30 June 2013

The end of an era. The beginning of history.

When my Great Aunt Cis was born in 1922, she was not yet an Aunt and not yet great.  She was but a tiny scrap of humanity,  arrived early. The world hadn't got around to inventing humidicribs and the like to maximise the chances of premature babies so the neighbours rallied around providing hot water bottles to keep her mother's bed at a constant temperature.  She lived. And then she lived.

Late last week her husband of 65 years, seven children, 17 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, almost 20 nieces and nephews, various great-nieces and great-nephews and around 300 people gathered in a church in Brisbane to farewell Cis and mark the passing of a generation.


If nothing else it was easy to recognise that people really liked Aunty Cis. A lot.

It's a truth when I say that at the time of my passing, if my daughters say even 1/20th of the nice things her children said about her in her eulogy I could consider my stint as a mother a success.  But it is when you put her success as a mother in context - as one part of her incredible, complex and long life that you realise being committed to a life lived positively - it is not just a new age concept.

I did not know Aunty Cis as well as many others do.  I do know that I learnt things about her as I listened to her eulogy.  I understood her part in my own family a little more by getting a glimpse of her love for her siblings which included my grandpa, a man I never knew for myself.  I know that there are conversations and time I had with her that are irrelevant to her life story but interesting to me.  I travelled the best part of 1000 kilometres to say farewell and there were others that travelled more than twice that distance to be there.  People don't do that for the 'not nice'.

And it with the passing of Aunty Cis that a generation ends.  The last of five brothers and two sisters.  She will not be forgotten. She has left a considerable legacy as did her siblings.  But there is nobody else that lived that family's story. With her passing that story is officially history.

Vale Aunty Cis.  Go well.

25 June 2013

Carrying baggage. A modern conundrum.

We carry a lot of baggage with us these days.  And I'm not talking the ex-boyfriends, the family relationships, the work weirdo, the rude sandwich maker, the unmade apology, the parenting mistakes and missed opportunities dating back to infancy.  I'm talking 'stuff'.

It's practically impossible to get up and head off into the day without weighing yourself down with 'necessities'.  A first world problem I concur but one that affects most of us. 

Even people with pockets will have wallet, phone, car keys, headphones, spare change, handkerchief and random bottle top from the beer they had last night. And only tall skinny people with no hips can get away with pockets.  The rest of us need bags.

My every day bag
photo by me
Handbags. Man bags. Bum bags. School bags. Satchels. Backpacks. Suitcases. Briefcases. Swags. Totes. Sports bags. Duffel bags. Kit.  Lots of different names for bags to hold 'stuff'.

Somebody even recently paid $85,000 for a bag.  A Birkin one  And it's ugly. 

Basically, most days we head out of the house like some urban version of Bear Grylls, equipped for every eventuality. Notebooks, purses, wallets, phone for life, phone for work, band-aids, water bottle, pens, earphones, mandarin, lunch, diary, hand cream, computer, chargers, camera, umbrella, sun cream, head ache tablets, vitamins, bills to pay, letters to post, magazines, books, kindles, Ipads, tissues, random nappy from yesterday's day trip with small person, mouth mints, spare jumper, running shoes, flip flops, sunglasses, old receipts, newspapers, business cards, muesli bars, loose change.

And that's just the guy that sits next to me at work. Jokes. He doesn't have a purse. And the nappy was in my handbag.  I shifted it for emphasis.  

Folklore tells us is this is just women's handbags.  It's not.  Men have man bags these days. And have you seen the size of the school bags on the backs of preschoolers?  It starts early this compulsive need to carry our lives around in a bag.  Just in case. 

And only really really old people or be-suited business types are allowed to pull around their bags on wheels.  It's way too uncool for the rest of us to do it - even though we are carrying about a quarter of our body weight in 'essentials'.  

I wonder what it is like to live a life with just pockets.  I have hips so I'll never know. But to live without the weight of my world on my left shoulder has recently become a recurring thought. What does it mean?  Is this more profound thinking from the modern Confucius?

Nope, it just means I need to clean out my handbag and stop procrastinating by writing this blog. True story. 

24 June 2013

The journey from faith to science (or back)

Breaking news today:  Nik Wallenda has just walked across the Grand Canyon on a rope.

With a stick.

In jeans.

In fact he 'ran the last few metres', as you do.

And moved from thanking the good Lord for the view to thanking his sponsor, The Discovery Channel, for believing in him.

You can see the story here

Nik on his stroll across the Grand Canyon
(photo: www.news.com.au)
So what are the take homes for us mere mortals in this little bit of record making history?

It takes but 426 metres to move from faith to science.  From the appreciation of life, to the appreciation of money.

But I say the journey from science to faith is quicker.  I tripped over a mobile phone cord today and immediately called on the man above as I tumbled like a goose.  Science to faith - one metre.

20 June 2013

My sister the cancer beating ninja

I have two sisters.  They are very clever, very strong, very capable and very beautiful.  And short.  They are two of my favourite people in the world and there is nothing I wouldn't do for them.  I don't even hate them for being clever and beautiful  because I got the personality and the sense of humour and everybody knows that's what people prefer.

For context - I also have three brothers.  We are organised neatly - boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl.  We love each other all the time, even when we don't like each other. We three sisters are very close and have been since they stopped being irritating.  See, my sisters are both younger than me.  They are Little Sister and Baby Sister.  This story is about Little Sister.  Or as I like to refer to her -

J-Wren - the cancer beating ninja.

Late last year - while not quite three quarters pregnant, she was diagnosed with Oro-pharyngeal (throat) cancer which was also doing a nasty little dance in the lymph nodes in her neck.  And so, when she reached 30 weeks of baby-growing, to maximise her chances and the baby's chances, her little Baby Ninja was birthed surrounded by more medical staff than an episode of E.R.  And then J-Wren commenced 8 weeks of ritual poisoning and nuking known as chemoradiation therapy - a process which from the outside looks like no fun at all and she reliably informs me - isn't that much fun from the inside either.

And through this, her Baby Ninja was hanging out in the early baby part of the hospital getting her growing on and generally being ridiculously cute.  And then she came home.  And the race to become the first to eat solids began. And even with the poisoning complete, the healing still had to be done. And the new parenting still had to be done.  And life still had to be done.  And the Daddy Ninja through all of this was fierce, and strong and very loving and J-Wren's family have all been very thankful for her good sense in choosing such an awesome partner.  And we've all been very amused by how the most reserved and cool couple of the six have become completely gaga for Baby Ninja from day one.  Totally ruined their street cred for life.

And now we are in the "all clear" bit of the journey.  The bit where officially she has kicked cancer's butt so hard it's gone home in a massive sulk.  And she continues to heal, to mother, to partner, to live.

I have been so proud of her during this shitty shitty time.  Despite her attempting to have us both killed by arguing with armed border guards in Central America or making me sleep in brothels because she was too cheap to pay the extra 30 cents to stay in an actual youth hostel while we were backpacking - I love her very much. She's always been strong but because she is quiet, people refer to this as 'focussed', 'determined', 'resolved' whereas the same trait in me is described as 'stubborn as f**k' and a 'right pain in the arse'.

This is not the introduction to parenting she and the Daddy Ninja had planned.  They were going to birth to whale music and breastfeed until they were 47.  They were going to frolic in gardens full of hipster music and travel with baby attached to the back with sarongs and good wishes.  Instead, their lives for the last six months have been highly medicalised, hospital focussed, poison filled, immunity compromised, terrifying, uncharted and unknown.  Much more the journey of Columbus than the nightly Manly ferry.

But her resilience and her ability to adapt, to question, to learn, to roll with the punches, to embrace thankfulness, to love, to push through has been truly inspiring.  Her lack of 'Why me?' - there has been sorrow but no futile ranting at the universe (though I think it fair to say her parents, siblings and friends have battered the universe on her behalf).  She accepts it is bad luck, that she, the second healthiest of all the siblings, has just been dealt a really crappy card.

And here she is, at the other side.  Skinnier, hungry, battle weary and hopeful.  Fierce as always.  Doubly appreciative of husband and child.  Much loved and unable to cough without her entire circle of family and friends morphing into 'caring mode', something she will just have to accept for the next 50 odd years.

Strangely, it's taken most of the time she's been sick for us to get in the habit of using the 'C' word.  Cancer is ugly. It's an ugly word.  It's an ugly disease.  And its a really sneakey f**ker.  It's not like she was doing anything cancer 'causing', it just turned up uninvited and changed the world.

So, in appreciation of where she's got to and acknowledging that she's done something 'not fun', I'm committing to doing something 'not fun'.  This isn't on my bucket list and if I was going to do it I probably would have done it back when I was twenty kilograms lighter, twenty years younger and well, fit. But I kind of feel that to do nothing would be a little unappreciative.

(Drum roll) I'm going to do a 9 kilometre run on 22 September. Yes. Run.

And you have to sponsor me to do it please so that we can cure cancer and nobody else's sister has to go through this.  Or brother.  Or father, mother, aunt, uncle, friend, lover, enemy, child.  Because Cancer really blows. Like big time. Even when you're a ninja.

You can sponsor me here please: Only for my sister would I do this running caper 

17 June 2013

I am Australian and I speak for me

This is a baby me.
Photo by Dad probably
So I'm Australian.  This means that purely by chance I was conceived by Australian parents and when the time came to have me, my mother thought "I am not having a baby in England" and flew back to Australia, where I was born in Queensland, in a hospital.

Her first Australian child she had in Papua New Guinea, in a hospital.  Though if she'd known that the labour ward was the only one with air conditioning she would have pretended to be in labour about six months earlier.

Her third Australian child she had in Sydney, the fourth in Darwin and the fifth and sixth Australian children she had in Canberra.  (Dad was in the Navy.  We moved a lot back then.)

My Mum is Australian because her Dad was Australian.  Her nationality no more of her doing than mine.  Same story with my Dad.  And their parents.  Before that there was a little more proactivity with various great or great great grandparents leaving a life that was okay but not brilliant in England or Ireland to come out to Australia and provide opportunities for their children that they wouldn't get 'back home'.

They came on boats.  They were looking for a better life.

After World War II - the Germans, the Poles, the Ukrainians, the 'ten pound Poms'. And more.

In the 50s and 60s - the Hungarians, the Czechoslovakians. And more.

In the 70s and 80s - the Vietnamese, the Chileans, the El Salvadorians. And more.

In the 90s and 00s - the Bosnians, the Croatians, the Iraqis, the Sudanese, the Burmese.  And more.

You look at the surnames of our sporting heroes, our politicians, our singers, our celebrities, our colleagues, our teachers, our friends... pretty much all of them from families only in Australia for 225 years at best.

Which is nothing.  It doesn't make Australia 'ours'.

It means that if you're more than first generation Australia you've been damn lucky somebody before you thought coming here was a good idea.

Our political landscape is full of clowns but I can say that out loud without needing to fear for my life.  I think our religious institutions need to catch up with the real world but I can say that without needing to fear for my life.  I can discuss the differences between Sydney-siders and Melbournites - disparagingly if I choose and yet those differences won't see me in fear for my life.  I can see that my skin is whiter than that of my friends and yet, that skin colour doesn't mean anything apart from regular sunburn.  If I look at the opportunities available for my daughters and decide that they would be better elsewhere - I don't need to sell my soul to the devil or risk my life and theirs to change that for them.

I am lucky to be Australian.  I am not special.  I am not unique.  I am not more worthy.  I am just lucky.

And I don't know that if I'd been exposed to the fear, the violence, the death, the hatred, the uncertainty, the poverty, the prejudice that I would be strong enough to start anew, and not only do that but continue to believe in the good in people and to actively pursue a life in which I am a good person, a giver, a contributor, a neighbour, a mother, a daughter, a colleague and a friend.  Like the vast majority of refugees.

I'd like to believe that I am that person - but I have not and am unlikely to ever be tested in that way.

I try to be an active citizen, but I do that with the luxury of luck.  I didn't choose to be Australian.  I just am.

And for that I am grateful.

But not as grateful, as appreciative as those that have known a different life.  A different reality.

And so instead of buying into the media and political rhetoric of fear, prejudice, racism and bigotry - I choose to be somebody that says 'Welcome'.  I choose to celebrate the diversity of people, of food, of songs, of culture, of fashion, of dance.  The media and politicians saying 'Go back', 'bugger off', 'we have no room' do not speak for me.  They speak not of my values.  They speak not of my ethics.  They speak not of the Australia I want for me and my family.

I speak for me.  And I say 'Welcome'.

Check out how you can be nicer than our media says we are

11 June 2013

A gift for life

I may have mentioned before that my two girls are the best kids in the universe.  They are clearly more clever than any other children, much better looking and they are absolutely the funniest children in the history of children.  I don't say this as a biased parent but as an objective observer.


They are really great.  Except when they are killing each other.  Which is when I ignore their adorableness to admire their tenacity and strategic approach to giving each other the irrits - they are learning "know your opponent" very young and for that I give them full credit (and sometimes a telling off because they are going to be sisters for a long time so need to learn to get on).

But something they both have embraced, to our absolute delight, is music.  And we listen to music a lot in our house.  And our music collection can be best summed up with the word - eclectic.  Their father is in charge of the 'cool' element and I'm in charge of making sure they know the rest.  I'm very good at my job and I think generally they like my music better but we've agreed not to tell DaddyO - it'd break his heart.  

Having a session with guest uker 'The Divine Ms M'
While my youngest force of nature is currently a groover - she starts stomping and dancing at the drop of a hat and shakes a mean maraca, my older force of nature is relishing language and in particular songs.  But she may have inherited my inability to remember lyrics so, like me, she sings what she thinks she hears as long as it fits the musical metre. 

Recent favourites from the Tullinator include:

"Don't eat my hat, my blacky blacky hat".  
"I am your sunshine, your lonely sunshine"
"Old McDonald had an arm, eeee iiiiii eeeee iiiiiii toes"
"Lets spin me round on a record baby"
"We are family, I got my sisters and knees"

Her little friend 'The J-man' sings 'Blah blah black sheep' - which is entirely accurate when you think about that particularly nursery rhyme.

She never EVER gets the lyrics to "Wheels on the Bus" muddled and in fact, is emphatic about the order and will not tolerate any deviation.  But objected the other day when I tried 'Wee Willie Winkie' on her - "Willy's don't run Mummy - you're BUNNY"

The fact that she uses a 'B' instead of an 'F' kills me every time.  Too too adorable.

But I'm confident that our world domination plans of raising rock stars and not sports freaks is under way.  And this is sensible parenting - I'd much rather take my children to the pub at night so they can play music until the wee hours rather than get up at 5am to watch them swim or stand on cold football fields watching them kick a ball.

And music is for life - the more I think about it - what greater gift can we give our girls than a love of music that might one day make them a fortune to look after us in our old age.  They'll thank us.

Do you have plans for retirement?
What are your favourite misheard lyrics from small people?

9 June 2013

The gross things I do for love.

To set the scene:

  • Huntley's Point Ferry Carpark
  • Few boozy blokes, drinking from bags, smoking
  • People hunting for their cars, meandering in the warmth of the winter afternoon
What the CCTV would have picked up:
  • 38 year old female wearing jeans and tshirt drives up in white SUV
  • parks two spots down from a blue commodore
  • gets out of SUV, circles blue commodore
  • bobs weirdly as if trying to see under car
  • looks at men boozing who are watching her
  • looks at people wandering past who are watching her
  • (speech bubble inserts "WTF")
  • female gets down on to her knees peers under car
  • crawls along
  • (speech bubble inserts "Bingo")
  • female crosses behind car to other side, lies on her stomach and wiggles under the car with arm outstretched
  • female gets up, gets back in SUV and departs

And all for these (see right)

That's right, I was on the hunt for a pair of missing Tinkerbell wings.  And even better, I found them UNBROKEN where they must have fallen from the car last night as we returned to Vivid.


As I drove along I was thinking wryly, the things we do for our kids eh?

And then I thought - actually - I do a lot of really gross things for my daughters which I would do for NO OTHER PERSON ON THE PLANET.  Not even my beloved beautiful man.

1. I grew those girls IN MY BELLY.  Which even if natural is weird, gross and eventually hurts. A lot.
2. I am nice to them even when I don't feel like being nice - which is more often than they will ever know because I want them to take love for granted.  Unfortunately my beautiful man doesn't get the same courtesy, but he doesn't offer it either.  We're in agreement on this one. 
3. I eat food they have taken from their own mouths and put in mine because I appreciate that they are LEARNING TO SHARE.  
4. I wipe their noses with my fingers if tissues aren't immediately at hand rather than have them eat their own snot because eating snot IS GROSS. Yes, grosser than wiping noses with fingers.
5. I change their nappies, wipe their butts and applaud them for bowel movements and I do not put pictures or stories of their poop in any form on social media. I don't even blush any more when they applaud me back in public toilets.  
6. I play games with them that are REPETITIVE AND BORING and basically suck (nearly EVERY game a 1 and 2 year old like comes into this category) and I pretend they are fun because I know that the little things are the things that matter to little people. They don't give a rats bum about being fed, housed and all that malarky.
7. I hold their feet because for some strange reason it soothes them when they are tired and cranky.  Feet are not my thing. 
8. I let them kiss me as if they are trying to drown me with saliva and food scraps and I don't even say YUK which is more courtesy than they'll get snogging boys later in life. 
9. I never sleep the way I used to sleep and the way I want to sleep because they don't do sleep properly yet but they are only little for a short period so it seems churlish to BITCH OUT LOUD.
10. I make food that is good for them even though I hate it because that is what PERFECT MOTHERS do and I think it important to fake it sometimes.  

So basically - those girls have me totally sussed and I don't even care.  They do things that aren't gross but on balance, non-gross things aren't really toddler approved activities.  And thus it goes.  And I remain inexplicably, totally, embarrassingly in love with them regardless.  
Photobombed by Daddy, but look at their loveliness!!

6 June 2013

Bananas Split from ABC TV (Guffaw)

Hear ye! Hear ye! Get the news today! Bananas in Pyjamas RETIRING!

Yep, THAT Banana's in Pyjama's - the iconic kids TV show featuring two bananas, three bears, a rat and a kangaroo.  The theme tune apparently came from the nephew of Enid Blyton.  That's a fact I didn't know until today.  

Anyway, the people are lamenting the demise of the Bananas with much wailing and gnashing of teeth and cursing of budgetary considerations, but I'm not at all sure this is a bad thing.  The simple fact is that the animated Bananas in Pyjamas was just never as good as the original episodes.

It was bland, boring and repetitive.  I know it's akin to punching small kittens to diss the Bananas in anyway but you know I'm right.  We should have been protesting in the streets when they turned it from people in Banana suits to animation, when we dumbed it down to be 'suitable' for children.  It was ingenious, creative and bold in the beginning and the loss of that kind of originality should always be mourned appropriately. 

We went from this kind of awesomeness (Thank you ABCTV YouTube)  -

To this kind of brainless vapidity(Thank you ABCTV YouTube) -

I know that somebody in the original series was seriously overindulging on hallucinogenics - but that was an industry requirement for kids TV back in the olden days - and we got some smashingly good TV out of it.  

True story.  But let me not be churlish - happy retirement Bananas.  I hope you end up in Mellow Yellow land sipping cocktails with the rest of the gang.  

4 June 2013

I can't be the only person suffering f&#*witphobia?

If you look at the news at the moment you'll generally see a common theme.  Phobia. And I thought that with all of my banging on about tolerance and acceptance, I should actively practice it.

So, I skimmed through as many news sites as I could to get a feel for the things people are being phobic or hateful about so I could be more tolerant.  I tried to avoid reading the comments on anything because that would be an unfair test of the new tolerant and accepting me.

Turns out there is a lot to be afraid of out there so I tried to summarise the key things that people are scared about so I could focus my zen like approach appropriately.

  1. Some people are afeared of the gays - generally because they are fabulous and happy and might make other people fabulous and happy.  And they'd spend lots on weddings and help the economy and be treated like equal citizens. Scary stuff.
  2. Some others are scaredybobs of those that are Muslim - because if you can't see somebody's hair they are probably a terrorist and it definitely says in the Koran (that none of the phobics have read but they read it on the internet so it is probably true) that they have to kill their neighbours but preferably by just wandering around minding their own business. But don't trust them because they want to kill you, you can tell because they don't drink but still dance.  People that do dance without drinking are scary.  Granted.
  3. We need to be frightened of people who are not white - which when you consider of the 7 billion people on the planet only about 15% are white, leaves you with a lot of freaking people to be scared of just because they aren't you.  It also means that you have something in common with Pauline Hanson and the BNP which is even scarier. 
  4. We should totally be petrified of those buggers FLOODING the country by boat.  I mean if they were desperate enough to leave their country on a leaky vessel and try and get to Australia for asylum, they're desperate enough to do anything.  And now that they aren't allowed to work, they'll have all that time to sit around thinking up ways to do dastardly deeds.  And we should be scared here - look at the skyrocketing crime and drug offences in football teams.  Proof already.
  5. And last but not least - we should be petrified of indigenous Australians.  Cheeky chappies wanting to be in the constitution as the first Australians and wanting to bring their life expectancy in line with the rest of the country.  It's outrageous that they can't see all WE'VE done for them giving them the vote and what not.  Next they'll be, be, be... DOING SOMETHING. Yeah, you know. RUNNING THE COUNTRY OR SOMETHING AND WE ALREADY HAVE REDHEADS AND WOMEN NOT KNOWING THEIR PLACE. CRIKEY!  

It turns out that I'm fuckwitphobic.  I can't practice tolerance and acceptance of stupidity, ignorance, bigotry and apathy.  I just can't.  So I'm going to continue being a stupid leftie bleeding heart PC commie bitch and if it offends you, fuck off. 

You're welcome.

2 June 2013

Teeth and boy bands

My favourite Facebook post of the week has got to go to a friend we shall call Darren (for that is indeed his name) who wrote the following:

Do I want to be part of a society where chemists stock One Direction singing toothbrushes? 

 It made me laugh a lot.  It was a very true statement.  I liked it's dramatic nature. The comedic pathos. I liked that it was about toothbrushes, popular culture and the state of the world.  Sometimes, people just nail something in a sentence and it says everything there is to say.  Just like that. Kudos Darren.

I googled 'one direction oral hygiene' to get this picture
And then I was going to write a blog post about this but realised it would completely negate my point.  So I'm not.