In the flesh.

In the blogging world we get to meet all types of people. Some we click with, some we don’t. What a blessing it is when we do form a friendship, even if it is in the waves in the air between us. It does not diminish how much these friendships mean to us.

What a joy it can be when there comes a time we can meet up and actually touch.

I experienced that when I was recently in Switzerland visiting my daughter. Many moons ago a lady, with loads of wit, and I connected here through our blogs.

When she heard I was in Switzerland she drove for four hours to meet me. As I saw her sitting on the steps outside my daughter’s apartment building I knew that this was going to be one of life’s better days.

Her laugh, her joy in life, her stories, they all made me walk around with a feeling of happiness.

I so want to thank her for taking the time to add another memory to my trip to Europe. A memory that always brings a smile to my face.

Meet the ever delightfully irrepressible Em.
Meet the ever delightfully irrepressible Em.

Of course we had to have a beverage so we could have a toast or two !!!

Em and I enjoying a Swiss beer.
Em and I enjoying a Swiss beer – photo thanks to my adorable daughter.

You could pop over and meet Em yourself on her blog.

It’s been a while…

I know, I know…of late my blogging has been atrocious. This week for my local writer’s group I had the task of writing a letter to a dead relative/friend. Strange subject I know…and guess who set the task ??

Yes…it was me. I am learning there are few coincidences in life. I know from writing the following piece that I had a need to say these things to a father that can no longer hear them.

But the process of taking these thoughts from my brain and placing them on paper was very good for me. I can move on. I can love with open arms and no expectations, and not be afraid.

Dear Dad,

Earlier this month I took a moment to ponder what it would have been like to still have you here. You would now be 107 years old, and I wondered if time might have made you different. Seemingly out of nowhere came a thought. Common sense tells me that of course nothing comes out of nowhere. That our thoughts are simply pulsating deep feelings that we may try to bury, yet like an earthquake they will eventually erupt and arise to the surface. My thought was this. Love and hate are very closely bonded together. I realised that when I think of you in the quiet moments I waver between the two.

I remember and love the moments we shared. It was only as I became an adult I truly appreciated how you suffered through my learning to cook, never expressing what you must have felt about some of the awful missteps in the kitchen that still made their way on to your plate. You generally ate every mouthful, and for that I loved you. I also remember you teaching me to drive, and wonder just how you made it through that period without suffering a serious heart attack. There are many of these memories that pop up. Often they surface when not expected, but they give me a sense of peace.

I also remember how you broke me in to so many pieces that 20 years later I am still finding cracks. It was not until after you died that I realised how like Pop you were. I should have seen the signs; perhaps I did but chose to ignore them.

Family was in fact a burden to you. When it came down to it, like Pop, you were not above exploiting that family for your own needs. As I reflect, one memory in particular arises again and again. It was painful at the time. It is still painful. Conceivably that is why for many decades I buried it deep inside. I was an eight year old, getting to know her mother for the first time. Using guile and guilt you tried so hard to bring me to heel. When I take that memory apart now I see a selfishness I had refused to acknowledge in you.

Put that aside…and oh how I loved you. I still do. I always will.

You left this world in 1996. You left it leaving behind your signature on some papers that would do exactly what I believe you wished for. Papers and a signature that would tear me in to little pieces. I know that you had no way of knowing what a vulnerable state I was already in, because I kept from you the news that my marriage was falling apart. So for a time…even broken as I was by your action…I did not hold you to account.

When the news came to me days after your death of your decision to cut me so completely, at first I felt nothing. I moved from room to room in my newly rented house, and often wondered how I came to be standing where I was. I dressed and fed my two children, your grandchildren, yet a part of me was disconnected from everything in my world.

One day while I was cleaning out the pantry, my disconnection, the very thing that had held me together for those few weeks, dissolved. As did I. I lay amongst the tins and packets of food on my kitchen floor and piece by tiny piece cracked open so wide that feeling the world around me became a painful thing.

A hug from my children, seeing a butterfly land on a flower, a summer shower…all those little things that had once given me such peaceful joy now caused more pain than you can imagine. It was as if any pleasurable thing that touched me wore a coat of acid.

For years the pain of living with what you did seemed simply too much. The pain of knowing my father was the cause seemed simply too much.

In the following years many things happened, and the adulthood I had so longed to postpone found its way to me. My children were a large part of my learning about the world. I learned that I could love so deeply and so unconditionally that I was in truth…nothing like you. With that revelation came some peace. With that peace came some forgiveness. Not only for you but also for me. I forgave you. I forgave myself for still loving you. You who could consciously cause a child of yours so much pain, so much sorrow. I promised myself to learn to be everything you were not.

I would love my children…with no conditions applied, with no expectations that their lives were mine to control or to exploit. Love is often a surprise to me. Having never really felt secure in love I was a prime candidate to be like you. To seek it, to demand it, to hoard it. I imagine there is more of my mother in me than I will ever know. Because I have learned that love is not to be controlled. It is only when you embrace it with loose arms so it is free to leave when it desires, that you ever truly experience the peace and the joy of it. And I wonder if you saw the part of me like Mum, and that is what drove you to wreak such destruction. In trying to punish me you were also trying to obliterate her in payback.

When it came time to write this letter to you I was surprised to find that feelings I thought of as gone, were actually just in hiding. Love and hate. The two ends of the spectrum of emotions. I hate what you did. Still. But…yes, with me there always seems to be a but, I am also thankful for it, even if I can never grasp what drove you to inflict pain of that magnitude on your own child. No matter what you perceived my guilt to be.

Asking a pregnant woman to choose between the two most important men in her life was unjust. Clutching your perceived sense of being wronged when you were the one who forced the choice in the first place was unjust. Unjust and unkind. And once again I am surprised at myself. When I take my memories out and lay them before me I see that in fact you were not a kind man unless it suited you. A kind man would never have allowed the police to hold his 18 year old daughter responsible for a car crash, when he was the driver, and drunk at that.

Perhaps I am now the one being unkind, for the possibility exists that you did not fully comprehend the fall out from your actions. Yes the possibility is there. The probability and the likelihood of that being the case, sadly is minimum. The child that still lives on me would love to latch on to that possibility and therefore be able to imagine her father as a kind man, a just man. The adult in me knows better. The parent in me is uncompromising in her revulsion of the cruelty of your action.

So there in lies the hate part.

And the love, where does that come in to play? In forgiving you, and forgiving myself for still loving such a father. Through forgiveness I have learned to love and love freely. I have learned that even if love is not returned, as we would wish, the act of loving itself is a blessing. I have learned that a love that has no expectation except to be given is the purest form of love, the one that gives the most reward.

You Dad, with your love that was wrapped in expectations, and punishment should those expectations not be met, yes you, taught me how to love without expectation of any kind.

Your lessons though oft times uncompromising and harsh, were for me, lessons I now believe I needed as I went my way in this world. You taught me how love should be, could be, and luckily for me, is.

How can I do anything else but be grateful to you for teaching me what is the most important lesson I have ever learned, for handing me a way to learn the true value of love ?

Love freely given.

Love without expectation.

Love that compromises.

Love that is unconditional.

Love that seeks no reward other than the pleasure of loving.

So there in lies the love part.

Ever your daughter,

Love Joanne.

Related Posts

And if you are new to my blog, or just haven’t read some of these…a few posts that will maybe explain the crazy existence of me..

 

Little Drummer Boy #4

After my last slightly humorous post I thought it was time to get a bit more serious.

How many of you knew that ‘Little Drummer Boy’ was originally titled the ‘Carol of the Drum’ ?

The first official recording of this song was by the Trapp Family Singers. Yes indeedy…that Trapp family that Julie Andrews made famous in Sound of Music.

So here is their version.

You might notice that instead of “the ox and lamb kept time” the Trapp Family Singers sing “the ox and ass kept time” which was as it was originally written by Katherine Davis in 1941. There is a very interesting story about some plagiarism of this song, which I will tell you during this month of the Little Drummer Boy, once I check out that it is true.

Hope you enjoy.

Related Posts:

Little Drummer Boy #3

This was too cute & funny NOT to share. A drum roll please for…Little Drummer Boy – Walk off the Earth (Feat. Doggies)

If you have a couple of minutes and would like to see how they put this together then I have one more video for you. A behind the scenes which I loved watching…go the doggies !!!!

Related Posts:

 

Little Drummer Boy #2

Bob Seger is high up on my list of wonderful singers. I still have the records of his I bought back in the day.

So when I heard this I was thrilled. Hope you like it as much as I do.

Related Posts:

Meet Ohm & Ploy

I have two new students staying with me for a few weeks. From Thailand. Both girls are 14, and luckily their English is pretty reasonable. While it is a bit of work having people, especially young people you have to cook & clean for…it is nice work.

IMG_9999
They are keen to see a kiwi…this is pretty close for now.
The girls were introduced to 'Barry'.
The girls were introduced to ‘Barry’.
We had a picnic lunch watching grown men race their remote control boats and ducks swim peacefully by.
We had a picnic lunch watching grown men race their remote control boats and duck swim peacefully by.
This really made me laugh. The girls both taking selfies of themselves in the water.
This really made me laugh. The girls both taking selfies of themselves in the water.

Last night the girls made me their favourite meal. Do NOT ask me to spell it. I have no clue, but it tasted pretty good.

It had prawns...so it was always going to please me.
It had prawns…so it was always going to please me.

Saying goodbye.

Auntie Ed is in the blue. My Auntie Rita's [next to her] wedding day.
Auntie Ed is in the blue. My Auntie Rita’s[next to her] wedding day.
I don’t have many memories before I was eight that did not have my Auntie Ed [short for Edna] in them. Auntie Ed was tiny. Seriously tiny. She was also a force of nature. Not someone you fooled around with. Auntie Ed had a way of looking at you that made your bones rattle when you had done something you knew was wrong. She [as we Aussies like to say] called a spade a spade.

Auntie Ed was the youngest of my father’s siblings. She had one other sister and four brothers. Though I actually lived with my other aunt, every holiday was spent at the home of my grandparents, where Auntie Ed lived. As well as holding down a job, Auntie Ed cared for my grandparents. My grandmother was blind and my grandfather had taken to his bed when retired, so her plate was full.

She never had her own children, as she married late in life. I always found that such a shame. Auntie Ed would have made one hell of a mother.

She loved golf. She was a wizz at gardening. I think the tomato plants were so scared of her biting wit they wouldn’t dare not flourish. As for her peas. I can’t remember a Christmas where I didn’t turn green from eating them. Each day we’d pick a bowl and it would be my job to shell them. Luckily we always picked way more than needed so I ate my fill as I shelled away.

Earlier this year as I picked peas in my own garden I was transported back to that time.

At the back of my grandparents’ house was a neighbour’s mulberry tree. To this day the smell of them sends me in to a tizzy of ecstatic delight. Auntie Ed had little sympathy the day I raided the tree and ate myself sick on mulberries that were still too green. I think she was actually secretly giggling at my discomfit. I learned a lesson that day…or maybe two. Never steal from the neighbours, and when you do make sure the fruit is ripe.

It has taken me years of practise to try to achieve a reasonable level of competency with baking. But I will never reach Auntie Ed’s standard. I can remember standing in the tiny kitchen as she threw ingredients together for her always perfect scones. I don’t remember her ever measuring anything…not ever…yet time after time they came out of the oven…perfect.

Christmas was a special time at the house in Campsie. Auntie Ed made her Christmas cake and the one thing I craved more than her peas…her Christmas pudding. As she sliced it open and served it with a piping hot homemade custard…the only thing that could make it better was knowing that somewhere inside I would find a shining silver sixpence.

Auntie Ed collected spoons. As I do. I am the proud possessor of some of her collection.

In 2007 The Daughter and I went to Sydney to visit with her. I am so glad she got the chance to meet my daughter, and profoundly saddened she never met my son. We stayed with Auntie Ed and I’d like to tell you about something she did…or rather said…that might help you to know this tiny powerhouse of a woman.

The Daughter and I were sharing a room. Sadly [like my father] I snore. This is not a little snurk now and the, rather like a train, an endless train right next to your ear. So at some point during the first night The Daughter grabbed her bedding and moved to the lounge. In the morning when Auntie Ed got up she she smiled at the Daughter. Then commiserated with her about how she had heard me too…all the way in her room.

This morning…my cousin rang me to tell me that Auntie Ed, at the grand age of 99, had passed away. While I understand when people say what a life she had, and yes she sure did…I am sad. So sad. You see, there are actually some people this world is better off because they are in it. My Auntie Ed was one of them. Today the world became a lessor place. It lost one of its best and brightest stars. I lost the greatest aunt a girl could wish for.

My cousin shared with me a couple of things, these things…they make me smile…because I know that there were people who were with her that loved her right until the end. Auntie Ed had been in a home in Australia. When he got the call that she was failing he spent the day with her. One nurse came in to Auntie Ed’s room. She asked him if she could give ‘Auntie Ed’ a kiss. You see they all knew her as I did…she was Auntie Ed…and they loved her.

So…a life well lived. A person well loved. A woman who gave me so much more than just a love of spoons. For all this I am grateful. I just wish Auntie Ed could have lived forever.

My Best Friend

My best friend took a long time to get to know. She…yes she is a she…is a rebel [in her own way]. According to Jung she fits the rebel archetype that he ascribed to. You see she  sees injustice everywhere and wants to shake up the entire system! According to Jungian psychologists, this type believes rules are made to be broken and is driven by the desire to shock and provoke people. She is deeply principled but still possesses a free spirit with few boundaries. I believe she has the potential to really change things, if she learns to reign in her rather extreme tendencies.

IMG_1666 copyYou might be surprised to learn that the colour of her aura is…

IMG_0320White – the colour of Perfect Balance – surprising I know, but the longer her I know her the more I realise that her strongest qualities are more spiritual than physical.

If I had to think of a quote that fits her it would be this…

“It is during our

darkest moments that

we must focus to see

the light.”

Any idea who said that ??

Day 37 - 8.3.2013She hasn’t had the perfect life experiences. At times she has been broken…but never it seems beyond repair. She’s had more than her share of heartbreaks, conflicts and disappointments. It was hard, but she always tried to see the bright side of things. When she looks back, I remind her that those experiences helped her become the person she is today. She is living proof that no matter what, the human spirit can always evolve and find happiness!

th_tigrrr

I have heard people describe her as unique, different. She reminds me of  Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter. Always marching to the beat of her own drum.

IMG_1953 copyPeople tell her that she is incredibly clever [she has her doubts], but she sees things in a completely different perspective to most other people and I think sometimes that does give her some valuable insights. Although most would describe her as an extrovert, they are not right. In reality she is still a shy little girl and is actually a bit of an introvert. She is incredibly comfortable in her own company. Over the years one thing she has learned is that being yourself is much more interesting than being someone else.

IMG_1662-2 copyHer favourite Luna Lovegood quote: “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

Astrologically she is a lion.

Photo163 copyBut deep down she feels much more in tune with Pegasus.

Pegasus by 'thedrawinghands'
Pegasus by ‘thedrawinghands’

She has been there with me since before I knew what memory was. She laughs at my jokes, she cries at my losses…she even tells me when I am wrong sometimes. Not that we always agree on that.

IMG_5799copy

I have loved many friends [and still do] in my lifetime. But learning to really know her, to understand her, and to love her as my best friend has been the longest journey of my life. Because she makes it hard sometimes…to know the woman behind the mask.

P1100021Luckily she stuck with me while I make my way on this journey of self discovery. I sure hope she’s around for a while longer because every day with her is a surprise.

Day 160

“Love

yourself

first

and everything else falls in line.

You really have to love yourself

to get anything done in this world

– Lucille Ball

Oh…and late at night when she can’t sleep, when the characters on the page won’t do what she wants, when the photo images all seem blurry and not very good – she does way to many stupid quizzes. Even she admits that !!!

She also goes looking for hilarious videos. Just to make you smile !!!

Part of the Weekly Photo Challenge.

 

 

 

Goodbye my Friend.

This morning Gilly messaged me with the news of Christine’s passing. As I went to her blog to read Stuart’s post I was not surprised to find the tears rolling down my cheeks.

Friendships come to us so unexpectedly at times. We might be sitting in a Chinese restaurant when it walks in, in the shape of another 17 year old. It can happen at a writers’ group when a smile across a cup of coffee cements it then and there for life. My friendship with Christine happened over the internet. One day I opened up my comments and there she was.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 8.55.25 AM

2011…the year I started blogging. As I progressed further, so did Christine. Time and time again she took me home. When I would visit her blog there would always be some sense in me that was awakened. Her photos let me smell the grasses that lined the dunes of the beaches she walked. I could taste the salt spray that the sea breezes left on my lips as she caught a sea bird riding the air currents over blue waves. I could feel the softness of the petals as Christine brought me closer to the flowers in her garden or on her many walks around the land I still call home.

Her visits and comments so often brought a smile. Some were cause for reflection.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 9.01.19 AM

I have read…though not yet commented on some wonderful tributes that have been written for Christine. It is not that I don’t want to…I just can’t yet for some reason.

I know that today…when I speak to some friends here of my sadness, my sense of loss…they will not understand.

We do not always need the physical presence of someone to feel the pull of friendship, the camaraderie of interests or of having shared roots of heritage.

For them blogging is an artificial world.

For me it is the world coming to me. It is what allows me the great joy of finding people to enlighten me, to make me laugh, to make me cry…to connect with on so many different levels.

Christine did all that and more in the three years I have known her. I will miss her wonderful photography. I will miss her joy in her life. I will miss her wise words. I will miss Christine.

I am grateful for the chance to have had her in my life…fleetingly, from afar, but most definitely a presence. I wish I had had the chance to meet her in person…but I met her spirit. How lucky am I.

Perhaps it is fitting that when I checked my comments this morning…the very last comment on the blog is from Christine.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 8.46.46 AM

Farewell Christine. You will be missed.

Invocation – Rod McKuen

It may happen
that in some hidden
middle night

you’ll rise up
and come to me
in solitude or silence.

We will meet
as we have met
on a train or at the end
of some new train of thought.

 

Share Your World – 2014 Week 22

Cee’s Share Your World – 2014 Week 22 had a few interesting questions…so…here goes.

Regarding animals would you prefer not having them around or having domestics pets, farm animals, or seeing them in nature or the zoo?

I would shrivel if I didn’t have my fur companions. That said I feel there should be more restrictions placed on people having pets, and most certainly breeding them. They are not and should never be treated as commodities.

Living here in New Zealand where factory farming has become the next big thing I abhor animals being kept in these atrocious conditions. It astounds me that with so much land available we lock chickens up in tiny cages where they can barely turn around let alone take any pleasure in their lives. They live in great smelly buildings instead of breathing fresh air and being able to scratch and roll in the dirt. Our pigs are just as badly off. Most are locked in pens and sow cages that stop them from nurturing their babies who are then taken from them for slaughter. And now our government is allowing cattle to be treated in a similar fashion.

As for zoos, I am in two minds when it comes to them. I have seen too many animals kept in conditions that make their lives miserable. Thankfully many zoos are now changing, and realising the need to provide a natural habitat for these creatures. While I understand the work some zoos do in educating people and allowing them to see these animals and hopefully develop empathy for them there are still way too many factors that bother me. Case in point the zoo that recently bred a giraffe then while he was still a youngster shot a bolt in to its head as he was surplus to their genetic needs. I deplore this attitude many humans have of believing we have the right of dominion over other species. Until we put that behind us and make sure these creatures are able to roam free in the natural habitat then we are nothing but slavers.

Are you a collector of anything? 

Oh yes I am.

I inherited this addiction from my darling Auntie Ed, my father’s youngest sister.

Auntie Ed is in the blue. My Auntie Rita's [next to her] wedding day.
Auntie Ed is in the blue. My Auntie Rita’s [next to her] wedding day.
If you could know the answer to any question, besides “What is the meaning of life?”, what would it be?

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?

If you were to treat yourself to the “finer things” what would you treat yourself to? 

1 minute 29 in…oh that is so me !!!! Then there is 2 minutes and 41 seconds. Oh yea baby !!!!

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful that my fire is fixed as it turned cold all of a sudden, and that my three fur babies are all well and content. The upcoming week looks a bit wet…so I am grateful for that. It makes me feel less guilty for being indoors and working on the book.