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...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another one Bites the Dust....

Another one bites the dust
And another one gone
And another one gone ...Queen

Yesterday we dropped Theo back at the airport ~ & went on to the movies.  Today I drop Liddy off at Dani's for their road trip.  I am so tired of the mainland.  There's a reason I don't live over there but I seem to be spending all my time there.  I am sooo tired. Roll on January!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tuesday Trivia.

"I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something." Richard Feynman
When we were courting Dearest & I spent a lot of time in the 2nd oldest National Park in the world [only Yellowstone is older], the Royal National Park on the southern outskirts of Sydney, partly because it was local for us & partly because it is a most extraordinary environment & is now a World Heritage listed park.  We would arrive late in the afternoon, just as everyone else was packing up to leave to walk & picnic in relative peace.  It was on one of these excursions we were treated to a most extraordinary display.

Lyre birds are notoriously shy.  Even if they are around most people won't realise it because they are one of the world's greatest mimickers.  Not only do they mimick other bird's songs they can duplicate the sound of a chainsaw or drill, the thwack of hammer & nails, the car alarm, a transistor radio, & even the human voice. They really are astounding.  They are almost never seen singly & never in groups.

On this particular day we were sitting quiely at a picnic table just enjoying the solitude when a group of young birds suddenly appeared frolicking & gamboling like the funniest of clowns.  We were delighted & absolutely rivited.  They were real show~offs!  I don't know why but they had absoluely no fear of us & came right up to our table & were prancing all around us.  Not even the arrival of more people frightened them off but though the others tried very hard to tempt them closer they remained round us until they went carousing off through the scrub as they chased each other over the hill & far away.

The lyre bird is known for 2 things: the males' suburb tail feathers used in his mating display & the mimicry with which he calls in order to attract a mate.  Winter is the time they build a mound in an open space & begin their mating rituals.  The female is also a mimic but calls less frequently & does not have the wonderful tail feathers being a rather plump, dowdy little bird looking more like a sad little chook than anything else. She builds a messy nest on the ground for her single egg & is a sole parent, incubating her egg for 50 days & rasing her chick without help from the male.

These amazing birds have been known to shelter in wombat holes or join miners down mine shafts when threatened by bush fires.  Their syrinx is the most complexly muscled of any of the passerines [song birds] giving them extraordinary range & ability.  Mr Wiki gives some extraordinary antedotal evidence about some of the sounds these birds are capable of & for your enjoyment I include this you~tube clip.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The problem with the designated driver program, it's not an enviable job, but if you ever get sucked into doing it,  it have fun with it.  At the end of the night drop them off at the wrong house.  Jeff Foxworthy.

I don't know whose bright idea this was but someone is contracted to do The Lord Mayor's Christmas Tree & what this means is Star is singing.  Extra rehearsals.

Now this is par for the course & not normally something to upset my little red apple cart [unless it is somewhere inaccessible that I can't find.]  However Liddy came home yesterday ~ except she didn't.  [all will be explained in time].  Sile very kindly was dropping her off at Vicky Point at 4.30.

"Be there promptly at 4.30, mum", my daughter instructed me.  There was only one problem with that.  Star had to be at Coorparoo by 3.  The way I drive it is an hour in to Coorparoo.  We also had our fellowship gathering ~ for which Dearest was absent as the night before, & terribly unusually for him, he had gone to a friend's birthday bash & contracted a seafood allergy.  Star & I had been at rehearsals [different lot] so were already a little worn.  Star did all the cooking [Man, that girl is good!] & I talked.  I guess we were both working to our strengths.  Dearest eventually surfaced just before Star & I left.

Now I don't complain about the drive out to Coorparoo.  As these things go it is a fairly straightforward drive & the traffic is usually reasonable.  On a Sunday afternoon is is almost pleasant.  I threw Star out, turned round & came straight back for Liddy.  The trip out is usually much much quicker so I parked beside the park & read ...& read...& read. Every so often, when I heard a car coming, I glanced up.  Four thirty came & went.  No Liddy.  Four fourty~five.  Five o'clock.  My stress levels were starting to rise.  I had to pick Star up at 6.  I knocked on the door of Sile's sister, handed over the small birthday gift Star & I had chosen for her & told the flustered woman I would be back at 7 because I simply couldn't wait any longer.  Argh!!!!

I set of anxiously knowing I was now time deprived & as I hit the round~a~bout here comes Liddy! *sigh*  I followed her back, transferred all her luggage, put the P~Plates back up & let her zoot along all the back roads ~ straight to church!  A meltdown moment.  I had no idea how to orient myself to get where I needed to be & was too tired to cope coherently with Liddy's assurances I was only 20 minutes away from Star & it was easy to get back where I needed to be.  She was wrong about the time.  I was a little late pulling into the parking lot but Star was not the only child still waiting.  And they'd finished an hour early!  Arrgh!

So Star & I had all Liddy's earthly belongings in our possession but no Liddy.  She went from church to stay overnight with a friend [because the friend is leaving shortly & this was her only opportunity to catch up.]  It was late.  Star was ravenous & I still had to get a container of fuel for Theo.  Reluctantly I scrapped plans to try & make the 7pm boat & we took our time eating & getting the fuel but by the time I was standing on the jetty waiting for the boat I was convinced the water was a little choppy as everything was bobbing & swaying in the most alarming fashion ~ & that was before we walked down the pontoon.  I think I was a little tired. I may as well have driven all the way out to Rathdowney.  I spent the same amount of time in the car driving as if I had.  Argh!  I have heard of desperate parents selling the house from under their children's feet  ~ & leaving no forwarding address!

Friday, November 26, 2010

It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it. ~Oscar Wilde

What does the wise women condemed to waiting for hours on end for days at a time in the weeks leading up to Chriastmas do to save her sanity?

She goes to the library & invests in some good reading so that she actually looks forward to her confinement!  What's not to enjoy in that pile?
There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before. ~ Robert Lynd

 Spring is nesting time ~ & in due course the nests land on our heads, literally.  With the high winds many nests are tossed down , especially those less firmly anchored by mud or wattle & daub.  This one belongs to the noisy friar bird who has made her home in our front yard for the past few weeks.  Last year she nested outside our bedroom window ~ & the year before that, when she hatched a cuckoo egg & we all nearly went crazy with its constant loud begging.  The year before that she was out the front but her nest came down in high winds before her chick had flown & we had some very exciting moments with lots of screeching as I made a rescue from the Jaws~of ~Death, aka Issi.

Friar birds belong to the honey~eater family & are one of their larger & less beautiful representatives.  Their bald knobby heads are quite distinctive & they build large messy nests usually suspended in a forked branch & rather insecurely anchored by cobweb or fluff & string.  However I have seen them anchored, as this one was, with strips of paperbark wrapped round & round.  What fascinated me is how smart a little builder this bird is.  The outside of this nest is woven from wide & rather gappy paperbark strips, but the inner nest is packed & woven with the fine needles of the she~oak & at one time it was also cosily lined with down & fluff.  I do think birds are clever ~ at least at some things.  Like building a nest.  I couldn't do this; could you?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

 Everyone is bored until they find something to do. ~ A.S. Neill [Thanks, Ember, for this quote!]

I am not allowed to offer the Star musical advice because I don't know anything, never mind that sitting in on classes for nearly 10 years now means I can hear when something is wrong.  Still there is nothing like having your head on a platter to make you reconsider things & yearly auditions are very good for doing this.  Even the unflappable Star gets just a tad anxious about auditions.  There is the song to choose.  There's the clothing to wear.  There's the make~up to consider [because presentation is important, mum!].  There's the weeks & weeks of practise while the Star drives everyone in the house crazy & we are all singing her song of choice in our sleep.  Then there is the day itself when either Star or I suffer terribly from nerves, usually me though Star has been known to succumb on the rare occasion.

This year is worse than ever.  In fact I think it is the worst ever.  Star is a teenager.  Other years Star has plodded along cheerfully at her own dilly~dallyish pace & been laise faire about the whole bloomin' thing while I stew in a lather about her song choice, how her voice sounds & whether, in point of fact, she has done near enough practise.  I can't help it.  These things leave me in a tizz.  However, now Star is a teenager, she chats to the other teenagers & gasp, horror, shock, horror of horrors, everyone else has their audition piece chosen & is ready to go even though these auditions do not take place till next year. And Star had exactly Zip. Zilch. Nadda. Zero.  Absolutely nothing.

The hunt for a song was on. For weeks Star has been at me to help her choose a song.  Phuleeese!  I'm an old hippy. To Joan Baez & Mama Cass the child turned up her nose.  On Neil Young, Stephen Stills & Bob Dylan she pronounced unfavourable judgement. Grace Slick was deemed unsuitable [this is true but that is one heck of a voice!] We have spent hours on you~tube listening to songs that Star would sound wonderful singing but does not like & songs deemed too difficult ~ or too crass or too dull. And each time Star turned down yet another song she begged in the next breath for me to help her find one!  I was starting to think thoughts unthinkable.  In desperation I said, "Well, why don't you sing your own song then!"

Some of you may remember that Star was gifted a guitar; a very good guitar.  At the time I showed her the 3 most basic chords I know [D, A, G], handed her my chord chart & all the music I owned & left her to get on with it.

  Now Star, for those of you who don't know, has been playing an instrument since she was about 6 or 7.  I began her on the piano with a very good friend of ours to help her math & because on a piano you can see how all the notes relate to each other.  The piano is all right but the child begged for violin lessons so when someone gave her a rather substantial amount of money she purchased the violin & I have been paying for violin lessons ever since.  Then it was flute with the school band & private tuition for a year till we lost our teacher.  Most musicians, once they have learnt one instrument, have no serious problems learning another & so it is that Star knows far fewer chords than I do but sounds far more musical when she plays & true to form Star was not content to just churn out someone else's work.  She promptly began experimenting with composition of her own.  Star's theory is almost non~existent though naturally she has picked up quite a lot over the years one way or another, so my comments were neither as cruel nor as untoward as they might at first seem.  Besides, remember my opening statement?  It never occurred to me Star might actually take my advice ~ but she has!

So spare a thought for us in the coming months as Star double guesses herself, & wonders, aloud & frequently, if this is a good idea after all, & as the rest of us [Lord, grant us patience] are subjected to endless  rehearsals.

And for the musical amongst you, a funny: Star arrived  with 2 chord sequences & asked me which one I preferred.  Silly girl.  Old hippy raised on folk.  Of course, I prefer the minor chord!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tell me a story, tell me a story

Tell me a story, remember what you said

You promised me you said you would

You got to give in so I’ll be good

Tell me a story, then I’ll go to bed ~ Jimmy Boyd.

Stories are the glue that holds generations together.  My father used to sing this  Jimmy Boyd song in the car.  Why in the car & only in the car? And why only the chorus?  He used to sing it in the car as we travelled north to my Aunt's ~ story~teller unparalleled in this or any other generation. Never accurate, mind, but why let a little thing like accuracy stand in the way of a good story?

I come from a family of story~tellers.  My father told some woolly tales that may or may not be true ~ or may simply be an embellishment of fact.  It runs in the family.  So when the first of our lot came along the only thing I was pretty sure I knew how to do was tell the child stories.   We began when he was only days old with Thomas Merton.  I was reading Merton at the time so that is what I read aloud to my son as he suckled at my breast & we graduated fairly quickly to C.S Lewis. Then we got a clutch of littlies all together in the middle & had glorious fun with Where the Wild Things Are, The Bunyip of Berkerly Creek, Dreadful David, Goodnight, Owl.  By the time Star arrived I was so tired I'd start her off & she told me stories until we fell asleep together.

There is absolutely nothing better than being snuggled up with the people you love best in the world & telling stories.  The best stories, of course, are the ones about you.  They are even better if they are true stories about the time before you can remember because  we're all narcissists at heart.  When mine were very little I used to tell them, periodically, about, " The day that you were born."  They never tired of it.

Joss was the first grandchild.  He was a November baby born in South East Queensland in what should have been blistering hot weather.  It wasn't.  It was a freezing cold November & I had nothing warm for the child to wear.  We had to rush out & buy him some little jumpers & long suits.  His excited grandparents had arrived in anticipation of this extraordinary event.  I would tell him how his first name was the only one his father & I could agree on.  Who would have thought choosing a name could be so difficult?  Dearest wished to honour his grandfather but Pap had really awful old fashioned names that I was not about to bestow on my much wanted, much anticipated, dearly beloved first born.  I know these names are gaining in popularity again but I still dislike them.  However I wanted to be generous & so I agreed to use Pap's surname as a second Christian name ~ & wouldn't you know it!  Versions of this name are now extraordinarily popular.

Believe it or not the twins were twice as easy.  We'd eliminated all the names neither of us would consider first time around & were left with a small handful we could both bear to live with.  The only winter I've ever been warm was the winter I was pregnant with twins. They were also the only babies to be born at a reasonable hour but it then snowed & the nappies froze on the outside line.  "There were 30 nurses at your delivery," I told the boys, "& every single one of them cried."  That's true.  We didn't go into how hard I fought for a natural delivery [almost unheard of with twins at the time] which is the reason why there were so many nurses pressed up against the delivery room walls.  Most had never seen a woman deliver twins naturally.

And then we moved to the island, which made the stories far more exciting.  It was always at night.  There was the boat ride & the car or ambulance.  Liddy, when she finally got moving, was in such a hurry that Dearest had a meltdown when he realised he needed fuel or we were never going to reach the hospital.  And she was quick.  We spent almost the entire labour in the shower.  Wonderful way to spend labour I can assure you!  And Liddy got the name we'd picked out for a girl 3 babies earlier: a family name; a name we both liked; a name that could be traced back in the family for generations.  Dearest, who has a quite wicked sense of humour & was giddy with relief that this baby, born only days after we moved into our half finished house, was finally here safe & sound, went home to the expectant grandmother, for whom this child would be named, shook his head mournfully  & stated that Jonathon James [or whatever it was we had agreed on for a boy] was a wonderfull name for a boy.  As my mother's face fell & she tried to hide her disappointment he added, "But it hardly suits our Liddy Rose".  I'm sure, in that moment, my mother would have dearly liked to clobber her son~in~law!  I believe she wept.

And then along came Star.  Now Star, who also decided to arrive at night & be difficult up until the very moment she popped her head out into this chaotic world, is the child I named without consultation.  Um, yeah, I really, really did.  I knew that Dearest liked the short version of her name but I'm a Celtist at heart & I wanted a Celtic name for my child. [Liddy is lucky.  If I'd known the Scots version of her name back in the days she would have got it & been totally mortified.]  So I put down my name of choice on her papers figuring if Dearest really had a problem he would simply shorten it to the name he liked.  My husband is a forbearing man.  He just thanked his stars I'd resisted the urged to use the Welsh Angharad anywhere.  Now there's a name I always loved & never got to use!

I told my children the story of choosing their names.  I told them who in the family they were named for.  Liddy, who shares a name with my opera singing cousin can't sing a note while Star, who is named for the artistic cousin, sings like a carolling butcher bird. Again & again my kids would ask me to tell them about the day that they were born.  They never tired of it. 

Then one day it just stopped.  Worse than boring, it was embarrassing.  They didn't want to know.  I can't forget.  Every time I shower my body reminds me it wasn't always this peculiar shape or texture. I am shaped like one of those little graven images of fertility goddesses ~ & how accurate were they!  My body is a testimony of love.  See, I can say silently to a raging teenager, I sheltered you in here.  I loved you enough to bear the wounds on my vanity: a putty~tummy little hands liked to mold like play dough; the sagging breasts that still have a long way to go before they achieve African renown of being able to toss one casually over my shoulder for the child riding pick~a~back to suckle;  the sunken, sleep~deprived eyes;  the hips that unexpectedly & unwelcomingly have imperceptibly widened wider than my shoulders turning me pear~shaped!  Pear~shaped!

Now I would be the first to agree it's not a pretty look & keeping it modestly clothed is the kindest thing to do for all our sakes but honestly, why would I trade it in for one of these plastic models minus the bumps & crinkles?  Every crease, every sagging lump tells a story of love, of a special day that all these years later I still recall with startling clarity.  I will not be cowed by a culture of the perfect, the pristine, the unscarred.  Anything worthwhile costs something & as it stands I get to trade this body in for something better ~ eventually.  Meanwhile it stands as a testimony to love.  See, I have loved you with an everlasting love...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We thought it might be fun to have twins ~ Sam Frustaci.

Yes, in case you're wondering, they are identical.  They're still that cute but all grown up now & creating twice the havoc. 

Without consulting me, Dino [in the green T] arranged for me to pick Theo up from Brisbane airport yesterday.

"Don't worry, mum," Dino said, when he informed me of these arrangements & I had a very predictable meltdown, "I'll direct you in & Theo can drive home."  Now if I do say it myself Dino is an excellent navigator so I actually ok'd this plan even after discovering that Theo's plane landed at 4.30 pm & I would be driving in peak hour Brisbane traffic!

Well, you know what happened, don't you?!  The day arrived & no Dino.  Dino was on his way to Dubbo.  I gave Star no choice.  I put her in the hot seat to sign spot, to hold my hand & feed me jelly snakes when I started hyperventilating.

I have driven in to Brisbane airport exactly once, when I put Liddy on her plane to Melbourne earlier this year.  A sane person would have checked a map but maps confuse me & this is one route I happen to know is very well signposted.  Just the same, no sane person wants to pay parking rates at this place so it was a delicate balance to arrive neither too soon nor abysmally late so we could do the circuit, pick up the lad on the run, & keep driving straight through.

What had I forgotten?  That the other lad & his mate had borrowed my mainland car & had failed to fuel her up. So I had to stop first thing, during the school pick up zone time.  Practically what this means is school pick up merges imperceptibly into peak hour.  There were zillions of cars on the road & the traffic was moving at a snail's pace.  I told Star to text her brother & let him know we were held up & he would have to wait ~ which he did with extraordinary patience.  Theo is not known for waiting patiently.

So I apologise for the lack~lustre posts lately.  I am just tired.   I was lolling round last night like a zombie wondering why I was feeling so totally exhausted when I realised today's little jaunt had taken as long as a trip in & out to Rathdowney, with the added stress factor of driving in heavy traffic.  I was not made for this frantic pace of life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tuesday Trivia

I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks. ~Daniel Boone

Don't you love how lots of interesting things get left out in order to teach the *facts* about history!

I freely admit I'm not much of a one for *facts*.  Facts on their own tell me very little.  They rarely tell me why people do what they do.  What they do is often dull ~ or worse, outrageous & cruel.  Why they do it...ah, now there's the thing.

Which brings me to Daniel Boone.  Do you remember the 60's t.v show on Boone starring Fess Parker?  Always felt sorry for the coon on his head.  Figured the coon needed its skin way more than Boone did & all the macho posing with guns & things sort of did my head in ~ not being a gun person ~ & yes I know how to shoot a gun ~ or I used to.  That t.v show did the man a disservice.  For starters the real Boone didn't wear a coonskin cap.  I need to get over that.

Anyway imagine my surprise when scrolling down a list of well known Quakers Boone's name popped up.  True.  His Welsh mother was a Quaker & the family were part of the Lower Gwynedd Township Meeting ~ though not without controversy.  The parents had to  publicly apologise to the Meeting when their oldest child, Sarah, married a non~Quaker & again when Boone's older brother, Israel, also married a non~Quaker.  His father was expelled from Meeting over the incident but his mother continued to attend Meeting with the children. This squabble may have been the reason for the family moving to North Carolina & Boone never again attended church though he thought of himself as a CChristian & had all his children baptised.

Now this is interesting to me for a number of reasons.  As a body, Quakers tended to have peaceful & productive relations with the Native American Indians & it is a fact Boone learnt some of his woodsman & tracking/hunting skills from Indians.  They stood him in good stead.  For much of his life he earned a living as a hunter & trailblazer but he was also  a wily citizen who understood the diplomatic nature of parley & it was this cunning that saved his life & that of fellow travellers when captured by hostile Indians.

However what really stands out for me is not his actions.  Not being American I'm not much concerned with what the man did & I  have only the vaguest notion of where any of the places are that he travelled.  What stands out for me is his faith ~ & faith that makes sense to me.  As he travelled these unexplored regions he marvelled at the wonders of God's design & the beauty of nature  [Nature was here a series of wonders, and a fund of delight.]  He was also a man who understood the delights of simplicity: [All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife.] Makes me wonder if that's where John Lennon got his idea for *happiness is a warm gun*.   Probably not.  I like this Boone much better than the Fess Parker version.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Men and fish are alike. They both get into trouble when they open their mouths. ~Author Unknown

 We've barely put our vegetable garden in & already we are picking from it. The lettuce ~ after I picked enough for 5 people for dinner.  We don't pull our lettuce.  We simply pick the outside leaves until it gets too hot & it starts to run to seed.  Then we pick it!  The tomatoes alongside them Dino has staked & they  are already flowering.
 And the beans!  Their prisitne white is so pretty & the spindly stalks are barely strong enough to carry the heavy heads of flowers.  The promise of good things to come.
 Cucumbers ~ or maybe rockmelons.  Someone muddled the punnets & Dino can't remember what he planted where.  Not that anyone cares.  Whatever it is it will get eaten.
 Last thing Saturday Dino got a call to say the wheat harvest starts Monday & to get his butt down there pronto!  So yesterday he ran round like a mad thing trying to organise himself.  This morning I am missing plates ~ after I asked him to use the camping set!  Not as nice to eat of I know but far cheaper to replace if they don't come home. *sigh*  Oh, well. 

And food.  The men have workers' sheds with bunk accommodation but they don't provide a cook so I threw in noodles & baked beans to hold them till they could shop.  Stodge I know but food is food & who knows when they'll be able to get into town. I put him & the friend's car on yesterday's barge for the 8 ~ 10 hour drive, which I hope they made ok.  The lad promised to ring when they got there.  Still waiting.  Obviously he forgot.

Anyway he was no sooner of the island than Kirby was in the boat.  The new boat.  The one Dino will use to crab with.
The Captain greeting his crew.  A good thing they couldn't figure out how to make it go but they investigated all the possibilities.

So for two days & 10 hours Star is an only child again.  She is enjoying it.  Tuesday Theo arrives.  I believe Dino has organised for me to pick him up but no~one has actually spoken to me & I have no idea when his plane gets in ~ & Theo never answers his phone.  Oh yeah!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Joan Baez ~ still amazing.  This is one of my favourites. Oh, & the lady was a Quaker, which explains a great deal.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Performance is your reality.  Forget everything else. ~ Harold S. Green.

Ok, I admit it.  Now I'm just a wee bit excited.  Our tickets for the Gothic have arrived.  Despite all the drama & hoo~ha this should be fun ~ as anyone who has watched John Curro in action would know; or maybe not.  Star has worked with him before so at least she knows what to expect. 

So how are they training these kids to sing what is a quite complex classical piece ~ though not, Star assures me, difficult!  Yes, they are going over the piece phrase by phrase but there are other things involved because Alison's stated aim is to turn out working musicians rather than prima donas.

I was highly entertained on Wednesday because Sunday's soloists [we're not doing this one] were practising & one child, fairly new to the group, made the fundamental error of saying she didn't know all her lyrics.  Now, this is a no~no.  Even if it's true you never, ever admit it.  When she foundered she ground to a halt ~ also a no~no.  One by one Alison had the entire choir on its feet to sing this piece ~ a piece only one child actually knew so they had to improvise!  Oh my.  Some did better than others. Star did ok.  She doesn't usually get flustered by sudden hiccups; she drives with me.  One child, who had no idea of the actual lyrics, sang a highly entertaining piece about her maths class!  I was impressed.  She had the tune, she had the metre & she was a line ahead in her head the whole time.

They are doing a lot of sight singing with sol fage.  Sol fage, if you aren't sure, is the hand sign for each note in a scale.  It helps singers remember where to place a note.  I find it fascinating.  Almost all the kids revert to sol fage instinctively when they aren't sure or when learning a new piece.  Sometimes Alison asks them to do it to help put them in the right place musically & it does actually work.  Amazing.

Scales, of course, but those are usually warm up exercises.  Star is singing Altos & the altos are weak.  Good voices but this year they tend to be the more inexperienced singers who tend to falter & be less confident about singing out.  I think they are improving but still a bit shaky.

They also sing counting.  This does my head in just listening to it.  I can't imagine having to do this rather than singing words but it is all about timing.

Oh, & they've had the kids before the cameras just to accustom them.  There will be 10 cameras filming the actual concert, two on the children's choir; one in each stall.  Alison does the camera calls because the cameramen can't read music.  Yes, when I know when the ABC is airing this I'll say.  I am assuming they will air it seeing as they're going to the trouble of filming it.

Poor Star will still be in rehearsal long after they've kicked us out though she may get released long enough for a decent lunch break.  I am hoping to be affluent enough to eat at a decent restaurant rather than some of the rather dicey take~aways at Southbank.  Hopefully ma will be able to join us & we can catch up a bit but she has a long way to come & the train journey home is long & tiring.  Then Liddy & I have to find something to amuse us till Star is released when the final curtain comes down.  Interesting times.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This was my destiny: to put my son on the throne of England, & those who laughed at my visions & doubted my vocation will call me My Lady, the King's Mother, & I shall sign myself Margaret Regina, Margaret R. ~Margaret Beaufort.

Having enjoyed the White Queen enormously I thought I'd try The Red Queen. Not my period of history.  I do dislike the Medieval period.  Full of wars & nasty characters & downtrodden women & I have yet to come across anyone or thing I feel the remotest sympathy for.  Besides everyone seems to be using one or other of just a handful of names & it all gets very confusing even before you add in the various names & titles people were known by.  Just so you know.  And I have to admit I'm not overly fond of either the Tudors or the Lancaster's though I do now actually understand what the Wars of the Roses was all about & why they even bothered.

Like the good little Aussie I am my understanding of this period began & ended with Henry VIII ~ he of the many wives ~ & my first introduction to Gregory's work was The Other Boleyn Girl ~ before it became a movie & popular by default; a book I enjoyed.  I was on reasonably familiar territory with Arthur behind & Elizabeth before but step back several generations & I was in pretty uncharted waters.  I know why I never really got intrigued by knights & jousts, castles & fair maidens.  It was a pretty nasty, violent & sexually exploitative world.  To say nothing of the offence to my sensibilities their version of Christianity affords.

So this is the story of Margaret Beaufort, cousin to a Lancaster king & in a direct line to the throne.  She is 12 when she is married to Edmund Tudor & banished to his remote castle in Wales. By 14 she has born him a son, Henry Tudor.  Having managed to get that far I was reeling in disgust.  I have major issues with thinking a 12 yr old girl still playing with dollies is suitable marriage material & though, of course, I knew this was the norm for those times it wonders my soul that no~one ever made the connection with unformed, immature childish bodies & the high death rate of young women in child~birth...but I digress.

It is impossible to like Margaret ~ or at least Gregory's version of Margaret ~ & as a scholar she has certainly researched her material, as the bibliography attests.  She is an utter nut case.  Smart, but convinced she is next thing to an oracle of God, forever on her knees & pontificating about how pious she is & how much time she spends on her knees, utterly convinced God means for her son to be the next king of England, never mind the 4 other contenders between him & the English throne.  No wonder religion gets a bad name with people like her ranting on.  Digressing... This book tended to infuriate me, while remaining highly readable.

What Gregory is very good at is making absolutely clear the familial relations that are at the heart of the war & the inadvertent cause of the initial squabble for the throne.  The most interesting aspect of this period is whatever did become of the Princes in the Tower ~ & whether, in fact, young Richard was ever there in the first place.  Gregory speculates, on rather thin evidence, in The White Queen that his mother sent a serving boy in his place & smuggled her youngest son out of the country.  It is rather irrelevant because even if that was managed the boy never managed to rise enough to contend for the throne.

It is conniving Margret who by hook or by crook manages to set in motion the events that put young Henry Tudor on the throne of England ~ & by default begins a dynasty whose end product was Elizabeth I & a culture stable enough to produce the likes of Shakespeare, Drake, Raleigh & Donne.  Just the same, for me  the overall impression is one one of disgust: at the power driven madness, at the self~delusion of all the main protagonists, at the deceit & lies & betrayals, at the religious hypocrisy & downright cruelty & the casual disregard for the lives of ordinary people.  Ugh.  This book requires a strong stomach.  Read it at your peril.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Living Plain.

'Tis the gift to be simple,

'tis the gift to be free,

'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

It will be in the valley of love and delight. ~ Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr.

When I was about 16 & finishing up my Queen's Guide badge I was doing some volunteer work for a lovely lady called Mrs Love.  Mrs Love stood 6'6" in her stockinged feet. [Mr Love was about 4' nothing ~ talk about the long & the short of it.]  In the midst of an affluent Sydney suburb Mr & Mrs Love lived in a poky  fibro house with a wood stove & 90 years worth of clutter.  They were a fire hazard waiting to happen ~ to say nothing of health & safety requirements.  They owned, between them, about 6 pairs of glasses: a pair to look for the pair so they could look for the pair they wore but had put down somewhere ~ if only they could remember where!  In their house the search could take months of wading through a tide of *things*.

Now there is nothing wrong with things.  I own plenty myself.  I need these things to make my life function at all but it becomes a problem when things own us & our things run our lives.  [The cats are excepted.]

So while Ember has been speaking on profound matters my mind, per usual, has reverted to the trivia a la Mrs & Mrs Love.    Over the course of a misspent life I have spent a lot of time in other people's living spaces & have reached a number of conclusions.  I hate ugly.  I really, really do.  This is not a matter of personal preference.  It is a mater of cheap & nasty ~ or expensive & ugly.  Cheap does not have to be nasty & beautiful does not have to be expensive.  What amazes me is the amount of useless things people surround themselves with, that serve no purpose but require care just the same.

This has made me think about what it means to *live plain.*  We all need a certain amount of stuff ~ & what that stuff is depends to a certain degree on who we are & the sort of things that make us happy.  Me, I'm drowning in paper: books, books & more books; typing paper, writing paper, drawing paper.  I am probably single~handedly responsible for the demolition of a small Brazilian rainforest.  To say nothing of Dearest's stamps & on a bad day I threaten to strike a match & have a lovely fire instead of all this stuff!

Now I am a long way from my ideal but I aspire to something the Ancient Celts understood ~ & the Shakers &  the Japanese & most monasteries: less is more.

 Clean, simple lines, &  lack of ornamentation put to practical use.  If what we use everyday is also beautiful our homes are simply decorated already with what we use.  The lines of the Celtic wine jug are clean & unornamented but there is a dash of whimsy in the handle & spout.  Shaker furniture is notorious for its simplicity & beauty.

Most monasteries practise some sort of aesthetic austereism ~ but they are rarely ugly. Now I understand money usually determines what we can afford to buy but I rarely simply buy the cheapest thing going because how something looks is important to me.  Even our kettle!  I know.  Strange woman that I am. 

We have wooden walls & huge windows throughout the house & this makes decorating easy ~ & simple is plain.  Just about anything looks good so whether I throw a patchwork spread over a bed or a bright monotone comforter it's going to look good.  This is helpful as I tend to like quirky things & quirky rarely suits your usual type of house.  I don't do many nick~knacks because I don't have time to look after them & I am aiming for a streamlined, clean, uncluttered feel ~ even Japanesey because the Japanese also understand the art of the understated.

Being able to let go, to not *need* is important to me.  It is important because there is nothing in this world I can take with me into the next.  It is important because it frees up our limited resources for other things.  It is important because we can be content with what we have ~ & grateful for it!  It is important because it declutters the soul.  It is important because it leaves room for the things that truly matter.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Gothic made the Guiness Book of Records as the largest symphony ever composed.

I may regret this yet but I've done it; I've booked 3 tickets for the working rehearsal of the Gothic: Liddy, Ma & me.  Liddy gets to drive.

It's been 30 years since the last performance of this thing ~ & with good reason.  The performers are going to outnumber the audience.  This is the first time it's been performed outside England & I'm pretty sure by the time we get to this rehearsal things are going to be pretty fraught.  Thank goodness the girl has no nerves to speak of & a tranquil disposition that takes the melodramatic rantings of fraught artistes in her stride!  I'm pretty sure she's going to need all the sang froide she can muster.

As to whether we'll enjoy it...well, let's just say the 3.5 hours allowed for this rehearsal is a conservative estimate....The things I do for love. ♥

Monday, November 15, 2010

Clothes are inevitable.  They are nothing less than the furniture of the mind made visible.  ~James Laver

Ember has been doing Plain Dress November ~ something I am far too brain fatigued by this time of the year to engage in in a scintillating & brilliant manner but I do have one or two thoughts on the matter. Firstly I am going to define my parameters because *plain* seems to have come to mean something in particular: Amish or Mennonite or Quaker derived; long dresses for the women & a prayer covering. I have absolutely no argument with this whatsoever. I think the women look beautiful & godly & I understand plain dress as a testimony & a witness. It is not however how I define *plain*.

By plain I mean what is simple, unassuming, unpretentious & practical. So firstly I don't wear dresses because I do not find them practical. Little ones clambering all over you have a habit of scrunching a skirt up higher than modesty allows for. Running in a skirt [& I do run] is liable to land me face first in the dirt with the sort of scrapes to put me out of action for a while ~ & I cannot afford to be out of action, however temporarily. Where we live, which is steep & waterbound, is not conducive to swanning around in a skirt ~ as anyone who has tried to negotiate a bouncing dinghy on a blustery day in a skirt can testify.

So, no skirts; no dresses. I wear pants, always long, even in summer, which has my daughters rolling their eyes & telling me I'm a nutter because the thermometer has peaked at 45C & it is too stinking hot for long pants. Whatever. I like my pants long. I don't think I even thought about this much because I very rarely buy anything new at all. What I looked for first was practical in the context of who I am & the sort of things I generally do in the course of a day. As a homeschooling mamma I sit a lot. My core body temperature tends to be cool so even in summer I chill quickly & easily. I garden ~ an Australian garden full of prickly shrubby things. I do at least a minimum amount of housework ~ & I am owned by two cats & five children who need me for all sorts of odd things.

What I have ended up with for everyday wear is neither glamorous nor fashionable. Generally I can be found paddling round in trackpants & a long T. This is exceedingly plain. My trackies are usually dark & my Ts an unadorned, solid colour. If I get cool, which happens a lot, I throw on a jacket. That's it. I have other things I occasionally wear like salwar kameeze [& I would wear these more if I could make my own] but I tend to keep them aside for going out.

Now I am not about my dress being a witness. I am about living on the planet lightly. That is part of being plain. My trackies cost under $10~, Ts under $5~. They last me for years & years & I am known for wearing my clothing past the point of wearability. I hate shopping so I like to reduce the amount of time I spend in shopping malls ~ with all the other temptations of bookstalls & slick new canvases. I like to reduce the amount of money spent on clothing so durability is important & the money saved can go for more important things than vanity. Things that neither catch nor tear easily are plain ~ they will last longer. Things that wash & wear without too much fuss & bother are plain ~ better for the ecosystem. Things that don't draw attention to oneself are plain ~ where this clashes with other convictions such as the prayer veiling the stronger conviction wins! Modesty is plain ~ all the bits that need covering are covered. Nor does this clothing draw unwanted attention so is unassuming in itself. I am comfortable, warm & able to go about my day with a minimum of fuss & bother. That is plain.

Many of my ideas on plainness were formed more than 20 years ago when I first came across Richard Foster's book on Simplicity. Of learning to need less. Of learning to let go of want. Of learning to let go: of what is useless, of what is clutter, of what is unnecessary. This does not mean there is no room for beauty. It means choosing more carefully so that utilitarian items are also beautiful in themselves. The Celts understood this too & made their household items for beauty as well as practical use. Simplicity applies to clothing. Simple, unpretentious clothing that allows the wearer to go about their everyday tasks with ease of movement & maximum effectiveness. That is to be plain, whether one wears a dress or not.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Only an extraordinary person would purposely risk being outsmarted by a creature often less than twelve inches long, over and over again. ~ Janna Bialek

Round here "the boys" usually refers to the cats but I do have sons; 3 in fact.  They are responsible for most of my grey hair.  Seriously.  Dino once rang me on the sea line on his trawler & said, " Guess what I'm doing, mum?"  Nothing good if I have to guess because he's obviously not working.  Never in my wildest dreams would it have occurred to me that even my brainless lad would go scurfing behind an 80' trawler.  Out at sea.  In Great White country.  Um, thanks for telling me, son.  Still we never descended to the depths of my father & his brothers ~ probably only because we never owned guns.  My uncles used to put my father, who was the youngest & just a wee bit spoilt & coddled, up the tree with a billy can of stones.  His job was to swing the billy can to & fro while his brothers took pot shots at it with their .22s.  Um, yeah, ok.

Boy~like the lads were all anxious to be out on their own as soon as possible ~ but house sharing with other lads has its drawbacks & Dino has come back home.  For stability.  For spirituality.  To get back on his feet.  And for the water.  All the lad has ever wanted to do his whole life is fish & crab the bay ~ & make some big money while doing it.  He is in the process of making his dream a reality.  His boat arrived today, a different one to the one in the picture.  He is over the moon.  His father & I, older & far more cautious, have counselled he have something else that will provide a more regular income ~ & he actually listened this time!  An island job, with Christians, has literally fallen into his lap.  It is the sort of thing he can job share with his twin, Theo because Theo will be back too ~ to fish & crab.  The house, which was starting to look far too big is starting to look far too small.  Three grown men & 3 adult women in one space is not at all the same thing as 5 children, 2 adults & a couple of cats. 

God give me grace.  I love my kids  but only someone who has tried to cook a meal around a kitchen full of young men making themselves a quick snack to hold them until the meal actually hits the table knows that some days are an endurance trial in grace & forbearance.  I like my mornings tranquil.  I do not like descending my staircase to the early morning aroma of old bait [very old] & a kitchen sink full of angry mud crabs destined for a nasty end. There are days I regret teaching my sons how to bait a hook!  Believe me, if I'd known what was coming I'd've never have done it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home. ~ Mohican Chief Aupumut, 1725

Ever notice that one doesn't grieve all at once?  It sort of leaks, seeping through weeks & months, then years, arriving unexpectedly when one is in the middle of something else entirely, living life ~ & surprising everyone, you not least of all.

Ever notice grief is like a mongrel dog hanging round long after you have tired of throwing him the scraps ~ & are even tireder of the emotional upheaval?  He has to be disciplined like an untrained puppy & brought to heel or he is impossible to live with.

Mark was my youngest brother ~ the one I distinctly remember suggesting my parents would be better off feeding to the sharks.  I already had one brother.  I didn't feel I needed any more.  Oldest sisters are like that sometimes.  Bossy.  And opinionated. Territorial.  I sensed I was outnumbered & there was no way to join the majority.

Besides Mark was impossible to live with.  He was noisy. Man, was he noisy!  He'd get up before the sun so he could go fishing & you'd lie tensely in bed waiting for every slammed door, the piercing whistle, the thunks & bumps & bangs ~ & even when the back door slammed behind him you knew it wasn't the end because he'd always forget something & be back!

We fought a lot.  I once tried to put his head through a wall & he tried his knife throwing skills on me.  Lack of anger management meant neither of us was terribly successful.  Mark was social.  I didn't want him being social with me; I'm not the social sort.  We did not get along.  At all.  For my sins I got a child just like him.  Blows me away sometimes.

I don't think anyone who ever met Mark ever forgot him.  He once returned a girlfriend well past her curfew due to the proverbial flat tire.  The next morning he arrived at her irate parents' dressed in sackcloth, sprinkled ashes over his head on their sparkling & pale coloured carpet while muttering, " Mea Culpea."  Surprisingly, they forgave him.  Carpet & daughter.

Out in the boat with Dearest & I one day he suddenly spotted a crab & simply went over the side after it.  Mark was like that.  People loved him for it.

He joined the navy because they promised to teach him to fly.  Well, they promised to let him fly.  He already had a light aircraft license.   Took him up for his first acrobatics lesson ~ the one where they expect all their novices to be violently ill.  Mark promptly made his instructor sick.  He was fine.  But we are talking about the lad who was the only body never to be ill at sea & once, to my father's immense angst, was sent into the cabin to make sandwiches [being the only body left standing] & returned with garlicky salami, pickles, ripe cheese...My father passed on the sandwiches but Mark wolfed the lot.  Anyway the navy eventually grounded him because Mark just couldn't see his way to actually doing the academics.  Anything sound familiar here?  So Mark said, "Nice knowing you..." & moved on.

He did take up flying as a career ~ crop~dusting out west in N.S.W.  The crop~dusters are yellow & Mark would borrow his for quick jaunts north to visit the folks & as he roared over Brisbane he would drop low over the coast & waggle his wings at us.  "That's Uncle Mark! That's Uncle Mark!" the kids would scream racing down the road to keep his plane in sight for as long as possible.

Yep, the pernicky little brother became a pretty decent adult.  We actually got on pretty well though Mark was a romantic & I was a historian so we were never going to see eye to eye over King Arthur & his Camelot.  Uh~uh.  Nope.  I think my version is more interesting; Mark thought the facts ruined a good story.

Then one morning he was gone.  Just like that.  I woke up to my mother's phone call telling me he'd gone down in his plane, another aeronautical statistic for which there are never going to be any answers.

2006 was a difficult Christmas but life moves on.  Even the deepest griefs have to give way to the imperatives of living.  Our house sits under the flight path for the light aircraft ~ which was enough to send Star & I into a tail spin but we've got used to it.  You can get used to anything given enough time ~ even little brother's dying before their time.

And then Alison posted on her FB wall that her master score for the Gothic went MIA with her luggage from her last trip & you know, Mark adored my girls.  He had a son he adored but he thought my girls were something special [& naturally they adored him] & I thought how much Mark would have loved everything about the Gothic.  It's bigness.  It's over~the~top~ness.  The drama & angst & the music.  It is just his sort of thing, like Handel's Messiah.  He would have egged Star on in her ditzy starry thing & cheered for Alison ~ & suddenly I miss him.    I do know heaven hasn't been anywhere near as quiet since he got there.
We come from the earth, we return to the earth, and in between we garden. ~ Author UnknownFirstly, because I do a lot of whinging about the Star & not only do we get a little fraught around the edges I suspect I occasionally [only occasionally mind] give the impression that the child is something of a moron.  She's not.  She's actually very, very bright ~ hence the reason for becoming so terribly fraught. 

Anyway, seeing as I don't even seem to be ending my sentences [it's been a long day] last term's returned work returned home to roost today. Ahem. Pretty much as expected in the math/science department. Not our strong areas. Very ho~hum. English/history is a very different story. In those we pull As. Without even trying. What's more, by dint of bribery, extortion & terrorist threat I wangled a story out of my Star. Mind you, I had to state in very large letters that it was copyrighted to the Star & was not to be reproduced in whole or part without the express permission of the author! No flies on the Star! Our supervisor, who is sadly very aware that Star is strongest in the fine arts, suggested she do some water colour illustrations & submit it to a publisher as it would make a very good children's picture book. Star actually has some illustrations...I don't have time to get my head round this just now. Our entire holiday period is likely to be consumed by music.

Then today was dentist day for Dearest ~ which means I do a lot of sitting around waiting just so I can drive Dearest back to the jetty all drugged up & uggy.  Hm. However the local shops have a very well kept secret ~ the best bakery in the district!  We sat outside in the first muggy summery day we've had sipping cappuccinos & I indulged in a matchstick because they are always absolutely fresh & crispy flaky. And creamy.  And fattening.  And very yum.

It was an odd sort of a day.  Couldn't make up it's mind really.  While it was still pleasant I took a little wander down the road that wound round the edges of the bay.  Several things made this walk unusual.  There are almost no mangroves.  Unheard of in these parts.  The seaward side has been kept as natural reserve ~ extraordinarily unusual as waterfront is prime real estate.  What's more, as evidenced by this old Queenslander, it has been like this for a long, long time ~ & kept that way.

 It was a green & leafy nook.  Hard to believe that only a few hundred yards away a busy shopping thoroughfare was carrying on business as usual.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Obedience to the call of Christ nearly always costs everything to two people- the one who is called, and the one who loves that one." ~ Oswald Chambers

Dani, who blogs here, is counting down the weeks before she leaves on her mission trip with the Logos ship. The ship travels the world with the idea of bringing "knowledge, hope & help to the people of the world".  Each year sees about 1 000 000 visitors board the ship.  I know she is excited & it has been interesting watching how the Lord has dealt with her in preparation for this trip.

Meanwhile Liddy is being prepared differently because hers will not be a short term mission.  It is fascinating what the Lord is serving up in preparation ~ things that one might never have considered as necessary training but which the Lord considers paramount.

Odd as it might seem, or perhaps not if you know me well, I haven't known too many missionaries.  I wasn't all that thrilled by visiting missionaries.  The starving African hordes , the millions of Chinese ~ in fact all the unreached peoples of the world  ~ would still be starving & unreached if it was left up to me.  I have enough trouble muddling about in my own little word but even so I never felt any burning desire to outreach anywhere.  [Where I soap box is with the church itself because, man oh man, how is the church ever going to do half the stuff Christ commanded if the teachers don't teach?! Yeah...] I didn't tell my kids missionary stories.  I didn't tell about those martyred for the faith either.  What I did tell them was that as the children of a western nation they never ever had the right to whinge & complain that they were poor & hard done by.  Never.  [Didn't stop them but that's what they got told.]

Missions weren't big in this house.  We didn't have one of those dinky little money boxes to put the spare change in for mission fields.  We didn't pray particularly for missionaries on the field or that God would raise up workers. My library doesn't include any of the wonderful missionary biographies ~ though we do own a copy of Ingrid Bergman & The Inn of the 6th Happiness. I never subscribed to any of the many missionary publications.  Dani's home was even less missionary oriented.  Yet here is where God has chosen to raise up workers.

One missionary is pretty extraordinary, given the circumstances.  Liddy has known from the time she was about 10 that she was called to the mission field.  Consequentially I have known that also.  We have had a long time to adjust to that knowledge.  Sometimes the journey has been excruciating as Christ attempts to mold the piece of stubborn granite I gave birth to into a tool fit for His purposes.  Sometimes it has been heartbreaking because the Lord has to break us before He can use us.  Sometimes  we get the Wheee effect as the impossible becomes our reality.  One can never complain that the journey has been dull.

In the natural course of events I've met more missionaries in the last 12 months than I've ever known previously.  They are a different breed.  Their sights are firmly on the Kingdom.  I have also learnt some things that quite frankly appall me.  I've seen this statistic diced any number of ways but what it boils down too is that there are more young, single women on the mission field than there are men ~ of any age or marital status!  Worse, the more dangerous the country the higher the numbers of women, the fewer the men! I'm sorry; that one just boggles my mind.

Why is that?  I can think of lots of reasons.  Parents want their sons established in a career to support a family.  Men are more likely to be married & either be loath to take their families on the mission field or have wives who are opposed to going.  Men are less likely to be religious ~ from an Aussie point of view.  Anyone actually count the ratio of men to women recently?  Parents are opposed to their children becoming missionaries....And what stands out to me is how few actually ask God what He wants.  Do I want my Liddy on the mission field in a different country?  Of course not!  I'll rarely see her & things like grandkids become a " probably not".  But it's not about me.  I asked God.  I actually did.  I know He wants my Liddy so Liddy will go.  Eventually.  In God's own good timing.  I have 5 kids; surely I can spare one for God's work?

Only it's not just one.  God has His hand firmly clamped on Dino's shoulder too.  Dino is talking Africa.  Not any time soon but Africa.  Where Dino goes Theo usually follows.  Even stranger I have a feeling Star will end up with Liddy ~ again not any time soon.  The hardest lesson to learn is that our children are indeed not our own.  They belong to God first & are lent to us for only a little season.  All our expectations of who they are, what they will be & how their lives will go are subject to a higher authority.  Watching them step out from under the shelter of our spiritual covering & shoulder their own spiritual mantle has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do but it is absolutely imperative that our children learn to hear God for themselves, learn to discern His will for their lives,  learn to obey first & argue later.

So as Star & I submerge into the nether regions of The Gothic I have other things happening on the back burner:  Liddy comes off the farm to study & look for part~time work while waiting on the ok for Chile; Dino heads off to Dubbo for the wheat while praying for discernment for direction; & Theo arrives home for a short break that will prompt who knows what!  I need to remember: “God had only one Son and He made Him a missionary.”-David Livingstone

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My parents keep asking how school was. It's like saying. "how was that drive-by shooting?" You don't care how it was, you're lucky to get out alive.

Finally.  It is such a relief.  We are done for the year.  Star's work is in the mail to here & we can give our attention to more important things: the art exhibition; the Gothic; the cats.  Definitely the cats.

It has been an incredibly difficult year.  I find year 10 is like that ~ especially for concrete learners.  They have to see how everything applies to life as they live it ~ & as most schooling isn't & doesn't it becomes a battle royal.  Thanks to the vagaries of the Queensland educational system the kids are too young to throw to the employment wolves & too old to  tell, "Just suck it up, baby!"  Yeah.

So while I was thinking thoughts unmentionable about Star & her appalling attitude to anything remotely academic I happened to trail into the garage after some engine oil & caught the tail end of the teller's conversation with her daughter.

"No.  You can not come home.  No.  You can not leave school.  No.  I told you not to ring & ask..."  Catching my giggle she rolled her eyes & said, "We do this every Wednesday..."  So, it could be worse.  The child could actually be in school ~ & nothing changes except I lose the modicum of control I actually have!  Any day of the week the local mall is swarming with bored kids who have just walked out of their classes.  I need to bear that in mind.  Truly, there's a reason we homeschool & it has nothing whatsoever to do with academic outcomes!

I love my child.  She is wonderful & witty & funny & she is incredible about helping run this house.  She is always happy & smiling [unless someone inadvertently mentions the M word [math] ] ~ & even better she is kind & caring but no amount of trying is going to turn my pig's ear into a silk purse.  What's more I figure we've done pretty well.  Her math is better than mine.  She reads voraciously & has an extensive vocabulary.  She writes well.  She just needs a proper purpose in order to do all these things.  In my perfect world that would happen.  We don't get to have a perfect world.  What we now get to do is something real.  Something incredibly exhausting that requires loads of patience & more loads of hard work ~ something that assures me that when it comes to reality my ditzy daughter has a really, really good grasp on the niceties of life.