Tuesday, February 27, 2007

the dingo and the calf

It was a dark, still night. The stars which normally lit the country sky were obscured by cloud. The farmhouse stood waiting for dawn, its walls creaking now and then as if in time with the breathing of its occupants. The woman snored softly. The man dreamt of ride-on mowers. The cat twitched its tail as it slept, stretched out across the foot of the bed.

A panicked bellow broke the silence, abruptly waking the sleeping couple. A moment later, the frantic bellowing came again- the sound of an animal in distress, in pain. The woman's heart raced; the man leapt up and ran to the door. The woman searched for a torch while the man stood and yelled - a wordless, primal scream; a defiant warning to any marauding creature.

Together the man and woman strode off into the paddocks, with just the torch beam to guide them. They checked the livestock in the house paddock, they counted cattle on the creek flat. All animals were accounted for, and appeared to be unharmed. The woman giggled to herself - partly with relief, and partly because she was as naked as the day she was born. There had been no time to dress.

The couple trudged back to the farmhouse, and discussed the night's events as they made their way back to bed.

"Must have been one of Connor's cattle", the woman mused.

"Yeah", the man agreed.

The house fell silent, and the woman and man slept until sunup.

The next day, the man went off to work. The woman went into town for provisions.

As the woman arrived home, she noticed one of the calves, Amy, was lying down. The woman stopped the car, and anxiously approached the pretty white calf. It was clear the calf had been the victim of a dingo attack the previous night.

One flank had the distinct puncture marks of upper and lower teeth. The other back leg was ravaged, knawed, chewed, but the calf's hide had not been pierced. The woman knew both leg injuries were at risk of serious infection. She telephoned the local vet, and arranged to collect some antibiotics, which she injected. She sprayed the wounds with antiseptic. She fervently hoped that little Amy would pull through.

The woman and man moved the two motherless calves, Amy and Boo, into a safer paddock. Over the next few days, Amy slowly began to move about again. And so far, the dingo has not returned.

The woman's daughter came to visit her last weekend. The woman's daughter took photos of the calf, Amy, and her injuries. The woman told the daughter she could relate the story of Amy and the dingo, providing she didn't mention the woman's nakedness.

The daughter is notoriously unreliable.

Monday, February 26, 2007

May I suggest?

This weekend I have been catching up on a spot of blogreading. It's difficult to keep up with all the incredible writing out there!

I went to read the latest post by Mimi, who home-schools her four children, and is a clever and compassionate woman. Recently, Mimi spent some time at a youth correctional facility, and has written about her experience. Her post is an inspirational read, and the poem she received from one of the inmates is so very bitter-sweet. Please consider dropping by, and saying hello while you're there if you feel so inclined.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

let's hear it for the boys!

As most of you know, I adore my daughter. She is a wonderful, sweet and creative little person. She can be serious and earnest and anxious to please; she can be bossy and emotional - just like her mother was at the same age. Because Laura's personality is quite similar to mine, I get her. I understand her. I can explain to Fatty why she is wailing and being irrational; I can ease her worries because I know what concerns her even before she tells me.

When Benjamin came along, I was excited but a little wary, too. Boys are not a known commodity. I have not grown up as a boy, I don't have personal experience to help me comprehend the world of males. I had no doubt I would love this fat little boy baby, but would I be able to relate to him? Would we ever bond as well Laura and I would?

I guess I can answer that, after 4 1/2 years spent with my funny fiercely-loving fascinating son. Yes, and absolutely yes.

I should explain that while females and males are not exactly different species (or are they?), I am a very girly female. I am interested in people, relationships. I like flowers and satin and lace. I enjoy languages and writing. I nurture, I nag. I love children and babies. I cry easily. (Of course, there is also my penchant for karate. But who says 'feminine' women can't kick some butt occasionally?!)

And yet, as part of establishing a relationship with my son, I am developing new interests and skills, and swags of knowledge I never expected to possess.

We read 'Amazing Facts about Australian Frogs and Reptiles'. (Did you know that the knob-tailed gecko does 'push-ups' when it's scared? Or that legless lizards may rear up, snake-like, and will even strike at their enemies, despite the fact that they have no fangs or venom?)

We look for cars with 2 exhaust pipes.

We know that a Blackbird is the fastest aircraft.

We discuss the peregrine falcon, which can swoop at speeds up to 390km/hr.

We have met the ladybirds, worms, grubs, grasshoppers, katydids, stick insects and a whole multitude of other insects which inhabit our backyard. I never even noticed them before. How-do-you-do, neighbourhood bugs?

Having a daughter is brilliant, and I love spending time with my Louey-girl. We talk about her friends, she asks me why some people stop being married, I listen to her read for me, she draws elaborate, detailed pictures and gives them to her admiring mother. I sense a kindred spirit in Laura, and I hope we will have this connection throughout our lives.

With Benjamin, I am aware that the way he and I think, and the way we approach situations, and our natural interests are all quite different. And yet because of that difference, I find myself being drawn into a whole new realm of ideas. I find that once I actually sit and peruse 'Australian Dinosaurs' (which, pre-children, I would not have done unless you paid me), I find it intriguing. Who would have thought?

Once when Ben was a toddler and obsessed with earth-moving equipment, I was driving somewhere with just my friend Belly. As we passed a construction site, I began to exclaim 'Look! A digger!', but had to quickly change to 'Look what a beautiful day it is!'. That was when I knew I had changed - all because of my son and his entirely new perspective.

The gender divide will always exist, but I like to think we can build bridges and cross over to visit each other. I have to thank Ben for being patient and welcoming, and for allowing me to wander across whenever I please.

If you'll excuse me now, there's a whale stamp Ben and I need to soak off an envelope.

Friday, February 16, 2007

facing facts

I truly believe that appearance is largely irrelevant, but with a caveat: only when referring to everyone else. I can wax lyrical about inner beauty, but somehow I'm still watching the lines etch themselves on my face with growing alarm.

I told a couple of my closest friends of my silly dissatisfaction. I was aware of how stupid it sounded - to worry over wrinkles when people are starving, ill, at war. Yet, knowing how trivial my concerns were did not allay them. The knowledge of my own vanity simply made me guilty. And still horrified by the advancing signs of ageing.

I think part of the problem is - I have never been conventionally beautiful. As a girl I was awkward, freckled, angular. I grew into a more graceful, freckled, pretty-enough young woman. After realising that there certainly were some men who were drawn to pale, freckly and slightly pear-shaped women, I gained confidence in my appearance, and in myself. I knew I was no stunner, but what I lacked in classic good looks, I could make up for by being funny, or cheeky, or smart, or interesting. I made peace with my flaws, and decided I was satisfactory, just the way I was.

Then came gravity, holding hands with time, accompanied by child-bearing. Just when I was content with face and body, everything started to change. ('Wait! Come back, body! I was kinda getting used to you! Hey, face! Don't go changing like that. You were not so bad... I didn't mind you, just as you were.') So I realise now that I'll have to watch everything change, change and change some more (yes, strange that I didn't predict this, right? I must have had some delusion about never ageing!)- and still somehow retain confidence in my appearance. Or perhaps that is not the answer at all. Perhaps the answer lies in re-defining what makes me an attractive person. Perhaps I need to gaze again upon the pink-cheeked face of my grandmother, now 90 years of age, and one of the most beautiful women I know.

One friend told me that when she looked at me, she saw the face of someone who smiled often and frowned rarely. That pleased me. Because if you must have grooves, it's good to have happy grooves, right?!

Another friend simply sent me the card you can see above. I like the sentiment. I want to grow old with those I love. However, I may be compelled to ditch any friends who show signs of ageing too gracefully - too smooth-facedly, too pert breastedly, too taut-thighedly. That can not be tolerated.

When I say I want to grow old with my loved ones, I expect them to keep up.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

glorious rain!

At last, some decent rain! Our poor, parched garden is grinning from ear to ear. The flowers look brighter and perkier, and everything is glistening with raindrops.

There is a weird woman hopping about my backyard, taking photos of odd things like puddles.

Even the clothesline looks happy!

The skies may be gloomy grey, the dog may smell musty-wet, the trees may be dripping fat wet blobs down the backs of our necks, but hallelujah we love this rain!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

ode to Tootie

My friend Tootie said to me today, Are you ever going to post again?

'Yes', I retorted. 'Maybe next January'. The fact is - sometimes my life is just not blogworthy.

'What can I blog about?', I persisted. ' Got any ideas?'

'You can write about how wonderful I am', she joked.

'That would take way too long to write', I answered.

I've been thinking, though, that maybe, if I wrote only about her very best attributes, I could finish this before sunup tomorrow:


Tootie loves like there is no tomorrow.

Tootie eats bullies for dinner and spits their bones out.

Tootie's brain works so fast, I can't keep up with it.

Tootie can make me laugh against my will.

Tootie is a dark-eyed beauty whose ingratitude for her good looks pains me greatly.

Tootie is my friend, and that's not always the easiest thing to be.

Tootie, you better believe you're wonderful.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I've glimpsed my future......

Last night I ended up curled awkwardly and grumpily on the living room couch. I have this eerie feeling it won't be my last couch sleep.

Before people start sending me numbers for marriage counsellors, I wish to be clear that I still love Fatty. I may be glaring at his back today; I may be somewhat clipped in my responses. I may even be considering performing some radical palatal and tonsillar surgery on him, in the kitchen, without anaesthetic (I suppose that's a little harsh, isn't it? I'll give him an anaesthetic lozenge). Yet, despite these seemingly ominous signs, I consider myself happily married. At least during daytime hours.

I knew Fatty was a snorer when I married him. I figured I would eventually get used to it. And I have, for the most part. Having kids has made me so tired, I fall into slumber most nights within seconds. If I happen to wake to a rumbling sound beside me, I just jiggle the bed until the rumble stops, and I am asleep again in seconds.

I have failed to factor in the worsening of this problem, though. I stupidly didn't consider the fact we would both get older, greyer, saggier, and, in Fatty's case, snorier. When I vowed to love Fatty for better or for worse, I never imagined that vow referred to the nocturnal truck-gear-grinding noises that would one day emanate from my husband.

I never imagined that I would lie awake, as I did in the dawn hours this morning, wishing I had a giant MUTE button for dear Fatty. Now wouldn't that be helpful?

I could even lend him the mute button to use on me, for when I whine too much. Which is hardly ever.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

when the truth hurts

I don't often have to break bad news to patients. It happens much less often than you'd think. I give people advice that I know is unwelcome, I warn them of future lifestyle-related problems. I diagnose urine infections, chest infections, depression, panic attacks, high blood pressure and myriad rashes. But when it comes to giving the really bad news, when it comes to telling people that they have an imminently life-threatening disease, I am usually not involved. The patient most often has been referred to a specialist, or has ended up having tests done in hospital. I am rarely present for the 'moment of truth'.

I have needed to deliver awful news on occasion, though. Once, a patient 'Veronica' came to me rather than returning to the hospital clinic, for her head scan results. It was too much hassle to go all that way, she told me, and besides she needed to be on time to collect the kids from school. Her husband 'Phil' sat with her as I phoned the hospital. I spoke with the hospital doctor, as Veronica and Phil sat watching me.

"There are several presumed tumours - they're large, and they're deep. Looks like *GBM (*glioblastoma multiforme - a particularly nasty brain tumour). Don't think they'll be operable", reported the hospital registrar.

I thanked the doctor on the end of the phone. I carefully replaced the receiver. I slowly explained the findings to Veronica and her husband. I'll never forget the first words out of Veronica's mouth - she was in shock - 'How funny! I've just been to a charity lunch to raise funds for cancer patients!"

That was almost ten years ago, and Veronica has long since passed away. I was reminded of her, though, when I had to give some bad news to 'Rita' last week. I was reminded that there is no good way to give bad news. I also realised that I will always sag under the burden of carrying such a dire message. I wished I would not be forever recalled as the bearer of the terrible news. I wished most of all that there was no bad news at all to deliver.

As much as I try not to 'take my work home', some thoughts just follow me on the drive anyway, trailing insidiously behind me like some noxious vapour. When I reach home, and especially when I lie in bed at night, the gases swirl and mist around me, and I can't sleep for the fog.

What will happen to Rita? I don't know. It's out of my hands now.