Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Utterly Blissful...

Found this photo today while searching for something completely unrelated...I really love that (traditionally) indoor rooms are being brought outdoors.

It looks like heaven to me, utterly indulgent...just add a glass of something cold and sparkling and a book and I'd be set for the evening. I may come out looking very prune-like but what a wonderful setting for it to happen in.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Matilda's Year 10 photos came home from school yesterday. I really like this one, it will be the only one with her braces on. Her Orthodontist reported at her last appointment that it will look like late 2009 or early 2010 for this phase of her treatment to end. She will be fitted with retainers to wear in the next phase. This is 6-12 months ahead of what he originally thought it would be, she has responded very well to treatment.

This academic year Matilda graduated from Middle to Senior School and wears a white shirt with dark green skirt to denote that...in Years 8 & 9 female students wore a dark green/white striped shirt, same style as this. Both male & female students have the option of a tie, today Matilda is wearing hers as she is participating in the School's ANZAC Day Ceremony. Her face is a wee bit longer than in this photo, our scanner tends to compress photos a little.

All State Schools in Queensland have compulsory uniform which at first I was neither here nor there on but after living with a teenager who tries on five outfits just before going to the shops I have decided that I really like it, Matilda does too. There is no hassle in the mornings, she knows exactly what is expected of her and although it does take away an individual's right to self expression through clothing choices I like that it removes an avenue for the teasing, competitiveness and (sometimes) bullying that goes on with students coming from varying socio-economic backgrounds. If we were still in Victoria she would be going to a no uniform secondary school...am hearing from many parents of the struggles they are having with their children (interestingly both sons & daughters) and "what can I wear to school today Muuuuuuuuummmmm...????"

I have to admit to being quite glad it's not happening to me, it's hard enough on the once per term uniform-free days arranged by The (student run) Welfare Committee. They fund raise for a charity of choice by having a uniform free day and the students making a gold coin donation. There's usually around $500 raised which is quite significant.

Wondering what others think, especially if you don't live in Australia. I know in the USA & Canada, schools with compulsory uniform are the exception rather than the norm.

Do tell all...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Balance & Peace...

Could certainly do with more balance & peace in our lives. Sometimes life gets so hectic we spend far too much time "doing" and not enough time "being". I try but don't always get there.

Was listening to a travel writer being interviewed on ABC Radio one evening last week (unfortunately her name eludes me at this point)...she was in Bali during March and celebrated the Lunar New Year, Nyepi Day, a traditional day of silence, fasting and meditation.

It really struck a chord with me...am wondering how much it has to do with my being in the middle of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert..??

Nyepi is primarily a Hindu celebration, however, almost all Balinese follow the tradition out of respect. There are four rules, or prohibitions, known as Catur Brata Penyepian which guide people to refrain from worldly and physical activities.

First is the principle called Amati Geni. People are not allowed to set lights and fire for the whole day, that includes not burning or setting a stove on, and they can’t cook for meals. This symbolises turning the fire off in the five senses of the soul, along with any unscrupulous emotions.

The other principles are...

Amati Karya, no work

Amati Lelungan, no travel

Amati Lelanguan, no entertainment & pleasure.

These prohibitions help "people to control their five earthly senses in order to increase the quality of life for the upcoming year". In addition to these prohibitions, many Balinese also fast and do not engage in conversation at all.

Bali becomes deserted and virtually shuts down. Tourists are not exempt and are expected to follow tradition, however what they do behind closed door is entirely their own business. People with higher spiritual ability or desiring to have higher spiritual life are expected to perform further prohibitions including fasting by not eating or drinking, stay still by not talking, meditating by focusing the mind on God and praying.

This really appeals to me, a time to be quiet and still, to make & keep the balance of nature, to self reflect and focus inward. I don't do it nearly enough and would love a public holiday that encouraged it. It is an enormous contrast to the way most Western cultures acknowledge the New Year.

This past Easter I really enjoyed that shops were closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, people had time off work to spend with their families. I am often astounded though by the way people shop on the day before Good Friday, like the supermarket is going to be closed for a week. I used to enjoy the time when shops closed from midday on Saturday through to Monday morning, that people had time to rest and unwind, it just doesn't happen nearly enough.

Maybe retiring to Indonesia is for me...?? John used to joke to Josh that he was going to retire to Goa. Maybe he could be convinced that Bali is equally as desirable..??

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Matilda and I baked Hot Cross/Easter Buns this afternoon...they are divine and I am seriously doubting we will ever go back to the bought ones. They do take a little effort and time but it's done in stages so you can get on with other (more tedious but unfortunately necessary) chores.

Oh delicious...
...the house smells divine, yeasty, toasty & fruity.

Here's the recipe we used. It calls for currants but as we aren't especially fond of them we substituted with sultanas & dried apricots in a 3:1 ratio. Next time I will add a little more fruit but will have to be careful not to bog the dough down with so much fruit that it doesn't rise well. Matilda & Myles would be keen to see some chocolate chips added but I'm not so sure, am a bit of a purist when it comes to traditional baking.

Was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon indeed...

Friday, April 3, 2009

25 Years Ago...

I have been absent of late...this time of year is often difficult for me, I struggle with March & April, this year has been somewhat more difficult than usual but the fog is lifting, it always does. I will be around more often.

For those of you who know me, even those I am very close to, may not be aware of what I am about to tell you. I apologise sincerely for not having shared with you, please understand.

This is the abridged story...

I gave birth to a baby daughter when I was very young and was really in no position to raise a child at the time. For me the only option was to give her, with all my love, for adoption. I named this baby girl Jess, she/he was going to be Jess regardless of gender. She was born on 1st April, 1984, 25 years ago this week.

On her 18th birthday I made the decision to make my details available for her to find me if she wanted and began the process to get things underway. Some time later I made contact with her adoptive family but the news was sad, devastating.

Jess died two weeks short of her 1st birthday, 15th March, 1985 - SIDS was the cause, or not as the case may be, given that SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion. I was utterly gutted...all those years of imagining a dark curly haired little girl grow into a young woman, the possibility of one day meeting and knowing her...just gone. Her little life cut short. I've met her adoptive family...as it happened they used to live reasonably close to me when I lived in Victoria. They named her Jessica Katherine and called her Jess or Jessie, they were told of the name I had given her. They are lovely people who obviously adored her, it is very apparent she had a beautiful life with them. The day I received this terrible news was 10th March, 2003...it's a day I have a hard time with, harder than the anniversary of her death. I guess it's the day she "died" for me.

March is a month of contradictions...Jess's death anniversaries and then there is Matilda's birthday between them, 12th March...my birthday is 25th March and then Jess's birthday on 1st April, the same day as my youngest sister's, her birthday celebrations have always been difficult for me.

This year she would have turned 25, how the fuck did all those years just pass me by..?? No-one remembered her death day and only a small group of special friends remembered her birthday. Not many people in my life know of her existence, I am only just "coming out" and telling friends, it has been very difficult I have seen a grief counsellor, intensely in the beginning but rarely now. I am part of an online Forum for bereaved parents at The MISS Foundation. I volunteer at MISS as an Administrator/Moderator and have met an amazing group of people there...women I have never met face to face have become my dearest friends, I am safe there and it's one of the few places I can be Jess's mother.

So there you have it...I apologise most sincerely to those of you who know me well...I have had this huge secret for many years, it feels good to have it out in the open. There have been some people I have let in but very few, my family only learned about Jess last year.

Will share more as time passes, this has been a difficult post to write but I am lighter for having done so.

With love...