Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Meditations from Sunday's Solitude.

"And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed" Isiah 40:5

We are moving into Advent. We are coming to Christmas & as always I find myself returning again & again to Isiah for ''Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?''

Two words remain:

Shekinah; God's presence, the dwelling place of God.

apaugas: radience.

There are two places you can read about God's Skekinah described; in Ezekiel chapter one & in the gospels. Ezekiel reads like a Tolkien epic. Fantastic but largely incomprehensible. In the gospels God's shekinah is revealed for us. That is the full message of Christmas. Just two words: God's glory, His presence, His radience, revealed to us ~ & in us.

... and now for something different.

"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." –Gen. George S. Patton
All the rain we've had has been very good for my garden. Lookit what we're growing! Really truly watermelon. The vine is running rampant & while not much fruit has set as of yet we have plenty of flowers so I am hopeful, especially if the rain keeps up.
Not having been home for a week it was an absolute pleasure to wander through my garden in the cool of the evening & find there was so much ready to pick: capsicum, beans & the first of the cucumbers! Liddy saw the cucumbers & declared them *store quality* They also didn't make it to the table before people were helping themselves. I have a lot of fruit set so we will have a glut of the things before too long & then no~one will want to eat them. The kids are eating the nectarines. I really need to prune that tree & fertilize it properly once the fruit has finishedThen when Ditz & I went to the car to go for Liddy we found this. I know it is a little hard to see but the lump beside Ditz's hand is an emperor gum moth, which can grow as large as 6cm & have a wing span of 120~150mm [up to 5'']. This was a male. They are larger & have distinctive feathery antennae. Once hatched from the cocoon they can't feed so have to rely on their stored energy to complete their life cycle of mating & reproducing so have a pretty short lifespan .
This one ended up as lunch for the butcher bird. I'm fond of butcher birds but they're carnivores & have some pretty grotty habits. There is a reason they are called butcher birds. Ditz was hoping the moth would still be there to show Liddy but as soon as we left the butcher bird returned for his snack & it was long gone by the time we got home.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Meet me at the Ferris Wheel.

He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities. Benjamin Franklin
Designed to be part of the Word Expo '88 this monstrosity
sits outside the Playhouse theatre. It's unmistakable so I guess is a good landmark & the Japanese tourists love photographing it. It is also expensive ~ $1~ a minute = $15~ for 15 minutes. I'm told the views are spectacular but I don't like heights & Liddy didn't like the cost so we didn't go on it but every day this is where we met & watched busloads of Japanese tourists unload & begin photographing the thing. Strange.

The kids all congregated on the Playhouse steps waiting for their stage manager to escort them down the side of the building to the stage door. Ditz insisted on taking us backstage last night. Very funny. I've been backstage before but Liddy was shocked. Slothing in luxury, she is quoted as saying, & mightily peeved because soccer never provided a pool table, vending machines , bottled water & luxurious chairs. I guess soccer stars don't throw he same sort of tantrums that show biz stars do.

This is the bridge at the end of Grey street, one of three that Liddy managed to cross last week. We figured given enough time she'd find her way over all 12 of them! She managed to cross a different bridge every night & we have no idea how she managed it! Driving with Liddy is certainly an adventure. The only time I got a mite peeved was the toll bridge. We paid twice to go nowhere. For some strange reason Brisbane boasts about having more bridges across its dirty little river than any other Australian city. I'm sure there's a reason for that but I have no idea what.

I find Brisbane an odd city. There is the river, which competes with Melbourne's Yarra for being brown & dirty. Being a Sydney girl & used to the pristine blue of the harbour I find it really hard to get enamoured of something as brown & ugly as the Brisbane River but Brisbanites seem to be quite fond of it. That being the case I have never understood Southbank.

Now don't get me wrong. Southbank is lovely. It is refreshing to walk through the 17 hectares of subtropical parklands or the boardwalk beside the river, or to catch a ferry from one of the many jetties. But don't you think it a tad odd that the council then built a manmade beach & lagoon right next to the river? It is hugely popular but I still think it is a really peculiar thing to do. The wildlife has no objections.

The restaurants, all 30 of them, I do understand. They do a roaring trade at night.
My mother came for the matinee performance on Saturday.
We waited for her on the Playhouse steps. [I never asked but that's probably illegal too. We seem to have done a lot of that this week] She arrived shortly after we did looking immaculate as always & peering about anxiously for her entrance. Luckily after a week in town we knew where the important things like food & loos were, though I don't recommend the Parkland loos. They have sand all over the seats & wet puddles on the floor from all the little swimmers who use them~ which is a good thing & not to be sneezed at. Far better than just piddling in the water that everyone else wants to swim in.

Ditz, who was excited to have Liddy & I in her audience last night, could barely contain herself at having Ma come down to watch her performance. She has made it big time if Ma will part with good money to come & watch her! Strange child. She was & introduced Ma to half of Vocal Manouevres before we could escape. We took Ditz to eat after the performance & then walked Ma back to her train. It was a very brief meeting but not having seen her for a few months lovely just to see her & catch up
It was 1 am before we all got to bed last night. Poor old Lid is working today & looked like death & high water as I walked her out the door this morning. That's certainly how I feel & Ditz, lucky girl, is still very soundly asleep. I am having a very quiet day before I deal with the nightmare of flute exams. I can't wait for the holidays!

Friday, November 28, 2008

We are almost done. Everyone is so tired & the girls had a ding~dong go at each other in the car coming home last night. Rather spoilt what had been a pleasant evening up until that point. Liddy making a wrong turn & taking us into town & over the Gateway Bridge, heading north towards my mum, did not help things. Our friends in blue were out in vast numbers too making her incredibly paranoid. These things happen but Liddy got anxious & then tended to speed & speed doesn't make Ditz a happy Ditz. She said so, which was unfortunate. Liddy was already scratchy & no~one was in the frame of mind to reel in their emotions & remember to behave in a Christ~like manner ~ or see the thing from the others point of view. Whatever I said I was being unjust, unfair & unsympathetic...oh, & blaming whoever I was talking too. I just love being the meat in the sandwich. I think everyone was hungry & needed to eat.

We had no trouble getting in this time. I have made a note of all the trouble points & managed so Liddy avoided getting into trouble. Liddy & I dropped Ditz of, parked the car, checked the theatre lock out times & walked through Southbank eating icecream, much more pleasant with company than on my own as I have been doing all week. We got back to the Playhouse in plenty of time & wandered up to the lounge which doesn't have half bad views & sports a substantial bar though Liddy thinks my propensity for people watching should be curbed in public places. The whole point of people watching is being in public!

We enjoyed the concert very much. The band conductor was a little round man who bobbed & wobbled as he waggled his stick about. The mandolin conductor looked anorexic, jerked his bows stiffly as if he wished us all somewhere else, & tried to pretend none of us where there. He didn't use a baton but wafted his hands about in the most fascinating way. The guest male singers were all from the Ten Tenors & had me riveted. No, I'm not musical but musicians fascinate me with the things they do. Every single one of them bent at the knees as they breathed in then rose on their toes as they breathed out. It was all I could do not to disgrace myself with a fit of the giggles. Ditz does the same thing with her flute. Breathe in, the flute bobs down then swings up as she releases the air & it's all done in time! Weird.

We began with the orchestra doing a medley of carols. The audience was tending to be noisy & we were anxiously awaiting Ditz's appearance. They were so noisy the first notes of Hodie Christus Natus est were lost. The kids sing this a Capella though we had a harp last night. Then suddenly everyone heard them & there was this astonished silence. It really is a showpiece choice. The kids sound ethereal. Ditz was up the back, as I knew she would be, because of her height & hard to spot.

At interval Liddy struck up a conversation with the old gentleman beside her. Yes, he told her, he'd been to every Christmas Concert for the last ten years. Some were excellent, some not so good. What did he think of the Vocal Manoeuvres kids? Liddy enquired injudiciously. I would never have asked that particular leading question. Oh, they should have sung in English & chosen something more Christmassy & in the spirit of the festive season. I sniggered into my program while Liddy was forced to admit her sister was one of the singers & jabbing me with her elbow. Nothing, Liddy complained to me later, about the quality of the music or how they sounded! Oh well. You can't please everyone & we appreciated it.

My mother is coming for the matinee performance today, Ditz has the evening performance & we are all done. Any more of this & I think my girls would literally come to blows. Dearest is feeling neglected. The cat's off his tucker & moping & I am just plain exhausted. I need a week to recover & I won't get it. Oh well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's not just me!

Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves? Robin Williams

I feel sooo much better!

You see, I am not the most practical person in my house. Just about everyone else [barring Ditz] has got a far better grasp on the practicalities of life than I do. I'm your woman if you want to philosophise, or fantasise, or discuss any of numerous obscure topics in depth & detail but I am likely to stand & watch the dinner burn while I do it. So in many ways Liddy is already a better driver than I will ever be. She has a far better sense of direction. She reads a map without having to turn it round to orientate herself. She is supremely confident. She is pretty scathing about her directionless, unmap reading, under confident mother....And she has got her just deserts!

Having been in meltdown all week about driving through Brisbane I couldn't even work up the indignation to be miffed that my whole family thought so little of my abilities they connived to have Liddy do the driving on Wednesday. I was merely relieved.

We left in plenty of time. Liddy shot through all the back roads that only confuse & disorientate me. Ditz buried herself in her sister's I~pod & I felt small. We were 1/2 way to town before Liddy deigned to come out onto the road I've been travelling all week & I began to recognize my landmarks. Not that she had gained anything. My route is actually quicker despite the fact I potter at 1/2 Liddy's pace. Just the same we were doing well & the traffic was moving forward steadily.

I tried to warn Liddy that our turn offs were not quite so simple as they look on the map. I warned her about all the one way streets. I warned her that it would be peak hour when we hit town. Obviously mother was in meltdown mode so Liddy ignored all this sage advice. *hear me snigger*

Oh yes! One wrong turn was all it took. The look on Liddy's face when she realised how far she had to travel before we could back track & how circuitous our route had to be was absolutely priceless! She was not a happy little driver. We found ourselves about to head over one bridge but managed to avoid disaster. We sat for an hour & a half while the traffic moved forward by inches. Ditz's call time came & went. We took twenty minutes to crawl the last 2 streets. When we finally pulled in to QPAC it was after 6pm. Liddy threw us out & toddled off to park in a loading zone while I hustled Ditz down the alley to the stage door. Brisbane's layout is conducive to breeding criminals prepared to perform any illegal act to get a park. *sigh*

Got Ditz's name marked off & watched her head through the big swing doors & *follow the blue arrows* backstage. Poor kid. After yesterday she didn't even want to be there last night, begged me to let her stay home, said anything was better than facing Alison's wrath. Commitments are commitments so she got bundled up willy~nilly with her choir robe & her white shirt freshly starched & ironed, her shoes polished, her hair sprayed & her mama's blessing.

Liddy had spent the waiting time by profitably investigating the map & we managed to find our town friends with a minimum of trouble, had a pleasant hour chatting then braved the streets again. We arrived at QPAC with 10 minutes to spare, parked [illegally] & I shot out of the car to hunt up Ditz. As I was crossing the park the ticket men arrived, bailed me up, & very nicely informed me that we couldn't park there & they were about to start issuing tickets. Ugh! Back I went to Liddy & we began the hunt for street parking.

You have no idea! I have been to London & Paris both & nothing compares to the awfulness of Brisbane. They should be embarrassed given that they are the state capital. Liddy found herself crossing yet another bridge. At this point Liddy lost it. While I was still trying to direct her enough to enable us to turn round & head back across the bridge Liddy said, 'You know what...' & began a three point turn in the middle of the freeway!!!! Yikes. But she was committed. Nothing for it but to let her finish it. Honestly I was thanking God there was no copper round to see her ~ & no traffic either.

We headed back down Grey street but Liddy had rattled herself enough to simply pull into the left turning lane in front of the last park [naturally there were no spare parks] & stop. I wasn't happy but didn't see how else we were to get Ditz in time. I ran! I may as well have saved my breath. Ditz has no watch & the stage hand had lost track of the time. They were nearly 15 minutes late. Meanwhile Liddy was having a serious meltdown of her own & when the car behind her pulled out she reversed back into the parking space ~ which, quite frankly, I have no problem with given it was down to a choice of illegal activities by then & like I said she actually drives quite well, certainly well enough to reverse into a spare parking space.

With Ditz safely in tow I relaxed. We have never had any trouble getting home again ~ but then Liddy wasn't driving either. Luckily by then the traffic was so light it was not a major drama to re route ourselves & we made the 9 pm boat again, which was a jolly good thing. We have all well & truly had enough of town.

Just the same it is nice to know it's not just me & on the whole other drivers seem to be having the same sort of problems. Liddy followed one bloke into the bus transit lane. She was able to reverse out; he went through & lane hopped. I felt for him At least I can put my idiosyncrasies down to having a blonde moment but blokes don't seem able to do that. When Liddy found herself in the wrong lane & needing to get across 4 lanes of traffic the bloke beside her wouldn't let her in but every single other car let her through. Yes we saw plenty of drivers making a last minute lunge for the correct lane! One poor bloke shot through a red light. I'm pretty sure he never even saw it. Like Liddy he was just following the traffic & the only reason she didn't follow him through was I'd seen it & yelled a warning. Then there were all the cars lane changing. Liddy was making snarky comments about their driving & how it wasn't going to get them anywhere faster [oops!] when I suggested she might like to follow suit in order to avoid the parked car.

The thing about being a driver who is being driven by somebody else, especially if that somebody else is a learner, is that you still drive the car without the benefit of the brakes. Both Liddy & I were sweating profusely before we were done. Liddy doesn't drive quite the same way as I do ~ & that is not always a good thing. I am a far more cautious driver & far less likely to get het about the wacky things other drivers do. After yesterday Liddy may be a little more tolerant in the future...but somehow I doubt it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Music inflames temperament ~ Jim Morrison.

Another day. The rain is drizzling down again. After crawling through town yesterday in peak hour traffic & completely unable to find parking I parked illegally & sat in the car. When the nice ticket lady came round I gave her the sob story about being from out of town [which is true] & not being able to find parking. She was very nice but told me that as I was parked in a loading zone & was only supposed to be there for two minutes not to get out of the car! [I should like to point out that said loading zone was all the parking behind QPAC that is only used for the markets on Sunday but we're not supposed to park there anyway. What a waste when parking is in such sort supply! All the lovely people I watched go into the concert hall got tickets.]

At some point I knew I would have to get out of the car & go & get Ditz. That being the case I braved the traffic again. This was not one of my better ideas. Firstly the traffic had in no way dissipated as there was an Australian idol concert in Southbank & a concert at the concert hall & no~one could find parking! I'm a Sydney girl. I figured I could drive in a grid pattern, not get lost, & have plenty of time to walk back for Ditz. As if Brisbane would ever be half so accommodating! It is an absolute warren of one way streets. Unfortunately most of them take you away from the direction you want to go. There are something like 7 bridges across the Brisbane River. I crossed at least one of them & nearly died. Have I mentioned how much I hate Brisbane? Time was a~ticking away & I began to worry I'd never find Ditz again, let alone the road home. Round & round I went like a rat in a maze then I saw it! A familiar street! Unfortunately I couldn't get to it. Round & round I went some more, finally found a road going the right way & found myself bailed up by the police!

Look, I know they've got the world's worst job & that they are only doing their job, but the sight of a blue uniform flagging me down brings on a massive guilt complex & you do not want to know the half of what I'd been doing in Liddy's car trying to find my Ditz. Logic was long gone. There is no way I had been busted driving illegally [what does it say about Brisbane drivers that I wasn't even getting honked at?] but I nearly ran the poor man down in my anxiety. He poked this little thing like a whistle at me & asked me to blow. I looked at him like he was insane. Seriously. I'm driving a child round town & he thinks I'm going to tipple on top of that? Drinking has never been my thing though I will concede that on occasions I drive as if I have been drinking. In the 30 odd years I have been driving I have never been breathalysed before either so I had no idea what I was doing. I was asked to breath harder. He had to be joking. I was hyperventilating so much it was a wonder I was breathing at all.

Finally released I scuttled into the original parking space thinking unmentionable things about Brisbane & feeling that it was worth a ticket to have parking & somewhere familiar. As I rushed to get my Ditz the police car cruised past me. I was beyond sanity. The one thought in my head was to grab my child & bolt for the safety of my little island haven.

Worse was to come. Ditz appeared battle worn & swearing that however bad my evening had been hers had been worse. The ensemble had been yelled at for 3 hours solid. Ditz says it was so awful some kids will not come back next year. I am not surprised about the yelling. The influx of public school kids has not been good for the ensemble. They were loud & obnoxious & not prepared [which I knew from standing about waiting for the stage hand to come & escort them backstage] & Alison got some very negative feedback. I had an e~mail for Ditz in my in~box this morning, the sort of e~mail I definitely would not like to receive. Now is not a good time for Ditz to display any artistic temperament of her own. Alison is not a happy lady.

I've done enough theatre work to know that nothing is less child friendly than theatre & music more than most. You have to be professional. No allowances are made. So this morning I have to go & buy starch & safety pins, hair spray & bobby pins & hope that I'm not allergic to whatever spray we get all because a few of the girls could not get their act together. To say nothing about the fact Ditz has been carrying a 1/2 dozen white shirts in her bag because other girls don't have one & her make~up supply is almost gone thanks to people borrowing it because they don't have their own. Ditz's make~up is just for ensemble, not for every day, so I am not a happy mummy. It's expensive & my child is not in a private school.

On the other hand, despite persistently making a wrong turn every single time we've gone in to town, we are finding our way home again with very little trouble, so much so we made the earlier boat last night! Yay! And despite the yelling & having to go up & down the stairs a zillion times & despite how hot it got under the lights & the choir robe making her broiling hot so that she nearly fainted on stage [take with a pinch of salt; this is Ditz we're talking about] Ditz sang all the way home so things can' have been impossibly bad.

One more rehearsal to go & then the concerts! I can't wait to be all done.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My family loves me.

A mother's treasure is her daughter. ~Catherine Pulsifer

My family loves me ~ yes they do. They have been talking about me behind my back, fretting over me as if I were some rare & delicate porcelain in danger of being damaged. They have a well developed sense of self preservation. It is not good for them when mummy starts to lose the plot big time. And I thought I was doing so well...

Well, I think I'm doing well & everyone just wants to keep it that way! Dearest knows full well that if it wasn't for his broken back he'd be doing the driving in & out of town for Ditz. Liddy wants to do the driving; hours, she needs all the hours she can get. So Dearest talked to Liddy & Liddy talked to her manager & the upshot is she starts extra early on Wednesday so she can drive into town for us. Her manager didn't even quibble. 'That'll be for Ditz, won't it?' Everyone knows about Ditz.

Frankly I think Liddy's just peeved that she's missing out on something. I can't think what. From either Ditz's or my viewpoint it's all pretty boring but whatever. I know I will appreciate the company. That means I will only be on my own Tuesday & Thursday.

It's all very well for people with money. They can go & take in a show or have a decent feed somewhere but all my spare cash is going on getting Ditz & I in & out each day. There is nothing over for luxuries so that limits how I can spend my time while waiting & being town everything is even more expensive. Having someone to do nothing with is so much more fun.

Dearest is breathing a sigh of relief. He prefers his women to travel in a pack & is happiest when we are all together. He thinks that is how things should be. Occasionally when the hormones get out of control he has second thoughts but mostly he prefers that we stay together.

And then there is Iss, who is peeved beyond measure at all these prolonged absences & made his displeasure known last night by parking his substantial behind behind the car when I was leaving to pick Liddy up from work. I removed him twice & he shot straight back. Being a Himalayan/Burmese mix stubbornness is rooted deep in his genes so I picked him up & shoved him in the car with Ditz. I fully expected he would squawk & protest all the way to the shop & back but there is nothing remotely normal about that cat. So long as he was with his people he was prepared to enjoy the ride & just got more & more owl eyed. I'm telling you, this is not normal cat behaviour! Most cats hate like poison being in a moving car & make their dislike known with loud yowls. Not Iss. He was curious as a mongoose about everything, sitting up as tall as he could on his haunches to get a better view of all that was going on. Weird. That animal is so weird.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The quiet between the storms.

Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway. ~Emory Austin

I had decided last week that we would not school this week. It has been a wise decision. Ditz was so tired last night she was completely silent in the car coming home. This is almost unheard of. She didn't want to talk about the rehearsal. She didn't want to sing. When I found the sign posts that would take us home she put away the refedex & simply sat.

Not only was she tired but she was bored to distraction & rehearsal ran overtime. I began to worry about getting home in time to pick Liddy up from work. She is also tired. Need I say my house is not the pleasantest place to be this morning?

Dino took Ditz out crabbing with him & this was the best thing that could have happened for Ditz; a complete change of pace, doing not waiting, & as they got a haul of crabs pretty exciting as well. This morning she wants to quit everything: choir, violin, flute. Everyone wants her to do something just now & I guess Ditz is feeling a little overwhelmed. We did not need to try & school on top of this. Commitments are commitments so Ditz is in for the entire ride but boy was it tempting to say, 'Sure, ring Alison & tell her your quitting.' I mean, the sun is shining, the bay is dancing with sunlight, the air is fresh from all the rain & the island's idea of a traffic jam is two cars passing each other at the jetty! Now why would I want to exchange all that for dirty, gritty old Brisbane? I don't.

Just the same now is the time for Ditz to realise what hard work being a musician is. Now is the time to grasp that there is a lot of standing round waiting with what patience you can muster while someone else decides what they are going to do with you. It is not all bright lights & applause & if this is not the life she wants for herself it is better to find it out now while she is still able to make other choices easily.

I know that part of the problem is where we live ~ & I don't mean the physical restrictions imposed by a body of water between us & mainland activities. It is much simpler than that because in this they are all my children. We chose to live here so our kids could grow up close to the earth, enjoy the beauty that God created & appreciate nature in all her wonder. And they do. None of them are keen about living on the mainland where they are in a far more artificial world. Ditz more than the others loves living on the island. Being more artistic she revels in the beauty & does least about it. I understand. Being surrounded by concrete & high rises, bitumen & plate glass is soul destroying. The eyes ache for a patch of living green.

We are going to be very quiet today. We will enjoy the sunshine & the water & count our blessings because tomorrow it's all to do over again, and again. By Thursday, after the first performance, I expect Ditz will have changed her mind again. I will have my spinning whirly~gig over the moon with excitement planning to be the next superstar. Yes well, if you have to think anyway why not think big?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Little minds have little worries... Ralph Waldo Emerson

It has been an ugly few days. I am having a meltdown about driving into town. Ditz swears black & blue she is not nervous about this concert so I have no explanation for her meltdown. I lost it last night when I couldn't work my way of the second map either coming or going. Total freak out! This is why I do not like driving in the city. I don't know where anything is is relation to anything else. I dislike being honked at by irate drivers who don't like what I'm doing. I dislike traffic & I can't read any of the signs until I'm almost past them, at which point it is far too late to do anything about it. Oh & the thing I hate most of all, the over~riding thing to have my head spinning, is being on a time limit! I can do anything if I'm allowed to do it in my own sweet time. Tell me it has to be done within a set of strict time guidelines & I promptly have problems.

Dearest came to the rescue. It looks easy on paper.

So I have marked all my maps for Ditz. I have written down the exact number of street lights we pass on every road & where we turn on what map. Unfortunately my Ditz is like her mother. We ignore the details for the big picture. This is not good news when it comes to map reading. Liddy is the one I need & Liddy is working. Ditz does not want to read maps. *sigh* She has the attention span of a gnat. I think I've said that before. What Ditz wants to do is sit in the back as she normally does & sing constantly. Anything rather than hold her mother's hand while she has a major meltdown behind the wheel.

I have a mantra: It is Sunday. There won't be much traffic. If I do it once when there isn't so much traffic it will be easier next time, when there will be peak hour traffic. All will be well.

If Ditz does nothing else she can pray like mad. See, I'm on here having a public meltdown so I don't have to contemplate in reality how awful today is going to be. I have promised myself an ice cream cone for being such a good mummy. I will walk round Southbank, view the Sunday markets & have an ice cream while Ditz walks through her performance. There is much to be grateful for. It isn't raining. It isn't stinking hot & steamy. The sun is shining & there is a breeze. I'd be looking forward to a pleasant day if it wasn't for the driving. It Dearest's fault. He likes to drive & so he never let me do it~ only now he can't & I have to & changing a lifetime's habits at my age is no easy task. Ok, deep breath. Off we go!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Going once...

The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation. Stella Adler

We have tickets! After all the hassle I would not have been at all surprised if they had gone missing in the mail but they arrived safely on Friday morning. Now I just have to make sure I don't lose them & take them with us on Friday.

Working in theatre has a lot in common with unemployment ~ Arthur Gringold.
I think working in this area requires a certain mindset; not talent, not skill, but the ability to endure long periods of boredom with equanimity. Seriously, you try standing round under hot lights for hours at a time not moving, not allowed to talk, while the stage director, the lighting guy & the sound man all discuss, at great length, their differing requirements. I think my daughter is quite mad but then there is the audience & the applause at the end of it all & my darling Ditz dearly loves an audience.
We had one dry day [yesterday] & I did three loads of laundry before the clouds started rolling in again. Everything is sill damp & on the line because the air was heavy with moisture so nothing actually dried & now it will get rained on. An extra rinse!

It was terribly steamy. Iss found the coolest spot on the verandah & collapsed in an unhappy puddle of fur. I took the opportunity of a relatively still day to burn some rubbish in our fire pit but Liddy was babysitting an active 4 year old & has totally sworn off ever having her own kids! She absconded with Dino in the boat for several hours leaving Ditz & I in charge ~ well Ditz really because one hyper child was way too much for me to deal with.

Liddy had planned to cook with the child but this child did not want to cook. She did not want to crack eggs & beat things together with a wooden spoon. Lid was flabbergasted. What child does not like to cook? Where she wanted to be was on our deck. The one place we really didn't want her is on our deck. No railings yet & a lovely big drop but of course the cat was on the deck & yes he ended up scratching her. I'm pretty callous that way. Annoy an animal you've been told to leave alone & you deserve everything you get. Poor Ditz, who wilts in the heat & gets headachy, dutifully trotted round after her small charge ensuring she survived her visit with us.

Normally between Legos, cooking & painting we have no trouble entertaining small charges but this was a techno kid & if it wasn't electronic she didn't want to know about it. We are short on electronic gadgetry. Liddy took her for a couple of short walks but we were all rather relieved to return her to her owners.

Wish us luck. In a few short hours we begin the first of the mainland trips for rehearsals. The wind is picking up & there is rain a~coming. Going to be an interesting week. I can feel it in my bones!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gardening with Liddy & Dino.

A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.”P. J. O'Rourke (1947 - )
Dino is home.I have these in my sink. My house stinks of cooking mud crab & I hate the smell of seafoodI love my son. While I was dragging the Ditzy one inter~island for her flute lesson Dino & Liddy got together to extend the passionfruit trellis. The passionfruit is Liddy's baby. Despite the trellis I expect it will go up the mandarin tree & along our guttering. We usually do well with passionfruit but they are a tad rampant. The heat today is making everything look rather wilted but this is our Jap pumpkin, flowering profusely already, the cucumber & snow peas & the watermelon all tangling together.
Then they moved to the front & Dino put in some star pickets to hold the steel mesh [leftovers from our footings & doing nothing except rust away] for a grape vine. This is Liddy's baby too. In the heat only the corn & basil is doing any good in this bed. The celery is just about done & I am constantly dead~heading the basil, which just wants to run to seed. After a good start the tomatoes are rebelling & I'm not sure we'll keep them through the heat. The corn is heading up & fairly pest free. Between the house & the pumpkin vine I have the last of the cabbages, silverbeet & beans, all doing well.

We are making the most of the garden while we have it. Between the storms, the threat of cyclones & the heat we are likely to lose everything in one foul swoop this year which would be a pity as we are picking everyday & getting enough for a meal for 5 of us. This makes a huge dent in our grocery bill so is worth the time & trouble to keep it going. Luckily my big ones learnt early how to keep my garden up & running as they will be responsible for it over the next few weeks while Ditz does her *star* thing & I act as chauffeur.
For all things produced in a garden, whether of salads or fruits, a poor man will eat better that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none.- J. C. Loudoun

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This present madness.

'But I don’t want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.

'Oh, you can’t help that,' said the Cat. 'We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad. Lewis Carroll
It has begun, the great madness.

It's all Ditz's fault, you know. She would do it. Her father thinks it's terrific; he's not the one driving her hither & thither. I'm looking at my next fortnight & contemplating Pern. Pern is out Rabkat way in some whole other galaxy.

We have gone round & round with QPAC about tickets for the Friday night concert. First they said yes, then they rang & said no. Then they lost all the details & offered us Thursday night. Liddy is working so I wasn't interested. I asked them to refund my money & resigned myself yet again to not seeing my daughter in concert. I spoke to 4 different people who obviously had not spoken to each other & the last was so camp I was struggling not to burst into giggles throughout our whole conversation. Eventually they gave us tickets for Friday night. We get seats initially reserved for the disabled. I think it's highly appropriate. My sense of the ironic is killing me.

Having rung the accompanist for the exam no~one wants [*sigh*] & left a message saying we would be home by 8pm we toddled off to choir. This required a detour to buy a flesh coloured camisole [what's a camisole?] because the kids do not have a dressing room at QPAC & as Alison pointed out, 'I do not want security footage of you all standing round the backstage corridors in your underwear!' Yikes! A camisole it was.

Being the odd person I am I enjoy rehearsals far more than the real thing & I particularly enjoy watching Alison rehearse her ensemble. I am always amazed at how close the kids come to meeting her very high expectations. Having run through their two big songs she began the excruciating process of having the entire choir sing the piece solo, one by one, because how can she fix faults if she doesn't know what they are & who is doing what?

This alone is an eye~opener. Those who have been with Alison a while don't even think to quibble. When their name is called they stand & sing a Capella as directed & they wear her comments without suffering a major meltdown. The newbies, all from a public school, squirmed out of it. Ditz, homeschooled & coming in to a choir trained to stand & sing, doesn't quibble either. Even the most experienced kids find this daunting. Their voices get the occasional wobble & loss of pitch. Poor old Ditz had to sing second ~ & she sings seconds so was singing a slightly different tune to the first girl & being Ditz she hasn't bothered to learn all the words because she picks up on what's next from the singers around her. I did rather expect Alison to eat her alive. Instead she got the biggest compliment.

Now I must point out when it comes to singers I like Grace Slick & Meatloaf; big, raw voices with a lot of power behind them, or slightly odd ones like J.J. Cale. To me Ditz has a *pretty* voice; nothing special. Apparently not. Alison told her how much her voice had come on then went on to tell her how much she likes her voice which is, apparently, pure & clear like her flute. I nearly died. Seriously? Our Ditz? Obviously I don't appreciate the girl enough. Apparently she is an extremely valuable member of the ensemble & brings a unique quality to it. O.k, I'm gobsmacked. And do remember I listen to this ensemble week in, week out & I've heard all the voices solo at least once & there are voices I appreciate far more than my Ditz's. Not that I would tell her so for love or money. She's been told to keep working on the songs because the acoustics at QPAC mean that the kids aren't going to be able to hear each other. The individual miking means they are only going to be able to hear themselves & it will sound to their ears as if they are singing solo. And that's before we get to the fact that as guest artists when this show is televised the whole lot of them will be panned so they want to have it really together. I am having this major panic; my daughter has barely batted an eyelash. That is probably a good thing.

So thinking rehearsal was nearly done & Alison had merely run overtime I packed my book, found the car keys & prepared to bolt. Nope. Long rehearsal. Frantic phone call home to tell Liddy who had to field the accompanist's phone call. My life is out of control. However the accompanist explained exactly what would happen at the exam. Good. She said if we picked her up she would direct us in. Better. She is calm & knows what she's doing which is more than we do. Best of all. Naturally Ditz's mind is not on her exam. I explained about the singing. Local woman. Knows Vocal Manoeuvres. Impressed. Why am I always the last person to know how big a deal we've landed in the middle of?

We were late home. Ditz was very late to bed. We were tired & hungry & Ditz was whirring & spinning like a top. Excitement & tiredness are not a good combination. We will pay for it today. We have a local rehearsal Saturday morning, a QPAC rehearsal Sunday, two during the week that I am still not sure we can get to, then the performances: Thursday, Friday, two Saturday. Oh my! We will not be schooling this week. Ditz will have to do her flute practise but everything else must go on hold. Neither of us need the stress.

And this is why we homeschool. I wish my daughter would get this point because we have been here with Liddy who was in public school. Liddy regularly made regional teams for athletics, soccer & softball. She would be gone from class for days, & sometimes weeks, & not even expected to make up missed work, just to slot back into wherever the class had got to in her absence. Ditz at least is not missing anything. We pick up where we left off & go on. I can only think God endowed Ditz with an extra dose of self confidence to cope with this madness. I know I'm mad for lugging her round the countryside so she can sing like a canary.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A little rain goes a long, long way.

'' Be careful what you pray for; you might get it.''
I don't believe people. We have rain. Believe me this is a good thing. Brisbane, our nearest major city, has been on water restrictions for two years ~ more or less. Our dams have been under 40%. Some towns actually ran dry & had no water. Farmers have been walking off their land. We have been in drought, folks ~ serious, serious drought.

Put it this way: when we moved here we wanted to put in a grey water system for our garden & an eco loo [Ditz hates eco loos!]. We had a tank. Our council put on the water, discouraged tanks, & refused point blank to allow either a grey water system or eco loos. Now they are talking detoxifying sewerage for drinking water!!! I have so many issues with this one I will only splutter furiously instead of making sense so it's best left alone. The short point, given the debacle over our mainland parking [DON'T get me started] is that I would trust our council just as far I I can throw them ~ & given I am 5'5'' & weigh about 7 1/2 stone that is not at all!

For years the church has been in prayer for the drought to be broken, for the rains to come & the dams to be filled. So on Sunday we got a massive storm. Hail, lightening, flash flooding. The power went out to something like 270 000 homes. Some people no longer have a home thanks to the structural damage caused by the storm. Others are living in a washing machine ~ the house is standing but the rain & wind's coming in. It has rained constantly all week, good, steady, heavy rain. We have duck ponds in the paddocks round about here. Some of our dams are nearing capacity. Others are spilling over & ~ PEOPLE ARE WHINGING!

No to minimise anyone's pain at losing mementos, or even the house, but I don't think people get what it means to run out of water. We lived on tank water for years. We were washing in a tea cup to save water. Clothing didn't get washed because drinking water was more important than being clean & smelling nice. Washing up got done once a day in the barest minimum of water in the sink. Waste water went on the garden. You don't want to know about the loo arrangements; they were primitive. I really appreciate having running water, hot running water at that.

People have forgotten to be grateful for what they have been given. The rain is an answer to prayer. I am grateful beyond belief. The storm missed us. We watched it circle round us & the south end certainly got hit badly but the rain fell. Even now the leaden skies are still heavy with their bounty. Water is precious beyond belief.

We are not the driest continent on earth. That dubious accolade goes to Antarctica but we are the second driest. Our desert is encroaching at something like 4 miles a year. We have strange algae growing in our river systems thanks to increased salination which is a direct result of lack of fresh water falling from the skies.

So I just want to go on record as saying, 'Thank you, God! Thank you for the rain, for the filling dams, for fresh water to drink, for the refreshing of our gardens & the answering of our prayers. Thank you!'

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. Harriet Van HornMy household likes its food. Unfortunately for them I do not like to cook. No, I don't leave them to stave & when they were younger I cooked with them a lot: bread & rolls, cookies & cakes, pies & pastries, salads & pizza. My kids are good cooks but although we all have a sweet tooth I stopped making deserts years ago. I just don't have the time generally to muck round & I'm too tired to be bothered but it is raining at present, the heavy, slushy, summer rain that will last the week. When it rains like this Dino doesn't work & when Dino isn't working he comes home because home is where he gets fed & can fish & crab to his heart's content. When Dino is home for any length of time he expects desert to arrive after his mains. I think I said I don't cook. So he starts leaning on Ditz.

Lean on Ditz hard enough & long enough & she caves in. She always does. Dino put in his order: ginger muffins. Now my cook books are pretty old & have been used so much [& by the kids at that] that they are falling apart. The muffin recipe was missing. *sigh* I went on line & dragged up another one which is not quite so nice & Ditz went to work. Ditz is particular. If she was cooking there are certain requirements & Dino was going to pay for the extras like cream & diced ginger.

Ditz is a pretty good cook & she has learnt something about managing disasters because we were busily scoffing down muffins when Ditz let out a wail. 'I forgot the eggs!' If she hadn't said we'd never have known. The muffins were very good.

Along with muffin eating was reminiscing. This is the Minack theatre at Porthcurno, Cornwall. The brainchild of Rowena Cade, this is one of the most fantastic theatres I've ever been in. She built it with the help of her gardener & it is really something. Dearest couldn't remember where it was but I said, 'Look at those boulders. There's only one place we saw cliffs like that ~ Cornwall!' It's just up from Land's End & Land's End, as we all know, has Tintagel Castle & Tintagel Castle is the birthplace of Arthur, the Once & Future King! I should have liked to have gone to a performance here but the season was finished when we found it.

I turned 21 in Cornwall. My birthday treat was a *real* Devonshire tea [clotted cream is to die for *swoon*] & a trip round Tintagel. We had a lovely day for it & on the whole England's weather wasn't kind to us. Cornwall provided sunshine & spectacular views ~ & Arthur! Whoever he actually was I think it's rather special that a 5th century warlord is still remembered with such love & pride.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Going Round in Circles.

Albert Einstein: Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

One of the nice things about homeschooling is choosing the curriculum that works best for us. One of the yuk things is not being able to find what you want. For two years I have been looking round for a really good bible study. What makes it really hard is I don't even know what I want...BUT...I'll know it when I see it!

Honestly, bible is the bugbear in our homeschool. [math is just beyond the pale ~ I'll explain the pale later, trust me, it's bad.] Ditz has chosen to just read a chapter a day of her bible & while slow this is reasonably effective, only she started in Genesis. Yep, folks, she hasn't hit all the begats yet but if she reads straight through like she says, she is going to be reading a lot of begats & somehow I can't see Ditz finding those all that interesting. I don't want her to find the bible [& by default God] dull & boring. I remember one of my sons pulling that stunt. I handed him God's Smuggler.

A while back, before I crashed my 2nd blog in two years, I talked about Considering God's Creation, which has been fantastic for us & better from a learning perspective than Apologia. Now I like Apologia but it is not a particularly good fit for Ditz. Our umbrella school likes Apologia; they do *proper science* opposed to what? And hey folks, we ditched the experiments 3 terms ago, ever since Ditz stood on a chair dropping things & saying, 'See, I told you they wouldn't hit the ground together!' The forces of gravity suspend themselves for Ditz's convenience. No, we do not do well with experiments. We manage to disprove scientific facts!

This does not bother me terribly. Ditz is not about to become a rocket scientist & she knows more about the theory of music by instinct than I will ever grasp. We are not the math/science duo. That would be Liddy & her dad...oh & Jossie was pretty good at science. I like the speculative theory of science, otherwise, ho~hum, I have more interesting things to do.

Anyway...I have got leery about forking out good hard cash for curriculum I'm pretty sure I'll hate, & that I'm pretty sure Ditz will hate & which we will gag over until we can't stand looking at it any more then hide at the back of a cupboard. Yes, folks, I admit it, I have hidden curriculum so neither of us has to deal with it. No, I am not the one who hides the math curriculum. That would be Ditz. No, Ditz says not. Gremlins! I tell you, they're a pesky bunch!

So I have been considering Remembering God's Awesome Acts & Remembering God's chosen Children for about 2 terms now. When I get a little surplus cash before Christmas I am going to order them. They are put out by Eagles Wings, the same lot who do Considering God's Creation, so I am really, really hopeful they will be a good fit for us.

Now, back to the *Pale.* Back when Henry VIII & Queen Elizabeth I thought civilising the barbaric Irish was a good idea [please don't take this as gospel, folks; this is the racy version] & attempted to make all the good Catholic bog men Anglican [remembering we are talking about a people who had a king who was quoted as saying something along the lines of, 'If we can't kill them all we'll breed them out,' of the Scots but that is a whole 'nother story!] they dispossessed the Irish Gentry of their holdings which were then given to the younger sons & riff~raff of the English. The English being so very English built a stockade to keep the Barbaric Irish out. *sigh* If you were Irish & lived outside the pale you were the scum of the earth & *beyond the pale*. Yes, there is a good deal more to it than that of course but I don't really think anyone wants an lesson in Irish history according to me!


“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm”

Half the island is without power, all the south end in fact. Storms do that. Our summer storms have arrived early & with a vengeance.

We wrapped all our timber in plastic. We shut the windows against the tempest & slowly wilted in the pressure cooker our house quickly became. The cat became neurotic. The humidity is excruiating.

Only the garden is happy. I am picking beans & silverbeet & cabbage. The watermelon is running rampant. The corn is heading. The cucumber is cucumbering & the snow peas have decided not to give up the ghost. The garden adores this warm muggy weaher & intermittant showers. Everything I planted out is sprouting new growth ~ something to delight any gardener's heart.

No church. Liddy finished late in a torential downpour & we missed the boat It's been that sort of a week.

I rang QPAC to order tickets for Liddy & I to watch Ditz do her thing at least once. I explained we're out on the islands. I asked could I pay when I picked up tickets at rehearsal. And still they aked for credit card details. We don't do credit; ever. They had two seats left for Friday but wouldn't hold tickets for us. I sent an express post cheque with all our details on the back as I was asked & still they rang for the details because the details hadn't got through to the Ticket office! To add insult to injury there are no seats left for the days available to us. We are so not organized. We should have hooked up with mum who is coming down for he Saturday matinee. Ditz is gloating. Ma is paying to listen to her sing when she can have it for free any holiday!

I am going into this week with a migraine & that can not be good news. I am blaming the weather. It is terribly hot & muggy & now it's rained it's just getting steamier & steamier. Ugh!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

''I like to do all the talking myself. It saves time, and prevents arguments.” Oscar Wilde.

Welcome to the new me. This is the second time I've had to do this so I hope it's not in the way of becoming a habit. However it seems the easiest solution given my great dexterity with computer technology.

Make yourselves at home. Coffee's on, chocolate bickies on the table, cat available for cuddles, storm on the way. Snuggle in for a cuppa & have a chat.