Thursday, 26 April 2007
I am contributing this poem to Poetry Thursday's NaPoWriMo prompt - Blaze.
Wednesday, 25 April 2007
The kids annoyed me so much the other night that I had to go for a swift walk to the local Star Bucks to let off steam and brood for about a half and hour, before I felt up to facing the troops again.
It was really just a plain old power struggle and attempt in boundary pushing. For the one millionth time, Mister and Missy Mopps decided to turn out their toys on the ground, only to walk away two minutes later, with a pile of discarded rubble scattered around.
I struggled to get them to clean it up, and the effort involved tired me out, so this time I gave them an ultimatum: clean it up or no TV for a week - they called my bluff...so there has been no TV this week.
Actually, they have been surprisingly great about it. They have only asked to watch the box once, and when I said no, they were very accepting, shrugged their shoulders and went off and did something else. We have done a few other things this week; together things, made cookies, iced cookies, painted an assortment of pictures, played more, drove bikes, sorted through junk, generally tidied up and even went to the dentist. We have all been in better moods even. I must say, I am rather impressed.
We might have to make this a permanent arrangement in our lives....well, at least in a much more limited capacity...this was a positive move, for all I think. Though I haven't had much time to write this week, I have had fun with the kids.
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
Ok, Ok! I wrote this last night BEFORE the fitness jeer up, so bear with me.
It appears Karen from Misc Mum has posed another challenge; the HELLO GORGEOUS challenge: Find a picture of oneself that one is happy with, and tell the story around it... pretty much.
Initially, I doubted I could fulfill this challenge. I haven't exactly been able to find my "happy place" for a while, and sifting through the photos I have on file, well there weren't really a whole lot of pictures of me in there, and of the few there were, they were GOD AWFUL; talk about a miserable looking so and so. Even a photo that was taken only two weeks ago, terrible! I looked tired, frumpy, washed out, pale, as if Dracula had sucked the life out of me, AND I appeared to have aged about ten years over the past two and a half. I didn't realise, but I have literally been wearing the hardships I have endured over the past couple of years, like a rumpled overcoat.
This is one of the few recent pictures I actually like; there are others that are passable, but I don't have a scanner. This one was taken by Ashley in September 2004. We had just taken Ashley out for a Father's Day lunch at the Port Adelaide Football Club in Alberton, South Australia (a dream come true for Ashley). Port won the premiership that year, if I remember correctly.
After the lunch, we took the footy out and went to an empty field and kicked it around. It was a glorious clear blue spring day; warm, with a gentle breeze, which shifted through my hair in just the right way.
I looked tanned and fit, though we were coming out of winter. My hair looks good, not the hacked to death with a machete, birds nest, I sport these days.
I am holding my beautiful six month old daughter, who has been an absolute joy since the moment she drew breath.
I had stuff going on in my life back then. I was finishing up my International Studies Graduate Diploma, and had just started my numerology course. I had a social life, and good friends with whom I would catch up with here and there, for coffee, a chat and/or a walk. Life was sweet. I was pretty happy....so why the bloody hell did I go and trade that in, for:
-No physically available friends
-No social life
-Isolation, all all its forms
-No decent career prospects... at all
-Bugger all sun
-a very limiting financial situation
-a house that should have been bulldozed
-a severely dinged self-esteem?
No wonder I feel like a big fat loser!
I was somewhat depressed after doing the picture paints a thousand words photo comparison "this is then, that is now" style (not recommended). Then I thought about things a bit and realised that I had just started trying to reclaim myself; fitness being the first cab off the sluggish rank, and so I thought I would blog about that instead, thinking I would leave my scornful words to disintegrate into frail moth eaten papery rags that no one would ever read.
Later I re-read to Ashley, what I had written about my photo shock, and it was kind of funny to hear it out loud. In fact, we fell about laughing over my harsh words. So I thought I would share it with you and give myself a few lasting words of encouragement while I am at it, so here goes: "Hello Gorgeous, you have been missing in action for a while, but I hope to see you real soon. You are doing well, mate. Don't worry, you'll get there".
Monday, 23 April 2007
Since I made the grand announcement, the other week, about getting fit and joining Curves, I have been rather secretive and silent about the whole thing...that would normally indicate I had done bugger all about it, and was hoping you might all forget that I ever mentioned it...yeah.
Considering the low opinion I have of myself, that is exactly why I didn't mention it before now, but surprise, surprise, I have actually kept up my deal with the devil (the devil being me) and have attended Curves regularly and diligently over the past two weeks.
The first week, I attended four times in a week. The second week, I attended three times and added a Nordic Walk venture to the mix, since it was the first week of the Spring sessions.
And you know, I am starting to feel the benefits. I can feel that this exercise thing is doing me some good - not Lycra good (we may never get to that point), but good all the same. The exercise is even helping my mood. I feel like I am kind of clawing my way out of the dark and dreary doldrums. There is even a spring in my step, and an absence of "the snarly grump" (also me).
Imagine if I saw this thing through until November and even beyon. How much better perpared might I feel, when the dark abyss of winter begins to cast is gloomy shadow over the landscape? O-Oh, I can feel some hopes getting up a little too high, some unrealistic expectations creeping in ...I better get back into my box now and pretend I haven't noticed the changes...
I will present another update in two weeks.
Friday, 20 April 2007
Rooted.....hmmm, an unfortunate word within the Australian vocabulary. I won't explain it, but the Aussies among us will understand.....
"Roots", of course has other connotations, neither vulgar nor offensive, and it is within this context, that the dear folk at Sunday Scribblings have proposed the word "Rooted", along with its contextual variants, for this weeks writing prompt.
Actually, I really would like to feel "rooted". I haven't felt rooted in a really long while...ten years, in fact. Please allow me to explain.....
My husband works away a lot. The company for which he works, runs its operations internationally, for the most part. As the company grows, so too is the need for positions in new regions. Most of the time he is told, with little notice, that he is to be sent to such and such a base in Whoop Whoop for X number of weeks. We could live with that arrangement, that is the way of the world, according to his particular line of work.
A couple of times though, he has been told, that he was to move permanently to another country, to run a base. Twice this has happened. Twice our world was rocked by such scenarios. Twice it fell through at the eleventh hour, leaving us writhing, depleted, and clutching for something hidden in the nothingness; a strange feeling, especially given that nothing fundamental seemed to have really changed, at all.
Rootedness is a state of mind, but it is also wrapped up in issues concerning identity, belonging and ones sense of stability. One's culture and country, along with the memories connected to those concepts, are generally things that remains firm, sturdy and steadfast, in ones life. That being said, I know this is not the case for all. I have worked with enough refugees and immigrants, to know that country is really just as impermanent as everything else in this life, but for the most part, it is the most enduring and stable of the things and ideas that sway and teeter precariously in our lives. A sense of home is essential to rootedness, birth country or not...we all must feel we belong somewhere.
In 1997 we were told we were going to Myanmar (Burma). We had no choice. I have nothing against the place, but I had just started a path of higher education. Education, at that point in my life, was akin to an inner calling; one that was more to do with healing, than simply learning stuff. Needless to say, the decision to journey down that undulating educational road was not made lightly, so the possibility of abandoning such dreams was thwart with much nonsensical angst. My head was filled with questions, "why now, when this education journey felt so right?" These questions led me on to another path, such as wondering about opportunity, and ideas about that which lays in wait for us in Myanmar; "what if we were MEANT to be there".
The deal eventually fell through, but the process made me question my studies, interests and focus, resulting in me ditching my ambiguously defined Arts degree; two years in, and commencing a Social Work degree instead; a four year commitment.
The first year of my SW degree was fantastic, and I met a wonderful friend at the new university, who I now consider one of my soul sisters. At the end of that first year, the company Ashley worked for, suffered a major contractual blow and laid off a large number of people as a result. Ashley's position vanished from under his feet and he was told the only position for him, within the company, was in Thailand...we had the weekend to think about it, though it was hardly a decision really, it was a forced situation.
For months we made hasty logistical arrangements to leave; letting go of certain things around us. Suddenly, the life we had always known, could not feature within our immediate plans, and we had to try to imagine a different reality.
After four months, and no word of exactly when we were leaving, we were told, once again, "the deal was off", while initially relieved - this degree thing felt constantly under-threat - the company had a dilemma on their hands - what to do with Ashley. This type of uncertainty carried on for a year, resulting in an inability to plan ANYTHING, for we were assured we were being shipped off "somewhere", just as soon as a position became available. It was a most unsettling time, with out lives feeling stagnant and stalled.
In the end, Ashley was re-titled back into the same job that had been made redundant a year before. The same job Ashley had been doing the entire year, in an unofficial capacity. Once again, nothing changed...but I did.
The energy that swirled during that time, uprooted me. I had spent such a long time floating, like a thistle spore in the wind, that I just wanted the breeze to carry me where I needed to go, and lay me down gently on a new patch of fertile earth. I guess I was yearning for the energy that had so violently uprooted me, to run full circle, but I would have to wait another 6 more years for that part in the process to take place.
When the opportunity arose, we applied to move permanently with the company, to Canada; and in doing so, the proverbial monkey was off our backs. I think our little corner of Canada is beautiful. Daily, I stand in awe of my surroundings: the mountains, the islands, the greenery, the water, the animals, but as enchanting as it is here, it actually feels like we are just on one really long holiday. We have no family here. The politics of this country are foreign to me, although I have tried to get into it, the background of the issues are missing, and so I largely feel ignorant to it all. My friends are in Australia, and they are creating lives and families of their own. A dear, dear friend of mine rang tonight, to tell me she had her baby - a healthy boy, her first. I can't believe that I am here, missing such a momentous event. She was the first of my visitors for each of my children, and yet, I am not there, for her glorious moment. Hey, I can't even get into hockey for Gods sake, and it is THE PLAYOFFS (go Canucks!) See, even THAT wasn't convincing. My husband has been terribly homesick; pining for his Aussie rules football and his cricket (yawn). As for me, I am not really pining for anything, other than people.
For me, becoming uprooted was emotionally painful. It could be likened to a young child being ripped from the arms of a panic stricken mother, and never feeling the enveloping reassurance of her loving embrace again. It is difficult to give in and trust being touched the same way, since it felt so traumatic to be plucked from the soil of ones own sense of self, the first time around.
It would be nice to settle and embed oneself whole heartedly into the process of building a life. I seriously want to shout at myself - "for God's sake, GET ROOTED! "
Thursday, 19 April 2007
I am a reclusive type of person. In fact, it took me nearly 20 years to pluck up the courage and reveal my poems to anyone. While I present them here, at Poetry Thursday, I have only done so since Februray 2007. It was a daunting proposition, at first, but everyone has been so supportive in their commentary, that I feel gamer in sharing my writings, but to under take this weeks prompt was a little too much, too soon for me. Yep, I am a piker and I sincerely apologise.
The Bluff stands tall;
Wednesday, 18 April 2007
This poem is being submitted for Poetry Thursday's NaPoWriMo April Daily Prompts. Today's prompt has been posted as Tick Tock.
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
A dear Aussie friend came for a visit over the weekend. She has kids, we have kids, so we planned to meet at the Vancouver Aquarium. It was so great to see her. She moved to Canada soon after we did, but lives in another province. Although it had been almost two years since I had seen her, it felt like I had only seen her yesterday, and we fell back into that lovely comfortable mode of being, that one is able to, when in the presence of a true, and much loved friend.
We shared a lovely day together, and got to chatting about all sorts of things. We were looking at the playful otters spinning and turning in the water, when my friend smiled and said, "Oh! I love otters. I'd love to come back as an otter". I so enjoyed her statement, and began watching the otters from an entirely different perspective.
They were gliding through the water with boundless energy and such grace. Their mesmerising swirling rhythm, made me feel that I were witnessing some kind of aquatic ballet. Indeed, to be as graceful, full of life and playful as an otter would be a marvellous life, and so my friend's utterance, made me wonder what I might like to come back as, should there ever be that kind of opportunity.
We were looking at the fish in the large Pacific Canada tank; fish with cold bulging eyes peering into the dark, murky depths and sour, down-turned mouths. The fish glided through the water with such defeated looks, starring back with a disdain for life, quite unaware that they were some of the rock stars of the marine world, as we mere humans had arrived in droves for an opportunity to ogle closely at them.
We concluded however, that they looked rather like grumpy old men and women, and should they speak, not a kind word would they have to say. They did indeed appear like they had tasted something bitter...perhaps they had - what with all the polluted streams, oceans and waterways, not to mention the hook stabs in the mouth they might have received, and there is the old, being plucked from their natural habitat and familiar surroundings to consider - I might look a bit bitter myself, if I had to endure all of that.
Of course, there are many kinds of fish, the variety we were observing at the time, were perhaps among the less fortunate in the fishy looks department, just as there are such individuals among the human kind (I for one, will not be looking into any mirrors during this discussion!).
The Beluga Whales were beautiful. I love their gentle faces, but they live in arctic waters, which quite frankly, doesn't appeal to me in the slightest.
The Beluga are white, like fresh fallen snow, which makes perfect sense in an environment bobbing with icebergs, but if I were a Beluga with a preference for much warmer waters, then I think I would indeed stand out more so than a pimple on a debutante's dial. I could chose to holiday in the tropics, where the beach sands were luminous white, then I might blend in....although a beached whale is never a good sign, and a good dose of sunburn on my lilly white skin would throw the the cobblers on the entire plan. However, if I, as a Beluga, thought ahead, and invested in a couple of large barrels of zinc cream to smear over the entirely of my being, then I should be alright, but since I belong in the frigid waters of the Arctic, why would I? Life of a tropics seeking Beluga was starting to sound far too complicated.
How about a dolphin? Everyone loves them. My daughter certainly delighted in their thrilling acrobatics; their leaping and their diving. Dolphins have such a likable reputation and admirable social willingness. They are noted with mystical reference and are often considered protectors; alarming surfers of sharks, lurking in their midst.
Well, I am not really noted for my extrovert behaviour, and it is a little degrading that I would have to perform tricks for a smackrel of fish. What if I were not in the mood for tricks and games? What if I just wanted to laze around on an off day, and attempt to curl up on the sea floor somewhere and be lulled to sleep by the muffled sounds of the deep? I don't think the crowds would really appreciate an introverted, sometimes depressed dolphin - no fishy treats for me. I guess I wouldn't have a weight problem to obsess over....
A gull landed on the ground before me, while I was being swept away in adventures of life as a dolphin reincarnate. The gull was not part of the aquarium exhibits. A gull is the ultimate gate crasher, although this gull's presence largely went unnoticed.
The gull was enjoying the dolphin show and didn't even have to pay, and even though the gull is essentially an animal of the marine world, living life on the sea breezes and dining on fish, the gull was not required to perform, nor was the gull trapped within the bounds of an exhibit or tank. The gull was free to fly out to more interesting surrounds, when ever he felt compelled to do so, and he could choose a variety of activities in which to amuse himself. Such as diving into the water in search of a hearty fresh meal. Resting upon the land; snuggling away from the icy gales, and searching for sea treasures hiding in the rocks, or allowing his leathery feet to sink into the soft sand. A gull can glide on a carpet of salty air, spy life from above, or play tag with other gulls. That certainly sounds like a charmed life to me.
In retrospect, my friend wasn't thinking only of the animals within the confines of the Vancouver Aquarium, and neither was I, but it was fun to imagine life as one of those marine creatures - but in all seriousness, I think I really would like to come back as a bird...a sea bird, preferably one that takes flight.
Monday, 16 April 2007
It was unfortunate that we had so little time to spend over there. The Island is such a lengthy beast; quiet worthy of a good weeks stay in fact. It is also a rather diverse region, with its snow capped mountains, and beachside resorts and surf. It sure was pretty over there….
Victoria is a lovely city, with some beautiful old buildings along the coast. A stroll along Inner Harbour made for a pleasant afternoon in the spring sunshine. The mild conditions drew a lively bunch of people, and also artisans, who set up shop along the seawall, in order to sell their wares. A brass band serenaded our dreamy meanderings, while a variety of tiny boats, water taxis and sea planes busily darted in and out of the quay, like worker bees diligently delivering nectar to the hive.
We had a lovely lunch at the Wharfside, which gave us a spectacular view of the water activity below. The restaurant had an elegant nostalgic feel about it; golden wood trim shining and preserved under several layers of lacquer; high ceilings with exposed beams; distressed works of art, which could only really suit a place like that, and grand lighting. The entire place carried a nice balance of warm rustic charm meets style.
We enjoyed a spot of gallery hopping after lunch. There were many to choose from. I really loved the works of EJ Hughes. Apparently he only passed away this year, but his paintings really captured BC coastal living, to a tee.
I think however, in my very humble, inexperienced and highly unqualified opinion; I would have to say that the ruby in the city of Victoria’s glittering crown would have to be the exquisite Empress Hotel, which was built a century ago.
The Empress is so exquisitely regal and romantic, one can not help but feel transported to another time, perhaps the roaring 1920’s, when the western world was awash with cash and excessive displays of extravagance were the name of the game, for those who were able.
The dining rooms alone are enough to make most people gasp, and of course, The Empress is famous for its Afternoon Te, an activity most who chose to indulge, are only ever likely to do once for the experience, because at around $50 per head for a pot of tea, chantilly cream, teeny cakes and cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, well it is pretty steep. It goes without saying, we didn’t indulge; rather, we wandered those hallowed Empress halls; traipsed muddy footprints over its fine carpets; blotted the lacquered finishes with our grotty fingerprints and rumpled the upholstery, just like thousands of other sticky-beaked visitors, had done before us – an activity that is entirely cost-free.
The Empress really was an awe-inspiring experience. How enchanting to be surrounded by her…I didn’t want to leave. Just being in her presence made one feel proud in oneself, and I began to wonder if I should perhaps find employment in such an establishment, so I could envelop myself in such romanticism, on a daily basis. I even dared allow myself to daydream on that possibility, as we shuffled through the room where 50 or so people were enjoying Afternoon Te.
I imagined myself, a waiter dressed in the obligatory tailored white coat uniform and black trousers; the politeness in my voice, as I willingly served my seated patrons, and the fine culinary props I would present before them, to ensure the Empress experience really was one that would live on in memory, for decades to come.
I looked around at all the proud people nibbling on sweet pastries and taking dainty sips of tea through pursed lips. They poured the steaming amber liquid into faultless, beautifully patterned china tea cups, while being ever so careful they not spill a drop and soil the starched white tablecloth beneath. Conservatively dressed women, sat tall, giggling and haw-hawing behind manicured hands, at an irrelevant tid-bit, offered by a stuffy old fellow, bearing an unsightly chime of sandwich crumbs stuck in his otherwise neat moustache.
Immersing myself in the scene, I did begin to wonder, whether being a servant in such an establishment, I might eventually come to resent The Empress, her uppity crowds and emphasis on perfection; such majesty tends to draw and inspire the proud, along with the arrogant, and I could only imagine the ways some of the various staff may have been mistreated, disrespected and even dehumanised, over the years.
There must be balance in all things. It is therefore, little wonder that The Empress; with her extravagant detail and beauty, might expose some of the more ugly examples of human behaviour, and the superficialities present within individual personalities, and so I resigned myself from The Empresses employ, before the imaginary ink had dried on my imaginary employment application; preferring instead, that her rare stateliness linger longer in my heart, rather than taint her memory through an exchange of disappointed energies, blood, sweat and tears.
Thursday, 12 April 2007
I would like to thank Brian for offering his line to this weeks Poetry Thursday prompt, the one with all the rules II, his line under endless skies she wore white. This is what his line inspired from me.
To the tilting sway of ocean lullabies,
He stood aloft his creaking vessel.
11th April 2007
Monday, 9 April 2007
May I be among the first to reign in the post-Easter guilt insanity, by announcing that I have just signed up with CURVES for Women. How predictable! Surprise BLOODY surprise.
"Well yesterday you were shut, Mate." (ok, smart arse).
Friday, 6 April 2007
I wrote this poem a while ago, as you will note by the date, but am posting as part of the Poetry Thursday prompt - "the one with the rules II", which sees participants borrowing from lines of other participant poetry, but a line must first be offered, before a participant can become "inspired" by it - just one line, that is all we are allowed to reveal. So from my poem, In the Bud of a Rose, I am offering the line "If you and I were inanimate things".
I thought it might be interesting to see what people come up with from that line, or how they might use it in a completely different way. Anyway, I am eager to check out the lines left by other participating poets, to see what inspires me.
The deadline is Thursday, should be fun.
In The Bud of a Rose
There's a gulf between us – you and I
A sea, so many leagues deep.
While slumbering restfully in your bed,
It is I who struggles to sleep.
I fret the day and am nocturnally troubled
About the state and future of things.
I wonder if I could possibly live
With the threat this activity brings.
We hardly compare – you and I.
I hide and you expose.
You wear your heart there on your sleeve,
I conceal mine in the bud of a rose.
You shout to the roof tops to proclaim your love-
I express devotion with mime.
I leave no impression when I walk
But your presence is felt for all time.
If you and I were inanimate things
You’d be a poem and I’d be a mist.
I would vanish, in the warmth of the day
-You’d linger in mind like a kiss.
I remain nameless to most kind folk and foe,
But you know me as “friend”,
And my mind's agrieved by this journey you take
And just how this story could end.
But the moon, it still shines there high above
Like a torch light on a stray page.
And although there's a gulf between us
We might see the same moon, at some stage.
Thursday, 5 April 2007
I was first introduced to The Coorong many moons ago, when my parents took my brother and I for a drive there one weekend, but I only became enchanted by The Coorong, after my class took our tenth grade school trip there; hiking and camping in the wilderness, for three tranquil and mystical days.
The Coorong is an isolated coastal spot along The Younghusband Peninsular – a virtual fingers width strip of sandy terrain that separates the Australian mainland from the Southern Ocean. So pristine, beautiful and remote is this spot, that one might think, upon visiting here, that one had slipped into a vortex of time; a black spot on the radar, or a parallel universe, where humankind simply does not exist, and one actually feels compelled in wanting to keep it that way.
Our school group, consisting of twelve students and two teachers, travelled to The Coorong in May 1988, which is late Fall in Australia. I remember the air being crisp, but the sky appearing crystal clear, thus enabling the sun to radiate through our fleecy layers; warming our backs, during the day.
The smell of the ocean sailed upon the breeze, as it travelled inland on a ship made of salt spray. In detecting its familiar scent, we knew the lure of the sea was close. We could feel it in the rumbling, fresh, south wind. We could see the signs in the plant life that were rapidly reducing in height; tall gums becoming scraggly mallee trees, which later transformed into a mass of salt bushes. We could even hear it; seagulls calling to each other in that lonely mournful way they do, as they circle and glide upon the wind.
Our first contact with The Coorong, upon exiting our bus, was to stand at the waters edge of a dark lagoon and board a tin motor boat in which to cross over to the other side, where we would slip into a world where the very concept of time seemed out of place.
I remember we pitched our tents just before dusk on the first day, while one of our teachers built a campfire. We prepared our food and ate together; faces glowing with the light and warmth of the flames. The horizon turned shell pink as the sun slunk behind the dunes, and we watched the full moon makes its nightly ascent, gleaming in the clear twilight sky, like a pearl.
Later, on that first evening, hastily blooming clouds moved quickly across the star littered sky, like black ink dripped into a glass of water. A storm sprang forth, but was so distant from our vantage spot, that we were able to sit, unthreatened, with the best seats in the house, witnessing the storm rattling and sparking across the land, like a battle scene - it passed quickly, sparing us from a drenching.
We awoke the next morning to yet another day of sapphire skies, and with heavy packs swinging rhythmically, like pendulums upon our backs, we scaled the first of a series of dunes. From the top, we heard the orchestrating waves crashing against sodden golden sands, a turbulent ocean expanded before us, all the way to Antarctica, and a succession of frothy white-caps crested and cascaded against the shore.
We descended down the frail face of a wind sculpt dune, green tufts of coastal grasses protruded randomly from loose soil. We appeared to be the only people on that lonely beach; our footprints trailing behind us like we were followed by a procession of barefooted ghosts – perhaps we were. I could feel the abrasive mix of ancient shells, pulverized stone, soil and other debris, massaging and tickling the heels and soles of my feet.
Pressed into the damp beach soil and scattered amongst the dry dune grasses were remnants of cockle shells; sand blasted and weather beaten, scorched white and brittle, like old porcelain; the inescapable effect of time and brutal coastal conditions. We came across a makeshift path and commenced our climb, it was not properly marked, but rather simply eroded by the movement of past visitors who knew the way – I wonder if they realised that they would be phantom guides for so many.
Near the top of the dune, in a shallow gully, was a wide pile of discarded cockle shells. We were told the Ngarrindjeri people had left them there. This knowledge made everything stand still for me, and only the sound of the eternal wind batting my ears, could be heard – yet more ghosts – they were everywhere. There were probably a thousand stories in the very earth we stood upon… every ground is sacred.
From there we travelled further inland where the plant life grew denser and the ground became solid and rocky. Our clothing snagged upon jutting twigs, protruding aggressively from the vegetation, and three cornered jacks spiked our tender, sand polish feet; forcing us to abandon our urchin-like wanderings, in favour of civilized footwear.
We arrived at our campsite an hour or two before dusk on the second night. I was a little disappointed in this spot. It was an official campsite, set within a clearing of large, densely packed shrubs and mallee trees. A couple of picnic tables were dotted strategically around the site, along with designated areas for campfires, and an intrusion of rule laden signs. It was plainly obvious that people had been here, and quite frankly, the convenience of facility, however rudimentary, was a blot upon the landscape.
While others busied themselves with the tasks of put up tents, laying out creature comforts and preparing creative meals from the array of supplies they had lugged around on their backs all day, my friend Karen and I hastily erected our tent and ran off to explore; food could wait, but the sun, already beginning to set, would not.
There was a steep dune behind our campsite, beyond the trees, tormenting us to climb its soft peak. A couple of guys joined us, and we scrambled to the top of that looming sand hill, where we were delighted to find a range of dunes set out before us. One of the guys ran back to camp to retrieve some garbage bags, after which we spent a good hour, sliding, jumping, rolling and cart-wheeling down the dunes and racing back up again, before the light faded significantly enough for us to even consider returning to our group. At one point, Karen and I stood atop one dune, while the boys stood atop its neighbour. The sun was at such an angle, with our arms outstretched, we four appeared as a string of paper dolls behind a calico screen, and yet not a single one of us were physically touching.
Exhausted, we headed back to camp and prepared ourselves the most convenient meal we could muster, since all others were just finishing up washing their dishes, and our teacher, who had been burdened with carrying his guitar the entire hike, would soon be calling us in for a sing along beside the fire.
Midway through our fireside warblings, a swell of tormenting clouds moved in once more. This time they moved with such alacrity that we became startled by a sudden, unprecedented clap of earth rattling thunder and simultaneous flash of lightening; pitched so close that the darkened landscape momentarily turned an ashen shade of blinding daylight, which prompted the waters of the now heavily pregnant sky, to break and empty its entire contents upon our little campsite.
Shrieking and giggling, we all scrambled to the nearest tent, wondering if the whipping winds might bring down our flimsy shelters, and the accumulation of unrelenting rain might set us all adrift, and we might find ourselves floating upon these makeshift canvas rafts, somewhere in the middle of the ocean, come morning; but we need not have worried. As abruptly as the storm began, it stopped – dead, almost as if someone had hit a switch. Dazed and confused, we all ventured outside our tents, muttering about the ferocity of the five minute storm, and the strange calm that had now gripped and hypnotised the stunned land. As the dark menace of clouds rolled southward, like a large swarm of threatening beasts, the perfect moon reappeared, and we all howled like wolves, to mark the irregularity of what had just taken place.
Most shook their heads, stunned, cold and wet from their dousing of storm water, and since we were unable to warm ourselves by the snuffed out fire, chose to go to bed, and huddle inside their swags, but the full moon reflecting upon a rain drenched picnic table, beckoned Karen and I to approach.
The pale concrete appeared luminous in the moon light. The pooled waters atop, gave it an ethereal, mirror-like veneer, almost like a porthole to another time. Perhaps it was, for Karen and I felt compelled to explore the scrub lands, with the moon our only guide. Things looked different in the night, a world consisting entirely of silhouettes and shadows. The shrubs that had appeared so tranquil, swaying gently in the daytime breeze, stood dark and motionless now, like looming creatures.
At one point we stumbled upon a parade of trees knitted together like a dark tunnel… oh how it beckoned us to enter it and walk through its guard of honour. So together, we eagerly entered the cavernous mouth of that tree line passage. The trees and branches enveloped us - swallowed us, and our witness, The Moon, became obscured by a tangle of thick, wild foliage. Then something suddenly felt very wrong, like a trick…like a terrible threat.
Karen and I simultaneously stopped dead in our tracks, not one step further did we dare to go. The tiny hairs on my arms stood erect and a shiver of alarm ran the entirety of my spine. Shakily I whispered, “I don’t want to be here anymore”…and with that both Karen and I ran back out of that “mouth”, the same was we came in, like they were the jaws of death, ready to snap shut, trapping and ingesting us forever.
We ran and we ran and we ran, and when we were spent, we stopped, heaving breathlessly and confused. Petrified, I demanded to know “what the hell was that?” Karen was crying. She was freaked out, but she had no answers. She did not know what it was…neither of us knew. Once we calmed down, we tried to reason what we had felt, because neither of us had seen a thing, no reasonable explanation could be found for our dramatic overreaction, and so we ventured back to our tent, promising to investigate in the morning.
In the morning, we found the spot of our distress, it was in fact a tunnel of trees, quite a natural little shelter, in fact, but the threat had passed. Karen and I walked the entire space and no sinister feelings sprang forth- it was a mystery, but the experience burned into me, like a stockman’s branding mark.
Later that day, we hiked to Hells Gate at Parnka Point. The timing of our arrival here was imperative, for we were required to walk across the narrow lagoon to the mainland, which was only possible at low tide. Once on the other side, the porthole into that sand drift land - with is curious weather; tranquil timeless beauty; its mystery and its ghosts, closed the door of privilege and secrets, behind us forever. We could still see the land we had just step away from, smell the sea air and feel natures elements upon our skin and whipping through our hair, but that something else; that something that had moved along with us throughout the camp, the unidentifiable …well, it bid us farewell, not sorry for our departure, and it remained there- where it belonged.
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
Lingering, frustrating, tormenting.
Neither blooming nor swirling;
They hover like thick plagues of locusts.
A wagon progression lays in wait,
Patient but increasingly despairing.
They know their harvest is spoiling in the dry heat,
But the winding road ahead, requires clarity.
Cultivated treasures once gleamed
with all the promise of earth's abundance.
Now, the grey shadows of decay threaten,
and tiny insects begin to swarm and infest.
The wagon riders are weary, dejected, defeated.
They know winter will soon be upon them,
And they will be without.
Their mere survival is now paramount.
But the dust clouds will not settle.
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
I don’t think anger is useful in the long term. I have heard the phrase, “anger is like cancer”, but I rather think that CANCER is materialised anger and other negative emotions; albeit deep-seeded, old, stale anger, and anger, which is no longer identifiable, justifiable or comprehendable, regarding its originating source.
I carry that kind of anger around in me. I wish I didn’t. I have tried to rid myself of it, run from it, avoid it, but try as I might, I can’t let it go and it worries me that this anger will manifest and take over my inner self; eat away at my internal organs, sabotage my efforts to move forward, and drain me of the life force.
Something happened three years ago.
My daughter was born, and two days after my release from hospital, my sister-in-law (SIL) called me. I had only seen her five days prior, when she, her boyfriend and my mother-in-law (MIL) visited me in the hospital. When they visited SIL looked withdrawn, dishevelled and unhappy, prompting me to ask if she were ok. She said she was.
Later, when SIL called, she was in a bit of a state. A woman from her church was with her. Apparently SIL had fled from her, allegedly abusive boyfriend, whom she had only recently moved in with. She tried to return home to her mother, but SIL was urged to sort it out with him. I listened to what SIL had to say. She was crying. She said she was afraid, and asked if she could stay with us for a while, since the boyfriend didn’t know our address. I should have said “No”…..
I know that doesn’t sound very compassionate, but seriously…I should have just said, “No. I understand this is a difficult time for you right now, but this is kind of a difficult time for us too - what with the new baby and all. I am sorry. I care about you, but I just can’t help you right now.”
If I had taken this line; been selfish; turned my back on family - this girl, I regarded as Sister, then I wouldn’t be feeling this rage right now – old rage; the type of rage that stirs occasionally, like a hornet’s nest that has just received a beating.
I won’t go into the particularities of the entire sordid story, but we were basically screwed over. SIL made some outlandish claims about the boyfriend; some that made my skin crawl, and I heard other things about this guy that, as a parent, were so frightening that I felt inclined to state very clearly to SIL and MIL, that this guy was, under no circumstances, welcome in our home or near our children.
While SIL was staying with us, we were bombarded by constant, lengthy calls from my MIL, sometimes till three in the morning, and then coupled calls from members of SIL’s church. MIL is not right in the head. I say this not out of disrespect, but fact. She has some undiagnosed psychiatric issues, and is an extremely manipulative person.
I used to excuse her behaviour, laugh it off, be offended by her insensitivity, and annoyed by her frustrating, self defeating antics for a day or so, but I used to get over it. During this time however, she crossed the line, and no matter how much I vent and rage, and spew forth the toxic outpourings of my soul concerning the crap we have endured because of this woman, I am left heaving, and feeling as though I have barely scraped the surface, when it comes to my anger toward her.
My Grandpa died while SIL was staying with us; just two weeks after my daughter was born. My Grandpa had suffered a lengthy battle with cancer – three years - but the final four months had taken their toll on my family and they were worn down, tired and even traumatised by his final weeks – they requested a small, private, “immediate family only” funeral for him…so SIL stayed home. Minutes after we had backed out of the driveway, on our way to my Grandpa’s funeral, SIL rang MIL. MIL suggested that she talk to the boyfriend, so while we were supposedly secretly harbouring SIL – at her request mind you- MIL gave out our phone number and address to the scary boyfriend, whom we have just been clued up on, and now believed to be an unstable, predatory psycho.
Apparently they met up and began plotting their reunion, which MIL knew all about; a process that strategically took place over the course of the next couple of weeks. We found this out months later, when MIL could bare the guilt concerning her part in the deception, no longer.
Despite SIL being an adult, and certainly not being forced to stay with us, SIL still felt it necessary to persist with the idea that she no longer wanted the boyfriend in her life, and had been abused by him. She had a cast of people running after her at this point in time: us, various crisis agencies, members of her church congregation and her friends – her best friend (BF) even offering her home to her - they were reportedly excited at the prospect of becoming house mates together.
When we dropped SIL off at her BF’s house, SIL thanked us for what we had done for her and seemed upbeat and hopeful. Nevertheless, I checked up on her regularly via phone, to make sure she was ok. After being really open with me at first, she became increasingly distant and secretive with each conversation, until finally I called one day, and her BF told me she had moved back home with her Mum, and it was back on with the boyfriend.
The news disappointed me, but I was not surprised. I think the average number of times a partner leaves an abusive situation before finally leaving forever, is seven. So I let it go, it was her life, and that was that.
It was only later that I learnt all this other stuff – the MIL inspired meeting and pressure for SIL to reunite with the boyfriend. MIL even telling SIL that HE was her only chance of marriage – she was only 23 at the time. MIL decided to defend the boyfriend for reasons beyond my comprehension, “I am the only one who understands him”, she creepily swooned.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, SIL told people that she made up all that crap about The Boyfriend because she “just needed a break” (gee, thanks). Then she changed her story to say that the church made up lies about her boyfriend (why would they want to do that?). Now no one is really straight with us on this one, but the Boyfriend (now SIL’s husband and father of one, and one on the way) has been demanding, for a couple of years now, an apology from us. I have no idea what we are supposed to have done to warrant such a request; so far we have not obliged.
MIL once took the stand that she wouldn’t be visiting us until we apologised to him, accepted him into our home and played happy families, because she “just didn’t feel comfortable around us anymore”. I told her she “had no right to make such demands regarding who we welcomed into our own home” …among other things. But she held out for five months, basically missing out on seeing the kids all that time. It really hurt us to think that she was prepared to emotionally blackmail us and reject mere babes, in order to get her way.
Every time we have spoken to her over the past three years, whether it be in person; alone or with company, or over the phone, she has brought up the SIL and boyfriend incident. Frankly, Ashley and I are sick to DEATH over it. We don’t want to hear another word about it, and were pretty comfortable with the idea of never seeing any of them again…so, all in all I was glad to leave all that shit behind and move overseas – not that they were the reason for us leaving.
Then at the end of November last year, I received a letter from SIL. She apologised for what happened and said she wanted to make amends, but still claimed that the church made up all that tripe about the boyfriend, in an attempt to break them up (again, what for?).
I was actually happy to get SIL’s letter and wrote back expressing as much, but relating my confusion about the church thing, not declaring her claims as deluded BS but instead saying that church must be filled with nutters to do something like that –subtler words to that effect, of course (LOL). Then I expressed a willingness and want to start over with the boyfriend come husband. I sent that letter, thinking I had created a sensitively written response.
MIL informed us that the letter didn’t go down too well. Apparently I was an asshole for even responding to those aspects of the letter. I should have just nodded with a blank, glaze-eyed stare, and bowed down before them for even acknowledging my existence and cried “all is forgiven, I am at your mercy! Please forgive me. I am the Devil”. Anger boiled in me at this news, and they all basically got the “screw you” line, although they couldn’t hear me in Canada.
Over the course of the last 5 or so months, the undiffused anger settled to the bottom of my inner tank, waiting to be stirred up again.
I received another letter from SIL today. In it, SIL told me she “needed to forgive me” - blood boiling point number one. Then she said the boyfriend come husband was still very angry about how the church had treated him, and was still requiring an apology from ME – I have never even been to, nor associated with that damn church in any way shape or form. The hornet’s nest has now been beaten to a dusty pulp. The hornets are banging furiously against the inside of my rib cage – I can feel them. I am so angry that I feel like writing a letter back to them, simply advising them to “go to hell” - don't worry, I won't.
As I said at the start of this lengthy post, I am carrying this anger that never completely goes away, but rather smolders for a time, like hot coals under a charred piece of tree stump. The wind only need pick up momentarily, and the entire forest might suddenly be set ablaze.
I can't handle this anger in me anymore, but I don’t know how to let it go.
Monday, 2 April 2007
This poem was written for the NaPoWriMo daily prompt - Perennial.
Last Year's Leaves
Like bronze organza scraps
Upon a seamstresses floor;
Swept into a disused corner;
They have no purpose now.
Trapped along the fence line
Scuttled along by the wind,
The drift of melting snow,
In another life,
Strong, fresh, vibrant;
Leathery and green.
Fibres now dull.
They lay in reduced clusters.
Threadbare and fragile,
Into mere ghosts of their former selves.
The emerald life blood
Does not pulse here
- New life sprouts above.
27th March 2007
Sunday, 1 April 2007
Well, well, well! How the tide turns. There I was, having a big ole whinge about never winning anything - my disgruntled murmurings springing from being asked twice last week, by two completely different sources, to describe the best prize I had won - I came up dry. I don't seem to win things...or so I thought.
The wonderful Catherine - On the Banks of the River Grande, has extended the Thinking Blogger Award to moi. Thank you, thank you, Thank you.
Catherine is a wonderfully talented writer. I greatly enjoy the quality of her writing. I have recommended her blog to many friends - she is not on my blog roll for nothing. Catherine is currently preparing for the release of her first novel - I for one, am eager to read it. She has a great sense of humour and always seems up for poking fun at herself.
I love her writing style; her use of description and the way she writes about her family. What fills me with awe about this lovely lady, is that she works; has been able to write a novel; runs after four delightful children and STILL has time to turn out witty, wonderful and entertaining postings on her blog. If you haven't had the pleasure already, check out Catherine's blog - you won't be disappointed.
Now as a recipient of this award. I must nominate five bloggers who make ME think, and pass the award on to them. In doing so, I went over to Tracey - Crazy Trace to grab her link so she could be one of my five. But, it seems I had been pipped at the post. She had already received an award from someone else, so congratulations Tracey, you deserve it, and thanks for my SECOND Thinking Blogger Award.
This woman is an inspiration; a word that would probably make this wonderful and humble woman cringe, but it is true. She IS an inspiration. She is amazing. Her athletic feats are enough to amaze, but the honesty in her writing is what ultimately grabs at the heart. Through her writing, she lets us into her day; the glittering moments and the struggles. I am very glad to have stumbled upon her through the medium of the blogsophere.
So, on to the award recipients....I am fairly new to this whole blogging world. I started a closed private blog a couple of years ago, after my brother suggested it as a way to keep in contact with family in Australia. I have only recently, started my public blog, and the comments aspect has exposed me to this amazing world of people and writers. So here, I present my Thinking Blogger Award winners, in no particular order:
Regina - I still see a Spark in You. I stumbled upon Regina, first through Poetry Thursday and again through Sunday Scribblings. I loved her writing and so I went for a little wander through her earlier blog entries. I thinks she is a wonderfully insightful writer, her poetry is beautiful. Check her out.
Susan - Writing Passions. Susan is Malaysian writer. I have only recently had the pleasure of blog-knowing her. Her writing excites me...in fact, her writing blows me away. She is working on a novel AND a play, would you believe. She has lived in various parts of the world, including good ole Australia, and she is definitely a passionate writer. Her short stories and poems are divine. I love the way she can capture the essence of the human experience and make it dance - and no Susan, I don't regard catching up with my blog-friends as a waste of time, but surfing the celebrity gossip sites , now that is another matter....(oh I hate myself for admitting to doing that).
Kathleen - Soul Food. I have had the absolute pleasure of meeting this gorgeous person. She was first a "blog friend" and now I regard her as a ...umm "friend friend". She is a quilter extraordinaire -a skill I greatly admire, but which I am notoriously bad and lacking in all skill and talent. This woman thinks she is boring, but she is far from it. I love the way she paints her world with words. My first Soul Food experience consisted of a posting about a gathering of Kathleen's family. I could tell that they meant the world to her, and the warm way she described the day, and various attendees, made me wish I were part of her family. She is beautiful, and if she stops blogging I will grieve like no other ;)
Shishyboo - Heythisisme...... I first blog-met Shishy when she left a comment on my blog asking me if I were someone she once knew. I said "no", but told her I knew the person she was referring to, and I hooked them back up - the other person being my husbands cousin. I was telling my friend Heather about this occurrence, and she asked me, how I knew we were talking about the same person. Call me naive, but it had honestly never occurred to me that there might be another person with the same name, so much to Heather's surprise, I replied that I "just knew". Since then I have gotten to blog-know Shishy and, like Kathleen, we email now and then. I would love to meet her in person one day. We have joked that we must have been separated at birth, since we seem to share many things in common. I enjoy her straight talking Aussie lingo and her honesty. I love that she has a vent every now and then, and I love that she shares her struggles as well as the good times.
Jeanie - Jeanie in Paradise. I quickly added Jeanie to my favorites list after reading a couple of her fabulous poems posted on her blog, and then reading about her early life, living in rural Queensland with her family; her Dad spinning yarns after dinner at home - from then I was enthralled. I have since enjoyed reading her blog and was fascinated to read her sensitively written post about her experience with a loved one who suffered with schizophrenia. I am also anticipating a wedding ;)...(please don't kill me).
So to the new recipients of the Thinking Blogger Award, it is now your task to name five bloggers who make YOU think, and honour them in a similar way. If possible, try to create a link to the original, Thinking Blogger Award post.