Good Dog Bad Dog, One Lost Child

This is something that I wrote in my WednesdayWorkshop with Emilie Collyer. The probe was to write a poem as if it was a newspaper article or vice versa, not to think too much, and to go with the first idea.

I was really struck with something I had read in the paper that morning (and when it had happened) and a kerfuffle at the Sunshine Magistrates Court the day before with loads of media there (not really sure that this is what they were there for, however it did make me think of this family).

Family rallies around torn shreds of child
Mauled by dog
Now held on rod
Community now ripped apart
Good dog and bad
The owners are barking out loud
Foam frothing at mouth

Reports flow in from o' abroad
The barking gets louder
With teeth all bared
Men in suits murmur
And shake their heads
Conflicting thoughts, O', what to do

A family now with one less to hold
Stands closely with their dark skin
Fled had they from war torn lands
To be free from suffering 
And Warlord Kings
A bark now frightens them more than they could 'er know

Good dog, bad dog
Who will know.

Time to think about gifts and all that jazz

I went to the osteo this morning, as I tend to about once a month or so for a chin wag and so that he can put my neck, back & jaw back into place, and we got onto the topic of Christmas.  He was talking about a study he had just heard about by St Vincent de Paul who found that a huge number of people get given really crappy, junky presents that they really didn't want anyway and would have rather have been given a charity present.

I think that it is a really timely reminder as I have a few (well quite a lot) of nieces & nephews, kris kringles to do, and it is really easy to just get a "junky-little-something", when it just ends up in the bin the next week.  There are so many options now to do better than that.  There are second hand fantastic gifts to give, there are charity gifts that are giving money to the charity to do something wonderful with, and a token (maybe a card, or a pin, etc) for the person.

Oxfam, World Vision and Tear are some of the bigger ones that provide us with "really useful gift ideas" that won't clutter up people's houses with another ornament that they don't want and I am sure that if I keep scratching the surface (or surfing the net) there will be a bunch more.  Just find the one that speaks to you most.  There are also some great toys and other gift ware that are made by people in third world countries and the money will go straight back into their communities - fair trade choices.  If you don't like shopping on the internet, there is always the Community Aid Abroad shops.  They always have great stuff, then there are the local school art fairs, or local art/farmers markets or local shops that stock well made things.  

I think that given the state of affairs in the world right now, giving less presents that mean more may mean that it is a slightly more important Christmas present.

Reading by Moonlight: How Books Saved a Life by Brenda Walker, reviewed

"This whole plot, - the beginning, middle and end - had been lived before by others, but I had to live through it myself to understand it, to know that agony can be an analgesic, that the memory of pain can itself be a painkiller. " Paul Theroux in The New Yorker as quoted in Brenda' book

Brenda Walker's book, "Reading by Moonlight: how books saved a life", is ultimately about Brenda's journey of breast cancer, from the beginning, through the middle to the end, living it and learning about it, and in particular, her reading journey through, or to be more precise, her memory of the books that she has read over her lifetime that in some way served to help her through this treatment to survival. She tells of her truthful pain and decisions that a woman must make along the way during the process of the treatment (like the decision of whether or not to get cosmetic surgery or not).

It is a very heavily reference novel with at least 52 references to books or publications throughout the book that are in sometimes in such detail that they detract from her very well structured and heartfelt story.  The references that she uses, whilst they are all very relevant to her journey and story, at times, seem to be fleshing it out a little too much and making this piece of writing a little bit self indulgent, showing off how well read she is.  In many ways, this feels like an academic piece, an English literature book, one that I should be taking notes on (I did), which explores all of these books in relation to her circumstances.

Where it fails most, I think is that she has not given enough context of herself.  I was left with a sense of hollowness of who she was, without a depth of her son and a real sense of her place, where she lived.  I  I didn't get a real feel for where she was other than in the west of Australia, which is a big state.  Her son, once introduced, was lost, forgotten.  I was left wondering about the impact that this had on him.  I am aware that she wanted to write about the books, but the personal, emotional journey is important to the reader to.

Where Brenda did really well was to give a fantastic insight into the process of breast cancer treatment, the difficulty of it, and that through the distraction of books and readings she was able to survive and to look forward not back and be grateful, or as Robinson Crusoe said, "I am here, not there."


We read this for our book club, and the scoring in our book club was from 2/10 - 6/10.  Most felt that the quotations were arduous, and a distraction to the story.  A couple really enjoyed the references and the re-storytelling of them that Brenda did of them.  Brenda highlighted how incredibly wellread she is and most of the book club had wished that she have given more of herself to the book rather than her book reviews.

Have you read it?  What did you think of it?

Bewitched: Five Sentence Fiction

I have decided to play along with Lillie McFerrin's Five Sentence Fiction.  Head over to Lillie McFerrin Writes Blog to see who else is writing!

What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week Lillie McFerrin posts a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the inspiration word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just take your inspiration from that word. 

This week’s inspiration word is: BEWITCHED

Here is my piece, I hope you like it:

Candice Rose was woken not by the usual way of her alarm, but by the fragrance that had wafted through into her bedroom, into her nose and placed itself just south east of her left sinus.  It was a soft, sweet, musky smell that was calling to her, drawing her attention.  It was the kind of smell that made Candice Rose's heart begin to beat faster, moving the blood at a much faster rate around her body, concentrating particularly around her neck, cheeks and lips.  Candice slowly took another long breath in, soaking in the fragrance, confirming something she had almost forgotten. Then even with the raised heart beat and slightly shaky extremities, Candice Rose closed her eyes, lay back on her fluffy white pillow and smiled knowingly at who was about to walk in the door.

The Last of the Nomads by WJ Peasley reviewed

A friend of mine lent me this truly remarkable book not long after we came back from travelling through the outback of Australia, on the dusty dirt roads, as she knew that I had been really struck by the different ways that people in our land are living: the conditions are so vastly different to what people in the city are living in, and over here in the East of Australia, we live in a "blissfully unaware" state of this.  All of our encounters with the indigenous people who we met were incredibly enriching for each of us, and spending time in each of the communities that we went to was certainly one of the greatest highlights of our trip. 

That being said, WJ Peasley's book, "The Last of the Nomads, which was published in 2009 by Fremantle Press, was a deeply moving journal of Dr Peasley's (an anthropologist doctor of aboriginal culture) journey into the Western Gibson Desert in 1976 to find Warri and Yatungka, who were believed to be the last of the Mandudjara tribe of the desert nomads.    Peasley describes the journey in incredible detail: the waterholes, the sand dunes and trees and also Mudjon the elder who accompanied them, and the emotion they all go through on the journey.  His descriptions are thorough, but not tedious to the reader.

During the time that he undertakes the trip, Western Australia is going through a terrible drought and Mudjon was terribly concerned about the well-being of Warri and Yatungka and approached Peasley to help him find them to bring them out to the Reserve that the rest of the their mob had moved to.  Previously they had resisted due to years ago breaking traditional law by marrying each other.  They, Warri and Yatungka, feared retribution.  Mudjon wanted to go out to reassure them that they would be be safe from punishment and needed to be where water was so that they would survive.

Peasley documents so well the angst of breaking life as it has always been by brining the nomads into civilisation (Warri and Yatungka had never seen white man) when they have never seen it, taking the last of the nomads of the land so that none were left and the land was left to fend for itself.  He seemed to feel the pain of where white man had interfered, but what we had started, he didn't feel could be left unfinished.  Peasley touches on the fact that the Australian Aboriginals are unlike other indigenous peoples in that they have never developed an alcoholic beverage of their own, so therefore their culture was never geared up to the use of alcohol and the social effects and its abuses "...There were no rules laid down in Dreamtime to control its use.  The Tribal elders had no guidelines to assist them, and have no precedents from their totemic ancestors, the lacked authority to formulate the necessary rules.." pp32.  He postulates that this may be why in the reserve people drank to excess.  The rules, the traditional rules are not there to live by. 

It is a fascinating read and all through the book I felt privileged to have his insights into Mudjon's, Warri and Yatungka's lives.  I would recommend this book for part of a greater understanding of the nomads of our land.

Tea Tree Inspired by Nature

I was down at Inverloch (down by the sea) on the weekend with the family and while my boys were building yet another dam, I went exploring in the neighbouring group of tea trees.  I was taken back to my childhood when we used to climb through the tiniest of holes and make cubby houses in the tea trees 

Once inside, there was silence and peace.  The longer I stood still, the more the birds came back as though I was not even there.  I began to feel as though I belonged in there.  All of the wind and rain, the busy noise of the dam building, the talking from my mum and husband had all completely disappeared.  I could not hear a thing other than nature.  I could actually feel my body calm down and relax.  Peace.

On Wednesday, as luck would have it, in my writing group, Emilie ran an exercise for us to chose a single object from the natural world and describe it in as much detail as we could.  Following is what I came up with, I hope you enjoy.  Please note, poetry is not really my thing, I just wrote as I felt, as the emotion and words came, thinking of the tea tree.

Tea tree
Shedding skin
Pungent odour
Spider webs hiding
Tiny spiky leaves,
On frail sticky branches
Crackling in the breeze
Whooshing ghostly noises
Padded under foot
Silent hidden spaces
Nature's cubby houses
Broken branches
Weathered soft limbs
Silky Smooth white sticks
Dark green puddles,
Of pointy little sharp leaves
White petals floating
Hard little nuts,
Of little seeds gathered
Along those frail little sticks
Peel the bark skin back
To find different shades of brown,
Cream, beige and tan
Peel and peel again
Until it is tissue thin
Lean against the trunk
And feel the breeze move
This frail and fragile tree
Sway back and forth
Round and round it moves
Feel the movement of the tree
As you lean on it.

Thank you for reading

How was your morning?

I dreamt of a towel brushing against the rusty old pot, an irritation.  I was annoyed.  I woke irritated again, but not knowing why.  Thirsty, but unable to get to water.  My head was hurting yet again. It was still dark, no energy to get up to deal with it.  The Valium that I took last night didn’t seem to do the job that it was meant to do, to kill this mammoth migraine. 
I lay for what seemed like an eternity, trying to will the pain away, or to will the relief to come to me.  Neither happened, no aid would come my way.  I peeled myself off the pillow gingerly and pushed 2 Panadiene Forte out of the packet, not the best choice, but the closest, and threw them down my throat.  At this rate, I would be stuck in the codeine rebound for even longer.  Another 20 minutes and I could visual the pain so clearly that if I was a surgeon I would just get my knife and cut it out.  I knew that I needed to get the real medication, my Zomig and Voltarin, and my sniff stick, the Vicks Inhaler, but this meant walking out of the bedroom, and to the back room, every step a vibration through the brain.  One vibration a little closer to relief, all of those extra vibrations adding up to heightened pain, to then hopefully lessened pain. 
I moved as gently as I could with my cup to fill it up again, squinting as I walked out due to poor vision, no glasses on, and the glare of the sun beginning to lighten the sky with a pink tinge.  Back in the safety of bed, I pulled out the precious tablets and swallowed, then burrowed back under the doona with sniff stick providing relief in form of distraction to the senses.
The pain of the pillows, the pain of breathing, the irritation of myself.  I knew that eventually this will go, but I must wait it out.  I just have to think of a time past here, past this moment of intense pain, where I cannot bear my husband to brush me with his toes, or for him to pull the doona.  I cannot bear the sound of the children running up the hall, which I knew they would do in about 10 minutes, then, I heard one of them stirring. 
I consciously dropped my jaw to try to relax all of the muscles around my head; let the balls of muscles slow down. 
Why do they have to stomp so loudly?
Why is my pillow so uncomfortable?
I wanted a coffee.  I knew it will help.  I know that some people say not to, but I know that a coffee does help when it is this bad.  I just needed someone to make it for me.  I just wished I could put up a flag so that they knew when I needed it.
Bang, thump, the next one was up.  I lay as still as church mouse hoping not to be noticed.  He came in and climbed into bed on my husband’s side.  The bed bounced and jiggled.  I stayed still. 
The first one up was now wearing my heels that I had left out the back, clip cloppeting around on the tiles and into our room.  My husband growled at him.  I murmured something, I am not sure what.  I wanted coffee.  I murmured, “Can you please make coffee?”  He was gone.
“What did you say?” My husband.
“I’ve got a stinker.” I replied.  There was an audible sigh.  He has lived with these as long as he has known me.  I guess they are tiring for him.
“What do you need?”
“I’ve taken everything.  I was just asking John if he could put on the coffee.”
“Don’t worry, I’m getting up.”  He threw off the doona, leaving myself and our youngest there.  I nearly had the bed to myself.  A silent bed.  My youngest stroked my head under the doona.  A lovely touch from a small soft hand; a feeling of relief, then he too was gone.  I crashed.
Coffee appeared silently, then English muffin with “Try something different”.  The pain had changed.  Moved from left to right, not as intense, bearable now.  I could communicate now.  I could sit, talk, and even get dressed.
I sat in bed for a little longer listening to the stress that I had put on the family as they pinged off each other.  My pain had become their stress.  We are not islands when we are in families, we all belong to each other.  Whatever happens to one, affects another.  Time to get dressed and help out until they all leave for school and work.

Make it Better...Write on Wednesday Exercise...Corner Store

Write On Wednesdays

I am joining in with Write on Wednesdays and this week is all about editing and offering & accepting constructive criticism, which are both vital parts of the writing process.  Pop over here if you want to join in.

The Write On Wednesday Rules: Get creative with the writing exercises - there isn't a right or wrong. Please do try to visit the other members of Write On Wednesdays and leave a comment of support and constructive criticism. 

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 18 - Look through your previous WoW posts (or select a short writing piece that you would like to work on). Read through your piece carefully and let's attempt to make it better. Look for redundant words, cliches or overused phrases. Chop and change. This is not an exercise in word count, it's not about simply whittling it down. Make it a better piece of writing. Post your original and edited piece. THEN, throw it to the*wolves. Ask for advice from WoWers. With  help you can make your writing shine. ** This article on criticism may help you get your brave on.

I have chosen Corner Store as a my piece to edit as I have only done one WoW post previously (and it was a one liner! Not much to edit!).  Please provide constructive feedback.  Thanks :)

Corner Store

I heard the bell jingle as he come in the door. My spine tingled.  Not that creep.  I didn't want him to see me.  I needed to escape before he saw me here, but that damned bell would give me away.  Where was Luigi?  At least if Luigi was here, I might feel safe enough, but no-one else was in here.  I just needed to try to work out how to get out of here without him noticing.

I refused to look around. I knew that it would be him, but I would not give in. I busied my hands as though it was really difficult to pick up a packet of chips. Not easy when there are only three packets there. Why the hell didn't they have more stock in this god-forsaken shop. 

The floor creaked as he moved from the doorway. My heart beat was now resounding through the entire shop. I could no longer swallow as my heart had somehow crept up into my throat. Great. I was now going to die here. Right here, right now. This dirty creepy old shop. I refused to look around. My fingers were getting colder and my tongue had swollen to the size of a footy oval. I really was about to die. I tried to remember if I had actually signed that Will, or if it was still just filled out in pencil. 

The floor creaked again. My heart did one enormous beat. Was it actually possible for a heart to do this? Beat fast in a throat, then do one enormous beat? Or was this what happen just before people had a sudden heart attack and died? No saliva left now. My feet couldn't move. Where the hell was Luigi? I took very shallow breaths so that my air did not move the space around me. I did not dare to touch anything for fear of making noise. I just stood there. Still. As a statue. 

Another creak. This time it came from upstairs: Luigi. Thank goodness for that. He must have heard the bell jingle. Why did it take him so long? Am I in a time warp? My neck was starting to ache from holding my head up. I felt dizzy. I could feel the presence behind me, creeping around, creaking the old wooden floor boards. I could hear him picking up dusty produce off the shelves and throwing them in a basket. What was he up to? I daren't turn. If I didn't move, I wasn't here. 

I could hear him getting closer. His movement was pushing the air into me like a semi-trailer barrelling down at 100km per hour.  My heart seemed to be creeping into my mouth. What would it do then? Would it actually sit in my mouth? My whole heart, throbbing in my mouth, blood and all pumping out of it? What if I accidentally spat it out on the floor here in this quiet, gentle corner store. My heart for all to see. Bare my heart, on the floor. Beating it's pathetic little irregular beats, budump, burdump, dudump, du, du, dudump, burdump. Luigi would see. He would see. Anyone could see.

I reached out with my freezing cold hand to the chip shelf and missed. I accidentally hit one of the three bags of chips, BBQ, yuk. I felt sick now. I had to move. He was getting too close. Luigi's steps were getting heavier as he came down the narrow dark staircase. I lifted my first foot that was now made of concrete, and then the other, pulled my hat down over my eyes with my whitish-yellow finger, now made of icicles, and tried to creep down the window side of the aisle.

"Celina," Luigi called, as he came out of the bottom of the staircase. I felt him turn towards me. I reached for the door with the bell and as quickly as I could, fled into the sunshine. 

Journaling...through good days and bad

journals = bullshit

I have kept a journal, or a diary as I used to call it when I first started writing, since I was about 8 years old.  I had one of those special little ones that came with a tiny key just for me and this was really important in a big rowdy house.  I was the youngest of 4 kids and we usually had at least one ring-in staying with us as well from Mum & Dad's youth group, or someone who needed a little extra care.  They sometimes stayed a night, sometimes 4 years, sometimes longer.  There was not much space for privacy, so that little key was really important to me and I hid it in my jumper drawer, right at the back where no-one would ever think of looking for it.

When I first started writing, I wasn't really sure what to write, but I was very excited about having a little book of my own that I could write my own little thoughts each day.  The days were already printed out on the pages, I just needed to fill in the detail of my day. The first year was not really very juicy; thoughts like, "Went to Jenny's after school.  Had fun.  Spaghetti for tea."

As the years passed by, and I fell in and out of love with boys, had fights with siblings, got annoyed with people in my house and my parents, I found that my diary was my friend.  Then came the terrible day when my parents were out and my brother and sister found my diary and sat around reading it out loud with one of extended family who were living with us.  The humiliation that I felt.  The depth of my emotion that I had written even at the ripe old age of 11 was too much to bear to be read out loud by anyone else.  It certainly wasn't for anyone else's eyes, it had only meant to be for venting my thoughts, without being judged, and here I was being hung by them.  I am glad still to this day that I had not really put my whole heart into the words by then.

From then on the diary became hidden.  It was not to be found ever again.  I could not bear to go through that again.  As far as I know, it didn't.

I continued to write, however, as I got older, I found that the diaries that had the preset pages with dates didn't work for me.  I didn't always want to write every day and I didn't want to be confined to a set space for that day that I wrote.  I moved to The Journal.

About the same time I guess I got a bit choosy about when I would write.  I began to use my journal as my therapist.  When things were not working properly in my life, I would nut it out in my journal, then it would clarify in my head and I would just get on with things again.  The gaps began to show.   Then I would only write about things once I sorted them out.

Last year I committed to write every day in my journal because we were travelling and every time I travel I have always kept a journal so that I don't forget the people, names, places, smells, and experience of the trip.  I have been home for longer than I was away now, and while I was away, I wrote 4 books of journals, however, since being home, I am still on the same book.  Go figure!  Do I really have nothing to say?

No, there is heaps to say, but, I just haven't bothered to write it down.  Instead I have ruminated about it (a slight tick of being a woman) and tied myself in knots and pushed myself down into a deep dark tunnel.  I have waited for each little hump to smooth itself out and then I write about it, or I write crazy angry words, there is nothing in between.  Last year I think I really helped myself by continually writing my way through life, rather than stewing my way.  I think that if I push myself to write, even if it is just a little, every day in my journal  it will help me and also stop my more recent journal seeming a little swayed!

Do you journal everyday?

Off to camp for a birthday

The list was ticked, 

Item by item

Clothes were folded neatly

Toiletries and medicines laid out to bare

Black texta came out squeaking

With a name to write here and there

Everything placed gently, 

One by one into the bag

A restless evening of anxiety

"What have I forgotten to put in?"

Early waking, excitement, 

Noise, jumping around

Bag zipped, lunch packed, teeth brushed

Nothing to do.

While he is not watching

Birthday wishes are quietly slipped in

Words from all of us

We'll miss you this year

We love you, our oldest boy

We hope you have fun

One little butterscotch 

Slipped into the envelope

This is just for you 

To suck on and remember 

The sweetness of our love

Happy Birthday Frank

The Revenge.. Coconut Jam Slice

This is my response to the writing exercise, writing about an act of crime, revenge or deceit.  I found it really hard to think of one to start, and then suddenly, it just all came out.  So, here it is!

“Ya Mum has a big fat bum”
James held his eyes firm to the book.  If he didn’t move his eyes, he couldn’t hear them.  He really hated these dickheads.  They were at it again. 
He knew the drill. ‘Don’t retaliate, ignore, turn the other cheek, la, la, la,’ but really, this just sucked. 
It was time to do something about it.  It had been going on for years now.  That bloody cackling laughter of that shithead Steve.  Poncy Steve.  Steve the Jock.  Surfy Steve.  Steve, always good at everything, Steve. 
James lived next door to Steve and was exactly 2 hours and 3 minutes younger than Steve, but it you looked at the two of them, you wouldn’t know it.  James was a whole head and shoulder shorter than him.  His legs and arms were like toothpicks. 
Steve’s favourite games over the last 12 years of his life had been to have fun having a laugh at James and seeing if he could make him cry.  It didn’t help that their mums were the best of friends. 
‘Steve, here’s something my mum made.’
James pushed the coconut jam slice over.  It was kind of squashed up in the cling wrap.
‘What’s wrong with it?’ Steve sneered.  His mates, the Klingons, laughed.
‘Nothin’, she just wanted to you ‘ave it.’ James replied. 
James waited to see if he would open it and eat it or pass it over to his right hand man, Pete.  Pete the loyal, always there, silent and strong, ready to carry out Steve’s orders at any time. 
‘Please eat the slice’, James prayed.
Steve looked at James steely and undid the cling wrap, then stuffed the whole thing in his gob.
James’ heart was pounding and he thought he was going to piss himself.  His heart was beating in his throat now.  He thought he might stop breathing.  There was no room for breath to get through.
‘What the hell do ya want, loser?’ then Steve suddenly grabbed his throat and his stomach all at once and collapsed onto the ground.  He was mouthing something, but no words were coming out.  Pete and the other loonies were crowding in around The Big Guy. 
James slipped away with his skinny legs shaking to find another hidey hole in the playground and waited for the siren.

Writing Exercise..Time for Revenge

This is a fun exercise that we did in our writing group on Wednesday and is especially good if you are not normally writing in the crime genre, as it pushes the boundaries.

Think about a character (it could be you) and write about an act of crime, revenge or deceit.

Explore and have fun with it.

If you can't think of anything to start with, write down a list of possibilities, and brainstorm the idea. It is not about solving or resolving everything.

It is an exercise in imagination or possibilities.

Leave a comment with a link to your blog or website if you would like others to read your story and so I can have a trawl through!

Happy imagining!


Look what I got this morning!

My Coffee!, originally uploaded by megs threads.
Matt is getting good on the coffee! The love is flowing...

Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty Book Review

A gripping and devasting story of tragic grief & pain.  This book had me crying openly on the train.   The rawness that Louise was able to capture of Laura's painful journey through the years, climaxing at the moment of her daughter's accident was deep and heartfelt.  The pain of the the bitter icy cold that Eastley, where it was set, seemed to offer, with the winds that were sharp and cold was a good reflection of what Laura was going through with the sudden and tragic loss of her daughter, Betty.

It was an interesting effect jumping 'before' and 'after' throughout the story, allowing me, the reader, to slowly get a clearer insight into the whole picture through all of the windows of Laura's life and the relationships around her.  Louise leads the reader into the circumstances around the accident slowly, allowing the reader to fully understand the depth of pain that a mother feels at the loss of a child.

Whilst we are seeing it all through Laura's eyes, we gain more & more understanding of the situation and circumstances leading up to it and how each of the characters interrelate with each other and her and the tragic moment.

Louise gives each of the characters great depth.   She explores Laura's ex-husband David and the pain and love that was still there, and his new partner Chloe, and all of her issues that came with her and the relationship of being the new partner as well as their young boy, Harry and her over-controlling mother.  Louise explores what the effect of the tragic circumstances on top of separation has on the younger child, Rees, who comes across as a little neglected, watching his mother going through an incredibly difficult time and needing just a normal life.  Whilst Laura's relationship with the father, Mr A, of the driver of car who killed her daughter seems inappropriate, it does explore the issue of what really is appropriate in grief?  When pushed to the extremity of pain and loss, what does one do, and how does one go on?.

Louise Doughty gives a measured approach to her story by letting out little by little, and recalling detail, which in some circumstances may seem tedious, in this, proved to work wonderfully.  The ending was perhaps a little neat..

A tragic story told in an empathetic way.

Unfortunately I read this just two weeks before an incredibly similar tragic accident in my community (just around the corner) which immediately put me in the Laura's head, probably giving me a greater understanding of what the mother may have been going through (thank you Louise), however, it did send me into the depths of grief and made me cling to my kids with love and tenderness.  A book of pain and grief.

Write on Wednesday...Blank Piece of Paper

A blank piece of paper is merely thoughts in waiting

Write On Wednesdays

I am playing along with Write on Wednesday, and this week, the exercise is "A Great One Liner"

Pop over to Ink Paper Pen for links to other Great One Liners

Gearing up for School Camp as an Allergy Sufferer

All of the dressings and bandages hanging up to dry

My big guy is a great kid and on the whole, he doesn't complain too much (other than jobs, homework, the usual nearly 12 year old kinda stuff).  He and I both know that there are a lot of other kids out there who have a whole bunch of things that are actually really hard to deal with.   We know that because we have had to spent a lot of our years popping into have his regular checkups, fine tunings if you like, over the last 10 years at the Royal Children's Hospital.  He sufferers from asthma, eczema (it has taken me 10 years to learn how to spell that word) and rhinitis, and his youngest brother suffers, to a milder degree, the same as well as food anaphylaxis.

For my 3 guys, though, life goes on, they still have to muck in, run around, eat stuff, fight, get into trouble and just generally behave like normal kids, and we are just a normal family probably, except for odd the ventolin inhalers and epipens hanging around and multiple tubes of cream, oil and ointment in the bathroom.

Anyway, I do tend to get a little fatigued with it all occasionally (I wonder if there is such a condition as an "Allergy-Mum-Fatigue"...if so, I may have caught it).  So when it came to bedtime last night, and he told me 'His Worries' (which seems to be a nightly routine at the moment, after bedtime....), which were about going to camp next week with his skin being out of control, I had a sudden onset of Chronic-Allergy-Mum-Fatigue and was waning between exhaustion and screaming at the same time.  After recovering, I then proceeded to oint (is there such a word), cream and dress his itchy patches and explained that I-was-in-charge-from-here-until-camp-so-listen-to-me-or ... but I couldn't think of what to say after or as I had calmed down by then and realised that by now I had already missed so much of "The September Issue" that it didn't matter anyway.

So from here until camp next week, it is my rules (which means I will be spending 3 times a day treating his skin so that he will have gorgeous skin that women would kill for...maybe I should do mine as well...) and then he will be able to play in the sea to his hearts content on camp, and I will mop up the mess after camp again and before the holiday camp that he is signed up for.  *sigh*

The things no-one told me before I became a mother.  Luckily I adore my boys!

My Shadow, my unwelcome friend.

Half of my head is a shadow.  I sit still, trying to feel a part of the conversation.   Laughter does not come, words do not flow.  A smile, a half arsed, fake, hard work smile is all I can manage.

I know that I would be best placed being elsewhere, anywhere, it wouldn't matter where, but there is nowhere to go.  I am it.  I am mum and I am on duty.  I need to listen.  This is the third day now of my head in this state and this is all I know.

I have lived like this for years.  I don't even know when exactly it began; when asked, I say, "12", to pull a number out of the hat.

I massage the lump of muscle at my jaw.

I do know that by 16, my father was terribly concerned about the amount of pain killers I was taking, so I know that it had built up before then.

My 10 year old talks loudly, my 8 year old drops something.  I snap, "MY HEAD!"

They know.  Sweet boys.  They have lived with it since birth.  I don't retreat too often as I would not have a life. I just let the pain come with me, my shadow, my unwelcome friend.  The one I didn't ask to come along.

"Mum, don't you have book club tonight?" my 11 year old asks.  My sadness that I can't shake my pain away, again.  This will be the third one I have missed this year.

Hunger is Painful

The boys doing some hard yakka during the day

Our family decided to do the 40 hour famine together as an all-in-together kinda thing, with everyone giving up something (or a few things) to really make sure that we really understood what it was like to go without.  That was what we had signed up for, but once we had started, on the Saturday morning the boys (aged 8, 10 & 11) were really pumped to go without food for as long as they could, even though the 8 year old had said he would go without furniture, gameboys, electronics and just eat basic food (rice & lentils) to understand the refugee camp life.  I thought that was probably more than enough for a little tacker.  The other two had pledged to go without for 8 hours and then eat the basic food as well.  The 10 year old said he would go without electronics, reading and furniture (all tough stuff for a 10 year old boy) and the 11 year old (the great reader) said he would give up reading, furniture, and 8 hours of food.  So, I was a little surprised when they said they were going to go for as long as they could without food.  My husband wasn't sure that he could even survive without breaky.  I convinced him to give it a go and slipped him a barley sugar.  He is one of those stick figures with that incredibly high metabolism who have always eaten every two hours or he starts getting a little vague and tired, and never in his life put on any (and I mean any) weight, no matter what or how much he has eaten.

The guys plunged headlong into a backyard blitz project that not only took their minds off their hunger and food, but the time and the fact that they couldn't sit down or play on any electronic things or read.  By the mid afternoon, the day began to loom, and the energy levels dropped.  The eight year old was getting quite restless and annoyed, and no amount of barley sugars was going to hit the spot with him  I suggested a little bowl of rice for him and it was the answer.  He felt much calmer.   The boys by now had given up of the hard yards of the digging and were doing some drawing, but were getting annoyed with this as well, so I found a game that we hadn't played for ages and took this out.  It all became about distraction.

My husband kept digging.  Once the game was over I took at look at the yard and found him slumped and pale sitting in the dirt leaning on the fence.  Time for a little bowl of rice.  His metabolism wasn't really made for no food and hard yakka.  He had gone for 17 hours, and the rice really lifted him.  Rice really is a super food.

The 10 & 11 year old persisted and by the 23.5 hour mark, the pain of it was really showing.  The 11 year old had done so much hard work and he had now run out of everything.  I wanted him to eat a little bit of rice and lentils but he was crying in anger.  The 10 year old was refusing point blank, but we knew that by now he really needed a little something.  We talked about how the 40 hour famine is about the sponsorship and learning from the experience, but not competition.  I peeled a mandarin, put the rice and lentils in front of them, and we made some toast for them.  Eventually they ate a little and stopped crying and calmed down.  It gave us a chance to talk about what Hunger really feels like, because now they know.  They talked about how Lily in East Timor (who was in the World Vision video) must feel only eating one meal a day, and how maybe she might cry with hunger sometimes.

They also talked about how they could probably eat less all the time.  I think that we all can.

Me, I found it tough too personally.  It was tough going without furniture, finding somewhere to sit on the ground, and the hard old camping mattress.  Cooking food and not being able to eat it was tough, but the toughest thing for me as a mother was having to manage a hungry family and wanting to just feed them.  Of course, in the end I did, as I made the decision that they were too young.  If I was, say in East Timor, I may not have been able to make that decision.  A mother there doesn't have the opportunities that I have here, the barley sugars to keep them going, knowing that it will end on Sunday at lunch time, knowing that there is always an opt out if they fall apart.  We are a land of opportunity, even us, who have so little, still have so much.

It was a great experience for all of us, especially doing it as a family.  In the middle of it, the boys were crying that they would never do it again.  At the end, they were planning what they were going to give up next year.

All up this year so far our family together has raised $895 to help end Global Hunger. If you want to do your bit to help end Global Hunger, the links to each of our profiles are:


40 Hour Famine family experience

It all began with my 11 year old trawling around on the Internet a couple of weeks ago.  He stumbled onto the 40 hour famine website and immediately said "I want to do that!"  I said, "Sure," (I was in the middle of something) "I'll have a look at it later, but I don't reckon that you will be able to fast for the 40 hours at your age, but there might be other things you can do."  
He has a great memory (much better than mine) and has stuck at it from then until, well, the other day when I finally got around to doing it.  In the meantime, he has drummed up support from his 2 brothers who have been concocting ideas of what they may give up, and they have been talking to their teachers.  Our youngest (8 year old) even had a practise day at school of not using any furniture at school for the day.  Needless to say the teacher was impressed that he has the will power to do it.
So this August, our family are going to do the 40 hour famine together for the first time! We have sat down to work out what we are giving up:

Frank (11yrs old) is giving up:
8 hours of food
use of furniture

John (10yrs old) is giving up:
8 hours of food
use of furniture

Peter (8yrs old) is giving up:

Matt is giving up:
phones & internet
8 hours of food

I will give up:
phone & internet

We made a decision that the food that was going to be eaten by the members of the family that needed to eat would be basic, the essentials only, like what people who are in refugee camps may get, so it will be rice, oats and lentils.  

If you would like to donate to World Vision 40 hour famine to help fight Global Hunger and support us, the URL's are:


If you would like to join us in the fight, go to World Vision, 40 hour famine site and join up! It's not too late.

Mid-life Crisis

I am going through changes...not like when a girl grow boobs, but changes like working out how to schedule myself with a great sea of time that needs to be filled and huge amounts of "things" to fill it.  Wondrous things that I have always wanted to do, finally being able to do them and batting people off whilst they try to fill them up.

Finally a mind free to be able to use and time available to do what I want to do!  My mum asked if I was going through a mid-life crisis...I thought that I was too young (I still feel like that 20 something year old in a slightly older body), so the answer to that would be a great big fat NO!  I have just decided after all these years to finally give myself the time that I want and need to do want I really feel passionate about. Writing.  This takes time.  And discipline.  Lots of it.

At the moment, I feel like my cat that I used to have (called Woosey - she really wasn't one, she was always picking fights and coming home scratched up) turning round and round and round, trying to get comfortable, sorting myself out, clearing my head and my space, sorting my brain and thoughts, my scattered threads out, drawing them together, learning how, and where I can work.  Retraining myself and putting some rules up for myself, throwing some goals out there... Trying not to sit in the pantry eating or lie in bed resting!

When I'm not berating myself to go back to work, I've got study to do, family to feed, and a small part time job goes on to hopefully stop me going completely bonkers and just wearing 6 jumpers to keep warm and looking like a crazed woman as the kids walk in the door after school.

Egg Free Recipe: Sultana, Cheese 'n Oat Bars

When we found out that my youngest son was allergic to a whole bunch of foods including eggs at the grand old age of 7 months I had to find recipes that would work for us.  Eggs, I found, turned out to be quite difficult to replace in baking, so I have hunted high and low and made up recipes along the way.  Here is one of them.  

Sultana, Cheese ‘n Oat Bars

This is one of my mum’s recipes that she often made with the kids when they went down to her place for a play.  They would come back with plastic containers full of it to feast on.  Savoury, yet sweet.


1 ½  cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
185 g butter
3 tablespoons apricot jam (you can use any jam and homemade jam is really yummy)
125g grated tasty cheese
1 cup sultanas


Preheat oven to Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the oats.
Press half of the mixture into the base of an 18cm x 28cm slice tray.
Spread the jam over the mixture in the tray.
Sprinkle the cheese over the jam.
Sprinkle the sultanas over the jam.
Spread the remaining crumble mixture over the filling, pressing down so that the oats will not flake off and become dry.
Bake in a moderate over 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool and slice.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - book review

I initially began to read this as I had bought it for Frank for class (grade 6) and the girl in Readings bookshop suggested that due to the themes inside, I may wish to read it as well so that we could discuss it.

The story is of the Nation Panem in the future where an annual TV reality show is about to take place.  Twelve girls and twelve boys are selected each of the Districts (a pair from each) and they must fight each other to death until there is a winner. 

The "game" or The Games" as is it is known take place in Capital where there is wealth and glamour and people appear to be ageless.

The Districts provide the Capital with everything that is needed and they are all comparatively poor.

The story focuses on District 12 (each District is known only by number), one of the poorest of the Districts and Katniss, who is a very good (illegal) hunter in the adjoining (out-of-bounds) woods with her friend Gale.  Most people of the District work in the Seam (coal). 

Katniss' sister and Peeta (the Baker's son) are selected for the game and Katniss volunteers to go instead of her sister as she had always protected her mother and sister since her father had died.  Peeta and Katniss have to learn whether or not to trust each other as the controllers, or the Gamemakers, manipulate them during the game, and they learn a lot about themselves, the others in the games and each other and the extent that humans will go to in order to save themselves.  

This is a story of struggle for identity and survival.  It is at times horrific and frightening and truly dark.  This is not much sense of hope in this story for the reader.  Appropriate for the 11 year old age bracket that is on the back of the book?  I am not really sure about that.  I think that this book is a little dark for this age bracket.  I think that that this age group needs more hope to hold on to.

Boys and Guns

I have 3 boys and I don't like violence.

I have always kept guns away from my boys, yet they have managed throughout their short lives to find guns and "killing games" in their fingers and with their imagination and with sticks.  I have tried to distract them with, when they were younger, playdough and craft, sandpits and active play, yet, there was always a way for the fighting and killing to make a way back in.  This was particularly evident when playing with other boys.

Still, at the ages of 12, 11 & 8, they still had no guns (if we didn't count the one that came with the Elastic Making Kit for shooting rubber bands that has been used many times for other purposes).

Today after much begging a pleading, my husband was coerced into taking them to Kmart to spend their saved up pocket money on Lego.  Much counting up had been done prior to going, and much waiting, and cleaning of the house had to be done first.

Needless to say I was incredibly surprised to find 3 boys walk in the door with an armoury of guns.  One shot gun, two pistols and a rifle. Nerf guns. Ri-ight....

Now, I know that they are "toys", but, I am wondering (only 3 hours later) as I watch the boys constantly loading and reloading them with such intensity, how good these toys are.    It does scare me to see boys behaving this way.  I cannot imagine a girl getting a toy like this and finding such enjoyment.  Being a mother of boys is a constant eye opener for me.  They really think completely differently to me.  I look at it and think of the child soldiers in Africa, yet they are just (I hope) having fun.  Maybe as a mother, I am thinking too much about this.  Baah....Let's hope they break soon.

On My Bedside Table

This is what is currently on my bedside table:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
Keep Him My Country by Mary Durack
Women of the Outback by Sue Williams
Sons in the Saddle by Mary Duraack
The Last of the Nomads by WJ Peasley
Why Weren't We Told by Henry Reynolds
Guantanamo my Journey by David Hicks
My 3 finished journals from my trip around Australia
Shadow by Michael Morpurgo
My book review notebook
My visual journal
NIV Study Bible
My current Journal
2 Pens
Glass of Water
2 Foil Sculptures (one made by my son John & other by my son Peter)
Jar of Vicks
Pair of Scissors
My Pindan rock
1 Peg
Vick inhaler stick
Little notebook
Card from son Peter to Get Well
Seven Studies on the Holy Spirit Pentecost 2011

Yep, a little overloaded, and no, I am not reading all at once, they are all on my "to be read" list.  The Hunger Games I have just finished (will do a review) and is waiting for me to finish the review, and next up is The Last of the Nomads.  

What is on your bedside table?

Return to Writing and Reflecting

A few words...I'm back.  I not only survived travelling (read about it over here) with my husband and 3 boys in the close confines of a car and tent for 9 months, but grew as a person out of it.  My silence has been part of this growth.  Part of inner reflection, trying to understand what it all means and what to do with these changes.

I read only one book last year (other than the Hema Map of Australia) and that was Barack Obama's book, Dreams from My Father (great by the way, a real insight into the leader of the biggest first world country) due to so many other things to do and lack of lighting at night.  

I am making up for it this year and in my tiny spare moments, reading until my eyes shut themselves.

My plan for this blog is a little revamp, more opinions, thoughts here and there in addition to updates on the books I have been reading, the occasional bit of prose... 

Feedback as you wish.