Sunday, May 25, 2008

Weekly Winners, Sunday Meme AND the Big 100!

Well, well, I am at Post 100. No deep introspection here. Some colour and light, a little peek at my world this week.

Visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom if you like photographs - she amazes me on a weekly basis with her original perspectives (and wicked wit), and she hosts this fine photo meme.

We did each other's make-up - guess who is not getting a call-back...?

All action at the playdough table...

Artist at work.

From this, I could make...

Scarface Claw

My zygocactus blooms, signalling winter.

...and its translucent beauty at sunset sends my shutter finger crazy...

Preparing to leave the harbour

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
-- Mark Twain

This week, Past, Present and Future collided. The Past - memories of my father turning up unexpectedly at the very first Australia's Biggest Morning Tea (an annual Cancer Council fund-raiser) I hosted. He was in the city on the way to an appointment with an oncology specialist, and dropped by to see me. He was startled to discover my sunny little flat filled with lovely young women, many of whom he knew from different aspects of my life, sipping aromatic teas and sharing scrumptious cakes for him and others like him, fighting cancer. He shared tea and cake with us, laughed and chatted, before continuing on to his appointment.

The doctor told him to go home and prepare to die. He obeyed, dead 13 weeks later.

I remembered all this, and told the tale, as I watched my Present run around the playground, bearing my father's name, while we sipped tea and shared scrumptious cakes at the Preschool this week. I was hosting another Australia's Biggest Morning Tea (in the Afternoon) - for him, and others like him, lost to cancer.

And as I contemplate my Future, a couple of days after my first pre-election information seminar, I'm sure my dad is egging me on. My learning curve is becoming a "learning perpendicular" (as Jan Strom described it so eloquently at the seminar), and I see the bemused expressions on some faces as I try to describe why I feel compelled to run despite all the negative preconceptions many of us share about local councils and the role of councillors, but I've come away from that seminar feeling really good about what I'm doing.

Dad would understand (even while he may have his own, private reservations); it's time to sail away from the safe harbour, catch the trade winds and explore some new horizons.

After all, this is the only life I have.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekly Winners, Sunday Meme

Forget the calendar. Yesterday, it was Autumn; today, it is winter. Those antarctic south-westerlies have swept in, cutting through layers of clothing and whispering seductively in my ear of crackling fires and steaming crockpots . The sky may have been snapping blue today; the sub-tropics are beautifully deceptive. Stand in the shade, or leave a piece of skin exposed for the winds to lick, and you'll remember, alright.

None of which has anything to do with the pictures on offer. The flowers are from Mother's Day (including the lovely pot of lavender the little man helped me pick), the boy and the fur-pants are my regular shutter-fodder, and the little green guy was literally a "shot in the dark" - a shape, dimly seen on the step last night, who submitted to me taking a dozen shots of him (I couldn't see him well enough to focus on him, and didn't want to scare him off with a bigger light or torch).

Pop on over to Sarcastic Mom afterwards, and see what the lovely Lotus and the other shutter-bug bloggers have highlighted from their week.

A week later, and these jonquils still grace my door and scent my room.

I love lavender

This fig tree, in the middle of a charming rural village, looks like something out of Tolkien. These trees start as vines, which engulf their support tree, to leave eerie hollows and sinuous curves.

A rare moment of doubt?

"It might look silly, but it's comfortable, okay...?"

I've got my eye on you.

(Funnily enough, after all the shots I took trying to "properly" capture his image, it is this off-centre view I like the best.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weekly Winners, Sunday Meme

Happy Mother's Day, to mothers everywhere, and especially all you special mothers who patiently wait for my spasmodic postings!

I hope you had a wonderful day with your loved ones. I did - the little man and his dad picked me up and took me to our local Sunday market, the wee feller on a mission to get me to choose something. (He arrived with a fistful of jonquils, which are perfuming the room as I write this...heavenly!) He helped me pick out a gorgeous lavender plant, and some herbs to pot which he assisted me with later in the day. We spoke to some of our other favourite mothers, and enjoyed the fresh autumn day together. He had decorated a little box with "jewels" at preschool (helped me eat the chocolates inside, too), and drew me a card that is recognizably a person (me!) cooking a chocolate cake (for him!). It's lovely that he's now old enough for this day to begin to mean something for both of us, though I'm looking forward to a few years' time, when I get the whole breakfast-in-bed shebang!?. Why else am I teaching him to cook?

The camera lay idle most of the week. My good deed this week was to run over to the garage with it to take photos of the sweet old pup who had been struck by a car (luckily, not seriously), and was tied up there while the hunt was on for his owners. I came home and made some "Lost Dog" posters on the 'puter to put up at the shop and PO. His owners saw them, and collected him gratefully the next day. Don't we love a happy ending?!

(Remember, check out the lovely Sarcastic Mom and the other Weekly Winners. I'm sure they've taken plenty more photos than I have this week.)

Never found out his name, but he was the sweetest-natured boy...

Parachute games at playgroup

Making cuteness a high artform...(and I promise this photo was not staged)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Weekly Winners, Sunday Meme

I have a bit of a back-log, so forgive me if this page takes forever to load. My mother's 60th birthday spent with family, the wonderful Fun Day we held this week on National Playgroup Day, and my ever-photogenic wee man and wee cat have provided much shutter fodder and happy memories.

For a glimpse of what's happening in other parts of the world, visit Lotus's blog (Sarcastic Mom), the lovely sponsor of this meme. Give her a hug on the way through - she's hurting right now, and we love her.

Looking rather like a koala...Miss Mahlia FurPants...

...who has the sweetest feet...

...and was in the wars last week - attacked a week after her op by a neighbour's cat, she has a bald patch and stitches on BOTH flanks now.

The birthday card we made for Nanna Mama

The wee man and Nan (his great-grandmother)

A quiet time with a movie after the big drive to Nanna's

Birthday girl

The wee man, me and Pop

The object of his affections

Primitive instincts...boy with fire

Unky J, in party mode

Beautiful party people

Playing with Unky J

Breakfast with Unky B

Musing on the night before...?

Welcome to our Fun Day

I'm not having fun

Oh, what a beautiful day!

My beret looks better on him

Wednesday's magnificent sunset

Ending as I began...with my furry baby.

Taking a breath before plunging back in...

It's been a very busy fortnight.

My Mum's 60th birthday last weekend - the wee man and I went up with my grandparents and brothers for a couple of days. We enjoyed some time together, helped Mum prepare for her party at home on the Saturday night, and generously had an absolute ball on the! Talking, laughing, singing and poetry and dance; Mum had a dream of an old-fashioned soiree, with the entertainments provided by the guests, and many of us obliged. (The wee man and I performed that preschool classic "Hello, Neighbour", with the aid of his first amour *cheeky grin*) Mum prepared a photo slideshow of her life and loves (her own "This Is MY Life"), which brought much laughter and some tears (mine, when my father appeared on the screen - unexpected and brief, but surprisingly raw). The wee man refused to go to bed until his little friend was gone, by which time we were all heading for bed, and he went to sleep with her name the last word on his lips.

Last Wednesday, Playgroups around the country celebrated World's Biggest Playgroup Day, the centrepiece of National Playgroup Week. Our local committee had decided in a moment of insanity to hold a public Family Fun Day, bringing together families with children under 5 and the local services and community groups who support them, and the last 6 months has been spent pulling these ideas and plans into reality. What a wonderful day it was, too! I ran around the park like a blue-arsed fly (to use a colourful Aussie colloquialism!), helping to co-ordinate the set-up and then MC'ing the day with the help of a wireless microphone. The weather was magnificent, and perhaps 500 people came (yet we hadn't done half the advertising we had planned to) and gave us excellent feedback, so we've deemed the day a great success. Probably the only child who didn't have a ball was the wee man, who was upset that I couldn't stay with him when he came with his preschool class, and spent most of the time crying and saying "It's not a Fun Day - I'm not having fun!". Oh! the Motherguilt! *wry grin*

Now, I have a moment of respite before I must throw myself into the fray again. Apart from the mountains of red tape we have to wade through to have the community preschool re-licensed (has to be done every 3 years), I am about to gear up for the election for Council. Later this month, there are a couple of seminars I must attend which will enlighten my ignorance about the legalities and processes of running for council, and I have begun attending Council meetings to gain an understanding of the processes, politics and people involved.

I am excited, somewhat exhilarated, slightly terrified, and cautiously optimistic. I am also worried about the little man in all this process, and I will carry his needs very high in my consciousness. He is showing some signs of insecurity and neediness (see above!) - not unusual in a 4 year old, but I sense there is a level of fearfulness related to the changes in our family life this year, and fallout from the hurt we all sustained and are still sifting through.

I had a call from his father first thing this morning (I'm talking 6.30am...very first thing!), exasperated that the wee man had awoken crying to come home to me and was still weepy and sullen and single-minded about it. I know that kids do tend to play off their parents to get their way (and this is not isolated to children from broken marriages), and I also know that the wee man's dad is under a great deal of emotional strain this weekend (his father, loved and loathed in equal measure, hangs onto life by a thin thread in a Wagga hospital, and I think he has decided not to go see him) which is no doubt seeping out to colour his mood and demeanour. I KNOW how uncomfortable he is to be with when like that, so can't say I blame the wee man, nor wish to force him to stay there, though I encouraged them both to try and see what the morning will bring and to be kind to each other.

The original plan of the shared care, that the wee man be with his father 3 nights and 2 days over the weekend, has never really happened, and the visits have dwindled to about 24 hours Saturday to Sunday. This saddens and frustrates me, both for selfish reasons (planning my own time and needs) and for the subtext (not necessarily true) I can see the wee man reading into it in capital letters: " father doesn't want to spend time with me."

With all the demands I will have on my time, and the increasing need to put myself "out there", I have a delicate dance to perform here. I'm giving serious thought to taking the wee man to see a counsellor, too, to give us both some strategies for coping.

I've found myself beginning again to read an excellent book I bought last year and never finished: Sarah Napthali's "Buddhism for Mothers". I'm not Buddhist, though many of my personal philosophies are Buddhist in nature, but I highly recommend this book to mothers everywhere, of any belief or faith - it provides real understanding, supportive strategies and calming insights, and I find myself immediately implementing some of its wisdom and feeling better for it, and seeing the little man respond well to those shifts, too.

Well, probably only a little time before the wee man returns (no doubt!). Time to pour myself a cup of green tea, and sit on the patio and gaze at the distant blue mountains...

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