Grey Days and Hissy Fits

It’s been a disappointing winter with grey days, Covid and all of its accoutrements. So I admit to a recent hissy fit when for the past few weeks there has been a lack of children’s books in the Little Community Library up at the local park. None as in Nil. Zilch.Nada.

I appreciate that Little People can get attached to books and not want to share them, and I also get that times are tough and may be a borrowed book is as good as it gets for some families. That’s okay. Any child with a book is a positive, right?

With school holidays, lousy weather, and a three day day lockdown I put a call out for donations of books for the kids. Cheekily I even included information about a pop up preloved book sale ( fundraiser) happening less than two kilometres away.

Guess what? Nil. Zilch. Nada. And being bloody minded I refused to put a hand in my own pocket…this time.

Inwardly I fumed. How hard is it to return or donate a second hand book about Peppa Pig or Thomas the Tank Engine?

My interest waned in the Little Library and my visits dropped to a weekly perfunctory event only. There was even the odd rant about not being everybody’s mother or grandmother. Gemini’s do tend to rant after all.

There have also been a few unsavoury looking types hanging about the park of late. Not being judgemental but hey, I found an official document in the Little Library reminding so and so of his coming appointment with his parole officer. Gulp. Made me wonder if donated books were being sold off at Garage Sales or the like.

Anyway, I relented yesterday and set off to the park to discover twenty kiddies books, a couple of Disney DVDs and an adults section absolutely overflowing.

Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou

The Life Lesson being, I guess, that we are all battling a lousy winter and outside, unseen forces -something that’s truly worth ranting about.

Old Dogs and New Tricks

I failed Domestic Science at High School. The only F I ever received on a report card. I knew better than to enrol in Sewing Classes after having received a D, in a scale from A to D, at Primary School. My mother, a seamstress who could turn a parachute into a wedding gown during the war years, was appalled. She gave me her first Singer Sewing Machine thinking that it would provide encouragement. Never switched it on and it later became a garden ornament alongside the gnomes.

Unable to use a needle and thread the only thing I used a needle for was removing splinters out of little fingers when the children were small.

Knitting, crochet, and quilting were never options though I’ve always been pretty handy with a paintbrush. Over the years I have painted both the exteriors and interiors of several houses. Unfortunately, often in colours that have had real estate agents cringing. My last house I opted to bulldoze and redevelop after comments about my sunflower yellow and budgie green colour scheme.

(Personal Note : That’s what comes of living with someone whose life is coloured by beige).

So I’m a little surprised with two new hobbies I’ve picked up since retirement.
Having the time to explore new interests truly is one of the positives of the finality of a working life. No guilt whatsoever. Loving it!

Mind you, I’ve had some EPIC fails. Like square dancing. Who knew it was so hard to differentiate between your left and your right? The popularity of using the clocks on our electrics as opposed to a watch has only exacerbated this issue (for sum of us). And those flouncy skirts were cute when I was six, not so at sixty.

What I am enjoying is an online Art Therapy study program. I’ve done collage, meditation to promote creativity, learnt about colour therapy, created my Tree of Life, and am currently working with clay. Well, plasticine really – it’s less expensive.

Art Therapy is used as a healing process. I was creatively stunted when I was young and perpetually fearful of having my knuckles rapped with a ruler by over zealous teachers when I coloured outside the lines. A bit like Harry Chapin’s song :

(Personal Note : Probably accounts for Mr Beige).

My search for Trailblazing Aussie Women is proving fascinating. I started with names of well known women but this exercise has led me down a rabbit hole and I have stumbled upon an 8 year old who walked the Kokoda Track and proceeded to climb Kilimanjaro and Everest, an Indigenous woman with a degree from Harvard, and a lass who has been working on the Mars Mission.

LIFE LESSON : You can teach an old dog new tricks.

1 Year Anniversary

I was never one to pursue dreams nor chase rainbows. Not ambitious and never goal orientated. I’m more one of these “one foot in front of the other and just keep moving forward” people.

So I retired not because I had reached a certain age nor a certain stage of independence but because getting out of bed to the alarm became a chore. That first cup of tea at 5 in the morning lost its flavour. I couldn’t taste my toast and Vegemite. I was functioning on automatic pilot and had been for several years. Didn’t make me any less interested in my work performance; it just left me empty.

So I did attend a couple of financial seminars, read a few books, and tried to become a little more savvy about taxation, franking and dividends in the last few years of my working life.

Essentially I did not take one word of advice from any financial advisor or bank manager who all recommended that I continue working for another 8 years minimum. I actually closed my account at the bank which I had been utilising since primary school days after being lectured by a pup. Pleasant pup, but a pup nonetheless. Don’t nag me about financial management until you’ve paid off your own property and covered the kiddies tertiary education thanks Sonny Jim.

So it was damn-the-experts and go with the gut. I just quit. Never once have I looked back nor regreted the decision. One of my greatest pleasures is watching everybody go past on their way to work each morning as I sit with my pot of English Breakfast…..It really is the simple things.

Breakfast in the garden

There are simply too many positives to share here, too many experiences that I would not have enjoyed had I still been tied to a desk.

Today I read some research that said “ Retire at 55 and live to 80; work till you’re 65 and die at 67. New data shows how work pounds older bodies.” And “Ten working years could cost you twenty years of your Retirement”.

Feeling vindicated even if its all lies.

There are two big Life Lessons I have gained over the past twelve months:

  1. Financial Advisors work for you, you don’t work for them. And bolt when they start throwing around psychology.
  1. Every day is a gem. Celebrate each and every one. Even that first beautiful cup of tea at 5 in the morning.

Maryborough and a Touch of Whimsey : Part 1

Maryborough is 300kms north of Brisbane, inland on the Mary River, and positioned between those tourist mecca’s, Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast. Founded in 1847, proclaimed a municipality in 1861, it became a city in 1905. During the second half of the 19th-century, the city was an entry point for immigrants arriving in Queensland from all parts of the world.

Maryborough’s income comes from numerous farming and station prospects in and around the city and it’s healthy fishing industry. Tourism also plays a significant part in the economy and sells itself as the Heritage City of Queensland  holding heritage markets each Thursday. Many 19th and 20th century buildings have been preserved and the suburbs are littered with the quintessential old Queenslander homes, ( which a Danish friend described as a “wooden s***box on stilts”) and which are worth a small fortune.

However, Maryborough’s real claim to fame is as the birth place of whom? Here’s a clue……

And another, in case that one was a little obtuse….

Yep, P L Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books lived in Maryborough before moving elsewhere at age eight. Her father managed a bank, in the building where, in a room on the second storey, she was born. This is in the centre of town and still in use, no longer as a bank but as a retail shop. A life-size bronze statue of Mary Poppins, as P.L. Travers described her, complete with umbrella was erected outside the old bank premises at 331 Kent Street, on the corner of Richmond Street, in 2005. 

It is now one of Maryborough’s most famous and photographed icons.

From dusk till 9pm every night there is an illuminated mural that is simply enchanting. ( I was between tea and a show so without camera – Damn!) Here’s another mural – the joint is jumping with them!

But there’s more – we Aussies are adept at flogging a dead horse, you see.

Every winter school holidays for the past ten years Maryborough has held a Mary Poppins Festival. The Festival offers something for all the family. The ‘Art of Storytelling’ program includes film, art, music, performance and literature during the 10-day event. Events are held in various locations across the CBD as well as heritage-listed Queens Park.

Maryborough, thank you for your hospitality. It was a lovely visit.

I do so love our country towns and learn something new at each and every one.LIFE LESSON : Get away from the cricket on the telly and help our farmers and country cousins by spending a few bob in their towns. You’ll be blown away by some of the stories these townships can share.