Dorothea Mackeller Got It Right.

In good news the Currowan Fire burning in the Shoalhaven for 74 days was set to “out” by the NSW Rural Fire Service on Saturday. In Qld’s South East corner, and much of the eastern coastline, I came out of the theatre to wade through foot high rain water surging across the lawn. Not an elegant exit and I expect that I’ll be up for a new pair of shoes. *

I love a sunburnt country, 

A land of sweeping plains, 

Of ragged mountain ranges, 

Of droughts and flooding rains. 

I love her far horizons, 

I love her jewel-sea, 

Her beauty and her terror 

The wide brown land for me! 

Dot Mackeller certainly nailed it, didn’t she ?

Perfect weather for the flicks so saw the 2019 remake of Midway. Quite enjoyable except that I kept looking for Robert Mitchum as General Halsey confined to his hospital bed with shingles. The visuals literally had me on the edge of my seat though the aerial attacks on the Japanese ships in the last battle were way too Star Warsey.

Being stuck indoors made for crafty activities. Easter treats prepared for the kiddies who use the Little Community Library- forward planning is a positive, right? – and pots painted and planted as fund raisers.

Regardless of weather the house requires a major tidy. Child home midweek and she is a neat freak. Hope she remembers how to cope when I hand her a golf club and send her out into the garden to do battle with the cane toads that abound in this big wet………..

* Thoughts with the daughter and a girlfriend on cyclone watch.

The Year Of Promoting Local…for a good cause.

It has been said that “we develop our desires and drives during our childhood then our whole adulthood becomes affected by these childhood experiences”.

There have been a couple of experiences as a child that I have carried through to my adult life and all pertain to my home life.

  1. I never touch walls and never have I been in a state requiring a wall to hold me up.
  2. I don’t breath on windows
  3. I never put holes in walls.

These behaviours exist because my father was not good with his hands, detested working around the house ( including cleaning windows and painting the family home) and because most houses of that era came with picture rails. Truely, he couldn’t change a lightbulb ……which seems to be hereditary.

I share this because I’m in a bit of a quandary. Yep, the knickers are well and truely in a knot.

The Old SchoolHouse Gallery is a community art gallery run by the artists which promotes the visual arts by instruction, information and inspiration. It aims to celebrate artistic expression by providing opportunities to exhibit projects for sale.

On the first Wednesday of every month the theme changes which provides an opportunity for different creatives to have their work featured. The February exhibition opens on Thursday, 6th of February, showcasing works by Nicole Darlington and Natasha Gibson-Scott. The theme “Our Country” features Australian native wildlife, flora and landscapes in a wide variety of media including ink, oil pastels, ceramics, jewellery, and acrylics.

Courtesy of event flyer

The artists are donating 25 per cent of all their sales to wildlife organisations to assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of fauna devastated by the summer bushfires.

I make an effort to visit the Old SchoolHouse Gallery once a month to view the ever changing exhibitions and occasionally purchase hand made jewellery items as gifts for family and friends.

Courtesy of event flyer

I’de really like a painting, and I’de really like to help this worthy cause. But I have no more spare hooks on walls and already have artworks and photos on tables being propped up by empty wine bottles.

A lack of wall space is not the issue – it’s the putting of holes and marks on walls which gives me anxiety.

The Old SchoolHouse Gallery is located at 124-126 Shore Street North, Cleveland Point and is open every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Entry is FREE and there is onsite parking and wheelchair access.

  • Fire Update : Much needed rain has fallen along the East Coast of Australia over the past few days putting out many of the fires. One Rural Fire Service closed shop yesterday leaving a sign “ Gone To Jump In Puddles”. Wags, love ‘em. There are still fires blazing in the Alpine regions with hamlets being evacuated. Keep on doing those rain dances please.
  • Stringybark Publishing Update : Here are the books I received as Bookpack 1 of short story anthologies with all profits going to organisations assisting our native animals.

Downsizing For The New Year

Change is in the air, as old patterns fall away and new energies are emerging. Consciously release what needs to be released, and welcome with a full embrace the newness you’ve prayed for and so richly deserve.” – Marianne Williamson

Each new year brings the ability to implement fresh, new changes.

I’m downsizing. That will be my my big change for the new decade. I’m going to reduce the size of my handbag.

Research indicates that women generally carry twenty one basic items in their handbag on a daily basis. Other than keys, wallet and sunglasses these can include safety pins, mints, toothbrush and floss, medication, pens, diary, book, comb, hair pins, hand cream, tissues, band aids, lipstick ……….and the list goes on and on and on.

When it comes to handbags I’ve always been a minimalist. Basics only.  Money, keys, spectacles, and in recent years, the Ipad.

I’ve always maintained good relationships with my handbags. Whilst some women collect shoes my preference is for going barefoot. Carryalls have always been more my thing and I’ve relished them being colourful, large and on the empty side. I don’t do clutter well.

I tend to work a handbag to death. They are not constantly rotated according to my wardrobe. Their day starts early and can finish late, and there’s a hint of co-dependency.

The new year has me reviewing my relationship with handbags and so I will begin the new decade with a smaller, more compact version. I will continue to opt for colour and consider this my effort to reduce my carbon footprint.

Of course, this move will necessitate the downsizing of my wallet. Advice from friends indicates that I will require a change purse and a card carrier, both requiring a huge shift in mindset.

We can do this.

Change.

When you’re finished changing, you’re finished. -Benjamin Franklin

To Censor or not to Censor – that is the question.

Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.”

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

The Little Community Library in the parkland near my home continues to gain momentum. I put a call out for more children’s books at the beginning of the school holidays and the neighbourhood came good with DVDs, small toys, and colouring in sets as well as a variety of reading material.

Over the past weeks there has also been the donation of numerous LGBT Romance novels. Often they are sneakily hidden between the pages of other books.

Personally, I’m not offended, but as this communal Library is frequented by children of all ages who utilise the reserve with its playground equipment I have been taking these books out of circulation. Effectively I’ve played Censor. It doesn’t sit well but I have genuine concerns that if a 7 year old goes home with one of these novels a parent could go into meltdown. This could possibly result in the loss of this resource.

A friend has questioned my stance, given that I’m not so zealous with the plethora of religious books that are donated.

None of these books are tossed into the garbage bin. They are donated to an organisation where they can be better appreciated. The plethora of religious books are given two weeks on the shelves before they are removed. I think that’s generous.

Am I becoming a Book Nazi?

The National Archives in Canberra has updated its cafe with a new display on banned books. You can read about the secret history of Australian censorship as you sip your coffee. You can also examine a censor’s report or flip through a copy of a book or magazine once prohibited in Australia. This Cafe is going on my Must Do List For when I next visit the ACT.

Possums and Owls

I’m not good with neighbours. I like space.

So when I downsized  it was imperative to live near some Open land. Which I found. My pocket handkerchief property borders a wildlife corridor, and more importantly due to their declining numbers, a Koala corridor. I have wallabies that visit, blue tongue lizards and water dragons, drongos, scrub turkeys, magpies and kookaburras that drop by for the fresh water that is left out for them.

Swamp Wallaby

I had lived only three kilometres away for over twenty years and it wasn’t until I went for a walk through my back gate that I discovered a nearby platypus sanctuary. I kid you not. Platypus. Long time locals are still unaware of its existence!

And then there are the possums. 

I have always had a soft spot for possums having grown up in a bush setting in a little Sydney suburb since destroyed by progress with its inclination for fountains with urinating cherubs and concrete lions by the front gate. Memories of my mother, who died when I was a kid, include feeding injured possums that escaped the bushfires by braving sharks and swimming across the river to safety. I’ve been putting out spare fruit, vegetables and sandwiches ever since.

It’s Springtime now and the possums are carrying their babies on their backs. I’m continuing to put out feed though not every night as they  mustn’t become dependant. 

But our weather is playing havoc and we are still suffering drought. Three hours away the country towns will be without water for Christmas. An hour west the creeks have turned to mud and people are busy trying to relocate turtles and eels to save their lives.

In my own piece of bushland there is little blossom on the trees thanks to the lack of rain. This means that there are more possums (and flying fox). My local council also carried out a huge chemical spray operation to avoid any legal entanglements once bushfire season started so we lost many of the scrub mammals and lizards that live amongst the undergrowth. (And no, I’m not a mad greenie though question why we are still using pesticides banned in other countries, but I digress……)

When I retired one of the first things I did was sign up to assist a study being undertaken by an academic from the local university into Powerful Owls. All these years and I’ve only ever seen one of these owls once. So why not? I’m surrounded by Bush and enjoy learning from our environment.

Powerful Owls ( minoxidil strenua) are listed on the Nature Conservation Act of Queensland as vulnerable. Ever seen one? They are massive with a three foot wing span and talons. And you know their favourite tucker? 

Possums.

The past few nights I’ve spotted half a dozen Powerful Owls sitting on the back fence awaiting the nightly arrival of possums. It’s their equivalent of a smorgasbord.

Second day of Spring and it’s expected to hit 33degrees Celsius tomorrow.

No need to panic. The neighbours are all out washing their cars on their driveways.

Losing The Plot

I woke up at 9:40 this morning. That’s five hours later than normal. Morning people don’t wake up when it’s nearly lunch time.

Do I feel better for all this extra sleep? Absolutely not! Let’s blame the heat and the Labrador. Mostly the dog. Four weeks of puppy sitting and I’m done.

Firstly, I find myself constantly having conversations with said dog. The weather, what we’ll have for tea, the Dow Jones Index. This would be a concern at the best of times, but Bentley is deaf. We even had a discussion about music from the 70’s recently.

Then this afternoon I found that I shampooed my hair with Organic Hemp Pet Wash from Byron Bay.

I’m now about to sit down with a chardy in front of my latest Netflix binge : Schitts Creek. I’ve made a platter for humans, and a platter for the Lab.

Does this mean it’s time for me to start checking for employment opportunities ?

It’s In The Cards

I was recently gifted a box of Dreamtime Oracle Cards by a friend which are based on the beliefs of our Indiginous people. Stop rolling your eyes – I know what you are thinking……

Oracle Cards have never been my thing though in my last working arena it was a tradition to read the Cards around the table at the annual Christmas luncheon. (Don’t even ask). No Work Christmas function this year so I thought I would continue with this ritual at home. Funny enough the cards have never been wrong. Didn’t I ask you not to roll your eyes?

My card this year was the Campfire Card which explains the importance of fire for both cooking and the sharing of knowledge amongst our ancient people when they gathered around the fire to eat. My own life very much resonates with this as I hail from folk who came together at day’s end and
dined with a glass of wine or a frothy, music playing quietly in the background, making time to share the days events as well as events of the past. They were storytellers and we grew up looking for the fairies at the bottom of the garden and the pot of gold under the rainbow.

I continued this ritual when I had my own family. No morning or evening television at meal times and always, ALWAYS, a clean tablecloth. Actually, no morning TV – EVER. No time nor inclination.

There was always space at the table to share with friends and enough food to go round, and my humanitarian daughter was regularly bringing home young men and women who needed a feed and maybe even some respite. “ Mo, some roast beef and Yorkshire pudding will sort them out”.

Food and Stories have been the constants of my life. The Depression parents instilled in me that it was “ better to pay the butcher than the Doctor”.

I am fortunate in this sphere to be connected to storytellers too, with tales of food, of camerarderie in hard times, of books, movies, gardens, of journeys and all sorts of adventuring. Some of you even share stories within stories for which I am grateful.

My Oracle Card said “ Everyone has something to share, some knowledge that you did not yet know. Knowledge can come from the most unlikely of people and places, so value the sharing of wisdom, whenever you get the chance.”

No resolutions, no goals for the New Year. Never bothered with that stuff. But I’m gonna embrace the advice of the Dreamtime Cards with a firm hand.

Christmas Rituals…..Are Meant To Be Broken

I have been responsible for the Christmas Day cooking since I was 16 years of age. Despite all the time and effort, ( and yes, stress), I’ve always enjoyed the process particularly coming up with a new recipe and something different to add to the menu of Cold Meat and Salads each and every year.

Except for last Christmas. Hottest December 25th on record and both my Smashed Brussel Sprouts With Parmesan and Cous Cous with Bok Choy were an epic fail. As in Epic Fail. I dined on left overs for days.

This year I have retired. Retired on so many levels. No cooking for this little black duck. I’m heading south for a stint in our prime wine producing region with Christmas lunch booked somewhere swish. I might even wear makeup, something I’ve not done for years. Makeup in Brisbane mid summer is redundant as it slides off your face…….

(LIFE LESSON 35. Wearing a white frock mid summer in Brisi and wearing makeup is just asking for trouble. Oh, and do not drink red wine when wearing white either).

Being retired doesn’t mean I’ve slowed down at all. Indeed, these little legs keep moving. It just means my priorities have changed. So much to do, so little time….

I’ve not been to a shopping centre this Festive Centre which has improved any blood pressure issues considerably. I’ve avoided car park rage, school kids on holidays, and curmudgeonly old men who don’t like queuing and aren’t afraid to tell you. Can I tell you how good this all feels ? Any carols that I hear are ones I have chosen to listen too – such as Aussie, Tim Minchin, who makes me smile – and I’ve made Xmas Gifts that are natural and chemical free, including a Make Your Own Lip Balm Kit for those who want Angelina Jolie lips without the collagen. And who doesn’t? Be honest…..

Let’s see what other habits we can break, shall we?

Personal Challenge Accepted.