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...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Here we go round the prickly pear

At five o’clock in the morning. T.S. Eliot

You wake up some mornings & the day just feels so right, you know: kids still sleeping peacefully in their beds; cats sprawled in dappled patches of early morning light; the splashy sound of water hitting the beach & the air, mmm, the air delicately laced with golden light & crisply clean like fresh sheets strung on the line.

I like living where we do.  Each morning I am reminded that God's mercies are new each day because each day I see it played out before my eyes.  When God made Adam He planted him in a garden not in an urban sprawl.  Whatever troubles the day may bring, & some days bring plenty, this early morning hangs suspended "between the idea & the reality/Between the motion & the act"[t.s.eliot ~ The Hollow Men] without any shadow.  There's a reason that man's my all time favourite poet!

First thing the day is so quiet ~ yet not quiet at all.  Marlow's rumbling purr as he greets me echos like thunder. Kirby's chirruping sounds over loud & along the verandah rail the butcher birds serenade the new day with joyous carolling.  I like the twilight zones.  They are full of possibilities.  Perhaps today Star can do math? ☺

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Therefore I will make the heavens tremble & the earth will shake from it's foundations at the wrath of the Lord of Hosts, on the day of His burning anger. Isaiah 13:13

Have you seen the news recently?  The whole world is in turmoil.    Nowhere is untouched by tragedy.  Where are the leaders of God's people crying out for repentance?  Who is raising up a Holy People?  When will there be an end to the compromise that has plagued God's church & made us a stench in the nostrils of the worldly because they see our hypocrisy?

It is time, & past time, for God's people to come out of the world as the cleansed & set apart vessels they were meant to be. for what use is salt that has lost it's savour?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ten or so years ago I used to penfriend with a lady in N.S.W  who had 7 children.  The number of children we had was the common denominator because we didn't have much else in common despite the fact we were both  believers & we both homeschooled.  My friend, Dee, was affiliated with a Mennonite church in America & she was quite rigid in the application of her beliefs.  Despite the fact we didn't see eye to eye on a number of issues we maintained a friendship for more than 10 years until in the process of moving we lost contact with each other.

For most of my life I have been a chronic reader.  I'll read jam jar labels, the adds on buses, discarded newspapers ~ in fact anything at all that has the printed word on it & I have not been overly discriminating.  I also travel a lot.  Hours I wait on windy jetties for boats before the half hour boat ride home & I find it just about impossible to sustain a conversation over the heavy thrum of a diesel motor labouring through the channels although Star invariably tries to engage me in conversation.   It is a combination that had me picking up whatever stray magazine I could get my hands on so I had something to read & it didn't matter if it got crumpled in my bag or rained on or spattered with spray.  As the price of magazines skyrocketed & the information between the covers deteriorated God bore it upon my mind that this was not a Godly solution to a perennial problem & the renewing of my mind included cleaning up my reading material.  Which left one huge vacuum.

Now this was a problem I was sure would have an easy solution.  Surely Christians put out quality magazines full of sage & godly advice, meaty articles, stories that would uplift & encourage holiness. I tried Christian Woman.  The older ones were fine but then they changed publishers & modernized & I've decided I'm not a very modern Christian.  I'm not a very liberal Christian either.  The magazines had nothing to say to me. I don't believe women need to juggle family & work.  I don't feel the need to rampantly support women's ministry ~ I know, but Quakers have always supported women's ministry & it is never right for a Christian to demand their own way.  That is not the way of Christ. I tried Above Rubies. Better but...And I felt awful because I know lots & lots of lovely Christian women read, enjoy & get great benefit from these magazines but they drove me crazy.  They skimmed the surface so much. I couldn't believe how limited my choices were & I was really reluctant to tuck my expensive books into a tote bag when the weather was wild'n'wet.

And then Dee, in one of her cleaning frenzies sent An Encouraging Word my way. Now I was askance at first.  After all the publishers, all women, all covered!  Yikes.  I thought I'd been sent something from a cult ~ the Exclusive Brethren, maybe ~  but I decided to overlook the fact they all wore pinafore dresses [or jumpers if you're from the States] & bits of cloth on their heads & stated loudly men were the heads of their families & had a read anyway. 

I liked what I was reading. Firstly, & this is so important, even though I didn't always agree with their point of view they expressed their opinion with great gentleness & respect & they referred me to the original language & funnily enough I can cope with that.  Secondly they were very pro children.  When you have five & you've heard enough comments like: Haven't you discovered what causes that?[well yes, but do I really have to explain it to you?]; The number of children equals your I.Q [Then that makes me smarter than you, I guess]; or No~one needs that many children [so which one are you suggesting we dispose with?] then anyone who thinks having lots is a blessing rather than a curse is someone your likely to breathe a sigh of relief with.  Thirdly, at a time when I was already drifting slightly left of centre & out of the mainstream Christian thinking I found encouragement from others who were also questioning the direction today's Christianity has taken & were choosing a different path, a return to older roots, grass roots Christianity: homeschooling. home churching, home businesses.

Then disaster struck. The lady who distributed AEW in Australia ceased operations.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to renew my subscription.   I tried for 12 months.  It was like breaking into Fort Knox & my computer skills weren't equal to the task.  I mourned but accepted defeat.  Then Liddy, who was secretly reading my subversive mags, noticed they were no longer regularly arriving in the mail & went in to bat on my behalf.  A backlog, 2 years worth, suddenly arrived in a great swag.  I devoured them ~ but eventually I was back where I had started.  However both AEW & I had modernised & after a few little hiccuphs thanks to our common language I managed to renew my subscription on~line & I waited....& I waited....& I waited.  Today the first of this year's magazines arrived. 

Now I will tell you something else about AEW.  Their magazines are always a *pay what you can afford* offer.  They will give away subscriptions if you genuinely cannot afford the money but want their magazines & if you subscribe they offer a *get one, get one free* deal so you can get one for a deserving friend as well. I don't know anyone else who makes these sorts of offers ~ & abides by them.  I know they do.  At times I have not paid for my subscription yet the magazines arrived faithfully every quarter.

Now I just have to figure out how to back order so I can get the mags I've missed.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

When we talk to God, we're praying.  When God talks to us, we're schizophrenic. ~ Jane Wagner

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dearie, dearie me. We are so quiet here on our little island, toddling along in our little Puddleduck puddle while the world spins by but it was brought home to me last night, forcebly, that we are more than a little odd ~ & we scare people.

Have you been following along?    If not, in brief, my darling oldest daughter applied for the mission field last year & was accepted only there was a hiccup so she is still waiting on clearance.  Meanwhile she has been getting involved in other things & one of those other things has been the OM prayer meeting once a month on Thursdays.  Here you can read about OM.  Here you can read about the sort of opportunities they offer.

The OM prayer meeting is not the sort of place you would generally find me.  Now don't get me wrong; I believe in prayer. I believe in corporate prayer. I will even admit there is a time & a place for prayer to be verbalised but .... I am a Quaker.  I go about things a little differently.  I am a big picture thinker; I rarely, if ever, pay attention to the details.  That being the case I rarely inflict myself on more traditional congregations & when it happens I try to fade into the background because I dislike making people uncomfortable & it is hard to discombobulate me unless you really attack me ~ & most people are far too polite to do that at a prayer meeting.

Now you have the picture I was surprised when Liddy said I'd been specifically invited to attend last night's prayer meeting.  Ooookaaay..... No kameeze 'cause I don't know these people.  Conservative pants & top & a discreet covering, a nice little blue & white tie~dye bandanna that shouldn't alarm anyone.  Liddy did pre~warn me that I wouldn't be allowed to fade gently into the background because people were constantly broken up into prayer partnerships.  Mmmmhuh. And that was the first problem. Would I pray first?  Not a problem ~ only I found people expected me to say something straight away before I'd even managed to gather my scattered wits; I was constantly being nudged to get a move along.  Yikes!  All around me people were galloping along at a great rate of knots exhorting the Lord loudly & clearly for very specific needs while I was meandering along chatting amiably about the Big Picture ~ raising up workers, ripe harvests, salt & light, as I do but struggling because just when I was thinking I might about centre & do deeper into prayer there was a loud AMEN, indicating we were all to change partners & the whole process started again for another worker in another country.  How do people pray like this?  It was exhausting!  But you know, this is part of Liddy's prayer team & it's important so I tried to stay with the boat you know, & not drift sideways. 

So after two hours of this I was headachy & queasy so when one of the ladies who'd done the rounds with me asked about Liddy I was past being tactful.  As I used to tell the obstreperous boys who thought asking me embarrassing questions would disconcert me, "Are you sure you want to know because if you do I will tell you?"  So I told her about it being 10 years in the growing & about God having first dibs on Liddy & about the strange places He's led her wondering why she was starting to look a little wild around the eyes & as though I'd grown a set of horns & carried a little pitchfork ~ only to have Liddy inform me later this was the *church missions* lady & she had doubts about sending Liddy. *sigh* 

You know, it would be so helpful if, before offering an opinion & telling Lid what she should or should not be doing, people actually spent some time asking the Lord so we could all get on the same page.  Ever so helpful ~ & I could take my feet out of my mouth!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

As I have repeatedly written in one form or other, blogging is not about writing posts. Heck, that’s the least of your challenges. No, blogging is about cultivating a mutually beneficial relationships with an ever-growing online readership, and that’s hard work.” ~Alistair Cameron

Life is messier than we expect & full of surprises.  When I began blogging I really wasn't all that surprised when I crashed my first blog.  I'm technologically incompetant.  I was devestated but not surprised.  I was not surprised when I crashed a 2nd blog ~ though less devestated.  I'd learnt a thing or two by then & figured on putting it all back together.  What I didn't expect was the friendships ~ though when Ruby first agreed to meet with me on one of her trips to Brisbane I admit to metaphorically kicking myself for letting me in for who knows what?!  What if she didn't like me in the real?  What if we had nothing to talk about & our time was full of those long awkward silences?  What if our differences were a problem?  I stewed myself into a lather & then added the lethal combination of trying to find my way round Brisbane to the mix.

So silly, because Ruby is lovely.  If she finds me a little strange she has been kind enough to never say so.  So naturally, when she found herself in Brissie again she got in contact.  Could we meet up?  Panic stations at this end.  I have 3 adults living in this house at present all of whom use my mainland car more than I do & have commitments.    We juggled times & locations.  I had a meltdown all over Liddy & she felt sorry enough for me that she agreed to drive me.  Ruby was subjected to the full impact of the Ganeida Women in whirly~gig mode.  Last time there was just Ruby & I & Star plugged in to her i~pod ~ & we were all a little shy.  This time there was Ruby & Ruby's young gentlemen [who looked askance at Star for some time before deciding she was harmless & safe to talk to lol], Liddy & Star in outrageous mode & me.  I talk too much when I get nervous.  Poor Ruby.  Star 's dad had just paid her allowance so she went & bought sugar.  Trust me, that child does not need a sugar fix, ever.  Liddy is no shy shanks & no slouch in the verbosity department either.

This time we met up as friends who have been apart too long & were delighted to see each other again.  So much of life happens off screen  & there are things you just don't put up there on a blog for all the world to read about.  Well I don't & Ruby doesn't.  We had a chance to chat about those things, to share a little more deeply & I know there are things added to my prayer list because that is what friends do for each other; they pray for each other's needs.  We were still chatting as Ruby's car pulled up & she got in & drove away, on her way back to her other life, a plane ride away in a township I once visited in the long ago.  She will be back & I hope we will do this again.

So while Ruby was negotiating her way into the airport I was dropping Liddy back at the boat & taking Star to lunch...which reminds me.  Star has the oddest eating habits & she thinks sugar is a food group so deciding on a meal the child will actually eat is something of a marathon effort.  Chinese is usually good but to my surprise she opted for a kebab.  A kebab is usually something Liddy or I will opt for & we add all the trimmings: tabouli, humus etc.  Star stuck to chicken, lettuce & carrot but as Star handed me the change the young man serving her noticed me & a delighted smile lit up his face. He touched a hand to his head indicating my covering & gave me a thumbs up. Oh dear.  I think he thought I was muslim.  And no, I wasn't wearing my kameeze.

It was just one of those days.  On to choir & the child on crutches informed us all she's just learnt there was a difference between crutch & crotch.  Apparently she's been telling everyone about her crotches.  What a howler.  Then Star pushed her in her wheelchair out to the car ~ only it wasn't her car & it was raining & in the process Star bogged the wheelchair.  While the rest of us fell about laughing Alison videoed it for prosperity.  Reckon it's doing the round of the choirs this week!

I got home & the cats fell all over me because I'd been gone too long & they'd missed me ~ & I was exhausted.  Now you all probably are as well.

Monday, February 21, 2011

 "Oh," cried Chicken Little, "the sky is falling. I must go tell the king." ~Bulrovian fairy tale
 It stormed last night.  This morning the wind began to blow.  It blew & it blew until  this little old house rattled & shook & things thumped on the roof, rolled down the gutters & crashed through the shrubbery.  It has been very exciting.  We have no idea what will fly past next. Oh, & if you're not sure why this particular pic, the dark patches are the wind passing over the water. The darker the water, the stronger the gust.  The wind is from the south & has churned up the sea bed to a most gloriously icky shade of yuk.
 I hung out the washing.  I had a line full of demented dervishes billowing wildly in the breeze.
Even the wildlife is taking shelter on the lee side.  I found this tiny little caterpillar scuttling frantically up a stick insect that was attached to the nor'western side of this lantern. Yep, it's been a wild'n'wooly day on the islands today.  Tomorrow I am off to catch up with Ruby before she returns to wet'n'wild Rocky.  And after Ruby, choir rehearsal.  I think I may be just a little tired when I get home ~ though nowhere near as tired as Ruby who has to get on a jet plane.
 The Havard Law states: Under controlled conditions of light, temperature, humidity & nutrition, the organism will do as it damn well pleases.
~Larry Wall.

Unlike my northern neighbours we are not suffering from agonies of cold.  Rather the opposite.  The temperatures have hit the 30sC with humidity at 90%.  I hate when the weather does that.  We all flopped round under the fans & were miserable.

Marlow was so distressed he took himself outside where he quivered under the Poinciana waiting for the Bogey Man to get him.  Marlow does not go outside.  For one thing is too far away from his people.  For another there are too many unknowns:  strange screeches, little movements amongst the mulch, leaves skittering over the bricks.  He turns into a nervous ball of furr that jumps at his own shadow.

It stormed last night.  This morning is better.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

 I want you to sing with rapture and dance like a dervish. ~  William Parrish

There are a few professions where you are starting your day at four o'clock in the afternoon:  ambulance driver, airline pilot, Woolies shelf stocker ~ & the Arts! 

I can't say I'm at my best heading off into unknown regions so late in my day & we had to detour & detours always confuse me, because, if you've been following along, somewhere in the wet, soggy, chaos that was travelling in & out to the Gothic Star's hanging bag acquired a rip & her performance pants fell out the bottom.  Drama, drama, drama.

Naturally the refedex was in the car so we began without me having looked at a map ~ always such a good way to start ~ & Star was in Ditz mode.  I asked her to look at the map & count of my turns.  When I checked she was staring intently out the window counting each intersection we went through!!!  Glory Be!  What good she thought that would be I have no idea! 

Picking up the new pants was not a drama.  The right size had been left out for us in an easy to grab them spot & for a wonder Star had remembered the correct size so they did actually fit when she put them on.  I had left us plenty of time ~ & a good thing too given Star was not on the ball when it came to reading the map but even so we were early. So, thankfully, was Luke.  I do not know where Alison found Luke ~ or if he found her ~ but he is terribly sweet though being in the Jekyll & Hyde production is in the midst of growing a beard & arrived in black suite & dark sunnies looking like the local Mafioso.  Cracked me up.  Like us he has no sense of direction [partly why, like us, he was so early] but informed me Google phones have the best GPS.  Now how do I get my hands on one of those?

Anyway Star was singing here ~ which has changed hands since this review was written but is huge with plenty of parking for a change.  Why can nurseries get their parking together but theatre venues can not? This was for a local councillor's opening campaign for mayor & I have nothing but good things to say about this woman, which is something given mentioning our council to any islander is like waving a red flag at a bull.  Long, sad & complicated story covering several centuries & the general feeling that anyone who chooses to live on an island deserves what they get!  Karen is responsible for us knowing Alison & for the whole AVAE shebang.  Several years back she made a concerted effort to get the island children involved in the Arts, with a capital A.  Star was all she netted.  However she was wonderful to us, compensating our travel costs & even picking us up & running us round personally so Star could get a taste of the wider theatre world ~ & got hooked, but that is Star for you & not Karen's fault.  Her girls trained under Alison too so she knows what AVAE is capable of.  Just as well as there were just 5 of them but as I keep saying 5 AVAE kids can produce a big, BIG sound ~ & they did.

We got home again quite late.  It is not the performing so much as all the travelling wears us out ~ & naturally travelling plus performance ran right over the top of dinner time so we had yet another pick ~me~up meal on the run.  We are so tired of take~aways!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The boys are back!

Guess who just got back today?

Those wild-eyed boys that had been away

Haven't changed, haven't much to say

But man, I still think those cats are great ~ Thin Lizzie

No~one here eats the stuff ~ well, the lads do, but no~one else.  Pity, 'cause they do it so well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One or two random thoughts

We survived the curse of the Gothic.
Yesterday Theo arrived home.  Star, Liddy & I arrived home behind him to find all the cups & most of the plates in the sink & a frying pan in the bin.  The boys had been out prawning once already & were back out when we walked in the door so there were prawn shells everywhere.  The baked beans were significantly reduced & all the cheese was gone. In a matter of hours.  Not days.  Not weeks.  Hours.

The boys are early risers.  My Star is not ~ which would matter less if my boys were the quiet types.  They are not.  Star might be the youngest of 5 but large family living has not been Star's daily lot.  She is not impressed.

I joked when Brisbane flooded & QPAC went under that the Curse of the Gothic was taking revenge.  It is no longer funny.  Most of the car parks in the area are still declared unsafe & while QPAC might be open to the public the backstage areas are mostly uninhabitable & the smell lingers. Ick.  We felt for Alison who is still auditioning in there & with Wicked in full swing no parking to be had.  She was sounding fraught.  I don't blame her.

The Gothic has tentacles like an octopus.  The open rehearsal has been & gone.  The performance is over & done for.  Even the critics are silent.  Last night however, we listened to some of the recording ~ which will be released.  When I actually have details I will say.  Alison had some other bits & pieces from other choirs for comparison but in my humble opinion our kids should be really proud of themselves.  I'm not sure how many children Alison ended up with but it was nowhere near the numbers she should have had ~ bit of a bone behind the scenes  ~ but there aren't all that many children's choirs that could deal with this & the commitment was huge ~ from parents as well as kids.  Lots of the kids pulled out & others weren't there for all the rehearsals, never mind the actual performance.  And the backbone of the children's chorus was AVAE [ Alison's Australian Vocal Arts Ensemble] which is what Star is involved with.  There weren't that many of them but they came in every time strong & sure ~ & they were the miked kids too.  I have no idea what Alison does but she gets the most wonderful sound out of her kids.  Just a handful can produce as much sound as a 30 voice choir.  I know.  I've heard it. There is a lovely clarity of tone but warmth as well & I thought they compared more than favourably with the lucky lot who did this in a studio with each section rehearsed & sung separately!  Not biased or anything!

Now if we can just sort out Star's pant problem she is back singing on Saturday. And next month.  If you are in Brissie then you can hear them here.  And if you do happen to be there & you do happen to notice my Star, do us a favour & make the girl's day; ask for an autograph. *snigger*!!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

"The Sami used to believe that the northern lights were the souls of our ancestors dancing on the sky"

So I was thinking about our History component because Star had something in mind for Japan but had a brain fart & can no longer remember what it was she wanted to learn about.  Happens to that child.  However we have History down as one of our *subjects* ~ though history according to me looks nothing like your regular text book because your regular text book bores me to tears.  Like my child I have an aversion to being bored.  I avoid it at all costsI like to do history both in depth & as widely as possible & if you want to be assured of learning something you never knew before you choose something a little left of center, something a little oddballish, something different.  What we are studying this term are the Sami.

The Sami are the reindeer people of Northern Scandinavia.  At some point they migrated across the top of Russia into Alaska & that was why I was initially curious.  Who on earth hikes across Russian Siberia to put down roots in another icy wasteland?  Oh, & the fact they have over 300 words to describe ice & snow ~ bearing in mind people it does not snow in my neck of the woods! What on earth can you find to say about stuff that's white, wet & cold?  A lot apparently.

Like the Gypsy, like the North American Indian or the Australian Aborigine, the Sami have become a minority ethnic group within their own country & the dominant culture has subtly but inexorably marginalised them until even their language is endangered.  This is inevitable when one culture takes over another.  In the Sami's case that would make us all the poorer.  Their language belongs to the Finno~Ugric family ~ a language group that has arguably the most difficult languages of all for non~native speakers to learn.  I used to haunt a language board & learnt all sorts of odd things like only the African click~click languages are worse than Finnish or Hungarian to learn & grammatically Finnish is more difficult.  Mind you, there was always someone who knew an even more obscure language who would argue this point but the general consensus was these are the hardest European languages .  Even Chinese Mandarin & Arabic are supposedly easier.  I wouldn't know.  I struggle with French & German & mangle both admirably.

Now Sami is a nature language with a wealth of concepts for all things related to the weather, to the terrain, to the natural conditions around them ~ hence the 300 different words for snow!   However what really intrigued me was the concept of *joik*.  A joik is a song/poem, usually chanted a capella, slowly & deep in the throat, that is composed & sung in isolation, deeply personal  or spiritual. You do not sing *about* something or someone, you sing them; their essence, how & what you perceive them to be.

Old hippie that I am I never outgrew my folk roots so musically this is somewhere I am very comfortable & for Star it adds to the depository of musical knowledge.  So I went scrounging around on you tube so we could actually listen to some of this stuff ~ not something likely to impress Star.  She likes her songs to make musical sense in the culture she understands.  Just the same this is possibly the oldest living musical tradition & I was fascinated to find it transposed well to heavy metal.  I loved this. Can't you just hear the wide sky, the icy wastes?  Mari Boine uses joik elements more traditionally but here is a traditional joik, sung in very untraditional surrounds.

So what do you think?  Good, huh?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Having a family is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain ~ Martin Mull

Theo is coming home.  Wednesday.  Good, I thought.  I have to be on the mainland Wednesday anyway because Wednesdays, as we all, know, is choir day.  Um, yeah.  Dino's flight lands in Brissie pretty much about when I should be dropping Star off so now we are juggling like mad.  Liddy is going to drive; drop us off, get Theo, pick us up again. I love complicating my life so much.

Maybe I should just give up on schooling my Star?  The stars all align against us.  And you know, she got it together so beautifully on Friday even her father was moved to comment.  She even did math without a major meltdown.  Don't I wish it was always like that! Plus, I have in my hot little hand 3 completed music theory tests.  OK, so it's her grade one stuff & it's taken her 3 months to get this far but I have them.

Now where did I put that grip I keep losing again?

Friday, February 11, 2011

'Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting  different results' ~Albert Einstein.

I have my moments ~ like we all do ~ of being absolutely brilliant.  And God, in His infinite wisdom, gave me a number of children who do not think the way I do.  Not in the least.  So I've had practise, you know, in the brilliance department.

In the Long Ago I had a friend who decided to go back to school & get her degree in Environmental Science.  I was impressed.  It's not just that my friend is very dyslexic, she is very left brained & science carries way more clout in Academia than an Arts degree.  I don't even begin to understand what she was learning about but she struck a snag early on.  Her course required essay writing, not a lot, but some, & some was dragging her marks way down because she's dyslexic & left brained & writing essays was so not her thing.  Not for the first time in my life a friend asked me to look over their work & make some editing suggestions that might help.

I can do this stuff in my sleep.  No, I don't do it here.  Here is my blog.  Personal expression & all that.  But I can do it right.  Apart from apostrophes, which seem to do in eveyrone's head, commas are one of those things that lots of people seem to get muddled with: you know ~ when you're making a list, when you are inserting a thought, when you are separating clauses.  My friend, like my dyslexic husband & my dyslexic kids, was inserting commas randomly ~ which made her work very hard to read if, like me, you use punctuation like you would road directions: Stop; Give Way; Slow; Steep Curve To The Right...

So I went through & cleaned up.  She had a nice direct writing style & was very clear once the random grammar was sorted out.

"But how do you know when to do that?" my friend wailed.  I will not sidetrack onto the inadequacies of the state education system. I stared at my friend whom I seriously considered much, much cleverer than I am because how could she not see what was so simple & clear to me?  And then I had one of those earth shattering revelations.  I know.  I'm slow sometimes, ok.  My friend is one of those left brained mathematical sorts & the usual right~brained explanations were short circuiting.  I grinned at her because I love when God illuminates my world with one brilliant flash & I had been coping a fair bit of flack about my inability to deal with Algebra.  "It's math", I told her smugly. "Use commas to separate a list, like you would to separate numbers.  You use comas like you would in algebra.  If you open a bracket, you close a bracket."  I left the clause thing alone.  I figured we didn't need to go there.

Yes I know there's more to grammar than that but I figure every little bit helps. Then last night I was pottering around on Facebook, a place I'm not overly fond of, & came across one of Star's friends [why do all her friends friend me?] bewailing her English assignment.  It makes me so sad to see kids hating a subject I love so much when there is so much richness to be gleaned from persevering through the hard stuff.  I can't help myself.  I had to ask what she had to do & what her problem was.  She has to write a *Who dunnit?*

I'm not sure what happens but somewhere in the great educational mind the teaching fraternity seems to think it no longer necessary to teach kids how to do stuff.  That somehow their creativity will be equal to the task.  That simply providing a seemingly interesting & challenging task is all that is required.  How I wish!!!

I took a punt.  A right brained child would have eaten this challenge up.  No internal logic.  No logic. But they would have churned out a story full of pizazz.  Once I could have.  Now I'd be having conniptions about all the plot holes I was creating!  So I figured I had a left brained child who was strong in the math area & I could give her an Algebraic formula that would make sense to her.: clue + clue (clue - clue) X clue = conclusion.  I think I nailed it...

Somewhere out there, there is  going to be an English teacher scratching their head.  

You know we have the government howling its head of about the state of this country's numeracy & literacy & demanding a National Curriculum so we can all be as ill educated as each other but until someone figures out how to teach math so the right brainers get it  & English so the left brainers get it we will remain a people who can do one or the other well & be inadequate in the other area.  I do know people who can do both; my mother, for example, but she's an exceptional woman.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

College isn't the place to go for ideas ~ Helen Keller

We live with the many faces of Star, performer extraordinaire. It requires a certain sang froi, a j'ne ces't quoi, an equilibrium of soul unfazed by the drama Star can incite in a teacup in a matter of moments. Yasi has nothing on Star.

Given the right incentive, a little hand~holding at the judicious moment, & a spoonful of sugar Star is game for pretty much anything except her math.  However it is not stretching things in the least to say not everyone appreciates Star's quirks.  Among those least likely to appreciate Star are those of the teaching fraternity.  Star is the child you do not want in your classroom.  You know, the one who always asks that awkward question; the one who always comes up with an answer that isn't exactly wrong but not the one you're hoping some bright spark will supply; the one who always has an alternative in mind ~ the one who says loudly & clearly math should be banned for eternity.  That one.

I used to tell the teachers I worked with that they should be down on bended knee thanking me for not sending this child into their classrooms.  I still think that.  Star moves to a completely different drummer.  Just yesterday she informed me she was a bigger genius than Mozart; she'd written more symphonies.  Huh?  When did this happen?  Seems they're all still in her head because she lacks the necessary skills to write them down but there is a constant symphony, or big band, or swing ensemble, or rock band playing in her head.  No wonder she never hears anything.  It must be terribly noisy in there!

Now I know this about my Star & her out of control ego & I have my methods, Watson.  As does Alison.  As does anyone who has much to do with this child.  They're called survival skills.  And this is part of the reason I was not happy to suddenly be assigned a new supervisor ~ one whose portfolio read very left brained, very organized, very straight down the line & abide by the rules.  Um, yeah.  Could see both Star & I having major problems with this guy.  Mind you, I'm sure he's a very nice guy.  I just don't want him as our supervisor.

I was not the only one.  One island over is the other homeschooling family who was upset to lose our supervisor & she whinged to even more people than I had & apparently kept quoting me, which is just a little scary, but the end result is we have our old supervisor back! Yay for us! Suddenly I feel much better about this year.  Much, much better. Well, no not the math. Star is still squawking about the math.  If I write to the head of the school do you thing we can get exempted?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It goes like this

The fourth, the fifth

The minor fall, the major lift

The baffled king composing Hallelujah




Hallelujah ~ Leonard Cohen

As my mother will testify, because we are usually haunting her house in the weeks prior to audition time, whichever song Star has chosen is going to be extremely well known by everyone within cooee before she is done because Star does actually rehearse.
This year, after weeks & weeks of angst, she chose Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Unfortunately of all the available versions to choose from the two Star liked were unsingable by her.  One was too low, the other pitched too high.  So what did Star do?  She meshed the two, dragged out the guitar & spent forever learning chords & her innovative version of a very well known song. 

Now Star in full flight rather reminds me of Mamma Cass of the Mamas & the Pappas.  Some of us remember who they were.  She has the range, the power & that beautiful clarity of tone.  Not that she always displays that for choir but we sure get the full benefit around here ~ & Hallelujah is the sort of song to have everyone humming along so as I drove her into her audition yesterday I was under a strict injunction not to hum along.  My strange child did not forbid my going in with her, only my making strange noises under my breath!

Now auditions are brief, just 10 minutes duration usually.  After 4 years with Alison, Alison has a pretty good idea what's going on with Star's voice so asked if we'd mind waiting while she slipped a new girl in.  Not a problem we thought.  Unfortunately she had a guitar with her & what she chose to sing was ~ yep! Hallelujah!

Star nearly died on the spot.  She prides herself on choosing a one of a kind song that she can be pretty sure no~one else is going to sing.  It rocked her though being carless she had opted to sing a capella as she usually does rather than lug her guitar case around.  Now remember I have heard Star sing this song day in day out for weeks on end.  I know how it is supposed to go, even given what Star had done to it, & the version I was used to hearing wasn't too bad though I have been on her case about her enunciation!  Just the same I thought it sounded ok.

Her audition did not sound ok.    Star went off the air, as she does sometimes, & totally mangled that poor song, which by no stretch of the imagination can be soul droned!  There was at least one really sour note which even made me wince.  Alison stopped her, set up a backing track for a version Star didn't know & off she went again. Ummmm, yeah. She did ok when she was able to follow the music but is was quite different to any of the versions we are used to around here.  Creative, was the term used to describe Star's audition piece.  Make of that what you may.

So while Alison chatted to me about Wicked Star eyed her sight reading piece.  Sight reading is usually something  of a shocker.  Star takes pot luck on hitting a note somewhere in the vicinity ~ or not, as the case may be. Random, opportunistic, totally hit & miss.  Yesterday she nailed it.  There was one really wrong note but Alison was surprised.  I was surprised.  Star was surprised.

Yes, Star's in.  Alison actually likes risk takers & as an educator, as a homeschooler, I know that the only true learners are the risk takers so all's good.  What's more the backing track to Hallelujah has been e~mailed through to Star because with a little work [& minus the Star meddling] it will sound pretty good ~ especially, Alison says, if Star has a listen to K.D Lang ~ which I did because I like K.D Lang.  This version gave me goosebumps.  Wow!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Though the mills of God grind slowly,: Yet they grind exceeding small ~ Longfellow

We are starting slowly ~ as always seems to be the case but the pace is starting to pick up now & soon we will be really chugging along.  Today Star is off for her AVAE audition.  Googling for my link I discovered we are already booked for performance next month & we aren't even in rehearsal yet!  Besides which the girl is still minus her performance pants.  And yes, it is in town!  I am practising breathing.....

As the girl went to her cousin's 18th last week, & he's nothing like local, school sorta nosedived before we'd even properly begun but we will gradually pick up our scattered threads again this week & hopefully settle into a solid routine shortly.

Meantime something awful has happened to the island car & Theo is heading home for a 3 week break.  It never rains but it pours.  So I am busy, busy, busy.  As always.
For those of you who know Amanda over at My Secret Garden.....

I had an e~mail from Amanda today.  She is fine.  No phone, no internet.  Only just now got her power back on but survived Yasi & using Maccas internet connection to let us know she is ok.  It will be a while until she is back on~line but I'm sure she'd love to hear from those of you who read over at her place. That is all, folks. ♥

Sunday, February 6, 2011

All marriages are happy. It's the living together afterward that causes all the trouble. ~Raymond Hull

Marriage means commitment.  Of course, so does insanity.  ~Anon

We have been a family for 26 years...26 years!!! Oh, my goodness!  Where did all that time go?  The nappies? The bedtime stories? The trikes & bikes, the soccer balls & cricket bats?  And this house is like a revolving door: they comes in; they goes out.  Constantly.

Twenty~six years.  And then on Thursday Dearest & I found ourselves in a position we haven't been in in 26 years: we were the only ones home.  For 4 days.  Dino has gone camping.  The girls are down with their aunt & cousin & I looked at this man, the father of my children, this stranger I once travelled the world with, with a little sense of foreboding because this is what we are moving towards day by day, as inevitably as the rising tide; a house bereft of children.  Just he & I pottering around in a lot of empty space.

I have been a mother for a long time.  Twenty~six years in fact ~ & it is true that I will never stop being a mother even though, in many ways, I wasn't a very good mother.  Ask my kids.  I zone out well.  Ask Dearest.  He always said the kids could be swinging off the chandeliers & I wouldn't notice.  It's true.  I have well worn escape routes for when the chaos gets too much.  Just the same if something lasts long enough you get used to it.

I'm used to going to bed only to get up again to pick up a child off the last boat.  I'm used to children trying to carry on an unintelligible conversation with me from 5 rooms away, to talking at me through the loo door, to being asked the unanswerable: where did I leave...? I'm used to finding my spare change jar suddenly emptied because pay day is one day too far away.   I am used to  a child arriving just as I'm on the verge of sleep & going,"So, I was thinking this about God & wondering..."There are a lot of us & my days are inevitably a round of other people's schedules, other people's messes, other people.    For decades any conversations with Dearest have been punctuated with, " Hold that thought..."

Days are for living & each one is full.  Despite what the books say not all of us can do date nights with the hubby to keep the flame that ignited us in the first place alive.  Conversations are more likely to revolve around scraping together that extra $100 to pay the bills or whether somebody's shoes will last another fortnight before they simply must be replaced than deep philosophical questions

We've watched as our boys have wined & dined their girl of the moment declaring loudly how they want romance in their relationship. Um, well, romance is over~rated.  And I read my niece's declaration on FB that she wants a man who always thinks she's beautiful.  Why? When I can have something more, something better?  Nope, dearest rarely buys me a present, not even for my birthday or Christmas, & declarations of how beautiful I am have never been his thing either but when I go into meltdown over money matters & revert to howling at the moon Dearest crunches numbers & points out the light at the end of the tunnel.  When Star gets one of those e~mails with a 7am call time in some part of town I've never heard of before & I sob hysterically into the refedex Dearest calmly marks out my route, tells me how much time I need & assures me that I am perfectly capable of doing this ~ a viewpoint I don't always appreciate at the time but he's never been wrong yet.  When  hormones rage out of control through the house & I start thinking we've raised horrible little monsters who will do something very publicly unforgivable that will necessitate me moving into a well at the bottom of the world & never seeing the light of day again, Dearest reminds me that the hormones will reside & I need to breathe, practise a little detachment, have some chocolate.

Nor would I say Dearest is my best friend.  He's male for one thing.  There are some things he's just never going to get.  He's left brained & mathematical.  I need someone in my life who can cover that base for me.  We don't always see eye~to~eye.  We've ridden some rough seas over 26 years.  He's a dog man living in a cat woman's world ~ but we keep cats, not dogs.  Another man would have insisted on having his own preference. The man is a dyed in the wool carnivore; at different times in my life for a variety of different reasons I haven't eaten meat.  He adores seafood; I believe that what lives in the sea should stay in the sea!  I don't eat it; I don't cook it.  I've even been known to complain loudly when it arrives in the house.  At times I have left the house when the seafood's come in.  After 26 years plus I know this man can not meet all my needs.  After 26 years there've been days when Dearest has wondered which planet I think I'm living on or what on earth gave me the impression that if I ignored a problem for long enough it would go away. He nicked named me the Ostrich for my habit of burying my head in the sand.

We don't have the storybook marriage;  We're not the perfect couple, but you know what?  We have the marriage God designed for us ~ the one where we learn daily what it means to follow after Jesus, to prefer the other above ourself, to take up our cross.  I am more than I would have been without him.  He insisted I learn to drive.  He even bought me the only sort of car I would agree to drive as  incentive.  Where would Star be if he hadn't?  He has held the home base while I gadded around town with children babysitting my psychotic cats rather than a docile dog.  He has stood proudly behind me when I have had speaking engagements, strengthening me when I have qualms & that counts for something on the days I number all the ways I can dissect a body & dispose of the remains. Um, yeah. I have a vivid fantasy life!

Tonight the various wanderers return & bedlam once more reigns supreme but for 4 days Dearest & I have been able to give each other the space & attention that has been lacking for 26 years.  When the last one escapes the coop I think we will be ok.  We built our relationship on something more solid than romance or beauty & the core is still sound.  Despite everything.
Happy Birthday, Dukie!
 My mother took my girls with her for a longish weekend down N.S.W. way for *da Duke's* 18th birthday bash.
 *Da Duke* is my brother's only child.  Sorry you missed it, Markie.  You'da been proud. Star all dolled up & looking gorgeous!
 The red hat did the rounds.
Hamming it up seems to run in the family.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Me, myself, I

I got the above from Just Julie's  blog and made the answers my own. How about you?  You could cut and paste the above and fill in your own answers, or you could just share a few. If you do it on your blog, be sure to put a link to your blog in Julie's comments section so others can share.

I Am……

a ban file: wrong continent; wrong era; wrong language.

I Want……to go home & I wish Jesus would come get me.

I Should……choose one of the following: become organised
                                                              : get a grip
                                                              : Let it all hang out.

I Wish……it wasn't more fun to be bad than to be good.

I Hate……all of the following:  the trafficking of human beings made in the image of God; The use of children in the sex trade; the misuse of the resources God gave us because of greed; that some of us should have so much while others have so little & that those of us who profess to know & love God do such a lousy job of conveying that love to others.

I Fear…….standing before God & knowing I got it wrong.

I Hear……frogs & fans & the slow sough of the sea.

I Search……for the matching pair to all the single socks in my life.

I Wonder……what God's got planned for Heaven.

I Regret…….not having more kids, more cats, more madness in my life.

I Love…….My Lord, my kids, my cats, the blogging buddies who pray with me, pray for me & make me smile across the miles.

I Always……start my day with coffee.

I Usually……always carry a book wherever I go & the only places I don't read are the loo & the car.

I Am Not……mathamatically competant.

I Dance……in the rain

I Sing…….in the car with my Star.

I Never…….play math games

I Rarely……exercise

I Cry……when I pray, when I'm happy, when I love ~ & I laugh when I'm sad & frightened.

I Am Not Always……kind or patient.

I Lose……important papers that I put in special places so I won’t ever lose them.

I’m Confused……by directions

I Need…….books, quiet, beauty, God’s presence.

I Have……the most awesome God.

Friday, February 4, 2011

With apologies to my American buddies ~ but it's too funny not to share!  CNN had a major blonde moment.
It's really the cat's house - we just pay the mortgage. ~ anon

 My Aunty Shirl gardened & painted ~ pretty much in that order.  She did have a husband ~ & a fistful of children but they were no impediment to her true obsessions: dirt & paint.

Over the years my aunt moved house any number of times & while the builders laboured over roof trusses & floor joists my aunt scrabbled frantically in the rich red volcanic soil to produce a wild & tangled garden that would hide the ravages of the builders.

Trafalgar Vale was the house I knew & loved.  It was old.  It was geriatric.  It was falling apart & my aunt was not the sort of woman to have the sort of money needed for repairs. If I had been older I would have happily plonked down money for this monstrosity.  Perhaps happily I was too young to do more than mourn its passing.

For a while Shirl had a place on Mt Tambourine overlooking the Canungra Valley & the Gold Coast.  The view was spectacular but the garden was steep & the house little more than a ticky~tacky bread & butter box.  I was not enamoured of the house.  I liked Tambourine ~ still do, but the worms grew to the size of fat snakes & scared the living daylights out of me when I went walking barefoot at night.  It smelt all wrong too: too new paintish; too clean; too modern.

Then Shirl moved out Rathdowney way.  Yep, the same Rathdowney where Lid was working with alpacas last year.  I was a new mum & at Toowoomba with a brand new baby I wasn't quite sure what to do with. Following my aunt's uncertain directions & my own lack of direction I ventured out along the backroads between here & there for the occasional visit in a house that was half~finished with half the extended family already moving in.
I arrived the first time with a 5 week old baby to a bare house & a yard bereft of even a blade of grass.  The drought pretty much made gardening an impossibility so my aunt's attention unaccustomedly wandered to things housebound ~ always a dangerous preoccupation.  For 2 meals my aunt & I stared unhappily at the pristine white of her brand new living room wall ~ a large blank canvas that desperately needed something to lift it out of the doldrums.  "What it needs, " my aunt said dreamily, "is a tree or two." 

And so she put them there. It was a charming mural, the only drawback being that she could not take the wall with her when she moved house again.  Gotta wonder what she's painting on Heaven's walls now?!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

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

Many years ago, when I first moved to the island, I was delighted to find we had a library.  An island library.  Just down the road.  I didn't have to travel miles on public transport juggling 20 + books, 4 bored children & the month's shopping to boot.  Those who know me very well would have been worried for the children & groceries, suspecting I would ditch children & groceries & just keep the books.

Our beloved council bragged at how it provided us with our very own library. Let me take you on a tip down memory lane to the library council provided.  The *library* was a small room at the back of the community hall & when I say small trust me, it was small.  It was a hallway wide; the width of 2 doors, & about 12 feet long.  The metal shelving went from floor to ceiling around three sides of the room.  The 4th end held the librarian's desk & the actual door.  To reach the children's section my children had to slide round behind the librarian's chair & scrabble on the floor to dig through the books wedged into the shelving.  Anything I wanted was invariably out of reach, requiring gymnastic manoeuvres on uncertain furniture.  I'm sure council thought no~one ever borrowed anything from this horror house.  On wet days a line would form out the door & along the path because the room could literally hold no more than 1/2 a dozen people  ~& then only if we squeezed up tight.  On humid summer days the fan blew all the library paperwork to the ceiling but only sluggishly stirred the muggy air.  The air was like a blast from hell &, sweat streaming, did not encourage anyone to linger over choosing their reading material. Forget sitting.  There was no room for anyone to sit.

We didn't even have our own books.  Actually we still don't.  The books come on rotation from the mother lode in town & we invariably wait for anything that's popular.  And yet, our dear librarian, a very wonderful lady who loves us to bits despite the fact we always seem to have her filling in paperwork for inaccessible books [or she hands me the paperwork & I fill it in for her to ratify ~ ssshhhh] lobbied for years for better housing.  Council objected.  There weren't even 1,000 permanent residents living here ~ & not all of those read ~ so why would we need better library facilities?

Islanders tend to be a quirky lot &  jokes about the islands are many & unflattering but the simple fact is, per capita, we read more than any other part of the shire!  Statistics prove it.  Each month we go through a phenomenal amount of reading material for our population ~ & that includes our children's section.  Not everyone reads, that's true, but those who do read with a vengeance!

Well a few years back Council upgraded us & moved the library into an unused brick house.  We have computer access ~ one computer for the entire island but hey ~ that's an improvement on what we did have.  The picture books are properly displayed in open shelving & there is a child sized table & fun bean bags. The bulk is childrens & adult fiction ~ which leaves those of us who prefer meatier fare still lobbying through inter~library loans for something to read.  The non~fiction is 4 short lonely shelves on the back wall; YA gets 6 shorter shelves on the shortest wall of all.  Star haunts the place.  She has the rotation down by memory & when she knows the new books have hit the shelves she's on my case for a trip to the library.  I think she thought Council was generous ~ but then one day, while waiting for choir, I took her to the mainland library.  I don't think Star's recovered yet.  She was livid. 

Shelves & shelves & shelves of YA fiction.  More shelves & shelves of YA non~fiction.  The choices are endless.  Star filled her library card & we lugged all these books round with us but Star had steam coming out her ears.  She's listened to our librarian & I natter.  She's heard the stats.  She now suspects our council of throwing us the books no~one else wants to read & Star is on my case to leave a little earlier on Wednesdays so we can stop at the library on our way through.

At least we only have to lug the books one way.  We can return them on island & they go back with the regular rotation but you gotta wonder.  All the fuss & bother, song & dance about Queensland's numeracy & literacy levels & our council can't get it together to provide a really top~notch library for our kids.  Not all of us want to read the latest Mills & Boone or Zane Grey ~ or have our kids devouring vampire epics.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Kiss my Yasi. ~ Cairn's graffiti

Like most of Queensland, most of Australia, we have been glued to the cyclone tracker for the past few days ~ not only because these things have been known to bounce down the coast & ruffle our waters down here but because I have various bits of my family scattered in the hit zone.

My brother, a boatie, like the rest of the marine fleet in Cairns, had to move his boat up river & ride the night out as best he could.  I have a cousin in Cairns too, but at least she's land bound.  My older boy is at Townsville & my youngest on Hamilton Island ~ all places that suffered various degrees of angst during the night.

Now the sun's come up on a picture of devastation & Yasi is still zooming across the state & about to cross a state border into the Northern Territory but you know what?  Thank God.  Of all the placesYasi  could have crossed last night, including either of our biggest northern towns [Cairns or Townsville], it chose Mission Beach, a small, scarcely populated area, most of whom had been evacuated to safer ground.  Yes, phone towers are down & the power is out in thousands of homes & the clean up bill is going to be phenomenal but you know what?  This wasn't a Tracey.  We learnt something from Tracey.  I don't think any of us who are old enough to remember Tracey will forget the Christmas Morning pictures of Darwin, a thriving city, absolutely flattened to the ground ~ or the loss of life.  Happy Christmas, Darwin!

Tracey changed the building codes & most of the main structures in Yasi's path seem to be structurally undamaged ~ though only time will tell for sure.  The evacuations & preparedness of the north seems to have ensured there has been no loss of life ~ though again perhaps a little early to be sure.It seems to me God has had His protective hand over the people of Northern Queensland ~ & having ridden out a couple of category 3s ourselves I can only begin to imagine how terrifying it got last night as Yasi made landfall with all the impact of nuclear weaponry.

So the rain is still falling & there is flooding to come.  Outside my window it is so still, already warm & muggy, the bay lying like pewter glass.  Hard to believe that to the north of us Nature is still raging out of control but it is cyclone season  & chances are we aren't done yet.