Friday, 30 September 2016

An ongoing saga.

She gardened all the morning & read all afternoon ~ Shirley Cane

Like many churches we run our music through a computer.  Thursday the computer crashed ~ &  Yeah, it was old. Important things like the enter key hadn't worked in months.  I'd made *we need a new computer* noises for some time but computers cost money & we don't spend the Lord's money if we don't need too so I had worked with it.

Crashes ~ well they're a whole 'nother thing.  I don't do crashes.  My computer skills are pretty limited so I was spinning because everything is on the computer!

Anyway we decided to head overseas for a new one & having arranged a car & missed 2 boats we finally left the island.

Amongst other things I have 2 white wisteria sitting in pots beside one of the bird baths.  The wisteria are one of those dramas in my life.  I like wisteria.  I would happily swathe the house in garlands of pink & purple & white but the MOTH is a horticulturists & my love of wisteria horrifies him.  I have heard, ad nauseam, how destructive it is, how invasive it is & how it's not a native. *sigh*  I know.  I know.  I still love wisteria. Anyway, I have had a purple one in a pot beside the other birdbaths for years & years though it has never flowered & the MOTH agreed that if they could be confined to pots I could have my wisteria.  He has bought the tubs: big wooden whisky tubs.  They are to sit on poles & weep.  He has begun the process of bending the longest twigs.  They immediately dropped all their leaves & the MOTH was cross thinking I had managed to kill them but they are deciduous & now, in spring, the flush of new growth is richly green.  It is time to get a move on.  So we stopped in at Bunnings & I picked up some butter beans & an azalea because after 20 odd years waiting on our canopy becoming a canopy we can finally think about our understory.

In all the hoopla we also had to help finance CG with a new computer ~ which we knew was on the cards because her old one has been at death's door for more than 12 months & without Skype we go months without speaking & that doesn't make either of us happy.  Besides she needs it for the work she does.

It was a long & fraught day. I mean, I don't like the mainland at any time. I particularly dislike shopping.  We were all tired by the time we got home again but as we bundled out of the car & began unloading, CG said: What is that bird doing?

I looked where she was looking.  I swear, even the wildlife round here is mad as hatters!  There was the chick I had rescued standing in the shallow bowl of water I had put out for the curlews.  What's with that bird & water?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

A Near Disaster.

The daily existence of every bird is a remote and bewitching mystery. ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Down the south side of our house we have run a bush house. From the laundry door there runs a brick path that spreads under the clothes line & at the end of the path are the trees: malaluka & a big widow~maker, a bush apple that occasionally gets small bitter fruit & the small iron barks.  It is here, in the open spaces, our curlews can often be found.

Down the sides of the bush house are  the rows of hanging orchids, the tubs of water &  large white buckets the MOTH uses to propagate his lotus & water lilies. Occasionally we find the curlews drinking from the tubs but now, in September, it is getting hot.  The usual ground puddles have all dried up & the curlews have chicks.  I hadn't yet got around to putting out a low shallow bowl of water & this morning CG began screaming for me to come quick. One of the chicks had managed to fall into a tub of water but was completely incapable of getting out again though it had managed to hook its wings over the rim.

Meanwhile dad was hissing & spitting , wings spread aggressively wide while CG dithered. *sigh* They make a lot of noise on occasion but they aren't really aggressive so I ignored dad's shenanigans, scooped bubs up & popped him down on the ground to peep for mum. A very relieved little family gathered round the sodden one & they headed back to their spot under the trees to hiss & spit some more at CG.

I have put out water for them & a disaster has been neatly averted.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

“Just about the time a woman thinks her work is done, she becomes a grandmother.” Edward H. Dreschnack

The thing about Toowoomba is that it's pretty. It was designed & built before electricity so no~one worried about overhead wires.  It was planted before someone decided camphor laurels were a noxious weed & lined both sides of many of its streets with trees.  Now they are huge, old, beautiful, hacked to pieces because of the overheads but still producing these glorious green avenues.  It's about the only thing I miss about Toowoomba. 
 I went to uni out here so I know what a cold old hole it can be. The prettiness & tidiness makes me claustrophobic.  There is no wild & I do like me some wild. What there is, in September, is the Flower Festival. Queen's Park is a riot of coloured blooms.

Even the knot garden...

I wasn't there for the flowers though.  Even when I lived there I avoided the festival.  You know, people, crowds...

I was there for something much more interesting...

 It's funny.  Your first you fuss & worry but after 5 you realise that given enough time they will actually go to sleep & they do it fast because you have learnt how to be really boring!
 So I changed nappies, hung out washing, drove the other car & cuddled a baby so his parents could get stuff done & now the other Grandies are having their turn. I reckon I made a super call.  His other Grandmother actually wants to be called *Grannie* ...[shudders delicately]  Móraí is all mine.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Now for the Son of my Son.

The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy. ~Sam Levenson

My sons seem to think I am besotted by babies.  My girls are a little more realistic ~ or just know me waaay better.  I like babies.  I adore the new baby smell & the softness of a newborn's hair but truth to be told I found it hard to get overly excited about the arrival of our first grandchild.  It had not bothered me that our mob was getting older with no sign of anyone at all settling down to produce the next generation. I adored my own babies because they were mine but while reality is not normally my strong suit I'm enough of a realist to know I'm probably not the grandmother you want in an emergency. Not practical.

At times like these a girl wants her mother ~ not her M~I~L ~ & while they are not out of state they are far enough away that getting there from here is not the easiest thing to do. Not being the overly practical sort & knowing perfectly well what sort of mother I was [erratic, mostly easy~going, but prone to bouts of depression & being overly fraught] all my strengths as a parent were in less tangible things.  I was super great at bedtime stories. My minor at uni was drama.  I do all the voices. I do the actions. Seriously, I am good enough that I am the only parent who did storytelling at Under~8s day at school & had the kids begging to be allowed to participate.  Yep. If you actually want to eat I'm not your girl.

 However my ET is a super excited dad so when he asked would I come help out till his m~i~l arrives I said yes. I am just a tad worried.  I mean, the kid is gorgeous.  What's not to like?

 He was bright eyed & bushy tailed nearly all morning when we visited for the day then crashed into this super relaxed, utterly adorable bundle of gorgeousness but he is hardly old enough to be taught how to build a fire, pitch a tent, sail a boat, or participate in story~telling ~ things I can actually do. I'm great at paint activities too.  As for singing ~ we're good at this size when they can't tell one note from another.

In all honesty, seeing my son hold his son, terrifies me.  How did he ever get that big?  Where did all those years go? So on Sunday I am going to play grown ups.  CG is going to run me up the range & I am going to try & be helpful: do the dishes, cook some meals, wash little jumpsuits, hang things on the line, fold them & put them away again, walk the dog....maybe cuddle a baby.  Sometimes.  Just a little bit. And convince my son, who seems to want to call me Granny, that I absolutely hate that moniker & he can break his jaws on Móraí ~ which is much easier to say than it looks.

Down in Denemarra.

No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. ~Bill Cosby

I used to dream, the way you do, of the day the last child left this house & all those hours & hours when I could do all those things that had been on hold for 30 odd years. It never works out quite that way, does it?

Now, when I hear young parents rhapsodize about their children starting school I giggle because I know, & you know, those hours that seem so endless & beckoning do not exist in the real world. I had far more time when we homeschooled.

So it has not surprised me to find that yes, I went back to school, but no, it wasn't to study archaeology.  I so, so badly want to go & dig up Skara Brae though what The MOTH would have thought if I suddenly announced I was pulling up roots for a cold, damp hole off Scotland's wild & windy coast I cannot think. To say nothing of the children who already think I'm more than a little peculiar.

Besides, they left ~ but they have not taken all their goods & chattels because if something of theirs is here, well they have to come & get it, don't they? So last week we had 3/5s of them wandering about: the home from Chile girl because this is her home base & this is her long furlough ~ oh, & her computer is done & dusted for after 7 years on the mission field so she likes to snavel mine; ODD [other dear daughter] because she uses our internet for her other job & the music for her island students is here & because she forgets to make lunch & has to use our kitchen; the YOB [youngest of boys] because he left this morning for PNG for 10 days teaching & evangelism only he doesn't have internet or a printer & basically borrowed my computer [his doesn't have Word], my internet, the couch, the printer & most of a ream of paper & while it was lovely & they all get along they are BIG. Adults. I found myself running for a series of boats because they never seem able to co~ordinate everyone arriving or leaving on the same one.

Then ET [eldest Twin] had invited us to meet His newly arrived son & for the 2 hour drive each way add another hour to deal with boats & car parks.

What I am, is a mother & mothers run around after their kids ~ even their big kids.  What I do is Pastor a church & this week I'm preaching. My penchant for procrastination occasionally has my co~pastor freaking out but as I tell her, I spent uni writing last minute essays & I am blessed to be able to do most of my pre~planning in my head. This means by the time I actually sit down to pull it all together it flows pretty quickly.

Knowing I had lost Wednesday to the YOB & Thursday to ET, Mondays are our day off from Church stuff when we do the business stuff that actually supports us & Tuesdays start early with prayer group followed by our study, I planned to pull my sermon together Friday.

By 9am I hoped all boats would be dealt with, my computer would be mine again, the MOTH would be on the mainland & the cats doing what cats do. Dream on!

First I had to take my computer of CG [Chile Girl]. Then, as I opened windows because one needs an inter~lineal bible & Google, & both Biblegateway & Biblehub & pottered about CG popped her head through the open window wanting Google Translate because she can think & write in either English or Spanish but translate from one to the other seems impossible to do.  I suggested she use her father's computer as he wasn't here but, no.  So much more fun to drive mummy crazy.

So here I sit like birds in the wilderness, my brain completely fried, wondering how I ever managed to survive all those years with so many people in one house.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Baby of my Baby.

We waited with patience this weekend for the arrival of our very first grandchild ~ the firstfruits of the next generation.

Welcome, Little One...

“Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him in to his people. With your hands contend for him, and be a help against his adversaries.” 
Deut. 33:7

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Last but Not least.

It does not amuse the child concerned but this is the one most like me.

 That's not me.

It is not an obvious or outward thing; outwardly we are nothing alike.  The girl has curves. When she was little I called her my little Brunhilda & said she should grace the prow of a Viking Longboat ~ then she discovered what I meant & that was the end of that!

When she was 6 she told people to shut up in Gaelic ~ because she could~ & watched Inspector Rex in German ~ because she could, which meant that at 9 she understood her singing teacher's questionable comments in German ~ & laughed. It comes of being the youngest in a verbally diverse house where she learnt to defend her opinions early & found wit a sauce to her liking.

I miss how she seriously considered purple & pink stilettos for her first grown up shoes. I was buying so, No.  I miss the way her eyes would slid surreptitiously across an audience  looking for us & the sight of her playing soccer with Issi tucked firmly under one arm. I miss the sound of scales late at night when everyone else was sleeping & the way she laughs when her voice cracks.

The woman is warm & wonderful but I miss the girl.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Cuckoos in the Nest.

 "She was coming to a realization that accepting who she was would be the jailer's key to liberate her from this cuckoo's nest."
~ Judy Byington

I cannot be the only parent who has looked at their children in bemusement & wondered just where they had come from.

One understands, naturally, the process of *The Birds & The Bees* but the exact combination of genes, DNA, opportunity & sheer dumb luck that makes one child one way & their sibling something else entirely seems a most extraordinary process requiring more courage than most parents realise when they enter into the contract.

As you can see we produced 5.  The first & the last are gingers, & red hair, as I'm sure you know, is a recessive gene requiring both parents to carry it in order to reproduce it at all. The twins are identical & the least said about that probably the better. Some days it seems we have yet to move on from:  You try this on so I can see how I will look in it. Twins, especially identicals, inhabit a world of plurality singletons will never grasp. There is no me, my, mine, only us, we, ours. They are natural socialists.

And no matter what political progressives think girls are nothing like boys. They are wired differently even before they are born.

A month ago our 2 youngest moved out together.  I do not think either of them thinks this is an optimum arrangement  but it was the only way either of them could manage it at all, mainland rents being what they are & their income being what it is.

After more than 30 years parenting being a parent is always going to be a part of who you are but  I was determined I was not going to sit at home & mope.  I started counting the positives: I did not have to wait up for the last boat so my singer could be safely collected from twice weekly rehearsals; I did not have to get up before the crack of dawn to run my mainland worker to his boat; I could actually watch some of the weird & wonderful t.v that only I enjoy without a chorus of groans & enough no votes to veto any chance I had of historical documentaries getting a look in; No~one to nick my cat to be their foot warmer; My chocolate would remain uneaten until I was ready to eat it...

True my co~vegetarian left me with a carnivore...but then she took the other carnivore with her.

It is the strangest thing...the child who still works on the island rings most mornings so she can get a lift & use our internet prior to starting work because no~one at her house has got round to hooking them up yet.  She investigates the fridge like a love~lorn woman. Her brother arrives next week to use my computer because his doesn't have word...And before we could even begin to get used to the idea that after all these years we were back to where we had begun, just the two of us, the Missionary Child arrived home from Chile & this is her home base. 

The tenuous balance I was seeking has tippled dangerously, a gunnel dipping below the waterline. One cannot reprimand a 26 year old independent woman as though she was 5 but she, apparently, reverts to being a daughter of the house as if she had never left. And my daughter, in the way of these things, is far more like my mother than she is like me ~ which makes for some unsettling & very strange encounters.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Meet the Family.

I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”  ~Jean Cocteau

Every child should have a pet. When we moved to the island we had 3 children but no pets & petless we remained until after daughter un numero uno entered the world. Then when she was about 3 neighbours informed us the couple on the point had an unwanted kitten ~ Siamese.  Blue eyes. Sucker bait.

I told my daughter we were only going to look.  After all daddy hadn't agreed but we went, we looked, we fell like Lucifer.

Firstly the scrawny half grown kitten had been found with a fish hook through his mouth from scavenging for food. Secondly he was cream with ginger points but black with fleas. I was devastated that anyone could leave any animal in such a state ~ even one they didn't want. So we brought him home.

My daughter was beside herself.  For the first time in her short life she was privy to something her older brothers were not & she was beside herself to tell her big news when they got home from school.

Gyver grew into the most loving & generous natured cat as rescues almost always do.  They never forget to be grateful & Gyver never did.  He loved all his people, unconditionally, without reservation & quite impartially.

Our next cat, a tabby female, my youngest son acquired from the pet shop & she was the most evil tempered animal ever; impossible to handle & not the cuddly smoochy sort at all. She is also the only cat we have no pictures of yet we loved her anyway & grieved her loss.

When Gyver was getting to be rather an old man my middle son brought home a kitten that in all honesty should still have been with its mother. He chose some high faluting Russian name that spoke of warrior strength & manly independence.  The girls & I promptly shortened that to Issi.

Your cat, I informed him. You pay for his food.  Desex him. Get him vet checked & because he is my son he said yes mother & promptly left for the west coast & 12 months at sea. I was left with a cat I neither wanted, nor at the time, particularly liked ~ & who still need to be desexed.

Meanwhile, Gyver was dying. His cancer riddled body was wasting away before our eyes until there was only one thing left we could do for him.

I was devastated. I was grieved to my core.  Good cats are irreplaceable.  As I grieved this wobbly footed mitten crawled up my pant leg, slunk up my chest & laid his head over my heart trying his very best to comfort me.

From that moment on Issi was my cat & no~one else's.  He made no bones that I was his person. He was my faithful shadow & companion for 5 years until a blood clot took him unexpectedly & far too soon.

Our present companions are Marlow, who was completely traumatised to be moved from foster care to a permanent new home, & his bonded sibling, Kirby.

Kirby was another cat I didn't want.  I'm no fan of tuxedos but I did want Marlow & couldn't bear the thought of breaking the bond between the brothers. Shortly after they arrived one of my idiot children left chicken bones out & Kirby decided swallowing the wish bone whole was the smart thing to do. We spent a traumatic day at the vet's while it was removed from his throat & learnt how deeply animals can grieve for each other.

As we left Marlow touched his brother's nose through the carrier & remained quiet & subdued until our return.  As rescues they had seen plenty of animals leave, never to return. His joy when we brought his brother home again was more than a sedated Kirby could handle but it was a turning point for both boys.  They finally realised they were here to stay & are loving & affectionate boys though you couldn't get brothers more dissimilar in personalities.

Marlow is placid, outgoing & the party lad.  If we have company he is right there to be adored & fussed over.  Kirby is completely neurotic.  He hides in the rafters at the first hint of company, fawns all over me but no~one else, beats up any dog who looks at me the wrong way & is a most extraordinary & infuriating escape artiste!

We still own the children but like dandelion seed they are scattered far & wide.  The cats remain.

Monday, 5 September 2016

We have Chicks!

...the curlews cry,Under the conceiving moon, on the high chalk hill,...Dylan Thomas

Curlews would have to be one of my most favourite birds. For one thing they don't mind hanging round human habitation because humans tend to have open spaces like lawns & only lightly wooded areas, which they prefer.  For another they are too big for the cats ~ though not dogs; we have cats.  Not that we feed them because the usual offerings of mince & bacon rind aren't good for them.  They can rot out a beak designed for crunchy insects.

They do, however, mate for life & they are careful & solicitous parents. Ours always raise their chicks each season ~ unlike the plovers who breed about the same time yet have  a careless knack of loosing clutch after clutch all season to snakes or hawks or Butcher Birds & nothing to show for all their trying at season's end.  For the life of me I can't figure out how their numbers increase as they seem to be the most inept of birds.

My bird books insist that male & female curlews share brooding duties but here the female seems to be always on the nest.  I know both birds look similar but the male is definitely far more aggressive. The female will hiss half heartedly if I get too close but the male will get his wings up, his neck down & out & start fussing. While she sits patiently enduring the mid~day sun or torrential downpours without complaint he is dozing in the shade.

All year our pair hang out together, moving from yard to yard & paddock to paddock, hissing gently to let us know they are under the tree by the clothesline if we don't see them, keeping their young close for quite a long time, but never venturing beyond some unseen boundary that marks the next pair's territory so we know their movements & habits reasonably well.

Last year I was particularly vigilant as they had nested on the block next to us & it was about to be built on.  To everyone's relief the chick was well hatched in plenty of time but sadly that was also the year they had a dud egg.  The only really good part was I got to see the egg up close & personal after it was abandoned.

So when I spotted a lone bird squatting like a stone stature in the middle of the paddock I knew it was that time of year again & though I won't constantly harass them I do like to get a quick look to see how many mum's got tucked under her wing & if they are all healthy.  Beside, they are such pretty chicks.

This year all is good.  Two pretty, healthy chicks. Seeing them gives me such pleasure.  They are endangered down south.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Much Aggravation.

Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy. Joseph Campbell

I don't like phones.  Phones are for extroverts.  Phones are for people who like talking to no purpose. Worse, they are an open invitation to people you would otherwise never speak to ~ like telemarketers.

Now we do have a national *DO NOT CALL* registry & we are on it.  Much good it does us.  We still get calls. They ring at dinner time.  Or when you're in the shower.  Or on the way out the door; here on your way out the door to catch a boat.

They aggravate me so much my phone manners have deteriorated. I was taught to answer the phone with the number & So & so speaking. Now I go: Yo? until I know who's on the other end. Then I speak bad French. Je ne comprends.  I refrain from the swear words they wouldn't understand anyway.

The older I get the less tolerant I am becoming of things that annoy me. Telemarketers annoy me. For one thing they are outsourced to countries who think they speak English but so accented it doesn't matter whether they do or not.  I still can't understand them. Often I can't decipher that one voice amongst all the background noise of a busy call centre either. As if it mattered.  I don't want what they're selling anyway. I don't want to donate to their charity.  I want to be left alone.

While I'm on the subject I loath being refered to as Mrs. I am NOT Mrs Anybody.  For one thing I don't generally use titles.  For another I kept my maiden name so refering to me by my husband's name infuriates me unreasonably.  That is my Mother in Law & she does not live here. Mrs My Name is my mother & she doesn't live here either. You don't know me: why are you calling me?

So you can imagine my joy on finding my internet provider has outsourced their technical support. *sigh*  I do not need someone apologising every other sentence.  I do not need an explanation as to why I am being asked to pull out my splitter. I do not understand no matter how you put it. I do not need some young techo inferring I am an idiot; I already knew that; that is why I am calling you.   I am old & grumpy.  All I need to know is Can you help me? & What do I need to do? as quickly as possible, Thank you! I don't want to be on the phone talking to you. I don't know you. I want my internet back... you know that place you can talk to people & they can't talk back ~ or at least where you can ignore them at your pleasure. That place.

No, my problem is not fixed despite much aggravation. I am looking at my phone as if it were some venomous snake. There should be a law against technology malfunctioning. Why isn't there?