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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, March 30, 2012


The storm shall not wake thee/Nor shark overtake thee ~ the Seal Lullabye

It's on!  I put Star behind the wheel to drive into town last night.  You will all enjoy this far more than I did at the time.

Firstly, as we were settling into the car, Star floated the thought that she was driving into Cooparoo so why had we left home so early?  I looked at her.  Because I thought we were at the cathederal because of the acoustics etc.  No, said Star.  Why would it be at the cathederal?  She was so certain we began scrabbling for a phone number so we could ring & check.  Naturally I was right.

Naturally there was no petrol in the car.

Naturally it was footy night & the line of cars heading into town was bumber to bumper.

Naturally Star overshot the mark & it took us 45 minutes to fight our way back into Elizabeth Street.

Naturally the car park used a system we had never seen before.

Therefore we were very late.  I. hate. being. late. 

St Stephen's is a gothic revival cathederal in a cruciform shape with absolutely glorious acoustics!  It was built between 1864 & 1922 out of local stone though they went to the trouble & expense to import their stained glass windows from Munich!  The sound is seriously wonderful.  You just want to stand in the middle of the nave & warble strange sounds to hear them bounce back at you off the stone ; rather like yodeling for echos.  Small things...

We have 3 choirs performing ~ & we all have to be got on & off in an orderly fashion.  Thanks to our mishaps getting into town I have found myself slap bang in the front row!  Oh. Dear.  As a second Star is somewhere behind me.  The good news is the singers on either side & behind are good strong altos so I have some hope of being on the right pitch ~ at least some of the time!  Star has to juggle as she is singing with both AVAE & QFC ~ & being a good little non~ornamentation protestant has taken offence to the big crucified Christ hanging somewhere.  I didn't even see it but I'm a little more used to the Catholic tradition.

And if you want to know how seriously good AVAE sound in this space their a capella brought Alison to tears.  Missing 1/2 their voices but so beautifully trained they performed Adoramus Te unconducted to wild applause.  You can hear all the harmonies.  why am I performing?!

Naturally ~ we went overtime.

Naturally the footie stadium was emptying as we tried to negotiate foreign territory in the dark.

Naturally the car park didn't want to accept my credit card.

Naturally Star went the wrong way.

Ditto for forgetting her lights because we are used to driving down pitch black streets & some drunken yob thoughtfully yelled out at the intersection, Turn yer lights on, love!  Thank you, sir!

She got cut off in a merging lane ~ twice! I don't need adrenalin hits that late at night!

More by luck than good management we eventually found ourselves on the motorway & able to head home for the 11pm boat.

All to be done again tonight.  But at least we now know why we couldn't find the church car park.  It is hidden underground & accessed from the back street only!  That would have been handy to know!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Question...

It's easy to see the Vatican is wildly inconsistent.” ~ David Clohessey

Amongst the more obscure details of church history  that clutters my brain is this doozy: At one point the Vatican removed all the penises from their nude statues.  Replaced with fig leaves I believe.  Okaaay.  I get they got prudish & decided the males would be more acceptable without their members but it gets truly bizarre because they did not throw the now useless members away.  No siree!  They catalogued & stored them!

Now what I want to know, because I'm insatiably curious, is what you all think is the meaning & purpose of the Arts?  Is it entertainment only?  Should it be beautiful?  Are there lines that shouldn't be crossed?  Should Art stay out of politics?  Where does religion fit in?  Should the vatican have left their men intact? [I am not discussing the metaphorical or allegorical aspects of this in this post! lol]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This, that & the other thing.

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. ~ Elwyn Brooks WhiteThis is our performance week.  I'm afraid the flyer won't enlarge but Saturday night, St Stephens, Brisbane, for a 8pm start.  The music is lovely & the ticket prices more than reasonable so if you are in Brizzie come check us out.

And because you read here you can have the inside goss too!

Which begins with my beloved son locking our only set of mainland keys inside the car!!!  I was not saying loving things about the child because he, naturally, had no money to pay the locksmith to come & fish them out again!  I had to go over, at a minute's notice, the night we had an extended rehearsal to sort it out. 

 For seconds it is being recorded.  I'll let you all know about that too!

Rehearsal included St Stephen's organist & we do the technical check Friday ~ which will be long & boring but necessary to balance voices with organ & all 7 parts: 1st soprano, 2nd soprano 1st alto, 2nd alto, tenors, baritones & basses.  Even in rehearsal it sounds absolutely supurb!  AVAE is performing too so the Star will be very busy.

While not technically on holidays yet Star & I have quit.  All our music is on the computer & we will both be putting in hours over the next few days: Star because she's professional; me because I'm awful.  No, I'm not soloing.  You may all breathe a sigh of relief & come anyway because I can't be heard & all the great singers can.

Then we had our term visit from our supervisor ~ which is now really funny because we sit & chat & there is no fussing about Star's schoolwork.  I think even her supervisor is over Star's math!  The rest, she knows we turn in work, which I had ready to go, finally! She knows Star's a bizarre learner.  She walked into a house smelling richly of Star's banana cake & jam drop slice & a cat that was absolutely delighted to have company!

Marlow decided Marilyn was the ants pants & ran round like a mad thing showing off, stole Marilyn's pen to chew on, flopped all over her folder expecting tummy rubs & purred like a coffee grinder every time anyone so much a looked at him.  He put on an incredible display of Look at Me!  Look at Me!  Unfortunately for him Marilyn is highly allergic to cats but she did find his antics both astonishing & funny.

Dino is just about through his first term of college ~ amazing in itself but all his teachers adore him & are always pulling his parents aside to tell us how wonderful he is.  So he is ~ except when he locks my keys in my car & then expects me to fix his problem!  Still he has redug & replanted the vegetable garden but like all of us at this time of term he is very tired.

I am off to hang out my washing & find both sets of concert blacks, polish my shoes & adjust to Star doing my make~up because I don't have a clue & she owns the only make~up in the house.  We are heading for a huge weekend again but I promise to share all the fun bits ~ including finding the cathederal!  Star is driving. Unfortunately that means I am navigating.  Wish us luck.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pray for Liddy & the Chile Team.

Please pray for Liddy.  Chile was hit by a 7.1 earthquake on Sunday & while there were no deaths & no significant damage the kids are all feeling a bit rattled & would appreciate some extra prayer just now.

I trust those of you who signed up for the newsletter are getting Lid's monthly updates as I have not had time to add more recent snippets to her page.

The team has been down south recently helping the small local churches run some extra programs but found time to walk up a volcano, do some white water rafting & ride a horse or two.  They are now back into their regular ministry with Al Arca.

As always we appreciate your prayers & are massively grateful for the people of God who uphold Liddy & all the Chile team in their prayer.  Gratias.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Some thoughts on The Hunger Games.

And it was decreed that each year the 12 districts of Panem should offer up a tribute of one young man & woman between the ages of 12 & 18 to be trained in the art of survival & to be prepared to fight to the death. ~ The Hunger Games.

Until a week ago I'd never heard of the Hunger Games.  I had no idea there was any controvesy surrounding either the books or the movie.  So I asked Star, because Star is in the target age group & keeps up with these things.  Today we went & saw the movie.  We have yet to read the book.

Now there are a couple of things before we start.  Star is almost 17.  Hard to believe I know but she is not a young 16 & is very savvy [& dare I say sceptical] when it comes to anything to do with the Arts.  She knows how they get the effects so we get the bad jokes about raspberry jam & if it's badly done we hear all about it.  Secondly the movie has a M rating in Australia.  M.  Not MA.  Not R.  Not X rated.  M.  In other words while there is some violence it's nowhere near as bad as it gets.  There is no sex.  I didn't notice any swearing.  Frankly it's pretty tame in the physical violence as these things go.

I must admit I was surprised at the number of under 12s standing in line to see this movie with a parent in tow ~ & no, this is not a children's movie, but not because of any excessive violence.  Given the premise of the movie, a reality war games televised nationwide with children doing the killing, I understand people's concern but the reality is very different. 

 Firstly it is more a psychological study than anything else.  What happens to different sorts of personalities when you put them in an extreme situation like war where only one person can survive?  Some are dehumanised.  Others become even more humane.  It speaks about sacrifice for others, about doing what is right because it is the moral thing to do, about how one can change things by who one is & how one acts. It tells a ripping good story.

Most of the violence is contained in just a couple of short scenes about mid~way when the children are first dropped in the killing arena.  The camera shots are blurred.  Nothing really graphic is shown.  What is conveyed is the sense of panic, disorientation, fear.  This is where the camera places it's sense of tension throughout the movie ~ not on what is done but about how the characters feel ~ their fear, their sense of betrayal, the teneous friendships, the coalitions, & finally hope; a way to beat the system at its own game. The one scene that scared the living daylights out of me was the least likely & required such a suspension of belief it should have been cut from the movie altogether.

Yes, there is some violence later on as well but again, if you watch modern crime TV you have probably seen worse during prime time.  Sorry, but to fuss about the level of violence in this movie is something I just don't get.

Despite what some people think this is a YA movie, in the same vein as John Marden's Tomorrow  When the War Began.  It looks at teens put in an extreme situation & how that affects them.  It is very intense emotionally but it is not the sort of thing I find deeply disturbing. 

For comparision I had The Survivor by Walter F. Moudy.  As the saying goes, nothing new under the sun.  Moudy did it first  in 1965 & his short story is so devestating I recalled it graphically more than 30 years after I first read it.  It uses the exact same premise of a televised war game replacing the real thing with there  being only one survivor.  In this story at least the soldiers are adults & trained soldiers but the finale is all the more devestating for that because Moudy pulls no punches.  He is writing for adults & does not soften his blows.  His final paragraphs still leave me reeling. His running commentary makes my blood run cold in a way The Hunger Games did not [~ perhaps because these futuristic personages looked liked they'd been costumed by the Mardi Gra experts & were impossible to take over seriously. ] No, I'm not going to give the ending away.  Go read it for yourselves!  But be warned:  This one gave me nightmares!

Much to my surprise I actually really enjoyed The Hunger Games.  What is far more disturbing is that about 300 000 child soldiers are engaged in over 30 world conflicts in our present generation.  About 30% of those soldiers are girls.  It beggars belief that we can actually do this to our children.  The movie doesn't even come close to the reality.  Why aren't people up in arms about that instead?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Prayers, Please.

"The man who is called by God is a man who realizes what he is called to do, and he so realizes the awefulness of the task that he shrinks from it. Nothing but this overwhelming sense of being called, and of compulsion, should ever lead anyone to preach." ~ David Martyn Lloyd-Jones

I don't know which I hate more: being wrong ~ or being right for reasons that send me into a panic. 

There is a reason I live where I do in my stagnant little backwater that doesn't even have one set of traffic lights,  where the Postie asks your opinion on internet access & the young jailbirds down the front still call me Mrs H in very respectful tones ~ & leave my car alone when they're looking for free petrol.  I appreciate the little things in life ~ like my petrol staying in my car & not mysteriously vanishing while I'm on the mainland. 

 Mostly I feel I can cope.  I can't get lost.  The traffic is never stressful.  The library is brilliant; even now I have half a dozen new, unread books from there I picked up yesterday in anticipation of this week's travelling.  As a homeschooler I'm no longer obligated to participate overmuch  in community things like the school fete, the Christmas Parade, The Girl Guides.  Been there; done that; over it.  I no longer work outside my home ~ don't work much inside it either, but that's another ball game.  

 And God is good.  When the church over here fell apart God gave me amazing on~line friendships.  Extra bonus.  I cope very well with distance friendships.  What I don't cope so well with is being bodily dumped out of my comfort zone.  Without warning.  Without so much as a by~your~leave.  Without consultation.  Yes, I know it makes no difference in the long run but I do like to be consulted about these things.

And it's horrible.  Really, really horrible.  I have the art of self~delusion down pat.  I know many of you, not all but many of you, people who's friendship I treasure, whose opinions I respect, whose theology has proved sound, do not approve of women in the pulpit.  And I have been happily scooting along because we haven't had a church & technically I haven't been behind a pulpit in years so no conflict of interest!  None at all.  Anything I do on~line I can fob off in my mind as *Thinking Out Loud*.  I do a lot of that.  I happily abdicated the pulpit to those who wanted it.  I overturned what I knew very clearly, if I was honest with myself, what God had shown me was not just *for a season*  ~ but as I couldn't more forward & also felt I had been told to *wait*, I waited...with infinite patience.  I have never liked being in the firing line & was in no hurry to put me back there.

I did such a good job that when I asked God about Rhema I fully expected to hear No.  Not now.   So great is my ability to wear blinders I comforted myself that we didn't have the money so part of the confirmation would be the money.  You know what's happened, don't you? *sigh*.  I consoled myself that I might have heard wrong?  Hope dies hard.  I have not.  People are crawling out of the woodwork to confirm this.

The papers have arrived.  I knew what was on them because I filled out Dino's for him.  Dino doesn't like paperwork.  And there it was, the question that stripped the blinkers away.  Are you called to the Ministry?  In what capacity? I didn't even have to think about it.  It has never changed ~ ever, not since God first showed me the unsaved cluttering the pews on Sundays. 

I don't know how Jonah managed it.  It has always boggled my mind that Jonah managed to refuse the urgings of the Holy Spirit.  I'm not that strong.  When the Spirit spoke it was with a terrible sense of urgency because Christ is coming.  Even now he stands at the very door.  The time grows short ~ so whatever you personally believe please pray that I will be obedient to the call God has placed on my life because nothing about this is going to be easy & I think Star's about to have a conniption.

There is a big, fat, unhappy toad squatting in the pit of my stomach. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Yeah, I think I'm gonna make it

'Cause God won't make a mountain I can't climb

It's getting better all the time

It's getting better all the time. ~The Beatles

Well,  I gotta wonder about my life.  Saturday I was wandering round the shops with Star buying *Concert Blacks* because I am singing with the QFC; the QFC has created a bit of upset in some circles, though why is beyond me.  What they are fussing about is something every chorusmaster does & surely singers have the right to study under the direction of their choice?  Anywaaays....because I never joined QPAC it's not my bunny to worry about.  I just have to worry about the fact my music confuses me, the bass sends me droning in my boots & some days I just can't *hear* any of the notes at all ~ let alone hit them sucessfully!  Like with everything she does Alison has high goals for this choir: International sucess, no less!  Ah, well.  I shall enjoy the journey while I can!

Of course Jeanne decided to play mind games with my head space so I have been haring off down bunny trails with gay abandon rather than doing the zillion other things round here that require my attention ~ none of which are half so interesting, which is why I chased the bunny. ☺

And then I did something super stupid.  I mean really, really stupid.  I surpass myself some days.  I believe I mentioned at one point Rhema wanted to know why I wasn't in school with Dino.  I have a list of reasons as long as my arm & so I never bothered consulting the Lord.  I homeschool ~ & no, Star is not the sort of child who can be left to her own devices; I have a sick husband; I have a home business.  I have the whole music circus ~ so I have been cheerfully assuming I don't have to worry.  I could not have been more wrong.

Yesterday I got around to checking back with the Lord on this on.  I have been told.  And then some. *sigh*  How the Lord thinks this is going to work I have nooo idea.  Dino has not helped.  You know, mum, my child says trying to comfort my panic, you have to do the street thing?  I have to do what!!!  O.K, there are a multitude of ways to skin this cat.  If the Lord is really that keen he can land the prospective convert slap bang in my lap because I cannot see myself approaching some complete stranger on the street & *presenting the gospel*.  Um, just no.  And I have to have a ministry.  This one really did panic me.  Most people do stuff like ushering, or the youth group or some such & I am so not the person for that sort of thing.  I don't have time.  Then I remembered my neglected blog ~ I have had a ministry for years.  I just need to get it oked by the school. And you have to preach.  Finally something that doesn't panic me.  The one thing that probably does everyone else's head in is the one thing I am perfectly fine with.  It has been a long time since I did any formal study though so goodness knows how this will pan out in reality.

Can you imagine the end of my year?  Should I melt down now to save time later?  Or let it build up a good head of steam?  Yikes.  I think I need my head read!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

And while we're at it...

The chief wonder of education is that it does not ruin everybody concerned in it, teachers and taught. ~Henry Brooks Adams 

Amongst the more inane comments to come out of the discussion [?] on homeschooling was this to a homeschooler who graduated from Sarah Lawrence: Well, you would have done well in the Public system as well.  Even I know Sarah Lawrence is pretty top of the ant pile but I take exception to the thinking that assumes this kid would have done well anywhere.

I do wonder where people leave their brains some days.  Honestly.  The commentors don't know this girl's personality, inate  academic ability, distractability yadda yadda.  They know nothing about her at all excpet what she chose to reveal; just 2 things: she's a homeschool graduate & she graduated with a law degree from Sarah Lawrence.

*Sigh*.  The first thing any homeschooling parent learns is that no two children learn alike.  Not even siblings.   What suits one is probably poison to the other.  I wish it were as simple as some of these people would like to make it!  Teachers know this too but when you have 30 kids to teach you are going to make a number of sacrifices.  Too much originality is not going to be encouraged.

Liddy attended school.  We actually pulled her out the first time in preschool.  My boys did preschool at home.  When Liddy's turn came she had already done 2 years of preschool & the brand new preschool 2 islands over bored her to tears.  She was so distressed we pulled her out~  I did not confer with Dearest on this one.  She began grade one on cue at the local primary school ~ & to all intents & purposes Liddy was a model student.  She learnt to read & write & do math.  She didn't hit, kick or bite people who annoyed her [our boys did so BIG bonus, this one!]  She was social, helpful, sporty & apparently doing well all round.  Apparently.  I was not overly happy with certain changes I noticed.  Liddy, always passive aggressive, became much more so.  She became very reserved & lacking in confidence ~ not  traits of her earlier years!  She became exceedingly reluctant to express an opinion & when she entered High School she began begging us to take her out.  The Negative Peer Pressure [read socialisation!!!] was causing nightmares, sleepwalking, temper tantrums.  Her academic grades did not slip.  She was still a high achieving athlete.  But her personality was warping.

We pulled her out.  It was the best decision we ever made.  Not that adjusting to homeschooling was easy for any of us but within months we noticed remarkable changes in Liddy's personality.  She was making eye contact when addressed by an adult.  She was expressing her opinions more.  She was more confident & secure.  She was relating better all round to everyone she came into contact with.

Now my Star is a different kettle of fish all round.  Star was very much the child who did not want to play alone; the child who thought her siblings were there to entertain her; the child who set out to wow the world & expected plenty of acclaim while she did it!   And we did not put her in school.  I was, however, working part time at the time & I had an exceptionally good raport with the grade  1/2 teacher so every so often when Dearest was unavailable I got permission for Star to have a morning at school in a regular classroom.

Star is not one of my passive/aggressive ones.  Star is one of my ADD ones.  She was reading rings round the rest of grade one, who were only half~way through their alphabet.  She had moved from counting in ones to 100 to counting by 5s to 100. She was uninterested in the lessons so had a wonderful time doing what Star has always done best: talking!!! She doesn't need an audience.  Star has always had a strong auditory learning style so she just rabbited on & on...& on...&....

The teacher thought she was wonderful.  So bright.  So enthusiastic.  So helpful.  So obedient.  Star!!!  She wanted a dozen Star's in her classroom.  If only she knew!  At the time we planned on intergrating Star into school so these occasional outings were considered highly important guages as to how sucessful her intergration would be. 

The first one was an unmitigated sucess.  Everything had huge novelty value.  Star felt very grown up ~ & she knew she didn't have to stay forever.  The third one was a disaster.  No novelty value.  I was a little late arriving in the junior playground to pick Star up but she had her morning tea & I knew she knew what she was to do.  I expected to find her playing with her little friends & was prepared to let her stay for the afternoon session if she was keen.  She wasn't.

I found Star sitting by herself under a tree, her morning tea uneaten, the staff unconcerned by her isolation. [Obviously she was molly~coddled & just needed to *man up*].  We collected her things & went home.  My lively, inquisitive, talkative child was absolutely silent.  She was white & I wondered if maybe she was coming down with something when she took herself to bed & went straight to sleep.  I though we had just infected the entire school with some dread disease!

When she finally surfaced again, her usual perky self though still with huge dark rings under her eyes, I asked about her morning in school.  Mummy, Star said seriously, They are noisy & naughty.  I learnt later from the teacher it had been one of her less succesful mornings & the noise level had been pretty bad.  Star had ended up with a massive headache that took several days for her to get over completely.

Star, even way back then, had a musician's hearing.  She was, & is, extremely noise sensitive.  Days, weeks, months & finally years in such an environment would have damaged her hearing irreparably.  The child who one might have thought would best thrive in a school environment is the one who most needed not to be there but even Liddy, who in so many ways coped really well,  still did not perform to her best until we pulled her out.  She stunned us all with her first marks.  Unlike Star English was not Liddy's strong subject & she had only ever scraped Cs.  After one term of me on her case she was scoring As & A+s.  Her math went up although in that she was completely self~taught.  Her other subjects also came up.

It begs the question, doesn't it?  How much better might so many other children do if they too could come out of the schools & study in comparative peace & quiet at home?

I am not anti public education.  We need it because not every parent can, or even wants to, educate their own, but it is sheer arrogance to assume that every child can or should be in school; that every academically able child will do well wherever they are educated; that because you have had a bad experience either at school or at home that that is so for others & so people shouldn't have a choice.  That's what Hitler thought.  He knew the key to controlling the country was to control the youth ~ & he did.  It's why homeschooling is still illegal in Germany.  Hitler banned it so no~one could teach the youth an oppossing point of view.  And the west's educational system is based on this.  Worth thinking about, eh?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I ain't finished yet...

Education ~ One of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought. ~ Bertrand Russell.

Jeanne over at A Peaceful Day linked to this article on FB this morning.  I left rather a rant on her page ~ & I haven't finished yet because there is one thing in particular I really think needs to be recognized.

In order I believe:

1. It is a parents right to raise their children as they see fit.  Atheists get to raise atheists, Fundamentalists get to raise fundamentalists & no~one has the right to interfere in that process.  We are all accountable to God for our choices but they should be our choices.

2. Education is a privilege, not a right.  Most of the world is bereft of what we would call education.  They manage.  People do.

3. When the schools are churning out students with 100% numeracy & literacy they might then have earnt the right to tell the rest of us how to go about doing this.  Till then they should stop using homeschoolers to get attention off their inadequacies!

Here is my point:  I worked the numeracy & literacy programme for 10 years.  I taught remedial reading, writing & arithmetic to upper primary grades. I also tutored outside of school hours.  The majority of children were entering high school inadequately prepared for it's rigours!  The majority.  Very few could read well enough to manage a Shakespeare text.  This view has been upheld over the years by enduring the sad mangalation of Shakespearean texts by drama students.  No phrasing.  No decoding.  No idea how to read for meaning ~ so they utter meaningless gibberish in a fast mumble hoping no~one will ask them what it all means!

Now here is the crunch.  I was employed, as were 2 other ladies, in a part~time temporaryy capacity to address the problems.  Wait for it.  Each child was allocated just 10 minutes of my time!!!! Then returned to the classroom.  Each child got 10 minutes maybe 3 times a week for 5 weeks.  When the funding ran out the programme ended! Yep.

It makes me so angry.  I do not blame the teachers.  They are caught in the system & forced to concede to it's constraints but how dare our government bleat about falling numeracy & literacy rates when they don't fund working programmes adequately!  Argh!  How dare anyone, anyone at all, dump on a parent who has struggled, failed, quit when our schools are doing such a miserable job.  I got told point blank one time that there will always be children who drop through the cracks; they can't focus on them.  What?  These are our children. How would you feel if that was your child?

The problem with the article is that it assumes something that just isn't true.  It assumes schools do a good job.  Some do an adequate job; they are probably a private school.  There's a reason parents scrimp & save to send their kids to these places!  Let's face facts: the stats for our falling numeracy & literacy rates are not coming from the homeschooling fraternity [our stats show our kids are excelling & outperforming state schooled children!].  Nope, the stats are coming from the schools, State and private!  Um, maybe someone should do something about that.  Seeing as most of our kids go to school 'n all.
I have not failed.  I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ Thomas Edison

We have not been busier than usual, just busy in different ways.Theo, who is changing jobs [not location just the restaurant he works in] landed for a week .  It is pouring.  We are supposed to be tidying up our end of term work.  I am trying to get a muffler fixed.  Dearest's little ebay business decided to take a sudden unexpected Ka~boom ~ which means more paper work for the staff [me] & we all have a sort of cold with sniffles & things.  I am too tired to think straight.  I am too tired to think much of anything at all.

I am looking forward to the end of this year.  Both Star & I are over the school thing ~ not learning, just the whole you have to do this because stuff.  Too stupid.  Unnecessary.  Pointless.  And in the long run none of it matters.  Truly.

All I want to do is cuddle my cats.  There is something very therapeutic about cuddling a cat.  It must be in the purr.  It rumbles all the way down into your soul.  So that is what I am going to do.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us." ~ Keith Wright

Boxing Day, 1998. That was the year 6 lives got lost during the Sydney to Hobart.  There was so much white water & the seas were so big it made the Beiring Strait look like a kiddie's wading pool.

Even now I can't think about that race without feeling sick to my gut.  It brings feelings of panic & terror & a terrible helplessness.  That is my personal image of Hell.  Overwhelming.  All consuming.  Pitiless.  Merciless.

That is the sea the unsaved are tossed on & salvation is so great a thing that the thought of losing it is terrifying.  To fall back into that sea is to be lost indeed.

I have always believed that Once Saved, Always Saved.  Jesus Himself said that no~one could snatch us out of His hand.  My understanding of scripture was that there was only one possible exception & one really had to work hard to invoke it: the complete rejection of the Holy Spirit.  Given the very nature of the Holy Spirit I'm not even sure that's possible if one has been genuinely saved in the first place but I have run across plenty of Christians who believe that one can most definitely lose their salvation ~ though for the most part they are pretty vague about how that occurs.

The bible does doctrine well; I do not ~ & so I have never been really sure that I am correct doctrinaly in my beliefs.  I just couldn't envision a God who had gone to so much trouble to bring a person to salvation in the first place just allowing them to slip away again.  It makes no sense & I have always found God to be emminently sensible.

So Sunday my ears pricked up when I heard this being addressed because the preaching, while nice & juicy, just the way I like it, is explained in simple enough terms that I can actually understand what is being talked about!

I do like to be right.  I like even better when I understand why I am right! Happy Duckie!

A Little Church.

“God had only one Son and he made that Son a missionary.” ~David Livingston

Some lessons you never forget.

I remember being told once, by a man who would know, that he had seen churches pray & pray for revival & when it came they didn't recognise it & the very people it was granted to refused the gift because it was not what they expected.  How sad is that?

I have been thinking about that because I have been struggling.  We wanted a church ~ one that met certain criteria: biblical, gifts operating, service oriented, spirit filled, prayerful....because we've had a gut~full & then some of the half~baked nonsense that passes for Christianity in some parts.  In the process I forgot to factor in me!

I know certain things about me.  I know I am sound sensitive & so for most of my life I have tuned out extraneous noise: screaming kids; the t.v; the radio; background chatter.  As I have got older & have begun getting deaf I have become lazier because it requires a great deal of effort to hear certain sounds, certain pitches.  [Choir is exhausting because I have to concentrate so hard on what I have been busily ignoring for decades!!!]  Consequentially I recieve most of my information visually.  It is my primary learning style & I rely heavily on the use of my eyes to process information.

For the greater part of my life this has not been a problem when it came to church.  Quaker worship takes place in almost total silence.  If the silence is broken it is one sound, very quiet & considered dropped into the pool of silence like a small stone.  Otherwise I have been in very small country churches.  Twenty people max, Sunday morning.  The old hymns, which require no effort on my part to sing because I have known them all my life.  Very little hustle & bustle because it is the elderly who attend.

Now we are attending a larger church.  It meets all our critea.  What's more I got such a jolt of confirmation in my spirit when it's home page popped up on my computer screen I have never doubted that it is where we are to be for the moment.  And I hate it.

Too sad.

For one thing it is huge. 500 people easily at a Sunday morning service!  Can you imagine what that does to little backwater me?!  I get so claustrophobic.  The music is awful.  I don't know what key they generally choose to sing in but it's one I just can't pitch to at all ~ so I'm thinking F & it is like caterwauling because only the band ever manages to be on pitch!  Being in small sedate churches I have not had to worry about custody of the eyes ~ isn't that a lovely term?  Now I do.  With people bib~bobbing all over the place, even dancing up & down the aisles, I am visually over stimulated & most definitely not thinking about God.

The preaching is wonderful!  Honestly, I study & all too often I get frustrated because there is no meat to the sermon.  I have met my match! lol I come away refreshed, renewed & with something to think about & ponder for the whole of the week ~ so why on earth am I grizzling?  Because it's not what I expected!

I cannot see how I can contribute.  I do not feel I have anything to offer but I have not been allowed to fade obscurely into the background.  This has thrown me off~balance & consequentially made me very bad tempered.  When I get bad tempered I sulk. [Yes, I am sulking at God. ssssh.]     
when every face is a stranger's face I feel incredibly threatened & insecure.  Nope, not a people person.  Not at all.  Every person I meet is a potential Jack~the~Ripper.  I bet you didn't know that about me!  Seriously, I walk around town with my bag weighed down with books because I figure I can swing it like a weapon if need be!

God has been patiently waiting for me to break cover. *sigh*  It is getting better.  People are very kind & friendly.  Some faces are becoming familiar.  I am finding ways to cope with the size, the noise, the visual stimulation.  I am hanging on like grim death because I also know other things; things the Lord has shown me.  This is a church that is intent on preparing its people to bring in the harvest.  It is an End Times church prepared to "run a rescue mission within a yard of hell." ~ as C.T. Studd so happily expressed it.  It is a church that not only outreaches but disciples.  Biblically it is doing everything right.  I am not.  Working on it ~ but my flesh is screaming. Whoever thought church was such hard work!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Shark Attack.

“Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear, / And he shows them pearly white. / Just a jack-knife has Macheath / And he keeps it out of sight.”  Bertolt Brecht

I live with water ~ lots & lots of water & in that water live certain things I can certainly live without ~like sharks. 
                                    We all have our shark stories.  Mine start early because my folks were boaties & I am not a good traveller.  The only thing I know for sure I won't get sick on is a train.  Unfortunately for me three out of 5 members of my family were prone to sea sickness & the only way to put of the evil moment when my stomach finally rebelled was to travel as far away from the rest of my family as possible ~ which meant I rode the bowsprit.  If you have long legs & ride the bowsprit your feet are prone to trail in the bow wave.  Trust me.  A shark's sense of smell is not over exaggerated.  Within an hour you would be guaranteed to see the first fin break the water. At which point I removed my feet.

I hate sharks.  I really really do.

Oh, I think they are amazing but cute & cuddly they are not.

When Star was really little we once watched quite a small shark separate a baby dugong from it's mother &  make a meal of it.  The ferocity of the attack is something neither of us has ever forgotten & for a long time, years in fact, Star wouldn't even put her big toe in the water of our bay because she knew what lived out there & it wasn't nice.

The boys, naturally, have had more than their fair share of encounters. They shot home one time, white faced & shaken because a monster was rubbing the bottom of the dingy & trying to rock it.  Another time they thought one was going to actually land in the dingy with them as it shot over their bow because sharks, like dolphins & whales, leap & jump & play in the water.  Can't say any of my sons were impressed at the time.  Sharing dinghy space with a live shark was not something any of them wished to experience in a hurry.

And Theo once met one at close quarters while out surfing.  He didn't hang round to get better acquainted.

However the best tale goes to Dearest who has dived & been an oyster farmer  ~ two occupations likely to bring you into contact with sharks ~ but his story occurred while doing neither of these things.  Rather he was on holidays at Blacks Beach up Mackay way standing on a sand spit & casting into the break for whiting on a receding tide.

I had just waded out to see how he was doing & was on my way back to the beach when Dearest noticed a shadow in the water.  Dearest is a bit of a crock these days but he used to be something of a daredevil back in the day & keeping a cool head when disaster & unexpected drama erupts is something Dearest does rather well.  Keeping a wary eye on the long shape starting to zig~zag towards him he placed his mesh fish basket  against his shins ~ though really any shark worth it's salt would have swallowed that in one gulp!  Then tucking his brand new & rather expensive fishing rod under one arm he armed himself with the yabbie pump & waited.

It's a good thing I was well on my way back to the beach by then because I swear I would have been sitting on Dearest's head gibbering at this point.  Even knowing a shark's weakest point is it's nose does not comfort me.

Dearest is brave.   He stood there with the water breaking around him & this long dark shape zig~zagging towards him & he waited till it rolled, which is what a shark does as it prepares to attack, then stabbed at it's nose with the yabbie pump.  He missed.

He had another shot.This time he smacky~doo~dahed that shark right on it's nose.  Dearest says there was the most almighty splash & the shark was gone.  Just the same Dearest stood there anxiously scanning the water & too terrified to move until the tide receded & he could step onto dry land but any time you ask him about this he points out he still had a firm grip on his rod when the dust finally settled.

The thing is I don't like sharks & being a boatie I've heard some horror stories from people whose boat had gurgled into the murky depths leaving them to fend for themselves in water where they couldn't *touch bottom* ~ so I was inordinately pleased to learn that something could take a shark on & win.  There aren't too many of those in the ocean.  Most things that encounter a shark are on the losing end.  However there are killer whales out there that have learnt how to turn shark into dinner.  In N.Z they herd them onto the beach.  In California they attack from underneath, flip them & this renders the sharks helpless & an easy meal.  So cool  Dontcha think?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Odd Parenting 101

By a sweet tongue and kindness, you can drag an elephant with a hair” ~ Persian Proverb

There was a period in my life when I spent a lot of time with other mothers.  Our children were the same ages.  We were all just a little eccentric & our parenting style was pretty relaxed.  Our idea of a successful day was plenty of coffee & chat for the adults while the kids rampaged somewhere they could do no damage to themselves, each other, or anything else.  Not always successful.  Theo has a lovely scar in the top of his head because his best mate thought adding a piece of fibro there was a definite improvement but on the whole, given how many boys there were in the group & how very boy boys all those boys were, there was very little blood & mayhem.

In summer we would round the troops up & spend the day on the beach.  Our beach isn't anything to boast of.  It's right beside the jetty so we have an interesting oil slick on the incoming tide, the sand is all imported because we don't have sand, just mud, & the tides push the sand over into one corner so your feet are far more liable to sink into slick black mud than anything else.  There is a tiny pocket handkerchief sized park with a couple of tatty BBQs & a ricketty table, several swings & a climbing frame. 

 I have an aversion to salt water so I was usually the parent sitting on the breakwater wall counting bobbing heads.  Mine all wore bright lollipop coloured caps so they were easy to find if the pool was crowded.  Which is where I happened to be sitting when my oldest sidled up to me. 

Joss was, & is, a completly random learner with extremely odd interests & he always had  the sort of vocab that left most adults slack~jawed.  For example, on his first visit to my parents house he emerged from his uncle's room & announced loudly it was, Absolutely disgusting. He could barely walk so this pronouncement was a little astonishing ~ only we were all used to him & just took it in our stride.

So I wasn't unduly fazed when he enquired how elephant trainers got such big strong animals to remain tethered to little wooden stakes because they could easily tear them out of the ground, couldn't they mummy; so why don't they?  I actually knew the answer to this rather strange question.  In case you don't know [& as most of you are also homeschooling mummies I expect you also know the answer to this one] you start when an elephant is very young & you tether it to a large block of cement with a strong chain.  The elephant  learns that no matter how hard he pulls against the restraint he cannot free himself so later you can use quite a light chain & flimsy stake because the elephant knows he cannot get free.

Now I thought taking the time to explain all this to my oldest was perfectly normal but the parent sitting beside me thought it was decidedly odd: firstly because I even knew this stuff; secondly because I explained in detail & thirdly because my child actually stood & listened to my explanation.

As the children grew older ours became the *kid house* because I was the parent most likely to say yes.  Can we use your kitchen to cook? Yes.    Can we sleep over?  Yes, if your mummy says so.  Can we go fishing....?  We almost always had a crowd because most of the cricket & soccer team belonged to us & although our house is largish it was not large enough to hold 11 children of various ages & sizes who were all credibly ADHD.  Besides ours were camping mad so for various birthdays we provided tents instead of the usual presents & our children [& their friends] spent so much time camping out that people thought this was a permanent arrangement because the house wasn't large enough for all of us.

The end result of this was [because I'm a certified Queen's Guide] that all ours [& their regular friends] quickly acquired a set of camping survival skills: they could pitch a tent; they could light a fire & fillet a fish; they could cook on an open fire; they could row a boat against an incoming tide.  Amongst their possessions they all owned lighters, sharp knives, fishing tackle, strong torches etc & they had been trusted to use these things responsibly from an exceptionally early age because I didn't see why even quite a small child couldn't learn to do for himself rather than have me hovering over every move they made just in case they hurt themselves.  Sometimes they did.  Mostly they didn't.

Then a new family moved in.  The first thing their kids did was cut themselves on our kids' knives.  The second thing was their father berated me for irresponsibility.  I thought him a fool for having kids who couldn't use a knife sensibly ~ big kids, not little kids.  For the first time in my life I found myself hating having visiting kids in my house because they were totally clueless about everything.  They couldn't be trusted in the kitchen without major supervision ~ something I hadn't done in years because mine learnt very early on if they wanted to eat they needed to learn how to cook.  Consequentially their friends learnt too!  They couldn't be trusted round a fire.  They couldn't be trusted around nests or snakes.  They did the stupidest things & I was flabbergasted because mine, who were known round the traps as *Those Wild Potato Boys*, would never, ever have behaved so foolishly.  They were dangerous.  They were a liability.  And I didn't know what to do.  Every child I'd had to deal with up to that point would listen & learn ~ & they did as they were asked because they undesrstood that being allowed to go out fishing in the boats or have their own fires was a privelege & to be respected.  The new lot did not.  Eventually they got banned.  I couldn't deal with the parents any more.  At which point they lined up along their verandah & hurled insults & abuse at my lot. *sigh* Yes, their mummy & daddy knew they were there & sad to say actually encouraged it.

So, what odd parenting practises do you have?  Are you a *They'll survive* parent or a *Don't let them out of your sight* parent?  So long as ours stayed within very clear boundaries they were let lose but they were never allowed to wander randomly over the island or head to the mainland unsupervised.  They have grown into very competant adults with a good grasp of their own limitations ~ well, except Star.  Star is the exception to all known regulations & her ego is out of control.  She will tell you proudly that, I own my own crap.  However she is the child least likely to climb in a boat in a storm to go catch a shark!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A piece of 8" metal.

There's nothing so exhilerating as to be shot at without result. ~ Churchill.

I thought we were done.  I thought the gremlins had moved out.  I thought we'd done our set of 3 & could move right along.

Apparently not.

We were looking good.  The lad had scored an 18 hour park which meant when Star & I went over we did not have to trudge miles through wet parkland to find our car.  It was right there, looking snazzy amongst all the other work vechicles.  We flipped the Ps to Ls, Star filled in the Ks & the time in her little book & off we went, round the corner & up the hill ~ where there was suddenly one of those sounds you never want to hear when you are in a car: a resounding clang...ting~ting~ting.  I glanced back.  An piece of 8" metal was lying in the road.

*sigh*  We went & collected it so I could tell the mechanic, "This fell off.  I assume we need another bit where this came from." I do not know when it will get to the mechanic because that is our mainland car & it is in use every day.  Noisy but drivable.

Are we done yet, Lord?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pets I can do without.

In his blue gardens, men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.  ~ FrancisScott Key Fitzgerald

In a land notorious for unpleasant inhabitants of the deadlier kind not even the common catapillar is innocous.  True, at one time in our married life my kitchen was regularly swarming with blue ring octupi & we have quite a collection of the deadlier snakes as well  but catapillars?  They grow into moths & butterflies & are generally harmless, yes?

No.  Not round here at any rate.  Just the other day Star got a nasty sting from the common Blue Triangle [or at least from the caterpillar that morphs into this rather pretty butterfly].  They are so pretty we tolerate the caterpillars, which are just plain nasty.

However the hairy monster on the right doesn't morph into anything pretty at all. Anthela canescens is notorious in Brissie [as well as various other parts of Oz] for the vicious spiny hairs that cause an itchy rash if inadvertently touched.  Trust me.  With children that collected anything that moved as their latest *pet* we have dealt with more of these rashes than I ever hoped to see.  Some summers see a plague of these things meandering across the roads & down driveways in long, long crocodile lines.  Some years we never see them at all.  These are the caterpillars responsible for the hairy cocoons that also give you a nasty surprise!

At one time the sight of one of these huge hairy monsters would be the cue for my house to go into overdrive finding an unused shoe box, fresh gum leaves, a convienient twig, in the hopes of a bird's eye view of the cocoon & eventual moth.  Thankfully my boys survived their growing years & have outgrown their need to bring creepy~crawlies into my house & Star is not into things that give a nastier bite than she does!

Just the same Dino takes the cake for the scariest pet.  He arrived home one day carrying a dented coke can which he informed me contained his newest pet.  Closer investigation revealed he had obtained [no doubt with considerable encouragement] a small eyed snake.  No, he was not allowed to keep it.  I gingerly place the tin somewhere my incautious son would be unlikely to find it & if the snake had the sense it was born with it vacated the premises promptly.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Nah~nah ne Nah~nah.

A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink of it deeply, or taste it not, for shallow thoughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking deeply sobers us again. - Alexander Pope

At the beginning of each academic year our umbrella sends out the paperwork ~ which consists of a math paper, a comprehension paper & a vocab paper  ~ which are mostly designed to keep the government of our backs as proof that we are actually doing some academic work.  In our case this is necessary.  Star has dysgraphia.  We do very little written work.  I read aloud a lot.  We watch a lot of dvds.  Star does music ~ & a little German.  We do Home Ec because Home Ec is a necessary survival skill.

This year's papers were worse than usual.  I had to walk away from the math.  The sight of all those numbers & graphs & funny diagrams asking stupid questions made me physically ill.  I could feel the hole opening up in my head as all the numbers fell straight through!  Besides neither Star nor I had ever heard of most of the mathamatical terms being used.  I shrugged & told her to just do her best.  Star, who is unfazed by these things, did what she could ~ which was very little ~ then took pot luck on the rest.  She then sang her way through the remaining 2 papers while wiggling & squiggling & jiggling away, most of her attention obviously on things musical rather than things academic.  Which is the way Star does things.  Always.

Our aversion to math is well known on this blog.  I make no bones that homeschooling a bright but reluctant learner is no bed of roses.  Worth it, yes, but not necessarily easy.  I have been told, more than once, by the academically gifted who are competant in the sciences, that with an attitude like mine I have no business whatsoever homeschooling my child.  I have been berated to death from certain quarters about the disservice I am doing my child.  Really? 

See we got our marks back today ~ & I didn't need the marks to tell me what I already knew because I know my child very well indeed.  Our supervisor apologised profusely.  She had sent Star the wrong math paper & was astonished at how well Star had actually done with it given we have covered almost nothing that was actually on that paper.  However Star's math is not what our supervisor wished to discuss.  She was bursting to tell me that in both vocab & comprehension Star had scored in the 99th percentile!  Which doesn't surprise me.  Not even given that most of her attention was elsewhere at the time.

Most homschoolers score very well in Language skills ~ & well above state schooled children.  Even so Star has surpassed herself.  See we don't do standardised tests.  Haven't for years & years, not since the NAPLAN when Star was so bored by the whole process she drew a most amazing picture on the comprehension paper & applied her spelling rules in new & innovative ways!  I figured I didn't need the stress & refused to participate any more.  Which has meant we don't get feedback either.

Do you know how rare it is for any child to have such a comprehensive vocab & to not only know the meaning of the words but be able to use them correctly in a sentence?  So tell me again why I shouldn't homeschool my child?  Some days I revert to being ten just so I can go, Nah~nah ne nah~nah.

Dearest in Doghouse & other tales of woe

The singing group from hell.  Twice a week we transformed Mr Frace's choir room into a kind of chamber of musical horrors.  Randy Mitchell ~ baritone.  Doug Porter ~ monotone. Pail Pfeiffer  ~ no tone at all.  And of course ~ me. ~The Wonder Years

You ever have weeks like that?  They suck, don't they.

It began with the car.  With 3 other people all vying to drive the car I am rarely behind the wheel these days though strange clanking noises simply worry me rather than enlightening me.  Anyway I heard no strange rattles & I wasn't driving so could not be blamed for the car's sudden cessation of forward momentum.  I was, however, running for a boat when this happened & neither of the men in my life could get the car going again so Star missed rehearsal while I tried to hunt up a working mechanic on the island.  Mechanics we have, just none of them likes to actually work. *sigh*  Eventually one arrived & pronounced the alternator belt had gone.  This strange piece of equipment, which I had never heard of before, is apparently responsible for the car battery charging.  Without it the battery flattens faster than you can sneeze.  The car was, however, drivable ~ so long as every time we took it for a spin we then removed the battery & put it on the charger.  For days our life revolved around the car battery because the mechanic was loath to work in the dark or the rain or on weekends or....!  So absolutely fascinating. Not.

There are worse things so we simply shrugged & got on with it.  The next thing was Star arrived at my bedside in the middle of the night to shake me awake.  This could in no way be construed as good news!  I don't know what to do, she whispered.  I padded after her sleepily to find the hot water system had sprung a leak & was showering the ceiling with boiling off~peak water & it was streaming down into my pantry!  In the ensuring chaos everyone arrived in various states of undress to contribute to the mayhem & Dearest, attempting to turn off the water turned off the electricity.  This apparently caused every computer in the house to crash!!!!  In the absence of Liddy the title of *Computer Technician* falls to me so I spent the next morning on the phone with our provider retrieving passwords & reconfiguring 4 computers!  Our present provider at least provides technicians who speak understandable English!

Meanwhile Ebay has changed it's policies so the money to pay for all this mayhem is tied up in their system!  We are being rained on by the bucket load, the temperature has suddenly realised we are in Autumn & the cats are in serious meltdown.  Kirby thought snuggling in with me last night was an excuse to chat sociably whenever a subject came to mind & I was woken by very enthusiastic kitty~kisses this morning!  The next full moon will probably see me baying the moon & howling like a dervish through the mangroves.

Notwithstanding, the band plays on ~ or in our case the choirs.  For those in Brisbane: the Queensland Festival Chorus is performing at St Stephens on Saturday March 31st from 8pm to 9.30 pm.  I can guarantee the music.  While not exactly a new choir it was previously drawn from QPAC, AVAE, & Exaudi.  Now it is a choir in its own right.  This is this year's opening performance.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The People & the Book.

Sometimes you can be lucky.

That was how I felt when I read Geraldine Brooks Year of Wonders.  Wonderful book.  Beautifully written.  Interesting historical basis.

I am not so sure I feel the same way about People of the Book ~ though I enjoy the punning on the title.  The main character, Hanna, annoys me.   I find Hanna & the plot elements around her contrived ~ & I really don't feel the need to know about other people's sex lives.  Just, no.  Ok?

On the other hand, as I have found with all Brooks work, she has done her research & the facts upon which she has based her fictionalised account of the Sarajevo Haggadah are fascinating in & of themselves.

What is a haggadah & what makes the Sarajevo Haggadah so special?

Haggadah means telling & during the Passover seder Jewish families retell their time of slavery in Egypt & the miracles God performed there to set them free.  A Haggadah contains prayers, readings from the Torah, instructions for the Seder, old and new commentary on the Exodus, and sometimes songs.  What it usually doesn't contain is pictures because pictures contravene the biblical injunction to make no graven images. The Sarajevo haggadah has pictures.  Lots & Lots of pictures.

Which brings us to our history because at one time, Spain, that pot of hotblooded headstrong Lotharios was anything but.  It was largely controlled & influenced by Islamic Moors & had, unusually for Europe at the time, a well educated, well read populace with great religious freedom & tolerance.  The saying went The Christians raise the armies, the Muslims raise the buildings & the Jews raise the money.  Certainly the Christians raised the armies.  Isabella of Castile was busily doing that for a good part of her life, eventually managing to unite Castile & Aragon, freeing both countries from crippling debt & laying the foundations for modern Spain.  In the process Isabella, who seemed to think she was the personal spokesman for God Himself, announced the expulsion of all Moors & Jews unless they converted to the Christian faith ~ which is not important except for one minor thing;  the Jews of Spain were a little more liberal in their interpretations of scripture & it was for them the Sarajevo haggadah was originally made, probably as a wedding present.   You can read about its varied & colourful history here or google Mr Wiki.

It survived the inquisition, WWII & the Bosnia~Hertzigovia conflict.  It's fascination is not just in that it is incredibly old, perhaps dating back to the 1300's, but that it's illustrations are still so bright & colourful & depict things like Jews celebrating a seder.  The academics got their hands on it [cheap at the price] & now the likes of you & I are never likely to set eyes on it though several facsimiles have been done, the more recent a loving reproduction on traditional vellum, just like the original!

A reproduction is never going to reproduce the stains of a life lived: the wine, the salt water, the insect wings casually caught between the pages.  It is upon these things Geraldine Brooks hangs her story, tracing the journey of European Jewry through the worn pages of the haggadah.  As a literary device it only sort of works.  All the stories are left unfinished & hanging ~ a ploy that really annoys me however *realistic* [questionable] such a tactic might be. Each *story* is broken by Hanna's own journey to her Jewish roots but her problematic relationship with her own mother I find implausible & distracting.

On the whole I did not find People of the Book as satisfying as others of Brook's work but there was enough of interest & fascination to get me to the end.  Have you read this?  What did you think?