Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Friday, July 29, 2011

”Eye of newt & toe of frog, Wool of bat & tongue of dog, Adder's fork & blind worm's sting, Lizard's leg & owlet's wing, For charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell~broth boil & bubble" ~ Macbeth.

I have a problem with Hendra.  It's carried by bats & I'm actually very fond of bats.  Not that I used to be, mind.  They were black & scary with spiky nobs on their joints & I, who don't like small fragile things, used to be pretty freaked at having one anywhere in my vicinity. 

 I do actually feel the same way about birds.  They are so small, so light, so very, very fragile.  Not that bats tend to hang round me.  They prefer the gum blossom & fruit trees but I once got to know a bat very well indeed & the hysteria surrounding Hendra now just makes me very sad.  I do understand people come first but the mindless hatred is very hard for me to understand.

It was winter, just as it is now.  We had had days of bitter westerlies & it was so cold even my hardy children had confined themselves to the house.  We were all going a little stir crazy but as I loaded my Liddy in the car to go pick up the boys from school she insisted she could hear something crying.  We took a short walk & found a tiny bat clinging desperately to a very thin sapling that look set to snap in two at any moment under the small weight of the bat.

I knew nothing about bats except that their mamas carry them on their backs & that this one looked too young to be without his mama, so I very firmly insisted it be left where it was because the chances were that the mama was on her way back for her baby & it is best not to interfere in nature if at all possible.

 My horde was fascinated & kept taking surreptitious peeks to see if mama bat had returned to claim her baby yet.  As dusk fell & the thermometer plummeted with no mama bat in sight & the thin wails of bubs carrying all too clearly on the icy air my children became frantic.  It was so small, so helpless & it was a going to freeze to death if I didn't do something.  Naturally it would have to be I to do that something.

Rather tentatively I went to investigate. Black.  Spikes.  I shuddered while huge black eyes regarded me trustfully. It did not, as I was rather hoping, take fright & fly away. As I was to learn, it was far too young to do anything of the sort. Unhappily I gathered it up in my hands to return to my clamouring children & learnt the most surprising thing about bats; their skin is as soft & delicate as silk! Tacitly it was gorgeous to touch. At that point some of my fear dissipated.

The second thing I quickly learnt is that bats are just as smoochily cuddly as cats & are very, very companionable.  Our little friend was only really happy being cuddled & carried around so I grabbed an old cloth nappy [diaper if you're American] & he snuggled while I dragged out the phone book & began the convoluted process of finding someone in the wildlife business who knew something about bats & was prepared to send someone out in the morning to pick up our guest. I did eventually get onto:   W.I.R.E.S ~ who were not as well organised back in the day.  From them I learnt our friend was very young indeed & that young bats never leave their mother for any reason.  Without help he would most certainly die.

By then the boats had already stopped running for the night so I made inquiries as to how I should feed our guest.  Next problem; we did not own an eye dropper.  Not even one off a food die bottle or old ink dropper.  Nothing.  I mashed up some fruit as instructed & considered my problem. Now my Poppy was a cattleman; dairy to be exact, & if you have ever been on a dairy farm when the poddy calves are being weaned you will know it's a very earthy process.  I stuck my fingers in the juicy pulp & the bat grasped one firmly & sucked as if sucking the life out of a teat.  Obviously starving!  My children were charmed & begged for their turn.  Jossie asserted his right as eldest & I duly instructed him in how to encourage the bat to latch on.  Shrieks of horror ensued as Joss realised it was easier to get a bat to latch on than it was to get one to disengage!

I spent most of that night cuddling a bat that became distraught every time he was pegged in his nappy to the indoor line.  He was only really happy being held & was embarrassingly affectionate.  They would make wonderful pets!  However it is not wise to domesticate wild things & so the first boat next morning I took our friend to the mainland to be collected by the W.I.R.E.S people for rehabilitation.

The thing is animals are not responsible for us; we are responsible for them.  It is our duty to find ways of managing our wildlife to our mutual benefit & to go on a killing frenzy out of fear seems to me a very defeatist attitude.  Bats have their place in the ecology of things, helping pollinate all sorts of things that need pollinating, & quite frankly, given we are responsible for the Fall & the consequent judgement on all creation, the very least we can do in compensation is not give way to knee~jerk reactions when problems arise.  Who knows what sort of damage a massive cull of bats would do to our already fragile natural environment.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A mother's treasure is her daughter.  ~Catherine Pulsifer

In typical Liddy fashion the more disorganized side of her personality has decided to kick in.  In the space of twenty~four hours she lost her wallet with driver's license & bank card in it & the camera cord to recharge her camera, which is flat, when she is heading off to her ma's for a few days with her before her departure date.

No licence, the girl can't drive herself to any of the myriad of places she needed to be so seeing as she needed to change her Ps anyway we scraped together every spare dollar in the house & I took her over yesterday afternoon to upgrade her Ps ~ & hopefully replace her missing license.  How God is looking after that girl just now!  We were expecting to fork over up to $100 for the license & only got charged for the upgrade:$16!  We did a scout around for the wallet, as you do: car, shopping centre, friend's house but no wallet, which means Lid has no access to her account & was looking at having to cancel her cards.

However we toddled along to the OM prayer meeting, Lid's last one. Perhaps not the smartest place for me to have been just now.  I am managing, by focusing on one day at a time & not looking too far ahead to the day of Liddy's departure  ~ but of course this prayer meeting had a lot of focus of Liddy's commissioning & special prayer for her ~ including her missing wallet.  Someone gave me a hug & I dissolved.  My propensity to tears is a running joke in this household but knowing how much I will miss Liddy does not change what I believe about Chile: this is right; it is a genuine calling; Liddy has to answer the call of God on her life & there are so many small ways I can see this being confirmed over & over again: the way she relates to people; the way people respond to her; the dormant gifts now starting to surface ready to be used in Chile; the tunnel visioning that is sharpening her focus for the job ahead....lots & lots of things, none at all of which have anything at all to do with how I feel as her mother.  It doesn't make me feel any better either.

Then  things dragged on so long; bigger meeting than usual & lots of people wanting a final word with Liddy so that we nearly missed the last boat home!  Not how I wanted to spend a Thursday evening! Then , as Lid checked her FB page via her phone she let out a slightly hysterical hoot because Star had posted her entirely random conversation on FB about this conversation she thought she was having with her sister.  When Star thinks someone is having her on she gets completely snarky, & the more people don't let on they're busted the snarkier she gets.  She was getting very snarky indeed when she twigged it actually wasn't her sister on the other end but a member of our esteemed police force ringing to let us know they had found Liddy's wallet!  Um, yeah....

So I have sent Liddy of this morning to pick up her wallet & head on up to her ma's for some R & R.  I am incredibly grateful to Ruth & Ian who have walked this journey with us since Liddy was about 16, when they first travelled out to the island to visit with us & talk about the mission field & Liddy's calling.  They have been the most incredibly helpful & supportive people through all the ups & downs & nothing has ever been too much trouble.  They have given & given & given: of themselves, of their time, of their experience & even last night when Ruth came over to speak with me, she knows, as I do, that this is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much more to come but most of the rest is hidden from view.  I have been shown snippets of the larger picture, as has Ruth, so there we were, like two old crones, wagging our heads sagely, seeing the light within Liddy blazing so brightly & knowing that for it to shine we have to let her go.  Ruth will miss her nearly as much as we will.

The next few weeks will be difficult.  The soccer team has a lunch planned & then her final day her church will commission her in the morning & I will put her on her plane that evening. At which point I will change the ticker over & we will start counting the days until she comes home again!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I don't know what happens to me on stage.  Something else seems to take over. ~Maria Callas

There is Liddy ~ & then there is everything else.  Life does not stop while we sort Lid out.  In just a few days Star turns 16.  As Aussies will know that means a whole lot of government paperwork lands on your doorstep, all of it to do with numbers.  I do not do numbers so I am getting a little wild about the eyes. It means that, in just a matter of days, the girl can go get her Learners!  Ummm....I don't think I am ready for this.  I don't think Australia is ready for this. *sigh* 

We did manage, after innumerable stops & starts & interruptions, to actually finish of last term's work.  We have yet to begin this terms!  Life just keeps getting in the way at present.  Luckily our supervisor is lovely & understanding & from past sad experience I do know it is possible to cram a term's worth of written work into just a few short days!  It's the showing what we're doing that causes all the problems.

Oh, & the music, which just eats up wads & wads of time.  Like yesterday, which was a performance day.  OK, so we tied in our government paperwork with going into town but forget schoolwork on a performance day.  Seriously, it consumes the entire day, starting with the starching & ironing of the white shirt which must then be carefully hung in a coat bag out of harms way, to the compilation of the necessary music, the shining of shoes, the ironing & careful scrutiny of the black pants for stray cat hairs, the finding of stockings & hair ribbons, bobby pins & hair spray; the careful application of make~up & the stowing of such in her music bag for the later touch up & we have to leave a little extra time all round for the careful handling of the uniform so it doesn't get crushed or creased during transport ~ & we are in & out of cars, on & off boats so that is something of an effort no matter how often we do it.

I tend to end up just focusing on the next thing that needs to be done, systematically working through my day until I turn of my computer & crawl into bed at the end!  So having had the foresight to look at a map well in advance I was prepared for the fact we had to cross Brissie river & deal with the tangle of one way streets that Brisbane calls its city.  On the plus side, while we had not been to this particular street before, it was in the vicinity of somewhere we'd done twice so Star had some idea of the grid patten we would need to implement to get us to where we needed to be.  I had left us plenty of time because if we got the right carpark it was going to cost us nothing ~ & believe me with the cost of car park parking that is no small bonus so I was prepared to drive round & round just to make sure it wasn't going to cost me an arm & a leg to park my car!

This was supposed to be an AVAE event but as all of AVAE are still in school & our call time was 4.30 there were always going to be a few missing faces.  As it turned out there were lots.  School day in the middle of the week so not really suprising & Exaudi came in & plugged the holes to make up a 4 part ensemble.  Bass is usually the missing line in AVAE but Exaudi are all very experienced so most of AVAE sang alto.  Star is racking up a lot of performance time; she very rarely misses any performance as performance is the best part of what she is doing & so important when you get thrown in the deep end & expected to cope.  She has learnt that Alison is not joking when she expounds the virtues of being able to not only read music, but to sight~read on demand.

The mother of the only other younger child to turn up & I took ourselves along to the Jade Buddah to chat while we passed the time.  I don't do this sort of thing all that often.  Five kids, no income means not many opportunities for dancing on the tabletops come your way so I was duly appalled that one glass of white vino & a cappuccino cost $13 AUS!  Thirteen dollars for a small cup of not spectacular coffee & a half full glass of wine! OK, the view really was spectacular, looking straight down the river with the lights starting to prick the glowing sunset & stream across the river in colourful ribbons but not worth $13 either.  Please, consider where I live.  My own view is a thousand times better.  Actually, so's the coffee!

We had a lovely time just chatting ~ about, of all things, education!  A subject I can cheerfully rabbit on about till Armageddon overtakes us. And I was reminded, for the 2nd time in a matter of days, that Star has, in fact, been extremely well educated!   Like many homeschoolers I'm sure, I tend to be overfocused on our weaknesses & those areas we're struggling & forget the compensating strengths but last night I was sharply reminded that what my child is reading for her own pleasure, books I would consider the bare minimum for a well rounded education, are books many consider difficult & impressive ~ & not only does Star read them, she understands them & can discuss them in an intelligent & informative way.  What's more, she really grasps metaphor & simile & can use them in her own writing, has excellent general knowledge & is adept socially with adults while many of her peers are awkward & uncomfortable. 

And to round it off, my whirly~girly giddy~girl danced off~stage glowing because they had an assessment done of stage presentation & she was one of the top two!  No surprises there, at least not to me.  I've watched a lot of performances now & Star's lack of nerves means she relaxes pretty quickly on stage & it is immediately obvious she is having a ball & wants everyone to join her party.  And I live with this!!!

To~day is the last OM prayer meeting before Liddy goes & we have a lost wallet to go deal with so I am hand~holding all day.  Drama, drama, drama.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Counting down the days.

"God isn't looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him" — Hudson Taylor

It has been such a long journey, one that sometimes seemed as if it would never end, & now it is a matter of weeks, even days.  A great wrenching is taking place, not always terribly comfortably.  These are the days of final things.  Yes there are bags to be packed & boxes to be stowed away, good~byes to be said but more than that these are irrevocably Liddy's final days as a child. 

Technically, of course, she has been an adult for several years, but numbers on a calendar mean very little in reality ~ & nothing at all within the context of family.  Liddy retains her place as the oldest daughter ~ & for many years she was the only daughter as well as the youngest child, a place she ceded very reluctantly to her little sister & only on the firm understanding that she was the perfect daughter.  How we all wish!

Two years is not, of course, all that long & it will go quickly, but oh, how much will change!  When Liddy returns she will, most definitely, be a woman in her own right & her little sister will be an adult [tremble, oh ye hordes!] & ready to take on the world.  There are links that must be broken & once broken they can never be regained.  We will lose the daily ebb & flow of each other's lives & our life paths will diverge more & more with each passing year.  This is right & proper but the transitioning where none of us are quite one thing or the other makes for a bumpy ride.

All too often it is in the daily grind we fail as Christians.  Tempers fray.  We know each other too well & forget kindness is the oil that smooths our way.  And yet day by day the Lord is providing small miracles. 

   In the beginning, many moons ago now, there were people, mostly Christians, mostly missionaries, who kept saying, Liddy would never be a missionary; she wasn't cut out for it.  They saw her sweetness but not her strength.  They saw her pliability but not the core of steel. It hurt.  Liddy was sure of her calling & having gone to the Lord & enquired of Him, I also was sure of her calling.  The call was gradually confirmed again & again but still the path bent & twisted like a crooked stick & Liddy was tempted to despair, to give up, to choose another life direction, but that is easier said than done when the Lord's hand is upon your life.

There were the false starts & the shuddering halts, the elations & crushing disappointments & even as Liddy was once again given the go ahead to prepare for Chile, missionaries yet again were those who most strongly opposed her: she was unskilled; she was theologically untrained; she didn't speak the language ~ & she was unfunded.

I am not always the most gracious of people & I got pretty impatient with all the hoo~ha~ing because in my mind it was very simple;  Go ask God.  Listen to what He has to say & then come tell me He hasn't called Liddy because if this is not right, believe me, the Lord will bring it to a crashing halt ~ & this time He has not.  Bumpy, yes, but all He has really asked is that Liddy trust Him.  Liddy, unlike her mama, is a planner.  Waiting for her funds to dribble in while watching the clock count down the minutes till the cut off point was nerve shattering.  Again, with just days to go to raise the funds to pay for the GO conference, which will go a long way towards helping orientate Lid in her new surroundings, 2 large gifts promptly took care of her needs.  She has been able to procure a cheap but good camera so she can keep us all up to speed with her new life & the money is still coming ~ & how like the Lord who has promised that our riches will be pressed down & overflowing.  While most missionaries are underfunded Liddy is at 100% ~ & she was starting to worry she would be overfunded.  I do not see it that way.  The Lord, who knows all things, knows her need beforehand & is ensuring she has funds in place to meet those needs.

I know many of you have been following along & if I can ever figure out how to get Lid's newsletter out of my computer I will post to the Chile wall.  There are plenty of prayer points I should probably mention ~ but won't.  Only one matters: that in these final days we will be a blessing to each other & Liddy will leave for Chile fortified & strengthened in her family's love for her. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. ~ Frederick Buechner

Winter.  The wind is ugly.  It snakes across the open water from the west & there is ice in the touch. The cats hunt patches of sunshine & thin warmth & at night they snuggle into the doonas beside me, each of us burrowing into our own warmth.  The house is cold because it is a summer house & it does not like the winter either.

And then one morning as your feet hit the icy floorboards, as you pull on a thick jacket & scrunch a beanie firmly down over your ears, fumbling for light switches & heaters, for hot  coffee  & something warm & sweet to sweeten the bitter morning, the lightening day reveals a pristine bay so glorious a song wells up from deep within & you know, though there is nothing yet to show for it, that there has been a subtle shift in the seasons.

The day warms slowly like a homemade broth & the dappling shadows are aflitter with drifting leaves, falls of gum blossom, small song birds.  The in between times dangle like jewels & the air rises like incense in a hymn of praise.

When God walked with Adam & Eve in the garden in the cool of the day it must have been on such a day as this.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

“But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

My times are in Your hand;”  ~Psalm 31:14-15

In 1979 I was in Oslo ~ & it is ~ was~ one of the loveliest big cities I have ever visited.  Geographically it has lots going for it.  It sits at the head of the Oslo Fjord ~ which is pretty spectacular in itself.  Ninety percent of the city limit is national park, which contains 340 lakes as well as farmland & like any of the  Teutonic countries I've visited, it is sparklingly clean.  The mountains rear up behind it & the river spreads out before it & along the narrow strand lies the city of Oslo, cobbled & modern & breathtakingly beautiful.

'79 heralded in the coldest, bitterest winter in over 100 years so our plans to head above the Arctic circle & round into Finland were scraped after we were lucky not to freeze to death at an abandoned campsite outside of Bergen. The villagers drew lots to see who would walk down in the morning to see if we were still alive. It was so cold, & I became so ill, Dearest drove 48 hours straight to deliver me somewhere warmer.

It was in Oslo, at the folk museum, that I first saw intact a Viking longboat.  I'm a sailor.  I took one look & fell in love.  They are beautiful, with the long curling lines of a wave.  To touch that, to see the fitted planks & the rowing benches, to imagine the snap of a sail in a following wind & the slap of water against the caulked hull was incredibly trippy to say the least.  Reading about it is not like seeing & touching & if I had had the money my entire idea of homeschooling would have been to put my kids on a plane & trek the world just looking at the wonders it contains.

So I am sad beyond words this morning for the people of Norway.  I live with water every day but however cold it gets our water never gets that particular icy hue that is palest turquoise.  The bay runs out past the islands into the Pacific Ocean & the Pacific Ocean slaps against the old quay of the Oslo jetties where the longboats once beached themselves laden with the trophies of war.

I have good memories of Oslo: of the city, of the people.  I am not an ambitious woman.  Little things give me great pleasure, the things common to all mankind: a child's hug; the contented purr of a cat; the cry of a gull following the trawlers home.  It does not make sense to me that this is not more than enough for any man.  What more should we ask for? And how much pain does it take to make someone think they have the right to inflict pain on others?  To take from them the pleasure of the little things, which is all we can expect: sunlight & falling rain, love & hope, the very breath of  life?  So I grieve for the one who took & for those from whom it was taken.  May God in His infinite mercy grant them all peace.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The problem for conservationists is the frequency of prescribed burning. And this is a complex matter. As Esplin’s inquiry pointed out, some forest types need five-year cycles of burning, others 12, others 30.~ Melissa Fyfe and Michael Bachelard

 There are some sights you just don't want to see when it's dry with low humidity.  This is one of them:
Not our island; the next one over.  Hoping it's a controlled burn 'cause we can surely do without their ash & live embers dropping in our yard.
Scarlet Honeyeaters are rarely seen in aviculture. Keeping them successfully requires a large commitment in time and experience.~ Mr Wiki

I live somewhere where there are birds ~ lots & lots of birds.  In fact I know, because I used to record them for the environmental mob, that there are easily over 200 species that can be spotted from my verandah.  Some, like the curlews, are permanent residents.  Others are transitory migrants following their own internal clock.  Some, like the rose robins, may be gone for good.

During the drought the constant bird song was absent from our tree tops but with the first breaking showers they were back: the magpies & trillers, the peewees & fantails.  Later the delicate flycatchers could be seen hunting the spider bags of food from under the eves & then!  Then I spotted the scarlet flashes high in the golden dazzle of new leaf & sunshine.  The scarlet honeyeaters are back.

The scarlets are migratory.  They are eco sensitive.  They like the tops of the high canopy & usually all that can be seen of them is the scarlet flash as the males pursue the females & squabble for nectar.  They make me happy.

What does not make me happy is the heavy thwack that tells me a bird has hit our big glass windows.  I own cats.  The thwack is the signal for everyone in the house to race outside checking for an injured bird before one of the cats finds a tasty & helpless morsel. 

Last week there was a loud & alarming thwack.  I shot out of my chair knowing both cats were outsideThere on my deck were two tiny scarlet honeyeaters; the bright male & his stunned & dowdy partner.  As I slid open the door the male hurriedly collected his scattered wits & took off for the tree tops but the female was in a bad way.  Her eyes rolled shut as I scooped her up & she huddled down into the warmth of my hand, her little heart visibly palpitating agitatedly.

I waited, her tiny talons clinging trustfully to my fingers, her body soaking up the thin warmth of my cupped hands as they sheltered her from the wind.  I am always stunned, overwhelmed, that one of God's creatures, normally so wild, so afraid of human kind, will allow itself to be held & sheltered in extremity.

Twenty minutes later I coaxed her onto a long thin twig of wattle where she swayed dizzily like a seasick sailor as the wattle waved wildly.  I watched anxiously as she hurriedly clutched the twig more firmly for support.  Every time her eyes began to close again her twig bounced & danced & she hurriedly got a better grip on her perch.  A few moments later, as I was fiddling about with the camera, she decided she'd had quite enough of me & shot of into the treetops.

Kirby thought my hands smelt very interesting!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Education is what remains when we have forgotten all that we have been taught. ~ George Savile

We are still tidying up the dribs & drabs from last term, partly because my strange learner makes it difficult to package things up in the neat & tidy way that government departments & schools seem to like.

 Music, last term, was very performance oriented; the theory went on the back burner for a bit.  Trouble is the theory is easy to send in for assessment.  Performance...not so easy!  Ditto German.    Star does not do well with textbooks & a lot of what she has been doing is actually teaching German!  Much harder to show.   For that I've asked Star to draw me up a lesson plan to show the work they are covering.  She did a pretty ok job of that! For history, for a change, I'm going to ask Star to retell what she remembers about Saxon England; yikes! May have to rethink that!  Then there are a few missed math questions.  We should be done by the end of the week & free to move on with this term's work.

I think, given Miss Star likes her history gory, we will look at the French Revolution & Bonaparte in depth & some [naturally] of the oddities.  I am tossing up about her reading.  Off her own bat she is tackling Romeo & Juliet & Jane Eyre, but if she is prepared to read more difficult books for pleasure I am prepared to do something a little more lightweight  to be officially *school*.  I am trying to decide between National Velvet ~ which is a beautifully crafted book ~ Sabriel or The Owl Service.  I am leaning towards National Velvet which is so well written it can't help but be useful in one's own writing.    And I think we will do some Eliot ~ for my pleasure, not Star's!

I must say, by this stage in a child's education, it's either more of the same or more depth.  We are trying for the more depth thing; at least in Lit & history. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Show me a great actor and I'll show you a lousy husband. Show me a great actress, and you've seen the devil.~ W. C. FieldsOne of these days I am going to drive into Brisbane without having a serious meltdown.  I am going to become accustomed to traffic ~ & traffic hazards. Better yet, I am going to know where I am without recourse to sugar, deep breathing & a road map ~ but that day wasn't yesterday.

QPAC.  I know where QPAC is.  I've done this trip a zillion times.  I know how long it takes.  I timed myself perfectly, except for one thing.  No~one told me there was a French festival taking place at Southbank!  I zipped down Grey Street, hurtled round the corner & prepared to nip into the QPAC parking space ~ only the sign said FULL!  Meltdown!  

I reluctantly edged further along to the museum car park ~ which was thankfully still empty but of course that had cut into our available time & Star had managed to spread her belongs throughout the car during the hour drive & naturally wasn't ready to vacate the vehicle.

Brisbanites being Brisbanites signposted nothing but we scooted past the giant ferris wheel & all the scaffolding around the Con building & found our foyer with the required number of wannabes & their parents in various stages of angst.  Neither Star or I can quite bring ourselves to regard these things with the desired degree of seriousness & as Star didn't expect to make the cut was determined to enjoy the experience.  Good thing too. 

 The children were herded away & then a little man popped out like a jack~in~the box to inform all the parents that Tosca was a standard repertoire piece & just because a child did not make the cut did not mean they were unmusical, untalented or plain awful; it just meant whoever they chose had to be able to fit into the pre~existing wardrobe!  My mini Marilyn Monroe was never going to manage that so I settled down with my book & prepared to wait it out.

Star informed me later that the wardrobe mistress was amongst the judging panel & as soon as she was introduced Star twigged & knew she was out ~ which removed all pressure & she gave a pretty good audition ~ apart from the fact she forgot her own name & always has trouble deciding on which school year she is supposed to be in!  Her singing was good though!

Once she was done we wandered along Southbank.  I had vague aspirations of getting a hot chocolate at the fancy chocolate place but the que was out the door & round the block.  We stood & watched the street theatre for a while: some guy with fire sticks & a 9metre chain doing a Houdini but Star's tummy was rumbling, as it always is if she's been singing, so we opted for waffles & pancakes ~ meaning I had waffles with strawberries & maple syrup & Star had something that went by the name of Rocky Road Pancakes & was disgustingly sweet!

Fortified with sugar we braved the rain & the darkening streets to find our way home, chatting amiably about the need for all performers to takes risks, Shakespeare, The Brontes & whether or not my copy of Jane Eyre was on the shelves upstairs.  Yep, the girl did good.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Liddy did last week; if you look closely you might just spot her.

What she is doing this week.

Five weeks & counting down.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mad as a Hatter ~ & then some.

Vissi d’arte e d’amor,

Non feci ma male ad anima viva": ~Tosca

I think I am certifiably mad.  School went back today & what did we do?  Not schoolwork, that's for sure!  Nope Star & I wrestled with the audition form put out by Opera Queensland for junior performers. Short notice [very short].  Hardly even time to squeeze in a quick lesson.

This is a first for us.  Star is impossible about exams, eisteddfods ~ the usual things, but suggest she may get a chance to perform & suddenly it's on!  Unfortunately not wanting to do the usual things means Star has no standard performance piece to audition with & knowing just what to choose from her repertoire was pretty hit & miss from my point of view.  Plus it is production week for Creative Gen ~ which means Alision is completely swamped!  She has squeezed in a lesson for Star tomorrow, late.  I can only hope we've done things correctly so far. 

 Star has chosen Bist du Bei Mir ~ a Bach piece AVAE has been singing all year to audition with, firstly because it shows she can manage a foreign language [& her German has always been very good], she knows it well enough to be very comfortable, & it falls in a good place for her voice ~ no notes she's likely to crack on!!! 

Now forms aren't the sort of thing I'm a crash hot genius on but how difficult can an audition form be?  Well, I'm still trying to figure out how to circle an answer on the computer.  Then they wanted to know about previous experience ~ but only provided 2 lines!

The opera under discussion is Tosca ~ a full on melodrama complete with multiple deaths: murder by butter knife, suicide from high elevations, execution by betrayal; where people sing instead of dying in silent decency.  There is a children's chorus; enter Star.  From this chorus a soloist will be chosen.  Star is pretty excited.  I am excited for her.  In all honesty I don't think she stands a chance.  She is a little outside the age requirements & looks even older but this is such a great opportunity & a really good test of her nerve & wonderful experience.  Selling yourself to potential buyers never gets any easier as someone who should know once pointed out to me. Guess the Star had best get used to it.

And yes, more driving in Brisbane!  Like I said, certifiable!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Quick & the Dead.

Next to being witty, the best thing is being able to quote another's wit. ~ Christian Nestell Bovee.

Liddy, who is a pragmatic realist, a black & white thinker, & likes nothing more than a good debate, always says one thing living in this house taught her was how to argue well.  By that she means she learnt early not to make wild & random statements she couldn't support with documented evidence because she would be shot down in flames while her nearest & dearest bayed for her blood howling Burn, Baby, burn.  Have your own opinion by all means ~ but be prepared to defend it.

Indeed she learnt this lesson so well we spent her interim years with me being woken from a sound slumber to provide the amunition she needed to defend her position in late on~line chats with friends less happily endowed with an accomodating parent. 

Star has also grown up in this house & Liddy~like learnt early it was the quick or the dead but Star~like she has her own take on matters intellectual.  Rather than expend her brain power on thinking things through to a logical conclusion Star has developed into a wit; sharper than a wet cornflake. 

So I was having this random FB conversation [as you do] about wether or not the child was actually human ~ or one of the universe's  quirkier jokes ~ when quick as a flash the girl pops up: Definitely not human; just waiting for her super powers to kick in.

I'm not sure the rest of the world is ready for this child!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

"After scolding one's cat one looks into its face and is seized by the ugly suspicion that it understood every word. And has filed it for reference."- Charlotte Gray

No, not the kids.

I often hear dog lovers expound the virtues of one particular dog; it is rarer amongst cat lovers but I have owned that cat.  Not Gyver, who should have been mine ~ & was meant to be mine~ rescued & deflea~ed & loved passionately by everyone in the house & who was always so very grateful to have this home but understood he was  a family cat, to be loved indiscriminately & to love indiscriminately. No, that privilege goes to the cat who was one cat too many & was not originally mine but Dino's: Issi.

Iss was always my cat, from the moment he was allowed to stay.  Who knows why.  When we lost Gyver, who was a cream with ginger points part Siamese & who should have been an indoor cat only but rescued too late for that, it was Issi who slunk into my lap & squirmed up my chest to lay his head over my heart & grieve with me.  Dino was a little put out to find the kitten he'd picked out of the litter as being very male & for whom he had chosen a strong,  manly name preferred the comforts of his alpha women & being a rather large & adored woos.

The fact that I already owned cats bothered Issi not at all.  Issi was insistent that he too was worth loving & while he was attentive to everyone in the house  [as a good cat should be] he made it plain I was his person & to be lavished with love, protected & adored.  Once in a lifetime, perhaps, you are privileged to get an animal like Issi.  The strength of the bond means I have grieved Issi long & hard but a house is not a home without cats & so we acquired the present feline residents of our home.

Marlow & Kirby are brothers & although they are both adorable they had a long wait in a care situation until they came to us.  Consequentially separation makes them extremely anxious.  What is more concerning is that they say animals become like their owners & we inevitably acquire cats that are both clever & deeply neurotic.  We have had to be patient & very gentle with both cats.  Kirby, who loves being outside, is also my biggest cuddler, getting up under my chin for smooches & making repeated attempts to *groom* me to his satisfaction.  Marlow, while not as outright cuddly, is inevitably to be found under my feet no matter where I move.  They divided their territory equitably between them:  Kirby took outside, Marlow inside.  There was only one problem with this: the food is inside!  Then it got cold!

Now the warmest place in the house once the heater gets turned off at night is on someone's bed.  The place at the end of my bed has always been Marlow's because in the warmer weather Kirby preferred to sleep elsewhere.  Foolishly I thought Marlow would raise no objections to sharing that space with his brother.  How wrong could I be?!

I tried the turn & turn about thing but inevitably the cat whose turn it wasn't got upset.  We have attempted bed sharing ~ with an all out war erupting over the top of us & one or other cat inevitably departing in a huff.  Somewhere along the way as the cold deepened & the nights grew longer & more bitter they reached a sort of truce but I tend to end up with Kirby perched on top of me declaring proud ownership & male superiority. This puts Marlow's nose out of joint & in the early hours of the morning he rustles his brother out of the bed & lays sole ownership to my person.  There are five people in this house & at least that many beds to share but it is mine the cats want to squabble over. 

Then the other night as I made my usual I'm getting ready for bed  now noises both cats eyeballed me.  Both cats started following me about anxiously.  Both cats tangled round my ankles.  Both cats chirruped at me neurotically: Take me! Take me to bed.  I scooped up both cats, tucked one under each arm, & marched us all up the stairs to bed.  It was not a night for anyone to be left downstairs in the cold.  As I fell asleep the boys were still disputing whether or not Kirby could tuck his rump against Marlow's spine for extra warmth but I was lovely & toasty!

My kids eventually outgrew the sibling rivalry.  What odds on the cats?

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Hand of God.

Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me...Psalm 23

November, 2004.  Another school year drawing to it's close.  Already the days were getting hot & sticky & Star & I...well, we'd had enough.  We were still with BSDE; they are pedantic about returned work & we still had a fortnight's worth of work to go.  Grade 4 was our last good year with BSDE, before we got the woman who turned Star's schooling into a nightmare from which she has never really recovered.

I looked at Star's work.  It was a great unit; something about birds & flight, the sort of thing that we would normally have taken our time over & enjoyed no end but a niggling little voice at the back of my mind kept saying, Get it done. Get it in the mail.  As fast as possible. And so I said to Star," Look, just get it done & you're on holidays."  She was smart enough to twig she got nearly a month extra holidays & we ploughed through her work doing the bare minimum.  I can't say either of us enjoyed it much but every time I was tempted to slow down this little voice would pop up saying, Get it done.  Get it done.  And so we got it done.  In record time.

Work returns always make me a little crazy.  All that organization, dontcha know. *sigh* All those lists: readers; library books; manipulatives; math workbook; English workbook; art pieces; science experiments & there are just so many places in this house stray pieces of paper can migrate!  There is no feeling like putting the last school package of the year in the mail & knowing you don't have to worry about it for a whole 2 months!  I think we went & got ice cream to celebrate.  The weight of the world lifted off my shoulders.  I breathed deeply of freedom ~ & then my world came crashing down.

You know the phone call; someone you love telling you someone you love is in the hospital & my mother, who was the bearer of bad news, insisting there was no need to travel to bedsides when you know there is every need.  Not the first time my dad had suffered a heart attack & I had never felt the imperative need to go rushing off to bedside vigils.  This time was different.  Things did not sound good.  And I was so grateful amidst the worry & the juggling, the conferring with Dearest & breaking the news to our kids & talking about death & who wanted to travel down to say their goodbyes, that I was not worrying about undone school work.

There is nothing worse when you are a kid & important & momentous events start taking place around you than being rendered powerless & without a voice & so Dearest & I spoke to our kids both individually & collectively about what had happened to their Pa, about the physical condition he was in & what they could expect if they chose to visit him in hospital.  Having explained the facts we told them that the decision to visit or not was theirs alone to make & however they chose would be respected ~ yep, even Star.  In many ways Star was the one who coped best but all the kids were grateful for the opportunity to travel down & see their Pa for one last time.  It wasn't easy.  It wasn't pleasant.  It wasn't fun but not one of them has ever regretted their decision.

I brought the kids home & then returned to wait while dad made his last & final journey thought the portals of death & I can remember saying to my sister~in~law that our belief wasn't worth anything unless it was worth something in moments like this because God does not change.  If I believe God is good when good things happen then He is still good when bad things happen. 

 In my rather erratic walk with the Lord I was, amongst other things, confirmed in the faith in my mother's church & my confirmation verse is from Isaiah, a prophet & man of God who must also have been something of a poet for it is he who said; They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles...& so it was for me as we left the hospital staff to deal with the body that had once housed my father.  My grief was centred in Christ & so I was borne up & sustained.  I was sustained as I drove home alone up the highway ~ & believe me there were plenty of people worried about me making that trip!  And the boat trip makes you crazy because you're home, but not quite through your own front door, & even then there were people everywhere & all I wanted to do was get alone with the Lord.  I didn't want to say anything.  I didn't want to do anything, just rest in that still centre that remains unperturbed by all the froth & bubble that is life & randomly opening my bible my eyes lighted on Psalm 68:5 Father of the fatherless, defender of widows is the Lord in his holy habitation... & He sustained me a week later  as I read the eulogy & helped my mother start packing up her life.

One of the joys of getting older ~ & frankly there aren't too many of those! ~ is being able to look back over your life & see clearly the hand of God upon it.  There was no reason for me to feel the urgent need to get Star's school work finished & in the mail ~ except for the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  We had the money for me to travel; I had the time.  The Lord knew how much I needed to be reassured & loved after a horrendous week & gave me a verse I return to again & again, like a touchstone, to remind me I am loved & that His love never fails.

As life moves inevitably on, it is easy to get lost in the busyness, the imperative, the urgent & forget that God's hand is still sustaining, guiding, directing all & that nothing happens without His consent.  Not that it will always be easy, but that we will always be upheld by His hand, sustained by His love..

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to get an education...

WHAT KIND OF A BLACK PROTESTANT BIBLE IS THIS! Kindly inform the Church of England they have loused up the most beautiful prose even written. Who ever taught Dr. Tindall the Vulgate Latin. They'll burn for it, mark my words. It's nothing to me, I'm Jewish myself, but I have a Catholic sister-in-law, a Methodist sister-in-law, a whole raft of Presbyterian cousins, through my late Uncle Abraham who was converted, and an aunt who's a Christian Science healer. And I'd like to think none of them would countenance an Anglican Latin Bible if they knew it existed. As it happens, they don't know Latin existed. ~Helene Hanff

If books delight the book lover the next best thing is talking books with someone who loves them as much as you do.  So I happen to owe a good bit of my education to a lady I never met, a lady who loved books even more than I do & who happened to have absolutely irreproachable taste.  She acquired all her reading material from a little bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road ~ & then she delighted the rest of us by sharing her correspondence with this bookshop over the course of 20 years.

If I had to choose just one word to describe Helene Hanff it would be irascible.  She was smart, sharp & witty ~ & she tolerated no fools.  She was also Jewish & American dealing with a very constrained British establishment & her pithy prose is an absolute delight to read. And unlike me she had a love for reality: Pepy's Diaries, Walton's Lives, Newman's University...

I know, the correspondence between an irate Jewish/American writer & a staid British bookseller sounds terribly dull ~ & no doubt it would be if written by anyone else.  Hanff is quirky.  She pays for her books by sending her money through 2 mail systems [without consulting exchange rates], much to Frank Doel's consternation & she is not above abusing the man.

March 25, 1950
Frank Doel, what are you doing over there, you are not doing anything, you are just sitting around...

Where is Leigh Hunt?  Where is the Oxford Verse?  Where is the Vulgate & dear goofy John Henry...?

I require a book of love poems with spring coming on.  No Keats or Shelley, send me poets who can make love without slobbering....

Well, don't just sit there! Go find it! I swear I don't know how that shop keeps going.

For 20 years, through post war rationing when she sends food parcels over, to the psychedelic 60's, Helene bombards Marks & Co with requests for obscure & out of print reading material, always promising that One Day she will visit the London she has fallen in love with from afar. One day....

Ah, you will have to read her book to find out what happened.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Life is simple, it's just not easy.~ Anon

The house is in chaos.  Three days away & the whole place has fallen apart on me.  Star & I are still trying to regulate our sleep pattens ~ well I'm trying; Star seems perfectly content to be ill~regulated.  Liddy threw a spanner in my works by having me drive out to Kedron instead of just to Cooparoo.  Across the Gateway.  Myriad twists & turns.  Lid may be able to orientate herself in that sort of a maze but I cannot.  If I'd known beforehand I should have dragged Star along, less for her dubious navigational skills than her expertise as moral support. 

 Star is one of the most cheerful people I know.  Very little ever fazes her ~ & certainly nothing that a good dose of sugar can't fix!.  Actually the last time I saw her really rattled she was about 7 & I'd achieved a full blown migraine in town: hallucinating, vomiting, disoriented & Star was worried we'd miss our bus stop.  Travelling with me is sooo much fun.

So yeah, I'm doing housework today.  Not my most favourite activity.  And smooching with my cats.  Kirby has so lost the plot he's taken to racing out to the car whenever he hears the car keys rattle.  Marlow just looks wounded. The sky is threatening rain; the bathroom floor is hidden by laundry; somewhere in the kitchen there is a kitchen bench ~ & for today at least, Star is an only child.  Star likes being an only child.  At her time of life she rather feels it's her due.  It's for moments like these I have computers & books ~ to properly distract me from the boring necessities of life. Ho~hum, it's of to work we go....

Saturday, July 2, 2011

So, how was your weekend?

Singing is such an excellent thing, that I wish all people would sing. ~ Richard Byrd.

So yesterday we sang.  It was a huge day that began much earlier than I wanted because Liddy had a training day & needed the car.  This left Star & I with the option of travelling into town early with her or training in later.  We opted for the train but that meant an extra 2 hours travelling to allow for boats & buses & trains ~ & then we were early.  Early meant time for an icecream at Southbank before heading into QPAC.

No car meant we were lugging all our gear: Black & whites, shoes, water bottles, music, heavy jackets for later as we had to go to Liddy's soccer game after & Star, who has been rather spoilt in this regard, was not a happy Star.

We also had to detour en route.  By dint of raiding everyone in the house's closets I was able to turn up a white shirt, a pair of black pants I could fit into & a pair of black shoes that weren't going to kill me but a flesh coloured camisole was not available & flesh coloured is what you wear under whites because of the lights & as I'm allergic to elastic /nylon/rayon ~ pretty much anything that's not 100% cotton~I knew I was in for a bad case of the itches as soon as I put it on, which I didn't do till the very last minute.

First however we got our passes into QPAC to join with Cygnet Repu and the Basalaya Kwaya & the QPAC choir for a workshop.  Then  we hiked over the overpass to the State library to rehearse; concrete floors which are cruel to feet & legs unused to city streets; performance about 5.30.

Half the alto section ended up on the top balcony ~ where to my consternation I discovered I had a rather serious problem.  Without my glasses I couldn't read my music; with them on I couldn't see the conductor! The things that never occur to me till I'm in the middle of them! Worse, I am singing away shortsightedly doing the whole juggling act of foreign language no soundee what she lookee like, watch the conductor for my cues, try & hit a note somewhere in the right range when my peripheral vision discovers I have a camera shoved smackee~doo~da right in my face. I know why horses shy.  That was pretty much my reaction.  Yes, I knew the film crew was floating round.  Yes, I knew the camera guys were about.  No, it never occurred to me I'd be the poor sucker caught in the frame!  Hopefully my startlement didn't show too much. With luck the picture will never surface anywhere.

There was a good crowd but one of the bonus' of having become as blind as a bat is that I can see very little past the immediate page, with my glasses on.  And Ruth Ghee, who must be the sweetest chorus mistress ever, stood at the rehearsal door & hugged every single singer, thanking them for participating!  I feel like such a fraud!

Star & I hurtled back across the overpass via the QPAC stage door & headed round to the Ferris wheel looking for Liddy who was cooling her heels impatiently & whom we had made rather late.  However critical her stress levels had become they were very good for her game.  Her opening strike on goal came from the 18 yard box, dead centre, & she slammed it home. The goalie was very relieved to hear it thud against the top bar because no~one was stopping that ball! And she played like that all game. Mmm.  What finally subdued her was being given the spot kick for a hand ball in the box & I can't tell you how much Liddy hates taking spot kicks!  Waay too much pressure.  She put the ball in the back of the net but confessed later it had not done what she had meant it to do but as that was the only goal scored all game, she won her team the game.

Another late night.  The whole house is now suffering serious sleep disturbances but Liddy coped it worst.  She had asked to borrow my small travelling bag for her camp & had set it out, ready to be packed when she came home.  Never let it be said that our cats aren't deeply, deeply neurotic.  When no~one came home at the usual time & they started feeling anxious & emotionally deprived, someone [& neither cat is confessing] let their distress be known by piddling in the bag.  Liddy was beside herself but it's a good thing she hadn't already packed or she would have had a real problem.  As it was, she was frantically scrubbing out the bag & alternately scolding & smooching both cats until the small hours of the morning.

This afternoon I drive her too Coopooroo Station to head of for the first of two short missions.  By the time she comes back she will have just over a month before her departure date for Chile.  Anyone who wants a newsletter but hasn't received one, please let us know.  The first one has gone out but no doubt we've missed people so if that is you, do say.  It is easily rectified.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Driving me nuts.

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

I didn't drive until I was in my 20's.  Cars & I, well, let's just say we're not simpatico.

  It was Dearest who put an end to it when he found I was hiking home from rehearsals at 2 & 3 am along country roads.  I went to the University of Southern Queensland [as it is now] & back in the day it was all country roads. That walk was a great de~stresser & a good deal safer than my driving but I took his point.  Deserted, pitch black roads, even in the Toowoomba of 30 years ago, are not the safest of places. For my encouragement Dearest acquired a tomato soup red V~dub so mechanically sound I never had to worry about it & which I would still own if it was up to me~ & having shot through 2 amber lights while taking my test I duly acquired a driving licence. 

 Having a licence did not equal actually driving & the last thing my instructor said to me when she dropped me off after my test was that I was to take the car out every single day ~ even if all I did was pull in & out of the driveway.  Sad to say, that's exactly what I did for a week.  I think it is safe to say I have never been the most confident of drivers.  Plus, I learnt to drive in a largeish country town that is considerably smaller than it is now & almost all my driving was either in country towns or on the open road.  Learning to navigate big cities from a moving vehicle was not a skill I acquired & then of course we moved to the island & this is how it is people: Twenty years ago most of our roads were still dirt; we still do not have a single set of traffic lights & only one pedestrian crossing, which is outside the school.  The greatest traffic I am normally likely to see is at the jetty just after the boat pulls in & as the traffic regulations for this have yet to be written islanders have their own code for dropping off & picking up passengers ~ most of which is illegal by regular road standards but as everybody here understands how this works we have never had an accident.

When Star first started singing & I discovered I was required to actually drive on the mainland I was not a happy bunny.  It had been more than twenty years since I'd been required to actually deal with any of the following: traffic lights, lane dividers, multiple lanes of traffic, pedestrian crossings, round~a~bouts, highways, bicycle lanes, bus transit lanes [What are they?], buses, trucks, speed signs, stop signs ~ road signs of any description ~ road works...actually, you name it & I probably hadn't encountered it.  My brother, Mark, on a rare visit, once stood staring at an island road sign in complete bewilderment.  Not even a track showed, just acres of cattle can rattling in the breeze.

Now I grew up in Sydney, which is a large cosmopolitan city, & was even when I was a child. I have travelled the world over & so long as no~one actually expects me to navigate, let alone drive, I am perfectly serene, even when lost where no~one speaks my language. But, ask me to drive into Brisbane & I promptly go into meltdown.  Why is this so?  I speak the language. I have some chance of reading the infrequent road signs.  I can look & act as blond as the best of them.  It makes no difference, so contrary creature that I am, why am I not shouting hallelujahs from the rooftops at travelling into Brissie by public transport tomorrow? Why, indeed?