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...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

One Pink Dog.

One of the makeup artists once dyed my dog blue with vegetable blue.  ~Mia Kirshner

All is not well with my soul.   *sigh*  My instinct is to go to ground & wait for *This too, to pass*.  Unfriendly & unsociable of me & probably unhelpful to the state of my soul so I am going to share with you one of the weirder things that has come my way recently.

The photo is not the dog in question; the photo is c/~ of Photobucket who are so accommodating about providing pictures of really weird things. 

Star & I are not much of ones for exercise, which serves no purpose.  For the life of me I cannot figure out why anyone would pay to be tortured in a gym ~ but people do.  Some strange souls even seem to enjoy it.  Star & I are not of their company.  However we do enjoy a leisurely walk in the cool of the evening.  This in no way can be construed as *exercise*.  We dally.  We meander.  We most certainly do not get our heart rates up.  It is an excuse for Star to drap herself all over me because, "Don't touch me!  I don't like being touched!"  Except on her own terms, of course.  It is an opportunity for me to peer into other people's gardens & perhaps surreptitiously nip a stray tendril overhanging the footpath, gather the prettiest feathers, & gaze in wonder as the first stars appear hazily through the dusk.  I embarrass Star.  Don't Stare, she hisses.

Sometimes staring is the only possible response.

So we were leisurely walking home through the gathering dusk, urged on by my Star who objects when the mozzies arrive in black droves to being vampired, when we came to the house on the last corner.  The house has a big picture window out the front & new tenants & would not normally attract my attention.  The yard is bare & dull, the house a butter box of the less interesting kind & there is no garden; not even a cat  basking in the fading sunlight.

Glancing incuriously towards the house my gaze was suddenly arrested.  The pale curtains were pulled back & fastened by big hot pink bows [that alone was enough to make my jaw drop] but dead centre of the window was a tiny white mop of a dog with hot pink ears & a hot pink tail!  I gawped.  [Isn't gawped a lovely word?!] I couldn't believe that anyone could do that to an animal!  Star had to drag me away.  I just couldn't believe my eyes.

So there you have it; the latest craze ~ lap dogs dyed to match your decor.  Last thing I ever expected to see on the island!

Monday, February 27, 2012

It is my belief that everything you need to know about the world can be learned in a church choir. ~ Connie Willis.

I'm not sure how it happened but I am singing with one of Alison's choirs.  We are rehearsing Monday nights.  Star is happily adding up all her driving hours.

There have been big changes with Star's music this year.  There has been a change of rehearsal venue.  There has been  a culling of Star's choir.  This has meant more professionalism & closed rehearsals.  I cannot gripe, not really ~ I got to sit in rehearsals for years & years, but I am going to any way because like it or not I am still carting Star round & I have to be there ~ but now I can no longer sit in on rehearsals.  I cannot afford the movies every week ~ or the coffee shop.  The library is shut & I'm not a window shopper.  I'm not a chatterer either so hob~nobbing with other dispossessed parents is not my thing either. Which means I sit.  I read a lot but the new venue is noisy & not to put too fine a point on it I am bored out of my tiny Celtic mind. 

Still it's once a week.  I figured I could survive once a week.  Eight months & counting down ~ then Star is on her own.  Then Star got her invite for Alison's community choir.  According to Star, if she had her drathers she would do music, music, music & nothing but music till the skies fell & the seas overflowed the dry land.  I didn't even have to ask to know that Star would want to do this too.  I ummmed.  I Ahed.  I dithered.  So good at the dithering.  I asked her to let me think about it because the thought of sitting for more hours in a draughty auditorium cooling my heels when I should be snuggled up in bed with my cats did absolutely nothing for me at all.  I can do rehearsals.  I'm a little quirky that way.  Rehearsals fascinate me.  Watching a maestro pull something amazing from nothing at all constitutes a minor miracle in my book.

Then I got an invite too.  And now I will let you into a little secret.  Auditions have been going on for months but I have never once auditioned for Alison.  Sssssshhh.  I'm not convinced she's ever even heard me sing ~ though I have sung in her impromptu choirs before.  So if I get to play in Star's sandpit it is a whole 'nother ball game 'cause I get to have some fun too ~ so we said Yes!

I really should think these things through better.  I said yes ~ but my music reading is dodgy.  I know what the notes say but I do not hear them in my head the way Star does. I can get my alto & soprano lines muddled.   I have no sense of rhythm & it took me ages to figure out I was having trouble with my timing because we were singing in 3/4 not 4/4.  I really should not be let loose in these things. 

I had trouble from the word go.  I have a limited range.  I can't hit anything in the top four octaves when doing warm ups.  I know that so just open my mouth.  No sound is allowed to emerge.  Then everyone else, who have done QPAC with Alison, moved into their sections. *sigh*  Star sings bottom altos.  I know I can't get down there.  Obviously not a bass ~ or even a tenor.  Nothing on earth would have got me headed towards the soprano section so by a process of elimination I'm singing 1st altos.  This is where my voice seems to sit best but harmony is for musicians.  I'm not a musician.  My head wants to sing the melody line. The music only tells me it's going up or down; I cannot hear it in my head so thanked the Lord quietly that the young woman next to me seemed to have a really good idea of what she was doing & a nice strong voice for me to pitch against! Whew.  Survived!

Have a listen; We are singing this:

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Missionary's Mother.

Knickerbocker, Knickerbocker, number nine

He likes to dance and he keeps in time

Now let's get the rhythm...
I have lost the rythmn of my days.  This makes me a cross & ratty woman.  The house is a mess.  This depresses me but the thought of cleaning it all up depresses me more. I prefer to do my housework late at night because there is something extremely satisfying in knowing that unless the fridge raiders go completely beresk my work will stay that way for at least 8 hours.  Nothing depresses me more than having everything neat & tidy & some ape come along & promptly turn it into a  pigsty again!  Unfortunately I have a light sleeper who screams at the first chink of china.
I have lost the particle of time I had carved out for bible study & prayer .  Dearest has changed his sleeping & waking patterns so now I must needs find a new iota of time ~ something not easily done in this house!
I am not one of those happy women who can run their own, & everybody else's, lives with aplomb.  I'm a potterer & a ditherer & sad to say halfway through cleaning up I am likely to start reading whatever I've just picked up & get completely sidetracked.  This sad lack of focus does not apply to reading or study.
If I had the backbone of a jellyfish I'd just get stuck into it & do it.  I don't.  I tentatively poke at it.  If it moves I run for the hills.  Three times this week I've psyched myself to tackle my house.  Three times I've planned my attack in my head.  Three times Liddy has popped up to skype!  Once was to chat.  Once ~ who knows?  Once for our cheesecake recipe.
Good grief!  And this woman calls herself a Christian! Cleanliness is next to godliness, right?  How on earth did such a Ditz end up with one child on the mission field & another preparing to go?  Well, I'll let you into a secret; I didn't have anything to do with it.
I mightn't be able to manage my life without a massive meltdown but that's ok; God's got my back.  He's got a head for details.  He doesn't forget anything.  He hasn't forgotten I promised Him my children back.  He hasn't forgotten that every night of their growing years we prayed that they would love & serve God.  This is not liscense to be lacksadaisical.  It just means God can plug my holes because He does know what I'm like.  All the trying in the world is not going to magically turn me into a competant housekeeper or a  purposeful parent.  It does mean He gets all the glory.
And however strange my parenting may sometimes have been it served it's purpose.  The picture is of Liddy aged about 12 months.  She is wearing the most gorgeous little dress her Ma made her & she looked like the most beautiful little doll ever, very sober & just walking.  We took her to a family wedding with all the Aunts & cousins who are completely baby mad & swooped on her ooohing & aaahing & wanting to pick her up & squeeze her with cuddles ~ an operation that mortified Liddy.  She spent the whole weekend screaming for her mother any time anyone else so much as looked at her!  Her mother complied.  Nothing much has changed.  Liddy pops up on skype, I'll answer.  The house can go hang!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Tale of Two Houses.

It always amazes me to think that every house on every street is full of so many stories; so many triumphs and tragedies, and all we see are yards and driveways.~ Glenn Close

The house I grew up in was a modern house.  I did not love it.  It had no character.  Oh, it's walls were straight, it's windows sealed,  the roof never leaked, & my mother was, & is, a most extraordinary home~maker.  She worked hard to make her home beautiful & even harder to keep it as neat & tidy as a new pin.

The house was long with one long, slightly pitched roof that the possums used to race along in the dead of a night that was punctuated by blood~curdling screams when a possum misjudged & flew off the end.  At the eastern end the t.v antenna pierced the sky.  It provided the perfect perch for kookaburras & magpies to dive bomb the pool.  It was fibro: easy care, easy maintainance & perched amongst the sandstone & funnel webs on the south side of a steep hill with waterfrontage along the Port Hacking River & great views of The Royal National Park.  My father bought the land for a song when it was so far out of town we were little more than country hicks.

When I was a child the flannel flowers & Christmas Bells grew in riotous profusion but they are delicate plants requiring stable eco~systems & by the time I left home they were no more.  They will not return.

The house looked like what it was: a '70's kit home with all the mod~cons ~ & don't get me wrong.  I appreciate the mod~cons.  And it did have some stories to tell after 20 odd years with my brothers for it was Mark who decided to brew ginger beer under the house.  Too much sugar resulted in a massive explosion one night.  Five minutes later there was a gentle tinkling sound as one by one all the bathroom tiles slide down the wall & shattered on the floor.  And there was the night the whole house shook & my mother, who is a light sleeper, shot up~right in bed demanding to know, "What was that?"  My father, who was anything but a light sleeper, sleepily mumbled, "Just the possums on the roof, dear.  Go back to sleep."  Which simply goes to prove that the possums on our roof created the same amount of shake as a small earthquake.

It was Mark who accidently sat on the cactus by the front door & spent some time with his bottom in the air while his mother & aunt pulled out all the spines.  For a great many years John kept a salt water fish tank opposite the dining room table & you were liable to eat your meal while the tank residents ate eat other!  It redeemed itself the morning were were woken by my mother's excitement to find a tankfull of tiny, newborn seahorse!  However John also kept blue ringed octopus & they were escape artists extraordinaire; you were liable to find their shiveled dehydrated bodies all over the house.

There was a certain blandness to the house I grew up in.  The Celt in me responded to something wilder & more eccentric.  I found it in my Aunt's house ~ though I think only she & I loved it with a passion.  The more practical sorts were horrified by its faults.  My father never cared for it after he spent all of one holiday replacing the white ant riddled cedar roof beams during a monsoonal summer.  We children where thrilled to be living under tarpaulins with buckets under all the drips & half the furniture sitting out on the lawn!  As an adult I have a fellow feeling for my mother & aunt, who were less than thrilled.  Or perhaps it was the fact that half his bike ended up in my Aunt's fancy set of steps.  That it had been sitting in her garage for several decades was beside the point. 

Trafalgar Vale was a generous house; muddly, worn, sturdy.  I used to love coming up the old wooden steps to be greeted by its particular smell: the garden of course, rich, red soil  harbouring a plethora of plants steaming in a tropical broth; wooden boards baking in the sunlight; dust motes dancing in the ribbons of filted light streaming down through the wisteria & alamander & through the louvres of the enclosed side verandahs ~ but most of all the smell of thinners & turps pungently underpinning everything.  My Aunt painted on one of the side verandahs & the smell of her oils & turps permeated the whole house.

My aunt was a gardner.  She did not care for housekeeping or cooking.  She painted so she could buy the plants she couldn't beg, borrow, scavange or downright steal.  Anytime she walked anywhere any stray tendril overhanging a footpath would be snapped off & carted home where it would be popped into a container of potting mix & lovingly coddled into new life.

All these things created a heady mix but the thing that drew me & held me long after the house itself was sold & all the heavy, burdensome furniture parceled out to thrift shops, was the sense of history.  Magpie like my aunt had somehow accumulated most of the family treasures & all of the stories.  You could spend hours rifling through the boxes of photos of Victorians & Edwardians, with their piled up hair & billowing skirts.  My aunt knew all their names & each had a story.   My Aunty Bell, so tiny grandfather could pick her up with one hand; she played the piano beautifully.  My grandfather ~ who grew the only Tamarind in Brisbane.  Uncle Norman, who went away to the war & never came home.  They might be dead & buried, decent Christians every one, but their ghosts lingered in that house & it was no surprise to me that shortly before she died my Aunt was found propped up in bed having a tea party & merrily chatting away to people who had long ago departed this earth!

I've always been a sucker for a good story.  My Aunt's house had a library full of them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An education & a half.

That's why I ended up leaving school - because it required so much time ~ Shawn Fanning

  I left school in 1975 ~ thus ending 13 years of enforced misery. Even now I can think of nothing worse than being forced to endure the unrelenting company of my peers! It wasn't that I was bullied or particularly picked on but each day was a challenge to not stand out from the crowd, to fit in, while being acutely aware that you did not fit in.  I wasn't pretty enough ~ or sporty enough or clever enough.  I wasn't into clothing or hair or make~up ~ & I had brothers so boys had no especial interest for me.  And children, even ditzy children like me, are realists; school was a given.  One knew one had to endure it.  No point in complaining ~ not in our house, though I did know one little boy who did rather well at complaining enough to get out of school quite regularly!

There were some compensations to the unrelenting boredom, the stale lunch box lunches, the peer jockeying & the dreaded math lessons.  I was reading off the primary charts & at least my primary school had an exceptionally good library with a most wonderful librarian & the older I became the less often I was to be found on the playground & the more likely it was I would be curled up, forgotten, in some cool corner of the library.

I went to a State Primary school.  It took me 6 years but I finally chose my friends rather than merely struggling to fit in with the alpha group ~ who accepted me but did not miss me when I departed its vapid company.  They were friendships destined not to last because my parents did not like our local high school, which had a really, really bad reputation, & chose to enrol me here

This was apalling.  It wasn't the hours of travel each day that bothered me.  I can read on trains ~ & I did.  No, it was quite simply the fact I didn't know a single other solitary soul in the entire school!  And my math was so awful I got put down in the class for dummies ~ where I was chronically bored because all the good literature went to the A stream!  Within a week another little girl from my primary school arrived but this was no solace as she was incapable of holding a conversation without telling you the price of everything ~ a quirk that astonished me as much as it apalled me.  Fancy being able to hold all those numbers in your head, let alone think them important!

The school I attended was nothing like the bright & shiny school depicted in recent photos.  It was  still a relatively young school & the place this showed up the most was in the library!  It did not have a good library.  It was well equipped in every other way.  The science labs were state of the art ~ no consolation to someone who refused to even consider a subject where you had to cut up dead animals!  Uh~uh, not this little black duck!  And forget Physics or chemistry; they required far too much math even if I was vaguely interested [I was not] in the how & why of things.

I was strong in the arts & quite capable of reasonable grades with an minimum amount of work ~ & it didn't take me long to figure out if I locked myself in my bedroom with the pretence of doing homework, I would be left alone to read.  I wasn't a terribly social child & it's a good thing I didn't have more of an inclination towards wickedness because the most interesting people I knew where very wicked indeed.  They grew pot in the neighbour's tomato patch & when they harvested it they smoked up a storm in his potting shed ~ resulting in the fire department being called out & expulsions all round. 

We had the most awful science teacher; an Arab who made it plain he considered the teaching of science to females a huge waste of his time & whom every class he taught behaved so dreadfully he eventually locked one class in their room at lunch.  They promptly climbed out the 2nd story windows & negotiated the window sills to enter the next classroom & escape.  I did not behave badly.  This was prime reading time so far as I was concerned & because I was quiet & no bother to anyone I was allowed to get away with it  The sheer impossiblity of my cheating on an external exam left him bewildered at how I had managed to snag an A when I had patently paid no attention whatsoever in class.

Then there was the delightful day when the surfie chick crowd arrived at school completely off their faces on acid ~ & one girl freaked out so badly her friends removed her to the boarding house sick bay.

History, which I liked, & French, which I might have liked, were very badly taught.  Lovely people ~ just  not cut out for managing classrooms of obstreperous teens. In 13 years I can only remember having 2 absolutely brilliant teachers & it is no wonder I looked forward to their classes, paid attention, mostly,  but for the most part drifted through my days with my mind on far more interesting things than what was going on in the classroom around me.

I spent 6 years, five days a week with these people.  I know things about some of them even their nearest & dearest don't know.  I left school & never spoke to any of them again.  Not really.  I rang my *Bestie* when her father & young brother perished in a light aeroplane accident.  Three pilots on board & they still hit the deck.  I went, once, to a reunion dinner at an Indian restraunt 6 months out of school, barely said two words all evening.  Couldn't wait to escape.  The gulf between us had only widened & we had absolutely nothing in common any more.  I have never desired to attend an Old Girls Reunion.  I have no desire at all to go back or find out what any of the people I spent so much time with ended up doing with their lives.  It unlikely to have been overly exciting.

What about you?  Do you keep in contact with old school chums?  Attend Renunions? Or are you like me & thank God you never have to go back there ever again?!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

To Be, or Not to Be...

Mad, adj.: Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence. ~Ambrose Bierce

I learnt early I was not the brightest caboose on the tracks.  Round about grade 4 they used to issue standard I.Q tests to all the State School children, of which I was one at the time.   The selected intellectually superior were given the option to attend the gifted school.  Both my brothers made it without even trying.  I did not.

See, the tests are loaded.   Without saying a word the implication was that Math & Science mattered.  They came first on the paper.  Naturally I couldn't do any of it.  I never got to the rest of the paper because English was no~where near as important as Math & Science.  It took me a long time to realise I wasn't dumb; I just operated slightly differently to the rest of the world.

It took me so long in fact I had children of my own who started saying things like,"Speak English, mum", when I thought I was.  Then they started going, "Thanks to you, mum, my friends can't understand me."  As a family we have an extensive vocabularly ~ & we do not necessarily stick to English.  There was a time, because the words, Shut Up! were forbidden, when Star took great delight in telling people to Dun do beal! or Fermer la bouche!  Admittedly I once caused great consternation by muddling up my gentiles & genatiles.  I knew the difference but never having heard either word actually pronounced took pot luck & got it wrong!  It happens.

Forty years down the track I now know a lot about what *giftedness* looks like ~ & it is often not what people expect!  The intellectually bright are often not academically inclined.  More often not.  Many hide a learning disability.  Others concentrate on one area to the exclusion of all else.  I know I did.  As an adult I can run down the checklists put out for these things & tick all the boxes relating to language, interests, concentration ~ & not a single one relating to math, science, logic.    My mind does not work that way.

I can run down these lists & tick all the boxes in one area or another for every single one of my children ~ which is incredibly scary because I do not have a single academically inclined child.  I have 2 whose intellectual ability is downright scary & one of them has absolutely no idea how to manage his life.

With an election looming in Queensland,  Education is once again in the spotlight.  There is lots of noise & pollies making promises that mean nothing & less than nothing because you cannot make people learn.  You cannot fix a problem by throwing money, & more money, at it.  You cannot motivate the intellectually able with standardised education because they have no interest in standardised anything.  Many become intellectually numb because most classrooms are beehives of boredom rather than centres of learning.

I do not have the answers.  I know we have got it very, very wrong.  One system is not going to fit every child.  It is not even going to fit *most* children ~ there being no such thing as the average child.  What I do know is that every child is gifted in their own way because God delights in diversity, in variables, in difference.  It is people who try & make one size fits all education.  I am not even convinced that there are certain things *everybody* should know.  What is important is that people know how to find out.

And here's a thought: probably the 2 greatest inventions of all time are fire & the wheel.  Both were invented by people who could neither read nor write & were unlikely to be able to count.  Makes you think, doesn't it?

Rabbit V Lab: Rabbit wins.

A great many people now reading and writing would be better employed in keeping rabbits. ~ Dame Edith Sitwell

It is places, not people or things, that leave an indelible impression on me, sinking down into my very bones to stain them with the scents & colours of the past.  More than the house I actually grew up in my Aunt's house stains my memory.  There was a generosity & wildness to it's nature that appealed to me that was lacking in my own well ordered home ~ for the most part.  We owned animals so there was the exception.

I am not sure, given a choice, that my mother would ever have owned pets.  They are never as easy to govern as children & can't be arbitarily ordered & inevitably a lot of their care fell to my mother but my father was a well known softie & so we owned both a cat & a dog, various fish in a tank on the kitchen bench & for a time budgies ~ then never again.  Their escape into the wild was far too traumatic. 

Then my youngest brother, Mark, began school & a whole new world of possibilities opened up for Mark promptly became friends with a family who owned & bred rabbits.  Now in Australia rabbits are declared vermin & you need a special liscence to own & breed them & in some states, like Queensland, even desexed & kept as a pet you are not allowed them & they will be removed & put down.  Even the travelling Pet Animal Farm that goes round to all the schools is not allowed a rabbit.  N.S.W is not so strict & so long as your animal is desexed & properly housed you are allowed to keep a rabbit as a pet.

Mark began his propaganda campaigne.  He raved about the cuteness of the rabbits.  He visited & explained how they were housed so cheaply & ate grass  or the odd lettuce leaf so wouldn't cost anything [perish the notion!] to feed.  They were cute & cuddly & mummy rabbit had just had babies & there was the most adorable snow white bunny & he would dearly like a little white rabbit all his own!  Either Mark's tactics were extremely effective or, more likely, he simply wore down all resistance with his persistence because my father promptly built him a rabbit hutch & in due time a tiny white rabbit arrived on our premises.

It looked very cute.  Butter wouldn't meltish but it had a nasty mind!  My mother, who is a fair & just woman & takes all her responsibilities seriously, felt sorry for Snowball [yes, originality is not the name of the game] cooped up all day in his hutch so each morning when she went to hang out her load of washing she would let Snowball out of his hutch to gambol at her feet while she worked.  Gambol he did, happily keeping her company & staying within easy reach until the moment she decided it was time to go inside & finish her chores~ at which point Snowball promptly disappeared under the cubbyhouse from whence it was impossible to extract him.  No amount of celery sticks, lettuce leaves or carrot sticks was enough to lure him close enough to be grabbed until he tired of the game & wandered out into the open waiting placidly to be picked up, roundly scolded & deposited back in his pen.

Snowball was not the cute & cuddly type.  He was a biter & an Alpha Male of the most notorious sort & I learnt the hard way why rabbit kicks are so dangerous.  Despite this I was rather fond of Snowball.  He had one redeeming quality for which I would forgive him multiple sins; he did not like the neighbour's labrador!

The neighbour's labrador & I had issues.  I'm not really a dog person though, on the whole, dogs like me & will happily slobber all over me given half a chance ~ & there have been dogs I have been fond of, even liked, though none have captured my heart the way my cats have.  The neighbour's labrador was not one of them!

I have heard all my life what wonderful family dogs labs are; how child friendly; how docile & biddable & trainable yadda yadda.  For my money they are the stupidest mutts on the planet & the one dog I loath with a passion! 

There was a period when I would arrive home from school to start walking down our drive ~ our long steep drive with it's towering gums & burgeoning bracken winding its slippery way down, down, down through the stippled green till the rich smell of mould & eculypt was overpowered by the salt smell of the sea & piles of carrageen ~ when the neighbours mutt would promptly arrive, on cue, wrap his jaws firmly around my wrist & escort me home!  OK, bird dog, so it didn't actually hurt & I wasn't frightened but I didn't need escorting down my own drive to my own front door either!  I used to dread the Lab's arrival with a great & fearful dread.  Perhaps I just wasn't firm enough but I could never dissuade the stupid thing.  If I put my hands in my pockets he simply gripped my wrist through the cloth & all.  If I held them away from me, he lept for them.

Then one day The Mutt came wandering down our drive while Snowball was loose in the yard.  Snowball was definitely an Alpha Male & the territory was all his because both the cat & the dog were females!  He took one look at this great hairy monster invading his territory & his ears stood straight up.  He raised himself on his haunches for a better look & his eyes took on a steely glint.  He took a giant leap & biffed the Lab a good one around the ears.  The Lab turned tail & fled yelping up the hill with Snowball in hot pursuit!  Go Snowball!

I went away on camp.  When I returned Snowball was no more.  R.I.P.

Monday, February 20, 2012

One for sorrow,Two for joy,Three for a girl,Four for a boy,Five for silver,Six for gold,Seven for a secret,never to be told,Eight for a wish,Nine for a kiss,Ten for a bird you must not miss.

I have a magpie mind. I like anything that glitters.~  Lord Thomson

How the world has changed! 

I have memories, just, before Poppy decided farming was unprofitable & moved into town, of the milk coming up to the farmhouse in buckets.  Jersey cows.  The milk was thick & rich with cream frothing up in yellowish festoons, still warm from the cow.  Now you're not supposed to drink milk like that.  It's unhealthy or something so they do horrible things to it, remove the cream, & serve it up cold [like revenge].  It just doesn't taste the same.

I was a city girl ~ though until I was quite big I didn't see much of the city.  We lived out in the Sticks, across the river from the Royal National Park in Sydney, without too many other houses about & a long steep drive that crossed the smallest of ferny rivulets tumbling down through the sandstone to the sea.  Visitors baulked at the steepness of our drive.  People like the Postie & the Milkman did not visit.  We had a box at the top of the drive where things like the mail & the milk got delivered because there once was a day, dear people, when the milk got delivered to your door ~ or your box, as the case may be.  We left our silver & our milk crate there each evening & in the morning someone hiked up the hill to collect it in time for breakfast but you had to be quick or you were forced to share & the magpies got all the cream.

What my children have missed out on in this day of plastic & convenience stores!  The pint milk bottles were glass.  Really truly glass ~ & completely recyclable.  You returned your empties & the Milko took them away.  In their place he left full ones.  They came with a tin foil *lid* & half an inch of thick cream stoppering the neck. Ma liked the cream for her coffee.  The rest of us coveted it for our porridge.  However foil is not a hard plastic lid & the magpies were quick to figure out their beaks were harder than foil & they profited  enormously by puncturing the foil with their beaks & helping themselves to our breakfast.  Their innovation probably hastened the demise of  the glass milk bottle, home deliveries & the Milko!

Are you old enough to remember what milk actually tastes like?  Proper milk, straight from the cow?  Unprocessed?  The cream still floating about on top the way God designed it?  Some days I think we've gone completely overboard on the whole hygiene thing.  People were drinking & eating unprocessed  stuff for centuries before they were aware of germs & things.  Some of them died.  Most didn't or we wouldn't be here.  And there are risks with all this plastic.  It starts breaking down almost immediately ~ straight into our milk & juice & bottled water.  Goodness alone knows what it's doing to our insides!  Do I even want to know?  I don't want to own a cow.  Have you ever tried milking one of these things?  Hard on the wrists.
For a democracy a good many fundamental choices have been taken from us.  Like what goes into our food & how it is delivered to us ~ all in the name of cconvenience.   Convenience will be the death of us!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Circumcision of the Heart.

God is a practical God.  You ever notice that?  God not only tells us what He wants done, He gives us the helps we need to achieve His purposes.  I've been thinking about this as I'ved travelled in & out with Dino each day this week.  Dino's not communicative first thing in the morning; the traffic down the highway is slow.  I don't mind.  My thoughts revolve as slowly as the turning wheels & my meandering thoughts wander here & there & eventually came to roost like a homing pigeon because there's got to be as many versions of Christianity as there are Christians & Dino, being the practical sort, has honed in on the very practical applications of Christianity ~ exactly the area I'm left floundering, not being the practical sort myself, not understanding the theology, not even sure I agree with it ~ though that may be Dino's explanations because he always cuts to the main chase & leaves his foundational arguments out! [sigh]

It's not so much that I'm dense; I just don't think in straight lines.  I'm not sequential.  Sad to say it never once occurred to me to ask, Why?  Why this way, God?  I just accepted the random directions & leadings of the Holy Spirit.  Rather like doing a jig~saw I always think.  You have all these various coloured bits & some straight edges & some joined together bits & you know what the finished picture should look like [more or less] but meanwhile you sit staring at the funny shapes that don't seem to fit anywhere at all [did someone muddle this puzzle up with another?], scowling at the bit that should fit but won't, moving other bits round 'cause maybe upside down is better ~ or sideways, even back~to~front starts looking more feasible than what you've got.

So some years ago now God started leaning on me with Romans 12:2 [And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.] He lent hard.  OK.  I'm a visual.  I'm the kid that read jam jar labels & the adds on trains for wont of anything else & sad to say, over the years, I've not been very discriminatory about what went into my head.  Do we get to jettison the trash at some point?  So I got this one.  I started self~censoring my reading material ~ & believe me this is no easy task because I still read whatever happens to be in my line of vision no matter what it is!  It's why I have so much trouble in church.  Always have, probably always will.  I get distracted by what I can see.  Oh, I can sit still.  I can bob up & down in all the right places.  I can make the right responses & sing along as need be but I would hardly call what I do worship.  The old mind is off on a whole 'nother tangent.  Like, wow, what a really ugly shade of orange that woman's dress is.  What was she thinking?...Cute kid....Look at those shoes!  How can she walk in them? Toupee ~ or not toupee? Doesn't she get giddy dancing around like that?  Gosh!  What if she falls over?  Bring the whole show to a crashing standstill....& so my thought thunder & crash for the entire hour.  No wonder I shut my eyes & shut the whole circus out.  No wonder I like silent worship.  It's such a relief!!!!

Which brings me, albeit in a very round~about fashion, back to the Sabbath, back to the festivals & somewhere along the way the ol' penny dropped & I felt it hit bottom because I am tired of hearing, "God looks on the heart" to justify things I'm pretty certain God don't approve of.  I'm tired of hearing Grace ~ without accountability.  I'm just tired of the free~for~all ~one~size~fits~all~God~loves~you version of Christianity because we are priests....priests!  The Spirit in us is all that stays God's hand because for the sake of one righteous man God spared Zoar ~ & we are made righteous through Christ.

....Coming back to the point.  So.  I was looking at the Sabbath & it struck me how observing, learning, from these OT traditions is renewing my mind.  They are training me to keep God at the centre of my entire life.  This is not theoretical.  This is not vaguely wishy~washy wishful thinking as I so often hear from Christians.  This is practical, step by step application.  The Hebrew names for the days of the week are a good example ~ & very Quakerish, which makes me giggle: Yom Reeshone [first day ~ from the Sabbath], Yom Shaynee [2nd day ~ from the Sabbath] ~ & so on.  The entire week revolves around the Sabbath, thus continually bringing one's mind, & thus one's heart, back to the idea of worship.  From Wednesday on the preparations for keeping the Sabbath are well under way because there is a good deal of preparation ~ which I am faaaar too lazy to engage in though if you are a hands on learner ~ perfect! Sunday through Tuesday is time to reflect on the last Sabbath; Wednesday on one is planning & thinking forward to the new Sabbath.  The Sabbath is for rest.  It is for family & celebration & the worship of God ~ & the end result is the circumcision of the heart, the removing of the heart of stone for God's heart of flesh.  God has not left us to founder haphazardly towards His truth.  He has not left us to rely haphazardly on man~made institutions of State & Church.  He's shown us!  Here are the tools, He says, Use these.

And having said all that we are not keeping the Sabbath this week.  I am taking Star into a rehearsal because the child is spending Saturday workshopping with the King's Singers. [sigh]  My heart might be in the right place but my obedience isn't.  Not this week.  Good thing we are not bound Ixion like to the wheel of the Law.  Just the same I am sad.  There is such peace & anticipation ~ & Blessing ~ that comes from walking in the God ordained ways.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One, rosella, two roseela, three rosella, more....

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,

Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,

Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,

Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble." ~ Macbeth

 Rosella is a bird; a red & blue bird, familiar to a whole generation of Australian children as the logo for soup ~ tomato generally.  They live high in the tree tops, feed on the gum blossom, nest in the hollows in trees & make an abominable screeching as they come in to roost at night.  As a general thing I'm not overly fond of any of the parrot family.  They are noisy & quarrelsome & quite aggressive but just the same the idea of turning them into jam was not an idea that had ever crossed my slightly haywired brain!

When we first moved to the island we received an invitation, a rather special invitation, to morning tea at The Farm.  The Farm is situated halfway down the island, perched high on the hill, the road cutting away below, the dark green of avocado leaves spreading like an undulating sea to the very edge of the swamp.  Between the avocados & the ancient house lay the garden, an old fashioned, straggling, riotous garden full of exotic & native plants & the pride of the island.  We had heard so much about The Garden, & been told so often how rare it was for invitations to view it to be issued, we were a little in awe because it was  the garden we had come to see.  It is my sort of garden.  The beds are deep, the fragile flowers shyly peeking out from under a tangle of bushes, big old trees waving their gay flags in the breeze, birdbaths full of tepid water, lichened stones & meandering pathways but not much grass.  Grass should be banned in this country.

We dutifully meandered.  We ooohed & we ahhhed & we exclaimed.  We discussed the merits of this & that & eventually happily accepted an invitation to stay for morning tea.  I was sorry almost as soon as we'd agreed.  Apologising profusely our hostess told us it was only scones & Rosella jam!!!!  My mind boggled.  I seriously envisioned something full of feathered bits  & hollow bones, bits of beak, brazen eyeball ~ eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat, adders fork & blind worm's sting.  I was feeling a little unhinged to say the least.

My look must have said it all, though being a well brought up child I was politely spreading jam sparingly on my scone because it looked just like big gooey globs of clotted blood & I was just hoping I wouldn't gag in the wrong place & give myself away completely.

 Rosella is a bush.  It is one of the edible hibiscus, an introduced species, & commonly grown throughout the northern states.  As a Sydney girl I'd never heard of it though both my parents are Queenslanders & had certainly eaten it before.  Not being much of a jam eater I guess I missed this one somewhere along the track.
Rosella is a jam. It tastes red & not in the least bit like bird.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"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

The boys are missing me.  I arrive home & the heads pop up like Nessie's, their small bodies quivering with anticipation;  Will she notice me?  Will she come & say hello & chuck me under the chin?  Will there be biscuits in my bowl & will she check to see we have water?

Then the purring begins: deep, volcanic rumblings that shake the chairs & shiver the timbers.  Marlow flips onto his back, spreading himself like a squirmy  hairy rug & when I move he comes too, dogging my footsteps, more canine than cat, happiness oozing from every pore. 

Kiby is not so outwardly needy.  He is often outside & outside he stays, his head raised in anticipation, his ears pricked, but having received his Hello, Puss, he calmly resumes his catty business~ but do not be fooled!  Marlow is a little dense.  He is as easy to read as a child's primer ~ & as straightforward.  Kirby is smart.  And complicated.  Kirby takes nothing for granted so it is Kirby I often have to look for at night, never far away but not in plain view because, You have been gone all day! his accusing stare says.  Do you still love me?  Will you come & find me?  Will you cuddle me to bed as usual?  It is Kirby who needs more reassurance because he has spent all day thinking dire thoughts.  I have to love on him hard as he crawls all over me, desperate to claim me as his own personal property.  Dearest swears he has become a cat psychiatrist from years of observing psychotic cat behaviour.

God was very wise when He gave us animals.  They teach us about unconditional love.  They give us an insight into the wildness tamed.  We love the tiger better for knowing a cat.  No matter how difficult my day has been there is something very soothing about coming home to be cuddled by a cat.  There are a lot of things that need to be done but in the light of eternity very little else matters besides the giving & receiving of love.  My cats make sure I don't forget it!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reflections on the Sabbath

Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week. ~ Alice Walker
Sometimes [often] stuff the lord lays on my heart sits there....& sits there. There needs to be a shift in my thinking before I can move forward.   It is like that with the Sabbath.

I can get hooked on technicalities.  They really bug me & Sunday is one of those things because dance around it all you like Sunday is not the Sabbath & the whole shift from Saturday to Sunday worship was instigated by the Catholic church for their own purposes ~  which is all well & good & I am not saying Sunday worship is bad or wrong; just it's not the Sabbath.  The Sabbath is the seventh day.  Sunday is the first.

I got here years ago but if you want to worship with others you are pretty much tied to what the majority believe/practise/impose & so jiggity~jog, I trotted along with the rest but bugged because why were we doing this?  Besides Dearest had no problem with Sunday worship ~ which brings me to the other thing: mostly, not always but mostly, I arrive somewhere in the spiritual realms waaay before the men in my life decide I might actually have  point & deign to join me!

Last time I can remember blogging about the Sabbath I was still pretty much beating a one~woman drum. No~one, & I mean no~one, else in my house was interested.  That has been gradually changing & so I have been studying again because I can't emphasis enough this is not about being legalistic ~ or Jewish [because we're not!] ~ or anything at all except getting New Testament insights from Old Testament scriptures.  It's about knowing God better.  About understanding what goes on in the heart of God.

One of the things I have learnt from all this is that the Jews are incredibly smart.  Did you know that if you add sugar to the amniotic fluid a baby sucks faster?  So Jewish teaching, as they get if from God, is always sweet.  Scratching your heads yet?  I have yet to run into a Jewish festival that does not revolve around having a wow of a time!  Good food.  Good company.  Family.  Friends.  Party games.  Music.  Things are structured to build anticipation & suspense.  This has been coming home strongly this week because I have been on the mainland so much & eating sparingly because of all the sitting around.  I have made healthy choices: apples, grapes, water, nut bars.  I got up this morning craving a Snickers ~ all that caramel, nuts & chocolate for breakfast.  If I could have got my hands on one that's what I would have had!  Luckily for me the shops were not yet open!

Since my fast I have found my almost insatiable craving for sweet things greatly reduced & I want to keep it that way!  But celebrations are not times to deprive ourselves of treats & so in thinking about & planning a Sabbath celebration I know that once a week I can indulge that sweet tooth of mine!  You have no idea how much more that is making me appreciate the Sabbath!!!  Oh yeah, baby!

There are other things that speak deeply to my heart.  The Sabbath is rooted in the family ~ & it is pretty much the only festival where a woman is nominated to lead.  There is lots about the symbolism & the circular motion of the Sabbath ritual I want to discuss but I will save that for another time. What I am amazed by is the shift in my thinking from such small beginnings.  I sense the work of the Holy Spirit sifting through my thoughts because His is the work of pointing us always towards Jesus & this is how my thoughts are turning.  In my head I am planning our Sabbath while I wait at college for Dino to be done for the day.  I am thinking how every Saturday evening Jesus too would have come in at the close of his day, washed, changed his clothing, waited for Mary to light the candles & pronounce the blessing to eat & drink to the glory of God. Joseph would have blessed the children round his table one by one.  They would have read the familiar scriptures...& because I am first & foremost a student of literature the symbols come tumbling through my head, each one rich with layers of meaning, going down deep into the things of God & gratitude wells up.       I am always profoundly moved at how even small steps in obedience & faith reap such marvellous rewards.  My carnal nature is on Raspberry Pots....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Peter was a fisherman.  Jesus made him a fisher of men.  I have always had a soft spot for Peter.  He suffered from foot in mouth & I so know that feeling.  I own fishermen.  Nothing stinks quite like a man who has spent a day on the water casting his line after the fishy things that live beneath the deep blue surface.  Fisherman are strong.  At their core they hunger for the peace that comes from long stretches of time spent waiting for the gentle tug on the line that says the bait is doing what it was meant to do ~ attract fish.

I find it fascinating that when Jesus went looking for disciples he didn't troll the schools after the educated ~ & a well educated Jewish man is educated indeed!  Nope he dangled bait before fishermen.

  There are certain things I know about fishing from living with fishermen.  I know that sometimes you are going to catch nothing, no matter how well baited your line is.  I know that certain bait attracts certain fish but that just putting any old bait out is not going to attract everything in the water.  I know that bait is going to attract the odd shark or two.  I know that patience is a virtue.  I know that sometimes you can do everything wrong yet still catch fish.  Sometime I will tell you about the fish I caught when I wasn't there & didn't have a line in the water!!

I am not a fisherman ~or woman.  I never see why some poor little thing that never did me any harm should give up it's life so I could eat & those restaurants where your meal is left swimming around in a tank until it's wanted plain do my head in.  That is just plain disgusting!  What sort of sadist does that?

Needless to say I am not much good at fishing after men either.  I don't have the right mindset.  That my children operate so differently & have no qualms about bailing people up & presenting the gospel is an absolute marvel.  So I have been very interested in how Dino is doing with his course.  I am hanging round on the fringes as Dino is yet to go for his licence & was allowed to sit in on his first day's classes because people still want to know why I'm not doing this course.  I have a pretty good idea why not.  It is very practical [& we all know I'm not]  It is geared to get people into a  practical ministry of *Helps* ~ so not my area.  I do have a ministry of sorts, working strongly in my gift area & I'm not real keen on being dug out to operate outside my comfort zone ~ certainly not just now with Star also on the mainland 3 days a week for music: a private lesson & now a 2nd choir.  There are issues with this now too & I am spending whole days just waiting around & leaving Star alone with her work.  She is not a happy bunny.

So far I have been really happy with the way Rhema is presenting things.  It is very clear, very balanced.  Dino is able to explain what he's learning concisely so they are doing a good job of their training.  It is also very disciplined.  They have a dress code!!!!  They have a lock~out; echos of Star's performance schedule.  They have everyone involved in small helps to run the classes ~ & this 10 month course is, apparently, equal to sitting in church every Sunday for 13 years!!!!

Meanwhile Star is gearing up for auditions with The Kings Singers.  Not sure what is going on there yet but no doubt time will clarify things.  All I know is that I live on the wrong side of the water just now & I am sooo over the mainland!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Seven Sons.

"Mother's of Boys work from Son up to Son down." ~ Anon

Church made an indelible impression on me this morning.  The preacher shared from his own life experience.  Every Sunday his parents took him to church.  They sat in the front pew: Mum, Dad ~ & their seven sons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seven.  Sons.  If you have sons you know why my mind is boggling slightly.  Can you imagine?

I have no idea what else he preached on.  I'm still dealing with seven. sons!!!!!!  Oh. My.  Seven.  Sons....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Second one down...

“I have come to know a God who has a soft spot for rebels, who recruits people like the adulterer David, the whiner Jeremiah, the traitor Peter, and the human-rights abuser Saul of Tarsus. I have come to know a God whose Son made prodigals the heroes of his stories and the trophies of his ministry.” ~Philip Yancey

 I'm not even enrolled but I was up at first light this morning & headed out to Rhema so Dino could enrol in his course.  I have had a lot of practise at sitting around waiting thanks to Star.  I had my book [Froi of the Exiles ~ c/~ of Star but I am not recommending it as it is quite graphic in places & definitely for older, mature readers]; I had my laptop.  I had food & water & I was hoping it would be cool enough for me to sit in the car & wait it out.  It wasn't & I didn't.

It was muggy as, so I lugged my water & my book to sit on top of the hill under the trees where there was a little breeze, a great view & it was somewhat cooler.  I lasted about 20 minutes before the ants found me.  I cannot abide ants so I went & sat in the foyer in the air conditioning & happily submerged.  I can stay submerged indefinitely but Rhema is more than a little weird.  Good weird but weird just the same.  A steady stream of people found me & began chatting.  If I found someone with their nose in an 8" thick book I would assume they were a bibliophile & leave them to it.  Obviously the people at Rhema do not feel that way about people with their noses in an 8" thick book.  Apparently Dino is wonderful.  Not arguing that one.  Apparently I should be doing this course.  This one is seriously weird because that's 3 times now I've been told this & the first time the woman moved Dearest aside so she could get to me & demand to know why I wasn't doing this course.

Now we've only really been in this place twice before which may strike some of you as odd that we moved so quickly on Dino getting into college here.  No idea how others discern the Spirit's leading but I had that deep sense of peace & *rightness* that makes me sure we're on track even though I am still fairly cautious on other matters.  Besides the Lord confirmed it because Dino had to come up with all the money in just under a fortnight & the Lord left Him hanging till the 59th minute of the 11th hour ~ just like He did with Liddy because learning to trust the Lord's leading is lesson number one!

I am probably being a little more blond than usual but I have no idea what the Lord was trying to get through to me.  I just know that my jaw was pretty much scraping along the floor with the last lady, who was incredibly lovely & chatty enough that I didn't have to strain my brain ~ & as so often happens to me when it's the Lord's conversation anyway she hit on things I feel strongly about one after another: End Times: Israel; Fasting; Gathering in the Harvest....Prophecy.  I think the Lord's suggesting this is somewhere I can get some answers & grow because this woman couldn't possibly have known the sort of things the Lord has been placing on my heart or how He has been leading for the last few years but the Lord's got her there too!
Then Dino arrived lugging this big box of books that he dumped in my lap & the pair of us promptly began rifling through it to see what sort of treasure we had.  I have already snavelled two.  Some I won't touch.  I'm not much use in the Helps department & frankly no~one in their right mind would ask me to *help* with anything.  Seriously.  I've been known to starve guests because it has not occurred to me it's meal time & people might, just conceivably, be hungry.

Now this is not theological college.  The emphasis is very much on the practicalities of the Christian life.  It's not about putting preachers in pulpits; it's about bringing in the harvest.  This is exactly where Dino's head space has been so a perfect fit.  Everything learnt in the classroom then gets practice *out in the field*!  Dino is one of my *hands on* learners so once again a perfect fit.

I am exhausted.  Nighty~night.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Give me your thunks...

The fact that most people don't believe in hell doesn't mean they won't end up there. ~ Cliffe Knechtle

Do you believe in the doctrine of Hell? 

 Please produce your evidence.  From the scriptures explain what you believe Hell to be ~ the word itself can't be found in scripture & the words translated as *hell* have pretty literal meanings.  In this instance the KJV has done us no favours!

Muchos Gratias, peoples.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Do you ever feel inadequate at life?  I mean the world is full of amazing people & me, I can't even fry fish.  Not that I want to learn or anything but there's all the rest of it.  Stuff I reckon I should have figured out by now like how to raise kids to the glory of God.  Heck, just knowing how to raise kids would be good.  People have written books on this stuff & I get google eyed.  I read this stuff & go, Really?  This works?  Then I think about my kids & go, Nah.  Never going to happen. 
It's pathetic, really it is.  Take evangelism.  For someone who talks so much I have never figured this one out.  How do you do it?  I've seen it done.  I've had it done to me & I'm always like, Come again?  What was that all about?  And church.  I am really, really bad at doing church.  I see people heading my way & the spoilt brat inside starts screaming. Nooooooo. Please, please don't talk to me.  Find someone else to pester & I never, ever know what to say to these people.  Maybe it's because I don't do well with small talk.  I'm always a little vague about things like the price of eggs in the fish market on Fridays.  I do slightly better  with things like Happy Easter if the other person copes well with a response about Eostre & the sun symbolism in the Basilica.  I should just respond, Happy Easter & leave it at that, shouldn't I?  So why don't I?

Consequentially I treasure my friendships.  Anyone willing to put up with my idiosyncrasies has a spot in my heart.  So when I noticed my friend's posts were drifting further from Christianity & into Neo~Paganism I didn't say anything.  Not my business.  My liking or not liking her is not dependant on what she believes.  I felt no imperative to point out the error of her ways.  I never noticed Christians ever being able to change anyone's mind for them.  That's the prerogative of the Holy Spirit.  I know she's heard the gospel & so I kept my mouth firmly shut.  Yeah, I know all the arguments ~ but please!  wasted effort to go over old ground.

Then my friend decided to 'fess up.  Not sure why given she's pretty much lost all her Christian friends over this issue.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have risked that & it's not like she didn't know where I stand.  Now she has decided I am a good person to discuss religion with & I'm like, Whoa!!!  Are you sure you want to go here with me?  Because I do actually know something about Paganism.  Remember history is my thing but I don't do politics.  If you are into history but not politics what's left is culture & religion.  I do both those.

How did I get here? And now what do I do?  Because there is only one thing I know of that can change my friend's mind: a personal encounter with the Living God; the God of Abraham &  Issac & Jacob.  I can muster all my logic & all my apologetics & all the proofs at my disposal & it will never lead anyone into the Truth.  One touch from the Living God & all that changes.  In an instant.

Some days I feel like a toad who has lost his harrow.  Some days I don't do life well.  Like today. Maybe I'll just go back to bed & have a nice long nap.  Maybe things will look better tomorrow.  Maybe.