Sunday, June 29, 2008

of Sheela na Gigs & other things.

Diane, at Tomato Soup, named her cat Ranavalona (Anne for short), Queen of Madagascar, a lady of whom I had never I began a little research. After all, a female Caligula sounded intriguingly notorious. How notorious she actually was seems to depend on your point of view. This seems to be a more balanced viewpoint ~ or at least a different one.

I never comment on these clever blogs but sometimes I wonder because this interesting writer also had an article on Sheela Na Gigs ~ those grotesque, vulgar man/woman things you sometimes find over medieval church doors that along with gargoyles & dragon's heads seem a strange anomaly for a Christian people. I was not happy with her comments.

Now I admit I know more than I probably should about paganism ~ at least from an archaeological point of view. I have never been in the least tempted to practise it, mostly because I believe there is a very dark aspect to these things that many people blind themselves to. Ancient peoples tended to have a much more fundamental & concrete approach to their religion & sacrifice was rarely symbolic. However even some cursory research gives some insight into why these very exhibitionist ladies ended up adorning church doorways.

And by cursory I do mean cursory. You don't have to read very far to realise that Celtic women were not meek & mild keepers of hearth & home. From Mab & Boudicca onwards they've been a feisty lot wielding their own particular power. I suspect Celtic men were rather terrified of them. Just my think. Descriptions of Boudicca (admittedly by Roman men who had very different expectations of their women) are hardly flattering. Likewise their goddesses were warriors, harridans, hags as well as beautiful maidens & prior to Christianity there was a strong fertility aspect to Celtic religion. Hence it was circular.

At uni I majored in English literature & what literature deals in is symbols, so when I come across ancient fertility images on church doors lots of things immediately come to mind: doorways of another kind; Dana's doorways into Life & Death, Ceridwen's doorways into poetic inspiration, doorways into the sacred spaces. There there is the collary to 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust' because from woman is man born, to woman (the earth mother) does he return ~ at least in Celtic thinking. I know of several Irish hills whose older name is *the paps of Anu (another godess), so this was a rather literal interpretation. If you know your church history you will understand that the Celtic church was quite different from the Roman church (enough so the Roman church felt impelled to impose it's viewpoint in order to stamp out *heresies*). In the process Celtic godesses became *saints*. Brighid is a good example, however you want to spell her name. Another godess. The ancient religion has been rather difficult to eradicate completely. Even today, although much of the meaning has been lost, the ancient practices still continue as *festivals* that draw thousands of tourists. I suspect the sheela na gigs are simply the remant of a much older practise & belief that survived despite the onslaught of Christianity & are there because people were loathe to let go of the known & familiar & tried to blend the old with the new. Certainly one role of the sheelas was that of protectoress ~ though that begs the question, protecting from what?

Seeing the sheelas always makes me sad. Sad because Christ came that we might have life, & have it abundantly. So often what Christianity, the religion, has brought, has been death. Instead of entering into a vital living relationship with God people have been offered the dead ashes of ritual, liturgy & form. The sheelas & the gargoyles, the dragon's heads & cats faces are a poignant condemnation that we have brought people to Church instead of bringing them to Christ.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Music, music, music

I like odd things, odd information, odd pictures, quirkiness of all sorts, so when it comes to music I was charmed the first time I heard a counter tenor. Actually I'm still charmed. Something about not being able to pick whether I'm listening to a male or a female voice intrigues me. I have learnt being in the same room with a counter tenor is far less fun. Standing next to one, as Ditz unreliably informs me, is even less fun.

One of our treble singers also has a pretty good baritone & last night we got a demonstration of his ability to slide between his baritone range & his treble range. Then we got the lecture on why good posture is so important & how the voice actually works & why boys' voices don't actually *break*. I just have to share. This is fascinating stuff people! I sorta got to learn how they do that!

Inside the oesophagus (about where the Adam's apple is) there are 4 *vocal folds* ~ don't ask. I don't understand biology so this bit I take on faith. The back ones are where you sing from in the lower registers, the front ones for the higher but regardless of where you sing you need good posture or the muscles develop lopsidedly. I can only imagine what that does to one's singing! Ditz, who is something of a sloucher soaked it all up & perceptibly straightened in her chair.

All this because at present the ensemble is working on Benjamin Britten's carols for the Qpac stuff at the end of the year singing firsts, seconds & thirds so lots of work is still needed. Ditz is singing seconds, right next to our treble singer. She comes home with her ears absolutely ringing. The sopranos actually make my ears ache & the acoustics in the music room seem to double the sound so with two strong male trebles & 10 high girl sopranos it becomes a little overwhelming at times. One drowns in sound.

I'm rather pleased Ditz is singing seconds because she tends to rehearse in the car. We have a very small car! Ouch! The seconds & thirds groups are rather small & I admit to generally having a preference for the deeper sounds but I must confess I really like the unearthly ethereal sound Alison gets from her ensemble for this music. Ditz doesn't like it much but I adore it. Yep, it's not your usual run of the mill music!

Ditz is also starting to compose her own music & I really wish I knew more about the process because I can't help her with this. I am hoping Sian, her piano teacher, can help her with the notation so she can copyright it & we can keep a record for her school work. I do like learning new things about stuff that truly interests me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One of those days!

Actually I'm having several of those days. *sigh* The first Tuesday of our holidays we have our regular home visit from our supervising teacher. It would be nice to finish up some more work, especially math, but it's looking rather sad. It's not even all Ditz'z fault. I just haven't had time to work with her. Instead I have been frantically trying to organize cooktops & washing machines which actually arrived yesterday. Great excitement all round.

At 8am Liddy's work rang asking could she come in by 9! More excitement. Frantic hunt for clean clothing & Liddy thrilled to be getting an early start & learning the layout & everything weeks before the store officially opens but another kink in my day. Ditz kept popping out of her room like a jack~in~the~box to watch operations on cooktop installation & the washing machine, which Dino did for me. I have piles of laundry but when I went to use the machine it wouldn't fill. It is a front loader (which I've never had before), all computerised & push buttons & frankly I'm terrified of the thing but it was on sale & I get a rebate for the water saving ( a substantial rebate ~ especially if I save water because I can't make it work! :}) so what was I going to do? Say no? Hardly likely.

I went into meltdown. Dearest fiddled & we got it to fill. Went to take Dearest to the doctor to find all the building going on meant we'd acquired a nail in our front tire. Mad dash to the garage instead to get the tire plugged. Emptied washing machine. Went to do 2nd load. Machine no fillee ~ again! I have now sorted it out but for a while there I was not in good shape. It's not like getting hold of a repairman or returning the thing is the simplest thing to do from here.

Meanwhile children arrived in the kitchen & fell in love with my flat top, glass top cooker. (It is very pretty! lol. also acquired on sale) & promptly started pushing buttons. Child lock went on & the thing promptly became unusable! Much fiddling later we had heat but then had the dilemma of how to turn it off & the only one prepared to read the instruction manual was me! Everyone else is a hands on learner & just kept fiddling!

However I am now slowly working my way through the backlog of washing ~ but this end of the week I am somewhere else more often than I am here & the machine not only holds less but takes a long time to run through its cycle.

At which point, stopping briefly to check on Ditz's progress, I found the child had failed to check the colours for the Aboriginal flag, coloured them wrong, & I had to remake her flag. At least I got her before she did the same thing to the Eureka flag. I mean, it's not like she's never seen either flag before. Obviously her mind is elsewhere. And the sad thing is she has been working steadily but I haven't had time yet to check her work & I just hope she's got a better grip on it than I suspect she has. I do know she very conveniently lost her math ...Again! How that book does disappear!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Australian Classics part 2.

These are all books I loved. Mary Grant Bruce wrote a whole series of *Billabong books* set, for the most part, on a large Victorian cattle station. There is a slight deviation to cover events in WWI. I love these books particularly because the characters are very well drawn & there is a great sense of humour & fun throughout the series. Norah's wedding morning is one of the most hysterical things I have ever read, making me laugh till I weep each time. Despite their age they are free of sentementality or overt moralising. There is just a quiet expectation that men & women worth their salt will behave as they should. If you can, read these. They are truely wonderful.

Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner suffers from all the flaws of the age: it is sentimental, moralising, romantic but the characters are so strong I have always been able to forgive it its many flaws & *blush* I like a good weepy now & then. It is also hysterically funny in places. Homeschoolers will be able to relate to the images of these home tutored children squabbling over the inkpot. I have always been so glad ball point pens got invented before my kids went to school.
Hesba Brinsmead's Pastures of the Blue Crane is another interesting book. While the Billabong books are located in what many people see as *typical* Australian bushland, Pastures is set up round northern N.S.W, where the tropical rainforest gives a very different cast to the landscape. This is the only children's book I am aware of that looks at what happened to Australia's *Blackbirds* ~ the Tongans, Polyenesians, etc who were brought in to work the cane fields. In a quiet way it looks at the theme of racism. BTW, blue cranes are actually a heron; we get them in the pastures round here too & to see one standing in the long grass swirled about with mist always puts me in mind of this book.
Brinsmead also wrote Longtime Passing, which I have never liked so well, but for those who are studying American Pioneers this would offer an interesting compare & contrast study, as would Elizabeth Wilton's A Ridiculous Idea, which I like very much, just couldn't get a cover picture for.
I Can Jump Puddles ~ Allan Marshall, documents Alan's struggle with overcoming polio as a child. This used to be a set text for grade 8 in N.S.W
Sun on the Stubble ~ Colin Thiele. Colin is a prolific Australian children's author & wrote so many good books on different topics I couln't choose. This is a biographical note about his early life, but , Blue Fin, tuna fishing the Straight (Bass straight where the *roaring 40s* come straightoff the pole), or Storm Boy, which became a film, are all worth looking at. His contemporary, Ivan Southall (Ash Road,children caught in a bushfire), is also very worthwhile.

These are books that just happen to be set in Australia but reflect something of the culture & times in which they are set without forsaking a good story & are all still available on~line.

Australian Classics ~ part 1.

As it happens I don't like either of these particular books but they are considered classics & plenty of people like them & they are still in print; which says something. I find Snugglepot & Co., twee but the illustrations are gorgeous & worthwhile. This is a good read~a~loud for younger children. Snugglepot & Cuddlepie ~ May Gibbs.

This is just hugely annoying. I hated this book with a passion as a child, which is odd given that I adore Lindsay's artwork, voluptous, etheral Venus' et al. (They charmed me as a child & are quite beautiful in a romanticised way.) I am far less enamoured of his writing, which is understandable. It is nowhere near as good as his art. (warning: do not click here if nudity offends you.) I think this book is silly but I was definitely in the minority as a child & most of my classmates loved it so I recommend it with reservations.
If you are looking for something uniquely Australian then these books are it. Being Aussie I'm far less charmed by talking gum nuts, wicked Banksia Men & the vagaries of a pudding that doesn't behave like a well brought up pudding should. If I remember correctly the pudding is actually rather wicked & in constant danger of being stolen. Personally I'd be happy to be rid of it but then having a pudding that replenishes itself & runs about the neighbourhood complaining really puts me off my food.

Having got these two out of the way I shall move on to books I actually enjoyed & which I consider to be far more essentially Australian simply because far less fuss is made about the things that are Australian & far more concerned with story & character.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Living Books.

Living books ~ "whole books," firsthand sources, classics, books that display "imagination, originality, and the 'human touch.'" Charlotte Mason.

I admit it, I'm a long term bookworm, a disease that began in my childhood & is now a chronic condition. As a homeschooling parent I first came upon the term *living books* in the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling & found that, yes indeedy, almost invariably, I have read most, if not all the books listed on various living book lists. What I have also found is a heavy American emphasis. This is not surprising given so much of the homeschool drive is originating in the States but there are some absolutely brilliant books around that have stood the test of time & cover different & interesting things to the norm. Yep, that's me all over. Sorry folks.

Boys can be difficult to get to read & to find books that will interest them, which is why Allan Campbell Mclean is a wonderful find. His books are set in the Hebridean highlands & cover things like crofting life, the clearances, the injustices of the English judicial system on a people whose primary language & thinking was Gaelic. Mclean has a real gift for the Gaelic lilt in English & the idioms that make listening to it an absolute joy. Best of all his books are usually adventure stories, full of excitement & boyish daring do. If you have boys have a look at these. They are still in print.

Now Rumour Godden (don't you just love that name?) is one of my all time favourite authors & I admit a bias. British born, but raised in British India for the early part of her childhood, she wrote some wonderful books on India but that early schism in her life & thinking gave her a real knack for grasping cultural divides. The Kitchen Madonna, about two children who want to make their Ukraine cook feel more at home, is one of my favourites. Her children are not goody~goody but Godden has a knack for the tensions between child/adult thinking & the misunderstandings that arise when this happens.

Also high on my book recommendations to~day is the Diddakoi. This looks at the persecution the Romany have always suffered through the eyes of a half~caste child, the diddakoi of the title, & how her village comes to finally understand & appreciate something of her people & way of life.

I am planning a post of Australian titles as well for those of you who just might be interested in seeing some of the Australian classics that are around. Reading being a very subjective activity these will be my choices, books that I enjoyed & still occasionally revisit ~ as one does with dearly loved friends.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jehovah Jireh, my provider.

I posted about the shooter who thought it was amusing to shoot out our power supply; he fritzed all our electricals ~ washing machine, oven, cooktop. The only one I particularly cared about was the washing machine.

I posted about Ditz needing more curriculum ~ the Sonlight curriculum, you know, the expensive stuff. We only had the money to deal with one thing; the washing machine.

We have been making do for a month, a month in which the Lord has very firmly been telling me that He will provide. O.k, I know He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but cattle are not cooktops, or even curriculum, & my math is certainly adequate enough to calculate what's in my bank accounts.

I ordered the washing machine & it has taken 2 weeks to organize a courier. Ditz keeps eyeing the microwave in hopes her mother will relent & say she can bake in it but we do not have the right utensils for that so I keep saying no. Ditz is suffering, not silently. This is Ditz we are talking about.

Then over 2 days the Lord just poured blessing after blessing over our heads. Money arrived to cover the cooktop & oven. I ordered. The courier will pick up the 2nd items for no extra cost. More money arrived to cover the curriculum costs. I placed my order ~ what I absolutely must have for the rest of the year & a very small *wish list* of things it would be nice to have, depending on how much my *must have* order cost. Our supplier is having a major sale. The language arts IG, which costs me over A$100 usually, came in at just a fraction of the cost if I was prepared to have one of the old IGs. You bet your bottom dollar I am! My order came back under the amount of money I actually have to spend. I said, 'Thank you, Lord', & prepared to order the CDs I wanted as an adjunct for Ditz's music. Meanwhile my supplier had sent an attachment listing all his sale items & idly browsing through out of curiosity I saw this!

Now I looked at this curriculum package for Ditz more than 12 months ago & fell in love with it! I just couldn't afford it ~ couldn't justify spending the money for something that wasn't essential academic curriculum. This is not the full deal but it's definitely the bit of it I really wanted. Half price! Oh yes! Most definitely I ordered it.

Now this is school stuff & school is not one of Ditz's favourite activities so I was more than a little stunned to find my prima donna Ditz hovering expectantly as I put together my final order. Classical music is not high on her appreciation list either so I wasn't expecting wild enthusiasm about finding a classical music curriculum on it's way ~ but it is music & Ditz is more than a little curious. Besides it comes in the mail. As a package. With lots of pretty stamps. In a big box. I mean, how exciting is that! For all her fussing & nonsense dare I hope that the worm is actually a swan who secretly rather enjoys her work?

And in the background Liddy has been quietly stressing about her lack of work. Her interview finally arrived & she thought she'd had a pretty good interview but other people had a job confirmed & she was still waiting...& waiting. My children are not patient sorts so this has not been easy. Her job confirmation was God's icing on our cake this week! She has been offered a full time permanent position at the new island store. She has been offered work to help stock so she will be one of the first people employed there & will begin within a fortnight, just as she runs out of money & just in time to sort out her car rego!

God is always good but I do so enjoy watching Him work the small miracles in our lives!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Celebrating Ditz's music.

When we did the standardized testing way back when, Ditz managed to do spectacularly badly. We are talking the illiterate end of the scale here. She's not illiterate; she was merely very bored. I don't see why I should put either of us through that again...which is rather beside the point.

We are at semester's end & Alison has been sneakily testing the ensemble class on their theory so that Ditz wasn't even sure that it was a test. Was I nervous? Oh yes! Ditz can not be relied on in these situations. If she gets a bee in her bonnet ~ forget it! Ditz has done no theory in any of her music so all the theory (as such) is new to her. First results are in...& Ditz has done spectacularly well! She got the 2nd highest lot of marks in the class! Knock me down with a feather!

One mark she lost because her handwriting is so terrible, one for adding a note that wasn't there (but should have been to hear Ditz tell it) & one just outright wrong. It makes all the traipsing round in the wet, the dark & the cold worth it. Ditz is pretty pleased with herself too. Any other subject & sadly she wouldn't have cared less, but music! Ah, now, that is another matter entirely!

It makes it worthwhile for Alison who likes kids to be enthusiastic & care about what they are doing (last night's lecture was on just that but it's end of term & the school goers are just tired, purely & simply.) It's easy for Ditz. She is not sitting in a classroom for 6 ~8 hours before her music class. This is all novelty for her & she is socializing, though I have noticed she seems to be pulling away from making friends. Note to self: check with Ditz as to what's going on; probably all in her head. I do know she gets antsy about some of the behaviour & by school standards this is an extremely well behaved class. This is one class Ditz makes a concerted effort to focus & reel in all her add behaviours on her own. She isn't always successful but she does try & she doesn't appreciate the kids who make it difficult for her to focus.

And the night's funny was on me. Normally I park myself up the back of the class with a good book or some work. Last night I was sorting out what I needed in curriculum & how much it was going to cost me (ouch!) before going back to my book but occasionally something in the room will catch my attention & I will tune in, so I was tuned in as Alison began revising common time & 3/4 time. Her question, which for the life of me I can't now remember, had her class flummoxed (probably what caught my attention) so she turned to me!!! I blush beautifully...but I did know the answer. Please don't tell me you know where Ditz gets her scattered *how I learn without paying attention* traits from.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A quality of silence.

As a human being I have always been more concerned with the eperience of God rather than the theology of God, hence the draw towards Quakerism which has no defined creed but an emphasis on a personal encounter.

I love intellectual stimulation as much as the next wanna be academic but to intellectualise God is not to experience God. Experiential experimentation is not without it's dangers but are we not told that His sheep will know His voice? And having once heard that voice how could it ever be mistaken for anothers?

Like others before me I find it almost impossible to put into words either what I seek in silence or how I encounter God there & why, for me, there is no greater worship than to sit quietly at the feet of He who loved me so much that He died for me & hearken my heart to whatever He might wish to say to me in the silence.

At present I am working my way through Geoffrey Hubbard's Quaker by Convincement & some of his thoughts resound very much with my own ideas.'Our beliefs both sustain us individually & warn us against forcing our own ideas on others; we can show them the way to God, but He will show them the pathway of belief, & since they are not the same person as we are, their belief may well be different to ours to match their personal need.'

Even more so does this resound:..We cling to our direct experience of the eternal (finding)this absolute worked out in living terms in the teaching of Jesus, & then we turn our whole being to trying to follow that teaching.'

To enter into God's silence is to fall naked into the hands of the living God. There is nothing to shield you from God's light & truth ~ no music, no other's prayers, no message however erudite. Nor is this a time to bring my needs & wants before the heavenly throne, though those issues may arise, because the silence is not about me. It is about hearing the still small voice of God, about waiting on His presence.

Nearly all of my Christian life I have not been in a Meeting. I have worshiped in more mainstream churches ~ Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, AOG ~ & I have found God in all of those places. It is like looking in a mirror darkly. Now I am being almost driven ~whilly~nilly ~by the Spirit into the Silences. The only other times I have felt the Spirit in such force is when I have been compelled to give a message & at such times there is no force on earth that can stop you because you do not stand in your own power. I admit to finding it totally bewildering. After all these years, why now?

Why at all? The silences are not a comfortable place to go. As the silence gathers the tears begin to fall, seeping through my pores unbidden, unexpected, for no discernable reason. I have never found a reason for them, or been able to define the emotion they bring. This is not the violent sobbing of repentance, or of grief, but a slow unravelling of the soul sinking with relief at the feet of Jesus.

Quakers have been accused of being mystics. This also bewilders me. It is the most practical of faiths & very much concerned with the world Christ came to save, with being His hands & feet, bringing His love to peple in need. I do not see myself as a mystic. Niave? Maybe. Idealistic? Probably. Practical? Hardly. Mystical? Definitely not. This is not some airy~fairy pie~in~the ~sky experience. It is very concrete.

I can explain it best by telling a story. Not only is this a story about how the silence is very concret in application but about how I am so sure that I heard the voice of Christ & I will always know it again.

Several years ago I was asked to give the Christmas message at church here on the island. All the pastors were away & the rest of the laity wanted a more exciting opportunity or a day they thought they would have a larger congregation. I wasn't overly happy either. Christmas has been done to death. What was there left to say? I'm not a trained preacher, or a clever speaker. I am certainly no theologian. (See my opening paragraph.) I spent a good hour absolutely ranting at God inbetween wracking my brains for some sort of a hook, any sort of a hook, just something I could hang what would be a poorly attended message on. I was not a happy bunny. When I finally shut up & started to listen I got the shock of my life. Now, I am not a mystic but I swear this is true.

While I was sitting glowering at my blank computer screen having a major panic I felt a presence just behind my chair. Thinking it was one of the kids siddling up to me I paid no hede. Then a voice said quietly, ' Like this, Dear Heart.' I will never forget. No~one but no~one calls me Dear Heart. The message Christ gave me was nothing I would ever have come up with on my own because it's central theme was the cross & the need for repentence & that Easter was the purpose & origon of Christmas. I might have been doing the typing but it was Christ dictating the message.

And having experienced God I know the words of the bible to be literally true; His peace doth pass all understanding; God is love; He will lead us & guide us. All I need to do is be still & know that He is God. He will do the rest.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Day Book.

Outside my is still pitch black & very cold, with that bitter pre~dawn cold. It is still an hour or so before daybreak but the cold tells me it will be a glorious winter morning & a balmy day again. I am thinking about what it means for me when I enter into the silence at Meeting & why I feel closer to God in silence that at a more regular service. I am thankful for......The blankets I have wrapped around me, that we are still picking veggies from the garden, that I seem to have found a church where the kids are happy to attend that teaches the word strongly. From the kitchen ...nothing, not at this time of the morning. Dinner seems a long time ago at the moment & as I have been sick all week & off my feed so to speak it is good to wake up feeling hungry & ready to tackle the day. I am creating...a history scrapbook with Ditz for SOTW & the next garden planting. I am take a walk through the mangroves today. I love the way the roots hoop & tangle, the sploshy popping of air as the water gurgles through the trees & over the mud. I love the way the honey eaters shriek their alarm as I pass, the strong salty smell of the water & the ribbons of light. I should walk in the silence & the peace more often but it is so hard to get away on my own & if the girls come they want to talk. I am wearing...a kameeze, my black jumper & several blankets. Did I mention it is cold this morning? I am reading...a Quaker by conviction testimony; lots of history there. Interesting to see how the movement evolved & the peace testimony came about. I am hoping... that my washing machine will arrive when they said it would. Things are getting dire. There is only so much I can wash by hand in a small sink. I am hearing......the hum of the computer. Around the house I have piles of stuff to go to the thrift shop, used curriculum I wish I could sell, & Ditz's work as I sort through assessments for the records, check what still remains to be completed in English before ordering her new curriculum & see what we have to show for a term's work when her supervisor visits in a fortnight. One of my favorite getting hugs from my children. They are all big now & not *touchy~feely* so the hugs are rarer, more heart~felt, more appreciated. A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... Reorganize Ditz's work. Neither of us are tidy sorts & things pile up pretty quickly...then they get lost & it becomes a drama so I have to keep a grip on things. I am not good at getting a grip. I got side~tracked yesterday which had Ditz giggling like mad because she is always in trouble for it. Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

And here is where you go to join in...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Going Back.

For someone with the convictions I have about being plain & simple we do seem to have a knack for drawing attention to ourselves! O.K, granted a kameeze isn't the most self~effacing outfit I could wear but without a washing machine things are getting dire in this house & at least the kameeze was clean. Being on time helps too ~ which we weren't. Not Liddy's fault, or not directly anyhow, despite the fact she was driving & we took a detour. I got us on a later boat because I knew we were all tired & sore after Liddy's soccer game. I have no qualms about walking in late while everyone is still singing the opening songs because sadly we are almost always late & have been doing it for years.

I really should have known better. I knew this church gets packed so of course by the time we arrived the only empty seats where we could all sit together were right down the front. We scuttled towards them, me with my kameeze & long hair flying. I turned right, the girls turned left. When I turned round they were two pews back across the aisle. I spread my hands & made a face at them just as the whole church sat down so I got to do this for the full benefit of the entire church. The word Dork comes to mind. *sigh*.

I scuttled back to my girls & we tried to settle in. Before we could do that there was a wild shriek & my cousin, Ri, arrived hugging my girls hard. Poor Liddy, who hasn't seen Ri in years, thought it was some stray church member & nearly died. Ditz, being better informed & having seen Ri recently, took it more stoically. I, of course, completely lost my head , jumped up & hugged her hard. I'm sure the church is now seriously wondering what they've landed. Having made a complete spectacle of ourselves I was horrified to find Liddy had parked us in the same pew as the senior pastor. Isn't that just like life?

It got worse. Ditz had decided she would like to go out with the other children for the message so stood up & followed the trail of children towards the door. Liddy & I looked at each other, said in unison, 'Is she alright?' & promptly turned round in unison to watch Ditz merrily unconcerned sorting herself out, though Ri, who was taking her Crys out, shepherded her in the right direction.

Now nothing is more guaranteed to make me lose my head & collapse in a terrible fit of the giggles than to ask me to participate in the obvious so when the message began & we were asked to discuss with the person next to us what creates stress in our lives Liddy & I took one look at each other & completely dissolved. We really are terrible. Can't take us anywhere. I do not like to be taught like that. It makes me silly. Honestly! Lid & I were off & running ~ driving, soccer, mental illness, home ed....We were beside ourselves while all around us people were very soberly discussing the stress in their lives. If I discussed it soberly I'd weep for a month. At this point I suspect Liddy was regretting not going out with Ditz to find the senior teens. She had stayed to prevent me going into meltdown & provide input on the sermon.

Thankfully, the speaker then decided to actually teach inside of having his congregation participate & he was very good. It was a very practical sermon & I like being able to apply biblical principals to my life so got a lot out of it & after the terrible wishy~washy, meatless stuff the island preacher dishes out Sunday after Sunday it was a relief to actually feel like we were getting fed. Lid & I both thought it was biblicaly correct. Always good to have that 2nd opinion.

Oh, & this was the week they had a baptism ~ full water immersion. I thought Ditz's eyes were going to pop right out of her head. I grinned at her & said wasn't she glad she just got sprinkled when she asked for her baptism? She's since been telling everyone about the swimming pool in church!

Over the years I've worshipped in more churches than I can rightfully name but my girls' religious experiences have been rather limited so their reactions are likely to have me in silent throws. Dizt doesn't care so long as the food is good & the company convivial. Liddy is much more cautious. She's cautious about the music which is nearly all modern ~ none of the old hymns that we all know & love. Yes, we corrupted our kids early on. She's cautiously happy with the preaching which we both felt was strong & solid. (As John MacArthur fans we have high She is very happy they have a strong missions & outreach stance. It seems as if they have a strong prayer team~ they are growing steadily which is a good indication. I will make do with anything so long as the teaching is strong. I suspect Liddy would be happier if she thought I was wildly enthusiastic but as most of you know my convictions lie in another direction entirely. And that is another nice thing. I can go for the first part of this service, slip out to the Quaker Meeting, which is just round the corner, & be back for morning tea. Ri will keep an eye on the girls, though at 18 Liddy can look out for the both of them. It is not what I wanted, not what I would have chosen, but seems to be what God wants for the kids. Dino is asking about it & wants to come. That will create more furore; my boys seem to have that effect on the female half of the population. I have promised when we are no longer all down with the *lurgy* we will try the 6 pm evening service, which is the youth service. It will probably give me a massive headache.

At home Iss went into meltdown. Two days in a row without his harem of alpha females (as Dearest refers to the women in his life) & he was a cot case in need of some serious loving. Ditz, who was prepared to give it to him, got chased round the house for her trouble. Iss came to bed with me & purred like the proverbial locomotive.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


We've all caught a cold so paddling round in our recent weather has been for ducks, not us. The car park on the mainland, always dicey, now has big pot holes full of water. So much fun! We canceled piano as they have been sick too & we don't want to share but went over early on Saturday so the girls & I could finally see Prince Caspian.

I'm still deciding about this movie. Yes...but what's with the *clever* dialogue? Hmmm, but I did like the character gaps in Lewis' book where I found the movie opened up some very interesting possibilities; such as the conflict in leadership between Peter & Caspian. I did not like the lovey~dovey stuff, not one little bit. Come to think of it, I don't like it in adult movies either. Liddy's the one for Romantic Comedy. And the thing that really bugged me: you stick a sword in someone, you get blood on your sword. It does not come out clean, not even in fantasy movies. Blood is small bickies besides other carnage in the movie.

And so on to Liddy's game. I don't even want to talk about it. It was disgusting. That the girl's lost 2~1 is nothing. The ref is on report. Our girls were really mouthing off in the end (not Liddy, thank goodness!). Mt Gravatt was shoving them 2 handed (sooo illegal it's not funny), ankle tapping them; there were elbows flying, & boots places they shouldn't have been. One of our midfield strikers has ankle problems & is really prone to injuries in that area & they kept tangling her feet. I thought her mother was going to have a connipitation. Then Liddy went down & just lay there flat on her back. I nearly died on the spot. I had visions of spending the rest of the evening at the hospital. The player marking her had jabbed an elbow up into her ribcage completely winding her. Then they took her out again & this time the coach was called on because Liddy was in tears. She thought she'd done her collar bone again. Same sort of fall. It was as rough as rough & Liddy was nearly hysterical when they finally came off. The coach called me into the dressing room & they got the club doctor to check her out but luckily most of it was purely & simply shock. Yuk, is all I can say.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Scrapbooking SOTW

I did promise this so here are two pages of the 3 & a bit we've done so far, starting with the Paleolithic. The cave paintings give a good idea of some of the sort of weapons used in hunting but sadly Ditz & I were more intrigued by the beautiful curved shapes & realism of the animals. Just look at those antlers! Now I know not all the food is accurate but we were more after the general idea. Once we are done I will get Ditz to tell back the history using the pictures to jog her memory.

Assyria & Babylon. For those interested in bible references, the gateway is a reconstruction of the main gateway into Babylon ~ the one Daniel would have come through as a captive. It is depicted, amongst other things, with the *striding Lion* of Babylon. The lion was Isthar's animal, Isthar being the Babylonian goddess. It gives a whole other perspective to the story of Daniel being thrown to the lions when you realise that. Figuratively as well as literally Daniel was thrown to the lions.

We have been enjoying doing this. One of the sad things abut having an older homeschooler is that this sort of thing is seen as being less & less acceptable as the child get older. Supposedly Ditz should be writing more, doing more analytical thinking, more compare & contrast. Wish me luck. Ditz's head space just doesn't go there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Curse of the Golden Flower.

I have been wanting to see this movie, Curse of the Golden Flower, with the absolutely gorgeous Gong Li, for some time. It is in Chinese & I hate dubbing so got sub~titles. Naturally all my children rolled their eyes & went crabbing instead. They missed an absolute feast for the eyes.

This is a visually stunning movie. I have no idea how correct the history is, not much would be my guess, & one quote I read suggested it was a mish~mash of Shakespearean tragedy plots ~ which is sort of accurate. The plot is very melodramatic & it sort of lost me with the ninja thingies & rivers of blood but those are small hiccups in a movie that is detail obsessive & rich in colour & visuals. I am still trying to figure out how anyone did anything wearing those long golden finger nails Gong Li wore with her gowns. The opening shots of all the hand maids dressing in the same outfit at exactly the same time in long neat rows...well for this disorderly person the mind just boggles that anyone would think in such rigid lines let alone convince a whole palace to behave in this manner. The ritual, the colours, the beauty have left a lasting impression despite the fact all the main characters are absolutely horrible & plotting against each other...hence the rivers of blood outcome! Not for the faint of heart.

A picture's worth a 1000 words.

Dino is my crabber. The fact I can't stand seafood in any way or shape does not prevent a lot of it from passing through my house.
At present Dino has a small problem. This is the boat...
And these are the pots. When all the pots are loaded into the boat the boat becomes unstable. As the pots are moved regularly & he prefers to make just the one trip he has a rather large problem, especially as he has to...

Do this...

And this...

In order to retrieve sand crab.

Solution: ask Liddy along to act as ballast. Yes, she was also the camera man. It is winter here. It may look glorious but it is freezing out on the water & we are still without a washing machine. Liddy has reached the point where she is borrowing jackets & can't wait till she goes back to work. She has an interview on Friday morning & we are all hopeful her extended holiday will soon be over.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I like your Christ...

Christians puzzle me. Not the ones I know & not the ones I fellowship with, but the great mass. What puzzles me is how they think what they think.

I am being terribly enlightening, aren't I? The issue that has me puzzled is astrology. Hear me out, here. Now if I have understood my bible correctly astrology falls into the divination basket & is one of those things God refers to as an abomination. I take it that it does not make Him happy & as an obedient daughter I should avoid dabbling in such things however curious I may be. After all, those who built the tower of Babel paid a rather heavy price for their dabbling. So why do so many Christians feel that reading their star signs is a harmless diversion, or a fun thing?

I have been watching with growing dismay a thread on a Christian forum where Christian after Christian has gone to a site linked by a self confessed Pagan to read their sun sign & post about it. I read the introductory thread & escaped but this thread is now pages long. Do people seriously think that God's grace removes culpability? Do people seriosly think the law is no longer applicable? (I believe Jesus said he came to fulfil the law, not abolish it) Is is just poor teaching or has liberalism gone so deep into the Christian psyche that we can no longer discern the truth? Thread after thread on Christian matters dies after a response or two. Those on more worldly matters of little weight or consequence go on & on, .... & on.

Christians puzzle me. Even allowing for differences in temperment & where we each are individually on our journey there is suppossed to be something distinctive about us. We are not meant to be as the world is & frankly this is not about short hair verses long hair, pants or skirts, covering or not covering, because the outer things are just that, outer things. They may or may not be indicative of the heart's condition but in the name of love we are being encouraged to tolerate the intolerable. We know the difference between correction in love & acceptance when it comes to our children. Where is our discernment when it comes to other adults? It is not love to allow others to continue in error.

Having said that, no, I have not said anything on the forum. It would start a war & everyone is quite capable of doing that without any help from me, & I would be accused of being loveless. I do not see the point when I know anything I say will fall on deaf ears but it worries me, how we, as Christians, more & more are enjoying having our ears tickled rather than engaging the Word as soldiers engage in battle. As someone once said It's not what I don't understand in the bible that bothers me...

And the food for thought comes from Ghandi:

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Now there is a thought that should give us a sharp reality check.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Splish~splash, Mish~mash.

I have lots to talk about at present & life being life less interesting things keep getting in the way & there's pics I wanted to post that had to wait on batteries so this will be a mish mash post.
Firstly here is the garden again. Despite the rain we have been steadily eating our way through the beans & silverbeet for some weeks now. If I was really keen I could pick a Chinese cabbage while it's small; there'd be enough for one feed. Yum. Now if you look closely there's stakes sprouting amidst that clump of green on the right...for tomatoes. The tomatoes are battling the basil for light, but hey, the basil is doing really well. So are the snails & slugs. All this wet weather means the cabbage is full of holes & every morning I am out there debugging the poor things. We are also battling plant rot ~ for want of a better name. There is such a thing as having too much water & that's the garden at present. Dino has put in the next garden as well but that will be even slower now we are in winter proper.

Then there is the cat, who was in meltdown before we even left on Sunday, thinking we'd gone for a week on seeing all the bags. Today he bounced off the walls with delight before collapsing in a serious way in my lap.

Here he is ensuring he has my full attention by wrapping his head over my arm. I could read but I couldn't type. The purr was rattling both me & the chair.

I think I said that a week ago we were visiting yet another church, Baptist this time. Baptist in Oz is not, I don't think, quite the same as Baptist in U.S of A. For one thing hardly any of the women wear skirts. No~one covers & nary a long hair is to be seen. Now you must understand we have churched on the island for at least 15 years with all 10 of the regular church goers. Think small. Think very small. The Quaker Meeting had the sort of numbers we are used to.

So we arrived early ..The Ditz, Liddy, me. I wore my maroon kameeze complete with dupatta. The girls wore long shorts & their hair up in ponytails but we were all wide eyed as the people started piling in...& they kept coming!

You have probably heard, as we have, that the first 3 minutes anyone is in a new church determines whether or not they come back; the greeting was a little overwhelming & it made us giggle. We've been instructed on making newbies feel welcome so it was more than a little odd to be on the receiving end & I'm sure the kameeze had some thinking they'd landed a bunch of Buddhists. I am very comfortable in my kameeze so the odd looks coming our way didn't faze me in the least & the girls are way too used to me to be the least bothered.

Unfortunately we got the Sunday the church was celebrating their 21st so it wasn't a regular service & as the pastor is leaving not the Sunday to judge the preaching either. The big pluses were the number of youth, the music ministry, the focus on outreach & missions.

Now I freely admit I am atrocious in these sort of situations. I tend to curl away from people or find the situation so hilarious I am quite likely to misbehave. I found it funny. Oh dear. I am a very visual person so the whole service was madly distracting from beginning to end. Something was happening all over the church all service & that is a big problem for me. It requires real restraint & focus on my part to pay attention to what I should be focused on. As we are church hunting I have an excuse & I know I am better once I get used to a new place but it did not make me very happy. Plus the music was so loud & so modern I got a huge headache. This is not the church for me. However, & this is huge for me, both Liddy & Ditz were cautiously pleased. Pleased enough to be prepared to go again. Pleased enough to trial it. So we will. I have already said I will be going to Meeting once a month. I need to. However if we are happy with this church I am prepared to drop them off together, go to Meeting, pick them up after or alternatively that week they can stay home. I much prefer smaller, quieter churches but quite understand the girls need to be able to worship with like minded people their own age with music they know & love.

I was looking for us. We all need to be in church & if we find somewhere good the boys will join us. What I wasn't expecting was to get a full car quite so quickly. One of the girls we took to Toowoomba wants to come with us if we've found a good church; there's nothing on the island. It is only a matter of time till Liddy asks the other to also join us. Liddy has always had a missionary's heart so the one spare seat left is unlikey to remain vacant for long.

I am not an outreach person. My focus has always been on the sustaining, the building up, the strengthening of the people of God to enable them to do that for which He has called them so already I am quailing at where Liddy is headed because we are still at this funny inbetween stage where Liddy is relying on me to uphold her & support her as she takes these first baby steps into what will eventually be her whole way of life. Which is why I need the Quaker Meeting & that quiet place where I can hear what the Lord has to say for my ears alone. It would not be a problem if I was one of these gregarious, outgoing, people orienteed & capable women like the Proverbs 31 woman who makes me both tired & cross. I am not like that ~ or when I am it is only amongst very safe company like my bloggy friends who only exist in cyberspace. (I know you all don't but my mind plays some funny tricks sometimes lol.) Which is why the Lord gave me such social children & then told me to deal with it. I don't always do it well but we try.


Kudos to the girls who were very patient & well behaved in the car despite the length of the trip. We arrived at Toowoomba in good time & I drove us straight up to picnic Point where they could hop out of the car & wander round in the freezing wind for 1/2 an hour or so.

I then meandered around to take us the long way back to the house we once lived in. I can assure you the garden was never so neat & tidy as this when we owned this house. It was full of natives & much more jungley but the raised bed made from bush rock is still there as well as the stone path & set of steps Dearest made & inside the wood paneling has been left & the pot bellies are still in existence.

Then out here...weird windmill I have never set eyes on before but whatever. This is the entrance to...

Here ~ the University of Southern Queensland, where I took my degree. There are a few more buildings & the garden has grown some but nothing much has changed & while I hated school I did enjoy uni. For one thing I was only studying things I actually liked. lol.

Then on to Liddy's game. We were out of the wind there, which was nice & the girls won, which was also nice, but Lid played an atrocious game. Every time she moved she had the other coach's voice in her head telling her how bad she was & worthless etc. Then from the left hand line, outside the 18 yard box, Liddy got the ball under her feet in space. I saw her look up towards the goal & thought, she's going to try for that. If you know soccer you know that's a long way for a strike at goal, even for the pros. The whole game stopped as everyone just stood & watched her ball fly towards the goal. There was wind & I thought the ball was going to lift over the bar. The goalie did too. She just stood & watched it fly over her head. Then the ball dropped & smashed into the far cornor of the net! It was a spectacular goal. I stood there with clenched fists just bellowing Yooooooowrp! Naturally the girls are all saying it was a great fluke but it wasn't a fluke. It was a calculated strike on goal & it was brilliant. Liddy knows it, I know it & her actual coach knows it.

Just the same between the long drive, the stress of doing some of the driving on the open highway & the emotional stress of battleing the putdowns Lid was a mess before home migrainey, sick & in tears. For once I came out in quite good shape so the Lord is merciful & despite all the sugar the girls had in the car they were as good as gold.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Deja Vu.

This is where we are going tomorrow so Liddy can play soccer...well not looking over the range but to this town...Toowoomba. Two hours there (more or less), two hours back. It's a long drive with the steepest, windiest road up the hill to get there. I told Liddy I'm driving that part, especially as it's prone to fog & wind & tomorrow looks like being wet...very, very wet. Yucky, yucky.

I'll have both our girls & 2 spare, though why they are interested I have no idea. Still they should entertain Ditz in the back, at least for the first 20 minutes or so & I plan a meal break about the halfway point. Oh! Why is this interesting enough that even Ditz wants to come? We used to live here. The boys were born in this overgrown country town. I went to uni here. We will do a quick tour round, see the old house, the uni campus, drive out here to Picnic Point & see how the land falls away to the coast back to where we've come from. Yeah, freaky thought. The girls are intrigued. They are island through & through. Thet can't even begin to imagine growing up surburban.

This town suffered terribly through the drought & actually ran out of dam water. Every last drop had to be trucked in & the gardens, for which Toowoomba is justifiably famous, shriveled & dried up.

I can't say I liked living here. It snows on cassion. I'm not terribly fond of snow but Ditz hasn't forgiven us for moving before she got to see some. So, winter it's cold; summer is stiffling. I can think of places I'd rather be. Ten year was too long.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Here we go again!

Yep, that's my life gone down the toilet the past few days. I have so much adrenalin going through the system I feel sick. Not even my issue; just trying to pick up the pieces & put my child back together again. Very few things get me really riled but wanton cruelty, the abuse of power by the strong towards those they percieve as weaker, bullying tactics, will do it every time. And I am sooo good at handling conflict.

So tomorrow I am off to try & keep my temper, practise Christian charity & offer moral support after someone has done their level best to shatter every last once of confidence my child has. I am so angry & so powerless. I knew I should have kept my mouth shut about peace. *sigh*

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dona Noblis Pacem.

June 4th is blogblast for peace. Learn more about it here.

I am a child of the 60's, one of the first generation to get a daily dose of war with the 6 0'clock news. I became pacifist in my thinking at a very early age. It was not popular thinking either in my house or out of it.

Many think that if you are pacifist, or anti~war, or non~militant you lack respect for those who have fought & died in the name of freedom but that is not so. Many people equate pacifism with inertia but again that is not the case. True peace has to be won but violence is the refuge of the powerless & the weak. The truly strong have no need to force themselves on others. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than within ourselves. If we truly want peace it begins with ourselves, one person & the way they relate to their husband, their children, their neighbours & their community.

It is frightening the amount of violence I harbour within myself. It is frightening to recognise how little genuine love I display in my relations with other people. How on earth can there be global peace when even within our families, amongst those we declare we love the most, there is a lack of love, a lack of respect, bad temper, ill feeling, selfishness?

When I meditate on peace what immediately springs to mind are Jesus' words: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. Obedient even unto death Jesus is the living example of perfect love casting out all fear. He was secure in who He was, where He was going & to whom He belonged. It gave Him deep inner peace. From that calm centre He could act in love with no need to force His will on any other, even in the face of the most awful personal abuse. It is a lesson Maximillian Kolbe also learnt. You remember him ~ the Catholic priest who took the death place of a stranger in Auschwitz, offering prayer & comfort to the others condemned with him before being murdered with carbolic acid? Corrie ten Boom learnt it too when she came face to face with her camp commandant many years later.

At the heart of peace lies forgiveness, forgiveness of others for being less than perfect, forgiveness for failures in love, & the acknowledgement that all men have been created in the image of God & for that reason alone are deserving of love & respect without violence.

I do not believe I will see global peace. I don't think anyone will. The bible warns of wars & rumours of wars, of things getting worse, more violent, greedier, more selfish before the end but that in no wise removes my personal responsibility to live a life founded on love & peace. I may not do it perfectly but I will do it as well as I can.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without....Henry David Thoreau

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my Window.... The clouds are pressing close & the rain comes sweeping down the passage in great scuds. All night the wind has rattled & banged about the house but this morning there is only a sulky silence. Even the birds are quiet. I am thinking.. how pleased I am the wind has finally stopped. A gentle spring breeze is remarkably pleasant. The raging fury of last night was frightening & I am prone to dwell on the little ships bobbing about on the raging waters & the men who brave the elements for whatever reason. Overactive imagination; I veer into nightmare paths imagining the boats going down, men drowning in the water, unshriven souls going out into eternity....Ugh! Iam thankful for... a new day, no wind, the provision of the Lord in a time of hardship. From the kitchen... too early for the kitchen but there will be hot coffee, warm buttered toast & thick semolina with milk & brown sugar shortly, & sleepy eyed children (all now bigger than I am) standing groggily about waiting for things to pop & thicken. I am creating... a new novel in my head & a talk I am to give soon. These things are always better for lots of quiet meditation. I am going to ...clean out the bathroom ready for the new washing machine & ring the carriers to see who is willing to do this particular trip to pick it up from the mainland & how much it is going to cost me to have that done. I am wearing... my dark maroon kameeze, one of my favourites. The kameeze is long & tailored, falling below my knees, & the long sleeves hug my thick cotton shirt close creating some extra body warmth.I am reading...a Quaker dialogue on the peace testimony, the House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert de Jong, & Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline ...Again! I am hoping... the wild weather is done & the drought has broken. I am hearing... the first of the birds just beginning, a soft twittering, the drip of water, the sucking pop of mud amongst the mangroves & slosh of water through them.Around the house... all is still & quiet. This is good sleeping weather. One of my favorite things...Is watching the day break slowly, like a flower opening. God never rushes anything. A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... Music, as always. I am waiting to hear a response to the new song Ditz has written.Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
And here is where you go to join in..