7.2.04

fifty years
It is fifty years this week since the Queen first visited Australia. I'm a baby boomer and remember this visit. Mum and dad dressed us in our summer best and we crammed into our tiny Renault 750 and drove to the inner city. We went down to the harbour and stood in the February heat to watch a young woman alight from a launch at Farm Cove. I have no recollection about anythng she said or did. Australia was a very British place in those days . I remember being taken with my school to a park, along with thousands of other schoolchildren. She arrived late and screamed up and down ranks of school children in a LandRover and disappeared. I have again, few recollections of this. I can vividly remeber the hot february day and the long walk from the railway station to the park. Local residents took pity on us and offered drinks from their garden hoses. A few managed to splash us as they watered their lawns. Very welcome relief.

I don't remember my family expressing much opinion on the Royal Family, although I remember cringing some years later when our Prime Minister quoted: I did but see her passing by, and yet I'll love her till I die. I married into a family where the matriarch came here from Scotland at the age of twelve. She was an ardent royalist still, and we had to endure cramming into her bedroom to watch royal weddings, funerals etc. At least it made presents easy. I would just look for the latest book of pictures of the queen or Charles etc and give her that.

As the years passed I have become much more republican in sentiment. The Queen has no real political power here and has a basically figurehead position in regards to Australia. Her representative here, the Governor-General, has similar powers. I do not see that becoming a republic disowns our past, although I really do not know what form that republic should take. Roayl visitors come and go here quite frequently now. I think the last was by one of teh princes. Little notice was paid to him except by the visiting English press.

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at home
Owen's prompt asks me to choose from at home; homesick; at home,sick. I'm not too sure just what to choose. All of these could suit me in the last few days.

Home to me is an inner-west suburb of Sydney, Australia. It's a multicultural area with all the benefits and problems that brings. I live in an old house, at least old by Australian standards. As far as I can find out, it was built about 1880 before council records started. It's a freestanding , two storey house on a quite narrow block of land, far too close to what is now quite a busy road. It's a big house which once was full of boys and their friends. Now we rattle around in it, although there were seven adults here at one stage, with just one bathroom! I like the space however. I have my own study and computer and my bookshelves, full of books, essential in my life. In fact, I probably regard my study as my home. The rooms are large with high ceilings, a blessing in the summer.

There's much we could do here. The house shows scars of many generations. We have redecorated several times, but there is always something to be done in an old house.

Our sons would like us to sell. I see little advantage in that. The market is high and we would get a very good price as we are near shops, facilities and transport. Moving would be a major hassle as we have been here over thirty years and my husband is a hoarder "in case it comes in useful." The only thing to do would be to sell up and move to a country town where we would have capital leftover. Otherwise, it's not worth it.

This place holds memories for me, both good and bad. Our eldest was a young baby when we came, and there were more children. We basically had an open house with others staying here. The boys' friends all knew trhey would be fed if they turned up at mealtimes. They were happy to bring their girls home here too and there were impromptu gatherings of many young folk. We used to regularly have 15-25 people for Sunday lunch, a number that I was never sure of till we all sat down. I have darker memories which I would like to forget, but they are part of my life here too.

There will come a time when we leave. Destination unkown, but I would like being near the water or in the mountains. Until that time comes, this is my home.

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summer part 2
Further to yesterday's post. It is very warm and the February humidity has really kicked in. It's about 34° on my deck in the shade. Just a hint of the afternoon seabreeze. However, temperatures are on the rise for the rest of the week till next weekend. Last night we went down to the river and sat in the breeze to watch the sunset. Even though it is only a few minutes by car from here, it was much cooler there.

I spoke of the birds. One downside to summer is the fruitbats in our gum tree which is flowering. It's quite a large tree in a small front yard and is covered with blossom. I don't know where these birds normally hang out, possibly in a park nearby, but I will be glad when they decide their holiday is over. They are incredibly noisy at dusk as they squabble over the blossom.

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6.2.04

chaos
CityRail did not have the best of days yesterday. As a consequence of the McInerny report into the Waterfall train accident last year, transport authorities are conducting medical tests on all their traindrivers. The driver of that train apparently had a heart attack and his weight caused the emergency brake to be deactivated. Surprise, surprise. They have removed some drivers from actual driving. We were then warned that the price we would pay would be slower services and few drivers, therefore fewer trains. I must admit I am cynical about this. Medical tests should be a regular thing for people engaged in transport. CityRail is, it seems to me, using this as an excuse.

Then early yesterday afternoon, gas was reported in the undergorund city system. All underground stations were immediately closed, and staff and passengers evacuated. The source could not be traced and it vanished quickly. Thousands of people made their way at peak hour to Central Station and it became dangerously overcrowded with people standing, packed like sardines in a tin, in the concourse. It too was closed.

In all, the emergency lasted over five hours and totally disrupted transport in the city. Taxis were unavailable. It was difficult at such short notice to roster buses to be used instead of trains. Traffic jams were worse than normal as cars came into the city to pick up stranded passengers. Services were not fully resumed till very late last night.

It has long been known that an accident on one of our bridges in wet weather brings Sydney roads to a halt. A whiff of gas has done the same thing to our trains.

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summer
It has been beautiful weather here lately with tops around 30° in Sydney where I live. However hot weather is forecast for the next few days till about Tuesday with the maximum closer to 40° here in the inner west.

There are some compensations however. I sat outside this morning for breakfast on the deck. The lorikeets were squabbling in the bottlebrush tree and the bulbuls came close to see what I was doing. Breakfast was beautiful and I gave thanks for the bountiful gift. Great fresh plunger of coffee, a small amount of Bircher muesli and some summer fruit: a large, golden peach at just the right stage of ripeness; a dozen fresh lychees and a small fragrant mango. Just wonderful.

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Owen's prompt for today is to write for ten minutes about devotion. So here goes:

"Devotion?" I find it difficult to get my mind around this. I find the word hard to pin down, just like the word "love." To me both of them work better as verbs than as nouns. Devotion also brings to mind those usually boring times we had as a family around the breakfast table, when my husband, following the strict tradition of his childhood, would read a whole chapter from the Bible and then pray for ages about things which the young boys knew nothing of. It was my job to keep them quiet and interested. Both almost impossible. Then he would go on his way, confident that he had done his duty and had family devotions.

Devotion to me implies a result. Something follows, an action. In the OT., if something was devoted to God, then it was set apart for his use and enjoyment. Same idea as sanctification.

So to be devoted or to show devotion is to be set apart for a person or purpose. Devotion is marriage is to be towards each other. Devotion to a job or sport is to follow that purpose with energy. And so to devotion to God. I show my devotion by being set apart for him. This is not some nebulous idea promoted by mysticism, but an act of dedication or, dare I say it, devotion. How this is worked out in practice will vary, as we are all different.

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5.2.04

Owen has a series of writing prompts. I've often thought about following the prompt but not done it before. Today's is to write in the second person about an abiding passion. In other words to write as if someone is speaking to me about it.

I've known you for many years now, since you were quite small. Have I ever told you that you used to hold classes and teach, even when you were young? You didn't line up your dolls, you definitely weren't a dolly type person, but you would gather the neighbourhood kids and teach them what you had been learning in school that day yourself. Knowing the staff at the small school you attended, I would smile at the way you captured their mannerisms and expressions.

I was pleased when you accepted the Teachers' College Scholarship to Uni. At least that had a living allowance attached. I'm not too sure what the year at College taught you after several years at Uni. So much of the time you were obviously desperate to actually be out in the field, away from the theory. Was the softball umpire exam really necessary for someone who wanted to teach languages?

Life in the field was somewhat of a surprise. That year seven class opened your sheltered eyes to words you had never heard your father use!

Actually you were a good teacher, as secondary teachers go. Your classes enjoyed listening and generally worked well for you. Exam results in public exams were good too, although I think that now you would not really use them as much of a gauge of success. Teaching languages is much more than just teaching the mechanics of a language. You tried to get inside the ethos of those languages and to give an insight into another culture. At the same time, Latin translation into English taught careful analysis of words and helped to develop a logical approach. Modern european languages required more care in agreement of words than English often does.

I can still see your passion for teaching as you brought up your boys. You didn't like shoddy work. "Do it properly," was a motto. Something must have rubbed off. Quite different from each other, the three of them have each done well in their own chosen fields. More than that, you taught them more elusive qualities and they have turned into fine young men.

I see you now, older but wiser, as the saying goes. You have immersed yourself in study of a different kind and are beginning to be recognised again as a teacher with a passion. Your theological study served to remind you how little you really knew. So many find their years at theological college really dry. You were stimulateed in your faith and in your desire to impart that. You only have to read the appreciation cards from thse conferences and to hear others still speak of the talks you gave, to know that you did a good job. Your passion is to teach the Bible and to teach how to read it.

And yet, I notice you have changed. Once you would have been fairly dogmatic about your correctness. Since reading at a high academic level, you have learnt how to recognise excellence in others and to be thankful for it. Your fairly narrow perspective has broadened. Because you are secure in your faith, you are willing to explore the thoughts of others and to consider them and take them on board if helpful. You are not afraid to delve into writings from traditions beyond your own. Where you once would have refused to read the writings of those considered liberal, you now recognise that there is much good in these.

As a result, I can see a difference. While you still have a passion for teaching, particularly teaching young people,you are more mellow and balanced. You've seen a bit of life and taken many fairly hard knocks. You now have more of an understanding of people. This has given you an approach which people say is easy to listen to and which those without any background in the topic can understand. As they listen new fields are opened up to them.

It will be interesting to watch the next few years as you begin to teach even more and move outside your immediate circle.


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Here are my selections for blogger_idol-1.gif Once again, not really votes, but more explorations of the many entries listed. No specific order, just a list.

A day in the life of a high school janitor. how did he get there ?

Amanda's day in photos

A day in the life of Riley

St Brigid

perfect

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I received an email yesterday with this blog's URL as the subject line. No attachment, so I opened it. It was an offer to join a listing of blogs. The category offered to me was spiritualism/gnosticism I'm sure it said "spiritualism" not "spirituality." I needed to go to a link to join up. I pressed DELETE instead. So much gnosticism around these days and it is making inroads into the church as well. I certainly didn't want to promote it.

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3.2.04

When I read the theme for this week's blogger_idol-1.gif I could feel the Walter Mitty who lives in my head stirring with excitement.

A day in the life of ....Surely that would be easy. Walter reminded me of many school "compositions" on a similar theme. I can remember writing about a penny which is finally drowned as it slips down a drain, but still speaks from the dead on my exercise book page. Perhaps I was about nine then? So what or who would I be? Mr Mitty quivered in anticipation.

Perhaps I would spend a day in the expensive shoes of one of those women from the North Shore whom I see occasionally. Their hair is elegantly and expensively done and they wear designer casual gear. They have children with names like Tamsin or Tamara and little Nicholas scans an original copy of Thomas the Tank Engine . They sit contentedly while their mother sips her latté. Then again, perhaps I might find someone better.

Mr Mitty whispers in my ear that I might like to be someone in the world of academia. After all, isn't that where I really feel at home? So I slip into the shoes of a lecturer and researcher in some classics department or perhaps some Professor of Biblical Studies. That feels more like it. This is very comfortable and I could easily decide to live here permanently. Hearing in a department meeting that funding cuts may mean job losses, I feel somewhat threatened. Perhaps these shoes might have to last a very long time if I find myself on the outer. I am just thinking that my latest published research would prevent that happening when I realise that office politics and scheming are underway to oust me. So I leave those shoes behind.

Walter is becoming impatient with me. He's given me two good opportunities and I have dismissed them. To calm him down, I decide to spend some time as a retiree. I settle for a small cottage by the beach. Time is passing so I have a leisurely but light lunch. Have to watch those pennies, you see. A light snooze and then I go for a walk along the beach. So quiet and peaceful. Mr Mitty is resting happily until I see a sign advertising a development opportunity for forty holiday apartments. He wakes hurriedly and transports me in horror to the mountains. Birds of all types are flying around and I can hear a kookaburra high in the gum trees. I am just about to settle in a cosy little place with a beautiful fire and woodstove when a bulldozer rumbles past. There goes my home as a new road is made to take the tourist traffic.

The day is passing and I still have not found anywhere to stay. I head in the opposite direction and take up residence as some bright young thing with strappy high-heeled shoes and a stick insect figure. On closer inspection, I find this is my niece. Dinner is not a success. While I enjoy salad, I like something more with it. She doesn't drink alcohol but the party she attends after dinner gives me a headache within a few minutes. And I really can't keep up with her dancing.

Mr Mitty whispers in my ear that he feels uncomfortable too. I'm just about to ask him if he has any reasonable suggestions for future actions. He doesn't seem to have been too successful so far. Then a glance outside says that the day is basically over. While the night is still young at the party I have just left, my hectic day has tired me. I send my friend Walter packing. He hasn't done a very good job at all. Tomorrow, I'll keep Walter confined and live my own life.

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2.2.04

Our national broadcaster reports that prison escapees in Western Australia are claiming the dole in their own name while they are on the run. Centrelink has approved these payments, despite having a current list of escapees.

I wonder how those poor parents who made an honest mistake in estimating their next year's income, feel about this as they struggle to repay parenting allowances which were overpaid to them?

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