12.2.04

yabbies
I suppose one way to describe yabbies is to say they are freshwater crayfish. They live in clear creeks and catching them is a lot of fun. It usually entails a stick, some string and an improvised, homemade net if you are creative. Then there is the matter of the bait. A nice, stinking piece of rotten meat works well. The technique is to sit quietly on a rock, dangling the baited string into the water. Mountain pools are good spots to try. After much waiting, there will be a nibble on the string. This has to be slowly brought to the surface. Yabbies are suspicious however, and here is where the net comes in. Before they can realise what is happening, it should be slipped under them to get them out of the water. Once you have enough, boil them in a billy on an open fire near the creek and enjoy.

You can find out more about them here.

We used to catch yabbies in a creek in the Blue Mountains when I was a child. Absolutely delicious. So many years later, we went back for a picnic and decided to go yabbying. We caught two and stopped for lunch. We placed them in the net in the boot of the car. After lunch we decided to move to another pool where we had no success. Two were not enough for a feed and we went to put them back. There was only one there now. After moving everything in the boot and not finding it, we decided it had climbed out during lunch and returned to the creek.

Weeks later I had to take the car to be serviced and to have work done on the brakes. There was an unpleasant smell when I got into the car, but I could not find anything, so I opened the windows and drove to the mechanic's. He was unfortunate enough to find the source of the smell. The yabby had managed to secrete itself in the wheel arch somewhere. There it had eventually died and was now long dead. The poor mechanic had to scrape it out in pieces with a length of wire.

Perhaps another OOOPS moment.

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Here are my selections for this week. Again, no preferences.

Hamo's freudian slip
A thoughtful look from Ian
The CD they weren't meant to have.
Lots to choose from, including a young pastor's OOOPS
Leah, a scriptural OOPS

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Several times a year, we receive a bulletin from our local municipal council with updates on the area. Today's reports on a community hall upgrade and I quote: Improvements include a new unisex toilet with babychange table, sandpit and a kitchen.

Even better than the shop and residents for lease which is still on a sign in my local shops.

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I do very few of these quizzes etc but found this one at Riverstone's blog. Riverstone commented on my post on February that she believed that February has eighty days, not twenty-eight.

I was surprised to see this result, part of which is true. Aqua is certainly one of my favourite colours as can be seen by the colour of SHALOM

you are aqua
#00FFFF

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very high - you are all about getting things done. The world may think you work too hard but you have a lot to show for it, and it keeps you going. You shouldn't be afraid to lead people, because if you're doing it, it'll be done right.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the spacefem.com html color quiz

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11.2.04

Two prompts in one day? The new one is a closed door.

As the door closed behind me and I walked up the steps to the car, I had to blink hard to keep back the tears. This house was part of my childhood. I had first gone there to recuperate from a particulalry nasty bout of measles. The lock then and for many years was temperamental and hard to manipulate. When we managed to open the door, the smell of almost a hundred years of wood fires and a wood stove greeted us. The building itself had been permeated by years of smoke. It was this smell which ws characteristic of the place and even now, my sons will say when they smell the first fire of the season,"Smells like Glen Ayr."

The place was tiny, three rooms long with a back and front verandah. We used to wash in a tin bath in front of the fire until a bathroom was added outside, downstairs. We didn't spend much time inside, preferring to go for walks or play in the paddock in the valley.

When I married, we continued to come for winter holidays and brought our sons. My parents bought the land next door as a retirement block and when the opportunity rose, they also bought the little house where they lived while they built. The house then became extra family accommodation. It was not only part of my childhood, but part of my whole life.

Then my Dad developed Alzheimer's and after many years of being cared for by my mother, was admitted to a nursing home. I spent the night before his admission in the house, weeping and praying. After his death, some years later, my mother raised the possibility of selling. It was getting beyond her to maintain both houses, particularly one as old and fragile as this was. I would have loved to have bought it but just could not raise the money at the time which she needed to buy closer to us. It was sold to a couple with children. And the door shut.

I took cuttings of the old rose which was old when I first saw it and also took some of the deeply scented violets which lined the path. I hurried up the staiirs, into the car and drove away. I could not bring myself to return for a long time. The door was now open again. I could see that the new owners, only the fourth owners in a century, loved the little old place. What they had done was improvements, not what would be to me desecration. The garden had not changed but the fight with blackberries seemed to have been won and the agapanthus had been thinned. As I watched a girl about ten ran out the door and took the familiar path down to the paddock. In my mind I went with her. I knew every step. The house was safe and so were my memories.

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ghosts of the heart
I've missed a couple of Owen's prompts because I have had just too much on my plate to do them. I've decided to just pick up on today's prompt and go from there. or I may always be behind. He suggest just writing as we feel led here, even if we are not sure what the phrase means.

When I first read CS Lewis' Surprised by Joy a long time ago, I was struck by his phrase. I seemed to be able to identify with his descriptions of what he called "joy" although the triggers were different to his.

Ghosts of the heart seems to me to be similar. An elusive term, hard to define and I won't try. These ghosts float around me and I try to catch them, to hold on to them before they vaporise and vanish. Some of them are longings, longings which I have secreted deep down, longings which I don't want to acknowledge. I could give some of them names, names like safety and warmth. These are too concrete for these ghosts.

Some of the ghosts are dreams- dreams of what might have been. Here is a ghost called "if only." This is the only place allowed to such a title. There is not a lot of good in dreaming this one too often. It leads only to a sea of self pity. "If only" has a close relative called "regrets." Again, while I can learn from both of these, I don't encourage these ghosts.

Castles in the air are inhabited by ghosts of the heart. I could spend a lot of time entertaining these ghosts. I don't believe that this is what others may call time wasted. Here I catch a glimpse of what could perhaps be. Quite often the ghosts are faceless, although sometimes I know them. These ghosts provide a relief on occasions. On others they provide a stimulus to move . They provide a time of recuperation to me. They whisper to me that I am loved by many and they bring the love of God to me too.

So I live with my ghosts of the heart, welcoming their appearance. they hover around waiting for me to catch them. When I am able to hold one for even only a short time, I am blessed.

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february blues
I seem to remember reading how much some northern hemisphere people hated October. Or was it November? Down here in Sydney, the month to dislike is February.

Although it is the shortest month in the calendar, February takes at least twice as long to pass as any other month. February is the month which grabs at summer and refuses to let go. We can have days of 38°, even in September, but February is the worst by far. January is hot and tempers can flare in the lead up to Christmas in December, but February outweighs these by far. February in Sydney is not only hot but humid in the extreme. Every day this week has been very hot and more is still promised or should that be threatened. I live a few minutes from the harbour and river, as the crow flies, and it has been just a tad under 40° most days this week. Couple that with very high humidity and the result is dreadful. Nights are oppressive and for those without airconditioning , or fans at the least, sleep is hard and we toss to and fro. I do have airconditioning in the bedroom but would much rather have the windows wide open. However, I turn it on to sleep.

Today there is very heavy cloud overhead which is keeping yesterday's heat in and is also contributing to the humidity. A few drops of rain fell but they lasted less than a minute. Washing hung on the line very early is still quite damp.

February is a long month for other reasons. January here says HOLIDAYS ARE HERE! The leadup to Christmas is over. School closes for 6-8 weeks. Many people take their holidays and spin them out by adding the public holidays to them. We migrate to the beach, to camping grounds around lakes or to fibro shacks where sandy floors and casual clothes do not matter. Daylight savings gives us long evenings, perfect for dining out, sipping coffee outdoors, going fishing, catching up on reading the Christmas books etc. Enticing aromas float from many backyards as the BBQ is fired up to save cooking in the kitchen.

January sees the Festival of Sydney. There are many free events both indoors and outdoors. Symphony in the park and its cousin Opera in the Domain attract thousands with their rugs,folding chairs and eskys, ready to enjoy the entertainment. Just don't forget the umbrellas in case of a summer storm. Many councils show free films in local parks and put on entertainment for children. Australia Day on January 26th sees a second display of fireworks over our harbour and another public holiday. And then there's the cricket, another summer staple with the Sydney Test and one day games. The Australian Open Tennis is on TV to watch.

And then comes February, the spoilsport. People reluctantly trudge back to work. School resumes and little feet are laced into school shoes instead of running free. Uniforms replace swimming costumes. Unis resume this month too. Free entertainment winds down and evenings are consumed by homework. Minds which have been devouring historical novels or detective stories are forced to contemplate more boring fare. There's no prospect of more time off till Easter.

And over all hangs the humidity and heat as February makes a last ditch attempt to hold onto summer. Energy sapping humidity and heat combine to bring exhaustion and to prevent refreshment in sleep. Those of us with curly hair find we have halos of frizzy tight curls. Sweat pours down our brows at the slightest exertion.

In February, autumn can't come quickly enough.

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10.2.04

OOOPS!!
The theme for blogger_idol-1.gif is OOPS. It was graphically illustrated to me this morning.


I use a small Italian, Girmi coffee grinder each morning to grind coffee for my morning plunger, the only coffee I usually have each day. This grinder is quite old, possibly about thirty years. Generally it hides its age well. However I have one problem. It will only work when a lug on the lid engages a hole in the body of the grinder. I imagine this is supposed to be a safety mechanism.

Some weeks ago, I filled it with beans, plugged it in and put the lid on. Pressed down. Nothing. I checked the power was on. Nothing. I gave it a smart tap on the side with my hand. Nothing. Desperate for my morning fix, I did a foolish thing. Noticing that the hole was fairly blocked , I took a toothpick and began to probe. Disaster! I had neglected to turn the power off and the toothpick made the connection. Beans and partially ground coffee went everywhere. Down behind my glasses and into my eyes; all through my hair which I had just washed; over a wide area of the kitchen floor and bench. OOPS!

After cleaning the mess, I cleaned the grinder and decided that the connection between lug and hole was beginning to show signs of age, which was not surprising as it is used most mornings.

This morning, I put in the beans and noticed that I really should clean it out as there was some ground powder still around the edges. I hadn't put the lid on when I plugged it into the power point which my husband had left turned on. Disaster again. Not as much in the way of ground coffee, but beans this time, all over the kitchen. OOOOPS!

All this goes to show the truth of a couple of clichés:history repeats itself; we don't learn from our past mistakes.

OOPS!

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8.2.04

My sons, I want to tell you how much I love you and how proud I am of you. I know you have heard me say this before to each of you, and I have written to you to, particularly on birthdays, but I just felt it important to tell you all again. Time passes so quickly and here is little Andrew starting school, when it is not so long ago that his father was in the same position.

I am so happy to see that you have all grown into fine young men, men whom I would be pleased to know even if you were not my sons. I remember someone speaking about you to me when you were in your teens. "Such lovely boys." she said, and I wondered if we had the same boys in mind. Then again, she saw you once a week at church, and I lived with you.

I am proud that each of you has been a wonderful support to me over these last few years. Support in many ways has been offered and I am indeed grateful. I am thankful that Peter paid for my tuition that year to convert my diploma to a degree. I know he was told that other assistance would be offered. It was not forthcoming in the slightest and he shouldered that burden by himself. I know he could afford it. That is not the point, newly married and renovating a house, he could probably easily have used several thousand dollars more. Mark and Tim have been great support for me as well, in many ways. Not so obvious perhaps as financial support, but essential and very welcome.

I know some of the temptations each of you has faced and I am proud that you have been honourable in these. It's not easy to stand firm against them.

You are compassionate and do your bit to help others less fortunate than you. You are generous with your time and money to various causes and yet are unwilling to shout abroad what you have contributed. When the value of work done as a volunteer was accidentally revealed, many people could not believe the figures. You shrank from the recognition.

I think the two of you who are fathers are doing a tremendous job with your children. Different styles of parenting, but my grandchildren are delightful. I think you each did a great job in picking a girl to share your life with. I love each of them and get on well with all my daughters-in law. We have our differences from time to time, but they are all resolved. I haven't always found it easy here. Mothers love their sons deeply and find it difficult to hand over to another woman. With a poor example in front of me, I resolved to be different right from the start. I have tried, not always successfully, to offer advice only when asked. I have tried to recognise that someone else other than me now has first call on your priorities. I hope you can recognise that.

I love your sense of humour. It tallies with mine so many times. We could all listen to ages old replays of the Goons and still fall about laughing at them.

It sounds as if I have placed you on a pedestal and think you are paragons of virtue. Not so. I know that, as human, you are imperfect. I see things which grieve me from time to time. I have listened to you occasionally as you have told of your failures. I am glad that you know where to turn at these times, to a strength and love that is way beyond what I can give.

That is an interesting word, "virtue." It comes from the Latin vir, a man and encompasses all those qualities which the Romans believed were manly essentials, including courage, virtus, virtutis. I believe you all have a share of those values.

Again, I say to the three of you that I love you deeply and am proud of you.

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