Where Things Take You In 2 Parts

My partner’s family lost their matriarch earlier this year. She was the same age as the Queen when she passed and had lived a long, rich life as a farmer’s wife, mother, and teacher in a little bush school on the East Coast of Tasmania. Life in a farming community meant that she and her husband were much involved with the local district. They each had a love of sharing the stories of their family as well as the stories of previous generations.

In recent years her daughter and grand daughter were able to record many of Marion’s stories, stories about the early days on the farm, the Depression, War, and family. But time ran out, as it does.

There is no record of why Marion was gifted this necklace by a Tribal Elder many years ago.
( Packaging is a recent Amazon purchase). That is a tale that has been lost forever. It must have been an interesting story; it should have been an interesting story to be retold through the generations.

It is fitting then that this necklace is being passed down to the next generation in a First Nations Smoking Ceremony to be held on the family farm. We may never know the story behind the origin of the beads though a new story is about to begin.

Watching this evenings news coverage reminded me that in 1963 my Uncle and Aunty took my cousin and I into Hyde Park in the Sydney CBD to see Queen Elizabeth. I was not yet 4 years of age but do remember sitting on my Uncle Ray’s shoulders to catch a glimpse as the Royals drove past in a shiny black, open vehicle. I have strong memories of the garden beds being full of colourful flowers

Having looked up the dates of that particular visit I’ve worked out that I was spending time with Uncle Ray and Aunty Isobel because my baby sister had been born only days beforehand and had not yet been released from hospital.

Uncle Ray and Aunty Isobel are long gone, as is my sister, Isobel.

Isn’t it amazing how memories from long ago can resurface ?


LIFE LESSON :

Hold those you care about close, share those stories, and write your memoirs.


Open Letter To A Sick Friend

I’ve just been rudely reminded why I never considered a career as a health professional. I have no tolerance levels for illness.

It’s not a case of not caring : the compassion and empathy are on overload. I do feel for those who are suffering, have suffered, and have lost because of sickness. I can make hot lemon drinks, whip up hearty soups full of vegetables and legumes, and change sweat soaked sheets with the best of them.

But I don’t fluff pillows, nor do I read newspaper articles out aloud, and I simply refuse to
hear anything about bowel movements. If you are in any way in need of pandering I’m the wrong girl. The daughters will confirm.

I remember taking my youngest to her first dental appointment and fainting on the footpath outside of the surgery whilst said child nonchalantly walked herself into the lions den. When the other daughter required stitches to her forehead after a slip on the bathroom floor do you think I was any use when the Doctor asked me to hold her still? It could so easily have been a case of another patient requiring needlework.

I blame this in part to not being exposed to illness as a child. We weren’t allowed to be unwell. Or bored. Or tired. There was always a vege garden to be weeded, a chicken coop to be cleaned, and pets to be fed. My first and only exposure to a hospital for an eye operation was rewarded with a beautiful silver watch. A dose of Cod Liver Oil was a solve-all. Indeed, life in those days was very much a case of black or white, of being as fit as a fiddle or dead. There was no middle ground.

ANZAC Day ceremonies back in the 60’s were so exciting at Primary School because you were allowed to wear the uniform of your club for the day. Boys wore their scout and cub outfits, and girls wore their brownie uniforms. But mostly little girls wore the red cape and white hat with a cross representing the Red Cross. It made me so angry that I was never allowed to wear my Annie Oakley costume.

Pregnancy is not an illness and so I was up a ladder painting the house exterior two weeks before bub was due. My husband was abused in the street by a neighbour
for allowing me to mow the lawns up until the same time.

As a single parent there was never any spare time to be unwell. It just didn’t fit into the diary. If you felt off colour you simply marched through it and you marched for twenty odd years.

It’s a sad state of affairs that our bodies do wear out as we get older. Of course, we can take measures to slow the deterioration by way of exercise, vitamin intake, and a healthy lifestyle etc. Routinely, more mature friends are sharing their aches and pains, fondly recalling the parts that hurt when they crawled out of bed that morning.

Bottom line, there will be a time when the “carnival is over.” Until then, I will try to be more Florence Nightingale, and less Lucrezia Borgia. Promise.

Apologies, but I can’t help it if you are a sooki-la-la.

Heirlooms

From personal experience a common lament from empty nesters who are in the process of downsizing is that their offspring have no interest in the precious belongings handed down through the generations. The crystal punch bowls that were the crux of wedding parties all those years ago, the vases and all of those other family heirlooms simply have no place in todays modern homes with their all white interiors and granite bench tops. ( Didn’t anyone ever tell them that white shows up the dirt?)

My daughters were no different and the Wedgwood and Royal Doulton all went out with the cardboard moving boxes. And that’s fine.

My eldest however did have a special request. “Mo, these would be handy. May I have these?”

According to Australian Food Timeline the Jaffle Iron was “designed, named and patented in Australia in June 1949 by Dr Ernest E.Smithers”.

When the Jaffle Iron was first advertised in 1949, the device was described as a “pressure toaster”. Its advantage was that the edges of the bread were pressed together to contain the hot filling.  According to my reading the jaffle iron was embraced with some fervour. There were even cookery demonstrations showing how to use it ! One advertisement said:

It may be used over any type of heat and we suggest that if you are having a barbecue it might be an idea to provide your guests with three or four bowls of appetising filling and let them make their own. Haute Cuisine!

I remember these jaffle irons as a child from Easter mornings sitting around a man made barbeque carved out of blocks of local sandstone with a billy tea over the flames. Instead of lacy lingerie they also accompanied me on a honeymoon around the National Parks of Tasmania where I shared breakfast with potoroos and wallabies. ( There may have been some lacies but given the temperatures more likely thermals).

Many years beforehand, prior to my existence even, they accompanied my parents on camping trips to Cobbity in western Sydney before it became suburban sprawl, where they would spend their days swimming and shooting bunnies for home made rabbit pie.

Good choice, Pocohontas. Much more interesting than the crystal.

Staying Connected Despite Distances

My daughter gave birth to my first (human) grandchild over 3700 kms or 2300 miles away.  I know, I should be able to use metric measurements by now as Australia converted from imperial in 1974 but not happening Jan. When the media puts out a bulletin warning about an escaped convict who is 164 cms I’m clueless. And when the weather man reports the daily rainfall in mms I still have to convert to the imperial, or if I’m totally honest, get someone to do it for me.

Back to bub who was born in a rural and remote community during the middle of a Pandemic when State borders were closed. As I was unable to visit during those months I did what every self respecting mother would do : posted Red Cross parcels full of treats for the parents-to-be and for our bub, and organised a couple of Zoom birthing hypnotherapy sessions for Pocohontas.

This little family have relocated since then, and we have enjoyed a few catch-ups, but they are still in another part of the country approximately 20 hours driving time away.

So how do I maintain contact and build a bond with the little fella? 

Here are a few of my suggestions. Please feel free to add any of your own recommendations 🙂

  1. FaceTime or Skype

        Harry can’t talk yet, but seeing each others expressions and surroundings can often make you feel like you’ve actually been together. I have no doubt he recognises my face and voice ( saying to his mumma in his head ” who is this woman that wont shut up?”)

2. Send Snail Mail. 

          At the previous abode there was no Postman, but now Harry is excited to greet the Postie on a regular basis. Not only is it fun for him to receive something in the mail, but his mother is using this as training – checking the letterbox is a chore he must do, just like filling the dog’s water bowl- as well as a social activity.

           Harry is too little for letters so I went through a period of sending him a post card each week that featured an Australian animal.

3.   Create a Project.

           I recently purchased a $6 picture book about Dinosaurs which I posted to Harry. He can’t read but he loves the pictures. Each week I have also been bundling up 2 or 3 plastic dinosaurs and putting those in the mail. He has connected the figurines to the book and goes searching for them amongst the pages.

            He had a trip with his Playgroup to the local Museum last week and apparently went wild with the dinosaur statues.

            Next project? I’ll be sending a felt board with a farm scene ( fences, farmer, chook, pigs, horses). Do you remember these back in the day? In the early 60’s I loved school just because of felt board play…….And I’ll be posting farm animals.

       4.    Talking About Things We Can Do Together On The Phone.

               Again, I am not sure what the little fella does or does not understand but he seems to listen when I talk about going on a picnic or cooking pancakes together.

I’m disappearing next week and travelling north. I’ll be armed with dinosaur figurines, a tee shirt featuring a dinosaur, and his mother’s 30 year old Beatrix Potter apron so we can stir bowls whilst cooking without getting into a complete mess. I hope we can go on walks, eat ice creams and pancakes and maybe even plant a few vege seeds together. He’s still a bit young to sit through an Errol Flynn movie but that is on next years Must Do List.

And don’t worry; I do have treats for the grand furbaby too.


See you soon HB.

Mee Maw xxx


Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children” – Alex Haley

The Adventures of Euca – Gaia Reading Challenge

It’s nearing Easter so I am preparing parcels to post to the Little People in my life.

“No chocolate, Mo. No sugar for this Little One”. This from a lass whose paternal grandfather fed her so many chocolate eggs for her 2nd Easter that she was as sick as a dog. Whilst I was quietly fuming – and cleaning – said child’s grandfather instilled his lifelong mantra : ” You’ve not had a good time till you’ve been sick”.

Thank goodness the maternal grandfather had a different outlook on life. A child of the Depression he did not believe in waste, so he lived by “everything in moderation”. Except fish. Fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner but that’s another story.

So that is why my Little People will be gifted something other than chocolate this Easter. Well, maybe a little Darrell Lea chocolate bilby but their main present will be a lovely little book called The Adventures of Euca : A Baby Leaf’s Big World.

Debut author Jennifer Howard is a nature lover who is “passionate about the environment, and about educating future generations on sustainability and the magic of the world we all live in.”

We meet Euca, a baby gum leaf, who lives on the very top of the tree, ” closest to the big golden sun whose lovely warm rays will help me to grow big and strong”.

Eucla takes us through his job role as a leaf to “help freshen the air for the whole wide world” as well as some of the native fauna who use the leaf coverage as home. He is close to his Grandpa Crinkle, an old wrinkled leaf further down the tree branches, and the life lesson is that at some stage the old leaf ” with a strong gust of wind” will fall to the ground and a new leaf will be born.

The illustrations by M K Perring are colourful and easily discernible to young eyes and this story is a gentle introduction to nature and the environment for our Little People.

I purchased my copies through Shawline Publishing Group. Always happy to support the independent author ( who have been known to become my all time favourites.)

A Parenting Mistake Of Sorts

When my youngest daughter was transitioning from Primary to High School I made a massive mistake in gifting her the book, 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.

Why was this a mistake? Because both our lives became book-centric involving visits to book sales and secondhand outlets in search of the books on The List. It became our” thing”. My child is the one you see lugging a suitcase on the train to enable her to bring purchases home from the Lifeline Bookfest. Her greatest joy comes from spreading her purchases on the floor all around her, similar to how we emptied the contents of our Easter Showbags all those years ago and sat enthralled as we surveyed all that was on offer.

She’s been home these last few days and is still chasing books from The List. Plus, thanks to the ABC television program of late last year we are now also chasing the books from The Books That Made Us.

Cat Balou’s time in Qld went all too quickly and we’ve cooked together, chatted non stop, laughed, and drank coffee ( as well as lots of bubbly things). Walking home from a Cafe one morning she spotted a table on someone’s front lawn with a sign advertising Free Books. Move over Cathy Freeman – I’ve never seen anyone move so fast! Another twenty books for the Little Community Library. Excellent work.

We walked up to the Little Community Library one afternoon where she of course insisted on alphabetising the contents. She also located another entry from The Books That Made Us compilation which she celebrated like a medal winner on the Olympic podium.

The local Op Shop was another adventure (because Mo, I need a book for the plane ) where said child, 34 years of age, located yet another read from The List. WOW, this is turning into an exciting holiday, she says. Only 300 more books to locate.

This is one happy daughter.

Until she spots a lone book on a display shelf.

Mo, have you been donating any books here, she asks. Yes, Cat Balou, sometimes I do that. Books are meant to go round.

Mo, she says, Mo, is that my book that I lent you and asked you to return before Christmas? And is that my copy of the Booker Prize winner you were supposed to send to my sister for Christmas?

An expensive little visit to the charity store as I was required to buy back many of the books I had donated in recent months.

My payback came when reminding her that a new edition of the 1001 Books had been recently published adding almost an extra 100 newer novels since her copy was released twenty years ago. More books to collect, kiddo, said with a smirk from mother.

The house is quiet once again and we are living on pots of tea, cheese and biscuits, and left over San Choy Bow. Cat Balou has returned to her 1 bedroom, 1 reading room unit in a trendy pocket in the nation’s capital and my Wizard Of Oz jigsaw puzzle which scares the bejesus out of her is back on display.

Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”
– Clementine Paddleford

“Miss you heaps.”
– Mo

Traditions : New & Old


When I was a child the dinner table was the source of good food for nourishment of the body as well as the venue to share the days events, whether they be local, national, or international, as nourishment for the mind. That hasn’t changed any with a number of visitors sharing my table over the past few weeks to celebrate and commiserate the last 12 months. We’ve been able to solve the problems of the world over Turkey Pies, play Trivia over Ham Croissants and to solve each and every crisis in the world over Sweet Potato Casserole ( courtesy of blogger Murisopsis).

No Christmas seafood this year as the thought of queuing for three hours in the middle of a Pandemic held no appeal. Cross that Christmas tradition off the List.

We were sharing our earliest memories of Christmas one night and my brain went back fifty years to making White Christmas with a cousin on Christmas Eve. Never ate the stuff myself – far too sugary – but the memories of mixing, taste testing, and family are vivid. It was a tradition throughout childhood.

With the arrival of the first grandchild the mother was interested in instigating such a tradition for little Harry Kilom for next December when he is more human and less  “pooh-and-spew.” A tradition is “a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.”

The child’s aunt, Cat Balou, last year instigated a calendar featuring said child with a new meme for every month which was distributed amongst the family.

It seems we have a new family tradition with the creation of another calendar with a monthly meme for the coming year.

Here’s to Family, Fun and Tradition, both new and old, for the New Year. Blogging Family included.

Salute!

War Records Conundrum

I recently located an interesting children’s book about Sister Marie Craig, one of the “Flying Angels” who cared for some 18,000 injured soldiers on flights from Papua New Guinea to the hospital in Darwin during WW2. After the misleading book  about a cat who survived a sinking ship, Changi and Sandakan as mentioned with much disgust last week, I didn’t want to get caught out again, so checked the records at the Australian War Memorial. Sister Craig’s story is fair dinkum and is an interesting one……

So, whilst looking at records at the AWM, I discovered a new record under my father’s name which is out there on the internet for all the world to see. Their database contains the names of WW1 and WW2 soldiers, service numbers, rank, date of discharge and decorations and other basic information. I’m not sure about other Conflicts – records were still being digitalised at one point. It’s a user friendly database and you simply search using a name.

Service records are available for a fee and the AWM will post a copy of these documents. I ordered my father’s service documents after he died : 42 pages, which to be honest, apart from medical history, promotions, and changes of pay means little to me. 

( I digress, but on my first visit to the AWM in Canberra as a young woman travelling with a young man who found it difficult to locate hotel accomodation because we were not married – Canberra being Australia’s porn capital no less – a research officer at the AWM explained veterans service documents by using the records of a deceased Prime Minister as an example. Though not fond of the deceased Prime Minister in question I was somewhat appalled that his medical records included a dose of VD during his time in a theatre of war which was clearly pointed out by the employee. So much for privacy.)

But back to the old man.

Dad’s plane.

There is now a record that states under Collections that the AWM is in possession of my father’s leather bound diary from 15 April, 1943 to 24th August, 1945 that includes movements, roles, and flying missions etc. It also states ” entries describe leave, dances, the Boomerang Club and meeting girls”. Photographs, poetry, propaganda leaflets are also included as well as details of his marriage to an English sweetheart. ( Not my mother).

My father never discussed the War. It wasn’t until he was in his 70’s that he let things slip, like Dresden and how ” bloody cold” it was high in the skies above Europe. He wasn’t quite the hard old bastard by then.

There was never any mention of a diary nor a first wife.

My curiosity is piqued but it is not my life. It is a diary of a life before I was even a twinkle in the eye. A life 15 years before mine even started. 

That these records of times past are retained for historians is a wonderful thing. I get that. What I don’t get is that there are 566 words included in the description of the diary’s contents available on a search under my father’s name on the Australian War Memorial’s website available for all and sundry to see.

I’m a little conflicted :don’t dead people deserve some privacy? I can hear the old bugger telling me to ” cop it sweet, Pet”, but it just doesn’t sit well.

Any thoughts?

Another Project and Library Lovers Day

In January 2020 Inverell Library, in rural New South Wales, launched a project to provide all newborns in the shire with a handmade library bag of specially selected books to support early literacy. The project is a joint initiative between the library and the Friends of the Inverell Library.

Reading to babies is a great way to nurture skills including talking, understanding, imagination, listening, concentration and creativity.

The team at the library put the call out to the community to find crafty locals who would like to sew a book bag for newborns. Those who lack sewing skills happily donated suitable fabric for the bags and instructions including required dimensions were made available.

Harry Kilom at 4 months, located in rural and remote Nhulunbuy NT, has been reading a lot of books with his parents. Thankfully Father Christmas was extremely generous as I was getting concerned about his Army Dad continually reading books about military strikes to the child.

What is interesting about bub’s haul is that I can tell from whom the books were gifted as they each reflect a particular person’s interests and history. The kid is lucky to have so many *different people in his life.

Another great project from a smallish country Library.

*Yes, you may read as odd or eccentric.

In Recognition of the Xmas Ham

The pile of books at the end of the bed continues to grow. Alarmingly. Blame all the house guests.

I’ve been cooking up a storm these past few weeks. Lots of fresh seafood, all products of Australia. Why would you buy anything else I have to ask?

Today the house walls have stopped shaking and all is quiet. It is eerily still. I keep listening for a baby ‘s cry. So do we put our feet up on the couch and spend the day reading? Not when there is a ham bone waiting to be boiled for the makings of a hearty broth.

Bizarre really. Millions of Aussies whip up batches of Pea and Ham Soup during the hottest and longest days of summer. Waste not, want not. Everything left over in the fridge gets tossed into the mix, even the scrapings from the Vegemite jar.

I’ve been participating in this Ham Soup ritual since very young. I used to help my mother by pushing the vegetables through the old cast iron mouli attached to the kitchen table top.

Some things have changed over time. Our family ham soup had to be so thick that a spoon could stand up in it. My father would insist. My version is thinner and comes with dumplings. Delicious.

Going into hibernation for the next 72 hours. No tv, blinds drawn, and I will survive on toast and tea, weepy movies and some good books.

Bruschetta is essentially toast, right?