Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Senescence (2)

In 2011, I wrote a post called Senescence 
which was about the decline of the quality of my pop's life
in the immediate years after the death of my nan.

This past week I returned home to attend the funeral of my pop after his sudden passing.

This was not my pop that I wrote about 4 years ago.
This was my other grandfather,
the last of 16 siblings,
who died suddenly, just weeks short of his 90th birthday.

In less than the waking hours of a day,
my nan went from living at home with her husband of nearly 70 years
to living alone.

Though there were rarely displays of affection between them,
though they were disagreeable with each other
and progressed through each day with little variation to their basic routine,
it was born of their lives almost completely being spent together.

They had been together for so long
that they were part of the same package.
You didn't get one without the other.
I rarely spoke of them individually.
It was always "nan and pop"

Five days after his death,
all the ornaments in their unit were in their place,
the kettle was as ever ready to boil for a cup of tea
and nan sat in the chair that she sat in every day.

But the table was hidden by floral arrangements and sympathy cards,
 the fridge was stacked with food that had been dropped in by well wishers,
and the chair that always, always, had my pop sitting in when we went to visit was empty.
His room, down the hall, out of sight, was as he left it
but within days his children will take on the task of sorting the material remains of his life.

I have always felt a small part of me change, revert to being a little girl when in the presence of my grandparents,
remembering their significant presence in my childhood.

But things had changed.

My nan was so lost, fragile and grieving.
She looked so dimished at the funeral.
It is true when people say that someone seems to have shrunk over night.

A little girl with flushed cheeks and episodes of overwhelming bewilderment.

Her children and grandchildren were suddenly the responsible adults,
the ones offering solace and comfort, the organisers.

My other pop still lives in his home
but he shouldn't.

In the past few years, his mental deterioration has continued
and the physical decline is taking hold as well.

Old friends no longer visit.

His brother has recently died but no-one told him
and he wouldn't remember if they had.

He still has his cat for company but he forgets her name.
He forgets to let her inside and forgets to feed her.
He forgets to feed himself.

He spent much of my visit sitting and watching me
with the intensity and curiosity of a young child
lacking the knowledge of social politeness.

His manners are forgotten, his ability to remember basic living rituals nearly gone.

But luckily, he has progressed through belligerence and defensiveness
to a more gentle, passive demeanour
and a child-like innocence.

His resolve to stay in his own house can now be negotiated-
thankfully, as it is now a necessity.

Another aged person who I have such fond memories of
but who is nothing like the personality that shared my childhood.

Another one whose child has become his parent.

The next time I visit, I will be thankful that he will be in a home
where there will be the full time care that he needs.

I am hopeful that there will be a new spark of life, of interest in the world because of daily interaction with others

But I left with a heavy heart.

All the memories of my childhood,
of the prime of my nan and pop's life,
that are around the house will be sorted, packed, culled.

He will take very few with him
and that will matter little to him.
 I know that now they have little meaning for him.

They are only material goods but they represent lives that are no longer,
lives that have gone or are fading away.

There is a quote that has always resonated with me.

"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many" Anonymous.

But there are so many variables, so much "there but for the grace of God..." 
in our lives, that growing old can be the saddest thing.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Keeping the faith.

(www.youremyfavouritetoday.com)


We have entered that dangerous territory where
the two oldest children have admitted that the fairy dust has cleared
and that they no longer "believe".

Santa Claus? Easter Bunny? Tooth Fairy?
Nope. 
Not buying it anymore.

Our kids are pretty naive and we have had a pretty good run.

I have only forgotten the nudge the tooth fairy once
in the grand scheme of about 24 lost teeth.
The tooth fairy really needs to use the alarm on her smart phone 
a little bit more.

So far, not a single one of them has taken me up on my offer of wrapping it in thread,
attaching it to the door handle and slamming the door shut
but I am secretly happy about that.

In spite of the annual grumblings from Mr Boozle about how hard it is 
to sneak Christmas stocking onto the ends of beds
when they are laden with bells*,
we have never had to use our
"Just helping Santa out. He had to run- Rudolph was being a pain in the you-know-what" speech.

*It was cute when I was making them
and I will admit that I am into aesthetics rather than practicalities.
That's probably why we make a good team,
in those moments where we aren't exceedingly frustrated with each other.

I could have probably come up with some better explanations about
why the tooth fairy pays a different dividend to other kids.
The socioeconomic rationale didn't really sit well with the five year old.

Near the end of last year, the 9 and 11 year old offspring
admitted to their dad that they were no longer believers.

The oldest said that he lost a tooth at school
and didn't tell us.
The tooth fairy didn't come.

He told us the next day that he had lost a tooth and, lo and behold,
the tooth fairy dropped by that night.

Ergo tooth fairy = parents

(actually tooth fairy = mummy.
Credit where credit is due.)

Too bloody smart for his own good, I say.
Who needs to deal with that logic when you are trying to parent?

Like all good parents, 
we gave them the "Do the right thing and don't spoil it for your sister" chat.
The "If you don't believe, you don't receive"" spiel.

It was so far, so good... until this morning.

The constant tit for tat between the youngest two escalated this morning and
the middle child decided to tell his little sister that 
none of them were real.

She is luckily easily persuaded to believe what she wants
and, when talking to her about dicey topics, she can be easily distrac...oh, look, a rainbow.

Somewhat surprisingly, her oldest brother then saved the day when he contributed this pearl of wisdom:

Hey. They are like God. They rely on faith. They exist if you believe in them.

If you look up one of those books about birth order personality characteristics,
my kids' names would be right there in print.

I know the most Prime Ministers were first born children.

But I wonder if the most frequent child cut from their parents' wills
for being little s*$ts were middle kids.


(www.someecards.com)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dear Mr Facebook.


(www.techxplore.com)

You win, Mr Facebook, you win.

It is under some self-imposed duress
but I have finally created a Facebook account.

I had been proactively ignoring FB
for a few years now-
which is a big thing for me
because I am always heavily influenced by peer pressure.

 I felt that if I avoided FB
I would be condescendingly superior in my mental- and possibly physical- survival
when the lights went out
and most of the human population (or their brains anyhow) shrivelled up
from social media withdrawal.

It wasn't about privacy.
I have been blogging and using chat rooms for a few years now
and think that I have reached a nice balance of common sense and paranoia.

I know not to announce when we will be away for the holidays,
print my bank account numbers,
or scan in my kids' birth certificates. 

I am in thick with Mr Google and Mr Flickr
(though Mr Google Translate and I have a strained relationship
which is helped by copious amounts of alcohol
only because I could then care less
about his so-called translations)

Besides, when I search for a hotel room on my computer
and you, Mr FB- 

I can call you Mr FB, can't I?
I feel like we are buddies now.
After all, I have been signed up for nearly 24 hours now
so you must know what type of toothpaste I am using 
and what I think of Tony Abbott knighting Prince Phillip-

can then put a sponsored post on a facebook page 
to let me know that the room is still available,
I think that Big Brother aint got nothing on you
and hide information as we might,
you are leaching out of us as we sleep.

The World Wide Web, technology and social media really is amazing.

When I was growing up,
my folks had to go into a bank sometime Monday to Friday,
between 10am and 3:30pm or they had no currency to live on.

And, hey, wait for this one-
if you got invited to something, 
it was handwritten
AND you had to hand write a reply back.
No texting or FB to invite 3000 of your closest friends
and no texting or FB to reply.

This one was before you were born 
and you might not believe it but
as a high school girl, I had a pen-pal who lived in Ireland.
She would write to me on paper and put in a photo
and I would do the same back to her.

So tedious and time consuming
whereas these days I could snap a photo of my
morning toast and Vegemite
and FB it to her 
in less time than it took me to make it.

I know that you are the big Kahuna of social media.
And there is a lot out there to be the big Kahuna of.

To you, Quechup, Plurk and Blauk
are mere smears of chewing gum on the soul of your oversized WWW runners.

And to me, they are the noises your body makes after a particularly spicy curry.

But to people who are looking for friends or a date,
or micro-blogging updates
or who simply want a place to share some anonymous secrets,
they are an important part of their lives.

I realise now, that if you are religious, brunette University student
who knits but doesn't eat green vegetables
or believe in global warming,
there is a social media site designed especially for you.

You are there to keep people communicating.
I get that, you know, FB-

May I call you FB?
I've been signed up for 24 hours and 5 minutes now 
and Mr is just so formal
and given that joining you means that I don't have to send those formal
(yet personal) Christmas cards anymore
or those snail-mail delivered (albeit personal) birthday cards anymore
or even holiday postcards now that I can smart-phone a snap instantly
in front of the Big Lobster on our way down the coast,
I feel that we can dispense with all formality.

(en.wikipedia.org)

But I am not sure the way that you are encouraging people to communicate
is entirely a good thing.

So, Facey, my mate-

You don't mind being called Facey, do you?
It might catch on.-

just in case you didn't work it out for yourself
(though you probably did)
my primary reason for signing up (and possibly signing away my life and my identity)
was for retail therapy.

My husband can only sign up for so many fabric groups 
and buy so much yarn before his mates
reassess his Alpha male status.

(Though admittedly Mr Boozle being an Alpha male
has probably never crossed the mind of anyone who has seen him in lycra)

So here I am.

I have some people in my life, near and far,
who I will value keeping in touch with so easily.
I daresay that I will even find- or be found by- other people
who it will be lovely to have a cyber coffee with.

But I have no interest in how many friends I have.
It's about quality, not quantity.
I want to keep in touch with people who matter to me
or who are important to me.

So can you help me out here?
Because I can't seem to find the button for the passive-aggressive Facebookers.

For those of us who don't want to offend anyone by ignoring a friend request
but also don't want to be friends with all and sundry.

So we would end up friending people 
just so that we don't have to lie awake at night worrying that we might have offended them
but because we have friended them,
we lie awake at night bitching and moaning about the fact
that we have done just that.

See the dilemma?
So, if you could get back to me about that one,
I'd really appreciate.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tinsel, tummies and trajectories.

(thoughtsinlittleboxes.files.wordpress.com)

Last year I shared with you that
our house knows that Christmas is fast approaching 

This year they have upped the ante.

This year they are vomiting fur balls of tinsel.

This year we might well be spending 25th December
at a vet clinic pulling Christmas tinsel out of a cat's tummy
instead of spending it at a family dinner table
pulling Christmas crackers.

My only consolation is that it is prettier than your average fur ball.

That and the fact that I don't think that there are any other orifices
left to expel tinsel from.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

I am thankful.


Today I packed a box.
Tomorrow I will take it to the post office
so that it can make its way to Sydney
and its contents can then be sent on to the Philippines 
in time for Christmas.

I have spent most of this year waiting 
to be able to make that trip to the post office.
It seemed clear through the year how I would blog about this project
as a simple "look what I did" post
but I realise now that there are many aspects 
that I need to or at least want to put in writing.

So I will.

In that box are 75 dresses that I have sewn this year
for distribution.


This statement alone lends itself to several comments
about me and about this project.

1. I really don't like making the same thing over and over.

2. I tend to be obsessive and compulsive.

3. I have a shitload of fabric that I will never, ever live long enough to sew up.

4. The extent of my compulsiveness and the extent of my fabric stash
outweighed the fact that I don't like to make the same thing even twice
and sometime back near the start of the year
(when I was possibly inebriated, sleep deprived 
or high on icecream)
I thought it was a good idea to cut out 75 dresses.

I have said for a couple of years that I would sew some dresses
for this campaign so perhaps I felt like I had to pull my digit out
and make a real effort.



5. Mr Boozle is proud of my project
but is crying because he can't see any dent in my fabric collection.

6. You can listen to a lot of musical theatre and audio books
while you sew this many dresses.

I thought a lot while I was sewing.
Sometimes, particularly while I was doing the bias,
the thought process involved a lot of swear words.
But there were other things ticking over in my head.

7. I am blessed and I am grateful.
I live in a wonderful country.
I am married to a good bloke
and yes, while I do want to send my kids off to military school on a daily basis,
I am so lucky to have them and I do love them.
My family are generally in good health and we have each other.
I am lucky to have the time and resources to put into this project.

8. When did the human race become so unequal?
Now that most of us don't have the evolutionary pressures
of avoiding starvation or becoming dinner to a sabre tooth tiger
and making sure that we live long enough to breed,
are we evolving in a direction that isn't great for mankind as a whole?
Are we looking evolving to be more selfish and
more self absorbed?
How did it get to be that so many people on this planet have so little?

9. Giving is good for you.
There are mental and physical benefits to doing good things for other people.
You have lower blood pressure.
You will probably live longer.
You have better self esteeem.
Depression is less likely.

Search the web. There is article after article.


10. My children have everything that they need
and a lot of what they want
(so their wish for a house walking distance from Disneyland 
hasn't been granted but I am sure that they wont hold that against us
once they reach adulthood)

We sponsor a child through World Vision;
we make donations to Kiva as a family;
we remind them that they have lives to be thankful for.

And I got to share with this project with them.
Why I was doing it.
Who I was doing it for.
How hard-working and generous the people who collect
and distribute these dresses are.

Hopefully some of it will stick.


We can all do things for others.
Little things, maybe bigger things.
But things to show that we care.

We should all take the time to put our lives into perspective.
We all have problems that are real
but hopefully most of us are thankful 
that we are who we are 
and that we live where we do.


I am not looking for praise for completing this project.

I am embarrassed that it took me so long to get off my arse and do it.
I am relieved that I have fulfilled my promise to myself.
I am grateful that I have the life that I have
and that it has allowed me to do this.
I am hopeful that this is just that start of combining my love of craft
with making a contribution to the happiness of others.

I need to remember to appreciate what I have and
to do what I can do for others.

I need to be thankful every day.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Computer security fail.



(www.extremetech.com)

My 11 year old son accessed his dad's computer today.

No password.
No hacking.

He accessed it because the facial recognition let him pass.

Genetics 1 - technological advancements 0

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

School lunch orders will never be the same again


Where I grew up,
Fandangle was not a word that you'd think of -or want-
associating with children's icecream.



I am guessing that Peters' marketing gurus didn't grow up where I did.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Humanity.


This post is probably not going to be very structured.
The thoughts have been swirling in my head for the past few days...

(www.blogs.cofc.edu)

I don't think anyone has passed through the past 5 days 
with shaking their heads, clenching their fists, tearing over or crying 
at the pure tragedy of those lost people of flight MH17. 

Yet, while we are consumed by grief and outrage,
hundreds more have died in the Gaza War this week while
more than 200 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have been spirited away
to who-knows-where.
We are sympathetic and we are saddened.

But, of course, those souls on that plane are the ones that resonate with us.
In the same way that those lost in the Bali Bombings, on September 11th
or those missing on flight MH370 did.

We can't relate to living in a war zone or fleeing persecution in desperation.
Or dying because of famine or lack of basic medical intervention.

But, of course, people flying home from holidays,
flying to a conference, to a new job, to visit family or friends...
that's just so normal to us.

We just can't deal with the reality that any one of those people
could have been a family member, a friend or a workmate.
Or anyone of them could have been us.

We try to comprehend what they went through.
What their families and friends are going through.
We re-read and dwell on the stories that could be ours.
We shield our children from the news
as we wonder how whole families,
whole schools, whole communities don't have that same luxury.

We are haunted.

All of our known history has been punctuated with atrocities, 
perpetuated by human beings against human beings.

Those responsible have been 
desperate, extreme, indoctrinated, grieving,
angry, unstable, greedy.

They have committed acts because of religious or political beliefs,
because of ethnic or racial or sexual differences,
because they wanted more, they wanted something different,
because they thought that they were better,
because their minds were twisted.

Sadly it will continue to happen.

New lines seem to be drawn in the sand with each tragedy.

I wonder if suddenly, with that one missile,
 strangers rifling through the personal belongings of those perished, still lying unattended nearby,
is suddenly going to be more tolerated the next time something like this happens.
That there is just a little more desensitization to such callous actions.

Human beings, with our apposable thumbs and forefingers,
our intelligence, our emotions,
and our perceived superiority to the animals on this earth,
can really fuck things up when we get it wrong,
whether it be by accident or by deliberate wrong doing. 

Sometimes the term "humanity" just doesn't seem to make sense.

Whether or not you believe there is something waiting for us after our last breath,
most of us agree that this is the only breathing life that we are going to get
and most people have no idea how long it is going to last.

Friday's tragedy has emphasized that.

I know everyone right now
is hugging their loved ones
and saying "I love you" more than usual.

I also know that the platitudes of living each day like it could be your last
are inspiring but ultimately reality kicks in
and most of us need to keep moving through our necessary daily rituals
without being able to think so big.

So go out, stand in the sun and listen to the birds.
Make eye contact with people. Interact. Smile at people. Say "Hi".
Stand up for yourself, for others.
Be kind. Be generous.  Be gracious.
Be a good human being.
Show that for the sheer majority, 
we humans are worthwhile beings
and that this planet and all of its inhabitants are in good hands.

There may be nothing more than fate 
to decide how long you will be here for
so, each day, keep being the best that a human can be.

We can obliterate that line in the sand each time
so that it wont be any more acceptable the next time such an atrocity happens.

(www.gobbledygooksoflife.wordpress.com)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Keep calm and place more blocks.



Sometime, I daresay in the not-so-distant future,
 my (more than likely adolescent) son will throw the
"You don't ever do anything for me" line at me.

I'm ready.

I'll throw back the
"Do you know exactly little square blocks of chocolate cake I cut up and iced to make
that Minecraft cake for your 11th birthday?"


Admittedly, that might be only after the
 "Do you know what trauma and irreparable damage my pelvic floor 
and nether regions went through giving birth to you?" line
(though Mr Boozle and I are currently negotiating at what age my offspring
need to be before I use that for the less than moral use of emotional blackmail).

But it will be a close call.

Because they were both excruciating.


One day, I might get over the trauma of natural childbirth 
but I will never get over icing all those bloody cake blocks .


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lemon Shortcake. A substitute for John Barrowman.


(www.telegraph.co.uk)

I am in a slump this week.
I am trying to cope with the fact that John Barrowman
is actually in the same country as I am but I am not going to be able to stalk meet him.

 I have turned to baking to deal with my depression.

(Needless to say that the kids are happier with that
than if their mum gone AWOL interstate to chase down my celebrity crush.
Probably not least because few people get arrested for cooking in their kitchen.
Stalking, on the other hand...)

If anyone else is feeling a bit down,
about John Barrowman or anything,...
climate change, our prime minister, the cold weather, another grey hair...
or even if you are just a fan of tangy lemon recipes,
this is for you.

(No insipid citrus flavoured cooking happening here...)

BEST EVER LEMON BUTTER SHORTCAKE

Filling-

120 grams melted butter
1 cup castor sugar
lemon rind (as much as you like)
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 cup lemon juice

Place butter, sugar and rind into non-reactive saucepan.
Strain eggs and lemon juice into other ingredients.
Cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pastry-

2 cups self raising flour
1 cup castor sugar
120 grams chilled butter, cubed
2 eggs

Process (or rub in) butter, sugar and flour till sandy.
Add eggs to make pastry.
Do not overwork.

Line and grease a springform tin or similar.
Place 2/3 of pastry into base and press down.
Pour hot filling over.
Scatter remainder of pastry mix over.

Optional-
Scatter 1/2 cup almonds or macadamias over.



Cook at 180 degrees Celcius for appromiately 40 minutes.

Cool before removing from tin.



Enjoy.

Surely, it's almost as good as a hug from Captain Jack himself.

(www.forum.gateworld.net)