It's been a bit warm. The temperature hovers around 35 degrees centigrade. That's 95 in old money. The humidity has been from 65% up to 77% and Mr Sunshine and I have stayed inside with the air conditioner on as much as possible. Outside the clouds are gathering and it looks like we might get the promised storm. Our mountains have disappeared behind a bank of low clouds.
Not much to blog about so I went out with my camera to catch a bit of the tropics in my garden.
If you are in a cold place. I hope this glimpse of the tropics makes you feel a little warmer. Right now I think it would be great to feel a little cooler so I'll browse some of those northern hemisphere blogs and see if that helps.
I know the title is a little clichéd, but the trouble is that the tune of "So this is Christmas" has been buzzing around in my head all day as ear worms do and maybe the only way to get rid of it is to write about it. Some of the problem is that I think I'm suffering from several seasonal diseases/syndromes.
There's the Christmas-anticlimax-syndrome because it is the day after the big day and all of the mad rushing and shopping and stressing is suddenly over. The Christmas-anticlimax-syndrome usually goes hand in hand with the I-shouldn't-have-eaten-so-much-syndrome.
Then there is the avoiding-all-the-work-that-I-should-be-doing-syndrome. Having had so much to do and been so busy for weeks, now is the chance to catch up in the garden and house, but I really don't feel like it. If I was an athlete I'd say I "hit the wall". Maybe I hit the mental wall? I might have the balk-at-having-so-much-to-catch-up-on variety of this disease.
Of course, this being a regular steamy hot North Queensland Summer day, I'm also suffering from the heat-has-sapped-my-energy syndrome.
Oh well, I think I'd better get started on something. . . right after I go and have a nice cold drink with Mr Sunshine out on the patio in the shade.
Merry Christmas to everyone out in blogland! I hope you enjoy the caricature that Andrew Fyfe did of our work crew. We thought it was great. Have a great holiday, remember whose birthday celebration it is and stay safe.
This is our Christmas tree - completed. Decorated by Lion and Dragon McTavish with a little help from Grannysaurus. See that gold star. Just behind it is a gold wire angel with bead decoration. They are on the top of the tree. Star and angel together. I know they don't look like they are on the top of the tree, but they really are. It's not an optical illusion. It's just that the top of the tree is no longer at the top of the tree.
You see after the tree was complete, Lion got his little stool, stood up on it and reached up to the top of the tree. He very purposely and carefully bent the top over so that he could reach the star and the angel - maybe to make sure they were secure or maybe just to have them within reach. Who knows. It took him a few minutes to get it just right. So that is the way it stays.
I'm not sure why I'm happy to have a tree that looks a little bent and lop-sided. I just know that if it was so important for Lion to take such care getting it like that, it would feel wrong for me to go and change it. Maybe I'm a bit strange, but it kind of makes it special. So that is the way it will be till it gets packed away for another Christmas - a litttle bent.
For some reason I had one of those nights when I thought about everything that has made me, as a mother, feel guilty in the last 30 years. It's a little more than that since I found out I was pregnant for the very first time. What got me started was thinking about how undeservedly blessed I am with my children, their spouses and my grandchildren. I wasn't depressed or beating myself up over anything - just being honest with myself about my stuff ups. Let me list some:
*I drank heaps of coffee (12-16 cups a day) throughout my first pregnancy. It's a wonder Chimera made it through the pregnancy.
*All 3 kids had colic and reflux to varying extents, but very severe for baby no. 1 (Chimera) - so much pain and discomfort and tears and we could do nothing. No medicine did more than take some of the edge off the pain. Most did not even do that.
*Letting daughter no. 2 (Mummy McTavish) go to sleepover party at the home of a paedophile. He was her friends stepfather and of course we didn't know he was a paedophile then. He had been trying to entice little girls into his car with lollies. Fortunately he wasn't there that night, but the guilt still sticks.
*Not realising that the reason daughter no. 2 was crying every day about going to school was because she was being bullied.
*The many times when adventurous toddler-son climbed the fence and ran away from home as soon as he could walk (about 9months old) and even managed to almost make it to the highway on one occasion.
*All of the times I disciplined to harshly when something more mild and loving would have sufficed.
*The times I didn't discipline enough and let bad habits take root.
*The times when I said, "That's not bad" when I should have said, "That's great and I'm really proud of you!"
*The times when I should have hugged and kissed more.
The list goes on, but you get my drift. The thing is that guilt seems to be part of the human condition. No one has tried to make me feel guilty. I just did it to myself. Motherhood has given me so many more opportunities to feel guilty, that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I'm sure most mothers would agree.
The Church, Christianity, has often been blamed for inflicting guilt on people. It is true of some individuals within the church that they have a knack for burdening people with guilt, but it is not true of true Christianity.
One of my favourite Christmas cards declares "Kid born in shed saves world". Saves the world from what. . . true guilt. I believe that when we trust and follow Jesus, we are no longer judged guilty. The Bible says that the baby Jesus grew up and dealt with our guilt forever at the cross. That is what Christianity is really about- not inflicting guilt. The guilt is already there. Because of Christmas and Easter we are saved from guilt, not just motherhood guilt, but all guilt.
Today Lion and Dragon McTavish came to help Grannysaurus decorate the Christmas tree. Mummy McTavish assured me that it would keep them busy for hours and I would still be able to write Christmas cards while they still had some chance fo arriving in time for Christmas 2008. It sounded like a good plan.
It kept them busy for about 5 minutes. That was how long it took to throw the "balls" on the floor and find out that none of them bounce. Then they discovered the tinsel in the picture. It was dozens of little pretend gifts about 2cm square hung on tinsel that could be draped around the tree.
Christmas gifts are exciting and enticing even if they are smaller than your big toe. You simply have to find out what is inside. The first lump of styrofoam masquerading as a gift doesn't mean that every single one has a lump of styrofoam inside. Little boys don't give up that easily. They had to keep opening the little gifts just in case it paid off. It didn't. Grannysaurus ended up doing most of the decorating alone, although Lion chipped in and helped after a bit of emotional manipulation. Two year old Dragon kept insisting he couldn't help because he was "too busy".
Two weeks ago it was Mr Sunshine's birthday and all of the family came over to help him celebrate. Lion and Dragon McTavish shared a little table of their own. They put on their own tablecloth (a large tea towel) and their own plates and cutlery. I think they did a pretty neat job for little fellas.
Aunty J and Uncle R were setting the big table and when we were ready to serve dinner this is what we found on Lion and Dragon's table. I think it is Dragon's handiwork, but I'm not entirely sure. Aunty J took the photo.
Warning this blog contains feminine hygiene content!
You may not have read this blog by Mummy McTavish. I commented then that one of the other comments reminded me of a funny tampon event back in 1975 and that it might be worth a blog entry one of these days. This is the day!
The youth group that I was involved in back in the 70's was fairly male dominated. Back then life was male dominated. Many blokes still had lovely old fashioned manners which was nice, but some were jerks -just like now I guess. Some jerks were openly jerk-ish and at least you knew where you stood with those types, but some jerks were less overt. They thought they could disguise their sexist bullying as humour or fun. We had a couple of this jerk species in the youth group. Unfortunately one of them was a leader. I'll call him Jeremy Jerk.
Jeremy had a keen sense of "fun". On camps, he thought it was fun to go through the girls' luggage and steal their undies and then use them as decorations around the camp site. He also thought it was fun to grab one of the girls and pick her up and put her in a garbage bin. His other fun pastime was to grab a girl's handbag or purse and start to go through it with the girl squealing and pleading with him to, "Stop and give it back!" He could always tell by the frantic screaming of the girl and her friends when he was getting close to some embarrassing stash of feminine hygiene products. Then he would hand the bag back so as to avoid embarrassing himself. He only did this to me once and I think I cured him of the habit for good.
I kept spare tampons in a little velvet jewelery case in my bag. It had once contained my watch. You know the sort - a hard little case with a spring loaded lid. I could fit about 3 tampons neatly inside it and it didn't look obvious. You can guess what happened.
Jeremy was having some fun with my handbag and at first I argued with him [I don't scream or squeal - it's undignified]. My girlfriends did the screaming and squealing on my belhalf and just as Jeremy found the little velvet jewelery box my girlfiriends became more frantic. One nudged me and said, "Can't we stop him. Look what he's got!" Jeremy looked confused - just as the other girls became more distressed, I became dead calm. He wasn't so sure of the signs anymore. I had one of those "light bulb" moments and I looked at my friends and shrugged my shoulders as if to say, "It's out of our hands. What will be, will be."
A couple of dozen teenagers were looking on as Jeremy opened the little case to reveal, horror of horrors, tampons! Absolute silence descended. Teenage boys froze in their tracks at first and then suddenly found they had things to do elsewhere. Jeremy was white, like a sheet. After a few seconds doing an excellent impersonation of a marble statue, he quietly closed the jewelery case, put it in my bag, handed the bag back to me and walked away without saying a word.
My girlfriends were impressed with how easily he was cured of his annoying habit and thought I was "brave" for the way I handled it.
It just goes to show how different attitudes were back then.
Twelve months ago Mr Sunshine and I spent about 5 weeks in Tasmania. It was his first time in the "Apple Isle" but I had been there before. It is where my Dad was born and where family history goes back to the 1860's and maybe a bit longer. That is a pretty long time by Australian standards unless you are aboriginal. We had hoped to return there in 2009 for the whole year. Mr Sunshine is a teacher and short term teaching contracts would have kept bread on the table. Meanwhile we would have spent every spare minute hiking, driving, photographing and just enjoying as much of the island as was humanly possible. Alas, it is not to be. Not in 2009 at least. Last July we bought a business. It is a pretty good business and we are mostly in the black, not the red, but it has tied us to North Queensland for the present time. I would have missed the grandkids a lot if we had been away anyway. In lieu of our escape to greener and cooler Tassy I decided to post some photos from our last holiday there in order to have a little virtual holiday.
Yes I have to admit it, I was a fat baby. I feel compelled to admit it after watching Today Tonight a few hours ago about the little baby whose child care worker labelled "fat and obese".
Of course in the usual fashion of these current affairs shows the story was a bit of sensationalism about what really amounted to foot-in-mouth disease by the child care worker. She should have kept her opinion to herself . But the truth is that we are hearing far too much about obese children these days and not enough about having a healthy diet. The focus is on the effect and not on the cause. Tonight's show also emphasised that baby Olivia was healthy and did have a healthy diet so the child care worker was way off target anyway.
Focusing on the child's shape is only going to cause more problems, isn't it? Isn't poor body image already a huge problem for many children and adults? Isn't it likely to cause guilt, inferiority, self-consciousness and for some kids depression and other emotional problems?
The top photo is not my fattest photo. It got worse than that and in another photo (blessedly I couldn't find it tonight) I'm standing side on and I look wider than I am tall at the ripe old age of two. The funny thing is that no junk food had ever passed my lips. KFC and Macca's hadn't even been invented yet. Mum always fed us on lots of vegetables and wholemeal bread. She couldn't afford much more than that. Lollies and soft drinks were not on the menu either.
The other funny thing is that as I grew taller and became more active, I slimmed down. By the time I was five, I weighed the same as when I was two, but had grown head and shoulders taller as you see me in the next photo. This is pretty common in kids from what I've seen. The last funny thing is that from the time I was about 17 until the last few years my weight fluctuated hardly at all, apart from several pregnancies, and stayed around 53 kg. The last photo is pretty average for me for the last 35 years. In other words, obese babies don't have to become obese adults. That old "expert" theory about the number of fat cells you have as a child determining the number of fat cells you will have as an adult simply doesn't hold water.
I know I sound a bit "preachy" tonight, but this whole "obese" labelling thingy seems to be getting out of hand. It doesn't help the issue at all. The media often has a case to answer for their conflicting attitudes of sympathy for those with poor body image and disapproval for those who are overweight. How is that going to improve anyone's body image? Mums with healthy, chubby little babies can just relax and thank God for their baby's good health.
Yes, I am a fan of "Jesus Christ Superstar". And the song What's the buzz? from that movie has a certain catchiness to it that qualifies it as an earworm*. Though this buzz was not that buzz. This was the buzz of honeybees. Yesterday there was a bee buzzing around inside the house at about 8am. Grandchildren were expected so I thought it would be a good idea to remove the bee before anyone got hurt, including the bee. Note: I do not kill bees or anything else if I can help it. Not even spiders, in spite of arachnophobia.
A couple of hours later we had another bee. Then another. Then another. I know four bees do not make a hive, but this was a little too much of a coincidence. Besides that, about a year ago we did have a swarm of bees take up residence in an exterior wall of our house for a few days. I didn't fancy the thought of honey dripping down the back of the plaster board where I couldn't reach it, but cockroaches, ants, mice and rats could. The thought of all those vermin having a party and growing fat and multiplying where I couldn't reach them was a little disturbing.
Yesterday ended with no enlightenment about the bee issue, but this morning, about 7 am, when I was in the loo and all was quiet, I could hear a loud buzzing and I saw the occasional bee flitting past the window. Once outside I found them, dozens of them, buzzing in and out of the air vent in the brickwork, swarming in the wall again. That mind-picture of honey dripping down the inside of the wall and hoards of vermin with glinting red eyes scuttling around behind the plasterboard came back to me - the bees being just the little innocents who start the whole juggernaut in progress.
I went back to my bedroom to think about what to do, to complete my sudoku and because the air conditioner was still on and it was already about 30 degrees centigrade (86 Fahrenheit) outside. Soon I came to the logical choice of what to do. Yes! I would blog it. I would take my camera outside and take close-ups of the little darlings as they went about their work. Later in the day Mr. Sunshine would get his friend who is an apiarist to come around and collect the swarm, I would photograph that too. It would be quite a story and the grandchildren would be intrigued.
So, at about 8 am I went back out into the sauna-like heat armed with my camera and guess what? No bees. No buzz. The wall faces north (where the sun is all day long in the southern hemisphere). They must have decided that even with our air conditioner cooling things down a bit, it was just too hot for them. If they come back I will take photos. Meanwhile you can check out the photos of what it might have been like here, but. . . I would never have considered poison for bees.
*[Earworms are those tunes that you hear once and then cannot get out of your head for the rest of the day. You find yourself absently humming or whistling them every time your concentration lapses.]
No I didn't suddenly die or run out of things to blog about and it isn't that I forgot to pay my internet bill either. It's just that information technology in North Queensland doesn't seem to have progressed into the 21st century yet. We have had a lot of trouble with our internet connection cutting in and out and basically being unreliable, so when Telstra offered us ADSL2 with more gigs, more reliable and faster etc. etc. we decided to go for it. Here is what they didn't tell us:- We are probably the first in our area to get this; they had not yet actually put in the "stuff" for it at the exchange or locally; there would be a long delay (weeks - well almost 2 weeks) between being disconnected from our old internet provider and being connected up to our new ADSL2. This Thursday we hope to be back on the air. For now I thought I would give a short explanation from my work computer (not on work time though, in case you are wondering). If you read my profile you will know that I'm a Parish Worker. This kind of means that I'm employed by God and God pays me. The Church treasurer signs the cheque, but since she works for God too, it's all the same. The problem with working for God is that I've got to be pretty honest about what I do. [Like using the work computer - God's computer]. So you see, when I say that I'm not doing this on work time, it has to be true because I really, really don't want to shortchange my Boss.
Do you remember this blog from Mummy McTavish? It was just crying out for a response of some kind. Note the picture accompanying this blog: that is Mummy Mc Tavish about 26 years ago. She is a bonny little thing, isn't she? She didn't always have a cockroach hanging out of her mouth. Not always, but she did at least once think one was worth a taste. When Mummy McTavish and her sister Chimera were very little we lived in an old Queenslander house. It was a very old timber building and let the breezes and everything else in as old houses often do. One morning after Mr Sunshine had taken himself off to uni ( USA translation: varsity) I noticed a large dead cockroach flat on its back beside the kitchen stove. There was a cocky bait under the stove. I got the dustpan to pick it up (the cockroach, not the bait), but then it started wriggling its legs like crazy and I got nervous. Previous bad experiences with creepy bugs had taught me to expect them to revive suddenly and either scamper up a broom handle or fly with pinpoint accuracy and great speed at a target between my eyes. So, I am ashamed to admit my first act of cowardice was to leave it there and give it time to die undisturbed. That was my first act of cowardice, but it gets worse. At some point baby Mummy McTavish woke up and after whatever we did in the mornings back then she crawled her way into the kitchen. I didn't follow her because I was doing something in the living room and the house was child safe, at least it was usually child safe, but not this day. Next instant there was a very prolonged, startled scream from the kitchen. I rushed in to see baby Mummy McTavish sitting beside the stove with only the back legs of this humongous cockroach sticking out of her mouth and IT WAS STILL WRIGGLING. Mother love kicked in and I rushed forward to rescue my baby, pull the disgusting creature from her mouth and comfort her. Actually no. I rushed forward, realised that there was no way that I could touch that thing with my bare hand and ran off to get a tissue. That was my second act of cowardice. I did get the tissue and even then it took all the mother love I could muster to get that disgusting creature out of her mouth. Of course Mummy McTavish was far too young to remember this experience. Sadly, I can never forget it. Yes, Mummy McTavish, you are right. Mothers do know too much to be let loose in blogland.
Have you ever thought about the future of all of the old terms and clichés that applied to the hand-written word such as "pen to paper", "poison pen", "penpal", "put down my pen", "the pen is mightier than the sword" and you can probably think of others? I was never very fond of clichés and yet I miss them a little when it comes to the world of the computer and the web. Even though we tried not to use them and often groaned at the use others made of them, they were somehow woven into the fabric of our writing culture.
Language is a dynamic evolving thing. New words as well as new meanings for old words are being added to our dictionaries every year, especially in the I.T. section. "Web" for instance is an old word with a new meaning. What doesn't seem to have caught up are the idioms and clichés.
What can we say in the place of "pen to paper" that will still sound a bit catchy and maybe even raise a groan from our readers? The field is wide open and I would love some suggestions for new clichés in relation to what we write with our keyboards. Till next time I put down my keyboard. . .
Thomas was my Dad's uncle, but he was about 60 years older than Dad and died long before Dad was born. This was because my Grandad was about 40 years older than my Grandmother and Uncle Thomas was Grandad's older brother. Thomas was a Tasmanian miner who enlisted at the age of about 45. Many teenage boys lied about their age so that they would be accepted for enlistment. Thomas lied about his age too, but it appears that he knocked a few years off in order to be accepted. Still he passed the medical examination and in February 1916 he became an enlisted man. He was sent overseas in September of the same year. He was initially in the Australian 5th Company Tunnellers, but in January 1917 he was in the 2nd Company Tunnellers. Perhaps so many of their comrades had been killed or injured by then that they were forced to amalgamate. I don't know and I haven't been able to find out. Tunnellers were soldiers who were mostly miners before joining up and they had the incredibly difficult and dangerous job of tunnelling under the German trenches. In one documented case involving Thomas's company, the German line was only about 70-80 yards away from the allies, but because of having to skirt the boggy coastal terrain (in Belgium) and the need for security, the tunnels were in fact 160 yards and 230 yards in length. They were 15-20 feet underground and only inches above the water table - more than a little claustrophobic. In mid 1917, the tunnellers got their first sniff of a gas that smelt like new-mixed mustard in these tunnels when the Germans used gas shells to attack their positions. Because the British Air force were under instructions not to reveal their strength they could not go to the aid of the the allies under attack. The German planes took control of the area, the tunnels were broken into and the tunnellers attacked with flame throwers. Some brave soldiers who were strong swimmers crossed the Yser River and using a rope helped about 80 men to cross the river to relative safety. These were all that escaped death and capture of 2 battalions. Thomas was one of the lucky ones that time. But his luck did not hold out and in February 1918 he suffered another gas attack and was sent to a field hospital and then evacuated out to hospital in England and then home to Tasmania. His records claim that his ailment was chronic rheumatism and that it was a pre-existing illness before he enlisted. He died only a few weeks after setting foot back in Tasmania on 7 November, 1918 - just 4 days before the armistice was signed. Maybe rheumatism can do that to you.
I thought it would be fair to say something about my other half. As is customary, he requires a pen name for the sake of blog anonymity. This was going to be a problem. The only name that he has ever been known by to my knowledge is his own - except for a very brief time to a very select and special group of people. To them he was Mr. Sunshine.
Let me explain. Mr Sunshine is a teacher. He trained and for many years taught mathematics and science in secondary schools. At one stage he taught in a small local Christian school which had preschool to year 12 classes. Occasionally he would invite the infant classes into the big kids' laboratory to have a real science lesson. They loved it and he loved it, but he couldn't remember all their names because he didn't see them often enough. So if he saw one the littlies in the playground he would say, "Hello Sunshine". They all thought that he remembered them well because he always used the same pet name for them. He also used it for every other child, but that didn't seem to matter. At some point one little bright spark turned the tables and said, "Hello Mr. Sunshine" and it stuck. After that he was Mr Sunshine to the kids in the infant classes.
That same year as fate would have it, KMart introduced the coffee mug that you can see in the photo. It appeared first in a catalogue, but we never seemed to find it on the shelves. It was Mummy McTavish who finally tracked one down, although this happened long before she was a mummy or a McTavish. Considering Mr Sunshine's capacity for coffee drinking and his special nick name it was the most appropriate of gifts for him.
One of my sons-in-law got caught out listing my number in his mobile phone as "Dragon Lady". One of my grandsons goes by the nom de plume of Dragon McTavish. I have occasionally been called Grandma Dragon. That didn't seem to have the right flair for a blog name so I did some dragon research. Everybody's favourite lizard in Australia is the little dragon lizard known as a "Frilly" or Frilled neck lizard. He belongs in the genus Chlamydosaurus. As anyone who has read about Dinosaurs knows, saurus simply means lizard, but our Frilly-saurus is a dragon lizard. So I liked the sound of it and the connection to my favourite dragon - the Frilly - and adopted "saurus" in the place of "dragon" and became Grannysaurus. A bit of convoluted reasoning, I know. But convoluted reasoning is one of my talents.
I have worked as a Biology lab assistant, Pathology lab assistant, geochem lab assistant, land tenure researcher, hospital and prison chaplain, parish care coordinator and part owner of a small business. I have studied some science (no degrees) and have a theology and a chaplaincy certificate. I still love science of all types and enjoy studying theology. Science and theology belong together.
At present I am a work-at-home Grannysaurus.