Exciting News : Part 1. Or Something Positive The Week The Media Tried To Break Us.

My eldest daughter, Pocohontas, thrilled me with the news that Bentley, my Grandfurbaby, is going to have a sibling in Spring. The two legged variety.

Bentley walking his mother down the aisle.

Of course I’m excited, though also living in trepidation. You see, I’m too young to be a grandmother according to my head. The calendar may suggest otherwise but I’m definitely no Nanna nor Grandma.  I think I will be a Meemaw

I do not knit or sew. Since retirement I’ve been very fortunate to attend numerous Workshops to learn new skills. Like making gravy boats out of clay and building bee motels and fantasy writing workshops. I have no compunction whatsoever to learn how to use a crochet hook or a sewing machine.

I do paint ceramics. But how many egg cups does a child need?

I like painting and working with colour though am not good at it and blame those early school years when the teachers used to hit us on the knuckles with a ruler for colouring outside the lines.

The old brain is creative enough,  it’s just that my body parts don’t seem to connect. A platter I painted as a wedding gift makes a fine dish for their pot plants.

She sent me a copy of the scan to put on the fridge door. We didn’t have scans back in the day. They were the days you could eat Camembert cheese and eat shellfish which was just as well as I craved prawns. It was an expensive pregnancy.

Apparently, it’s unacceptable to proclaim “ oh, so you’re having a penguin”.

So when I asked my daughter if it was acceptable to start a collection of Errol Flynn movies for the imminent eminent she said “ of course Mo, Errol and Audreys please. You can never start with the classics too soon”.

This Little Person will be in good hands.

#mynewyearstartedon13/01

This is the date that I was able to decontaminate and defluff the house after three weeks with the Grandfurbaby. Bentley, a gorgeous Labrador who suffers sorely from Only Child Syndrome and is profoundly deaf, has now travelled north to the land of crocs, dingoes and jabiru. That will test him…….and them.

My hostess skills were pretty minimal over these past few weeks. Cheese and charcuterie boards were the order of the day though I did throw fresh Tiger prawns on the barbie. Lots of garlic and a dousing of white wine – a damn fine effort, girlfriend.

So now I’m focussing more on where my year is heading, other than knitting sox from dog hair.

In the latter part of last year one of our cinema chains focussed on movies from Hollywoods Golden Era at selected locations across the country. This is being repeated commencing from February with sessions running first thing on a Monday morning. Yeah, first thing Monday is a bit hard to grasp, but I settled into it and found it a good way to start a new week. Do retirees even start a new week? 

Movies scheduled include Night Of The Hunter, Mr Smith Goes To Washington, On The Town and Casablanca. On the big screen people. And the more sessions you buy the cheaper the ticket price. 

Last Classic movie I experienced in this fashion there were only three of us in the cinema. This is not a good crowd if you’re after anonymity when you sob.

My Mondays are pencilled in : breakfast, coffee and an old flick.

Let’s take a look at Tuesdays…..

( Refer Event Cinemas)

Stringybark & Short Stories

Stringybark Publishing is an Australian bespoke publishing house in operation since 2010. No, I am not sleeping with anyone within management, nor do I have any monetary affiliations within the organisation.

To be honest, it was only within the last twelve months and my retirement that I took any interest in short stories which is the area in which Stringybark Publishing specialises. Someone once said “A short story is the ideal place for a first meeting, a bit like making the first date for coffee rather than a meal.”

Stringybark Stories encourages Australian and international writers to create and share stories by running regular short story writing competitions throughout each year with a variety of themes. And no, this is not my area of expertise though my appreciation of tales with a decidedly Australian flavour has certainly been fuelled by my recent visits to country townships and a better understanding and appreciation of our unique history. See here for further details: https://www.stringybarkstories.net/index.html

Up until the end of February Stringybark Stories have on offer a choice of two Summer Reading Bushfire Packs containing six different anthologies of short stories written as part of past writing competitions. These cost $29.95 each and include postage within Australia.

ALL PROFITS from these sales will be donated in equal amounts to WIRES Wildlife Information and Rescue Service to assist with the immediate needs of Australian wildlife and Bush Heritage Australia (https://www.bushheritage.org.au/ ) to help protect biodiversity into the future.

I’m not a rampant consumer ( unless the product involves Errol Flynn) and I don’t participate in online shopping ( unless the product involves Errol Flynn). But, WOW!

* Bushfire Update: As a nation we do adversity really well. We rally, support and assist each other. We thrive in times of major dramas. It’s what we do best. We also proportion blame, bitch like six year old girls in the school yard, and carry on like chooks with our heads cut off. Move on kiddies. Pull up those Big Girl Panties and keep moving forward regardless of your politics. “ It will be okay in the end, otherwise it’s not the end.”

** New Participants in competitions most welcome.

And if you have an interest in writing competitions, WOW again.

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.

The Charge of Beersheba Vs Halloween

Watched the 1987 Australian movie The Lighthorsemen last night. October 31st is the anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, a part of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War 1.

It’s become a family tradition – a bit like viewing Die Hard just before Christmas.

Funnily enough, I saw the movie through different eyes this time. Not sure whether to put that down to retirement and being more relaxed or just getting older. ( Rhetorical only – no comments required).

I can confirm, following my recent visit to the Summer Land Camel Farm
( where I had conniptions after discovering Errol Flynn had slept at the property when it was owned by Charles Chauvel, nephew of Sir Henry), that camels did get a nod in the movie. It was only a two second scene, but there they were representing the Imperial Camel Corp. No embarrassment whatsoever jumping out of my seat at the time and doing a little jiggle with excitement.

All the young actors were my age when they made the movie and at their prime. Well, all except Peter Phelps who is obviously a late bloomer. Gary Sweet, who played Frank, had hair for goodness sake! John Walton (Tas) was the dreamboat who played Doctor Rothwell in the soapie, The Young Doctors. Dead now. And Sonny Blake, who played Irishman Scotty Bolton and was damn impressive sans shirt, and was left paralysed after a car accident on the way home from filming, is another we recently lost.

Beautiful Sigrid Thornton was our girl before Our Nic with her big brown eyes and pursed lips. Did you happen to watch the series of Seachange twenty years on earlier this year? Might have needed to top up her superannuation.

I have no recollection of Halloween as a child. Not sure when it actually became a thing. Or why.

A girlfriend with week on, week off custody arrangement of her daughter tells me that said child is trick and treating with her father on the night and that she will hold a Halloween party over the weekend. Halloween Parties ??????

Must be me. I don’t comprehend how it‘s law that kiddies under 12 years of age are not allowed to walk to school unsupervised, or that schools can dictate what a kid can or cannot have in his lunch box, though door knocking for sweets is okay.

I hope all those on the other side of my world enjoy their fun. And the flesh of all those pumpkins.

Personally, I’m all for this idea of wrapping up brussel sprouts in chocolate wrappers.

Raising Gypsies

Did I tell you I enjoyed Chicago at the theatre last weekend?

It was beaut to see Tom Burlinson again as Billy Flynn. Burlinson had success as a young man when he played young Jim Craig in the 1982 Australian movie The Man From Snowy River and Tommy Woodcock in Phar Lap in 1983. He then seemed to fade away singing the songs of Frank Sinatra in nightclubs over the years.

Also lovely to spend time in Sydney with the daughters before they both headed off again. You see, I’ve raised gypsies……..

My youngest flew out to India for work purposes for six months yesterday. (My apologies for my behaviour : I may have been just a tad fragile.)

My eldest is off shortly with her military boyo to be stationed in a remote region of Australia for two years. So remote that it will be an easier option to fly to India for a visit. And it’s a Dry Community. Good luck with that, Pocohontas……….

Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. – Ray Bradbury from Fahrenheit 451

No, there were no tears and I have been positively positive. Disgustingly positive really. And envious of course. I was already tinkering with a holiday to Arnhem Land in autumn so that’s now a done deal. My only concern is for the Labrador, Bentley, who is unused to crocodiles and dingoes, and is stone deaf. I’m fearful that if he meets a snake he will want to make it a playmate. Same with a dingo: he’s such a good natured pup with an inability to read social queues.

As for the Indian adventurer, just as well she’s vegetarian and did a spell in Beijing last year.

We’ve agreed to meetup in Darwin next August, to coincide with the Northern Territory’s Federation Day ( read : Cracker Night) and Darwin Cup. The gambler’s gene did not come from my side of the family though the need for a new outfit for the occasion certainly did. I’m currently researching a side trip to the Tiwi Islands.

Since retirement I have been regularly asked when I will be selling up to be closer to the girls. Makes me laugh each and every time. 

Safe travels, Cat Balou. Looking forward to belly dancing classes upon your return.

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.

Following The Festivals

When it comes to throwing a party, general celebration and epic public events, Aussies do it as well as anyone. Throughout the year in every corner of the country, you’ll find a huge range of events and festivals showcasing everything from art, music, sport, writing and Aboriginal culture to film, comedy, dance, food and beer. Lots of food and beer.

With retirement I seemed to have slipped into the practise of chasing local festivals. Not having to worry about getting home late on a school night is so liberating after thirty odd years of pre-dawn getups.

This week I enjoyed a function for the Bris Funny Fest (which differs from the Brisbane Comedy Festival in that it showcases emerging performers putting on a show for the first time.) Next week is Seniors Week and I have tickets to a series of old time radio shows at the local museum. “Dad and Dave” – who remembers them?

I’m particularly enjoying the Festivals held in country towns. With Australia suffering such debilitating drought – with a dam at less than 25% capacity the Granite Belt is unlikely, for the first time ever, to produce any wine next year – so many farmers are going under and our country cousins are doing it tough. The three day Camel and Culture Weekend at Tara in Queensland’s Western Downs last week brought a much needed economic boost to the township as well as purpose.

It’s the Peter Allen Festival in country Tenterfield next month, followed by a Baroque Festival in Victoria, and daughter of mine, Cait’s Classics, if you are reading this I thought Floriade, the huge flower festival in the nations capital would be fun. (Can we go to that gin joint again? Pleeeeeease)

Now that I’m getting into the swing of being gainfully unemployed I will be better organised next year. I’ll even print a calendar of events to stick on the fridge. The Darwin Cup next August is already booked as is an Eastern Arnhem Land adventure to learn more First Australian culture. Oh, and the passport is getting a run for its money too…..

Retirements tough.

What Have I Been Reading?

I’ve been focusing on independent authors, local to my area in the Redlands City area of Brisbane.  

Margaret Dakin was born and lived most of her life in Brisbane. She came to writing comparatively late after an adventurous life working in various occupations. After retiring in 2002, she joined a writing group and discovered a love of short stories. 

Margaret has had stage and radio plays produced as well as a musical titled A Bonnet For Eliza which was performed earlier this year. Blogged about it here:https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/brizzymaysbooksandbruschettasite.wordpress.com/2804

Margaret was one of six grandmothers local to the Redlands Coast in Brisbane who, having a little spare time on their hands, collaborated on a novel, The Written Word.

This novel is very topical as it covers overdevelopment and reclaiming of the mangroves ( despite being under the environmental protection of RAMSAR).*

*what a bloody farce

**available from Amazon Australia

Why am I sharing this one with you? Because Retirement does not mean one stops living and the grey matter does not dissipate. There is heaps to do and though I am no longer ruled by daily achievements it is nice to think that there is still enough blood pumping to rattle a few chains. So, there’s now a day in the works for all local authors to present their books to the community ( and hopefully make a few quid), and I’m chatting with those who know about such things about a local Government grant to get a local writer’s competition off the ground.

Why didn’t my mother teach me to knit or sew or even crochet? Might have been easier:)

Umm, I lied. I still measure my days by achievements, but then I classify having breakfast a win.

Plants For Wounded Heroes

I’m no Green Thumb. I lack the necessary patience, though I do enjoy having natives in the garden to attract birds, bees and bandicoots. Hailing from parents who lived through the Depression I also enjoy produce from my fruit and vegetable gardens. Little effort required and the pumpkin vines are currently taking over the tiny back lawn.

On the iconic quarter acre block that I grew up on, the so-called Australian Dream, (long since battle-axed for the prolific development of McMansions) we grew all our own Veges as well as having the backyard chook shed for eggs and a couple of additions to the table at Christmas. Chicken in the Basket was a family favourite, though after having just read Tom Clancy’s The Teeth Of The Tiger, I don’t think I’ll ever think about that meal in the same way.

The parental vegetable garden was a staple right until the end. Indeed, my father’s casket was covered with home grown spinach and tomatoes which I cooked up at the wake with garlic and pasta complementing the depletion of the contents of the wine cellar.

Since my retirement I’ve taken cuttings of plants which I have nurtured and then sold at a local market on a semi regular basis. Preloved books also find new homes and I am lucky in that several friends donate saleable items. This is my form of aerobics : stretching, bending, reaching (some groaning) and Vitamin D.

Rosemary plants are popular sellers

All monies raised go to Wounded Heroes which assists our exservice men and women at a grassroots level. This non Government funded organisation finds crisis accomodation for our vets, funds accomodation and fuel for medical appointments, and assists with real hardship cases. Recently, an exserviceman with a young family was diagnosed with his third bout of cancer. Wounded Heroes came to the fore with funds to assist with travel costs and parking fees. The day after Anzac Day a young exserviceman committed suicide. The Government covered the funeral cost, but it was Wounded Heroes that paid for the casket to be transported 1000 kms away to his home town. With a volunteer escort. Respect.

Succulents also sell well

So I play in my garden and sell a few plants. Sadly, I am unable to replicate the beautiful Bat Plants despite numerous attempts. This is a real shame as I always wanted to be called Bat Woman. Even had a little leather number on the drawing board.

NOTE:

I am not responsible for any actions which may occur when someone tells me “ there is nothing to do”.