fit in with it. We were meant to be salt. In the world but not of it.

Now one of the properties of salt is that it is antiseptic. Pour salt into an open wound & it is going to sting! When was the last time you stung anybody? Now before you get all huffy with me I am no fan of ranting bible bashers because I seriously think they've missed the point. On the other hand I am no fan of the sort of Christianity that makes no distinction between itself & the world about it. If you are reading your bible & God is not convicting your heart on anything, I would humbly suggest that something is very wrong. If you are reading your bible & God is not whispering in your ear the plans He has for you & directing you towards the good deeds He has planned for you from the foundation of the world then I would suggest something is more than seriously wrong.

See the very definition of Christian is that they belong to Christ & Christ is very clear. Those who are His carry His mark. Those who carry His mark are set aside for His purposes to be sanctified, to be cleansed, to be made holy ~ & those are attributes that are in direct conflict with the world. To be a Christian is to carry the very name of Christ & in Isiah we read: Bring my sons from afar & my daughters from the ends of the earth ~ everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed & made. Yes, I am aware this was originally directed very specifically to the Jews but note the wording ~ everyone who is called by my name. Christians are very specifically called by one of the names of God. It may be a Hellenised version of the word Messiah but it is still a name we use to refer to God.

Christ didn't have much to say about fitting in with the world but he did have a good bit to say about bringing a sword, not peace, about creating division between father & son, mother & daughter. He had something to say about being persecuted for His name's sake so complacent Christianity has me squirming. What do we think we are doing?!

And I am not interested in what good works you & your church are doing. If it has not grown out of a direct relation with Christ & from the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit then it is so much straw that will be burned up. And this is the question I wrestle with: What does it mean to be salt & light in a 21st century world? How has Christ marked me & by what signs will I be known? There are the fruits of the spirit ~ but even those who are wicked know how to do good things. There are the outward manifestations in dress, reading material, work choices ~ but that so easily slides into legalism. How am I distinct from the world around me & by what means will the world know that though I am forced to be in it I do not belong to it? And the choices I make become my witness & a testimony. For better or worse.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blogging is totally weird ~ anon

We are on holidays. Finally. A day late ~ but the maths has gone.

Everyone in this house is sleeping ~ lots. Excusable as the rain just keeps falling out of the sky like a long, slow, miserable leak. I am indulging myself by blog hopping ~ something I don't normally allow myself because unrestrained it can occupy an entire day [like I have entire days to waste!] & once begun it is almost impossible to desist.

But I have been thinking, because Ruby had a most interesting post at her place yesterday, how different we all are & how enlightening the comments were ~ though once again it points out that I'm a little odd. See the subject of stats counters came up. Not sure that I actually have one of those but I must have because someone keeps e~mailing me my weekly stats; at least, I assume that's what they are doing because after the first one I never opened another & delete them unread. Numbers. I don't do numbers. Which begs the question ~ What am I doing with a stats counter?

I think it must be attached to the map thingy & I admit I am fascinated by the map thingy. Where do all these people come from who appear from nowhere, read a blog or two & disappear into the nethersphere? Without leaving a comment!!!!

Now Amanda pointed out, & I do get her point actually, that she gets a little miffed when her regular readers visit then don't even say hi in the comments section. She thinks it's rude ~ like eavesdropping. Maybe it comes from living in a small community where no~one locks their doors & you're liable to come home to a note on the fridge that reads: BORROWED A JAR OF COFFEE & A PACKET OF MINCE FROM THE FREEZER ~ but I don't see it that way. And that's if you're lucky. They might borrow the coffee & mince & forget the note, just telling you about it when next they see you ~ however far into the future that might be. You get used to it. So if my regular readers visit & don't comment ~ well I'm ok with that. I figure that some of them are the quiet sorts who are more listeners than talkers. Besides, they're friends & if they want to plonk in a corner for a few minutes & browse through my mind [not that that's something I'd recommend for mental health reasons] well, this is their space too. Together we make it community.

However the little map thingy tells me I have a number of regulars who have never even introduced themselves. Now I admit, that rather freaks me out. Who are these people & what on earth are they doing?! [Doesn't include you, mum; I know you're there.] It's sort of like a break & enter. Now I know people who would argue that if you put stuff out in the public domain why are you surprised when the public reads it? I'm not but there is such a thing as politeness & good manners & if you are going to gate crash someone else's party it is only polite to let them know you're visiting. Especially if you're making a habit of it.

So while I'm blog~hopping I'm leaving these random little notes ~ just to say hi , I've visited & whose blog I've linked from because if that was me I know I'd be interested in that. Numbers don't tell me anything. I don't get the numbers game but I can look at my little map & the flag tells me which country & state & I know lots of your flag ids now so I know who's visited & it gives me a warm huggly feeling to know you've stopped in, even if it's just to rest your weary mind for a moment but are too tired or worn to leave me a comment. That's ok. Really it is.

If, however, you are one of the other sort, please, please, please, put me out of my misery & leave a comment or two so I don't feel like I'm being stalked. Yes, I'm totally paranoid. Yes, I admit to being totally intrigued to know why someone in India, Pakistan or Singapore is reading my waffle? Actually, do me another small favour & tell me how you even manage to read this stuff because it is absolutely littered with Oz slang & lingo rather than standard English & I can't imagine how on earth anyone who's first language is something other than English manages ~ given that sometimes even my American friends have difficulties, divided by a common language as we are!

Oh, & if you're a little shy ~ use the e~mail address that's linked to this blog. Several people have done that & that's fine too. See, I'm all about the conversations. I don't care how often you comment or how long your comments are ~ but surely you must have an opinion about something here. There is only one critea: be polite.

So what do you think, people? Do your lurkers upset you or not? How do you feel about comments? I know we all love them; it's what makes blogging such fun, but are you upset if regular readers don't comment? What stops you from commenting? I will be fascinated to hear your thoughts on this one. ☺

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tuesday's Trivia.

A great hat speaks for itself! ~Anon

It is a fact that from the 1st century until the early 1960s respectable women of the western world covered their heads when they ventured out in public, usually in the home as well & most certainly when they attended church services ~ & on the whole the Christian community is aware of Paul's controversial statements about coverings & long hair. So not going there.

You may, however, be as intrigued as I was with the varying fashion statements that may account, in part, for Paul's rather robust viewpoint.

The Greeks, for example [& Paul had quite a bit to do with them] had a habit of running about starkers [oh my!]. Men on the prowl for an *initiate* would ogle the available young men at their schools & gymnasiums. It was a highly regulated system with strict penalties for violations but a tad icky just the same. The more questionable male habits have pretty much overshadowed what Greek women were up to. Certainly their everyday dress was much more modest, particularly for the married women, & they sometimes did, & sometimes didn't, cover their heads in public & about the home. However, in the context of Pagan cultic worship [Demeter, Dionysius, Andaria] women were not allowed to cover their heads with anything but a laurel chaplet. Usually their hair was loose & uncovered. I don't think we'll discuss what actually took place at some of these rituals but it makes Paul's point look far more reasonable. In essence he was asking the Christian women to be distinct from their heathen counterparts.

Roman women did cover ~ some of the time. Just like now those who could get away with it broke with accepted custom until Tertullian complained there was no distinction between matrons & harlots. Any reading of Roman history turns up some very unsavory women amongst the men.

Jewish women did cover ~ all the time ~ & the removal of her covering was such a shameful thing that if she was charged with adultery she was judged bareheaded that if she was capable of shame it was apparent.

I'm not sure Paul really understood women though because most women have a fashion streak wider than the Indian Ocean & any covering was going to fall, sooner rather than later, to the dictates of fashion. Even the Elizabethans covered ~ & they were the numbskulls who made wigs so elaborate & so plastered with lard to hold them together they bred mice & cockroaches & required special wire cages at night to keep the rodents at bay. The thought of having that on my head would have me haring off to Bedlam [the local nut house].

Not unnaturally, over time, the spiritual reason for covering fell by the wayside & coverings became more & more of a fashion statement, more elaborate & far less about modesty ~ as anyone who has witnessed the Melbourne Cup Race Day's monstrosities will testify. Serving neither a spiritual purpose nor a practical application even hats were eventually ditched.

Besides, if this was the result when in 1778, fashionable women of Paris never went out in blustery weather without a lightning rod attached to their hats, I can't imagine anyone would want to wear any sort of a covering.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad. ~A.K. Best
One of the most poignant moments in the gospels comes after Jesus' resurrection. The lads have reverted to form & gone fishing. Fishing is what they know. Fishing is what they do. It is a familiar activity & they are good enough at it to have earned their living from it for most of their lives. It hasn't yet sunk in that things have changed forever & that they will never just be fishermen again. I wonder if they missed it?

Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea anyway. They fished all night & caught absolutely nothing. Not a snail, not an eel, not the tiniest of little minnows. Nothing makes a professional fisherman crosser than not being able to catch anything. And people, we are not talking about sitting quietly under the stars with a fishing rod, puffing peaceably on a pipe. That's not how it works ~ as my son, who is a pro fisherman, will tell you. Nope, this is hard yakka.

Want a lesson of sorts on pro fishing? For starters the men would have been rowing because it would give more control than being under sail. Back rowing allows you to hold a boat steady; shipping the oars allows for drift ~ two things not possible under sail without a lot of unnecessary fuss & bother & a lose sail cracking about their heads is not something any fishing crew needs to be bothering about. The largest vessel I've ever rowed was 16' & built specifically for rowing. A vessel large enough to hold 12 or so men would have had to have been about 26' long [7' wide] & required a 5 man crew: 4 rowers plus a helmsman & was not specifically built for rowing. It would have had a fore & aft deck, mast & sail. Rowing this would have required sheer brawn. If I've counted right there were 7 men on board ~ 5 crew & 2 to cast the nets. The nets were made of flax in a circle with a diameter of 20' & weighted with lead weights around the rim. Throwing one of these isn't easy. It requires strength & a certain knack in the flick of the wrists. Strong wrists are needed! It requires long practise to master because the net needs to be at full stretch when it hits the water. It is then allowed to sink to the bottom [hopefully over lots of fish]. As it is pulled up the lead weights force the net closed to trap any fish. The net is hauled up hand over hand by the long rope attached to the centre. Trust me, this is not an activity for woos' & doing it over & over again all night long is sheer dogged perseverance. Apart from the fact the word *cast* is used, to drop a drag net would have required a second boat.

Each cast probably required about 20 minutes. Let's be generous. And when it was hauled up ~ empty ~ it would still require all the other bits & pieces to be pulled free of the net: sticks, weed, old sandals so that it would open properly on the next cast. The net is then gathered up in a particular way for the next cast. No~one is getting a break here, folks. The helmsman's job is to hold the boat steady against drift, current & wind. The rowers have to ship the oars & stay out of the way while adjusting the boat's balance for the throwers.

Now the guys weren't having much luck so the odds are pretty good they changed fishing locations. They may have rowed. They may have shaken out the sail [which would then need battening down again] depending on the wind & where they wanted to go. Now they probably ended up on the northern edge of the lake because they were fishing not too far from shore & during winter the large *musht* fish gather in the shallows where warm water feeds in from the springs of the Eremos hills. Musht have a dorsal fin like a comb & grow between 1 1/2 & 2 feet long & can weigh up to 3 1/2 pounds. Big fish is what they ended up catching. Big fish, not the little sardines & not barbels.

Anyway dawn's breaking & they don't have even a tiddler to show for their night's work. I can pretty much guarantee they were in the foulest of foul moods when some chappie on the shoreline strikes up this inane conversation wanting to know what they've caught. Ever been on the receiving end after a casual inquiry to an empty handed fisherman? Yep. Not pretty, is it? Then to add insult to injury he offers advice!!!

Chuck the net out the other side.

Duh! I bet those guys were thinking. Like we haven't tried that.

Anyway to keep him happy they do just that & Peter finally has an Epiphany. He hurtles into the water to get to Jesus just as fast as he can.

I confess to having a fellow feeling with Peter. He suffered from foot~in~mouth. He lost the plot a bit. He dreamed big & sometimes those dreams ran away with him. He had moments that probably made him cringe until the day he died but he had a big heart too & he loved the Lord.

So here's Jesus cooking breakfast for his *children* [ the word paidia is used which suggests a familiar relationship] when He asks Peter rather casually, Do you love me?

Now I read this in English for years & years & years & I confess I thought it was a bit heartless of the Lord to be rubbing Peter's nose in his lapse like this. We all do things we regret & wish we could undo. And Peter is cringing. You can hear it in his response. Lord, you know I love you.

And then someone gave me the Greek translation!

Jesus asks, "Do you agapas me?" Do you love me as I love you, with the love of God.

Peter is brutally honest. He has been humbled to his very bones by the crowing of a cock & his denial of his Lord.

"Yes, Lord, you know I philo you." Peter will admit to a brotherly love but he's no longer a braggart & is not prepared to commit himself further. Never~the~less he is asked to feed the lambs.

Again Jesus asks, "Do you agapas me?" Can't you just feel the struggle in Peter's heart? He wants to love as Jesus loves but he has learnt his lesson well. He will only admit to philo. A third time Jesus asks, & Peter is grieved in his heart that Jesus asks a third time but in the Greek there is the most wonderful shift in emphasis.

The third time Jesus does not ask for that which Peter is unable to give, what he will not or cannot commit to. Instead Jesus asks for that which Peter has already freely admitted.

"Simon, son of Jonah, do you pheleis me?"

"Lord, you know everything. You know I have phileo for you."

Jesus accepted Peter where he was but he could also see what Peter would one day become, crucified for Jesus' sake having fulfilled the trust given to him to tend the lambs & feed the sheep of the kingdom, dying because he had agape for his Lord & saviour & agape for those entrust to his keeping.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I hope to go down in history as the woman who turned down 7,000 sex-starved Frenchmen. ~ Nancy Wake.

When I plan out Star's curriculum I try & go for things that are a little left of centre, a little unusual, or just downright odd. This term it was all about the Resistance movement of WWII. Let's face it, my ditzy daughter was never going to be interested in how many bren guns were used, or points of military strategy [as the Irish lads, who are, will testify], or what the different planes looked like. She liked Hitler strutting round like a little rooster. He was a vegetarian & built the autobahns which are still the best roads in Europe. Sorry. Digressing.

That being so we looked at the war from a slightly different angle. I don't know that Star was all that impressed but I was. The Dutch implemented a series of strikes while under German occupation, the only occupied country to so blatantly offer passive resistance to the Germans. It also gave us a chance to read about one of the greatest heros of the French Resistance, a N.Z/Australian who became the most wanted agent of the Gestapo & nick~named the white mouse for her ability to avoid capture. Nancy Wake.
I first learnt about Nancy Wake when I read her biography in high school & I have never forgotten it, perhaps because I am not at all war~like myself & a woman doing what Nancy did, in the way she did it in the best larrikin tradition, really caught my imagination. She was as cool as a cucumber, even when interrogated by the Gestapo, & years later, when asked by an interviewer, declared she had never been frightened in her life! Never? Really?

The youngest of 6 children, her father abandoned his family shortly after they arrived in Australia, returning to N.Z to make a film & just disappearing from their lives. Nancy's mother was strict in her religion; Nancy was independent & rebellious. By 16 she'd had enough & fled, becoming a nurse before heading overseas to New York & finally London. She became a reporter & travelled Europe & even interviewed Hitler himself but it was while in Germany she saw first hand the inhumanity the NAZIs dished out to the Jews & swore that if she was ever in a position to be able to do something, then she would. I'd say she kept that promise.

In 1939 she married the love of her life, French industrialist Henry Fiocca. Six month later The Germans invaded France & Nancy became a courier for the embryonic French resistance movement. She probably helped over 1 000 escaped prisoners & downed airmen escape down one of the many underground railways. Beautiful & privileged she was able to move about the country in ways that few others could but eventually she came under suspicion & fled the country. Her husband stayed & was eventually captured, tortured & killed in the Gestapos efforts to locate his wife.

It took Nancy 6 attempts to cross into Spain & then into England & she was caught & interrogated for 4 days by the French milice on one of those attempts. She became one of 39 women in the French section of the British SOE & was parachuted back into France in April 1944 to help organise the resistance for D~Day. She led 7 000 resistance fighters in acts of sabotage & guerrilla warfare ~ which explains the opening quote. She was one feisty woman, who led the men she commanded & was quite capable of slitting a guard's throat to ensure he did not give the alarm. Nancy's section, the Auvergne , gave the Reich more headaches than any other & eventually the Germans massed 22 000 troops to obliterate the 7000 maquis. They escaped, damaging Germany for a cost of 1 400 lives for just 100 of their own.

At one point the Germans were so desperate to catch the irrepressible Nancy they put a reward of 5 million francs on her head. Despite this Nancy survived & is the most decorated woman of the war. When she dies, yep, she's still alive & kicking, she wishes to be cremated & her ashes spread over the hills she fought to free & where so many of her comrades perished. She is an amazing woman.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health, Wednesday the best day of all: Thursday for crosses, Friday for losses, Saturday no luck at all. ~ Old English Rhyme.

Wednesdays can get a little complicated. The cats don't like Wednesdays. They know Star & I abandon them for hours at a time. Just the same, as I was working down my *to do* list, I hardly expected Star to wrench open the front door & scream, "Mum?! Where are you? You've got to stop going out the door!"


Apparently every time I went out the door Marlow began crying piteously. That cat has a serious problem. Kirby just went out the other door & came looking for me but Marlow cries. Dearest had his hands full when we finally departed, which was early because Star has been cat~sitting for friends [which is profitable] & wanted to clothes shop. This was not a successful venture. The one top that looked absolutely stunning on Star she didn't like. I even offered to pay for it & she still didn't like it. Sad. Sad. Sad. No wonder the child has no clothes.

Besides the Gothic AVAE are the guinea pigs for a music workshop & get to be conducted by a lot of wanna be conductors. Next term is going to be difficult.

Oh & I have the Ewww~y factor going on here at the moment too because spring is rodent time. Some springs we get an absolute plague of the things ~ like this year. You'd think with 2 cats about the place & at least one rather large carpet snake living in the roof they'd find somewhere safer to live, but, no. The cats are useless but the snake is usually pretty efficient so if he's not cleaning up we have more than usual. I won't poison. I have cats & wildlife I am rather fond of ~ like the owls~ so it's traps for us. UGH!!!!! I don't do bodies. I am not happy. No. No. No. The size of these things. Either we've been feeding them waaay too well or they're mutant!

What else? We're about 1/2 done with putting together Star's school work for this term. She's cleaned up the math. Her history is nearly done [one massive research paper on the Resistance, which is bigger than I thought it would be & grew rather unwieldy.] One book review on Tomorrow When the War Began which has been made into a film we will see over the holidays despite the fact I don't like John Marsden's work. He's good, I just don't like his style. Home Ec's all good. We had a really successful Home Ec term. Actually we've had a really successful Home Ec year. Gotta be good at something. Science ~ least said, soonest mended. *sigh* And yet, you know, I'm really happy with Star's overall development. There's more to being a success in life than academic achievement & I think Star's going to be hugely successful ~ & no, I don't mean in the worldly sense, though she may nail that too.

Friday I take Dearest back to the Dentist & we go buy a new oven, having blown the old one up. Again. I am prepared to live without an oven if it means I don't have to go to the mainland but for some peculiar reason neither Star nor Dearest thinks much of that idea. Star is agitating for cake & the shop bought stuff is just not the same. Dearest thinks Star should be indulged. Hm. Methinks he likes Star Cake too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"In order to live off a garden, you practically have to live in it.- Frank McKinney Hubbard

Once upon a life there was a woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children she didn't know what to she planted a vegetable garden. And ran chooks. She grew fruit trees. And somewhere along the way she grew very, very tired. The chooks died, as chooks do. The children left home, as children do. The vegetable patch became overrun with weeds. She was looking forward to life on the computer & then...

...the children began returning like boomerangs!

"Why," Dino wanted to know, "was the vegetable patch in such a disreputable state? Where were the veggies?" The woman just looked at him. He was young, strong & healthy. She was losing her teeth, her limbs ached, & she already had one foot in the grave. [Do you remember that t.v show?] "Really, mother! Must I do everything myself?" And he proceeded to dig & hoe, hoe & dig throwing all the weeds into the compost as well as a good many useful plants that had been lurking in there somewhere. [shh. I snuck out & retrieved them & planted them elsewhere]

"On Saturday," Dino informed me, "I will plant the vegetables." I remained very, very quiet. "If I'm home."

I know what will happen. It's happened before. My children put in a huge garden then depart for regions unknown. I am left to mulch & water a huge area on those rare occasions I am actually in my home [& please do remember we have the Gothic coming up with all the extra rehearsal time that will entail.] Then, THEN, I have a glut of crops & no~one to eat them. I will find myself door knocking on my neighbours' doors begging them to relieve me of tomatoes, cucumbers & beans.

I find it odd that my children do not consider a house a home unless it has a vegetable garden wherein they can wander randomly like grazing cows. One day, instead of rushing round the countryside like a mad thing indulging my delusional youngest child I will devote myself to the simple things in life: purring cats, good chocolate & veggies straight from the garden to yours truly.

Tuesday's Trivia.

"The last thing I would accuse a cat of is innocence." --Edward Palley

You may remember, we acquired Marlow & Kirby from a shelter earlier this year. The shelter had hand raised them from about 8 days old but knew nothing of their origins or parentage. Not that we cared ~ only we found ourselves with cats unlike anything we were really used to.
There was Gyver; he was part Siamese & vocal as only a Siamese can be ~ blue eyes, kinky tail. Or Issi, who was a total loop but had all the characteristics of his Himalayan/Burmese ancestry & a pathetic excuse for a meow.

Marlow & Kirby, on the other hand seem comprised in part of either possums or rabbits. Everywhere they went these great plumes of tails serenaded their walk, arching gracefully over their backs. Their tails are almost never lowered & at times seem set to make them airborne. In fact they are more fur than cat though somewhere in there there are solid chunky little cat bodies. They can't meow to save their lives. We get these soft little squeaks when they want to talk to us that make us all giggle but when they purr....!!! Oh. My. Can those cats purr loud enough to wake the dead. Then there's all that fur, which had me a tad worried. Would they allow me to groom them? Not to worry. Their fur never mattes or knots & remains incredibly silky soft. I was a little perplexed to say the least.

Then Jo said something about Ragdolls that rang a bell. So I investigated & sure enough, my dopey cats have a lot of Ragdoll characteristics.

So today's trivia is about Ragdolls because they are weird.

Ragdolls were bred from a feral cat. Not a spontaneous mutation but a deliberate interference on the part of one Ann Baker who's foundation cat was a white feral cat named Josephine living on a neighbour's property. Josephine apparently had an unpleasant disposition but by all accounts Ann Baker was slightly wacky. See Josephine got hit by a car & for reasons unknown got carted of to the university for treatment instead of the vets. Ann Baker then claimed *genetic engineering* because all Josephine's subsequent kittens had the hallmark Ragdoll traits: semi~long non~matting coat; the traditional *limp* Ragdoll characteristic when picked up; plumey tails, stocky heavy set bodies. Whatever. I guess it makes a good story & she certainly knew how to breed a good cat.

Ragdolls are almost the perfect cat. They are docile & friendly, easily handled, affectionate & massive purrers. I mean, everyone knows you keep a cat for it's purr. We certainly don't keep ours for their hunting abilities & apparently Ragdolls aren't much of hunters ~ though I will say, both cats were looking more than a tad peeved when Dearest began trapping mice in the kitchen

An adult male Ragdoll can weigh in at 20 pounds ~ which is massive for a domestic cat ~ & they can take 4 ~ 5 years to reach their full growth. This is rather concerning as Dearest is already mentioning what large cats the boys are ~ & I can verify how much they love their food!

As the breed was only begun in the 1960s & originally bred from a very small gene pool breeders still have to be careful not to breed too closely. However Ragdolls are remarkably healthy & free of the common aliments that plague some of the exotic breeds.

However I'm more than happy with our halfbreeds. I priced kittens while I was looking things up ~ Starting at about AUD$800!!! For a desexed cat. Um, lovely to look at but waaay out of my price range. Besides, I like giving a needy cat a *forever home*. And halfbreeds or not my boys love me to bits. I like being loved like that.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cats are like potato chips. You can never have just one.

Odd follows me. I thought I had chosen fairly normal cats; a little timid, maybe, but ~ well, cats!

I must have been a little off my game that day. I'm not sure if everything I own starts out odd or if something about living in this house makes everything that way. Whatever it is I own the oddest cats around.

Kirby is either snubbing me unmercifully or up around my neck loving on me hard! But Marlow! Marlow is a cat of another colour entirely. Marlow is under the delusion he owns me ~ & he does not like to share. He will cuddle luxuriously ~ but only on his terms. To this end he has beaten Kirby up unmercifully to ensure the marital bed is his! Dearest occassionaly has trouble but as Marlow is not the first cat to try & oust Dearest, Dearest is an experienced cat~mover~overer.

Issi liked to sleep on me. He was an alpha cat & extremely possessive but Marlow doesn't want to sleep on me. What he likes is the fartherest corner at the bottom of the bed where he perches like jacky repelling all boarders. At some point I will feel his considerable weight settle around my feet, his fur tickling my toes & his great wedged head resting on my ankle.

However there is a drawback to this happy little scenario. Marlow likes to stretch & roll ~ which is fine if you have the room to do that but as I said, Marlow likes the very edge of the edge of the bed. There is nowhere to go but down.

I woke this morning, suddenly, with searing pain shooting though my ankles & a desparate cat scrabbling for all he was worth to cling to an upright position! Marlow had rolled just that tad too far & was clutching frantically at the nearest immovable object ~ ME!!!

I have puncture marks all round my ankles. Good thing I'm not a balloon!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Death - the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening. ~ Walter Scott

When a Celtic army went in to war every warrior put a stone on a cairn. If he survived the encounter he removed his stone. In this way the Celts were quickly & accurately able to calculate the number of their dead.

Life isn't permanent. Three score years & ten unless by reason of your strength they be fourscore. Do you ever think of the moment when life as you know it ends & the next life begins? Does it frighten you? Perhaps you don't think about it at all. Plenty don't. Ready or not Death is coming for each & every one of us, for some of us rather sooner than later. I know it will be an interruption. There will be stuff left unfinished: the washing up still in the sink; the poem half done; cats waiting to be fed...

Someone else will go round & catch up the scattered threads & tidy them away. If I am blessed it will be someone who loves me enough to forgive me the quirks & the mess; someone who knows me well enough to leave a timely note on my blog then collapse it completely; someone who knows me well enough to have Be thou my Vision played [& how would that be on the bagpipes?! ☺], the 23rd Psalm read & lots of contemplative silence. Probably need it after the bagpipes.

We have lost the art of walking through the Valley of the shadow. Death, for most of us, is not so well known as it used to be when people died at home far more often & far younger. We tuck our dying out of sight in nursing homes & hospitals & if they are lucky we visit them occasionally.

I have thought about this a bit, on & off, since my father died because the thing that struck me then, & strikes me now, is what use is our religion if it does not sustain us in moments like this? Either the promises are true or none of it is true. Either God is there for us in our extremity or He is not there at all. And if it is not true & God is not there for us then, then what have we been doing?

I came home alone after my father died, emotionally exhausted, not having had time to process any of the grief & as the mother of many with too many pressing needs at home to give a lot of thought to anything but the next thing that needed doing. What I desperately wanted more than anything else was quiet, my own room, my battered bible with pages missing & a chance to speak with the Lord. I opened, as I so often do, my bible randomly & my eyes immediately fell on this verse in psalms:

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy habitation.

I felt so loved.

Hearing is the last sense to go. I hope that as I shuck of this mortal coil for the imperishable body the last thing I hear is someone with enough nonce about them to quote the promises that have sustained me for a lifetime: In my father's house there are many mansions...I go to prepare a place for you that where I am you may be also...Surely goodness & mercy shall follow me all the days of my life ~ & I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I've staked my life on the promises being true. I expect them to sustain me as I am wrenched through the very gates of Life. So

Do not stand at my grave & cry...
I am not there. I did not die. Mary Frye
Serious illness doesn't bother me for long because I am too inhospitable a host. ~ Albert Schweitzer

I have woken up this morning feeling as if I might be almost well. I have tested all the limbs & they are aching less than they were. The nose isn't dripping. There is no headache. I rose from my bed tentatively but have not felt the need to return to it immediately. Hopefully this is the precursor of more good things to come.

I need to be well. Apart from anything else I have to send in Star's school work ~ if I can find any. With me down & out the house has been slowly submerging under a deluge of everyone's un~put~away belongings. The washing up has not been done. The washing is higher than the machine ~& it is threatening to rain ~again! There are things I need to be doing & now we have that lovely spurt of spring weather before it gets all summer hot & muggy I really need to get out in the garden ~ especially if I want a veggie garden any time soon!

Mind you, Marlow has the best idea. He has found the warmest, most comfortable spot in the intermittent sunshine & is fast asleep! Tempting...but I've slept an awful lot this last week. It is so nice to be feeling well again!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Truth in our hearts. Strength in our hands. Consistency in our tongues. ~ Fianna Motto

Anyone who has sons knows they are different to girls. It won't be the boys sitting quietly stringing beads on a string. Or colouring nicely between the lines. Or listening to a story. Indeed, I have a friend who was forced to teach her son to read while he was upside down in a box. That was how he liked it. As a conscientious homeschooling mama she accommodated him.

For a long time now I have thought we have got it wrong when it comes to educating our sons, but particularly if they are in the school system. Homeschoolers learn quickly how hard it is to keep their sons' attention & make adjustments.

I do not have any answers but I think there are things we can learn from history. When it comes to history the history I know best is Celtic history. Like most early societies, & even now many primitive societies, Celtic culture was a 3 tiered culture. On top you had the aristocracy. In the middle you had the *specials* ~ poets, lawyers, healers, shamans; that sort of thing. At the bottom you had the hoi poli. It was primarily an agricultural society with warrior overtones. It had, as we do now, a mass of young men who had no real place in the society, who needed to grow into responsible young men capable of running their society. The hoi poli were taken care of. Uneducated they invariably followed their father's trade early on. Those who wanted to do something in the *special* category made their need known & their society shifted them into one of the bardic schools that trained young people in these things. By the time they were finished they were no longer young.

That left the aristocracy, the most dangerous element in any society if left shiftless & without discipline. The hardest to control because they make the rules. Young men often tend to naturally band together & form alliances. This is the basis of most team sports but it can be a vicious & destructive characteristic.

Now I would propose the Celts addressed 3 basic needs of young men: The need to be needed; the need to be respected; the need to be seen as a man. So what did they do?

They created the Fianna [not to be confused with the modern Irish Fianna.]. The Fianna were loose bands of young men who were employed to protect the Irish borders from invasion during the war season & to hunt game & provide provisions for the clans in winter. Cheap cannon fodder I can hear you thinking. Not at all. Joining the Fianna was incredibly difficult & this is the beauty of the Celtic system. It was not for the faint of heart. Indeed it required a huge amount of self discipline on the applicant's part & years of training.

Listen to some of the conditions of entry.

No man was accepted unless he could defend himself from a hole in the ground as high as his chest against 9 spearmen with just a shield. If anything got through his defence, if he was wounded, he was not accepted.

His hair would be braided with many braids & he would be required to be hunted at a barefoot run through the forest. If his braids became mussed, if his weapons shook in his hand, if he cracked a twig underfoot, if he was overtaken or wounded, he was not accepted.

He had to be able to leap over a bow as high as his chest, run under a bow at knee height, & remove a thorn from his foot without slowing a running pace.

Our definition of what it means to be a man has changed. As a society we no longer value such manly skills: strength of arms, lightening fast reflexes, courage. Such things have been subverted into organised sports & then we wonder why our men are glued to the t.v set. Men haven't changed. In themselves they are as they have always been. They get their muscles in the gym & their kicks from hooning down the highway but they were designed by God to protect & protection, by it's very nature, is a physical activity.

I suspect our sons would do better if at least half their school day involved intense physical activity. I suspect our sons would do better if their school work was more geared to the hands on *doing*. I suspect our sons would do better if they felt they were more respected & had a designated & useful place in society.

What do you think?
Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation ~Anon

What have I been doing all week?

Well...I've slept a lot.

Then I slept some more.

Inbetween times I wished I was asleep.

I am not well. I am going back to sleeeeeeeeeep......

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Performing doesn't turn me on. It's an egomaniac business, filled with prima donnas - including this one. ~Dan Rather.

Star, who is the product of my household, has an extremely well developed sense of the ironic ~ & brothers, so has the poker face down pretty pat too.

So tonight, with the cameras rolling for the ABC1 doco they are making for The Gothic, Star took full advantage of her 5 minutes of fame: She discussed her own private mafia; how famous she is on the islands; how she'll have to sleep in the car ~ or, better yet, land on Alison, if the Gothic runs overtime...indeed, once started her mouth ran away with her completely with no sign of flagging. Unfortunately it took the rest of the ensemble a little bit to catch on. I was just rolling my eyes thinking of all the people who do actually know this child & will be rolling their eyes with me if we are unfortunate enough that they actually broadcast this nonsense!

Fair warning people. The child was JOKING!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tuesday's Trivia

Drive carefully! Remember, it's not only a car that can be recalled by it's maker. ~ Anon

Seeing as we all know how much I love driving....

You can expect to spend two weeks of your life sitting at traffic lights. Something to look forward to.

In 1994 new cars were emitting cleaner air than Los Angles. Scarey thought.

More Rolls Royces are to be found in Hong Kong than anywhere else in the world.

Your average car has about 3 ooo feet of electric wiring.

In 1901, France, the first grand Prix was held. Seems from the inception blokes just wanted their cars to go faster than anybody else's. The winner's average speed was 46mph.

This worked out ok. The N.Y police department was able to persue speeding moterists on bicycles.

Most American car horn beep in the key of F .

I am not driving today. Yay!

Don't drive with me.

If everything comes your way, you are in the wrong lane. ~Author Unknown

When I agreed to drive Liddy back to the farm after a weekend at home I was well. When the time came to do the driving I was anything but well. Star, who has been coughing & spluttering for a week, was anything but happy to be dragged along for the ride.

Liddy who hates packing [I think it is a form of denial myself ☺] was still packing as she walked out the door & even then left her toothbrush & tooth paste behind. I am not driving 6 hours just to give her her toothbrush! We missed one boat & only didn't miss the second because the deckie is a friend & was prepared to make 50 other passenger wait while my harum scarum child hurtled down the road having had to run back to the car for her wallet!!!

This put us well after lunch when I should have been napping, not zooming along highways. The alpacas, who have all been recently shorn, were looking rather like baby giraffes ~ all long, long necks & big doey eyes. Sile gave me a much needed caffeine hit & homemade slice before sending us on our way. We started well ~ until the bottom of the hill where, for some strange reason we turned left instead of right, or right instead of left. Whatever. It meant we found ourselves driving straight towards a mountain & I was cluey enough to realise that couldn't possibly be right.

Anyone who has driven an Australian country backroads knows it is half a lane wide with no verge & nowhere to overtake or turn. We drove for some way before we found a farm driveway I could turn into so we could go back the way we'd come. Star was perfectly happy. As she pointed out it was a really pretty drive & there were lots & lots of little grey & white wallabies along the side of the road. The wallabies were worrying me as they have an awful habit of committing hari kari in front of oncoming traffic.

Back we went & happily found our way to the Mt Lindsey Highway. We were a little behind time but with the lengthening days nothing to overly stress about & I don't mind this part of the drive. It is almost always fairly traffic free, the roads are fairly straight & we can go fairly fast ~ all of which I like. Trouble invariably arises when I have to negotiate the rabbit warren that is Brisbane.

I've tried 2 different exits from this highway & neither has taken me where I've wanted to go. Worse they land me places I don't know at all with no signpostings to anywhere we do know. This means pulling out the refedex, pulling over & arguing with Star about where we are & how we are going to get to where we want to be.

Yesterday this happened right on dusk. My eyes couldn't possibly handle the refedex so I was completely reliant on Star. She did really well. She showed me where we were on the map. She showed me where we needed to be. She confidently asserted she knew how to get us home from where we were. Ok.

The panadol had worn off so my temperature was going up. My eyes felt as if they were full of grit & we'd gone through so many tissues we were singly handedly responsible for the demolition of a small forest. I really, really wanted to get home as soon as possible. There are no prizes for guessing this didn't happen. To start with Star had us running parallel to the highway. Not what we wanted. When she finally got us on it she was heading me straight into Brisbane & out to the Sunshine Coast. I turned of without consultation & headed back the other way despite Star's protests of, "But we need to go north!" No daughter, dear; we need to go south. *sigh*

Obviously we got home eventually, a little frayed around the edges & completely exhausted but it is a beautiful morning this morning & I am going to enjoy every last ounce of it!