Mess

This begins with an apology that this blog will be full of woes. I will try and finish with hope. To be focussed and write about just one thing seems hard at the moment.  So many responsibilities and events pull me from side to side, so much that I lurch at angles that surely are unsafe.  I know I should take them one at a time.

My mum is getting frailer at 84 years and has asked for help. She lives over 2 hours drive away and most of my siblings live closer.  As the eldest child it is up to me to organise assistance and get some commitments from the family. The responses will vary so before I even get them I wonder how I  will manage this.

My daughter is 14 and full of hormones. She doesn’t like her teachers this year, should I talk to them I wonder. Her subjects are boring and nothing much is right with school unless it is one of the days when she comes home chatty and happy and then it is all good and what are you on about Mum.

Her sports, friends, homework and shopping commitments all seem to involve me.  In our household there  are appointments for doctors, physiotherapist, podiatrist, vet, school.  A merry-go-round of times and dates leave me little mental space to think and precious little time to achieve anything else.

My husband and I argue and don’t really make up before he leaves on an 8 hour round trip to the funeral of his aunt.

Yesterday a baby bird flew into the lounge window and died. When I went out to retrieve it, one of the parents was standing next to it willing it to get up and fly off.

Ordinary people were killed yesterday in London as a madman caused havoc. A thousand  asylum seekers may have drowned on a boat. I put my name on a petition to try and stop coal mining going ahead on the Great Barrier Reef after the second mass coral bleaching event in just two years. Everything I hear makes me weep.

In two weeks I am going to my first retreat. It is a Buddhist meditation retreat with early mornings and early nights.  I am worried my mental capacity to cope will be limited let alone my physical ability to sit still for long periods. But I can’t wait to go.

My walk with the dogs this morning led me along a quiet, tree-lined track surrounded by dusty paddocks, thin young steers and heifers grazing on remnants of dry, straw-coloured  grass. Overhead I heard the sound a royal ibis makes when it calls to its flock so now I will know it when I hear it again.

My daughter told me yesterday that the Eastern Spinebill she saw in the garden was the most beautiful bird she had ever seen.

A friend gave us a pallet of bricks to use for the garden and around the house. They are old and red, weathered and strong.

We have bought two huge Jarrah posts to make a verandah.  They are over a 100 years old and were saved from an old Naval building that was to be bulldozed. Their aged presence brings quiet strength, our own arborglyph.

I picked some figs from our tree, they are green and purple and large and sweet. The tree is alive with parrots, finches, wrens and crows bursting out of the green leaves when I arrive only to settle back in the minute I walk away.

I know that life is fleeting and the sound that we make when we leave is but a hush. The noises in my head and the feeling in my soul  are trying to tell me that I need to hush now as well and get on with living.

Advertisements

Australians not all

“Australians all let us rejoice for we are young and free” says our national anthem.

26 January every year, Australia celebrates Australia Day.  Well, some people celebrate it, others mourn it and think about what that day stands for.  Over 200 years ago in Sydney Cove, Governor Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack flag and declared Australia to be a colony of Great Britain.  Things changed for the indigenous people forever, mainly for the worse.

I’m not going to debate the merits or otherwise of Australia Day but I do want to bring to this page an irony that may have gone unnoticed by some.

We have a national paper run by Rupert Murdoch and it’s not surprisingly called “The Australian“.  Each January this newspaper selects their own special person or persons to be “Australian of the Year”.  This year QC Tony Morris and three legal students from Queensland University of Technology won this “prestigious” award.

And why did they win?  Was it for selfless heroic acts,  did they improve the lives of many, had their actions made Australia a better place?

Well no, actually, none of the above.  For in 2013 the students wanted to use a computer in one the university’s rooms, but there were none available, and they tried to use the ones in the one room designated for Indigenous people only. But they were asked to leave as they weren’t Aboriginal.  And of course, that wasn’t fair, was it.

So they got mad. And then they got even. They took an Aboriginal administrative officer to court and argued against section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.  And they won.

According to “The Australian” these three men “took a stand in the best Australian tradition. They fought back to protect their own reputations, their freedom and the liberty we should all enjoy. Without the generous assistance and skill of their lawyers, these students most probably would have had to capitulate and have been subject to an injustice”.

I am sickened by this, that these students and their QC are supposedly the best choice of  our national newspaper for “Australian of the Year.”

I am horrified, that because three white students couldn’t wait to use a computer, there was an outcry,  a feeling that a great injustice had been done to them. And this feeling was held up in our court of law.

I am saddened that this is how low we have gotten as a society, how oblivious we are to what constitutes real discrimination.

And I am angry.  And how I wish, I really wish that all Australians could see what is really our newspaper’s true colours on its masthead, and read it as “The White Australian“.

Perhaps, hopefully, certainly, someone else noticed this.

 

Sing

My dad died last year.  It was a year of trauma with other people who were very close to me dying unexpectedly.  My father’s death was expected though as he was 82 and had dementia.

My visits to my dad were infrequent as we had not been close.  But I was glad to see him as it gave me a chance to know him in a new way.  He was able to speak but he had little to say, he mostly cried.  What I found in the small moments between his silence and his crying was that I could talk to him about some of the things he loved most after his wife, and one of them was his music. Dad had sung in a male choir for many years as a tenor and was often a solo.

I collected some of the song books he owned, and together we would go through them.   In the early stages he would try to sing as strongly as he had in the choir and even as the dementia took hold he would still manage to remember most of the words.

The last time I visited him before his death it was Christmas so I suggested we sang Christmas Carols.  He told me he may not remember the words so I reassured him that it was fine to sing a little bit,  then go  lalalalala to the tune.  I even demonstrated my fine rendition of Good King Wenceslas which had a lot of lalas in it.  Together we managed a few songs with mostly few words and lots of humming  and la la ing before he apologised for being tired and I left him sleeping.  Dad died a few weeks later.

Three months after Dad’s death a school colleague of mine contacted me.  He and I had been in the same class in High School and he had been trying to find me for the past few decades.  He had written a poem about the time he had been bullied by a teacher in a lesson and I had supported him with a few kind words. He said he had never forgotten me and he had written a poem saying thank you.  We corresponded over the following weeks and he sent me the original poem as well as others he had written.

In subsequent weeks he and I discussed many things including that time at school and about closure and not holding onto anger. He decided to change some of the original poem.  In his finished working of it he wrote “But Coral, it’s not just a poem now. It’s a folk ballad. It sings. Not a sad song or angry song. It’s a happy song.

It sings!

Goddamn.”

First blog post

I am unsure of what to write, but I have a desire to start this blog.  If you are reading this thank you, although feel free to stop at any time.  I am trying to learn something about  my world by stopping, listening and reflecting. So sometimes it will be small things, other times a big larger.

Yesterday I broke the glass and frame of one of my favourite pictures.  I was supposed to be washing the floors but instead managed to find a box of CDs that had been misplaced and put some of them into the CD player, moved the furniture in a room from one side to another, put away sundry papers that I had dried after spilling a cup of tea on them earlier and released flies from their trapped window ledge.   I thought I would rearrange my paintings but instead managed to drop one onto the floor.

Then I stopped.  I told myself that the painting was fine and it was just the glass, and that the frame was fixable. Broken glass doesn’t matter, once it is broken you clean it up. Despite knowing all of this I was still annoyed and unsettled.  I really couldn’t let it go although of course it didn’t matter.    How hard it is to move on sometimes.

I did something unusual for me. I called to my partner and we lay together on the bed. I told him what I had done, how sorry I was as the glass replacement would be expensive, that I had tried to move it by myself knowing that it was heavy and that I should have asked for help from our daughter as she was in the next room.

And I felt lighter.  Thank you to all of those special people who listen.  You are the ones who help those like me who stumble along,  those of us who get caught up in the tangles and messes we create for ourselves.