Month: May 2016

Young and Old

Have you ever thought how quickly the years roll on? Growing up I thought that being a kid was cool; carefree, riding my bicycle, building cubbies, playing and exploring with no worries, endless risks and fun. Then the teenage years hit with pimples, school work and conflicting friendships. In my twenties I was married having children and very domesticated. You know, that never ending cycle of cleaning, washing and cooking plus babies nappies, sleepless nights and non stop exhaustion.

When the thirties and forties hit, so did the mortgage payments, stresses and growing family commitments. Mind you there was travel and adventure too. Getting older meant more responsibilities and more experiences to pass on to others. Well the fifties involved weddings in the family, marital stresses, losing loved ones and finding satisfaction in work. Fast forward to my aged Aunty who is 96 and I cannot believe that life has stretched this long for her – an example of courage, determination and a stubborn nature.

Dear Aunty Maggie, my mother’s sister, who lies in a fragile state, thin, bony yet aware of the small things in life like my smallish and cute grand children who visit with me. The contrast between them and her is amazing – their energy, her stillness; their playfulness, her tiredness; their chatter, her silence; their youth, her ripe age.

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Maggie the matriarch on the right, and the young ones on the left. Well me, not so young.

She looks at us, posing for a photo, awaken from her sleep with my words, “Hello Mag, it’s me, Margaret. It’s good to see you!” It takes some time before she really responds so the children greet her with a smile and a story; the youngest one in arms, a bit scared. Soon I see the smile appear on her face. They bring her joy and a little change in the day.

Now Elijah is safe in Grandma’s arms at the nursing home, while back in his own home, he’s a happy chappy with the vacuum cleaner – noisy, playful and curious- the best toy ever. He loves the fun!

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How beautiful to know that at every age there is magic and mystery. Old can be frightening especially if the magic and fun has gone. Old can bring precious memories that are stored like lollies in a jar ready to taste. Old can bring grace and acceptance, solitude and sacrifice. Old means you have lived many years.

I am glad that I have someone to consider loving who is “old”; likewise, I am happy to share in the excitement and nonsense of “young”; grand children who bring a bit of mayhem and madness into daily routines.

What both young and old need every day is a hug.

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A hug that is warm like a summer’s day. A hug that ┬ásurprises like a peek-a-boo game; a hug that simply tells them they are loved.

 

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Do you find young and old frustrating, funny or fascinating? WHY?

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A Taste of Morocco

A gathering of friends around for dinner gave me an opportunity to cook Moroccan. I have 2 tagines, 2 cook books and 2 Fez hats. Because I like colour, I decided to decorate the chairs and table outdoors and enjoy the full moon in the cool of the evening. There’s always some spice to taste when chicken is soaked in lemons and green olives, sprinkled with ground ginger, cumin and cinnamon. And sweet potato and pumpkin are cooking in dates and coriander.

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My guests were both local friends from Mapleton and special friends up from Brisbane. Ones who had lived in Sydney and left for the Hinterland; others who are travelling and retiring to the pretty Gerringong not far from Sydney. And ones who have hiked the trails of the Sunshine Coast, volunteered hours in the library and Men’s shed and are about to embark on a China tour bird watching.

Our conversations varied from grand children, a baby only 5 weeks old to a fifteen year old who lives in Barcelona. Conversations that brought laughs and laughter about people, habits, jobs, aging well, doggy tales, travel stories, the garden, writing a book etc. It got me thinking a lot about the art of conversation. The manner in which we speak to one another. The cues, hand gestures, facial expressions and sounds. The beginning of sentences and the end of sentences. The reading between the lines. The funny stories and shared giggles. Eye contact and understanding. Because it rained at the last moment, my outdoor venue changed. We all scrambled inside carrying the bright cushions, throws and tablecloth.

In one way it allowed us all to be more intimate around the dining room table even if the golden moon was missing. The conversations began about travelling – China, New York, Melbourne, Sydney, East Africa ; the men cracked a few jokes while the women added their feminine slant. Music and theatre . Words rolled out. We sat, ate and listened to stories and asked questions. Wine was sipped.

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Some of my friends are natural storytellers. Others bounce off the other or embellish a part. There was a story about aircraft travelling and its safety; book talks and recommendations; how to publish a best seller; renovating; kid’s parties, concerts and more.

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I wonder in our busy frantic, digital world whether families, couples, children are making time for decent and real conversations where we are both vulnerable, sensitive and observant. I wonder whether we honestly take the time to remember what people are doing, commenting to them about their interests, ideas and struggles?

A little conversation my three year old grandson had with me in his sandpit went like this,

Grandma – I’ve just been bitten by ants!

Child – Grandma, do you want a band aid?

Grandma – No I,m Ok. It’s not hurting that much. Have you got any ouchies?

Child – Yes, one here ( he points to his toe) one here ( he points to his ankle), one here ( he shows me his forehead)

Grandma – You’re a great digger!

Child – I can put all the sand in this pile. Now here’s a big hole.

Grandma – Keep digging. Good boy.

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Have you met up with some amazing friends lately and had a great conversation? Share a part of this with me and how did it go?

 

 

 

 

Make Love not War

A recent sixties party celebration in honour of a fine Maths teacher gave cause for fantastic dress ups, speeches, dancing and an evening of dining and wining. Therefore, I was on the hunt for an outfit to suit the occasion,so browsed the op shops until I was satisfied with a Mary Quant look – hey presto, a different me! A beehive hair style, boots ( couldn’t get the white ones in time) and a geometric design of a mini to match the stockings.IMG_1121

Now the sixties was a decade of hippies, bold colours, The Beatles, Twiggy, Nancy Sinatra, Bob Dylan beats, Make love not war, Martin Luther King, the landing on the moon, Barbie and Ken, white hoop earrings, John Lennon dark glasses and space themes.

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It was a turning point, a decade of promise and heartbreak. It contained hope and failure, innocence and cynicism. It contained the flower children and assassins, rebellion and backlash. Well fashionable rebellion was the evening’s fun theme and as we gathered together I found it funny to watch my fellow staff colleagues enter through the door in new disguises ranging from tie dye, psychedelic hippie to Sgt Peppers band.

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Speaking of dress ups, my grand son turned 3! an age of innocence yet super hero status! And the best place to dress up and celebrate is outdoors in a beautiful park. Now imagine mums and dads plus kiddies all revved up to be Batman, Spiderman, Ninja Turtle, Wonder woman and Captain America. This comic themed event boasted a Spiderman cake, buntings, balloons, and presents galore. These little guardians of the galaxy went a little mad as they raised their arms, chased each other, and flashed their super powers throughout the morning. Us adults chatted and ate, nursing babies, snapping photos, escaping the noise, dusting off the fallen, soothing the injured and flying like me, grandma!

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Isn’t this cute! The innocence of love, friendship and fun! I think I am so blessed to be able to experience both a grown ups party and a child’s. To reflect on the importance of celebrating a birthday whether 50 or 3, that life is precious, family and friends are valued and endearing moments charged with love. Whether it’s blowing out 3 candles or being embarrassed by surprises and sentimental speeches at mid-life, it’s worthwhile finding the times to celebrate life.

When I return home smiling and feeling the tiredness hit me, I kick off my boots, dress down and go to sleep where I dream about being rescued by Batman or loved by the caped crusader children. Tell me your super hero tale.

 

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Are you the potter or the clay?

Have you ever squished a lump of clay in your hands? Feeling the weight and smell of the clay as you mould it into a shape. Last weekend I had an invitation to attend the firing of pots in an amazing wood fire kiln up at Maleny. Dave Handley the potter was excited and apprehensive about whether his long hours of productivity would be successful, whether the dozens of pots would come out perfect, chipped, cracked , marred or useless.

The small audience gathered to watch and witness this event in the windy, cool mountains and spectacular views of the Glasshouse Mountains. I had no idea what was going to happen. Curiosity caused me to ask many questions. Many answers were given.

40 years of thinking process and time goes into this magical, transforming event. The building of the kiln for starters took a year. There’s the right mixture of earth and water, the perfect combination of ingredients, shape, size, the control of the clay, the right glazes, the firing process etc.

It’s knowing about the impurities, the temperature, the setting up and design process.

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The finished work can be scary and gut wrenching as you wait over time to see that beautiful work of art. It makes me think of the verse in the Bible, ” we are the clay. You are the potter,” referring to God. “And all of us are the work of your hand.”

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If we allow God to mould and shape us, I guess we are vulnerable to the heat and troubles that come our way. We may come through strong and beautiful or chipped and broken.

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The same weekend saw the Anzac celebrations and sentiment in Mapleton, a time of reflecting upon the strength and courage of past diggers, laying the wreaths and honouring the veterans. My son and grand daughter proudly wore medals as they marched at Oxley in Brisbane to remember the brave soldiers. In a way, I see my son as shaping, moulding and refining her understanding of war and memory so that she can grasp a little of the sprit of Anzac Day. At her tender age of 5, she needs the proper balance between knowing, understanding and figuring out what he has taught her. Grandad’s medals are so special to wear and value.

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Now back to the potter Dave, I can say with excitement and joy that, WOW! about 80 plus pots of all shapes and sizes came out with stunning glazes and designs, warm in hand and admirable in presentation. A few didn’t work well and got stuck. Overall, these unique pieces all stood proud on a shelf and in his studio ready for sale in the future.

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Have you ever had a moment when your finished work was perfect? or damaged?

Did you quietly cheer yourself or swear under your breath?

Share a story with me.