Tag Archives: life

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!

 

 

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Teenager wants a car:

My computer has been in hospital getting updated and refreshed. Being without it for several days made me realise how many things I’ve let go about the house. Since the return of the computer I’ve been reading blogs, so no time to write tonight. I shall post this lovely story a friend sent:

Teenager wants a car.

A teenage boy had just passed his driving test and inquired of his
father
as to when they could discuss his use of the car.
His father said he’d make a deal with his son, “You bring your grades up
from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little and get your hair
cut.
Then we’ll talk about the car.”
The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he’d settle for the
offer
and they agreed on it.

After about six weeks his father said, “Son, you’ve brought your grades
up
and I’ve observed that you have been studying your Bible,
but I’m disappointed you haven’t had your hair cut.”

The boy said, “You know, Dad, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve
noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the
Baptist had long hair,
Moses had long hair, and there’s even strong evidence that Jesus had
long
hair.”

(You’re going to love the Dad’s reply!)

“Did you also notice that they all walked everywhere they went?”

Enduring Threads: part 9

‘Currajong’,’ Robin Hill’ and ‘Alandale’

Dad’s family lived on dairy farms at Flowerdale, near Wynyard. New Year’s Day picnics were spent there with lots of cousins, (the full quota, twenty two cousins, but two lived in New Guinea). Early on the picnics would be by the creek at ‘Currajong’ at Loch and Judy Fran’s. That was when we were all small, but not small enough not to be included in a game of cricket.

Middle years tasting the homemade plum wine at ‘Alandale’ produced a rather loud cheery gathering. That was at Dad’s sister, Judy, and Bob Sadler’s. The orchard beyond the house and garden was abundant. In later years gatherings were held at ‘Robin Hill’, Barney and Jean’s farm where we’d sit out on the grass tennis court. Our numbers, including the next generation, were quickly increasing.

When we first had a car, Dad fixed the brakes before departing, knowing that he could use the brakes only once. We made the whole journey without him using the brakes till we arrived home. This was an incredible feat as the road was hilly and windy around the coast. It was all done with gear changes and slowing down.

Dad was the eldest of a family of four sons and one daughter: Frank, Judy, Lachlan (Lock), Bernard (Barney) and Henry (Hong, or as some called him Hank, after the war). His parents Amelia (Amy) and K (short for Knyvet) Roberts lived on the farm ‘Currajong’ at Flowerdale, which passed on to Lock and his wife, Judy Fran. We were all given Knyvet as a second name. The name lives on at Cradle Mountain too, where K did a lot of exploring and the Knyvet Falls were named after him.

 

Grandfather K Barbara and Clive at the Devonport Show 1950/51

Grandfather K
Barbara and Clive at the Devonport Show 1950/51

Dad’s grandfather had come out from Norfolk as a Church of England minister and had thirteen children. They lived on a farm called ‘Woodrising’ which is now the Devonport Golf Club. He was instrumental in having the Devon Hospital built.

The story of his father finding a snake in his bed, grabbing it and tossing it to the other side of the room, made me nervous about getting into bed when in the country.

Amy, Frank’s mother, was from an Irish Protestant family that had settled in the Sale area in Victoria. She had been a teacher before marrying K. Her cousin Mary Fullerton had written several books, and I have a copy of one called Bark House Days, about the pioneering days in the Sale area. It has very dated language but is interesting in an historical sense. Amy had instilled a love of language and books in her children; subsequently that love passed on through my Dad, who encouraged us, by making up stories, reading to us, and later, talking about the books he was reading. My mother read to us too, sitting by the study fire as the clothes dried nearby. ‘Winnie the Pooh’, ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’ and ‘The Magic Pudding’ are instant reminders of that time.

 

(Apologies for my absence. Family commitments have taken me away from blogging… )

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter holidays

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Andrew Roger’s Maze

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This sculpture’s sensor sets off cello and other sounds as people pass

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IMG_2671IMG_2662IMG_2661IMG_2667IMG_2650IMG_2672IMG_2673Having time off from blogging has inspired me to catch up on lots of jobs that had been put aside, things to do later. The satisfaction is enormous. I have found a new Danish computer man, Thomas, who helped me solve a couple of things that will allow me to do some tidying up on the computer and also to understand some of the simple things that seem obvious to everyone else.

The TV aerial needed adjustment since we’ve gone from analogue to digital. Every storm or rainy night left us with a black screen. It is quite a treat to see a session without having to fill in the blanks.

The garden too has benefitted from the installation of a watering system, ready for next summer.

Having the children introduced us to predawn starts to the day again. I have included some photos of our visit to McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park, where we used to live in the caretaker’s cottage. The boys enjoy running around finding their favourite sculptures. I love to see the growth of the trees we planted. The sculpture park is on 40 acres with lots of sculptures scattered around the park. There is a biannual sculpture prize of $100,000. Shall introduce you to more sculptures as time goes by.

Troubling times for those around us makes us realise how fragile life can be. Our neighbour is in intensive care after a very severe car accident. Another larger car swerved onto her side of the road. It took an hour and a half to cut her out of the car, before she was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital in the city. Her injuries are massive, and we’ll wait to see if she’ll survive. It makes us grateful for every day, as none of us know what the future holds.

Daily Prompt: Land of Confusion

School seems a long time ago. I hated it generally, and I think the school of life offers more. The qualities that I have been tested with and set to learn are: patience, to be non- judgmental and to retain positive thinking.

Patience was probably the first quality put in my way. School had to be borne. Enquiry was not encouraged; in fact you were discouraged from any individual thought. Rote learning from antiquated, racist history books was the norm. English was a breath of fresh air, as poetry held sublime thoughts and allowed one to dream. I majored in dreaming.

My parents were unique probably for their day. Both were the most non-judgmental people I knew. They loved life and people of all persuasions and colour. It wasn’t until I was put amongst narrow- minded people that it made me cling to what I knew. Bigoted, narrow- mindedness, (much as the Australian Government of today), makes me cringe and hold to my own values.

Positive thinking really does make life run smoothly. Worry causes stumbling blocks. Allowing the Universe it’s way, ‘going with the flow’, such clichés hold value. As a child I had no confidence; school did not engender such a helpful life step as positive thinking, this was something I had to learn for myself. Life provides this opportunity. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/prompt-land-of-confusion/

 

 

 

 

Daily Prompts: Soul Mate

Got a soul mate and /or best friend? What is it about that person that you love best? Describe then in detail– leave no important quality out.

After many false starts, I re-found the person that suits me best when I was in my 50s. We both had families, so it was important that these children were happy with our marriage too.

Christopher and I grew up together. He being an only child, joined our family often. My eldest, of four brothers, was sporty like Christopher. My father bought a farm and we’d all go there for holidays. Here we learnt the value of simple living, appreciating nature and finding our own fun; like going around the farm singing mad songs, poking dead sheep’s stomachs till they exploded, and picking wild flowers.  Christopher taught me the meaning of ‘pop’ music; he had an enquiring mind and I was there to blot up whatever he told me.

When I was eleven I went to my first Grammar Ball with Christopher. It was a formal occasion, and my first year at boarding school. We began our circuits of the ball room at a fast pace, trying to see how many circuits we could do to other’s one. That sense of fun has never dwindled.

Following Chris to Art School was another link in our lives. He took me to lunch in my first week where we bought a frankfurt sausage; he then recommended which mustard I might like. He also suggested that if I linked up with my Italian lettering teacher, I’d be part of his ‘gang’, which of course I was very willing to do.

I married said ‘teacher’ and Chris married Priscilla, both in 1967.

Our lives linked up over the years, often at Christmas time, as we’d both return to visit our parents who were close friends. The games of Solo, ( a card game), were filled with hand signals and cheating our way through hilarious evenings.

Chris’ partner left to become a lesbian when the youngest completed year 12. My 2nd marriage broke up about the same time. Our careers were involving and we both took lovers;  eventually, the threads of our lives became interwoven, (by correspondence at first). Attending my brother’s 50th birthday together, and Chris bringing the painting he’d painted; that I’d organised for my siblings and I to give to Clive on this occasion.

Qualities of this man: humour, loving, dependable, talented, intelligent, caring, non judgemental, easy to live with; similarities that enabled us to link up with out any stress. Having a shared background means that we can share discussions of our past and know the relevant people. This is just a snippet of the many qualities Chris possesses. Writing ‘Enduring Threads’ tells far more of this surprising story with its unexpected happy ending.