Thursday, November 22, 2007

thank goodness for rhubarby friends

I was around at Susan's blog the other day, and I loved the words of this poem she posted. The poem is all about being grateful for our many different types of friends. My favourite line was about being thankful .....

"For crotchety friends, sour as rhubarb and as indestructible"

I have a gal pal I have known since high school days, who is definitely one of the rhubarb friends. Not that she's nasty or always gloomy - just that she likes things the way she likes them, and she's not afraid to tell others precisely how.

If we plan to see a movie together, the options are quite limited. She only likes sweeping historical romances or quirky English comedies.

If we go out for the day, the schedule is entirely dictated by her stomach and its need for fuel every two hours.

She terrifies the younger nurses at work with her abrupt manner. KP once walked up to a nurse (who KP had heard had been scratched on the nose by a patient) and wordlessly began rubbing the more junior nurse's nose with an alco-wipe. The terrified younger nurse remained stock still, silently submitting to the nose-wiping, until another nurse came by and murmured, "Her elbow! Not her nose! The guy scratched her on the elbow!". KP told me this story with barely repressed glee - such was her delight in her ability to strike fear into the hearts of others.

When she orders a meal at a restaurant, she asks for so many ingredients to be removed that I'm sure the chef whips off his hat and stomps on it, out back. She has given me a list of foods she doesn't eat, for when we invite her family over. There are 19 or 20 items on the list.

My other friends think KP is fairly weird, and I know they wonder why I like her so much. Fatty calls her a 'crazy woman'. But I'll tell you why this woman is so dear to me.

She sends me cards for no reason.

She makes me snort laugh.

She cooks roasts and invites us all over (roast meat and certain veges are on the acceptable foods list!)

She asks me how I am, and actually wants to know.

She hates to kill anything, even spiders.

She bosses me into doing things I wouldn't have ever tried without her urging. (Not that learning to knit, wearing green or eating high tea are world-changing events, but they've been fun!)

She offers to give me a neck massage before I've given her one. She offers to mind my children. She brings lavish pavlovas when she visits. She lends me books she thinks I might like. She nurtures me like no other friend does, my sweet/sour rhubarby KP.

So charge your glasses please, for a toast - to all those pernickety, feisty, difficult yet spectacular friends......

and to KP!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

in my dreams last night....

I was a tobacco lawyer. My job was purely to defend cigarette manufacturers against lawsuits. I was striding through the city streets, not ever reaching a destination. I came across an old school pal of high integrity, and she frowned and avoided my gaze. I was accompanied by my fat beagle dog on a leash. The dog snarled savagely at anyone who came within a few metres.

I was surfing the net, and came across a comment on another blog left by the delightful fifi. She signed off with her last name, which was filiaria (it has a certain ring to it, right? Fiona Filiaria?). I was thrilled to discover fifi's full name, and decided to look her up in the phonebook when next I visited her city.

I was shopping, and came across an older couple who are both patients of mine in real life, in the car park. "Wait, Bessie!", I beseeched the lady. "I want to show you something beautiful I bought. I'll just go to my car and be right back." But instead of going to my car, I got distracted and went back into the shopping complex. Two hours later I emerged, to see the sweet older couple still sitting in their car, waiting. I bolted over, and breathlessly apologised, mortified and desperately sorry. Bessie calmly replied, "I am extremely angry with you. What you did was terrible." They drove off.

There were other dreams, too, but more jumbled and nonsensical and incomplete. I am a profuse dreamer, and can recall at least one dream from every night, often many more. Other people I know, like Fatty, say they rarely recall their dreams. What about you?

Sunday, November 18, 2007


It's unusual for me to be frightened. Not because I'm especially brave, but more because I'm not one for taking risks. There'll be no bungee jumping, paragliding or skydiving for this little black duck.

Calculated risk I'm comfortable with. At least - calculated risk where the risk is predetermined by myself to be very low. I'll happily fight an opponent at karate (knowing I'm wearing a chest guard, mitts, mouth guard and shin guards), I'll loop the loop on a rollercoaster (knowing that death by rollercoaster is not a common event), hell, I'll even occasionally NOT FLOSS. I am woman, hear me meow. This afternoon, though, I was genuinely afraid.

I was at the movies with Fatty, my husband. As he juggled drink, chips and tickets, I wafted off across the foyer to use the bathroom before the film began. Trudging ahead of me was a young man with scruffy hair. His jeans were so long that they trailed along the ground, obscuring all view of his shoes. He turned to look at me as I fell in behind him, both of us heading down the hallway to the toilets.

We came level with the women's facilities, and the man turned to look at me again, this time more of a stare than a look. I ducked my head and headed into the women's, noting with a feeling of disquiet that there was no main door - only a corridor that hooked around. Just before I disappeared from view, I glanced down the hall again. The long-jeaned youth was standing just outside the men's room, his eyes accusatory and suspicious, pinning me with a glare of pure malice. It was evident to me at this moment that the guy was not well.

The women's toilets were empty. For some reason, despite my unease, I went ahead and entered a cubicle. I was listening all the while for the sound of footsteps, knowing that if this mentally-ill man tried to harm me, there would be no-one to hear me yell. I was across a carpeted foyer, along a hallway and around a corner from my husband. This knowledge did nothing to calm me.

I was out of the cubicle in record time, washed my hands nervously and sped back to Fatty. I told him the story as we walked to our movie. I explained how threatened I had felt. I had to force myself not to twist around when, in the almost deserted movie theatre, someone came and sat in the seat just behind me. Fatty replied airily, "Well, really, you could be killed in lots of places." Thank you, my sweet.

So all's well that ends well (as they say), and I was not stabbed to death by a psychopath. It's all good. I'm happy. I presume my family are happy to still have me around. It's bound to be a relief for the cinema cleaners, too. But if I should fail to post for more than a week, you'll know what's happened.

I'll be in a psychiatric ward on account of my persistent delusion that someone is trying to kill me in a public toilet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

heart and soul

I know I wrote a morbid-sounding poem last week, but I haven't fallen into a pit of despair. It was a bad case of Mondayitis, with a bad little haiku to mark the occasion. (Thank you, though, for the supportive comments and bloglove you sent me! I took a great deal of comfort from them all)

Although I'm not sad, I have been feeling very emotional. I've been gazing at the tiny freckles on Laura's nose, with sheer adoration. I've been thinking of my younger brother and sister, and how I love them more than they may ever know. Benjamin's cheeky attempts to boss me around have made me grin, and tell him, "Good try!", while we both fall about laughing. Tears run down my face when I watch news items about tragedy and loss. Every emotion seems intensified just now, but it's not unpleasant. It's like my world is programmed for high definition.

In a music store today, I listened to the album recently released by the Choir of Hard Knocks - an Australian choir comprised of homeless and disadvantaged people. Many of the choir members struggle with addictions to alcohol and other drugs; many have mental health problems. I had seen programs about this choir in which I heard them sing, and have read articles about the group. Yet despite this, I found myself listening today, transfixed, with goosebumps rising all over my arms. The music wasn't technically perfect, but it was sung with such intensity. And when the soprano soloist's voice rang out, the notes were so true and clear and unadorned that my throat went tight with the beauty of it.

I know the world can be a nasty, scary, awful place. Things happen that are sickening, sad and soul-destroying. And yet ............ flawed though we may be, we as people also have the most incredible capacity to bring joy into each others' lives. It doesn't take much to make another person feel cared for, feel loved, feel noticed. A wave, a brief conversation, a smile of commiseration, or lending a hand for a moment - these small acts become amplified, like ripples on a pond, radiating outwards and spreading happiness to all those around.

The future can be brighter, because we all can be kinder to each other. We may show kindness towards our own family and friends (well, for the most part!), but what about the mother who no-one ever talks to at school pick-up, or the cashier who looks exhausted, or the elderly man who looks unsure of his bearings on the street? There are so many opportunities for us each to make a difference. I'm trying to remember this.

It seems to me that life can get so busy, it is easy to race along in the current, never stopping to consider where we are actually going, or even to notice about what we are doing, day by day. So I relish these days of high emotion. Because what could be worse than not feeling anymore? What could be worse than ceasing to weep at sadness, ceasing to hoot with laughter, and ceasing to tingle at every nerve-end at the sound of voices sung from heart and soul?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Thoughts on a Monday Morning


Monday sidles in
Makes snide remarks and sniggers
Hopes to see me weep

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Giant Bug

Children take time to notice their surroundings, and mine are no exception. I can't count the number of amazing sights I've seen because my of my childrens' powers of observation.
Benjamin wandered out onto our back deck earlier this week, only to come shrieking back, exclaiming, "Mum, Mum! You have got to see this!". I lugged myself up and away from my coffee and paper, and was rewarded with the sight of this huge Titan stick insect.
As fast as you could say 'enormous bug', Fatty had a wildlife book out, and we identified the insect. Although the blurb says the insect is around 25cm, our Titan stick insect measured 36 cm when I held the ruler directly next to him. We grow 'em big on our back deck!
As the Titan stick insect is the biggest insect in Australia, and as OURS (well, OK, the one on our back deck) was sooooo long, I informed the kids this morning that we may well have been visited by the longest insect in our entire continent. "Really?", Laura enquired in hushed tones.
"Really", I replied, smiling - glad that it's a Saturday, glad that such a small thing can enthrall our whole family, and thankful above all for children - the most astonishing creatures of all.