Friday, November 30, 2007

The end of November

Today marks the end of 30 days of consecutive blogging for myself and thousands of other dedicated idiots bloggers around the world participating in NaBloPoMo 2007. Another group of idiots extremely dedicated writers aimed to complete a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo. An extremist splinter group of masochists A few brave souls were attempting both and are probably looking around, recognising children grown a month older, and a winter pelt of hair on legs or face when they glance in the mirror (or both, if extremely unlucky or hormonally challenged). Whether they manage to re-integrate into mainstream society successfully remains to be seen, and may be the subject of a future Stanford University study...

I didn't manage (nor attempt) to write a novel this November, but I did a number of other things.

I wrote, every day. It's been a long time since I could say that, and I'm proud of it. My output wasn't prodigious, nor particularly brilliant or illuminating, but the creative part of my soul appreciates that the rest of me joined in and allowed me to be whole for a little while every day. I've been side-lining my creative side for too long.

I made new friends - I've banged this drum a few times already this month, so I won't labour it. You know who you are (at least I hope you do!). I hope we can keep reading, commenting, sharing and caring. It's been a great pleasure sharing the journey with you all.

I read some amazing blogs and personal stories. Really, some of you just knock my socks off. The power and resilience of the human spirit can be read through the cyber-pages of a sample of blogs I have read this month. What some of you have dealt with, and continue to deal with every single day, is awe-inspiring - and then you turn up and blog and laugh and worry about the next person. Good on you! Reading blogs restores my faith in the human spirit on a daily basis.

I have learnt so much about blogging, social net-working, online marketing, the Internet in general. More then I ever expected, and once again down to the incredible resource which is the blogging world. Computers always fascinated me by the way they shaped simple code to store vast amounts of information; the process was at once alien and fascinating. Bloggers are the human side of computing; they, too, offer vast amounts of information, but they offer it with a personal voice, an accent, a viewpoint, an opinion, a smile. No wonder more people than ever before are going online. Learning will never be the same again. Even a passionate reader like myself can understand and embrace that idea.

So, was doing NaBloPoMo 2007 worthwhile? Hell, yes!

Will I be back again tomorrow?

Wait and see...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Food for thought

There are lots of ways I indulge my love of food, apart from eating it, of course.

I used to collect cookbooks, until I channelled that (expensive) compulsion into buying some of the many first-rate food and cooking magazines now on the market. (Here in Australia, my addictions of choice are Australian Good Taste, Table, and Super Food Ideas, with the occasional ABC Delicious. Recently, Woman's Day Everyday Food has caught my attention...oh, but, no more...bad, bad girl!)

Seriously, I should stop spending money on magazines etc, and just dive online. Blogging has provided a perfect and natural platform for foodies and fans - there are just as many eager to read and drool over delicious recipes and eye-catching photographs as there are eager to share the results of their culinary journeys. Part of my interest in blogging came through my explorations of cooking bloggers, usually begun by searching for a particular recipe or a special ingredient.

I am thrilled every time I find a new "gem" - that perfect marriage of the visually engaging, verbally entertaining, and mouth-wateringly tempting. Some are a source of recipes and inspiration for me; some are just pure escapism (I'm never going to put that much effort into my cooking, but I love to watch someone who does.)

Here, ranging (in no particular order) from the sublime to the suburban are some of my favourites:

TasteSpotting - "Feed your addiction" - what more can I say?

Exclusively Food - Simply and beautifully photographed Aussie food blog shared by Amanda & Debbie

Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit - There is something weirdly compelling about this blogger's exploration of flavours (eg. Adzuki Bean Paste Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Matcha Green Tea Frosting) - and they look stunning.

Milk and Cookies - Another great Aussie food blog, with gorgeous photographs.

Smitten Kitchen - A new find - she makes me laugh, she makes me drool - it's got it all.

The Virtual Kitchen - Wholesome hearty fare and a lovely network of food-loving friends.

The Food Traveller - Gastronomic delights from the kitchen of a European couple (he's Italian, she's Belgian), spiced with photographs of their travels.

Hey Mum, I'm Hungry - Kim from All-Consuming cooks a mean recipe blog, too, served with plenty of laughs.

And then there's lovely Red Dirt Mummy, who I found on a recipe search, and stopped to read and share and smile (her blog is not all food, but she's got some real keepers in her recipe files), I have to stop.

It's late, and I'm now reaaaallly hungry, and should go to bed where I can dream in glorious technicolour of jewelled fruit tarts and sculptural cupcakes and aromatic curries and...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Coming and going

I was here...but then he woke.

(Edited the next day to add: This is an example of blogging under pressure. NaBloPoMo finishes tomorrow, and after a busy day with no opportunity to write anything all day, I thought I'd finally found a small window when the Big Feller headed off to bed. No sooner had I touched hands to the keyboard when the wee man woke up and started crying for me. So forgive me for the extreme brevity and lack of interesting content...but I guess it's a post most parents can relate to!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Do yourself a favour..."

A musical interlude:

As Molly Meldrum used to say, "Do yourself a favour, and listen to this!" (A reference totally lost on my non-Aussie friends, but you get the point...)

Whatever your musical tastes, I defy you to watch a minute or so of this without tapping, twitching and smiling at the infectious energy and incredible talent displayed here...well, by the guy wielding the violin. Dour, might best describe his partner - but, hey, I'm nit-picking. Together, they are brilliant and I loved it.

And this is one of the reasons I'm in love with StumbleUpon - finding stuff like this...random treasures trawled from the vast ocean of the Web.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kevin '07

I can't let the occasion of our first Monday without Howard at the helm pass without comment. I am thrilled that we finally have the change of government we have needed for so long and I dearly hope, like so many others, that Kevin Rudd doesn't stuff up this opportunity.

I'm kicking myself, actually, that I didn't place a bet at a bookmakers 9 years ago. Kevin was my local member in Brisbane back then; he struck me as an unusually principled and pro-active politician, and I predicted that he would be our prime minister within 10 years. He did it with a year to spare.

What odds would I have got on that?

Anyone who thinks that he is just a carbon copy of Howard is not looking beyond the glasses and the dorky demeanour. I think he is going to have on-going conflict between what he would like to do, based on his own beliefs and values, and what the party machine and the behind-the-scenes powers-that-be will permit him to do (no conspiracy theory...pure pragmatism) but as world leaders go, he is not a bad man to have at our head. I hope he can work some serious changes in the "me-first" economic and social culture that has erupted under the Howard regime, and take us somewhere better suited to the Australian values of mate-ship and a fair go for all.

And (no offense to my American friends) I really hope he can extract us from the depths of George W. Bush's arse (where little Johnnie Howard sunk us), and put us in a more balanced and neutral position on the world stage...!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weekly Winners, Sunday Meme

Thanks again to Sarcastic Mom for this meme - I've seen some fantastic photos and met some fascinating new bloggers from last week's meme participants. Why don't you join in?

Not much happening at my place this week - the visual highlight was the wee man's pet snails, exploring their temporary enclosure while I cleaned out their home. (Do you know how much s**t those little buggers can pump out?) And, of course, the wee man himself - my number one favourite subject.

The t-shirt reading "Filthy and loving it"...says it all! Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out - here's TV's next cooking phenomenon... :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

On the final stretch now...

...this time next week NaBloPoMo will be over. I know I will be happy not to feel I have to turn up here every day, but I want to continue to enjoy arriving at the page and sharing my world with you. The connections I have made from this experience so far, the new friendships developing, are an unexpected and entirely welcome bonus.

My brain is fizzling and popping with the fermentation of a plan; the possibilities unfolding at the moment are suggesting a way to realise a long-held dream.

Here in the village we live in, there is only a general store, a garage, and a little bric-a-brac/secondhand store in what was once the butcher's. The lady who is running this store has had enough, and plans to have closed the store by the New Year.

I know the rental on this little store is very cheap, and I know that this village, this area, is crying out for a little coffee house - the sort with quirky little tables and comfy chairs, a wall of books, piles of magazines, fabulous coffee, and the smell of fresh baking lingering in the air. A place to meet, greet, eat and bleat... ;) Just across the road from the preschool and the park; just down the street from the post office, on a popular tourist route, and fifteen minutes from our major regional centre - the location is perfect. There is nothing similar for at least 15 minutes drive in any direction, and there is certainly a cachement of consumers who would be thrilled to have such a place on their doorstep, not to mention the tourist buses. (Plus there is one seventeen-house development going up round the corner, and the spectre of another larger one, more unwelcome, still to be decided. The village is about to grow exponentially.) The building is not ideal, but will work for start-up - it will need money spent on it to make it licensing-compliant.

Money is something I don't have, but what I do have is just about everything else: a vision, passion, experience (in business management and hospitality, plus Cafe Appreciation 101), community connections. It's those connections which a friend reminded me of this morning, as I mused out loud about this idea. "Go to the community and find shareholders", he said, as if it was a perfectly reasonable idea - and the more I thought about it, it was.

So I have the beginnings of a plan. I've spent the afternoon pulling down licensing requirements and business plan templates from the ether. I'm going to plug in the facts, pull together a plan and start canvassing some of the people of my community. This is an idea with legs and life - I can see the potential here, not just for myself and my dream, but for the community. I can see how we could create something that we can enjoy and share and ultimately profit from when we are ready to move in new directions.

It may all end up pie in the sky, but right now it tastes sweet.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Christmas guilt

Oh's going to be one of those years. Christmas is just going to sneak up and smack me between the eyes, as if I didn't see it coming.

It's truly hard to miss it these days, what with the bigger stores putting up displays, advertising and even decorations in October or even September. And, of course, there are the smug declarations from friends who have finished their Christmas shopping at the beginning of November (you know who you are, girl - love you, but really...!) Once we get this damn election and the multi-million dollar waste-of-space advertising campaign out of the way tomorrow (bye, bye, Johnie, don't show your face round here no more), there will be "Christmas is coming" morning, noon and night on all the media.

Some years I have been so organised. One memorable year, I was blessed with an unexpected tax return in the UK a couple of months before Christmas, and delighted in shopping for the perfect present for each of my close family members, before wrapping them with care and love, and sending my bounty homeward, bugger the cost. My family's pleasure was worth every pound. Most years, I manage to at least have a Christmas card list written, selected and ready for posting by now (I still have some dear ones in the UK, and it's good to get them off by now).

I have this year's half-finished Christmas card list on the desk in front of me. It hooks the corner of my eye guiltily; I should perhaps be working on it, and not writing this (but then I'd have NaBloPoMo guilt, too).

Don't get me wrong - I love least, I think I do. It's sometimes hard to be sure with all the layers of obligation and guilt which are layered all over it. Strip away the religious context, the glitz and gifts and media overload. The core of Christmas, the sharing of love and food and time with your beloved ones is a special and precious thing; when it is good, it is very good indeed.

Somehow, I have to get from here to there. First, I have to pare away the guilt. Then, I have to knuckle down here and finish the damn list - these are people I love, and this is as good a chance as any to let them know.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

You've got a friend in me.

Well, there it is - it's official. A ground-breaking UCLA study has demonstrated that friendships between women are good for our health.

"...friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more.

Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis." (An alternative to fight or flight ©2002 Gale Berkowitz)

So now you know - better than sex, alcohol or Xanax, your girlfriends may be the very best medicine you can have.

And I'm sure that many of the beneficial effects demonstrated by the study are generated by the friendships we develop here online, and could explain why they feel so important to us.

Though we may never meet, we can respond, encourage and nurture each other. Our hugs may be digital, but our caring transcends distance to buoy and heal each other's souls in times of need.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

10 Great Time-Wasters

Okay, a bit of a confession.

Underneath my mild-mannered, super-mum, volunteer-extraordinaire, domestic- & culinary-coordinator exterior lurks...a geek.

Yes, I confess - I'm just a wee bit geeky, especially in regard to computers. I don't care to know how things work under the hood, but I've always been interested in what you can DO with these babies.

I've only had broadband for a couple of months. (OMG...I had to use the dial-up service at the preschool today - it's like giving birth, you forget the pain after it's over! But I never want to do dial-up again! Come to think of it, I don't want to give birth again, either. Oh dear, I'm digressing...) Just like when I first had Internet access at home, I've been a bit like a kid in a candy store, unable to resist all the colourful goodies arrayed to tempt me. (And the best thing is, so many of these are free...)

Who has "free time" these days? Who am I kidding that I have time to lose myself when there are so many other important calls on my time? Oh, I'll just have a quick...and then I'll do the dishes... :p

So I thought I'd share my Top 10 Time-Wasters with you. Some are pretty obvious and well-known and some you may not have heard of. Enter at your own risk.
(Please don't write and abuse me. You can make up your own excuses...)

I'm not even going to include Google Earth (the best way to find any place on the planet) or Facebook (rapidly becoming the best way to find any face on the planet), because if you're reading blogs, let alone writing one, you'll have heard of them.

In no particular order:

1. StumbleUpon - An amazing way to travel the web, discovering new sites, photos and videos based on your own interests and those of other Stumblers you meet. Responsible for many of the finds listed below, and I'm sure many more to come.

2. ScrapBlog - One for the photographers and scrappers. Obviously, a cross between blogging and scrapping, a sleek, well-packaged online scrapping site with lots of tempting templates to display your prized images to family or the world.

3. The Experience Project - I have barely scratched the surface of this one, but think it is such a fabulous idea. Register anonymously, and begin to share experiences, goals, confessions, interests and so on to discover other people in the world who have shared your experiences, and can relate to your feelings. Can be as deep or as shallow as you make it.

4. BookCrossing - I have been a member of this site for a few years, and fluctuate in activity, but it is another concept I adored when I first discovered it. Around the world, participants are tagging books with BookCrossing labels or bookmarks and "releasing them into the wild" for other people to discover, log into the web-site and track their progress.

5. RecipeZaar - The Web abounds in cooking and recipe sites, but this one has long been a favourite, so much so that I even lashed out on a full membership last year. Trust me, if you're into food and cooking you'll enjoy this one. I keep thinking I'll get all my recipes up there one day...but there are always new ones to add, and find, and test...

6. Musicovery - An interactive webRadio site with a really simple interface and a nifty little mood-setter. You can use it for free with LoFi quality or upgrade to paid membership for HiFi quality, no ads and the ability to save your favourite songs. Great selection.

7. Writing.Com - I was a HUGE addict of this site a few years ago, and it was major therapy for me after Jack's birth - I had time to write, and pain to write through and this site gave me a community of writers who wanted to read my work. I was a bit bummed when it went from totally free to a two-level system, 'cos they set a limited storage on the free accounts and I actually lost a lot of work (I know, I know - the writer's digital maxim, save, and save again.). I'm sure it's still a great community for writers of all levels of experience and genres.

8. Wordsy - Another one for those serious about writing and reading. A great way to share and access information about books, writing and related media. This is my newest discovery.

9. Sketch Swap - This little site is deceptively simple, and dangerously addictive. Do a little sketch, maybe write a little message with it, and it takes your "art with heart" and gives you someone else's in exchange. Dare you to stop at one!

10. MyShutterSpace - A social network for digital photography enthusiasts of all abilities - a great way to pick up useful tips and see some fantastic photography from around the world.

News of the day - the Big Feller went away for work again you now all know what I'll be doing with my evenings after the wee man has gone to sleep...when I'm not blogging here, or checking my Google Reader to see what you've been doing, or my FeedBurner stats to see where everyone has gone...!? :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The things they say...

I imagine every Mum has a mental file (or, for the more organised among you, a journal record) of the cute manglings, miscommunications and permutations of the language our little ones deliver in an effort to communicate with us.

The wee man (3 and a half years old) is very serious and earnest about speaking properly, understanding and being understood, and doesn't appreciate being laughed at but sometimes....oh, I can't help myself!

Early this morning:

"Mama, why are you wearing your 'Gina?" (Yes, we use the anatomical terms here.)

Mama, rapidly trying to compute where we are going with this (and failing!): "Well, girls and ladies always have a 'gina, just like boys and men always wear their penises. They're a part of our bodies and..."

"No..." pointing at my sleepwear, "why are you wearing your 'gina?"

Huh? " nightie!?"

"Yes, nightie!"

Of course - "nightie", "'gina" - almost the same thing. Double huh?!

This, from a boy who aged about 12 months old inexplicably went from saying "Dad-dad" to calling his father "Didi", and has done so until only recently - now he says "daddy" like all his friends, but I loved the uniqueness of his own choice.

This, from a boy who calls his testicles "texibles" (try it - it makes them sound much cuter ... *chortles*), loves all things construction-related especially "estabators", and whose favourite vegetable is "caxicum".

This, from a boy who can easily say "construction" and "combine harvester" and "fabulous" and "NationalGeographic" (I think he thinks it's one word), and will turn to me at every opportunity to have a new word explained to him, and to test the shape of it in his mouth.

Ah, truly one of the joys of parenthood. :)

Ps. Thanks so much to everyone who has dropped by as a result of Lotus' Sunday meme and said lovely things about my photos. After all my worry about being lazy in posting photos here instead of writing, I'm now wondering if I should just shut up and post photos - I've never had so many comments! *cheeky grin*

Monday, November 19, 2007

Daddy's home... Mama and the wee man are spending some quality time with the Big Feller, which means Mama's not likely to have any quality time with the blog!

So, just consider this a test pattern post, and I'll put up a pretty picture for you to look at till normal service resumes...Since my Weekly Winners hands-down favourite was the B&W shot, here's one from about this time last year that is one of my all-time favourites (I've even got it on my Visa card):

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekly Winners, Sunday Meme

Thanks to Lotus at Sarcastic Mom for this meme - It is usually difficult to find the time to write much on the weekends, so thanks for giving me a good excuse to say it with I can't beat myself up about it (I mean, it's a meme. I have to do!)It builds on from her own tradition of posting her favourites that she had taken through the previous week, and links back to her original post (to see hers and others, click on the lovely button below to check them out...sorry Lotus, I had to go with the one with the crown, even though you didn't make it...*cheeky grin*)

Plus, of course, I just love having an excuse to take more photos through the week... :p

So here for your edification and delight (oh go on, please say you like them...) are my favourite photos of the week:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More than halfway...

...through NaBloPoMo, and I hadn't even noticed!? I'm beginning to have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it - I have appreciated the discipline of turning up at the page and writing something every day, at the same time I have chafed at the pressure, and of my own demands on myself that it be something "worthwhile".

I never did like deadlines. My mum had high hopes that I would take my creative talents further, go to art school or university, but all I could see in that future was my creative muse withering with the pressure to perform under deadline. I know... classic and typical procrastinator issues, copping out before ever really testing myself. However, I always planned to be a mature-age student - I knew that when I was ready to follow my dreams, I would - and I have been. In fact, I could happily be a student for the rest of my life, if I could afford to pursue all the courses of study that I wished to do! Lotto least unless there is a major change in education policy in this country.

Hmm, we'll be looking at election results by this time next week...guess we'll see how much energy for change there is in this country. Be prepared to see me weeping tears of blood and rooting around for my passport application if John Howard and his cronies are returned!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Slightly bonkers...

Intellectually, I understand why it is that little children develop an almost pathological need to interrupt or disturb their parents when they are talking on the phone (or talking to a friend or a tradesman or any other activity that does not involve full and total attention to said child and child's needs/wishes/wants).

But it still drives me bloody bonkers!

Probably more so at the moment, when the Big Feller has been away all week and the wee man is both a) more fragile, because he is missing his Daddy and b) more annoying because we have been with each other almost constantly apart from the 6 hours he was at preschool on Monday, and I have been fragile this week, and he has known it, and responded by being even more emotionally needy and....

Do we see a pattern here? *Laughs*

The wee man can be happily involved in a game in another room - he has even been deep in play in the sandpit at the end of the garden - and I finally reach for the phone to make an important call I've been putting off and wham! there he is, calling, shouting, riding past me making siren noises at top volume, anything to render it impossible to focus on my caller and guarantee I turn it on to him. I've spoken about this phone/attention conflict with many parents, and it seem it's not just my pet peeve.

Of course, each occasion is an opportunity to talk about proper behaviour and respecting other people etc etc, and I know he is beginning to get this concept, and he will eventually learn to wait his turn (probably about the time he starts taking the phone to his room and making me wait all night for!?!)- Grrr.

Oh dear, petty, petty, petty!...sorry, folks, blogging standard has fallen tonight. Mama is tired, needs a nice long aromatic footbath, and a piece of really fine dark Swiss chocolate...


On a more positive note:- Last Tuesday, teachers, parents and children from our preschool enjoyed a visit to the village primary school to present them with the cheque for $300 we raised with our movie night fundraiser a fortnight ago. The money is aimed to help the school replace valuable resources lost when the tornado tore apart several of their buildings. Government funding and insurance will of course replace the buildings and some of the more obvious infrastructure, but there are so many books and materials and teaching aids to be replaced.

Anyway, we took our kids on a crocodile walk down the street, and joined the bigger kids at their assembly. We adults all spoke some fine words and passed over the cheque, but the kids just had a ball in each other's company - the year 5 students ended up "buddying" up with our little guys and taking them for a walk down the back through the construction site that used to be their playground.

One of the things I said in my little speech was about how this fundraiser, which was based within the village, supported by and about villagers was a great example of "the power of community" (which was the name and the theme of the documentary movie we screened) in action. It did give me a real buzz to notice how profoundly the school kids had absorbed that message, and a nice sense of the possibilities of the future if such a sense could be modelled by adults and absorbed by children everywhere.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wonderful Women

I'm feeling very blessed in my friends today, both on- and off-line. First, I've been greatly honoured by the Wonder Woman award by my gorgeous new friend Tiff over at Three Ring Circus. This lovely award was created by Chrissy from Chrissy's This and That as a token of appreciation for wonderful women, and was inspired by a post written for her by her husband ("Wonder Wife"...awwwww!).
This award arrived for me on a day when I was feeling anything but a Wonder Woman, yet it inspired me to draw on some of that Wonder Woman energy to turn around the mood, thoughts and direction of the day. Thank you so much, Tiff. Right back at you! (I have to choose some special people to pass this award on to, but I'm going to save that for another day.)

And my oldest and dearest friend deserves a special thank you from me for the lovely gift of a subscription to my favourite magazine for my birthday last month - my first issue arrived today, and that sure plastered a smile on my face!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Day's end

I've not had a great day...One day I might talk about it with you, but not tonight. It's not been all bad, but I feel I've been through the emotional wringer and I haven't much to offer (but dedication to NaBloPoMo compels me here, I'm actually proud to say).

So, I hope you'll forgive me if I dip back into my writing file and post some more of my work. This time, it's a poem. (Whoops, just lost some readers...LOL! *rolling her eyes*)


I have been visited by an old acquaintance.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say
we are old friends.

I would not invite Grief to my wedding,
nor a leisurely backyard barbeque,
to sit with us on the red cedar bench
we wrought from timber
brought from father’s house
(before the final sale),
to gaze across the summer-lush lawn,
suck on cold Coronas and lime,
as limpid crimson fire sheets the horizon,
dusts scarlet wisps of cloud,
and signals day’s end.

No, it’s definitely more
of a gentle acquaintance:
we might meet over a cup of tea,
together alone under the sweeping
feathered green canopy of the poinciana tree,
which bows its head
over the deck of a favourite cafe,
to speak wordlessly of those
not joining us that day.

Or during a quiet hour
paging through albums,
shuffling piles of photographs
a thousand moments stolen
from time’s eager grasp,
Grief may visit briefly,
seeking melancholy succour,
only to leave when laughter threatens.
(I couldn’t really be friends with anyone
without a sense of humour.)

Or sometimes on a wander walk,
my pawed friend for chaperone,
all golden enthusiasm and lolling tongue,
along the mangrove-laden curve of river -
mirroring memory’s tide -
where thoughts might follow
the leisurely flow of water
and sink too deep.

On occasions, driving together,
the Peugeot’s sun-baked vinyl
releases pungent reminiscence;
my father’s hands upon the wheel,
clannish ancestors echoed
in the fair red hair glinting
on lean artist’s fingers,
where my hands now rest.
Grief nudges me: “Remember?”
A friend would be more subtle.

No, Grief is just an old acquaintance,
one I’d rather be losing touch with.
But lately, we’ve been spending time again.
I’d like to move or change my number,
but experience tells me, with time,
Grief tires of my company.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A long way from perfection

I'm sorry, but when I read this headline "Mother who threw baby 'close to perfect'" and the accompanying article I just couldn't believe the gall of her defense counsel.

All parents can have bad days, suffer incredible frustrations, lack of sleep, fraying relationships and so on but there is such an incredible leap from thinking "I can't stand the sound of your cries" to taking your baby by the hand and flinging her across the room, delivering injuries which cause her death.

There's no such thing as a perfect parent, but even one "close to perfect" would never willingly cause her child's death. This woman will have to live with the pain and the consequences of her actions for the rest of her life - I wondered if she felt even greater pain hearing herself described in such terms. Or is that just me being naive again?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Embracing the community ethos

Well, I'm starting to feel at home now. The world of blogging has offered me a warm smile and a cheery "Hello", and invited me in for a cuppa. What is she blathering on about? you wonder (I often do!)...I've participated in a couple of blogging carnivals over the last few days and been tagged for a meme!

So, if you've dropped in from the All Women Blogging Carnival hosted by Red Sultana, or stumbled in from the Carnival of Australia, beautifully set out by Martin at SmallOfficeAustralia, welcome! And if you're a regular visitor here, you'll find some great posts at both Carnivals - pop over and have a look, and support Aussie and/or women bloggers!?! ;P

Goodness knows the meme (7 random or weird facts about me) is going to test my resources, both in coming up with enough quirky/interesting/random answers, and enough bloggers (7) I have to the temerity to tag in return, but it still gives me the warm fuzzies...thank you, Tiff (of Three Ring Circus), for the tag and extending the hand of friendship. :)

So, here's the meme rules:

Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.

Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.

Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

And here's 7 random or weird facts about me:

1. I picked up the phrase "the wee man" from my Tasmanian aunt, and I hear in it the resonances of our Scottish and English heritage.

2. At the age of 15, my best friend and I chucked aside the 2 litre bottle of Coke we'd bought as mixer, and took turns chugging down the 750ml bottle of Bundaberg Rum refused by our 3 other friends. Five minutes later, we were raging away in the local Town Hall at an All School's function - 1/2 hour later, and my best friend was driving the porcelain bus while I was dancing on the tables!? And they worry about youth binge drinking today? This sort of thing is the reason why my kidneys, liver and I have decided that we're pretty uninterested in alcohol these days... (Ps. My best friend still drinks rum.)

3. I was "re-named" by the guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later known as Osho) at a ceremony in Poona, India when I was 8 years old. He named me Ma Prem Bindu, which apparently means "drop of love". Funnily enough, the name stuck when I came to live with my Dad, was sort of a pet name used only at home, and many of his friends still remember me as Bindu all these years later.

4. I have lived in every capital city in Australia except the nation's capital, Canberra, which I have still never set foot in. (Nothing personal, folks, just hasn't been high on my "things to do" list.)

5. I don't drive. To be exact, I have had a learner's permit on and off over the last 15 years or so since returning from OS, but have never been for a driving test. I'm not incredibly confident, but I don't really know why I haven't got around to it...I'm putting it down to a bad past-life-experience (lol!). I've owned 4 cars in that time - own one right now, actually. I used to drive my lovely old Peugeot around Brisbane by myself (shhhh...), but haven't driven in a few years now and my last permit has expired. Bugger - now in NSW I have to do an incredibly long logbook process before applying for my test, so it just may never happen. (Don't tell the Big Feller I said that... ;-) )

6. I usually read 3, 4, 5 or more books at the same time (and let's not mention the magazines, okay?). They sit by the bed, by my favourite chair, on my desk, waiting for me to pick one up depending on mood and the amount of time available. These days, it's a mixture of fiction and non-fiction - a bit of chick lit, science fiction or fantasy, travel and memoirs, books on parenting or digital scrapping or food or...

7. I would love to go on Australian Idol...but I can't sing to save my life (unless you count passion and enthusiasm)!

Now, for the seriously hard part...tagging the bloggers! Thank heavens for NabloPoMo, which has allowed me to "meet" some more great bloggers.

So, I have to start with Red Dirt Mummy - spill the dirt, rdm! :)

Cecily, at happy chatter

Trish, over at Light. Sweet. Crude.

Ginny from Really Ginny

Lotus from Sarcastic Mom


and finally, fiddlemama. Good luck, all...or forgive me! :)

PS. The wee man giving his Daddy a farewell hug yesterday...doesn't it make you just melt?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembering Jack...

It's Remembrance Day here in Australia, the 11th of the 11th, a day we traditionally remember who have died in the service of our country.

I have my own Remembrance Day. This is the day my first-born baby boy Jack was due to be born. Even though statistically few babies are actually born on the EDD appointed them, I laughed through my pregnancy about how convenient it would be to remember his birthday if he would oblige by turning up on that day.

He chose another day, and for that reason the week of mourning the lost loved ones of 9/11 has its own private resonance for me. He was born on September 14, 2001. He would have been 6 this year.

There has always been within me an acceptance of the order of things in relation to Jack's loss. We grieved him, separately and together, and we reflect on him as thoughts and memories surface through the years. The wee man's pregnancy was particularly emotionally charged at certain times, especially since by then we had lost another four babies through early miscarriages. But there is a sense I have that things are as they are meant to be, and the losses we sustained pale in comparision to some people's suffering, and make the birth of the wee man all the more precious a gift.

I'm not maudlin, and this post is as much a celebration of life as a marking of loss. I thought I'd like to post a story I wrote a few months after Jack's death. At the time, I was an addicted subscriber to Stories.Com (now, I think), and this piece received a huge, loving and incredibly healing response from that community of writers. Then, I called it "In My Heart"; now, I think of it as...


In my heart, I was a mother from the moment I knew I was pregnant.

My pregnancy was blissful. I was one of those incredibly annoying women who had no morning sickness, no insane cravings, no stretch marks. (Annoying, that is, for every woman who has endured these trials and more.) My skin and hair shone gold with health - I never got sick of people telling me how I seemed to glow from within. I was in love with life, my man, the world, and, most of all, the incredible alchemy which was taking place inside me to create this wonderful new being with whom I was already deeply in love. I was completely at ease with the idea of becoming a mother, as only those completely new to motherhood can be. I had spent years idly longing for a child, but now we were ready. Now we were committed; there was no going back from my blooming belly.

So, it was a deep sense of shock that I stared at the deep red blotch on the tissue I held. At 32 weeks pregnant, I had become used to the siren song of the toilet in the middle of the night. After all, there is only so much space in the average abdomen. I didn’t begrudge an inch to my beautiful passenger, and willingly got up as many times a night as necessary to keep my bladder empty. I normally waddled throught the house in the dark, sat in the dark. This night, I put the light on - don’t ask me why. At three am, you have to trust your instincts - your brain doesn’t function too well.

By then, I had absorbed enough pregnancy literature for 20 pregnancies . I knew spotting was not a good thing, not at this late stage of the pregnancy, and especially not if it was bright red. I knew it was probably a warning sign, and therefore not to be ignored. I knew that in another 2 hours, my partner’s alarm was going to go off, rousing him for another day’s work. And I knew I couldn’t wait that long.

I took a moment, though. I sat at the kitchen table, sipped a cup of chamomile tea, and focused every ounce of awareness on the baby within. Two days ago, I had been joking that Pumpkin (we hated the whole ‘he/she/it’ business) was dancing up the walls of my uterus like Fred Astaire, in that classic scene where he dances all the way up one wall, across the ceiling and down the other side. My partner and I were endlessly fascinated by the ever-changing panorama of my stomach, where the skin stretched and heaved to silhouette one little limb, or a rump, or an elbow, or an (amazingly large!) foot. Better then television, was the general conclusion.

I sat and remembered all the times Pumpkin had rebelled against the scans and monitors we were regularly subjected to, on our visits to the Antenatal Clinic. It was becoming a little joke with the midwives, how much this baby squirmed and wriggled to avoid the invasive pulse of the ultrasound, or even the smaller wave of the sonogram seeking the baby’s heartbeat as part of our regular check-up. I couldn’t help feeling proud, though, at how considerate my child already was - although incredibly active when I was awake and moving, Pumpkin almost always settled to a peaceful sleep when I lay down or rested. My prayer, echoed by all around me, was for that deliciously convenient sleep pattern to continue after the baby was born. Well, we can dream, can’t we?

My hands resting on my curving abdomen, I sat in the kitchen and waited for movement. I felt nothing.

Later, when we had driven through the deserted early-morning streets to the hospital, and been quickly ushered into the assessment area, I felt nothing again. Nothing, to the tune of a silent heart monitor strapped to my belly. The wide, sympathetic eyes of the doctor and midwives said it all, before the doctor ever opened her mouth. Oh, I cried - we wrapped our arms around each other and sobbed with the shock, the defeat of our dreams. I reduced one midwife to tears, when she comforted me while my man began the painful task of ringing our loved ones. But inside, I could not believe, nor fully feel the loss. I waited to feel movement, life.

The greatest blessing of that day was my completely natural labour. By the time the midwives examined me, shortly after the defining monitor, I was nearly 5 centimeters dilated. Startled, they enquired after my pain, and offered me pain relief if I required it. Physically, I was experiencing nothing worse than mild menstrual cramps - nothing they could give me could ease the pain I could feel sitting quietly in my heart, waiting for the right moment for its own birth. A labour ward was cleared for me, and we were whisked away. My man was by my side; the waiting room began to fill with loving family and friends, come to support and grieve with us. Labour anchored me, gave me focus; I could not be a mother, but I could give birth.

Seven hours after I awoke and stared at a red blotch, Jack Lightning was born. His birthing was brief, intense; easy, as so much else of his short life had been. His father declared that nothing was more beautiful than me, giving birth to our son. Even knowing that our child was stillborn, I was intensely proud of every contraction and drop of sweat I exerted on his behalf, and of the resolute courage of my man, who’d never known how he would handle the whole birth experience. It was the very least we could do for our son, who left as he had arrived: perfect in every detail, brilliant as a lightning flash, gone in an instant.

Now I am a mother without a child. I am one of many. There are mothers who have lost babies as miscarriages or stillbirths, mothers who have lost a newborn or infant to illness or misfortune, mothers who have lost a child, large or small, to hunger or war or murder. There is a space in our hearts, in our arms, under our roofs, in our photo albums, in our family gatherings. We are still mothers. (C)TR 2001

Saturday, November 10, 2007

One for the road

The Big Feller is going away for a couple of week's work tomorrow, heading off on a 10 hour drive first thing in the morning. So, naturally, the wee man and I have to provide some necessary sustenance for that long drive, and a little taste of home. We'll make this very-moreish and incredibly easy chocolate slice, which I downloaded from the Taste website and comes from the April 2005 edition of Fresh Living. I can see all sorts of ways this can be enhanced (spices like cardamom and cinnamon, sultanas, roughly chopped macadamias or walnuts), but the boys like it just as it is so I haven't got around to experimenting with it yet.

Chocolate & Coconut Slice
Prep. Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Makes 24 pieces

3 wholewheat breakfast biscuits (eg VitaBrits)
1 cup (85g) dessicated coconut (I use shredded coconut)
1/2 cup (120g) caster sugar
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa
150g butter (I use Nuttelex margarine, dairy-free)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups icing mixture
Extra 1 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp hot water


1. Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease a 16 by 26 cm baking pan and line with baking paper.
2. Break up biscuits into large bowl, add coconut and sugar. Sift over flour and cocoa and stir.
3. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat, pour over dry ingredients, add vanilla and mix well.
4. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and press down to level. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked.
5. Sift icing sugar mixture and cocoa into a bowl, add hot water and stir well. Ice slice while still hot.
6. Allow to cool in pan, then remove and cut into squares to serve.

Ps. One of my regular readers let me know she was having difficulty publishing comments here without a Google account. I've changed my settings now, so that shouldn't be a problem, but if anyone else is having similar problems let me know (as she did) through my BUMPzee account (see sidebar). I was feeling a bit lonely here the last few days, so hopefully it was only a technical problem *grins*

Friday, November 09, 2007

Are you flabbergasted by my verbosity?

I don't know whether to be embarrassed or impressed by this:

cash advance

But since the blogs I've seen with this badge only got an Elementary School reading level (US primary school), I'm either talking over everyone's head, or I'm using too many big words...the Big Feller often tells me to get the dictionary out of my mouth.

I think I'm reading too much into it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Caring too little...or too much?

I took the wee man to the local indoor play centre today, and we were confronted there by a vicious little thug in the body of a small boy. Seriously, this little guy was mean.

He looked sweet, avoiding the cliche of beetle brow and piggy eyes, but he obviously delighted in provoking in reaction and he didn't care from whom. I first noticed him when he pelted one of those (luckily) soft plastic balls from the ball pit full-pelt at virtually point-blank range at the wee man, aiming for his face but fortunately only striking his shoulder. I called out, but he just grinned at me and ran off. When I went into the ball pit to comfort the wee man, he came up behind me and pelted me on the hip, meeting my glare and smirking as I turned around before running off. I mean, come on, he was all of four years old, and the wish to hit and hurt and agitate that rose from him was palpable. It troubled me how much I wanted to retaliate - I felt like shaking him, or dragging him out by the ear to find his mother (neither of which I would do in a million years).

He swiftly turned his focus elsewhere, and the wee man was happily occupied, so I sat back at my table with a cup of tea. It wasn't long before he was at it again, he and his accomplice pelting another small boy to tears with a kind of manic glee before barrelling past several smaller children, sending them flying.

Later, I saw him at his mother's table. Unlike most parents there, she hadn't moved from her seat to watch or participate in the play, and was absorbed in her conversation with her friend. I started to think about how his behaviour was obviously a giant cry for attention, but then began to wonder if her behaviour was a response to his behaviour ie. not giving bad behaviour any attention at all, especially if it was an on-going thing. Nope, cop-out, I decided - his behaviour is shocking towards other people and children and she knows it and is doing nothing about it and there is no excuse for that. What is wrong with modelling respect and consideration for other people, an awareness of how your behaviour affects the feelings of others? And there was my answer, right there - he was modelling her behaviour, her disregard for others - she had taken him to a public setting and didn't care to watch or intervene in his actions.

What do you do, when you come across people like that? We left soon after and I've been pondering those two, mother and son, all day since. They seem to represent much of what is worst in the world at the moment - the "I don't give a shit what you think of what I do, just get out of my face", narcissistic, me-me-me, f--k the rest of you attitude that can be seen from the highest levels of the most powerful nations on the planet right down to a small boy and his mother in a play centre. Where do we begin? Is it too much to think that everyone might learn to care? Or am I just too damn naive?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I recently received a few sample copies of a (US) magazine called Life Learning. It makes for rather inspiring reading, with stories from both parents of home-schoolers and the adult products of home-schooling families. Ever since the wee man was quite small, I've ideally wondered about home schooling & unschooling, as an option to the conventional schooling options.

For me, it's not a matter of any firm convictions about one way or another being better, it is more about which is better for us.

There are aspects of the structure and society of many schools which are absolutely not appealing: bullying (both from fellow pupils and teachers); cultural and peer pressure; rigid structure and narrowly focused curriculum; and poor student-to-teacher ratios which mean that individual needs and talents can be missed or neglected. I've looked at the philosophies and curriculums of local Steiner, Montessori and humanist schools...and the fees. Whatever I think about the philosophies, those schools are just not economically feasible for us at the moment. The local primary school here in the village actually has a fantastic reputation under the headmistress of the last couple of years, and is just 3 houses away from us - it's got a lot going for it.

In my own childhood, I had an unconventional and highly varied schooling history. I started kindy at age 5 in Melbourne, but less than a year later my parents had fitted out an old Kommer van and we were on the road, travelling up the east coast of Australia. Most of the next year or so we did correspondence school, supervised by Mum - as an avid reader and learner, this suited me just fine, but my 3-years-younger brother just wanted to play.

The next few years were very nomadic, as my parents split and Mum continued to travel Australia with us kids, as she worked and saved to make her dream trip to SE Asia. I actually don't know how many primary schools I attended - I lost count. Usually, we were enrolled in whatever state school was local to where we lived at the time, though I remember one notably-horrifying occasion when she enrolled us in a famously progressive "free school" (free from rules, not fees!) where the little monsters ran the school and made the lives of newcomers like ourselves an absolute misery. (I had to defend not just myself, physically, mentally, and emotionally, but also my little brother, especially when they realised that hurting him was the best way to get at me.) We lasted a term, before I finally told Mum what a horror it was - I was devastated (so was she!) as it was my dream school, beautiful grounds and incredible facilities with a big focus on creativity.

Once overseas, we travelled through Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal and India - we ended up living 6 months in India as Mum joined the Rajneesh Ashram in Poona, which had a great school for the many children of the Westerners who had come to study with the guru. It was a magnificent experience overall - as children do, we adapted to the needs of the moment, communicating with the locals in sign language and smiles and rapidly-shared snatches of each other's languages. It was the mid-seventies, and western women travelling alone were still uncommon; women with white-haired, blue-eyed children were such a delicious novelty that we were almost universally treated beautifully, and welcomed and treasured wherever we went. I could wish that the world would feel so safe today...

We returned to Australia, and I eventually came to live with my Dad in the very region I live in now, and spent the last 3 years of primary school at a local 2-room school run by an inspired and inspiring man - god, I still feel so lucky about that experience! Then 6 years of conventional high school - it was a mixed, mostly positive experience for me, but even then I knew I was never really tested or stretched...I coasted along, had fun with my friends, and achieved well enough to not be pushed to make any more effort.

I wouldn't be me without the amazing experiences I had outside the conventional schooling of many of my peers. And yet, much of that experience marked me as "different" and I often had to struggle to be accepted and certainly became a bit of a chameleon to make friends. I still think of myself as a shy person with a confident outgoing exterior - it's not front, but it is certainly hard-won skills in action.

I read articles and web-sites about schooling alternatives, talk to people who are home-schooling, and was even surprised when the Big Feller raised the idea first. I can see that in many ways the wee man would be suited to leading his own learning - he's inquisitive, constantly questioning, articulate and confident. A lot like me mentally, I think - another magpie mind in the making!?!

But he also loves his preschool, and has obviously been very happily and positively stimulated by his time there this year. I joke that he'd be happy to go there 7 days a week, because he wakes up every day and asks if it's a preschool day.

And to be frank,I don't know if I can make the necessary mental shift to put aside my own personal wishes and plans for my time if he was at home full-time (I feel incredibly selfish, writing this). I love it when he goes to preschool - those 12 hours every week are precious me-time. Though they are rapidly filled with housekeeping, preschool and playgroup administrative tasks, I always manage to spend some time reading or looking at the Net or a few favourite bloggers. Or just doing nothing at all for a little while, sitting on the deck having a cuppa and talking to the dog. Precious, sanity-saving time that a true introvert can't do without.

And then there is the economic reality that my family really could do with the income I'd generate if I returned to the paid workforce. Let me not, today, get on my soapbox about what that kind of pressure is doing to our kids and the society of their future.

He's only 3 1/2, and I'm happy that the preschool experience is right for him now, so this is not an urgent decision. Merely musings, triggered by the thoughtful articles I read last night. What decisions have you made for your children, and why?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Magpie Mind

I have a magpie mind. I like anything that glitters.
Lord Thomson of Fleet

When I described myself in earlier posts as having a magpie mind, I wasn't making any kind of literary reference. At least, I didn't think I was. That's the thing with having this kind of mind - you collect all sorts of glittering, precious trophies of information as you rove the world of books, movies, media and 'Net over a lifetime...and then you pile them all in a glorious heap, where some of them will never see the light of day again. I'm sure it is literally true that I have forgotten more than I will ever remember - so much of my schooling, the human resources, psychology and aromatherapy I studied as an adult and the gleanings of a voracious reading habit seem to have slipped away.

Sometimes I think all I remember is the useless and crap. Take me to a Trivia night - that might make me a feel a bit useful.

Hmmm, that sounds a bit self-pitying, and I don't mean that. I adore learning things, and a new passion (eg. blogging) can send me scouring the library and the 'Net for information and inspiration. Of course I'm not going to retain it all, nor do I want or need to try. I just love the seeking of knowledge.

Witness my Favourites file. I've been on the 'Net for about 6 years now (with a 12 month break in the middle when we moved to the mountains and were very technology-free for a while...until my brain screamed out for external stimulation!). When I first got online, I went on a kid-in-a-candy-store frenzy of surfing, with a little list by my side of all favourite subjects and hobbies to trigger my searches. My Favourites file rapidly filled with all manner of things, many of them repeatedly visited but some compulsively filed "just in case". This is the second computer I've had since then, but I had discovered one of those handy bookmark-storing sites and had stored all precious links for transfer to my new computer. Since then, I've become a bit more discerning (and have also become a mother, which has taken a fair bit of my free time *wry grin*), and have even had a stab at going through the files, checking the links and deleting any that were out of date or no longer of interest to me.

Out of interest, before I wrote this post I checked on the current total.

I have 1314 links in my Favourites files, in 152 folder headings.

See what I mean?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Getting serious

With the new demands of a daily post (for NaBloPoMo), I've cast my eyes over the bounty of the internet, finding really useful blogging networks, forums and carnivals in the last couple of weeks, and sourcing some great advice about generating ideas for bloggers and developing good blogging habits. Some of those I've found useful have been:
"Seven ways to find the time to blog" from Will's Thoughtstream
"7 Habits of Highly Efficient Bloggers" from Daily Blog Tips
"10 Sources For Blogging Inspiration" by average joe blogger
"Who Do You Think You Are" by Chris Garrett (my favourite - I love what he had to say about bloggers and readers getting to know each other.)

I'm never lost for words, but there are times when I feel pity for my audience (irl or online). I know I can get excited about a particular subject or passion, but am I really framing it in a way that is interesting to the listener/reader? And what about the days when I gaze at the blank screen and wonder what happened to all those great ideas I had...when I wasn't gazing at the blank screen?

I've opened a folder in my favourites Blog file, for post-worthy links I come upon, and I'm starting to jot down post ideas in my ever-present desk notebook. I am one of those who says, "If I write it down, it happens, or gets done...If you want me to do it, write it down for me!", which covers household matters like why cordial wasn't bought in the shopping (I don't drink it so Big Feller needs to write it on the list when running low), or why the rego on the new/old car wasn't changed over within 14 days (Big Feller didn't write it down nor give me the paperwork).

Not that I need or intend to plan this blogging thing to within an inch of its life either, but I felt disappointed with myself to have only posted photographs over the weekend...lovely and all that, but when I'm reading a favourite blog I feel vaguely unsatisfied if they've only posted pictures. I'm there because previously their words, ideas, philosophy of life and/or warped sense of humour have snagged my interest - I'm back for more of the same. I love the ability to dip into other people's lives and worlds, no matter where on the planet they are, and the images are a part of that, but it's you I'm interested in: your thoughts, your ideas, your dreams, your crazy world view. And if you are here reading me, I guess it's because you feel much the same way, too.

So, while I will certainly be posting lots of images (because taking and sharing photographs is one of my passions!), I hope that with a little thought and preparation I will be able to write daily posts that will continue to make you think, to laugh, to nod in acknowledgement, and keep dropping by to see what my little magpie of a mind has latched onto now... :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Loved ones

We're friends again, Blogger's uploading tool and I, so here are some images of me (before and after haircut), my family, friends and places dear to me.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Get in and get out

Sorry, folks, but this is going to be the complete opposite to my last couple of posts - brief to the extreme, as the thunder and lightning that have become so familiar in my part of the world the last few weeks are rolling in swiftly, and I am scrabbling to get in here and make my mark here today for NaBloPoMo.

Last night, btw, went swimmingly well. Nice turn-out, great response to both the documentary and the local footage, and all the baked goods sold a treat. Didn't make squillions after costs, only a couple of hundred, but I still consider it a success...every little bit will help.

To go with the getting-to-know-you theme of recent posts, here to replace words are some images of me and mine:

Well, maybe just "mine"....after half a dozen attempts, that is the only photo I can get to load tonight. Blogger took me seriously when I said I'd be brief!

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