Sunshine Sundays ~ Earth

I am tired today. My head hurts from staring into a computer for days, grappling a new system for work. At some point, I need to get away, lie on the grass, or in the hammock, and stare at the clouds. I had high hopes for my earth piece…but it’s going to come down to this:

The world is an amazing place…When I type this into Google, this is what I get:

Amazing-natura

Amazing-View-of-Genesee-River-USA

Antelope-Canyon-Arizona

Ashikaga-Flower-Park-in-Tochigi-Japan

Bluebonnet-Field-in-Ellis-County-Texas

Burney-Falls-State-Park-Califiornia

Emerald-Pool-at-Subway-Zion-National-Park-Utah

Fukuroda-Falls-Ibaraki-Japan

Mossy-Inlet-Iceland

Mountains-and-Clouds

Sunflower-Fields-Andalusia-Spain

Upper-Kanarra-Falls-Kanarraville-Utah

Thank goodness for Google, and amazing images like these, which remind us how small we are, and how amazing nature is.

Recently, I read through the early childhood learning material about connecting children to their environment. It was so uplifting to read how committed the preschool program is to helping our small people understand and appreciate nature. Dirt Girl World (my favourite Facebook feed) is doing her thing to help kids connect with the environment and nature in a positive way.

We also do our (little) bit for the environment. We try to turn off electrical switches, and unplug adapters when they are not in use. We drive a second-hand Prius. Buy second-hand clothes. Buy in bulk. Recycle. Although we are still consumers, and we make unnecessary waste, I am sure our contribution makes some difference, no matter how slight.

Importantly, we are talking about nature and the environment around our kids.

Some people do a lot more than we do. I have full admiration for the campers out at Bentley, peacefully protesting against the Metagasco gas exploration drill planned for a property outside of Lismore. The Northern Rivers community has protested heavily against coal seam gas mining, but it still looks like it might go ahead. So campers stay camped and hopeful.

There’s a whole lot of other unpleasant stuff going on, which is bigger than turning off light switches. We do our bit, but then old growth forests in Tasmania are vulnerable, as is the Great Barrier Reef, and sharks off the West Coast. And it’s more than the sharks that are culled, or the trees that are logged, or the coral and millions of species of fish and underwater life that disappears – natural cycles, and ecosystems that took so long to become what they became are completely devastated.

Never has this book been more important:

the-lorax

 

“Mister!” he said with a sawdusty sneeze, “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.”

I don’t really know what to do. Drive around in my Prius? Read books about Truffala Trees to my kids? Is that enough? I don’t think so. But right now I feel powerless and insignificant, and sad for what might not be here any more – the earth my kid’s inherit.

Share your earth stories here for Sunshine Sunday, either by linking up or leaving a comment. Would love to hear from you. Next week’s theme is…well, has to be Easter, right? Let’s make it Easter. Also, I have finally got my imagination podcast together, so if you would like it in your inbox tomorrow, as well as another picture book competition, sign up for my monthly newsletter today x

Sunshine Sundays

 

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Images sourced from Top Dreamer – 35 Amazing Places in Our World

People are happy here

There’s a home I have been visiting since I was nineteen.

It has mint green kitchen walls, and textured glass windows. people are happy here

The walls in the bathroom are patterned with small blue flowers. Conch shells sit on the toilet and the window sill. They always have.

the people are happy here

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The people are happy here

Mozzie nets hang from the ceiling. The open windows are screenless, letting in the warm Brisbane night air and the occasional insect.

The people are happy here

The people are happy here

Paint peels off the stairs leading up to the front door.

I remember walking up those stairs for the first time, entering a small and cosy world that belonged to another family. I didn’t know the people very well at the time, but I was welcomed at their kitchen table. We sat and talked about art, and people, places and ideas into the small hours, sipping wine, then herbal tea from tumblers. I was drawn into a world where people sit around the kitchen table and talk about things, openly.

They showed me where the key was kept, and even though I hadn’t known these people well, I was invited to let myself in and make myself a tea whenever I was in the area.

I came back.

And I kept coming back. For the warmth, the company and the conversation.

More than ten years later, I am still dropping in, often on short notice. I bring my family now, and even though we have multiplied, and we are louder and busier, we are still welcome here.

There is contentment, and satisfaction embedded into the textured glass, and painted wooden walls. The people are happy here, this home whispers. I know, I whisper back.

Do you have a home away from home? Are there any places that make you feel truly, deeply contented?

Come by to join me on FACEBOOK anytime. 

Linking with lovely Maxabella Loves and Life Love & Hiccups for Weekend Rewind. Thanks ladies!

Sunshine Sunday ~ Grandparents

Despite my little family moving into my Grandma Joyce’s house the week after she died, I have not spent a lot of time thinking or missing old Joyce. It sounds harsh, but it’s my nature. I do what I do in the present moment, and find it hard to reflect on what’s not immediately present – like my old gran, with the booming voice and the penchant for saying “B-rrrr-own”, like a proper English Lady.

Joyce4

In her last years, she sat in her cane chair in what is now my little sunshine home, but was then her little cottage. Morning until night, she barely moved, except to toddle to the kitchen to get a black tea, or later in the day a scotch. She sat, cradling her tea by day/scotch by night while Kimba, her Golden Retriever, lay faithfully at her feet. She entertained herself with cooking shows, and her dirty little midday secret, Days of Our Lives (which was promptly shut off as soon as someone walked through the door.)

Her fridge was stocked with five packets of butter, several litres of milk and a whole corned beef roast in case Dylan dropped in for lunch. The pantry was full of several packets of breadcrumbs, and bottles of fish sauce and soy sauce, some of which dated back to 1989. A friend once suggested that perhaps Joyce’s hoarding and tendency to buy five of everything was a lay-over from the Great Depression. But reflecting back herself, Joyce assured me that the Great Depression didn’t affect her in the slightest. She always had plenty.

joyce 2

Sorting out things from her loft after she died, it appeared that butter and breadcrumbs weren’t the only things she bought in excess. Joyce had seven of the same spotless white canvas shoes, and several ‘uniforms’ from each decade of her later life. The slacks from the 70s, the straight linen dresses of the 80s, and the box linen skirt with matching cotton shirts of the 90s and naughties. All sets were made expertly by a local seamstress, in only the finest materials.

The daughter of business man who drove one of the first cars on the north coast, as she aged, Joyce continued  to choose quality regardless of the price, despite living on a pension.

JOyce

She was proud, and known for her ability to talk – about nonsense mostly, or at least something you had heard twenty times before. But people loved her. The butcher brought her cuts of meat and eggs. The woodman came and sat with her and smoked a cigarette inside, because she said it was fine. Lance – I think he’s an electrician – just dropped in for a chat, even when her fridge was working.

She befriended most of the local kids. They’d drop by too. Mr Clifford, the gardener visited most weeks until he died, and fed Kimba under the table. Her great friend, Velma, lived within walking distance, and the two would nag at each other and about each other, but loved each other dearly.

Joyce was loud – proud – looming and sometimes frightening (if you happened to marry one of her children). But she was funny, and warm. When I brought Gregor over to meet her for the first time, she was in her bra and undies, trying to put on her stockings. She didn’t stop talking for a moment, even to put on her clothes.

joyce3

Beneath the large glasses were vulnerable watery blue eyes, that welled up with any mention of her children or grandchildren. She couldn’t talk about her late husband Charles without choking up.

In the last year of her life, I visited her with Elfie. I had to put Elfie in a clothes basket before she could sit up, because there was nowhere for her to lay which wasn’t covered in dog hair. I put the first great grandchild – the only one she got to know – at Joyce’s feet, and Joyce taught her to clap hands.

I asked Joyce a few questions about her youth in Mallanganee, and about going to boarding school in Armidale. Her stories were broken, and wandering. They meandered like a dream sequence, and she told me things that made me realise how vulnerable, and how scared she was, despite the occasional haughty English pronunciation of “brown” and “cow”.

Joyce had the best legs on the north coast, according to her doting husband. I read their love letters in their engagement period and could see why she loved him so dearly.

In her last few days, she was half-conscious, not eating and not medicated in hospital. She drifted in and out. When her oldest son sang her The Way You Look Tonight, and whispered that she could leave now and join Charles, she finally let go.

So although I am all stuck in the moment and all that, lately I have been really missing old Joycey. I miss how she drew people together. She was the linchpin of every family occasion. I miss that she rang me and everyone else if there was an event in the family, like a birthday, or someone winning an award. I miss that love I felt emanating from her. Big squishy love. Even in those quiet, lonely hours, someone – Joyce – was in her cane chair, talking about me to her neighbour or an old friend, and I was remembered, and loved.

Tell me about your grandparents, or your children’s grandparents. Do grandparents play a big role in your life? 

Link your stories here for Sunshine Sunday, and drop in to comment on some of the other posts. Next week’s theme is “Ritual”. And if you aren’t already linked up to my FACEBOOK page, I would love to welcome you there.

Sunshine Sundays

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Mum

Mum lives about fifteen minutes up the road. She’s the sort of mum who drives up to Robina to pick up a second-hand piano for my daughter. She drops in for an hour or two after her personal training to play with the girls. On a weekend, we’ll go to her and Dad’s place, and she’ll cook a decadent breakfast of roasted tomatoes, poached eggs and smoked salmon.

One of the reasons we moved to to Northern Rivers was to be close to Mum and Dad. Pregnant, down in Melbourne, I asked myself, “Who’s going to drop everything and come and help look after me if I have mastitis, my husband is at work and my baby’s crying all afternoon? Who will come and make me a cup of tea?” The answer was simple. Mum.

We haven’t always lived near each other. Actually, other than a brief period in 2001, we have lived apart since I was 12.

I went to boarding school in Year 7. It was only an hour-and-a-half away. For the first two weeks, I was very brave. I wanted to be there, and it was a big exciting adventure. Two weeks in, I melted down, and Mum was on the other end of the phone, consoling me through my sobs.

The theme continued until I left school in 2000. I think I spoke to Mum every day, or at least wrote her a letter.

When I moved to Melbourne in 2002 to study art history, I was still calling Mum every day. Most days were just filling her in with what had been happening, and sharing the joy of my learning and my plans for the future. Some days though, she was still listening to me blubber – patient, kind, wise. Her words would put me at ease, and I could slip back into my urban life.

In my first year of uni, we went to Bali together for a month. It was the best time – seriously. We shared double beds in guest houses, and Mum encouraged me to take up smoking, insisting we have a kretek cigarette with a coffee on the balcony each morning. Although neither of us were technically smokers, we were going through a pack a day. She bought me a carton Duty Free on our way home.

When I moved the London in 2005, Mum followed me over, and we spent another month together, sharing rooms with ensuites, and breakfast, and belting out Throw Your Arms Around Me as we wound down tiny Irish roads in a hire car.

When she returned home, and left me in my little London flat, Mum had to again burden the weight of my sadness, as I called her from  phone booths in London lane ways. She told me that no boy was worth that kind of sad, and I should move out and experience the world. I didn’t heed her advice, and instead ended up returning to Australia, weighing less than I had ever weighed, with my first wrinkles pinching my eyes. Mum hugged me at the airport.

Back in Melbourne, I was happy again, doing a job I loved and riding a red bicycle. I shared my happiness and my plans for the future with her on the phone every day.

Then I met Gregor. She was happy for me, of course, if not a little surprised when on meeting him for the first time he told her he could imagine having kids with me and living around Byron. I am not sure what you would call the state of her emotion though when I told her, after spending barely a month with Gregor, that we were planning to get married. Something shifted.

We stopped calling every day. When I saw her, our interactions were often fraught and awkward. It seemed that holidays we spent together were dedicated to clearing out cobwebs and other issues that had accumulated in the closet.

Mum had been my best friend all my life – but me meeting Gregor, and deciding to get married on a whim definitely changed things.

Yet she organised our wedding on a hill. She smiled for the cameras.

When Elfie* was born in the early hours of 2010, Mum was the first to visit, bringing champagne and camembert. She had Elfie overnight when Rosie was born. She holds serious Grandma status for my girls – they love her and talk about her continuously. If it’s not Mum and Dad, it’s Mati (aka Grandma). She earned her stripes just by being herself – loving and gentle. Watching her with them makes me realise how much I was loved as a child.

Our relationship changed again when I had children. It grew up. We grew up. We still have the occasional issue to discuss, or email to exchange, but it’s sortable. The water doesn’t run so deep. We don’t call every day, and I don’t tend to call her when I am a blubbery mess – but I need her and love her.

Despite the way our relationship has changed, Mum has always been Mum. And then, the other day, I pulled out a wicker box of old photos from my Grandma Joyce to look at with Elfie. Many of them were printed from slides. Flicking though, Mum suddenly became someone else – Margaret, or Mig. She was not the mum of three kids, living in rural NSW, while her husband worked 80-hours a week. She was not the Mum cradling the phone for hours while her daughter sobbed somewhere in London. She had freckles and a perky look. She sung joyously with her brothers, Paul and Joff. She posed in a cute 70s outfit, and bared her legs on the beach. She was natural and gorgeous and full of life.

Mum

mum1

 

Mum

Mum

Mum

Mum

Mum

mum8

mum5

Mum and I

Mum and me… This could be Rosie and me right now.

I loved unravelling the story of my mum – the person she was before me, or even with me before I can remember.

It’s Mother’s Day 11th May. Since having a child of my own, Mother’s Day has been all about me. But this year I reckon I will make it about my mum, Margaret, Mati, Mig, because she had me, and picks up pianos for us, and more.

What are your plans for Mother’s Day this year? Do you have any special Mother’s Day traditions? If you need flowers for your lovely Ma on Mother’s Day, I’ve found a great Australian online florist called Fresh Flowers and they have a lovely range.

What’s your relationship like with your mum?

Pop over and see me anytime of week over on FACEBOOK.

*PS Elfie is the new pseudonom for my oldest daughter, AKA My Little Sunshine Girl. My Little Sunshine Girl can be a little long and wordy when trying to tell and story, and Elfie is a nickname that has a special meaning to us. Just thought I better clear the air in case you were confused, and thought maybe I had had another child in there somewhere!

Sunshine Sunday ~ Night

Sunshine Sunday NIght

I know it’s not really fitting with sunny Sunday mornings, but let’s talk about the night.

As much as I love my sunny days in my sunny home, I really look forward to nighttime.

I look forward to that moment, when at 9pm, I finally ease out of the girls’ bedroom, gently letting go of the door knob. Soft click.

I hurry to my computer, and write down the words that banked up in the quiet, dark hour of putting girls to bed.

I let the floodgates of Facebook Land open, and flick through the hundreds of emails piled up in my inbox. Open. Click. Delete/reply.

Gregor (Husband) waits patiently on the day(night) bed, reading running mags. We reconvene over a glass of vino that’s been sitting out, airing, getting all fruity and smooth.

We crack open the Lindt Lindor Extra Dark, diligently dividing the block into equal parts. One glass of wine, nine squares of extra dark chocolate, the shoulder of one lover to lean on…

We let the day flit between us. Stories of our girls, mainly. How much we love them, how cute they were when they… Did I tell you she said…?

At some point in our career, we may have broken up television nights playing cards, or poker with dice. Now, we go straight to the comedy channel in iView. We don’t have a television, so watch on the computer. It suits us as we can watch programs we want to watch whenever we want to watch them, from the comfort of our over-sized cushions.

Right now, we are enjoying Season 4 of Portlandia and Season 2 of SpacedGreen Wingone of my favourite British comedies just ended. We catch up on news with Shaun Micallef.

When good comedy is running low, we turn to a series on DVD. The latest has been True Blood. I confess I have a bit of a girl crush on Sookie. She’s so cool and strong. And Bill’s very charming for a vampire. Tonight, we’re starting Season 5 of 30 Rock.

With life, work, girls, housework etc. I don’t make a lot of time to lean into my husband, and feel connected through the day. But even without date nights and romantic rendezvous-es, we do fine. Really fine. We are a team, walking in the same direction, sharing a love of comedy shows, Lindt Lindor, good red wine, and of course our daughters. We don’t need much, but without our evenings together, I think we’d struggle.

My favourite part of the night, though, is getting into bed. Soft bamboo sheets. My latex pillow. I have a few good thoughts, then I am gone. Sleep, how I love thee.

How do you maintain a connection with your partner? What are nights to you? What are you watching on television right now?

Share your posts about the night here for Sunshine Sunday. Drop in and comment on other blogs. And if you’re in the mood, come back here next week for “Grandparents” week. If you have any suggestions for weekly themes, I would love to hear them.

Happy warm and sunny Sunday, friends. Pop over and say hi on FACEBOOK if you are about.

Sunshine Sundays

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