Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Australia Day 2010

Today is Australia Day. So.... I am sitting here a drinking a plunger pot of Irish breakfast tea, on my Aussie kangaroo chairs which were made in Yugoslavia. Typing on my Japanese computer with carpet under my feet from god knows where. Listening to sulphur crested cockatoos wheeling around the sky squarking raucously.
My latest obsession seems to be Tea. I counted up the ones in my pantry the other day and there is 15 different types of tea hoarded up in there. I rarely drink coffee, I like it but a few years ago it started to upset my tummy so I switched back to tea drinking. I have Lipton's, rose chai, Turkish apple, Irish breakfast, afternoon, evening and morning tea mixtures, red green pretty, arctic fire, Buddhas tears, lychee china black tea which is my favorite, earl grey, lady grey, cranberry raspberry and strawberry mixture, billy tea, blue mountain tea, Australian breakfast tea. Oh that's 17. Wanna come over for a cuppa? No bikkies or cake I am trying to be a good girl again.
Anyway.... my point for today, Australia Day, is "we all come from somewhere". That makes us each individual and special in our own way doesn't it.
My heritage mix is English, Scottish, Welsh and a little bit of Australian aboriginal thrown in for good measure. I am proud to be Australian. Sixth generation and beyond. Convict stock on my English side. Not first fleet but coming later, in the cleansing that happened in those days, getting rid of the crims and poor people that were not wanted. I wish I knew more of that story. I could research but they all want me to pay, so that must be the Scots blood coming to the fore there, hehehe. Tough people the Scots. They were my maternal grandma's parents. They migrated to here on a ship and hopped off in South Australia. My grandma was born in Mount Gambier. We used to call her Mama. My paternal grandparents came from Wales and England, I don't know much of their story. My uncle said they didn't like us much because we were protestants they were catholic.
My paternal grand parents were from England. My convict ancestor came from that side, one of his sons was an indentured servant on a property in N.S.W. called Pullabooka which is near Grenfell, he had a aboriginal wife, her name was Elizabeth. If you have been reading my blog for a while you will remember me talking about her before. She was my great great grandmother. The families in those days were huge. I heard one of the Palmers had 17 children but I can't remember if it was Elizabeth's or the next generation. They eventually settled around the Hunter Valley area. So god knows who I am related to. It isn't an uncommon name.
So....................... why do we have so many prejudices? I know it happens all around the world. It seems to be the newest comers that cop it. In my early years it was the southern Europeans who took the flack, wogs. Then it became the Asians,wops, now it seems to be the Muslims, hanky heads. Everybody picks on the abbos, Australia's original people, but even they came from somewhere, a long long time ago. The way I see it is, they came here to get a better life. What they endured to make them want to come here must have been bad, and they saw this as a better place. We should be pleased that that they saw Australia that way. They are derided because they are different to our culture. But in a generation or two they will all be Aussies and have assimilated to our culture plus added their flavors to the mix. Surely that isn't a bad thing is it? By that time there will be another ethnic mix to pick on for their differences.
Remember that old song "Melting Pot"? The definitive words being;

What we need is a great big melting pot
Big enough to take the world and all its got
Keep it burning for a hundred years or more
Turn out multi colored people by the score.

There is something to be said for ethnic purity, but Australia is a great big melting pot.
So is England and Europe and the Americas. and Asia and so on......
Happy Australia Day.
Love Linda.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Sunday Scribblings "Yes"

Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week is "Yes".
On Saturday it was hot here and I had had enough so we retreated to The Hellenic club and the air conditioning. It is not far from us. A cool change had come over just as we were leaving and I was able to get a good nights sleep afterward.
Anyway Pete, Annie and I found a table near the dance floor. On the way in I saw the artists come in the door and followed them to where they were setting up and waited. I love people watching. The Hellenic club is the Greek club and there was an assortment of people, from parents with children and grand parents to couples of all ages. One man (I had seen him there before) was dressed in all black with gold chains around his neck, his shirt unbuttoned to half way down his chest and long grey hair in a pony tail. He met up with friends, kiss greet that sort of thing. Then the music started. He and his dance partner, a woman of similar age were immediately on the dance floor and did not leave while ever the music was playing. They obviously were very at home and went there just to dance and socialize all the time. Cool. I imagined him when he was in his younger days on the dance floor. He must have been something then, but now, stuck in a time warp.
There was another lady, also Mediterranean looking and trim of figure, on the dance floor that I was watching, probably in her sixties. She came with her ballroom dancing shoes and sat to put them on just as the music started. She must have had professional training, her partner hadn't. She held herself beautifully, knowing she had a audience.
There were also several older couples that didn't leave the dance floor. One couple in particular were very good dancers, probably into their 70's. The man however was the better of the two. It was lovely to watch them and I was thinking how they must have been together for many years moving perfectly in unison, each knowing exactly how the other moved and following perfectly. What a lovely way to stay together and stay fit. Yes. Very cool!
I was imagining what the dancing lady and the old man could do put together on the dance floor.
Then there was the Nana and her embarrassed grand daughter. Loving the music, singing along together with no rhythm what- so -ever and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
And the ladies looking around to see who was watching them, maybe they used to dance in a bar some where, they moved like that could have been a possibility.
Beside us was a big family. A pretty young woman danced with her 2 nieces. Little girls in their best dresses and long pony tails down their backs, holding hands with them, swinging them around and picking them up and hugging them both in a waltz round the floor. The younger of the two girls was probably about 6 years old and a little less enthusiastic.
Then there was the man, probably in his 30's looking out of place, but not giving up, trying so hard. I watched him come up to the Nana and grand daughter and try to make friends with them. They were not interested and he stood looking lonely, trying to dance by himself in the middle of the crowd. Poor bugger, I think he was developmentally delayed.
Annie sat and drank beer with chocolate cake. Eeeeechk.
She went to the toilet and came back laughing. There were two drunk women talking in the cubicles. One said she had forgotten to put on her under pants. Hehehehe.
I had a cocktail with smashed strawberries and god knows what else i it.
Pete sat and watched the tennis, unblinking, on the big screen behind me, his back to the dance floor, uninterested, I wanted to slap him. Hehehe.
I asked them to dance but already knew the answer before I asked. So....I people watched. I can't dance very well but I like to try. Remembering when I was younger and watched the people at the disco we used to go to at the Leagues club in my home town. He used to want to dance with me then, when I first met him. A third of a century earlier.
There was another young woman sitting near us, she wanted to dance too but her partner was doing much the same as I was, so she was bopping at the table.
Ah the Aussie male. Too ocker to get up and enjoy themselves because it might embarrass them and they mightn't look cool.
People watching in the air conditioning
A lovely slice of human nature.

Here is a verse I had in my head last night.


Come ride with me
down the track
It could be smooth and pleasant
There will be bumpy bits
dark days and bright

You have the option of
getting off at the next station
Or riding on
To see where the track leads
If you leave I understand

You have your own path way
your own ride
your own family to pursue
But if you ride on..........
Who knows.

Well that is all this week.
Love Linda

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Sunday scribblings "-the old days"

I m doing this prompt a few days late. You see yesterday I got wrapped up in a book and didn't put it down, literally , all day. It is a book I have read before and one that was made into a mini series for T.V. but it was a while since I last read it. Then I read the Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week.
The old days, the good old days.
Here is am excerpt from the book.

(Even after the car stopped no one moved. They looked so different. For one thing they seemed to have grown inches, which indeed they had, the last few years of their development had occurred far from Drogheda, and had pushed them way above their older brothers. Not boys anymore but men, not in the mold of their brothers. Hardship, battle euphoria and violent death had made something out of them that Drogheda never could. The north African sun had darkened them to a rosy mahogany, peeled away every layer of childhood. Yes it was possible to believe these two men in their simple uniforms, slouch hats pinned above their left ears with the badge of the rising sun , had killed other men. It was in their eyes, blue as Paddy's but sadder, without the gentleness.
"My boys, My boys!" cried Mrs Smith, running to them, tears streaming down her face. No it didn't matter what they had done, how much they had changed; they were still her little babies she had washed and diapered, fed them, whose wounds she had kissed better. Only the wounds that they harbored now were beyond her power to heal.)
I shortened it a bit, but this is a passage from 'The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.
What I wanted to say about this is "The Good Old Days?"
This passage refers to twin brothers Patsy and Jim returning home to the family property after the second world war.
Looking back through my, limited I admit, knowledge of such times, these sorts of days have continued as far back as history records. Over and over again. Then, there is the ones who don't return home.
Yeah we all love a fight don't we.
Will we ever learn.
Maybe I am just a woman, a mother and a soldier's daughter but....
Don't think I am not patriotic and appreciative of what warriors such as these have done for us.

While we give, gift by birthright or allow mankind to take power over each other there will always be some poor silly patriotic bastard to step up and do their leader's fighting for them. Or maybe not so patriotic, just poor, financially or intellectually, wanting to follow, fight I dunno what ever...by self will or by force.
Out there today, based on the news we receive each night, albeit with a twist to influence, we have a man in North Korea, a government in the middle east, a warrior hiding somewhere in the world, who all want to stir along and continue our demise. There are others, lots of them.
Do you believe that the gods or prophets want us to do this.
To slaughter each other in their names?
Aren't they supposed to love us?
Aren't we made in their images?
Aren't they supposed to tell us to love each other?
Do they only want us to love the ones who are the same colour, creed or religion?
Do we have to prove that we love them by killing the people that don't agree with our or their personal credo?
No! I think not.
Or.. are we just using them as an excuse to do so?
There is some weird, cruel quirk built into our natures as human beings that makes us killers.
Why is it that when things happen anywhere around the world we want to help? Take for example the horrific effects of the recent earth quake in Haiti.
But we justify the same damage done to other places in the name of war? Why?
So many more points I could add into this post.
Yeah... the good old days.
Love Linda.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

I went for a walk this afternoon with my doggie Rufus, and my camera. Sitting round is no good for you and I had to get outside. It has been cloudy for the last 3 days and I have been eagerly waiting for it to rain. It is thundering wildly outside at the moment but just a sprinkle of rain is falling. I reveled in the feel of it on my skin as I was walking through the parkway but the lightening was getting a bit close to me so I came back after about half an hour.
Anyway, 1st picture shows not a portend to autumn but heat damage on a birch tree. By the end of next month, soon, all these leaves will be turning golden.
The park is just 2 houses away from my house. This is looking towards the city along the newly resealed bike track. It forms a wide barrier between a busy main road and the houses in this suburb. T'is a nice leafy area to live.
And a Maggie in a birch tree. (Sung to the twelve days of christmas. Hehehe.)
Looking south towards Woden town center, about a 20 to 25 minute walk from my house along the parkway.
Tiny, pretty, common blue bells growing wild, their blossoms closed to the grey clouds.
Urban art or....? There was some very well done panels of this under one of the bridges near me but the council, in it's wisdom recently painted over it. Some of this is just scribble and messy but those panels were art, it was such a waste to paint over it.
The larger feather is from a sulphur crested cockatoo, the small pink feather is from a galah.
Bridges & drain. Sorry it is sideways.Oops.
This birch tree was sheltering a family of white winged choughs. If you could see closer up, they have their wings spread and are flapping, trying to get a bath from the scant raindrops.
From little things big things grow.
This is the last of my red day lillies.
Apricot /pink day lily in a pot in my back yard. Pretty.
love Linda.

For Merle, Krissie and Grizz.

Here is the "My Country " poem by Dorothea Mackellar. In my last post I got comments saying that this was a favourite of my blogging friends Krissie and Merle. Grizz ,who most likely has never heard of Dorothea before as he lives in the U.S. found it listed as Australia's favorite. Most, if not all Australians know by heart the second verse but not the rest of the poem, so for you, here it is.

My Country

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lane,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies-
I know but can not share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of rugged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains,
I love her far horizons,
I love her jeweled seas,
Her beauty and her terror-
The wide brown land for me!

The stark white ring -barked forest,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart , around us,
We see the cattle die-
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.

Core of my heart my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back three fold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze...

An open hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land-
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand-
Though earth holds many splendors,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Well that is it. Dinkum Aussie favorite patriotic poem. One that every school child in Australia knows by heart and has settle in their hearts. As in my last post, consider what was said about her country men believing England to be their homeland still, and pining for that country, not seeing the beauty around them. Probably very politically incorrect for her social upper class of the time, to write about such things, maybe that is why the rest of the poem isn't so well known or as popular as the well known second verse. A lot of her writing has a similar message. Yes this country is harsh, but it is kind and beautiful too.
I also love this poem, from the same book of Dorothea Mackellar's work. I think this ladies work has had a big influence on the Australian psyche. She has to mine, but I think the things she writes about where in my heart long before I read some of her stuff. In my profile on this blog I wrote that I would love my writing to be able to paint pictures with words. She does that for me.


The lovely things that I have watched unthinking,
Unknowing, day by day,
That their soft dyes had steeped my soul in colour
That will not pass away:-

Great saffron sunset clouds, and larkspur mountains,
And fenceless miles of plain,
And hillsides golden -green in that unearthly
clear shining after rain;

And lights of blue and pearl, and long smooth beaches,
Yellow as sunburnt wheat,
Edged with a line of foam that creams and hisses,
Enticing weary feet.

And emeralds, and sunset hearted opals,
And Asian marble veined
With scarlet flame, and cool green jade, and moonstones
Misty and azure stained;

And almond trees in bloom, and oleanders,
Or a wide purple sea,
Of plain land gorgeous with a lovely poison,
The evil Darling Pea.

If I am tired I call on these to help me
To dream- and dawn lit skies,
Lemon and pink, or faintest, coolest lilac,
Float on my soothed eyes.

There is no night so black but you shine through it,
There is no morn so drear,
O colour of the world that I can find you,
Most tender pure and clear

Thanks be to god, Who gave this gift of colour,
Which who shall seek to find;
Thanks be to God, Who gives me strength to hold it,
Though I were stricken blind.

I don't know if Dorothea became blind in her latter years but it says in the book that she spent many years, after all her family was gone, in a nursing home in Randwick in Sydney where she died. I went to school at Randwick girl's high, in the early 70's, that was my favorite school of all the ones I attended. From this poem I can see her there watching her memories of this..... colour.
Lovely Colour.
Love Linda.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Dorothea Mackellar

A few days before christmas my daughter Annie and my son David came over to Canberra to stay a few days. There is a second hand bookshop just a few blocks away from where I live and I had been itching to take Annie in there with me because I knew she would love it. We walked over here in the afternoon that same day and went for a visit. That place is great, a real Aladdin's cave full of all sorts of wonderful things. From reference books to fiction and back again, they even had old antique post cards and advertising pamphlets from early last century, old vinyl records and movies, everything.
Annie got about 4 books and I found treasure in a book of poems by Dorothea Mackellar. I have done a post somewhere in here with a verse from an Australian classic poem, "My Country". Anyway I was most pleased to find this book. I love it so much. I thought I would share a poem with you every now and then. Here is the first.


She is a woman tall and brown
And supple as a swaying vine;
The blood that races through her veins
Is red and fierce like southern wine.

Her lazy arms are strong as steel,
She has the gladiator's grace,
The panther's undulating tread
And tireless velvet-footed pace.

Soft shadows play around her mouth
Swift curved to smiles, in laughter slow;
Her eyes have that deep tranquil look
Which far horizons can bestow;

And all things good are hers to give,
So men will follow anywhere-
Through deserts grim as friendless death-
The gleaming copper of her hair.

For who has gazed into her eyes
Is hers while life is in his veins,
She leads him stumbling on beyond
The dancing heat haze on the plains;

And most she leads to happiness,
But some to stark defeat, and they
May curse her but they love her still,
So lasting is her careless sway.

For subtle is her spell and change
And unawares in sorcery
Enmeshed they stand, while that still witch
Aloof, smiles half disdainfully,

Since it is not for everyone
Her lure is cast; not always kind
Her ways, and those rich gifts she has
Chance flung, a man must seek to find.

My lady of the wilderness,
With venture in her blood astir!
She bears no gift of peace as yet;
The lean wild dogs are slave to her,

And secrets hide behind her eyes
Of buried rivers no man knows,
Wastes, where one year the lizard starves
That next year bloom as the rose.

She has no easy calm to give,
Nor heavy slumber poppy-fed,
The tang of restlessness, the thirst
Of youth unslaked are hers instead;

And some men do not find her fair,
But he to whom she once has bent
Her curving, kissing, mocking lips
Is her sworn soldier, well content

To serve her through the muttering flood
Through hungry fire and aching drouth,
Because he never can forget
The wild fruit savour of her mouth.

She does not lightly show herself,
But in some traceried forest aisle
Between the writhen branches pale,
Warm glintings of her sudden smile

Will break on you, or as you lie
Beside a camp fire on the plains
Where the throned silence is so huge
The clanking of the hobble-chains,

The whisper of the flame, the jar
And crackle as the charred logs fall
But serve to make it stiller yet_
Then you may hear a dream dove call,

And, waking, you will see her eyes
Ashine and sweet and wondering,
Among the stars , and from that night
You will forgive her anything.

Let others praise the rose and white,
For rose and white is fair to see,
Her smooth brown skin and scarlet mouth
And tawny hair is life to me.

Isn't she a wonderful writer. More will follow. I find her work beautifully patriotic and honest.
Dorothea lived in the days when Australia came second to her countrymen, to England the mother country. That is what the last verse is about. She was saying "Hey guys! look around you at what you have first!" That reminder keeps popping up throughout her writing and it applies to what ever part of the world you are living in.
Dorothea was born on 1st July 1885, this book was published in 1982 nearly a hundred years later. I couldn't find the date of her death but it must be in there somewhere. The name of the treasured book I have is 'My Country and other poems" Dorothea Mackellar and was put together by Currey O'Neil.
I wonder how it came to be in that second hand book shop, I am sure if I were given it, I couldn't bear to part with it. There is an inscription inside the front cover saying it was given as a gift.
The four books that Annie bought that day cost less than this one book I found, I don't care , it is worth it.
Aladdin's cave indeed.
Love Linda.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sunday scribblings "Extreme".

Hope all is well with you where ever you be in this extreme weather. I have been looking at what has been posted so far on S.S. and who could omit commenting on the weather that is occurring on both sides of the world. Extreme.
I find that word a bit hard to write about. Extreme, extreme extreme extreme, extre, extra, eme, me. That word is so over used today by advertisers, and the media, it has become an annoyance to me. Cars, driving, sport, food, behaviors, people, crime and cruelty, atmosphere, weather etc, etc, etc. Um, um, um!
We are having an extreme heatwave in the eastern states this week. The temperature over the past few days has reached into the very high 30's and low 40's and will continue to do so for the next few days at least. February is the hottest month of the year and it is yet to come.
My house isn't air conditioned. 37 point something Celsius = 100 Fahrenheit.
Lazy, languid, summer swelter days, reminiscent of my childhood playing in the water, wearing as little as possible and paying the price with sunburn that would blister and peel my english style skin in the days before sunblock creams. Heat exhaustion, dehydration and stress, I have had that quite a few times over the years. Memorably too.
Playing under the hose on the back lawn to cool down or running across the scorching hot sand at the beach or the cement at the local swimming pool, to salve my burning feet in the water when I was a kid.
Hot sticky nights. Constantly changing position, searching for a cooled spot on the sheet and pillow.
Stripping off and sleeping naked with the electric fan blowing on bare skin, drying the perspiration there to cool me. Windows opened wide and curtains pulled back in the hope of catching any tiny breeze that might come past, bugger the security. And... isn't menopause fun at this time of year, don't you just love those hot flushes girls!
Hot scorching winds that you know and dread will make any tiny spark become a catastrophic bush fire that will kill and destroy.
Not wanting to cook meals because cooking exacerbates the heat in the house and the heat takes away your appetite for hot food anyway.
Drinking gallons of whatever is wet and cold.
Working, because you have to, with the sweat dripping down your face and feeling dirty and horrible until you go home and run the cold shower on your head to feel clean and cool again.
Being as frugal as you can with water to keep your garden alive until it rains again and watching the weather forecasts for predictions of rain that never comes when you need it to. You watch the heavy promising clouds build each after noon and watch them float away again.
Watching the board on the side of the road that tells us how much water we have consumed each day and the level of our water storage. Yesterday the storage level for Canberra was 51.2%.
The highest I have seen it since moving here 2 years ago was 54% a few months ago now.
Australia, the driest continent on earth, we do so love our water and our country and all its different seasons.
Yeah you could call us a bit extreme at the moment.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Sunday Scribblings prompt for the first time in 2010 is "New Leaf".
I do not make new years resolutions, they are silly bloody things that are too quickly broken which leads to disappointment in oneself. So I do not make them.
Maybe they would be better termed as turning over a new leaf. New leaves last a season not a full year, or longer, as is expected of a resolution.
What would I therefore like to improve about myself and turn over a new leaf with?
I could be tougher or softer, depending on the occasion.
I might be less impatient and less easy to become annoyed or angry.
I should stand up for myself, or should that be, stand up for others less able than myself.
I will try to be less of a scaredy cat and step out of my self imposed shell.
I should not feel guilty for needing to rest and relax.
I should make the time to follow up on my interests.
I will make more time to think before I speak or act, when circumstance allows.

Taking this from another angle. More my style.

Seasons come and pass, deciduous and evergreen.
Watch the new leaves unfurl.
Carry out their purpose,
renew, nourish and shelter life,
filter our air, and die
returning to the earth again
to nourish the tree from which they came.
Analogous of all life.

I was sort of hoping that the prompt this week might be "I am" because I had these words in my head. So I will add them anyway. Off the track for this weeks prompt but here they are.
I am...
that which you choose to see,
that which I choose to share,
You are...
that which I see and which you share
But we are both more,
so much more.

These thoughts came from visiting my old friend Barb. I spent a lovely afternoon with her and her family on the Molongolo river. They were skiing and I got to have a ride on their boat, relaxed under the big shade trees and got in the water. We had a lovely talk and later I was thinking how much I missed having girlie talk since I came here to Canberra.
We sat and played with some clay and made little birds nests which I put up in a tree and left there, thinking that some curious little kid exploring the area would find them and pull them down and play with them, recycle them into their game. Or maybe the rain that was expected might disolve the clay returning it to the earth. Strange aren't I . Anyway Barb encouraged me to explore more of my artists side, an area she is happily involved in. I would love to be able to do that but I have to earn money so can't follow that path. Barb and I were friends through pottery and we do think somewhat alike but I never followed up because I was busy working, maybe I was trying to do the wrong thing, the wrong people, the wrong? Each of us has different depths, different paths to our personality and skills, how do you know which path to pursue? Follow one path through necessity or through choice and you miss another. Now I am fifty years old , what, through my choices have I missed?
Well....I know this is another of the things I have bought up here in my blog before today but...You can't turn back the clock, you can only move forwards.
Happy New Year.
Love Linda.