Sunday, November 29, 2009


Nature likes balance and that's just what she's doing.  After all the floods this year, nature is now providing us with hot sticky days and teasing us with afternoon clouds that any other year would yield storms and rain - cooling the ground and air and making it more comfortable to....just be alive. As a result our nights are broken - first it's too hot to even be under a sheet, then a little later I pull up the sheet, then a bit later a light blanket but after a while I'm too hot again so the process begins all over again.  On top of this Little Tree has a nasty cough which may or may not be a virus/may or may not be whooping cough (which is going around) and we've had hardly any sleep for the last three nights. course, the kettle belongs on the bench not the pantry and bugger I just tried to rinse out the full bottle of fragrant oil not the one containing just a few drops - well at least the bathroom smells nice *apologetic shrug* and why isn't dinner cooked? oops...helps if you turn the stove on.

Is it any wonder that someone only had to look at me yesterday for me to morph into some hideous monster, as likely as not to bite off your head and spit it out at your feet then walk away looking quite satisfied. As dear friend Rachel says - tiredness is evil. It changes normally happy, agreeable people to foul creatures that, even though we have no reasonable right to complain, can't help but be horrible to our undeserving partners. And this is exactly why I DO NOT like Summer here. Spring is perfect and Autumn is gorgeous. Winter is refreshingly cold without being icy but Summer sucks - the beach is only an option early or late unless one enjoys heatstroke. The river is a better option - one can find shade - however with all the dairy farms around and the runoff we've had.....well, need I say more? 

As I write this a strong wind from the hot parched inland west has picked up, rattling the doors and windows, so even though it's a hot wind the air movement provides respite. And my darling husband has taken Little Tree to visit his grandparents (they are happy to accept responsibility for their exposure to illness)  so peace and quiet reigns. And now I've had my little rant I think it's time to put the kettle on.... if only I can remember in what obscure place I left it this time.

(couldn't resist this image :-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Razzle Dazzle

An incredibly creative friend of mine and a couple of her friends are putting on a fashion parade next Saturday and they've asked me to sing for them.  Well no, sorry there is no piano. Oh, okay then it will have to be something acapella.

I'm singing Handel's Silent Worship which people may remember as a duet in the film "Emma" between Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor).  So nothing very demanding or strenuous.

Even so, I should be rehearsing it but trying to sing in this weather ends up feeling like I've spent too much time in the sauna.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mustn't Grumble, But....

We have people in our area that are claiming for flood assistance following the 5th major flood this year.

Yet today is melting hot and I feel two sizes too big for my clothes and the sweat is trickling down my back - yuk!  The sky is clear and blue except for a slight haze caused by the humidity, the soil is already parched and beginning to crack and the lettuce seedlings have died. There is not a trace of rain or storms on the weather bureau's radar and the only place to be comfortable is sitting directly in front of the air conditioner. I put washing on the line an hour ago and it's dry already even with the humidity. It's these kind of days that have me wondering what sort of insane person chooses to live here.

(It's even too hot to do this)

At least complaining of the heat is distracting us from time to time from the latest in the Drama Queen saga that is causing so much stress to Mr I and consequently the rest of the family. Let's just say that if I ever consider working for a management committee, I hope someone will quietly take me to the nearest psych ward and leave me there. This has been going on since May and looks like it's approaching crunch time. But I keep thinking that. This year has been like one of those soapies where things just keep happening and it gets to a point where it's no longer tragic but hilariously funny because by then you're thinking okay, what on earth is going to happen next - bring it on, I'm curious to see how imaginative the script writers can be. 

It was just after one of these events that I was sitting on the verandah shaking my head in dazed and bemused wonder that it suddenly struck me that life is really a role playing game and we have all just chosen our characters and walked onto the board and then become so dazzled with the play that we've forgotten we're not actually the characters and the board is just our chosen plane of existence.  So when I realise I'm getting too identified with the play and I feel I'm going to go mad and all this cannot be happening, I watch my breath and sense how my body is and remember that all the stuff happening is just content and that I can choose to step back. At least, at the moment I'm managing to do that. I might have to work harder if the game becomes horrible rather than merely grim.

In the meantime I'm buying lottery tickets in the hope that should we win enough Mr I can give his employers the you-know-what which will take care of one headache at least.

Here's hoping that 2010 will be a more comfortable year for us.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Literary I am Not

Before we went away on holiday, I called into our local secondhand bookstore and walked out with, among other things, James Joyce's Ulysses. I have heard so much about this book for years that when I saw it I thought I might see what all the fuss was about.  No, I did not take it away with me - not totally silly.  But now I am wondering if there's such a thing as Ulysses for Dummies. LOL

A Long Time Coming

We're back.

We have just returned from spending a glorious week relaxing (read collapsing) at Angourie Rainforest Resort in Yamba on the north coast of New South Wales. A mere two and half hours drive from home.  It was so peaceful and quiet it made me realise just how noisy it is at home. A very big thankyou to Holiday Coast Respite and Action Support - without them it would not have been possible.

(phew, such a long drive!!!)

This was our first family holiday since Little Tree was a baby - that's eight years! Our reluctance to try earlier was directly related to L.T's inability to cope with new places and our unwillingness to cope with his distress while supposedly on holiday (under these circumstances - relaxing and holiday - mutually exclusive terms).

Given the success we've had using social stories as a support for events that I know L.T will find challenging, I rang the resort and asked if they would kindly take photos of the property entrance, office, pools, playground, games room, exterior and interior of the actual villa we had booked. I must admit I was unprepared for the willingness to help shown by the resort staff - I know this sounds crazy but I was so grateful I cried when I hung up. Reiko was great - she sent exactly what I needed.  I drew up a social story for L.T incorporating the photos using Powerpoint and we read through it every bedtime for about two weeks.  As the time came closer I wrote it up on his weekly calendar. I was still apprehensive but needn't have been - he was excited and couldn't have been better behaved on the drive up. We took the social story with us so he could look at the photos and match them to reality. My undying gratitude goes to Kris at DADHC for showing us the magic of social stories.

(Yamba headland. North and south break walls in background. To get to North wall you need to catch a ferry or drive 20 minutes to Iluka)

It was the best thing we've done for ourselves in years and going through term time rather than school holidays (fewer people at the resort) was inspired. I really liked Yamba with it's many waterways to enjoy - estuaries, harbour and beaches not to mention some great boutiques. Apart from sight seeing and just a little retail therapy, Mr I and Little Tree spent many hours fishing while I lazed around reading novels or enjoyed having the huge pool almost exclusively to myself.  Little Tree especially liked the children's pool and we had trouble getting him out when other children were splashing alongside him.

(Collecting stones on Pippi Beach, Yamba)

The highlight for me had to be the 3 hours at the day spa mmmmmm yum. As suggested, I arrived an hour earlier than my booking so I could use the steam room and therapy pool and thoroughly relax before being led to the treatment room and pampered with body brushing, ocean wrap, scalp massage, sweat wrap, facial and body massage. Heavenly! I floated out of there more relaxed than I've been in years and smelling gorgeous. I am hoping that we'll be allocated a respite package again next year so we can go back.

(Tranquil view from villa patio)

I had arranged for my sister-in-law to come in and feed the goldfish and Shu-Shu. When I heard that there had been another flood at home (fourth one this year) I was a little concerned (but not for long) that she may not have been able to get in  - I was determined not to think about home or worry about anything and I was remarkably successful. We came home to a very happy-to-see-you-but-don't-you-dare-go-away-again [gentle bite and swipe with the claws while purring] cat. The fish did not do so well (scene from Shrek II - dead fish floating in bowl) - I can't blame my sister-in-law, I had already lost one fish and was crossing my fingers the others would be okay. Obviously I need to give the tank and everything in it a thorough clean before I buy new fish.

(Close up)

Mr I had arranged to have an additional week off so we were able to spread that feeling of holiday mode a little further with walks on the beach (I walked, Mr I went beach worming).

(Late afternoon North Beach, Mylestom)

(Late afternoon North Beach, Mylestom)

So now it's back to school and work and I get time to blog and catch up singing and knitting (although I did take my knitting away, all I managed was 4 rows - reading was less energetic, hehehe).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Unmasking Autism

The local Autism support group hold an annual fundraising ball.  The organisers spend much of the year planning it. 

They held an auction for celebrity items, a silent auction and this year they sold treasure chests disguised as noodle boxes for $10 containing either a trinket or a treasure.  Apart from the auction and a few items in the silent auction all items are donated. Some of the treasures were worth quite a lot such as a resort holiday.  I was outbid in the silent auction but I did manage to win two open movie tickets in my treasure chest. 

The group runs other fundraising activities throughout the year but this is their primary event.  They are trying to raise enough to buy land and build a purpose built centre. As Coffs Harbour is about half way between Sydney and Brisbane it would save many people an expensive and stressful trip to either of the cities. The centre would house a library, diagnosis/assessment rooms, lecture theatre, meeting rooms and play area.

My dress is a silk chiffon, lace and felt creation by local artist Leonie Watson. We made our own masks - so they don't look quite as smart as some worn by others. The majority of the feathers were donated by a Wompoo Fruit Dove that flew into the window of our previous home. It seemed a shame not to do something with the beautiful feathers.

More info and photos here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Playing Tourist

Recently we had a visit from my cousin Sarah and her husband Paul, from England.

The last time I saw her was three years ago when she was here on business so it was only a brief visit.  This time they stayed for three weeks.  It was so good to have them here and Little Tree took to them quickly, insisting that he and Paul spend hours over his sticker book and giving as much cheek back to Sarah as she gave him - "Yeah, wha' are you like, Sarah!"

So apart from days spent on our sunny verandah talking, drinking tea and eating way too much food, it was a good excuse to play tourist in our region. So here are some snaps....

Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour Marina

Whale watching

Pet Porpoise Pool

Butterfly House

Dorrigo National Park

Life immitating art.....

Finger Puppet Show.....

Dangar Falls

Shearing at my Mum's

Local Eastern Grey Kangaroos

This may be the last opportunity they have to visit, although they say they intend moving here just as soon as they win the lottery!!!! Goodness only knows if I'll ever get back. Even if funds allowed it, it would be a miracle to get Little Tree onto an aeroplane and I couldn't go without him and Mr I as it would not be worth going back unless I had at least six weeks there and I would find it too hard to be away from them that long.

Things to keep the boredom away

Well, let's see there's....


and Peacocks......

and Snakes....

(waiting to dry so it can be painted) Little Tree keeps popping outside to check that snake has not slithered away or been eaten by a hungry kookaburra.

or cooking pancakes.....

And when all else fails there is always Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Return of Saturn (ish)

Such as inconstant blogger am I.

Here we are in school holidays again and I wonder how the time can fly so fast and yet seem so ponderous.

This year has been decidedly Saturn returnesque. Our confidence on so many fronts has been shaken and it has been a year of questioning, searching and discovery and a realisation of our own mortality.

Mr I has been hit hardest with a brother needing a liver transplant, a father with a kidney tumour (which the experts think is benign) and most recently the death of a loved uncle in a head-on collision. Add to this stress caused by a mentally unstable staff member at work making bizarre complaints and you have more than enough to be getting on with. I have been dealt health problems to work through including an ongoing gut problem for which I do not have results yet. And I thought I had been doing all the right things for a coeliac.

Yet out of darkness comes light. Having my ideas about myself and the world shaken up has led me first to fear, anxiety and despair and having dwelt there until I've had as much as I can stand, I've moved on to an openness to life and a reaffirmation that this planet, at least, is primarily about creation (and don't get biblical on me unless you want a raspberry blown in your direction). I mean there is so much energy out there that is supportive of creativity whether that it is through biological reproduction or artwork in all it's various forms or the loving company of good friends and family or the gentle everyday work of being a keeper of the hearth, wife and mother.

I love blogworld - there are so many warm, intelligent, artistic, creative, funny people out there and all have touched me at one time or another with their humaness (if there's such a word). I thank every one of them for what they have unknowingly given me.

I am making tentative and cautious steps back into the world, not entirely trusting (as I naively was, a long time ago) but tremblingly braving the risk of hurt to feel alive again.

Hurrah for all the wonderful potential in each human.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Time Warp/School Holidays

I'm writing this completely out of order. But life can be like that (not to mention my mind!!!).


Anyway, back oh a year ago (or so it seems) in the middle of July we had midyear school holidays. My Little Tree was perfect - even with a cold for the first week (wow) and I didn't want to send him back to school.

We have a holiday planned for later this year. Our first holiday for eight years. Our little autistic son would, in the past, have been far too anxious and distressed for us to consider it. Whenever we want to do something or go somewhere different or if we have people coming to visit, quite a lot of preparation has to be done or we face a meltdown. We have a laminated A3 page that is a weekly calendar and each week I write up the major events such as school, gym, OT, excursions, visits from family or friends etc. For events that I think are guaranteed to send him off the planet I go a bit further e.g. recently we started seeing a new occupational therapist, J. Little Tree is familiar with the hospital but not J or the rooms where she works so I requested that she email her photo and of the rooms. Using these tools I was able to get Little Tree to happily enter the rooms and work with J. Without these I would expect him to refuse to go through the door and any insistence would lead to panic and his withdrawal to a place I can't reach. To any observer unaware of his condition this would appear just like a tantrum of a spoilt child.

(This is Little Tree's calendar for this week. Yes, he has another cold - courtesy of his Dad. Where a change of schedule is required we cross it out and write the new one. When he was younger all this would have been pictures.)

With all this is in mind and to introduce him to sleeping away from home, something he hasn't done since he was a tiny baby, I decided to spend a couple of nights at Grandmama's (my Mum). So for a week beforehand I went through the plan on the calendar. Little Tree is very familiar with her place so we automatically overcame one obstacle. Once it was dark outside he asked to go home - my heart sank, my stomach clenched and with crossed fingers and girded loins I reminded him that we were sleeping there. He was a little nervy but we managed bath, teeth cleaning and bedtime story with no problems. He fell asleep pretty quickly and would have stayed asleep until morning if one of Mum's bloody dogs (Dalmatians) hadn't decided to give one of the local swamp wallabies a good barking to. I should explain that we live close enough to town to have noise from neighbours and traffic whereas Mum's place is in the middle of 10 acres, a little less than half of which is bush and her land is surrounded by other like properties. So it's quiet, really quiet. Any noise bounces around the valley like it's being played through an amplifier. Little Tree naturally woke up to this canine outburst and called for me. Damn. It took less than an hour to get him back to sleep - a huge improvement on the 2 hours it would have taken a couple of years ago. The second night was almost a carbon copy of the first so by the time we left to return home I was beginning to reacquaint myself with sleep deprivation.

He loved the days up there though. We spent a lot of time kicking a "soccer" ball around between us - what is it with boys and balls (and let's keep it clean)!!!! He also had to follow Grandmama to the veggie patch whenever she went out there, he wanted to help feed the goats but their horns frightened him too much. His favourite thing to do, by far, was to feed the chooks and collect the eggs.

Our next step is to have him sleep over at Grandma and Grandad's (Mr I's parents).

My hope is that with enough preparation we will manage a relatively relaxing resort holiday. I am so-o-o-o-o looking forward to my three hours at the day spa while the boys go fishing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tick, tock

Oh my goodness, time has flown.

The season has changed. Hurrah. Well not officially and I was sure it had turned quite some time ago but now the sun is proving it. (I was trying to capture the sparkle of sunlight through the glass but the camera did not quite get there. I really must learn how to take better photos too.) What a bleak and seemingly long, dark winter it has been. I cannot begin to tell you how my spirits are lifting with the return of the sun. We are having the most beautiful spring weather. Much as we try to squish our Australian climate into the eurocentric idea of four seasons, in reality it just doesn't work that way. It seems to me we have more like 6 and possibly there are more for someone more sensitive.

At the risk of losing vegies to late frosts, I have begun planting vegies, various lettuce, kale, bok choy, silverbeet, spring onions, snow peas and basil, rocket, continental parsley. Next I want to put in some coriander before it warms up too much and it bolts to seed. I have managed to pick 2 strawberries already!!! However further chances of that happening are greatly reduced as a possum seems to have discovered that, clever as thought I was being, lo there are strawbs to be found among the flowers! I have heard him/her growly cursing out there in the evening. Drat. Postscript: Did I say late frosts? We've just had our hottest August day on record. Phew!

Most of all this spring I want to plant lots and lots of colourful flowers. The daughter of the house owners (who lived here before us) had begun to set up the garden along permaculture lines - lots of productive plants but few flowers. We have tried to maintain it as such. In a system where everything hopefully has more than one purpose, I'm not sure that flowers for the sake of flowers are entirely "allowed". But this year I'm putting my foot down - I'm having flowers just to look at and enjoy. They will however bring bees and other predators into the garden so maybe I can get away with it. To this end I have already planted daisies, jump-up-jacks, polyanthus, pansies, primulas and marigolds. I had alreay planted a chinese lantern shrub and white heliotrope. I need to go back to the nursery and part with more money because I've decided that there is still room for more flowers.

Oh, and I have found my singing voice again. Sometime at the end of last year it decided to go. Well, not literally, I could sing but my feelings of joy in doing so had completely vanished and I was beginning to wonder if they would ever return. But here is the sun and after some deep work on old hurts, I feel a toxic cloud has lifted. Having found a new path on which to set my musical feet I am singing again along with the birds who seem to echo my enthusiasm for this season of renewal (If for a somewhat different reason - wink, wink).

Even though it may seem an odd time of the year to begin knitting - that's exactly what I'm doing. While staying with her over the holidays Mum and I went through all her patterns looking for the woollen cape I know she has...somewhere. We didn't find it but I did discover a book by Liz Gemmell called Knitting for your Home which has patterns for knitted floor rugs. We have a sofa - the original fabric is torn (I mean to recover it some day when I'm feeling more courageous about my ability) so we threw a loose cover over it and now with all the rough treatment from the two boys that in turn has torn on the seat part. At the moment I have placed a cot blanket crocheted by Mum for Little Tree but... and now comes the point I'm trying to make - I have taken a pattern from the book and am in the process of knitting up squares that will eventually be sown together and used as a throw. Here is a photo of the first three squares and the fourth in progress. No, unfortunately it is not wool. For ease of washing I have chosen acrylic yarn.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to me.

Sunday started clear and cold but by the middle of the day we were stripping off our jumpers and sitting on the verandah soaking up the glorious warm sunshine. Even better, it was my birthday.

We had a quiet day, just Mr I, Little Tree and my Mum with a trip to the in-laws later in the afternoon. Little Tree had to be reminded to wish me happy birthday but having started he kept wishing me a happy birthday for the rest of the day (smile). Both boys put up streamers and balloons and Little Tree helped cook the meal and of course couldn't wait to eat the cake.

My favourite gift was the camera that took these photos. However I haven't yet read all that it can do. With a bit of practice maybe my camera skills can improve.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Wet Winter Solstice

I am grumpy today. It is raining again.

We were going to celebrate the Solstice today but with a house full of sick people, we will have to postpone it. Little Tree has a nasty cough and cold and Mr I has picked up a tummy bug from somewhere (let's hope he doesn't share it).

I have bought tickets to a film and feast night organised by our Local Food Network. The film is called "Grow Your Own" and sounds very entertaining. But first will be the feast made entirely of locally grown organic produce. Yum! Entertainment by a local band. So that will be my celebration.

This winter has been the wettest I've known here. We are meant to be in our dry season now. Yet the ground is soggy and squelchy as it has not had enough time to dry out from the floods and the air smells foul. The seedlings we put in months ago are struggling and many plants who have an aversion to wet feet have given up the ghost. Our terraced garden out the back resembles paddy fields and I'm sure everyone in this region would join me in shouting "We are sick of the rain". It must seem very unfair to other parts of Australia where they have been experiencing drought for years. To all those people in this area that are visualising abundance - STOP! Please.

In spite of my grumps, wherever you are, dear readers - I wish you an enjoyable solstice.

Blessings to you all.