Category Archives: General

The Christmas Star

Last year our seven-year-old grandson gave us a beautiful ornate glass star that looks like crystals in a chandelier if you focus your eyes correctly. This year I asked Chris to hang it above the tree.

Beginning with the ruler, measuring meticulously in one direction and then the other, he proceeded to find a spot in the high raked ceiling for the hook.

Fighting to penetrate the hard wood, finally the hook was in place.
Climbing down the ladder, Chris heard his father’s voice in his head say, ‘Don’t worry sport, you can move the tree!’

This is exactly what he would have said.

Christmas, past and present

Christmas, past and present

Singing carols in church began the day, then breakfast. Presents under the tree remained unopened until everyone had finished their bacon and eggs. My father always took so long, chewing every mouthful thirty times.

My grandmother and grandfather’s Christmas dinner included everyone, usually their four children and families, plus. Memories of great aunts and uncles, three great grandparents and Miss Benjifield. The films of these joyful celebrations, that my Uncle Henry took, show the oldest generation gradually diminishing with the next generation expanding, so we continued to fill the large T shaped tables.

My grandfather carved the turkey. My grandmother divvied out baked vegetables, gravy and succulent new peas from the garden. An enormous Christmas pudding then arrived with much, ‘Oohing and Aahing.’ Homemade ice cream, whipped cream and fresh strawberries and raspberries accompanied it. Finding a sixpence in our pudding was exciting, even if we weren’t keen on eating it. Uncle John, a baptist minister, was insistent he didn’t get a coin, so my grandmother would inform him he must have swallowed it, as she had seen to it that he’d had one. My grandmother was presbyterian, so no alcohol was consumed at her house.

After dinner other relatives and friends came for afternoon tea. This was set up out in the garden where folding chairs were placed under the decorated jacaranda tree. The oldest generation sat ensconced in their semicircle watching. Reflected light lit their soft white wrinkled faces, shadowed by their sunhats and veils.

How I took so much for granted, accepting the traditions as if food appeared by magic.

In the nineteen seventies my mother took over the Christmas Day preparations when my widowed, arthritic grandma became too old and infirmed. Mum managed seamlessly. Having five children who multiplied with eleven grandchildren, plus some waifs and strays, the laden table seemed limitless. Miss Nichols replaced Miss Benjifield. My father included alcohol in to the festivities.

We continued the traditions. My father was reluctant to go to church, though he always joined us on Christmas Day. One year the whole family sat in our usual pew. On the way out the minister said to my father, ‘And who are you?’

He replied,

‘I’ll give you three guesses,’ and walked on, grinning at mum.

My enchanted childhood invigorates me to try harder. Christopher and I have five children between us. They each have partners and children. Nobody lives locally. Families from afar must stay. Two boys live in the city, an hour away, which means they come for the day. Others live further afield so it is special when we all gather to catch up on all those stories that haven’t been shared due to the business of modern living.

Love remains the kernel of this sacred day. We try to minimise the commercial hype and have time to listen and talk to one another and enjoy the children’s excitement. Mobile phones and ipads have become unnecessary distractions.

Customs remain, such as: food preparations, weeding and cleaning. I think of my mother and my grandmother. How could they remain so calm and tolerant, never complaining? Were they like me? I gather my thoughts and hope I haven’t forgotten anything. Christopher has repaired two woodworm eaten legs of the outdoor table. Visualising poinsettias as the centerpiece on the table, I pretend nil desperandum and try to remain serene. Traditions change gradually and will continue to change. We shall make the most of our time and attempt to create happy memories for the next generation.

I realize that we are privileged to have grandchildren and to have family around us. Blessings and love to all of you who have had the stamina to read this and may you have a very Merry Christmas!

 

 

Easter holidays over:

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safety instructions

safety instructions

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These holidays coincided with our grandson’s 8th birthday. Jack and Mackenzie really enjoyed the water park, and on Jack’s birthday we went to Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula. Here they have lots of child friendly activities. It was the first time we’d been. Tree surfing for nippers included being suspended in the trees with a harness with many challenging obstacle courses ending with a wonderful zip, or flying fox after each course. There were three courses for the young nippers and it took about an hour. The adult course looks very hairy and that takes two hours, though that wasn’t for us.
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After a picnic lunch we then discovered the many mazes and some slides that were in constant use. Carrying the blowup tubes to the top of the hill was part of the experience. Exhausting grandparents who just gazed and children who climbed again and again.
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The gardens were beautifully maintained and my favourite part was the Japanese garden. My photos don’t do it justice. Having our grandchildren over to stay makes us realize why people have children when they are young.

End of September

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Frankston Beach, Victoria, Australia

Frankston Beach, Victoria, Australia

Out the study window

Out the study window with bird’s nest ferns in the foreground.

Tomorrow October starts and day light saving begins on Sunday. Our weather has been beautifully cool, but a hot weekend is forecast. It is perfect weather for writing, but everything else seems to be getting in the way. We received a marvellous short story this morning, written by a friend from art school, all of those years ago. He writes with such humour, I’m hoping he’ll let me share it with you. I’d love to be able to write like him. Chris Fooks, the author of this piece, now lives in Scotland. What a small world we live in.

Spring holidays

Today is going to be 21, before another cold spell. So we’re off to the beach to make the most of the day. School holidays are here and so I shall be missing with another break from blogging.

Maybe the boys will teach me to use the lap top?

IMG_2827Thanks for your company. Look forward to reading your posts on my return.

Holiday Fun:

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One handed! At least they are tall enough now, not to be lifted to reach.

One handed! At least they are tall enough now, not to be lifted to reach.

Dog in a mummy's costume

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Stamp collecting will be a thing of the past, since letter writing is going out of fashion.

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Mackenzie’s robotic dragon

Dog in a mummy's costume

Dog in a mummy’s costume

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Jack’s random shape

 

Mackenzie is determined to read all of Roald Dahl’s books. He completed ‘Matilda’ in two days. I’ve already been beaten at chess!

Happy Holidays!

 

The year that changed my life: 1999

Buffalos Nickel by Michelle W.                                                                                                   Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

1999 was the year many were frightened that computers wouldn’t be able to cope with the change to the year 2000.

The year began for me with sick leave. Shingles appeared on my face and head with an added ear infection, the day school was to start. Serendipitous, considering it could have come upon me in the holidays. Gardening appeased my headaches. Returning with fresh energy to school to bring some order to the art department I was dismayed to find I had Bell’s palsy. Half my face was paralysed, and I thought I’d had a stroke. The doctor recommended working through this as the more exercise the muscles had, the better my recuperation would be.

Speaking with a half paralysed tongue was not fun, but being in a special school, the children were all very understanding. Ignoring disability was part of the culture, where people appreciated one another for who they were, not for how they might look.

1999, my two older children were living away, one in Melbourne, the other overseas. Simon, the youngest, was nineteen, and had aspirations to join his sister in Melbourne. It was also the year that Christopher and I started corresponding. Chris had sent me an invitation to his exhibition opening in Melbourne, which I had to decline with a card for his birthday. There began a most amusing correspondence. Chris has a very vivid sense of fun, so I would rush to work early to open his e-mails. Computers had only just been provided at the school. Up until then reports were hand written. We also faxed each other at home, as this was cheaper than ringing.

Jokes were sent back and forth, and both workplaces, his and mine, were entertained with the daily installments. Chris was working at McClelland Gallery, doing the books, and living in the caretaker’s cottage. We both went to Tasmania for his mother’s eightieth birthday, and my mother cooked a special dinner for the occasion. Our lives had intertwined over the years, but my mother commented on Chris staying behind to help with the washing up, noticing his attentions.

Later in the year, Chris invited me to the opening of the extension to the gallery. I gladly accepted. He picked me up from the airport, visiting a Church of England nunnery on the way home, where he showed me a magnificent tapestry that he’d designed. The nuns were very proud to show off their tapestry and provided afternoon tea. Chris had cooked Coq au vin for dinner with potatoes in their jackets. This weekend changed our lives with Chris’s proposal that night.

Saturday we were busy digging and placing nameplates beside each sculpture in the grounds before the big event. Exciting times lay ahead. Everything fell into place as if it was all predestined.

Chris brought his two spaniels to stay for Christmas. We had Becky’s dog, Jimmy, staying with us while she was overseas, as well as our ancient cat, which died soon after. Apart from Jimmy jumping on Chris’s head in the middle of the night when there were fireworks and scaring the life out of him, the animals were as contented as the humans.

We were married the following year when my long service was due, to live happily ever after, with the true fairy tale ending.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/buffalo-nickel/

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Day:

The 26th January has many conflicting feelings throughout the community. Since reconciliation there has been an improvement, but it is good to be aware that our background has been one of, often, boat people and integration. Too many bad things have been done under the banner of patriotism, so I am inclined to play down pride in that way. Though it is rewarding to know that four women won major Australian Awards:

Local Hero Award was won by Juliette Wright, a young mother and entrepreneur who is on a mission to alleviate poverty by networking on the Internet.

Young Australian of the Year is Drisana Levitzke-Gray, a 21-year-old Western Australian deaf girl. Drisana is the fifth generation in her family to be born deaf. With her first language Auslan, she promotes her language helping many others to see the value of life as a deaf person by recognizing their culture, traditions and history.

Senior Australian of the Year, you will be thrilled to know, is a Children’s Book author. Jackie French, 61, from New South Wales is a well- loved author. Having suffered from dyslexia herself, she’s very keen to support children with learning difficulties. She now has published 140 books in 32 languages and won many awards.

Finally, excitedly, Rosie Batty won Australian of the Year. Having suffered the loss of her mother at the age of six, and then less than a year ago, the death of her son, Luke, by his father, she has gone from strength to strength. Rosie has dedicated her life to change. Domestic violence must be spoken about. Working towards changing legislation that will benefit others is one of her aims. We are very proud to know this extraordinary woman and wish her every success.

 

 

 

Changes, do we really want them?

Worth a read________________________
Ben Stein

Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as Holiday
Trees for the first time this year which pro mpted CBS presenter, Ben
Stein, to present this piece. I think it applies, just as much, to
many countries as it does to America .

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS
Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it
does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful
lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I
don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas
trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I
don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a
ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers
and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me
at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection
near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as
fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think
Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think
people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around,
period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an
explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I
don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that
we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God? I
guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of
us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the
America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is
a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny,
it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane
Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’
(regarding Hurricane Katrina).. Anne Graham gave an extremely p
rofound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply
saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God
to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out
of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly
backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His
protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.
I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare complained she didn’t
want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you
better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not
kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we
said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they
misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we
might damage their self-esteem. We said an expert should know what
he’s talking about. And we said okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why
they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to
kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it
out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the
world is ‘going to hell’. Funny how we believe what the newspapers
say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’
through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start
sending messages regarding God or Jesus, people think twice about
sharing.

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many
on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or
what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us
than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not, then just discard it….
no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process,
don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,