Tuesday, 27 December 2016

December's End.

 After a week of lowering skies & thunder the sky flared with mare's tails, hot & muggy as Queensland summers are meant to be.  We are burning mosquito coils because the mosquitoes have arrived with the summer weather in black clouds so that it is impossible to work outdoors.

As the MOTH & I gave plants as gifts this year I had to go & dig & water, the hose waving wildly as I swatted bities.

Our garden is something of a mish~mash.  Like so much else it was begun before the MOTH broke his back & ground to a halt through the years we struggled from day to day & week to week to get him back on his feet, functioning, but only able to work from home.

I got our canopy in ~ essential as our west cooks, baking the ground like cement.  The canopy reduced our outside temp by about 15 degrees! I picked at the garden over the years but never really had the money to go for it full on, nor the time to devote to it while I was running all over Brisbane with the ODD. That has now changed.
 Some things remain unchanged.  We will never do much with the waterfront & embankment.  This harbours our wildlife & is rapidly becoming the final sanctuary for birds & beasts alike. The birds are cluey.  They know we have cats & there is always a watchman on guard duty at the birdbath.  Even so, the young birds are vulnerable.  They have not yet learned to be wary even of doey Marlow & just this morning I had to prise Marlow's jaws open to release a young friar bird ~ & you have to be pretty dopey to be caught by Marlow!

The half acre or so around the house is another matter, & good for the sort of arguments that break marriages.  The MOTH is a trained horticulturalist ~ a scientist, a specialist & a planner.  I am a gardener, unscientific & prone to produce chaos.  The bush house, the air plants & orchids are anathema to a soul that delights is abundance, lush greenness, wildness. Compromise has to be the name of the game we are neither of us good at!

Just the same we have begun under our northern windows with what we could agree on: azaleas!  I love their abundance of flower as much as I mourn their lack of fragrance but I seem to have finally convinced the MOTH that not all gingers will run rampant through the whole garden & we will get the most glorious fragrance!

Then there is the food! Latkes for Hanukkah ~ & I do love me some latkes, but apparently I drowned the sponge instead of soaking it so the trifle was exhorbitantly alcoholic for a family who rarely drinks anything stronger than butter beer ~ yes it is a thing though where ODD actually got the recipe I have no idea! Ours is a *tropical trifle* ~ or at least my version of it because nothing would induce me to add pineapple to something as wonderful as trifle. The alcohol is meant to be cointreau though any orange flavoured alcohol will do ~ & does as the cost of a bottle of cointreau is more than I am willing to pay! It won't be touched until next year either ~ & perhaps not even then.  It depends who's home.  Not all of mine like their trifle alcoholic.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Done & Dusted.

The nicest Christmas we ever had was the first year we did Hanukkah instead. It was relaxed, stress free & Christ centred. Ever since stuff has conspired to turn this into the 3 ring flea circus that is Christmas in Australia, further complicated by the fact our kids didn't grow up as PK's but now they are. *sigh*

As it turned out I wasn't even consulted this year.  The CG arrived home with baubles & strings of tinsel & fairy lights & proceeded to decorate ~ a proceeding promptly destroyed by Marlow who found the tree in his favourite napping place & sent it flying so he could, well, sprawl. Twice.  So the girl had to hide it practically behind the t.v set where both cats are still eyeing off the hanging baubles.

I put my Hanukkah candles in the kitchen window.  Not being Jewish I feel no need to have a *proper* menorah.  I just choose some pretty coloured candles & nice glass wax catchers & I found a lovely menorah card decoration on~line that I could size to fit behind each candle with the day's covenant reminder & bible reading & I just flip it over come sunset when I light the candles.  I was happy to be just me but surprisingly the MOTH has wanted to join me for the bible readings & has appreciated the candles, which he has deemed pretty & attractive lined up along the windowsill with all the greenery behind them.

So it's been a mix & muddle sort of year with different flavours but our kids are big & we only had two home so the pressure to conform is not there.  Libby, just wanted to enjoy her first Christmas @ home in 5 years, even going overseas for her church's carol night despite a burgeoning migraine.  I just wanted the least stress possible.

 I went nowhere, not even to the island carol night, for the first time ever.  I have been unhappy with the carol night the past few years.  The godly lady who began it & ran it died several years ago & since then it has degenerated into something I wouldn't want to take a small child to with questionable & suggestive songs & costuming. It is such a pity but another example of the secularisation of our society & the pagan influences driving the Christmas phenomenon.

Meanwhile ODD has been working 15 & 16 hour days from one performance event to another, & was in Toowoomba for Christmas Eve, singing in the mall.  She is welcome.  Absolute madness. T1 was in S.A with his wife's family but the OT arrived bearing a BBQ all prepared to set up for the big day only we woke to thunder & lightening & torrential rain so that was never happening.

Done & dusted for another year & I can't say I am sorry.  Wondering how many pieces people will have to put back together in the coming days, all in the name of a God they don't believe in.

Friday, 16 December 2016

One Fire Raging.

We went to the mainland Thursday: CG, Rabqa, me.  Mostly we were doing a hit & run on Koorong to pick up some teaching materials for next year but as we returned to the jetty, this is what we saw!

Only 2 options: Either it was Straddie or it was us.  It was us.  Huge fire in the middle of the island with a long front & spot fires happening as a wind gusting to 40+ knots fanned the flames. Ugh.

In 30 plus years here we have never seen a fire like this.  Being subtropical we tend to be more dampish during the fire season but this year has been both hot & dry with very strong winds that have blown nearly constantly.

Poor Rabqa arrived after they closed the roads with her cat locked in at home & both she & I praying like mad he would be safe.  I did feel the Lord say all was good but it was 7.30pm before they let those not in the fires immediate path through & then, much later that night, the fire came to within 150m of her place.  Much excitement we could all have done without with fire crews arriving from the mainland, bulletins coming up on what to do & evacuation centres, heaps of boys in blue, the IGA staying open till past midnight just in case ofs & an extra ambulance...

And after all that the firies did a super job.  No lives lost, no homes burnt.  The worst was a couple of sheds incinerated.  Meanwhile it wasn't affecting us at all as we are at the other end of the island, right out of harm's way, but the kids kept ringing [think they were peeved to be missing all the excitement] & I rang my mother before she saw the news & panicked.  Then I rang a lady we know in a wheelchair to make sure she was ok & I counted up how many beds we could conjure up just in case we got refugees.

It burnt out of control through the night but then the wind dropped, the fire got contained & we are now more or less back to normal.

The sad part is it was probably arson.  The bad fires usually are but what sort of a maniac thinks fires raging out of control burning everything in their path are fun?  Meanwhile I eyed my gutters full of leaves knowing full well we have so many trees that my gutter are the least of my concerns & they never stay clear anyway. Christmas in Australia.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Little Birds Flown.

The one thing you can say about life is that it never stays the same.  When you have as many children as we do it gets a little quirkier than most.

Those of you who have known me for years have heard me rant about the vagaries of Queensland roads [& Brisbane in particular] as we geared up for yet another concert in some inaccessible corner of Brisbane.  I do not miss that amount of stress in my life. The ODD is all on her own now but next year she should be employed full time in the music industry so has given up her teacher aide position on the island.  They have no~one else to teach instrument & voice so there goes another schools initiative program.  As a side note the inadequacies of the Qld ed music program, music being considered a *soft option* which must make anyone who has actually studied music howl with laughter, is one reason we homeschooled to the bitter end.

So the girl rounded up her music students for an end of career recital ~ to which I was invited.  Many, many moons ago ODD began her music career in the little island school band & choir, a big fish in a very tiny pond because in our house we took music seriously & if I was paying for instruments & lessons then by golly~gosh! that child was going to practise ~ & a child who practises their instrument will easily outshine all the children who don't. In our wonderful state system mostly they don't.

I had been deployed to pick up some goodies from the shops to feed the 1/2 dozen or so parents who might have been expected to show up.  No~one did.  I was it. With only weeks to go before summer break lessons are already winding down.  Why Qld schools insist on keeping every one in class while the thermometer threatens to go through it's top & the humidity reduces everyone to melting puddles of sweat I do not know, but they do.

One of the senior grades & I sat on hard benches to listen to a small repertoire from flutes, drums & ukuleles. I was amused. Firstly the girl was professionally outfitted in a little black dress. Secondly, aka Alison, each group was self~conducting.  Interesting as most of them seemed to have trouble with their counting & of course some were much better than others & some could actually read their music while others could not.

Just the same ODD seems to have done a pretty decent job with her flutes.  It is not a particularly easy instrument to get a decent sound out of & even the early fingering is quite difficult. Kudos to the girls.

As for the drums, ODD certainly doesn't play them & I had no idea she was teaching them but though the segments were short they also did ok.

The ukuleles were interesting.  Several of the children had only been learning for one or two weeks so some of the children got lost, some played one thing while the rest played something else entirely & only one child actually had the courage to sing along.  Interesting.  I applauded with aplomb.

ODD rounded up her various bits & pieces & that was that.  Nothing about her experience with public education makes her regret being homeschooled. End of an Era.

However T1 looks set to be returning to Brisbane in the new year.  He would be local, though not on the island, which would mean I will see a great deal more of my grandson than I have to date.  Waiting hopefully to hear if the job opening eventuates. It would seem that even once they are gone my children have a wonderful capacity for disrupting my life.