Thursday, July 31, 2008

One Birthday Girl in a Pear Tree.

As of Monday it's official: I no longer have any children, only teenagers & young adults. On the 4th, Ditz turns 13. She has always been such a happy sunny sort of a kid who likes to wallow in life ~ literally at times. I love her to bits but you know what teenagers are like. She's sorta at the , 'Aw, Muuuum!' stage so I'm not allowed to tell her just how much I love her. Sssh! She sometimes reads here.

My mum has gone to Thailand to spend time with my brother & his family so won't be ringing on her birthday & her parcel has already arrived ~ AND been opened! Dino is up on the Cape. Theo is coming over on Sunday to see her & we will do our family dinner then so I guess Ditz's actual birthday will be pretty quiet.

So what does one get a 13 year old? Nothing much. No, I'm not being mean. We have asked everyone to give Ditz money for her *music fund* rather than gifts as her ensemble seems set on travelling all over the place & we just can't come up with those sort of bucks but if Ditz has a fund she can draw on she may be able to do one or two of those trips.

I have just got her, on special, a DVD she wanted, a replacement set of pretty sleepers for her ears & a small book. My mum sent her 'something for her head (cap), something for her feet (toe socks)& something for her heart (silver heart on a chain)' & a cheque for the music fund. My Sydney friend has a fancy make~up bag for her & Liddy is going to pander to Ditz's girlie instincts & shout her a proper hair cut & highlights.

That has been something of an issue. Poor old Ditz got her father's glorious colouring & my fine fly~away hair. I have always kept it long as it is easiest looked after that way but Ditz wants it cut. Not short short but shorter than it is. Liddy suggested a styled cut. The problem with that is ensemble performances require her hair pulled back of her face so it has to be a certain length. I won't do fringes. Stupid, stupid fashion constantly getting in your eyes & needing cutting. A longish bob & highlights is a sort of compromise as Ditz thought black & bright red stripes might be the go. Uh, no, Ditz. No way.

Oh, & for cake Ditz has ordered our no bake cheescake with a meringue topping. *sigh* Only Ditz!

Island Walkabout.

Thursdays are flute. After last night's late finish the Ditzy One wasn't her usual bright & sparkling self this morning. Indeed I had to wake her & she emerged bleary eyed & trepidacious (is that a word? Is now.)

I trudged in Ditz's wake up the long steep hill feeling at least several centuries old. Yes, I know it looks beautiful but it was (((Cold)))!!! And it's at least a 20 minute walk, all uphill. Watching people wizz past in their nice warm cars makes my bones ache, to say nothing of standing on a windy old jetty with icy slivers slinking down my collar.

Just the same there is always plenty to enjoy on this walk. All the wattle is starting to burst out turning everything golden....

The birds are nesting & there are baby chicks everywhere...

And Islanders are an inventive lot. I can cope with the roo but there's a croc as well & that is too, too much.

But for half an hour inbetween all this I got to listen to 2 flutes battle with Purcell's Largo from Sonata no.1 ~ & if Ditz will only count it will sound lovely. Being Ditz she doesn't like her music slow. Being Ditz she doesn't like counting. Being Ditz this is the piece she finds extraordinarily difficult, far more difficult than the Moderato, which goes at a cracking pace! Yet every so often there were glimpses... a phrase where alto & soprano were in absolute agreement & I thought how lucky Ditz is to be able to make this wonderful sound. I've tried. I just sound like a strangled goose.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A little travelling.

Travelling. We do so much of it but some days are just insane. Take yesterday for example. I dropped Liddy at work. Came home & wrote Ditz out a *to do* list (can't think why as she just did what she'd normally do in a morning, certainly no more & considerably less math as she *forgot* how to do it!) & got Dearest & I on a 9.30 am boat. We came home on the 11.30 & I pottered round for a bit before putting Ditz & I on the 3.20pm boat for music. Left Ditz behind to meet Liddy at the jetty at 6pm for a rescheduled soccer game & managed to have all of us on the 9 pm boat home. Basically I'd spent my day driving in & out of town. Ditz & I were starving even though we picked up take~away, which is never as filling or satisfying as a proper meal, & Liddy was over tired & difficult.

The chill factor off the water just made me miserable & Ditz, who is always wired after music, couldn't relax enough to sleep so at 10.30 pm I found myself reading aloud a chapter of Artemis Fowl. I was emotionally exhausted. I hate days that are emotionally draining yet not really physically tiring. It's not like I actually did anything but sit & read for most of the day though I did the driving for the first two trips & think I should have driven home after soccer. Liddy's mental state really affects her driving & she was throwing the car round enough that I remonstrated with her & she snarled like a feral cat about just letting her drive. Hmm. We were all sooo showing our best sides!

Unfortunately Ditz & I have flute today ~ more travelling ~ but are too tired to really be at our best & this is costing us days of school. I would love to shift all Ditz's music to a Friday & have the weekend to recover but that is just not going to happen & ditching it altogether is not really an option however tempted I feel when it all starts unravelling on me.

To this heady mix all my friends have chosen to visit. O.k, only 2 but they are long distant friends we don't see too often so time simply must be squeezed from my hectic schedule for them. Local friends know better than to expect us to socialise during term time! My Sydney friend visits sporadically throughout the year & as an old uni mate is far too valuable to ignore while our Irish friends only visit for a few weeks every other year, at huge expense, & the boys get on sooo well with my peculiar little Ditz it is an absolute joy. The older boy's birthday falls within a day or so of Ditz's birthday & we have always done a joint birthday celebration the years they are here with them providing the BBQ & us doing cake & sweet treats. Ditz plans for their stay all year & for weeks has talked of little else except what she should buy as a present. The boys are into military history (which I know nothing about!) so what we have ended up with 3 large water guns. Despite the freezing weather I guess they will have loads of fun squirting icy water over each other! (((BRRRRR)))

The bible says not to worry about the future for each day has enough troubles of its own & ain't that the truth?! Ok, I'm off to deal with today's insanity.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Package!

Curriculum always takes a while to arrive here. When we start thinking it's about due we take to haunting the front yard anticipating the mailman, knowing the big box will have to be signed for & anxious to get a good look at what we've ordered.

Sonlight is particularly exciting. Firstly it is always a good sized box, well taped up & requiring a knife & a certain skill to open. Ditz wields a mean knife.

Inside there are books...& books...& more books. For some of us homeschooling mums we envy our children & wish this is the way we'd been schooled. Nothing gives me more pleasure than a big box of books. Ditz is eyeing them askance with a very dubious look. She may not be keen but at least I know she can & will read them without too much fussing, unlike her math which is fast becoming the last great taboo, totally unmentionable, guaranteed to have both of us scowling at the stupid stuff & muttering unmentionable things under our breaths. Ditz will do anything, promise anything, to get out of math. I love it so much that I am always tempted to accept her generous offers!

I am looking forward to starting this core! Our Irish friends are taking Ditz with them to the movies on Tuesday so I will have the day to sort myself out & make sure I've ordered everything I need to start. Our lovely supplier lets me order piecemeal so I am not up for a huge amount up front & just order before I get to the end of my supplies. It is far kinder to my budget. I have all the history so can wait on the readers as Ditz is still finishing up core 5 readers but my Irish friend couldn't believe the books we got & how much Ditz was expected to read over the next few months. Yes, well, reading is not the problem in this house! The math is slowly going down like the Titanic, unmourned by anyone. I think I want a very practical, concrete math for next year ~ something along the lines of household management or How to Ensure Your Music Manager isn't Ripping you off Thousands of Dollars 101. Something Ditz can relate to. I could be looking for a while. Somehow Ditz doesn't relate to anything mathamatical.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Money for water.

Wells...a place where there is water...a place to quench one's thirst...a place of refreshment in an arid landscape. Yesterday we visited such a well. No, not a literal well, a metaphorical well; my favourite sort of well ~ a bookstore; better yet a Christian bookstore.

Koorong actually means watering hole or oasis & living where we do with limited access to all things mainland & limited (very limited) choices in all things Christian a visit to the Brisbane store is a rare & much appreciated treat. Now Liddy has her own car & is working again she couldn't wait to load Ditz & I up & go & blow a pay packet here...while the 20% off sale was on! She came home loaded down with books & CDs. Ditz already has her eye on at least one of those CDs & I'm sure it will walk out of one bedroom & into another very shortly!

Liddy was all done before I'd even begun to look & predictably what I wanted Koorong didn't hold; it is very mainstream & I am anything but mainstream. *sigh* Which is not to say I came home empty handed. I got Ditz a book for her upcoming birthday & given my opinon on much of what is considered acceptable children's Christian literature that in itself is something of a miracle. I got Liddy, who hadn't seen it, a book about BJ, dead at 17 from bubonic plague (they think) after serving as a missionary in Peru; Liddy has her eyes on the street kids of Brazil but the Lord seems to be growing her up before sending her out & I am treasuring this time I still have with her because once she goes I don't think we will see her very often in this world. I got me another CD by Edens Bridge, which no doubt one of the girls will eventually nab. I was also eyeing off Eric Liddell's biography for Liddy but I know it's coming up in Sonlight so decided to wait though flicking through the final pages I was very struck by the authors comments on the difficulty of being an elite sportsperson in this day & age & also a Christian. Almost impossible, & we have been learning how true that is this year.

Liddy did most of the driving although predictably she does not like driving in the city & it is very tiring for both of us. I have to remain as alert as she does without access to the brake! We stopped at the Bay for hamburgers & icecreams before coming home to one very unhappy cat. Iss does NOT like changes in our rountine & sits outside waiting until we arrive home ~ rain, hail or sunshine. He's quite mad. As we pile out of the car he rushes to greet us, tail high, uttering his warbling greeting chirrups, shoots between everyone's legs to be first in the door & promptly demands food although Dearest always remembers to feed him. Iss is a cat; he lets no~one forget him! Yes, he climbed into my lap for big cuddles then came to bed with me & snuggled in the crook of my arm possessively. I love him but I do think he's looney tunes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All my duckies...& then some.

I had all my ducks nicely lined up in a row. Truly I did. O.K we were over extended but that's life when you live on an island & have to travel for everything & have lots of kids all doing different things but you know I had my duckies lined up beautifully....

Because I'm not good about giving my mind to mundane but necessary matters. Line 'em up & hit the automatic pilot is my motto. So making adjustments throws me into a panic. It takes me weeks to realign my automatic pilot. I forget things ~ like kids. I miss boats. I don't get to where I should be & I certainly don't get there on time.

All this to say Liddy brought home her shift schedule & I flipped. I have a major reschedule to do. In the middle of term. Halfway through the year. This is not good news for anyone. Dearest must be roped in to do car runs so we can juggle everything. Dearest prefers not to be roped in but sometimes it is unavoidable. I don't want to think about it so I'm not going to anymore. Instead I'm going to bore you with yet another ensemble tale because watching a truly professional teacher at work fascinates me. The rest of you might prefer to skip this bit.

I can't help myself. I go armed with a book, preferably thick & fascinating; in last night's case, M.M Kaye's autobiography about growing up in the Raj's India & I least until something grabs my attention & I get drawn in to the fascination of seeing how a musician pulls together her ensemble. I can't help myself....I already said that. What people do & why they do do it is riveting stuff.

Last night I watched Alison match up voices, pair by pair, explaining as she went about colour & tone & competing for *airwaves*, looking for voices that complemented each other, then voices that would complement them, voice by voice, section by section. It took all rehearsal ~ mature voices to ground fly~away ones; rich voices to undercut clear ones, voices like the deep swell of the sea & voices like ringing crystal; thin whispery voices & voices rasping like gravel. I think that's the first time I've listened to the ensemble voice by voice. It still amazes me that just by standing a singer on the opposite side of another singer the whole sound of what they are singing changes! At the end everyone had their ensemble position for the Britten carols. Ditz, for the present is on her own. I ain't a~goin' there!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wet Wednesday.

There's little that's more outright depressing than a dank day with the rain coming down the passage in fitful scuds & the wind straight off the pole.
Even the cat's not impressed. Ditz is snuggled deep in her purple doona pretending she's still asleep.
This is what I consider to be a baking day, filling the cold house with warmth & the cheery smell of good things cooking while I try not to contemplate heading out into it later on today to take Ditz to choir. Anything else, if I suggested a day off because of the weather, Ditz would be ok with that but choir is sacrosant. Come hell or high water, fire, flood or famine Ditz will front up for choir so I might as well put a cheerful face on it but oooh, it's nasty out there. (((Brrrr!)))

Monday, July 21, 2008

Of cats & pies.

Ditz has been *cat sitting* for friends. While Ditz did the grotty jobs of cleaning bowls & litter trays Liddy & I played. Deafne is...well, deaf...& very into her cuddles.

Indy is a cat of another colour entirely. She is very young & smart as & has been trained to jump over a stick on command. Ditz was in charge of ensuring she didn't forget her trick while her owners are away!

Then I have been giving pastry lessons to Dearest who wanted to learn how to make meat pies. Here is his effort...& they were very, very yummy.

Liddy absconded with the leftover pastry to turn out small lemon meringue pies. Those lemons sure are coming in handy!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Considering God's Creation: a Science curriculum.

There is a difference between a *hands on* learner & an *arts 'n' crafts kid*. I've had both sorts so I'm pretty aware of the differences. Ditz is in the latter category. We are talking a kid who won't do the science experiments, won't use manipulatives for math, thinks *acting out* for history too silly for words & promptly acquires *brain fog* if you suggest she should at least try these things.

Now this is not necessarily a problem for things like English (somehow drama is acceptable) or history (because we can draw lots) or math (which is not usually taught in a hands on manner anyway) but becomes excruciatingly difficult with science which seems to think people need to do things in order to learn about them. I have a fellow feeling for friends who banned science experiments when their child scorched a huge hole in their new carpet.

So finding a science curriculum that accommodates my child's predominant learning style becomes something of a challenge, especially when it's coupled with giftedness in non academic areas. Brains to burn if you can just do it right.

Our main science curriculum is Apologia. It's a great curriculum...& Ditz is struggling big time. It requires academic aptitude. Not Ditz's forte. I suffer from the same sort of blonde moments as my daughter so ordered science as our bible curriculum. I don't even want to ask how I got there but got there we did.

So Considering God's Creation is the curriculum I should have ordered for science & didn't. We get to do it anyway. If you don't like cutting & pasting & colouring don't ever order this curriculum. There's lots of cutting & lots of pasting & plenty of colouring & Ditz & I are perfectly content because we are happy to cut & paste & colour. This is an almost perfect curriculum for a visual/spatial learner. There is variety ~ of subject & approach.

Ditz had a ball putting all the flower bits together. She was less enthused about grasshopper bits or snake heads

The comic strip Bird in Flight , which makes the duck appear to actually be flying charmed her ~ as an artist!

I'm not sure what age this is aimed at. The CD is a little young for us so we haven't used it & because it's a supplementary curriculum I haven't followed the guidelines all that closely. What I do know is that freed of the high academic expectations of Apologia, freed of Scientific method & experimentation, & the need to be strictly factual Ditz still enjoys her science.

As an abstract, speculative, theoretical thinker myself I am less concerned with a strictly scientific approach to science. I prefer, like Mary to 'ponder these things in my heart' so that walking at night under the stars with Ditz & Liddy, speculating on the true nature of black holes & whether if we could get a camera big enough & far enough out into space it would really be possible to *photograph the past*, to speculate whether Hawkins expanding/shrinking universe is in fact *breathing* that Liddy charmed exclaimed, 'I never knew that! Why don't they teach science like that in school?'

I know there is a place for real science but I will never make a scientist & I'm pretty sure Ditz won't either. We still have a deep appreciation for certain aspects of our own strange, quirky, artsy way. OK so photosynthesis is a word Ditz has already forgotten but her carnivorous plant garden is awesome! Guess which I prefer!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lemons & Kidney Beans.

We have been picking lemons ~ like this! They are huge, the size of grapefruit & lovely & juicy, not all thick skin & pith. Lovely after a hot game of soccer. We are out of lemon/lime butter (doesn't take long in this house) so we are off to buy some proper butter so we can make some more. Liddy has cravings...

And this is Ditz's body ~ complete with *parts*. She didn't mind the bones but the intestines rather grossed her out. Good thing it's not in techni~colour ~ & we're not adding any either! I must admit this was plenty of fun to make & the way we prefer to learn but there is a reason I took literature & drama at Uni ~ um, no, I don't do *insides* either, which means I made Ditz do it all to anguished, 'Ooh, that's gross/nasty/feral'. Then I had to tell her, yes it's true her kidneys look like beans (there's a reason for the term kidney bean). She may never eat baked beans again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A woman's heart is in her kitchen

The heart of the home is the kitchen. It used to be literally true.Women have a need to personalise their kitchens; the pretty coffee mugs displayed, the dresser with it's company crockery, dainty tablecloths & baskets of fruit, a pot of mint beside the sink. The centuries may have passed but some things never change.
Sigurd Towrie
When I go back to Scotland this is the kitchen I most want to visit! O.k, I know it's roofless & exposed to the inclement Scottish weather but this is the kitchen guaranteed to change your ideas about Neolithic man. I could really go for a stone dresser like this!
Skara Brae is the village that disappeared for centuries under Orcadian sand until the great storm of 1850 brought it to light again. The archaeologists have had a field day with it! It has the oldest Neolithic houses in Britain.

In the centre of the home is the kitchen & make no mistake; this was a home. In the centre is the hearth with the special stone for cooking good Scots griddle cakes, which are a picklet or small pancake. Perhaps they had honey on them; heather honey. There is the clay lined pit for holding water & perhaps fresh seafood. There is the huge stone dresser & big stone storage bins. I guess they'd keep the mice out.

I want to wander in this kitchen & imagine what the woman who ruled the hearth here displayed on her dresser. She would have had something she treasured that she kept here: a whalebone comb intricately carved, a pretty bowl, a necklace of beads & feathers & bits of bone, a sharp flint knife, an idol maybe, something that drew her eyes & made her heart sing as she changed the heather bedding, aired the animal skin covers, prepared meals & tended her folk. We aren't that different. The centuries shrink to fit in a woman's kitchen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Musical chairs.

I'm odd. I have missed being assaulted by strange sounds twice weekly. As I tucked into Wars of the Irish Kings I found myself thinking that a trained choir singing scales was rather a pleasant sound. Hm. Yes, well...

To say nothing of Ditz, who was quite extraordinary last night. I have failed to appreciate the gifts that child has. Between fog & rain & errands we found ourselves running late last night & scrambling for seats just as Alison began class. To my astonishment there were two other mothers there but my curiosity wasn't particularly roused. There is so much oddity from week to week what is a little more?

Frankly I wasn't all that sure we were off to a good start. Ditz was off with the fairies & Alison pegged her with her first question. That woke Ditz up all right & she began paying attention properly.

The dictation has been over my head for some time & is now moving into more complicated time signatures that my poor little unmusical brain simply cannot grasp at all. What I do grasp, as a chronic people watcher, is which children are most likely to have the answers or to volunteer themselves; not Ditz, who has yet to master the art of raising her hand. Her idea of raising her hand is to rest her elbow on the edge of the desk & waggle a pencil vaguely in the air. Maybe I need to do a lesson on correct classroom procedure?

So asked to sing back what they've just heard I know which children are going to put their hand up to solo & if they fluff it who Alison is most likely to call upon; not Ditz, who has no qualms about subjecting me to her outrageous performances in the safety of her own home. I started paying attention when I heard the timing go all over the place & the high notes flubbed. One down. Another hand, another child, same problemo & no~one else was offering to be the sacrificial lamb. I don't even know if it was difficult but while I'm waiting to see how Alison will tackle the mutiny in the ranks Ditz does her little pencil waggle. Yep. Coulda knocked me down with a feather. She nailed it. That strange sound you're hearing is my jaw hitting the floor. That child is not consistent. She fluffs the easy stuff, nails the hard stuff, makes mad mistakes in stuff she knows backwards, forwards & inside out then makes wild guesses at stuff she's never heard of & gets it right!

As we're waiting for the advanced students to arrive for rehearsals another mother approached me to tell me what a great voice my child has. I am so used to Ditz I take her, her voice & her music for granted. I haven't spent time comparing her voice to other voices. I have only been concerned that she is behaving herself, that she is coping in a classroom situation, that she is coping with the work, enjoying herself... & that Alison is happy with her. It is very important that Alison is happy with her!

In rehearsals Ditz, who is singing seconds, stands next to the boy with the best & loudest voice & happily cognizant that he is effectively drowning her out she has been letting rip...until she realised he'd dropped out & it was her alone making all the noise! She was most put out with him & I got to hear all about it all the way home.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Home again, school again.

We are back up & running school wise & Ditz is looking good. Glimpses of maturity & just doing what she knows needs to be done. Just when I think things are one way she changes on me & we are on a different tangent altogether.

We have been doing Considering God's Creation, which was to be our bible study but which is a much better fit for science though putting together a human body rather turned Ditz's stomach & I have given warning I do not do dissections! Ever! Period. I am so not a good scientist but then neither is Ditz so that's all right.

Most of our day yesterday was taken up with putting this together. It just seemed sensible to put it all together at once then come back & do all the lessons. When it came to the drawing part Ditz was fanatical about colour layering to get the richness of her hair & the shades in her eyes. I swear she's getting worse!

Actually bible curriculum is the one thing I don't feel I've got a grip on at all & I am so fed up with looking & trying stuff that is just a really terrible fit for us. I have sent Ditz back to just reading her bible chapter by chapter for the present though I am considering trying the Character Journal. Ditz can cope with deep stuff but is not yet ready for apologetics & I'm at my wits end. Where are all the really excellent bible studies for homeschoolers? After all, lots of us Christian homeschoolers base our whole philosophy on biblical principals. Maybe I'm just too fussy? *sigh* Even though most of our curriculum is coming from a strong Christian worldview I really feel the need to have some proper bible study, especially as Ditz seems determined to head into the hotbed of secular insanity in the arts arena. We are already feeling the effects & I want Ditz to really understand what she believes & why it is important to stay strong.

I am still waiting on the new curriculum arriving. I hope it's not too much longer as we are very close to being done with this lot of readers & Ditz usually starts with her reading so she doesn't even have to get out of bed but can stay snuggled on these wet, drippy days surrounded by hot Milo, buttered toast & purring cat.

Liddy meanwhile has been sounded out as to whether or not she'd be interested in doing some occasional travelling to fix small IT problems. She was thrilled & could hardly wait to get home & talk about it. Even if it never eventuates she's simply delighted to have been asked. That she is still a non~driver is not a problem & nor was it that she blurted she'd have to discuss it with us first. Funny girl. A few raised eyebrows but Liddy just said she's got a close relationship & she'd like our feedback. She is so happy in her new job but she always does better working with the men & I just hope things are still cruisy when the stocking is done & she moves in to her regular job on the registers.

And now we are back on our regular punishing schedule & the rain is dripping down my body has betrayed me & I have come down with another terrible cold. I haven't been so constantly sick in years. I am girding my mind for the fray & pray I manage to keep my temper in check. Being sick makes me very bad tempered & me being bad tempered makes Ditz growly. I do not want a growly Ditz, especially not when she is cultivating the right attitude!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Training Daughters.

I am blessed. I have an older daughter who is now perfectly capable of teaching her younger sibling so when we were given an excess of lemons & limes Liddy promptly moved into the kitchen to make lemon butter with Ditz. Liddy & I then promptly ate the lot. There wasn't a skeric left this morning. We did however still have plenty of limes & a lone lemon so lemon/lime butter it was. It was lovely to find I really didn't have to teach Ditz anything. She busily went to work cutting & squeezing & measuring all on her own & did plenty of the hard work of whisking as well. She is becoming a very competant cook ~ but then all mine love their food & have learnt to cook well in self defence.

This is the end result....& it is very yummy. If it lasts long enough I will make some small lemon meringue tartlets for desert one evening. Keeping it that long is highly dubious. Everyone in this house eats it by the spoonful. Why waste such a glorious taste on toast?

The good news is that we have an open invitation to help ourselves to the bounty for its duration so there are plenty more lemons & limes where these came from. More lemons & limes means we can make more butter. Ditz is going to be very good at this before we are done!

Rejoice with us!

I hate changes. It means I have to stop & think. It means I can't operate on automatic pilot. It means I have to hoe a new groove in my schedule. Change upsets me so changing churches has really thrown me off balance. I struggle to be organised & make boats. I feel angry because I've been forced to make the change. I resent all the extra effort it is requiring to get us to church each week & when the weather is bad I just won't make the effort. I can't cope with being wet as well as cold. I have a bad attitude but the change was necessary & I am adjusting slowly.

All that being said my soul is singing within me this morning. Liddy & I had agreed to try the youth service this week, as much because her work schedule looks like the morning service is out for her. As we prepared to leave the island I wanted nothing more than to say we'd go another week. I was tired & crotchety. My day should have been winding down not gearing up for trips to the mainland. My temper was fraying & an over tired Ditz was being difficult. We left Ditz at home.

Liddy had asked one of her friends along & if we'd had another spare seat Ditz had two she wanted to bring. As it was it was just the three of us. Now bluntly I am struggling in this church. It is too big, too loud, too many distractions ( thank heavens for Meeting once a month!) but the preaching is excellent & we are being fed. I will put up with a lot if the preaching is good. So I was expecting worse from the youth service.

This is something I've never actually experienced before. Youth services were a fairly new innovation when I was Liddy's age so seeing 50 ~ 60 young adults on fire for the Lord, singing their hearts out, waving their hands, dancing on the spot was a wow! moment.

When Liddy is happy she lights up from within. Quakers talk about the inner light & letting your inner light shine. You really see that in Liddy when she is spiritualy fed & I watched her light up last night. She was absolutely glowing. There were a whole bunch of kids just returning from a mission trip. There were Christian concerts & events being advertised where she could fellowship with even more youth. And the preaching was absolutely fantastic!!! Liddy soaked it up like a dry sponge. They were still going when we left for the boat.

That alone would have made it all worthwhile but the best was yet to come. Liddy's friend is a little shy about spiritual matters & Lid & I can rattle on happily for hours, which can be intimidating. She comes from a non~Christian background though she used to attend the island Sunday school. Last time we took her to the morning service & it pretty much went over the top of her head. Last night she shyly confessed she likes this church. Praise the Lord! She understood the sermon. She has been encouraged in her fairly new walk with the Lord. She's been strengthened ~ everything you want when you bring someone new to church! O.K, like Lid she prefers the evening service but that it fine. I would go to greater lengths than this to grow on the next generation of Christians.

Now this is a church that likes to put all its members into *life groups* for prayer, bible study, encouragement & accountability & I have been fretting because I really, really don't want to have to travel yet again, not for any reason. Brainwave! I will run it past Dearest & Liddy, but we have enough between us to start our own small *life group*. It has the feel of the Lord's thumbprints on it. I am excited. I feel blessed. Knowing the move is right makes all the hassle worthwhile.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Changes, changes...

The boys hired a houseboat for their 21st & had about 12 friends on board for the weekend. I don't know how much fun it really was as the weather turned nasty with wind & rain but Dino tells me they ate well so it wasn't all bad.

Yesterday Ditz, Issi & I went down the hill to clean up along the beach & make sure Dino had secured his boat like he said he had. He has left for 2 months up north where the roads are all dirt & pot holes & the crocs abound in the waterholes.

He comes & goes the Dino does but we miss him when he's not around & without any of the boys in the house at all it is a very different household, quieter, less hectic, less t.v, more Christian music. With Liddy working Ditz & I may actually be able to really get some solid work done this term. Hmmm. Now there's a thought to make Ditz's little heart sing!

We have friends on the Island from Ireland (lol, don'tcha love it?) at present so the Ditzy one is having a sleepover ~ so thrilled. She's not allowed many of these. Liddy is temporarily an only child & wants to know why can't it always be like this? Looks like we are going to end our holidays with a bang!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I love to watch how God works in His people's lives, like watching a garden grow. Things go along & go along & seemingly nothing much happens & then, all of a sudden, there's a wonderful flower!

Liddy's gift is missions & outreach. She has been quietly exercising her gift on the island & has a group of girls she wants to bring to church. I am calculating the number of seats in her small car & we have been discussing which service would be best as we have yet to go to an actual youth service. I wish she had her open license as that would free her up a seat but we work with what we have, right?

Her new job has been going along nicely too...until she was asked about working weekends as they'd like her in a supervisory role at those times. Liddy is a tad worried. She doesn't want to jeopardise her new job but we have church & soccer commitments. The soccer we think we can juggle but church is something of a worry unless we commit to the evening service, which, coincidentally is the youth service. Another evening I'm not home & we will be eating funny meals. Watching all the ducks line up in a row leaves me gasping.

When things start happening they tend to happen quickly. Liddy has girls asking to come to church with us & we are planning an evening service soon if the weather will only co~operate. Ditz, who has been the lone ranger in church for so many years has been absolutely delighted to find other kids her own age who are committed Christians & that she can invite her own friends along as well ~ so long as we have the seats available. I will be very interested to see how the youth service differs from the main service myself & what music they choose to use.

I'm not the social bunny in this house, merely the chauffeur for all the social bunnies so I am always surprised when things fall in my lap; & fall they must. I never seek them out. People like Liddy, who actively outreach astonish me, not because I am embarrassed by Christ, but because I always remember how much I hated people badgering me about Christianity when I wasn't a Christian & what a waste of time it was speaking to me so I never do it myself. I think it's rude when it's unsolicited. Liddy is always being asked things that allow her to speak about the gospel. I rarely am. However I do get the ocassional odd request like the one I got last week.

'I'm not a church going peron myself but next time you're in church would you say a prayer for me?'

Answer: yes, of course. I'd like to have added, but wouldn't you rather talk to God yourself, face to face, so to speak only I've discovered people have some funny ideas about God & only ask because they don't feel able to pray themselves so I guess that's my prayer for this particular person: that they are enabled to approach the throne of grace on their own behalf.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Along the catwalk.

Today is the first fine day we've had after a week of rain so I decided to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes, one I rarely have time for in the hustle & bustle of term time; I decided to go for a walk along the waterfront. Ditz graciously decided I needed *alone time* so didn't come with me.
It was cool out but it is always much warmer at the bottom of the hill. The wind scoots over the top leaving the mangroves toasty warm. I started down the hill between the dripping ferns with pleasant anticipation. I hadn't got very far when there was a sqwark of protest behind me & a plaintive, 'Where are you?' meow. Iss had spotted me. I don't know what it is with our animals. They always end up confused. The cats think they're dogs & refuse to be left behind on walks. I sighed. Iss is pretty vocal on walks. If I lag behind he hurries me up, if I get too far ahead he cries a protest, when he's had enough he insists on being picked up & carried.
We haven't walked in a while. Iss shot between my legs & down the path. So much to do! Sniff the wild hibiscus.
Investigate the rotting dingies.
Roll in the sand & scamper about like a madman.
Well? Aren't you coming? At this time of the year the tides don't leave much in the beachcombing line but there were plenty of small birds ~ honeyeaters, flycatchers, bee~eaters, bronze wing pigeons, in great coulds of dusky feathers ~ & these jeweled beetles on the mangrove leaves.
We walked to the point where Dino's boat lay like a beached seal.
Exhausting. Iss stopped for a rest & a quick wash before noticing I didn't need to do the same & hurtled after me.
Poor boy. He's not real keen on the rocks.
There are 7 different sorts of mangroves here. You really needed to know that didn't you? I adore mangroves. They are fascinating. Each type grows at a different tide mark busily building new soil, claiming land from the sea far more efficiently than any Dutchman.
This, oh so originaly, is known as *the big pile of rocks*! Lots of crab holes & a favourite haunt of children for pirate treasure hunts & decaying medievial castles.
I have seen Ginger's kids' treehouse; this is not like that! I haven't ever been game to ask how the kids hauled all that timber up into the tree but up it most certainly is & there are no rails! I guess they figured they'd be falling into either mud or water if the worst came to the worst but no~one's ever fallen out yet.
Iss decided he'd had enough & led the way home again.

The cat has cabin fever!

The psychotic one has lost the plot. It has been raining here, raining hard enough to float Noah's ark. Iss likes rain, but not the sort of rain we've been having, the sort that thunders down like a heavenly waterfall turning the paths into gushing rivers & the garden into a lake.
I keep a litter tray inside for him but like all my cats Iss prefers to go outside & has his regular times when he expects to be let out & I will find him sitting patiently beside a door waiting hopefully for someone to notice.
Beside the door is where I found him yesterday morning.
'You won't like it, boy,' I warned him as I opened the door.
He didn't. He stuck a cautious nose around the door & surveyed the downpour in disgust, gingerly picked his way down the sodden steps & along the path ~ a whole 3 cats steps, hesistated amidst the swirls of gushing water, turned tail & shot back up the steps & through the door so fast his wet paws skidded along the wooden floor.
Iss had serious cabin fever. All day he bounced at people, shaking himself like a fluffy mop, begging to be played with, rubbed & tumbled & cosseted & petted, fed tidbits & chatted to.
Sometime last night the rain stopped. When I let Iss out he surveyed the sunshine with smug satisfaction & meandered down the steps with an arrogant waggle of his rear end, king again of his small domain. I haven't seen him since. The air is rich with that fresh rainwashed smell & golden with sunshine. The birds are delirious with joy; all's right with Iss' world.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Arthur's Tintagel?

I don't remember a time when my imagination was not possessed by images of Arthur, the *Once & Future King*, symbolically a Christ figure, though flawed. Nor was I possessed by the medieval tale as most people know it, though that is certainly where I began.
No, my imagination was fired by the thought that he might have been real & thus began my long fall into love with archaeology.

Tintagel is the suppossed birthplace of Arthur & I tend to believe that the old stories contain kernels of truth & that is why they survive down through the centuries & only a fool would totally discredit them. So I tend to the theory that Arthur was, in fact, a real person, a real war leader of the late 5th, early 6th century. What his true name was & where his actual Camelot was is still open to speculation though some theories are more probable than others.

So when I was in England I desparately wanted to visit Tintagel & travel through the west country. It is most beautiful & apart from the Lake District my favourite part of England. (Scotland & Wales are separate Now I know what remains on Tintagel promatory is the remains of a 13 century castle. I also know that excavations have revealed a huge trade in medeterrian chattles in the 5th/6th century, our time reference ~ something only a very rich household could have managed. The household was a Celtic household & the castle went over the top of an old Celtic fort.

Unlike Stonehenge Tintagel was an awesome experience. As I waslked over the narrow causeway with the Cornish surf pounding the rocks & narrow beach below & the gulls screaming overhead I thought of Merlin doing his desparate trip late at night, a new born Arthur clutched against his chest ~ & shuddered.

There are ghosts everywhere amongst the ruins of Tintagel. The past presses down without weight & one can look out on the vastness of the ocean as Arthur may once have looked & one gets a sense of time pinched between the fingers of God as a small thing without substance.

I like wild places & Tintagel is still wild. On 3 sides the ocean growls about the cliff face, gnawing away at the Cornish rocks. Only the narrowest spit of land connects Tintagel to mainland Cornwall. It is now, as then, very isolated, isolated by that spit of land that has served it well as a defendable fort all down the centuries. Perched high above the water it gazes proud & solitary both across the waters that have brought so many marauders to English shores & north & east to what became England ~ Anlgeland, land of the Angles, who with the Saxons pushed the Celtic peoples ever westward into the furthest reaches of the Kingdom. It is ironic that Arthur held these very peoples at bay for a whole generation, slowing the Saxon invasion, perhaps changing the whole course of history. No wonder he has been remembered for so long.