Why I love writers

“One day, many years from now, another prime minister will stand up and to a teary gallery apologise for the damage done to refugees in detention. We will be told that we didn’t know then what we know now. We will hear testimony of destroyed lives. But we did know. We always knew. We just chose not to hear and to silence those who tried to remind us of the truth.”

(http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/26/triggs-was-attacked-for-defending-the-powerless-and-one-day-another-pm-will-apologise-for-it)

So I read the above quote in a Facebook post today and read the linked article by Richard Flanagan which was well worth the read. Late last year I read his Man Booker prize winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North during a grief addled trip into the arms of loved ones in Tasmania. I desperately needed something as respite from my grief, but something in which I wouldn’t find Phil inhabiting the pages in the words, images, places. It was an excellent novel (although I can never not find Phil’s spirit among the noblest of characters and there were several in this book.)  I chose this book because going off to Tasmania, it seemed apt to read a Tasmanian author.

The article piqued my interest a little more in this author so I found his Facebook page and discovered that he donated his $40,000 Prime Minister’s Literary Award to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. I’m an instant fan. Two issues that bother me so much about the Australia I have returned home to, are it’s treatment of asylum seekers, and the legacy of decades of disastrous policy regarding our own indigenous people.

To see a brilliant author use his words, his influence and his money to shed a little light, and try to make a difference in both of these areas is a ray of hope, don’t you think?

A bit of word slinging

So apparently it’s been a while. It’s time to bang out some words.

I read True Stories by Helen Garner recently and jotted down this quote:

“Somebody somewhere says, though, that “the urge to preserve is the basis of all art”. Unaware of this thought you keep a diary. You keep it not only because it gratifies your urge to sling words around with impunity, but because without it you will lose your life: it’s detail will leak away into the sand and be gone forever.”

I like it.

Quite a bit has happened.

We moved house. We’re still renting for now. The new house is in a lovely leafy area with a gazillion trees. I love it. We have a bit of a view and heaps of birds including kookaburras which I love. Apparently there are koalas living in the gully behind us but we’ve yet to see them. So we’re still in the suburbs but it feels a little more spacious up here.

The house is bigger too… much more space for our big family to spread out.

The baby of the family is already 1. He’s got teeth and blows kisses and loves to play with the other kids. He’s walking and exploring and unpacking bookshelves. All the clichés are true. Too fast. Fleeting. Etc.

I turned 37. In a moment of grumpiness feeling like I was heading ever closer to 40 I had to stop and shut myself up with the memory that my mother didn’t even make it to 37. So it was kind of a milestone in my life to remind me not to take any day for for granted and to really  live.

I’m nursing again. I have two casual jobs picking up bits of work here and there. I’m enjoying working again. My colleagues think I’m living the sweet life working only one or two days  a week, until I explain that I have five children and come to work for a break.

I still get regular comments about the size of our family. Sometimes it bothers me but mostly not. My favourite one lately: “Five children!? What are you…part rabbit?!”
This is the most original comment I’ve received by far and it came from a male nursing colleague who greets me with a cheeky comment every day.

I have been thining about New Zealand a lot lately. I met a Maori dude at work and we chatted as we transported a patient and his accent was just lovely. I miss New Zealand. All the people, and all the beautiful places. I know it will always be special to me. I’m day dreaming about a visit.

We had such a hot summer…January was just ridiuclous. But now we’re enjoying perfect Autumn days. Adelaide does Autumn really well. Warm days, clear big blue skies, gentle breezes. Perfect.

Life is good. We are trying to make the most of these days with our children, and getting out and making memories with them. I am so grateful for wide open spaces for our kids to roam around.

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Ch ch ch ch changes

I am sitting outside in the relative cool of the evening, playing chicken with the mosquitoes. The sky is hazy with smoke and I cannot see the hills beyond the suburbs like I usually can. I don’t know where the fire is.

It’s nice to take some time to sit alone and think. February is my favourite month and I find myself thinking of February’s past. A lot has happened during the last 12 months. It’s been quite a year.

February 2012 marked the beginning of the pregnancy which gave us Joel. He is three months old now and we are all enjoying him as babies are meant to be enjoyed – that is, he is being thoroughly lavished with attention from us. Lucky boy with lots of siblings to fuss over him.

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We celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary last week in what was one of the toughest weeks of our marriage so far I reckon. I suppose it’s because our marriage might now be considered a petulant teen. Or it could just be cracks showing the strain of the extra weight of a new baby, a new country, and some stressful issues all at once.

Moving back to Australia has been a good move for our family and I don’t regret it for a moment, but at the same time I wouldn’t call it easy. Not that others don’t have it harder. But still…I took some strain this year.

Probably the hardest thing has been the kids missing their friends and lacking buddies to play with during the week. Because we home school and they don’t get a ready made bunch of friends at school, making friends is something we have to be proactive about. There are plenty of active home schooling groups here with friendly people and fun, interesting activities, but I just haven’t had the energy to consistently get involved and really get connected. This also means we haven’t had the support that I think is essential to home schooling working, especially with a large family. It does take time. I know this. And we gave it just over 6 months. We still sorely miss our NZ friends.

I kept thinking that soon I will feel better…ever moving the goal posts…”it will be easier when the baby is born”…”it will get better once we’re through the new born stage”….”I just need a good night’s sleep”…”we’re just having a rough week”.

But there were too many rough weeks in a row, and we always said that we would regularly assess what is the best educational choice for the children . I haven’t had the energy to do the home schooling thing well, and that just isn’t fair on the kids. D & I also struggled to find time to be together to talk and were taking strain. I came to the sobering and a little painful conclusion that I am burnt out. Its the kind of tired that takes more than a few good sleeps to fix.

So we decided it would be best for everyone if we enrolled the children in school. The boys started last week and Emma will start next term. I don’t know if it will be permanent. I can’t think too far ahead right now. But so far I can say that it was definitely a good decision. They are settling in really well especially considering this is their first experience of school.

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Actually now with just three at home during the day I really don’t know myself.  It’s been great though and when the others come home I am excited to see them which is the kind of Mum I know is inside me but who has been missing in action for a while.

I am consciously taking time to look after myself. I feel like I need to recover and that will take time and kindness. I have started journalling my way through to the other side. I might share some of that with you as I go.

Introducing 10 tonne Betty

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Yes we bought a bus. She is an old school bus converted to a motorhome and is the newest member of our family.

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We are looking forward to lots of adventures. In fact they have already begun as Doug had to drive her home all the way from NSW in a record breaking heatwave without air conditioning.  About 1700kms of hard work and discomfort for both of them (and Ryan who went along for the trip), but I think they became well acquainted during that and are possibly even slowly forming a firm friendship. I love her already.

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The children likewise are enjoying getting to know her.

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Even Sam seems to like her even though they had a little disagreement on the first day. He fell out, the step being a little higher that he thought and his two footed jump down to the gutter went awry.

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I can’t wait to hit the road.

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A comment on the local bird life

Magpies:

I’m a little bit scared of them. Even though they apparently only swoop during breeding season, they have beady eyes and a menacing look about them all year round. If I encounter them while out walking, I find myself trying to stare them down. But then I’m scared they’ll peck out my eyes, so I look away. Of course then I can’t see what they are up to, so I sneak a look and then alternate between hiding and staring while upping the pace and getting past as fast as possible. I keep wondering if they can sense my fear. I think they can.

Pink Galahs:

Watching them feed when I am out walking always makes me smile and a large flock of them wheeling over head is cool enough to really make my day. I like watching them walk around. They spend a lot of time feeding on fallen seeds on the ground.

Superb Blue Wren:

There is a little family living in our backyard. They are a bit shy, but if you keep your eyes open you will sometimes see them out and about. They are really tiny little things, and look like they might break. Every time I see one and call some family member or other to come and look, they dash away. Sneaky little things.

All the pics pinched from Wikipedia Commons.

Getting ready for a new year

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There is something about January that feels fresh. I love the feeling of starting over at the beginning of a new year.

The kids pens and pencils were in such a mess. Lots of broken pencils and felts missing lids all in the bottom of a box in a jumbly mess. So uninspiring. It’s not surprising no one wanted to draw.

So today I made these  new pencil tins out of leftover scrapbooking papers my cousin gave me and some recycled food cans.

A fresh new pile of secondhand books is also new yearish. And considering my current reading rate this lot will probably keep me going for at least 6 months.

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I am already reading The Hobbit, and a friend and fellow bibliophile has lent me her virgin copy of The Messenger by Markus Zusak, (which just proves how much she loves me), so I have more than enough reading material for a while.

A Spider Visitor

We’ve been here over 6 months and this is the first decent spider we’ve seen. A fairly common Huntsman on Emma’s bedroom window. Harmless to humans, but hairy and fast.

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My thumb for scale, and in case you mistakenly think I’m brave, the spider is on the outside trapped between the screen and the glass.

I once had one on my windscreen (on the inside) which scared the crap out of me. 

That is all. Strange blog post.

How to cope with hot weather

How to cope with hot weather

39 degrees outside?

No problem, play in the sun, feeding hundreds and thousands to the ants.

 
Can’t find your Bob the Builder sunhat?

No problem, stick a beanie on your head.
Feeling sleepy?

Just lie down and have a nap on the floor.