Tuesday, 6 February 2018

A Matter of Taste.

Some children read; some devour any & all printed matter.  I fell into the latter category. Each & every week I took out my full allotment from, not one, but 2 libraries. That was between 8 & 20 books a week [the numbers increased over time as libraries became more generous with their lending policies] & I could read the lot in a week.

Mind you, by the time I reached High School & realised any mathematical acumen would forever be beyond my reach, I acquired several extra hours in which to read by slipping my present reading material under my desk. Granted a large part of my reading was hardly edifying but I was reading The Taming of the Shrew for pleasure in primary school simply because we owned  a complete compilation of The Bard's works & that was the one that grabbed my fancy.

We were a home that owned books.  One reason my mother worked so hard in school was because books were always given as prizes & in due time I inherited her Billabong & Dimsie books.  Unlike her I had no desire to go to boarding school. Ever.  The thought of being locked up with a hoard of females my own age & made to conform to an extrovert schedule appalled me. I did, however, acquire a taste for what is known as *school stories*.  Along with Dimsie were the Abbey Girls & the Chalet school , Angela Brazil, & even Enid Blyton dabbled. There were the boys books too: Tom Brown's Schooldays; Jennings; Billy Bunter.  I didn't discriminate. The good, the bad & the indifferent were all grist for the mill.

I could, however, tell the difference & it is to my eternal joy I was blessed to stumble upon Antonia Forest, one of the good ones.  Excellent.

I have never understood why Forest [not her real name] got lumbered with the lable: school stories.  Certainly 4 of her books about the Marlow family are set @ Kingscote, an elite girls boarding school, but 2 are historical novels & 4 others deal with a variety of other things like the  War [II], the Brontes, falconry, pigeon racing & mixed families but even when Forest was still alive, still publishing, she was a seriously underrated writer.  I have never understood why.  I adored her. But even then her books were as rare as hen's teeth & incredibly hard to lay hands on.

I did manage, by dint of accessing the Inter~library Loan system, to eventually read all the books, not in sequence, & I did manage to buy all the school ones in paperback.  As an adult I see that Forest's delightful sense of irony & the sarcasm of some of her characters would likely go over many children's heads but as a reader who enjoys books about books, Forest was a wonderful introduction to the world of unknown literature & most of my older copies of her work have scribbled notes in their margins where I looked up casual references I didn't recognise: Hakluyt; Blessed Edmund Campion; or Baby Lon...Better yet  was the delightful sense of recognition for I could recite The Highwayman, had read Apollo's Mask & wanted to marry Lord Peter Wimsey, to say nothing of stumbling upon The Lyke Wake Dirge in all its glory. This was a world where esoteric knowledge & my reading habits were not out of place.

However it is Forest's handle on character that resonates authentically.  No~one is all good.  No~one is all bad.  Good characters do stupid things & bad ones do noble things & the internal conflict of navigating the morass of other people's feelings & emotions is as daunting now as it was then. She is so good that those of us lucky enough to find her as a child have continued to enjoy her work as adults & predictably we hold onto her books.  They do not end up in Jumble sales or the Thrift Shops.  Rare.  Very rare indeed~ as I found when I began to scout round hoping to scrounge up a copy of every one of her books.

The 1st one I aimed for was The Ready~Made Family because in many ways it is my favourite. It cost me a small fortune & came from America, not England as one would suppose. The basic outline goes:  Nicola's oldest sister Karen gets married.  However she is just 19; he is 41 with 3 children. As Nicola's brother, Peter, observes: D'you think there was a ghastly pause after Kay said, And there's another seven @ home? 
There was a gruesome ghastly pause after Kay said He's 41 with 3 children, I can tell you that...

Peter has the awful habit of talking Mummerzet ~ an invented west counties dialect that is simply infuriating, even to read. Actually Peter is infuriating; in turns charming, kind, arrogant & obnoxious. In some books I really like him, but not in this one.  As an adult all my sympathies lie with the adults he's driving to distraction.  One of those is his new F~I~L, a man who is consistently portrayed, from the children's point of view, as an unlikable old fuddy~duddy & why Kay marries him no~one can understand...! And this is why I like Forest.  Right @ the very end, Forest turns everything on it's head for Nicola finds herself contemplating this suddenly different person; he gave her a thin, ironic smile & she saw that he might indeed be, not only a different, but an easier person than she'd thought: one, with whom, to put it @ it's lowest, one would be able to share the occasional joke... & on that thought pushes Lord Peter forward like a chess piece & finds herself reciprocated.

It does help if you get the references because of sub~texts & all that but it's not necessary.  I just have the sort of mind that likes to know what everyone is talking about but the books can be read & enjoyed if you know nothing of the Brontes, have never hunted hawks, & thought all pigeons were good for was defacing statues. It's all a matter of taste, but for my money, Forest is worth every cent.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Walking The Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden

Many moons ago, shortly after it was opened to the public, my girls & I did this walk with my mum.  The newly planted specimens were little, the garden raw, the sculptures brusque so while it was interesting & had great potential that potential was yet to be fulfilled. 

 Doing it this time reminded me how much time has obviously passed as things like the gum leaf seats & the stone sculptures have aged & weathered, fitting neatly into their surrounds.
 The infinity pool is an excellent example.  Last time there were great swathes of open ground waiting for the shrubs & bushes to expand & fill all the empty space.  The pool stood out like a sore thumb, raw & exposed, & the infinity symbol perched at the edge of the pool without meaning or purpose. So different now with the pool surrounded by shrubs & native grasses, the sculpture seeming to hang in the air & reflect in the water.
This is a big park with a number of different walks, none strenuous or taxing, lots of open space for picnicking & a huge variety of native flora, though we found the bird life  to be wanting.  We loved the fern walk.  Too dim for good pictures but very tropical & as so often the dense green creates a cool haven.

Sadly there has been little rain & the gardens were very dry & the creek beds valleys of worn rock  dreaming of water. 

Monday, 22 January 2018

Walking Mary Cairncross.

We have been walking through the Valley of the Shadow.  It has retreated for a while ~ but it will be back.   That's what shadows do.

Amidst all the angst & difficulties I managed a week with my own mother, who is in her 80's but robust & healthy.  As I always say when I stay with her & am asked the perennial question: What would you like to do while you are here?  I answer: Walk.

The Sunshine Coast is littered with National Parks & walking tracks, some good, some not so good, but all dependant on having amenable weather. Rain brings out the leeches & makes many of the tracks slippery & dangerous.  Too hot & they are exhausting.  This year we had wonderful weather & on the Wednesday we walked the Mary Cairncross track.

Mary Cairncross is perhaps my favourite walk.  It is part of the lush hinterland around Maleny/Monteville with spectacular views towards the Glasshouse Mountains. These 13 volcanic peaks can been seen for miles along the coast or out @ sea before you are anywhere near them.

I have done this walk any number of times.  It is neither a particularly long or strenuous walk but has recently been upgraded to be more wheelchair friendly. It is home to a huge variety of native birds & always, always I see birds I never see @ home ~ & hear the calls of many more I can't identify.

 Pademelons can usually be spotted if you don't have noisy small children with you.  I have walked this with children but mine were well trained to walk quietly & keep their eyes peeled & invariably it was a child who spotted the most interesting things having sharp young eyes that didn't need glasses!

 The quality of the pictures is bad but we were so excited to see a family of yellow Robins, robins being ecologically sensitive.  We also spotted log~runners, a brown cuckoo & a rose crowned dove, all beautiful in their own way, while we were serenaded around the track by Golden Whistlers, Cat birds & Koel.

 There is a special spot just for the bats.  I have always had a special affection for our native bats since the bitter winter day we rescued an abandoned baby & I learnt how soft & hugely affectionate they are.
 Nests.  No idea really.  Gerrygongs maybe... There were lots of them hanging right beside the track, abandoned of course as most species have finished breeding.
 We completed our outing by having lunch @ the new Resource centre with its wonderful views of the Glasshouse: quiche & salad, so very scrummy.

The updated resource centre is wonderfully informative.  Nests, feathers & exoskeletons are on display & they have several interactive things, including bird calls, which ate up huge wads of mum & my time as we attempted to identify all the birds we had heard but not seen ~ which meant a lot of guessing to start with! Then whittling it down bit by bit.

Our final call was Nambour train station to pick up my niece who is @ uni in Brisbane & spends most of her free time up @ mum's.  Luckily she too likes to walk!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Being taught by the Rabbi.

Amongst all the things I read, watch & listen too  there is, & always has been, a strong Messianic flavour.  The Lord impressed on me early, even as a child, that He was a Hebrew.  Middle~Eastern. Jewish. I understood this even as I didn't grasp exactly what that meant .

I got, over time: prayer shawl; phylacteries; tallit.   I even understood His teaching was from a Jewish place but information is information & I simply absorbed the information.  Occasionally I applied it to scripture.  What I didn't do was apply it to me. I'm western.  AngloCeltic. Maybe the Celtic bit is why I missed something so very obvious because Celts are prone to operate in something of the same way.

See, we live where we live & that has always meant we are on our own when it comes to growing in God.  None, & I do mean none, of the other churches even come close to where God led us.  It has always created difficulties but we are meant to be following Jesus not some church or minister or congregation so there we perched like birds in the wilderness doing our thing & trying so very hard not to draw unwanted attention to ourselves.

So far, so good. Now, @ some point the Holy Spirit began chatting quite clearly to me & me being me simply went: Oh, right, now we are operating scriptually... I know... It never occurred to me people might think that was weird.  Not hearing was what I considered weird 'cause I'd read Acts you know... And what started happening was my kids because, you know, they were kids & they had no idea so I'd get this stream of: mum, would you pray for me about...

There were the dramatic answers: BLUE BARINA. There were the straightforward answers & then there was something odd.  See the kids got bigger & in all honesty they should have been hearing from God for themselves. Instead they'd ask me but instead of getting blue barina answers, or something straightforward, I'd get part of a scripture, often one I didn't know, or didn't know well & I'd have to google Mr Google & find the rest of it & sometimes there was more than one choice.  I can assure you this was more than a little on the frustrating side.  Just tell me already!

When I am super bored & sweltering in the humidity of a Queensland summer, what I do is amuse myself on Amazon reading all the book reviews on subjects I will never investigate ~ or better, seeing what's new in the religious department ~ which is how I came upon Sitting @ the feet of Rabbi Jesus.

Actually there were a number of books I was interested in ~ including The Hebrew Yeshua V the Greek Jesus ~ bits of which are online & very good~ & which I may still get, but I opted to get a book by Christians rather than a Jew, @ least to start with.  After that I watched all the Jewish videos anyway so I have to wonder about me. 

Having started the book I sighed.  It felt a little dumbed down & the first chapter I knew the info & boy do I hate spending money for stuff I already know. Still, I'd spent the money, the book was here & the other book I am waiting on is still weeks away [which is what happens when you order rare books from overseas.] Hmph! And I got my come~upperance. 

Discussing Rabbinic teaching methods, which I thought I knew in a fairly broad sense, the authors mentioned how the rabbis would only give part of the scripture, leaving their disciples to look up the reference ~ & it hit me like a thunderbolt!  Jesus has been doing this to me for years! lol Nothing like being taught by the rabbi Himself!

Monday, 25 December 2017

This is it...

The anomaly is snow.  No~one gets snow ~ well, Tassie did one year but even that close to the pole that's more than a little odd.  What we get is heat, lots & lots of heat.  And humidity.  We get lots of humidity.

Out on the island the nor'easters have been blowing steadily all summer, so though it is hot we don't swelter & stew.  Sadly we weren't staying on the island.  We were on the 5 past 8 boat heading to Birkdale where there is no breeze & sweltering is the order of the day.  Mind you, the other lot of in~laws are up from South Australia & were really suffering.

As temperatures go 84/5 F isn't too bad until you factor in 100% humidity, no rain.  The Little Man did the sensible thing.  He went to bed  in the only room with functioning air con & slept through the whole thing.  Smart lad.

The rest of us chattered & sweltered ~ & ate.  So much food ~ all of it wonderful!  And yes, we had a nice time though it is always a little weird doing somebody else's thing rather than your own.  The sad thing was getting the boat home.  All I can say is that I think every islander who left the island spasmodically throughout the morning decided the first boat of the afternoon was the one to be on!  They did a headcount to ensure they could safely get everyone on board ~ & it's been a while since that's happened, then all the standers ~ & there were lots of them were constantly being moved forward or back to balance the boat & get up speed because, predictably, the air con wasn't coping.  It was like being in a steaming sardine can.

So nice to get home to the cool before the massive thunderstorms started cracking over our heads & the cats were pleased to see us because hardly ever does everyone leave home @ once!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Being Good.

So I was back again: finger painting, story~telling, fun in the park ~ & several baths because I managed to get the kid filthy~ twice!  Not a grizzle to be heard & I am not the most accommodating grandmother.  Sure, I'll do stuff but when enough is enough, I'm done.

Meanwhile, as anyone who knows us knows, we moved away from celebrating Christmas several years ago for lots of reasons:

  • we came out of serving the homeless with a very jaded view of how most *Christians* celebrate Christmas
  • I can be pedantic & knowing the date is wrong just bugged me
  • there is a huge increase in domestic violence, abuse, alcohol related problems & loneliness
  • Very few people can even be bothered to attend a service
  • And last, but not least, it has become a very secular, greedy holiday  ~ which I find offensive. This year Coles or Woolies [not sure which] is so totally focused on all the non~essentials they are calling it *Santa Day*.  Uh~huh.  Pretty much sums it up. Jesus has well & truly departed the building!
We do celebrate Hanukkah ~ not because we think it's the Jewish equivalent of Christmas, but because we can focus on the prophetic elements of the Messiah & it becomes totally about Jesus rather than totally about food & presents ~ & yes, I do know what it is all about from the Jewish perspective!

However... *sigh* My DILY comes from a family who celebrate Christmas BIG TIME. Her tree touches the roof.  There are wreathes & baubles [which I am so good @ shattering!] all over the house.  The tree has been up for a month surrounded by a playpen stuffed with presents.  I was slightly appalled. Even when we did Christmas we did it low key & fairly restrained & read the gospel account on Christmas eve when we broke out the first of the goodies.  Their family, their traditions....Only we are expected there as they are hosting Christmas this year. I do not want to go.  My anti~socialism can be fairy extreme... people.  Lots & lots of people.  All her family,  Us...As CG used to say: I might cry...

Dear Reader: I am being good. I have girded my loins for the fray.  I have agreed to make my speciality breakfast pancakes to feed the hordes. I have agreed to stay till after lunch.  I will refrain from regretting a peaceful day spent contemplating my navel on our lovely cool verandah enjoying a sultry sea breeze ~ & I will pretend I am enjoying myself.  I will not scream: Get me out of here...!!! I promise.  But just between me & thee ~ I can't wait till it's all over!  Gosh, but I hate hoo~ha!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

They're not normal...

I think I first realised this when ODD's chorus mistress announced her toilet flushed in F Major. Seriously? Who thinks like that?

In point of fact, according to Google, most toilets flush in Eb, though anything in D is also a strong contender. I have no idea.  My ear is nowhere good enough for that even if I could be bothered. There are, however, whole forums dedicated to discussing this esoteric fact.

What it did highlight for me is that musicians hear the world differently to the rest of us. I hear noise.  They hear keys & scales.

Perhaps I should have twigged earlier, only I didn't because we weren't doing music & the rest of my bombastic lot made noise, not music, by anyone's standard. I didn't know any musicians, not real musicians, only people who learnt music & that is not necessarily the same thing.

That changed with ODD. When she was quite little, but had started schooling with me, she would occasionally, spend a morning in the local grade 1 classroom while I taught the big kids in grades 5,6 & 7 how to read. I would collect her @ break & we would go home together. She never wanted to stay for the afternoon session, even though, for the first few times we did this, she thought it was super exciting & very grown up & it was all so novel she was on her best behaviour & the teacher adored her, she was so well behaved.  I wasn't sure, @ first, we were discussing the same child...

Then it happened.  I went to pick up my child & found her sitting all alone, pale & wan, totally ignored by staff & pupils alike.  She hadn't touched her snack.  She didn't want to play. I thought she was unwell.

Now my ODD is a talker.  She can talk the moon down from the sky & she has been like that from about 5 months, when she first began talking, & not only did she talk all day, she talked all night as well because she talked in her sleep. She was, perhaps, my noisiest child.  It is so deceptive.  I had completely absorbed my mother's maxim that given her drathers she would have opted for quiet, musical children. Oh, dear. If only she'd realised.  Her one really musical child was also her super noisy one!

So I took my very quiet child home & she put herself to bed & slept for hours. Even when she got up she was still quiet & pale.  Eventually I asked about her morning.

Oh, mummy! They were noisy & naughty!

I have since learnt that many musicians have very sensitive hearing that is easily damaged by excessive noise & that a rowdy classroom had literally made my child sick.  Even before I knew anything, before we began the years & years of music that were to become my life as well as my child's, the Lord was ensuring her hearing was protected.  Years of your Average Australian Public school classroom would have damaged her hearing.  Our house was normally very quiet because I don't do well in chaos & mayhem.  And we pottered through our days doing the sort of things that us arty~farty types like: art, craft, drama, music ~ lots & lots of music because, as homeschoolers, we had time to practise more than one thing & I learnt that musicians know which key their toilet flushes in.  I'm sure that's not normal.