last wishes

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The G.O. and I often joke… usually as we’re dragging home yet another homeless household item… about the fortune fate of whoever undertakes the assignment of sorting out the detritus of our lives after our bodies have passed from this earth.

Our plans are each to live a long & pleasant life before peacefully departing its twilight at home at Taylors Arm. In our house with the big verandah, wood fire, modest backyard, pastoral views; which even as we reside in an amply equipped city apartment while we direct our efforts to working life, is similarly fully furnished and a repository for many pre-loved and interesting things that find us… the extent of which caused Dad to dub it “the museum”.

But, you never know…

Recently I noted via irons in the fire “Upon marriage legal wills are revoked, so the day before our nuptials we signed new wills but the accompanying personal wishes + useful information missives could do with refreshing to make them current. Sigh.”

As the walrus said, the time has come… not for the eating of oysters but preparation for the one sure thing in life: death.

By last wishes I don’t mean Dad’s efforts. Although his intention was commendable, the execution was wobbly…

a verbal request to me regarding his ‘final wishes’ after his almost fatal heart attack in 2010 and my advice to him to also convey those wishes to others, culminated in the agonising occasion of Dad announcing to an extended family gathering, apropos of nothing, his intention to be cremated and buried with my Mum, forty years dead, in complete disregard of his wife of 30 years and 3 other children – all present except one.”

Of various means, legal and non, available to supplement the conversation everyone should have with loved ones, for communication of final and just-in-case directives we chose legal wills, power of attorney, personal letters to our families, lists of useful -location of keys and documents etc.- info, and informal ‘Living Wills’.

There is an Australian Living Will Registry which “stores your Living Will (Anticipatory Directive, Advance Health Directive, Medical Proxy etc.) electronically and makes it available to relevant Health Care professionals when you need it most”. However, because the circumstances of sudden injury, illness and Living Wills, etc. are uncertain, for current purposes we’re going for the less formal option of personal documents signed and witnessed which can be produced by the other if necessary.

In considering possible scenarios we considered the some recent worst amongst all

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital a non-fiction book by Sheri Fink: “… the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at Memorial Medical Center in  New Orleans in August 2005, and is an expansion of a Pulitzer Prize-winning article written by Fink and published in The New York Times Magazine in 2009. It describes the events that took place at Memorial Medical Center over five days as thousands of people were trapped in the hospital without power. The triage system put into effect deprioritized critically ill patients for evacuation, and a number of these patients were euthanized by medical and nursing staff shortly before the entire hospital was evacuated on the fifth day of the crisis. Fink examines the legal and political consequences of the decision to euthanize patients and the ethical issues surrounding euthanasia and health care in disaster scenarios.”

Michael Schumacher: “In December 2013, Schumacher suffered a serious head injury while skiing. He was airlifted to a hospital and placed in a medically induced coma, having suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was in the coma from 29 December 2013 until 16 June 2014. He left the hospital in Grenoble for further rehabilitation at the University Hospital (CHUV) in Lausanne. On 9 September 2014, Schumacher was brought back to his home for further rehabilitation…”

Locked-in-syndrome: “… condition in which a patient is aware but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes” which I only recently heard about via The Guardian article… “Richard Marsh had a stroke doctors wanted to switch off his life-support – but he could hear every word but could not tell them he was alive. Now 95% recovered, he recounts his story.”

For me, the most important parts of communicating my last wishes are:

“… If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one,
even as the river and the sea are one…”
from On Death, Kahlil Gibran

“Upon my death, I request minimum interference with my remains necessary only to facilitate a proper and legal cremation… I request they are to be placed in the least expensive, most environmentally friendly receptacle available, cremated, and scattered over the river at Taylors Arm, or the ocean by my husband…”

“… provide background to my Will and ask you trust my judgement and honour my wishes… My primary consideration was to provide for the G.O. who I love and who shares my life on a day-to-day basis, as he would for me… In the event I am survived by the G.O., I have left everything to him. He is my long-term friend and life partner and will be affected most by my death and absence, and I don’t want his life disrupted any more than it has to be.”

I gave thought to my personal belongings and came to the realisation that once both the G.O. & I have gone, I have faith in the thoughtfulness of those to whom the task falls, and only made one stipulation “If there are any pets, I trust that you will ensure they are well cared for”, probably unnecessarily as our families are kind souls and animal lovers all.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things…”

The Walrus and The Carpenter, Lewis Carroll
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

 

 

 

irons in the fire . . .

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Without giving it much thought I’ve always had a number of creative and/or personal projects on the go; attending to what grabs my interest in what spare time I have. In the past week quite a few flagged their presence.

As I read Ardys’ post do your work, then step back… vis-à-vis the genealogy scrapbook she created for her daughter, I thought of the wedding photo book I’d started, and decided to employ similar parameters.

Photo Book
Nothing exceeds like excess…

I’d gotten as far as importing the photos and placing about two-thirds. I placed the rest of the photos. It looked stark. I decided to flagrantly abandon the parameters. Forsaking restraint, I downloaded wedding theme embellishments, and an eclectic mix of others, splashing them across the pages. My inner Oscar Wilde “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess” was pleased.

We’ve purchased an elegant formal album for the 40 printed photos taken by Loving Images Photography. That project, affixing the photos and congratulatory cards within the album belongs to the oh-so-neat-and-patient G.O. Not a task for slapdash EllaDee.

There’s method, rather than madness, behind my pick-it-up-put-it-put-it-down style. If I work continually on a project, I stop seeing detail and perspective. I put it aside, park it in the back of my mind and while it’s in hiatus jot down ideas, then return to it afresh.

That method also camouflages procrastination… as in the case of our “if you’re reading this, we’re no longer with you” letters. Upon marriage legal wills are revoked, so the day before our nuptials we signed new wills but the accompanying personal wishes + useful information missives could do with refreshing to make them current. Sigh.

Love Who You Are
Love Who You Are

Late in the week I stumbled across a tangible prompt: a Love Who You Are  banner, which complements a project along those lines I’ve been nurturing for too-many-years. My Saturday morning meditation affirmed it should be on my radar and provided insights of how I could develop it further.

The same meditation also yielded a suggestion to compile EllaDee’s Photo Library. I use only my own photos in my creative work. I’m pretty good at backing up (more so after the smartphone debacle resulting in the loss of photos of the G.O.’s grandmother’s old house…) particularly now I’m linked to OneDrive, and Google Photos is set to automatically back up my phone. Much like my email and tax filing, it’s all there but there is no order and I regularly search extensively the various repositories. Sigh.

Amongst Indie and book club reading and reviews, I read and reviewed Letters for my Little Sister.

“… I thought I would read it fast, eager to know all the information and experience it conveys. However, I’m savouring it; enjoying each essay and the personality of the woman who wrote it. When I’m weary or stressed, whether it’s due to peri-menopause or just life… reading it lifts me up, makes me smile and connects me with wonderful real, thoughtful community.”

Elements of Love Who You Are  also feed into Celi’s Second Fellowship Book: Letters for my Baby Girl, which I’ve signed up for, and begun composing a letter to contribute. Of course I’ve mislaid my writing- do’s-and-don’ts checklist. Sigh.

And there’s the family history, mine or anyone else’s, I explore. I’ve lost count of the strands I’m following. It’s difficult not to get side-tracked. I lose endless time clicking on sources leading to various snippets of information, saving links and excerpts within the labyrinth of my electronic filing for sometime-in-the-future reference. Sigh.

However, last weekend we lunched with the G.O.’s visiting aunt & uncle plus family I hadn’t met before who live on the far side of Sydney. We got to chatting about family stories and history, the G.O. enthusiastically sharing the information of their mutual convict ancestry. In a generous weak moment I offered to email the info I’d amassed. Which means locating and sorting it. Sigh.

Looking through the files reminded me of a blog post on the third convict ancestor I’d not finished, and old family photos I’d agreed to send to a newly discovered distant cousin from Dad’s mum’s Button family. As she is a prodigious online sharer, I want to watermark them first. Sigh.

Blog posts… Sigh. What on earth was I thinking in December 2011 when I created not a single but THREE WordPress blogs? Since sanity prevailed via my April 2014 blog consolidation exercise I’ve barely managed to keep up with one.

As well as Pinterest and Instagram, you can also find me on Goodreads and Etsy.

“The old proverb about having too many irons in the fire is an abominable old lie.
Have all in, shovel, tongs, and poker.”
―Adam Clarke

sage

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Letters for my Little Sister by Cecilia M. Buyswheeler Gunther & The Fellowship

Sage… is how I would describe the wise, warm words of the contributions comprising the recently published anthology Letters for my Little Sister by Cecilia M. Buyswheeler Gunther & The Fellowship “a book of letters written by sixty-eight women about their experiences with Menopause. Yes! The forbidden M word.” You can purchase it in glorious hardcopy via Amazon.

There’s another M word: Motherless. There are certain lonely times when you are motherless. No matter the good intentions they’re shoes nigh impossible for someone or something else to fill… when I recently married although we eloped with no guests, wanting some accompanying presence I wore my mother’s watch, her mother’s brooch and donned a wedding ring made from both their bands.

People mean well. In my mid 30’s, my father’s youngest and only sister (whose own mother – my beloved Nanna – died more than a quarter century before) having entered that stage in her life handed on to me with only the words “you might need this” an unprepossessing Coping with Menopause booklet. Several years later with polite thanks to my aunt I returned it unopened.

We first heard of Letters for my Little Sister when Celi aka Miss C of The Kitchens Garden (who is Cecilia M. Buyswheeler Gunther) wrote “my mother died when I was a young Mum…” and about “Change of Life. The Big Secret. The Witching time. The aging. The Menopause” asked of The Fellowship “But what am I to tell my little sister? What shall I tell her? How shall I draw the pathway that she will follow. I am the oldest. I want to write a letter for my sisters“. It seems many of The Fellowship are similarly motherless but not necessarily. However, it’s this that made a difference to me; a group I felt I belonged and could make a contribution to.

Sage… as in the plant that has “one of the longest histories of use of any culinary or medicinal herb”, on that same subject; menopause, is what I’ve had success using to halt hot flashes which began not long after I sent to Celi my own Letters for my Little Sister essay about my journey through peri-menopause.

After reviewing the plethora of remedies offered both online and in pharmacy, being astonished at the cost of proprietary products & the multiplicity of natural remedies, sage struck me as easy and available. Not having regular access to garden and sage plant to make a fresh infusion I thought I would begin the trial simply & cheaply, so purchased from the supermarket for a couple of dollars a packet of dried sage as you would use for cooking. There are contraindications and precautions to the use of sage which I heeded, proceeding cautiously. For my morning cups of tea several times a week I steep a pinch of the dried herb with boiled water in a small teapot, drink half and refill. Within a month the hot flashes disappeared and haven’t returned.

The following links provide information and precautions regarding the use of sage:

Can Sage Help Night Sweats?

Sage Benefits

Sage Risks

Important Disclaimer

The writer is conveying information from her own experience and is not a health care professional.

The information contained in this topic is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for informational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of a  health care professional before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with a health care professional about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Be it ever so humble

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There’s no place like home… and our encounter with the “Tiny House” had the G.O. and I contemplating dwelling dimensions.

On a recent Sunday we spent a pleasant Sunday morning browsing Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets which shares its location at Addison Road Community Centre with a variety of community groups including The Bower Reuse & Repair Centre which in the lead up to the September 20 auction hosted the “Tiny House” a house made entirely from reclaimed materials.

The “Tiny House” more closely resembles the caravan the G.O. and I aim to hook up and realise our great Australian dream of travelling around Australia, than what we consider a regular residence.

It’s not that we don’t do small… While our rented-from-my-sister 50 sqm 1 bedroom city apartment is bigger than the “Tiny House” the G.O. has referred to both it and our previous similarly compact apartment as “the kennel” not in reference to the nature of the inhabitants but to the lack of spaciousness of our abode.

Moving back alone to Sydney from the Central Coast over a decade ago I opted for an inner city studio loft apartment and left behind a 4 bedroom, 2 living area, double garage, deck & largish native garden surrounded residence I had shared with 1 husband, 2 cats and dog. To be fair the household catered frequently for extended family and all the rooms were used on a regular basis.

Not alone in inner city living suiting our work-centric lifestyle, apparently micro-apartments are a growing trend but there are times the walls close in and no amount of proximate cafes, pubs, shops, markets and parks compensate the delights of our country village verandah, backyard and views across the hills.

Because we straddle city-country lifestyle, as well as the apartment plus storage cage we rent 2 car parking spaces. If we didn’t have plans to relocate we’d keep only the G.O.’s ute he needs for work and a motor scooter. But country-village-no-shops-living 30 km from town will require a 2 car existence. So I hang on to my 18-year-old BMW and when I occasionally drive it out of the apartment building’s dusty underground car park I whisper sweet words to it about the nice rural life it will have one day soon.

At Taylors Arm our home is typical 1930’s, with 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, inside bathroom, ample verandah and small workshop on a sufficiently sized 630 sqm block. The original owners Ollie & Vin closed in part of the verandah, and raised  8 children in the house. Later additions were a shower-laundry and toilet out the back.

Modest size by McMansion standards, much of its capacity simply houses our belongings and is multipurpose, such as the third bed-study-dining-storage-room. As far as living zones, during warmer weather – most of the year – utilised in order are: verandah, bedroom, kitchen, back bathroom – a similar floor space expanse we’re accustomed to in the city.

Bigger smartphones are apparently better… “Apple has released a big phone. A really big phone. Samsung has had one for a while.” When it comes to the spaces we inhabit, I think we are heading in the opposite direction.

it adds up to a splendid Sunday morning

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Sunday morning was sunny
+
I spent Saturday food shopping & cooking while the G.O. was at work
+
We had breakfast food but the kitchen was clean…
+
We had to get in the car to go out later
+
The idea of a café breakfast didn’t appeal
=
Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets

Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets is one of a kind happening near us on a Sunday, a long walk or a short drive from our apartment. We park a little distance away at Enmore Park and stroll the few blocks to the entrance of Addison Rd Community Centre where the market shares its location with Reverse Garbage, The Bower Reuse & Repair Centre and eclectic community groups.

Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets is a diverse, vibrant, busy event where you can browse, shop and eat. We do all three, in that order. As I usually do food shopping on a Saturday at Eveleigh Farmers’ Market, our forays to Marrickville Markets are pleasantly recreational, we pick up extras & impulse buys, and delicious breakfasts we eat casually perched watching the heterogeneous throng. The G.O. inevitably opts for a Country Fresh lamb roll, while I amuse myself perusing the multicultural, vegetarian, vegan, traditional offerings before, this time, deciding on an Egyptian breakfast from Fritter House.

 

Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets are on Sunday 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, located at Addison Rd Community Centre, 142 Addison Rd Marrickville, NSW Australia.

the community cat

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Soossie Cat WordPress collageWhile we pragmatically left Taylors Arm Soossie Cat to her independent devices but in the care of LHS neighbour following our June stay she hadn’t not been on our minds. Upon arrival at our house for a late August break, I first checked for her… and then her verandah igloo which showed leafy, twiggy, furry indications of having been inhabited. The G.O. checked the shed, and Soossie Cat’s bed there had also been slept in.

Our first sight of Soossie Cat was somewhat later as she perched on LHS neighbour’s kitchen windowsill having exited via the opening. LHS neighbour also appeared, assuring us all was well with our “community cat”… she’s gorgeous, I love her.  Plus Soossie Cat suspected of being pregnant before definitely was now, the assignation between LHS neighbour’s grey cat and Soossie Cat being witnessed. LHS also assured us although she wasn’t keeping one for herself she’d easily find homes for the kittens… hmmm, I’d bet money at least one kitten stays to replace the black & white cat which died in June.

Soossie Cat’s arrival coincided with the peace & order that comes after we’ve unpacked & cleaned. Thus we could pay full attention and respond in a timely fashion to her request for dinner, and she could eat it in peace as is her preference.

That settled, Soossie Cat did too. Except for brief expeditions around the yard, next door to keep up her usual dining routine, and apparently rat catching evidenced by the 2 rodent [wedding?] gifts deposited under the G.O.’s ute, Soossie Cat remained in and around the house. If warm she would range around the sunny spots on the verandah but the weather tended to drizzly and cool so she amused herself accompanying the G.O. as he lit or stoked the fire. Then she slept in various locations and positions around it. For variety she reacquainted herself with the inside amenities; no bed or pillow on top or underneath escaped her reconnaissance.

Generally wherever we were Soossie Cat wasn’t far away, happy for company, to check out the contents of a cup or glass and taste whatever we were eating. On our last night she moved from the fire to the rug near our bedroom door. I deposited her on the bed and she remained quiet at the foot between us, with only one midnight lap around our heads before re-settling until the G.O.’s early morning bathroom visit. When we later emerged she was asleep in the chair on the verandah outside our bedroom door.

Soossie Cat ordinarily has a healthy appetite but pregnant it is colossal… as are her farts… oh dear. On the morning we were returning to the city as we went to drive out, Soossie Cat was back over the fence with LHS neighbour, who I felt it only fair as I was saying farewell to warn that as Soossie Cat had eaten all the tinned cat food on hand her breakfast had been a large-ish can of tuna in springwater and leftover half of a boiled egg…

Note: We’re cat lovers who believe we aren’t currently in a position to provide a suitable home environment to a cat either at our tiny Sydney apartment or our part-time house at Taylors Arm, but wear the invisible sign that attracts cats. We’ve sadly and responsibly twice surrendered kittens to organisations which can find them homes, and we provide what care we are able for city independent living cats we encounter. Soossie Cat although quite domesticated with us, and now LHS neighbour, is somewhat an independent living cat. We believe up until last year she resided among an excess of cats and small dogs at a quite undomesticated house up the road. When the house burned down Soossie Cat approached our house in proximity of LHS neighbour’s cats, and decided to remain. Soossie Cat is terrified of the G.O.’s ute when it is running [ as opposed to my cat Jack who in his day waited at the gate for car rides up to the house, and regarded vet visits as a social outing ]. We bear in mind vet care and spaying are necessary, however being caged and driven to town to be handled by strangers will be also be traumatic for Soossie Cat. We’ll attempt it in due course…

Better together

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For our honeymoon we enjoyed the gift to ourselves of quiet days. Content with our own company and simple pleasures we spent time walking, sitting by the fire or in the sun… and fitting a new handlebar to the motorcycle.

The traditional third glitch was suspected at the official signing but confirmed days later as we learned the misspelling of a name on the Certificate of Marriage is of much lesser importance than a beautiful moment.

Later in the week bearing offerings of wedding cake we made visits to parents, children & grandchildren to joyfully announce our elopement and private nuptials, and telephone calls to my sisters.

For a level playing field announcement to our wider circle we mailed postcards featuring our favourite beach wedding snapshot and the happy news to our Christmas card list of family and friends. And of course, later a Facebook update and pic.

Interestingly, amongst the congratulatory responses there were a couple of expressions of the shocked surprise kind. Regarding our unmarried status, we’d said more times than I think we realised “we’re happy as we are”, and our own sentiments were reflected at us.

It made us realise we two people simultaneously sensibly aware & needlessly afraid of our marital histories repeating, discounting the power of long-term friendship and love, had almost convinced ourselves (and others) that “happy as we are” was all we were worthy of.

What an opportunity for enrichment we would have lost had we not pursued the conversation that stemmed from the arguing-disagreeing semantics on the topic of nuptial how-to. From the moment we decided we could and would get married, a barely perceptible veil of armour dissolved. As if gaining permission, we became even more kind, gentler and appreciative in our expanded capacity for happiness.

The talented Stefano from Arte Oro Jewellery transformed our may-as-well-be rings into wedding rings.
The talented Stefano from Arte Oro Jewellery transformed our may-as-well-be rings into wedding rings.

Let these be your desires
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
Kahlil Gibran

 

* Better Together, Jack Johnson youtube 

We did – it our way.

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The eve of our wedding day was a graced by a rainbow in the valley. One of us tried to rest. One of us baked a wedding cake: red velvet slab with white chocolate ganache. Neither pursuit was without its challenge: Soossie Cat tried to help with the nap; and the G.O.’s warning of an unsecured container meant just the edge of the [un-iced] cake hit the floor.

Rainbow in the valley. One of us baked a wedding cake. One of us tried to rest.
Rainbow in the valley. One of us baked a wedding cake. One of us tried to rest.

Our wedding day dawned drizzly, heavy rain escorted us from Taylors Arm to Coffs Harbour and the first glitch occurred; an amorous, distracted pigeon accidentally collided with the ute as we were driving en route.

Prior to the ceremony we needed breakfast, and flowers for the wedding bouquet. We took care of both at Pansabella Providores at Coffs Central, and the second glitch; a watch chain caught on a button was kindly & quickly repaired by a conveniently located jeweller. Sheltered from the rain in a covered car park I created a wedding bouquet from a bunch of freshly delivered ranunculus and anemones.

We created a wedding bouquet from a bunch ranunculus and anemones.
Wedding bouquet created from a bunch of ranunculus and anemones.

Due to a quiet word with the Lord by the G.O. (and possibly the inadvertent sacrifice of an unfortunate pigeon) the weather over Diggers Beach cleared to sunny in the half hour before 11 am. Our rainbow coloured umbrella that clearly horrified the photographer’s assistant-wife wasn’t required.

The ceremony was performed by celebrant Ken incorporating his words, our Kahlil Gibran poems and simple vows. Our chosen music melded with the sounds of the ocean in the background. Attired in favourite clothes (rather than our best) and much-loved hand-me-down jewellery, in the interests of photographic styling we adopted the suggestion we remove our glasses, making everything a blur, figuratively and literally, except each other.

Afterwards we cooperated with our photographer, Stephen and his assistant-wife Lisa (aka our witnesses) for a short session recording the special event for posterity. We also took a few informal happy snaps of our own. And, when the proceedings were concluded we celebrated by walking the length of Diggers Beach.

Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia
Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia

Then, with a thought to absent family we called by to place some wedding bouquet at grandparents May & Vince’s headstone, and went on to enjoy lunch in the sun, a celebratory glass of Boomerang Bay chardonnay and a XXXX beer at the Ocean View Hotel at Urunga. Before returning to Taylors Arm for our honeymoon we paused to place the remainder of the wedding bouquet at grandparents Roy & Muriel’s headstone, and visited the headstone of Ollie & Vin the original owners of our house. Our final stop was to snip wild roadside plum blossoms for wedding cake adornment.

At home the cake and Soossie Cat awaited. In the last light of the day, we set the table with a pretty tablecloth & crockery, and finished with a ceremonial cutting & eating of wedding cake accompanied by well-earned cups of coffee.

We set the table with a pretty tablecloth & crockery, and finished with a ceremonial cutting & eating of wedding cake.
Pretty tablecloth, crockery, and wedding cake.

Marriage
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Kahlil Gibran

semantics & romantics

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The G.O. and I recently returned from a week away. Our original holiday plan was a road trip to Queensland to catch up with long distance family & friends, and celebrate what we consider our tenth anniversary; of our first kiss.

With nine days up our sleeve and anniversary mid-week we plotted the trip back, forth, reversed, stopped and decided to spend a quiet week at our house enjoying the best of Taylors Arm; sunny verandah, chilly evenings, starry skies and the wood fire.

However… there’s always a however… a parallel conversation, begun at my youngest sister’s wedding in May, was happening also. I can still visualise our trio standing unsuspecting in the sunshine looking over the bay witnessing the ceremony in front of us: the partner of my other-bridesmaid sister; the G.O.; and myself. The G.O. and my sister’s partner were joking as men do at such events “you’re next “   “you are “… until the G.O. uttered the words “not us, we argue about it “.

The opportunity to pursue the conversation stalled as at that moment the ceremony was over and we were required to participate in official weddingy things. At the bridal bouquet & garter throwing point of the reception when invited to participate the G.O. and I both flashed the may-as-well-be rings we were wearing on our left hands, forestalling the customary urging to line up with the singles. Later we sailed under the radar of the attentions of my uncles who after a few drinks amused themselves ascertaining the matrimonial intentions of the younger unmarried couples of the family.

But with the following dawn… well, a little later as we sipped tea on our balcony looking over Port Stephens, came the reckoning. It was a rocky start to part 2 of the conversation as I had taken exception to the G.O.’s statement of the previous day and enough time to mull it over. Bewildered “but we do argue about it ”  he persisted “there’s no way we’d want all this ” waving his arms to dismiss the recent accoutrements of traditional family-friends nuptials.

Aha, the G.O.’s unconventional semantics strike again. Argue about  meant disagree with. It was as plain as chalk and cheese… one of his favourite pronouncements. And it opened a conversational door we had previously shut many times with the mutual declaration “we’re happy as we are “. Which led to me, because I’m the one with a desk, computer, telephone and time, exploring possibilities.

Sydney Registry Office – $401 or $507 depending on what time/day of the week, and both the intending bride and groom must visit the Registry prior during business hours to lodge a Notice of Marriage, and provide their own witnesses: too clinical – too expensive – too hard.

Knowing we’d be heading north in August, I investigated further options, thinking we might do it at Coffs Harbour courthouse, as we’d be in Coffs in June to lodge the NOM. But my Google search for the courthouse details came up with something interesting, Loving Images Wedding Photography who advertised:

“Elope to Beautiful Coffs Harbour,
With a Romantic Elopement Package…

Imagine having your stress free, intimate wedding ceremony, all for under $1000…
for your Celebrant, Wedding Ceremony, Photographer and Witnesses”

I called. They were available on our anniversary.

Just Married, Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia
Just Married, Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia

 

 

a breath of yesteryear

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Once again nose to the scent of a family history trail, I was looking for names, dates and places but what I found was so much better: the opportunity to spend some time, in a fashion, with the G.O.’s Pop Mac.

Apparently there’s been family history research done on the G.O.’s mother’s paternal family side but I’ve never seen the fruits of it. Possibly I haven’t asked the right questions of the right person at the right time. Regardless, I like doing my own snooping research. Curious, I Googled the G.O.’s grandfather’s name and got not what I was looking for but more than I’d bargained.

The G.O. and I were pleased, and a little surprised, to come across a published version of his grandfather Roy Mackaway’s (1912-1994) work “Nulla Nulla”. The G.O. tells me he sat with his Pop for many hours as he one-finger-typed poems and stories. Roy always wanted them to be formally published. We have a copy of an early version of this work, and now a hardcopy for the G.O. and e-book for me of Jan Hawkins’ “Around the Campfire” 2013 published version.

I could give Nulla Nulla nothing less than 5 stars in my Goodreads review. “A time capsule of entertaining, amusing… sometimes poignant and hilarious… stories and poems. The author has a lively turn of phrase and is a talented storyteller and poet.” Lively turn of phrase may be understating it. I made the mistake of reading “The Pickle Bottle Poultice” on a crowded train. It describes Roy’s wife treating a boil on his “goat”  in the manner prescribed by his Grandpa. “The [dreaded] pickle poultice is short for pickle poultice murder…”

“… My Grandpa, he’s dead and gone now,
may the angels bless his soul.
For he’s the only man this side of hell,
that’s got a Grandson with two bum holes”

Wikipedia describes a nulla nulla (aka waddy) as “an Australian Aboriginal war club… A waddy is a heavy club constructed of carved timber. Waddies have been used in hand to hand combat, and were capable of splitting a shield, and killing or stunning prey. In addition to this they could be employed as a projectile as well as used to make fire and make ochre.”

Pop Mac adopted this name for his writing. In his words “Nulla Nulla is a stick, with a great knob on one end. One of its uses is when a young aboriginal lad was beginning to feel a bit lonely and he reckoned he needed a wife, he would wait until the middle of the day when it was a bit hot and he would sneak up to the water hole where all the young girls from other tribes would be having a swim. He would pick the best and spring on her like a greyhound with a bull-ant under his tail and if she gave any trouble he gave her a slight tap on the noggin’ with his nulla, throw her over his shoulder and head back to his tribe. In this way they were married.”

As well as being published, Nulla Nulla : a collection of Australian prose & poems by Cecil Roy Mackaway is held in the National Library of Australia and State Library of Queensland collection.

I’ve been distracted from my intended family history research but I will get back to it. There’s a wealth of clues in the book.

Often dipping into Goodreads quotes looking for tried & true words in the form of quotes to supplement my own literary efforts, I was thrilled and a little bemused to read the following of Roy’s recorded by Goodreads for posterity.

“Just Fat and Cuddly
There’s Aunty, just out of bed, looking a little glum and gloomy,
but I tell you mate, she’s put on weight as her frocks ain’t nice and roomy.
I’ll send her west where there ain’t no pests, where frogs all croak for water,
and I tell you mate she’ll loose the weight and once again she’ll be a corker.
I’m now heading back to my mountain shack, this only if I get the time,
for things won’t go well, she’ll give me hell, when she reads this little rhyme.”
― Cecil Roy Mackaway, Nulla Nulla (Around the Campfire Book 7) Cecil R Mackaway (Author), Eric S Hawkins (Illustrator), Jan Hawkins (Photographer)

The G.O. has long memorialized his Pop with the words "Nulla Nulla" signwritten on his ute. He is currently driving Nulla Nulla 2.
The G.O. has long memorialized his Pop with the words “Nulla Nulla” signwritten on his ute. He is currently driving Nulla Nulla 2.

A glimpse into the book is available via Amazon, one of the options for purchasing it.

Nulla Nulla

a collection of Australian Prose and Poems

by Cecil Roy Mackaway

published by Jan Hawkins

As noted by the publisher, Jan Hawkins:

“Cecil Roy Mackaway grew up in the Hunter Valley* north of Sydney, touched by a time now passed. Fresh from the influenced of a family with a convict colonial history he witnessed a world, seen from a unique view. His stories and poems bring to life the Australian colonial era and life lived from the Bushman’s perspective. Not always politically correct in today’s society, he none the less brings a richness and variety to our history and the tale of life as it was lived in the bush in a era now gone.”

“The Author gave the copyright to this collection of prose and poems into my care some years ago, to be published in time. I found the writing so delightful and entertaining that I have published it now for the general public. I invite you to step back into colonial Australia, into a time now passed and see the world through the eyes of someone who enjoyed the adventure of life and the living of it.

These works have been presented as originally written with minimal editing, preserving the vernacular and prose of the era passed where possible, which may be seen in the use of italics. The terms used in the past may not be appropriate if used in the discourse of the present day. If these terms are likely to offend please so not read this book. Neither the Author or Publisher intends to offend.

In publishing these works I would like to introduce Cecil Roy Mackaway, a friend, a relative and an inspiring writer and poet.”

The anthology begins…

“A Breath of Yesteryear

From the Memoirs of

Cecil Roy Mackaway

I was born in 1912 and reared at Dyers Crossing on the Wallamba River in New South Wales, Australia. My Grandmother was the daughter of a young Englishman, he was sent out to the colonies by his family for colonial experience like so many young men from England. It is believed however that he was murdered on the gold field at Bendigo…”

And includes…

“Old Cobbers

I sit alone in my mountain home with a pencil in my hand,

tryin’ to think of a line or two, for my cobbers down on the Strand.

They’re rushing here and rushing there as life is just one way,

and they forget their mates up bush, that they knew in another day.

So life goes on and years pass by, where’s it getting you in the end?

A cripple from rush and strife, or slightly ’round the bend. So I’ll sit up here and write good cheer for them mates down in the Strand,

and tell them about the fish I caught and latest about the brand.

Perhaps they will think of me whilst strolling in the Strand.”

* Dyers Crossing is correctly located in the Wallamba Valley near Nabiac on the Mid North Coast.