Is this The Lucky Country?

Once there was a place, Australia was its name

And being the Lucky Country, was its claim to fame.

It was girt by sparkling sea, golden soil across the Isle,

Land of opportunity, wealth for toil, an easy smile.

This land abounded in nature’s gifts, beautiful, rich and rare,

But as I stand here and look around, I see none left to share.

For in this lucky country, it is clear the luck’s run out,

The blessed life of abundance, is replaced by one of doubt.

Australia toots its horn, about the beautiful Barrier Reef,

But this UNESCO heritage site, is under threat of thief.

The thief is climate change; and HALF the reef is gone,

Yet still we pump out greenhouse gas, and cook our coral on.

Onward we happily destroy, the only reef you can see from Space,

Killing prehistoric animals – Australia, it’s a disgrace.

The country cries with drought, it cannot feed its own,

And still our money goes into coal, leaving farmers all alone.

We see politician’s crying, about the state of mental health,

Yet I see the blood of farmers, on the hands of our Commonwealth. 

But let’s move on to other reasons, the world loves lucky Australia

It’s the generous and friendly people: That’s our cultural regalia.

For those who’ve come across the seas, We’ve boundless plains to share,

With courage let us all combine to Advance Australia Fair.

And courage you’ll need, the UN says, having crossed that mighty sea,

Because Australia’s Human Rights record, is not all it’s cracked up to be.

OK, maybe not so friendly, but with generosity we are blessed?

No; compared the world-over, we are selfish with our bequest.

I’m not sure what we’re proud of now, with our natural beauty going,

And our friendly, welcoming nature, it seems is far from glowing.

I do love our Australian country, but on the big wide world exchange,

We are not so lucky anymore, and now it’s time to change.

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Soulwater

My firstborn chokes and wheezes. Watching her, my soul is strangling inside, like a twisting, sucking drain. 

We sit on the sand at Shelley Beach, in the heart of God’s Country.  With us, is my twin sister, Sky – the two of us born on The Second Day. And, our younger brother, ‘Man, born on The Sixth Day. Our pain bleeds over my child as we crowd in, rendered inert by her struggle to survive.

My name is Salty.  I was born Maya, so named after the Hebrew word for ‘Water’, but I have never heard that name on someone’s lips refer to me.  Legend says I was a cranky toddler, the constant lowly understudy to my twin, Sky, with her air of grandeur and endless possibility. By the time our brother could speak, he had nicknamed me Salty – which means a little bit cranky, a little bit too sensitive.

Nowadays, I try hard to be less sensitive. 

Benjaman is our younger brother’s name. He too has never heard himself referred to by his full name – which in Hebrew means, ‘Son of the South’. Because Sky and I couldn’t say that very long word, we just shortened it to ‘Man. And ‘Man he has been ever since.

In our early years, ‘Man would lay flat on Earth and speak with Sky, for hours. She would caress him off to sleep, warm his bones, try and make him peaceful by gently blowing space through his ever-busy mind.  Likewise, he would throw himself into my soft body, wallowing in my love for him, and sometimes we would play risky games, my arms carrying him high and fast, in waves.

We were all close, for aeons. Life was peaceful, we lived in harmony, balanced and respectful.

Although I’m not sure Sky remembers this now.

Sky and I began to grow our families, with many children who blossomed and evolved. Sky’s kids were energetic and flighty; Mine were peaceful, slowly wading and floating through life.

Whilst we enjoyed mothers’ nature, ‘Man got to work on his business, which he called, Man-Made Manufacturing. He started with a bang, and became so industrious we couldn’t see him for the smoke plumes he left in his wake. He made swift progress, inventing all kinds of strange, brightly-coloured, strangely-shaped pieces, big and small, moving and stuck rigid into the Earth. He made more and more and more, hording the manufactured things like a strange featherless bower bird. He generated and harnessed power like a fire/gathering storm. I told Sky we were to be proud of him, growing up and using his one-of-a-kind ‘Man brain so voraciously.

As the years passed, Sky and I grew breathless and hot just watching him work. His capacity was astonishing. In our family’s long history, no one had ever seen anything like it.

Then, ‘Man got married. It was a beautiful day, under all the glory Sky and I could muster. There was laughter everywhere, dancing, kissing, hugging, everyone loving one another.

But Sky got all upset – she didn’t cry, as we knew that was not a good thing to do on a wedding.  But, as her twin, I felt it in my waters.

You see, the wedding party released 300 pearl-white balloons off the headland. It looked magnificent, twinkling like diamonds across the blue expanse. They happy couple were so wrapped up in, well, their happiness, that they just didn’t think. I felt Sky’s frown dent the day. “This is no good for your babies, Salty,” she said.

She was right: Later, there was a mishap with one of my children choking on a deflated balloon, which had landed in the water. I did not say anything as I was forever trying not to be that cranky sensitive toddler again, but I knew Sky had seen my devastation.  We did not tell ‘Man. But, thinking back, it was then that the band of foggy, suffocting darkness fell across Sky and never left.

‘Man made his first baby. This would make him end his toxic ways, we thought.

Oh, how Sky and I enveloped that baby in our love.  I used to tease Sky, that ‘Man’s first child loved me most – “a water baby” they called him.  Oceans of joy he bought me. He would fall asleep in my embrace, gently drifting side to side as I cradled him. A peace like no other would come upon him, the beat of his heart slowing to a barely visible ripple. This little boy was like her father had been growing up: Deeply connected with Sky and I. ‘Man, too, could see how important we were to his child.

‘Man was thoughtful and caring during this time; Making his child’s baby food from our nourishing Earth, handmaking wooden toys, playing with him out in the fresh air rather than inside in the electrical buzz. Although he placed less importance on his Manufacturing business during this time, he still accumulated many, many Man-Made plastic bottles, saying the water he fed his child needed to be in its purest form. This confused me, but I knew you did not question new parents at certain points in their sleepless journey. It did torment him to use disposable nappies in those first years of being a father. But by the time the second child came along, he said: “There is no other choice; and the excesses of detergent used in washing cloth nappies is no good”.  This I did understand, and had to agree, the toxins were asphyxiating.  “In fact”, he said, “the detergent is worse than disposing of the disposables!” On this, I could not comment. 

Life went along, as it does. It gets busy. I was busy, Sky was busy. We both had large broods of babies to care for, but were bringing them into a world we increasingly didn’t recognise nor knew how to navigate. We were tired. And getting more tired. My structures creaked – in the North of my body, a frozen shoulder cracked and sheared off, floating around in my body like ice in a drink. Sky’s life force laboured, she wheezed like an accordion. Old age, we said.

‘Man was the same – busy and tired. His Man-Made Manufacturing had grown to world-wide proportions. His furious working pumped out black smoke, which Sky was sensitive to. She worried about the effects of secondary smoking, which had just been discovered by one of ‘Man’s kind.

“Oh, not you two on the old cancer thing, as well,” he grumbled.  “’Man-Made Manufacturing has become the scapegoat for all things cancer these days.”  I must admit, it worried my mind that the choking filth in the tributaries and corners of my body was something deadly like this. But, this Salty would not be sensitive!

No such subtlety for Sky though: She closed in on ‘Man one day. “Why do you need to use up and throw around all that smoke and power, ‘Man?” Sky asked.

“Don’t be afraid of it,” quipped ‘Man, bouncing a chunk of coal from hand to hand. “This,” he held the dirty lump up to Sky, “is what makes me competitive! It delivers prosperity! Don’t be coalaphobic, darling sister”.  

“But there is something about it, ‘Man, that makes me feel frightened, I come over all fevery…”

“You feel hot?” ‘Man looked up at Sky.

“I do, almost all the time nowadays,” Sky answered, wearily. “And so does Salty.”

‘Man waved his hand, offhandedly: “It just The Menopause, girls”.

Oh! Sky came over black as the coal in his hand, in her fury! Her synapses exploded, sparks flew about violently like a dry lightning storm, and ‘Man ran for cover as her emotions blazed around him.

Sadly, they did not speak for a while after this, because Sky’s fiery outburst had destroyed much of what ‘Man believed he held dear. I tried to comfort him as he mourned the loss of his house, his factory and all his manufactured things. “But you still have your family, they are the most important thing,” I reminded him.

Time stepped in, and, in its usual black and white manner, eventually pushed the hurt between brother and sister into a long time ago. 

One day, on a beautiful summer’s day, with his life all back in order and rebuilt, ‘Man found a little time to just lay on the Earth, as he had done when he was a child. Sky warmed his bones and cleared his mind. He came back to my arms as well, and we surfed together once more – he rediscovered his exhilaration, and I relished in spending time with my beloved brother again. 

And then life went on. As it was before.

But we burned hotter, Sky and I… And hotter.

Until we could help it no more. My babies were boiling, and Sky was as hot as a blue flame, fit to explode. The sweating in our overheated bodies became more and more pent up, until the densely soaked heat sweltered right out in rivers and rains and floods, all over ‘Man’s place. The top half of his large Australian island home, sank in our deluge and the coastline flattened and shrank as our hot weeping lapped its shores. We could not stop it.

‘Man built big walls to stop the water destroying his structures piercing into the Earth, but, still it bled relentlessly into them.

“Not Narrabeen!” ‘Man cried, watching, horrified. “The lagoon has been drowned by the ocean!” Ancient inland lakes, dry for millennia, filled again. Cities were washed off the edge of the land.  ‘Man ran for the high ground in the red centre.

Depleted, the evaporation of our souls finally stopped. We looked upon ‘Mans home in horror.

“Why?” ‘Man now shook up to us the fist that once held coal. “Why?”

We were too weak to argue.

So ‘Man took up the argument within himself. Sky and I heard the squabbling from afar: “It’s fake news, there have always been floods: To stay competitive we need Man-Made Manufacturing!” And, “Save the environment, stop Climate Change!” said another.  

“We must try not to flood ‘Man with our worries again, Salty,” she said.

I swirled around our brother, and Sky shrank in. We tried hard to repair the relationship, we really did.

Peace fell for a time. Sky and I bore the burden of our overheating bodies and drank away Earth’s water to quench our thirst in an attempt to stop such overheating and the resulting flood again.

But after a time, it appeared we had caused drought. Cracks ran up and down the dried-out flesh of the country and Earth looked like a deeply-wizened old face. Dam’s and rivers were parched to nothing, like old, cracked lips gasping for non-existent moisture. Wild fires erupted over the Earth’s precious rain and peat forests, the last in in existence, gone forever; and ‘Man’s favourite barrier reef was boiled to death. ‘Man could not be fed, nor feed his offspring from his diminished livestock and crops. They crowded into the last damp places, warring over this new type of liquid gold – once oil, now water.  

And still ‘Man argued within. “Let’s use desalination!” they said.

Take the salt out of my saltwater? “They’re sucking out my soul!” I cried, letting my sensitivity get the better of me. Sky comforted me.

Sky and I looked upon the parched Earth in horror. Sky cried a storm of tears, and it tortured the depths of my body with acid rain. We could only watch in panic, as my bones chipped, creaked and finally broke off in the icy North; and as Sky choked, her emphysemic bellows grasping to survive.

*                *                *

I pat my gasping child’s shell, gently, although I know it does not break the surface of her suffering. Sky, by my side, is caressing my daughter too, and I feel her repressed anger at ‘Man.

“No, Sky, don’t be too sensitive, let him talk,” I caution after years of practice at the business.

“Sky, Salty, what is happening to us?” ‘Man cries, falling on his knees on the sand, right next to my dying child but not seeing her. “You are ruining this world!” He holds his head in his hands, shaking it, then his eyes focus up on us in accusing disbelief.

Us?” Sky bellows.  “We are ruining this world?” I try and wave Sky’s fury down, attempting to bring calm to the situation.

“Yes, you! All these floods, and then drought…. The fires… the dead livestock, the cyclones… why? Why?” He bows down, bending double, then he holds his arms up to the Heavens, hands spread, in pleading. “You’ve taken everything from this country!”

Sky closes her eyes, folding in, darkening, in her broken heart. She does not say anything, as I try and will peace over our situation. We must not be too sensitive!

A small, pained sound interrupts our stand-off.

I fold over my child as I hear her choke. The plastic tube in her nostrils, bright and fake-friendly, appears as if it is pushing oxygen deeper into her body, as if she can suck life-giving air through the straw and it will nourish her.  But it is not. It is sucking the life out of her. I try once more to gently nudge it out of her cavity, but it is deeply embedded and has not, and will not, move; it is staying there till it takes all the life from my child.

I let some gentle tears release in waves around our little family sitting here mourning the loss of my firstborn, my heart. They swirl around, enveloping us. Swishing rubbish into us.

“Oh stop sniffling, Salty,” says ‘Man crankily. “What’s wrong with you, gone back to the cranky little toddler who was never as good as her sister?” he laughs, without happiness.

“’Man, look at her daughter, she is dying!” Sky says, her anger giving way to disbelief that ‘Man has not yet noticed. She claps angrily, loud and wide.

“Who, this one?” He throws a hand my daughter’s way. He yanks at the plastic tube in her nose, and then at the flimsy plastic bag hanging from her mouth which is caught deep and irretrievable in her throat and stomach. Salt-filled tears begin to well in my daughter’s big soft brown eyes.r The tears rise slowly, like a dam behind its walls. Then, they gently spill, out of the corner down her face , a river of bottomless sadness in our ocean of pain. This gentle soul of mine, who has only ever wanted peace, never harming another, just swimming softly through life, staying away from the fight, tucked humbly under her shell. She is done.       

“She’s an old dinosaur anyway,” ‘Man scoffs, “her time has come, let it go my silly old sisters.”  He stares out to the horizon, absent-mindedly picking up plastic bottles and straws strewn about in the sand around us, and throwing them, one by one, into my heart.

Sky exudes a deep coughing rumble, choking on the poisonous gas that has infected the bellows of her body.

“You should get that emphysema looked at, Sky,” says ‘Man, eyes still focused on some distant plan to conquer, and throwing wrappers and food containers without thought. “You should never have ingested that secondhand smoke.” Sky this time coughs in disbelief at ‘Man’s ability to forget his previous words and actions.

“Maybe your time is up too, sisters,” he says, “You can’t live forever you know”.

My child takes a shuddering breath that might be her final. Sky begins to close down, kissing the last of her own clean oxygen into my baby.

‘Man continues polluting my soul, idly throwing rubbish, without even a glance goodbye at my daughter or a hand out to help his sister.

My sensitivity, which I thought to be permanently pushed down deep in the Abyss, reverberates and swells, in an urge I cannot control. “’Man…” I gasp. “’Man, look, please, look!

A bottle. A clutch of straws. A foam food packet. He eyes the smoke stack of his great industrious business in the distance.

It is not the kind of looking I want, and the swelling in me churns, rising out of my deep trenches, an army collecting for battle, gaining force untold, until now. No longer can I make sense, this physical reaction has swallowed my thoughts, my reason, my ability to be strong.

“What would you know, sister,” says ‘Man.

The surge is coming further, faster, up to my shoulders making them rise, filling my heart to bursting, swelling, rolling, pushing, raising my arms in a wave so large it frightens me. I don’t think I can stop it.

I suck back a deep inhale, pulling my children far out to sea, to safety, away from my uncontrolled emotion. And the animals on Earth run high and far.

I cannot hold it in; the tight tether of restraint deep down is unravelling at a rate of knots. My emotions are going to erupt, I have no control over what’s coming. All I can do is watch:

A colossal watery slap on the Earth, dissolves the coastline into nothing, pummels up the alley of ‘Man’s ‘Corso’ in an unstoppable wave, grabbing the fetid smoking ferries, trains and cars and forcing them into an underwater cyclone, like little disappearing cigarette butts. The tsunami pushes ‘Man’s white sail buidling and surrounding towers inland in smithereens, like my dead coral under a foot – crushed, just as ‘Man is crushing the breath out of my daughter.  

My rage is torrid and hysterical, and I cry and cry and cry, wild, frenzied, unstoppable. I can do nothing but watch destruction unfold. Life is being changed forever.

And ‘Man’s kind sits in wait.

My Villagio

Once you go through that whole process of the growing and the getting out of a baby, you’re then expected to rear it. Oh, look, I’m what’s called a mother…!

Amidst copious other advice, you will hear, often, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Usually at this point in the diatribe I was either taking a secret micro-nap, or I would hear “blah blah blah blah”.

The Village was something that probably happened in another part of the world – the Villagio.

I did not have myself a circle of women who sat cross-legged on the dirt in the centre of our village of huts, just waiting to change my baby’s nappy. There were not 50 over-experienced great, great aunts at my disposal, nor a specified nursing mother who would feed my baby if I couldn’t be bothered, not even a witch doctor to make the little turkey sleep. No army of womanhood hovering in wait.

“Is that a sleep potion you’re making? Please?”

Of course, my babies have a wonderful family network, but they have full and fantastic lives of their own. And I never wished that bond to be stretched – my hope was that it was about loving the time spent together, not life-sucking chores.

So, “blah, blah, blah”, some out-of-date concept, Villagio schmillagio.

I’m past the baby phase so I haven’t thought of this sprouting of wisdom for a longtime.

Until recently. 

And now I think I understand:  The Villagio is not that circle of women chanting “ohm” whilst sitting on the soil in a round. It might be just one person, who is worthy of my child’s admiration.

Let’s take a recent example of a woman, let’s call her Queen of Soccer, who stood, alone (no circle), on some nice clean grass (no dirt), and hollered “kick the ball” (not “ohm”), to my children. Not a hut in sight, just some goal posts.

“A right royal boot on her, she has”

She was teaching them football. In this village, there was kindness, boundaries, support and telling them it how it is. Her goal posts never moved – she was consistent.  She gave my little boy who was lacking in confidence, his confidence back, by encouraging and inspiring him to pump out the hard work.  Their training with the Queen of Soccer is finished for now, but the kids continue to think about her, and pumping out the hard work remains, as do all the lessons she gave them. She holds a place in their hearts, so that village is not gone.

In actual fact, the Villagio that helps raise your children, is not exactly about the physical help, as I thought, but the emotional guidance. It is not a place where barefoot women carry your child on their stomach for the first five formative years for you; It is a place where your child’s emotions feel safe, where they are built up in grounded confidence and inspired in life. A place where they grow, in the right direction.

So, now I have this definition, who else is in my village?  Well, my fabulously busy family are of course – there is no safer – or fun – place. Nanny’s funny friend, who only likes to talk about bodily gases. A dance teacher. The family you only see once a year but who fill your cup to overflow. Your own closest friend. My little man’s Kindy teacher. (Don’t all Kindy teachers hold a special place in our hearts? Mine still does). In fact, teachers, coaches, club or church leaders should probably be on the To-Do list for the making of your Villagio. They are inspiring in your kids skills for life.  

At some point, when our children disappear and re-emerge as spotty, hairy, nearly-adult’s, I suppose they begin to choose their own village – wisely, we would hope. Perhaps, if we’ve set up a good example of our Villagio, they might find the same qualities in their own.

So now if you say ‘Village’ to me (although Villagio sounds far more exotic – like it might throw the odd Carnivalé party after tea time), I won’t nap or hear “blah blah blah”.  I will think about who I have chosen to care for and inspire my kids.  It’s actually quite a big deal.

Because a village is, in fact, not about the mother at all.

Although if you look after my children, you look after me.  

The Marvellous Mammogram

The marvellous mammogram, I had one today

Here’s my assessment, which way will YOU sway?

It squashes a boob, this way and that

To stop The Big C from having a crack

I’d heard that it’s painful and awful and crude

That your nipple is pinched, you’re stark bollucky nude

No wait – that is breastfeeding, for the very first time

A mammogram’s joyful, compared to that crime

So my chest bits were mashed, in all funny shapes

And you are a bit nude, so don’t stack up on cakes

I think that it helped, when squeezed by these traps

To have a history of babies who’d drained the ole baps

They were flat as pancetta, malleable as dough

For once there’s a positive, to boobs that hang low

Hurt? Not a bit – not a bit nor a bob

And certainly not like a mastectomy op

So come on my ladies, trip off to BreastScreen

And have you a mammogram, to keep your boobs clean.

Renovator’s Dream

house 4

 

Renovating: Along with death and divorce it is touted as one of the most stressful things you can do. I think I agree. Here are some things I’ve learnt over the last 8 years of renovating our house:

  1. We survived. Like Stuart Diver, buried under 3,500 tonnes of rock and mud, we survived.
  2. We stayed married. And, no animals or humans were harmed in the making of this house. Just.
  3. Finishing is better than Christmas as a 4 year old.
  4. Communication: Building companies – please use this tool. It is more important than your nail gun – a gun which, when you finally turned up months late, I was perhaps tempted to see in a new light…
  5. Music: Builders, choose it wisely. Triple M is no good when there is enough banging going on already. Kyle Sandipants is banned. In fact, the best move is to ask ME what I want to listen to you sing to. And maybe the rest of the neighbourhood.
  6. If you turn up, I will give you unlimited tea and coffee and Tim Tams and the odd sausage sanga. If you don’t, I will serve you tears with a large dash of PMS.
  7. A good tradie is Heaven-sent. A bad one is quite sadly the joke of the building site.
  8. What you see on The Block is all a lie. Carpet Court will not lay your carpet in 48 hours because you are in a challenge. In fact, general rule of thumb to go by is that they like to cause a challenge, not help in one.
  9. If you want to start up an ethical swimming pool building company, you will be the world’s first, and, once word gets around, a multi-squillion gazillionaire.
  10. Choose nice people to work on your house wherever you can. They move in. You need to like them.
  11. Choose a paint colour and walk away. It will be fine. I’m sure “Dulux” means ‘Confuse the pants of you’ in some language. 
  12. Be black and white and brave in your conversations with everyone building your house. However, make sure you leave your tradie talk at home – it doesn’t work with, say, frail great aunt Nelly or the highly sensitive neighbour (and it’s likely your fault the neighbour is highly sensitive now anyway). house 6
  13. When you’re so buried in boxes you have to pole vault out of bed; when there are 10 different trades with difficult questions at your door at 6.45am and you’re in your dressing gown with the flu; when your kitchen ceilihouse 1ng leaks and bulges with rain water like a pregnant belly for months; when you have a set of gumboots outside every exit because you are surrounded by a mud moat, my advice is this: Finish one little thing. Paint the architrave in the laundry and close the door. When every single other part of your house has a bloke with his noise and dust in it, go into your laundry, sit on the floor and meditate with your gorgeous architrave. 
  14. Always say thank you (except maybe to pool builders – feel free to acquire a nail gun in this case). You may have waited 20 months for a roofer to show up, but when you sit in your kitchen in torrential rain and thunder and lightning, you will appreciate him. Building a house is no mean feat, it involves many coming together to meet your sometimes incredibly picky, individual wishes, and, they may not be able to sing, but I do believe they are proud of the work they do for you.  Plus, you want them to show up the next day.    
  1. And finally, try and enjoy it where you can. We loved finding old bits of newspaper in the walls, the pages of which were selling 1920’s Buicks. And one of the first Australian Women’s Weekly’s rolled up in the floor – amazing to think I would work for this magazine 40 years later. Restoring the original features of the house, like our hard wood French doors and a pressed metal ceiling, was an artistic endeavour, and are now thoroughly enjoyable to live with. Add your own flare and be courageous with it. It is a stressful time, but try and have a laugh with those blokes and your husband and kids while you’re all living through it, it creates good memories to go with your beautiful, finished new home.

 house 3

Curing the Kids: The Woodstock Country Show

 If you ask me would I like to trap four whingeing children in a long car trip, my answer would be “Thank you, but I’ll take the Chinese water torture”.

However, last weekend we did just that. As we left Sydney it didn’t take long for apparent third world-type starvation and cries of persecution about no devices allowed, to kick in. But as we drove into the beauty of a setting sun over rolling fields of cattle and sheep and the space opened up, so too did our excitement at our weekend ahead. We were off to the Woodstock Country Show.

We all breathed in a deep breath of healthy lifestyle as we arrived at Woodstock – a pretty, spotless village of 250 people. There is a post office, butcher, a whole lot of friendly people and the Hotel we stayed in. After a pub dinner we bumbled off to our toasty warm beds and settled in for a really good night’s sleep.

Next morning, we followed the publican to the Showground to drop off our children’s art for the Show competition.IMG_3275

We met up with our old friends – the reason we came – and we also made new ones. “Go kids, you can run around, it’s very safe” said our friend, and they were gone, meeting new people and enjoying space without noise restrictions. That statement was cause to relax: It’s safe for my kids, no need for that undercurrent of worry I seem to have in Sydney.

Sunday was the Show. We paid our $10 each adult and the kids were all free. We walked in past the rumble of V8 cars and utes mustering and horses so beautiful they took your breath away entering the ring, and we went to get Pippy the pet sheep off the truck for the “Guess How Much Pippy Weighs?” Competition. 

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“Does my bum look big in this?” — Pippy The Sheep
(Incidentally, she was not the same weight as me, like my 10-year-old guessed – she was 105 kilo’s).

There was stuff to see and do everywhere we looked – face painting, a magic show and a pony ride for my little girl; wood chopping for dad; a whip-cracking competition and traditional Blacksmith working for the 10-year-old, and some good old grunt and noise in the chainsaw racing for me. 

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“In my world, everyone’s a pony and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!” — Dr Seuss.
 The toddler was all over absolutely everything – climbing on tractors, fascinated by the speed shearing, talking to all the animals, and patting the “unicorn”.  

Our eldest son was glued to Rob Bast the chainsaw sculptor.  Now that is a thing to behold – he carved the finest feathers of a Wedge-tailed Eagle with a roaring brute of a machine, and made a Kelpie dog from a hunk of Cypress Pine that you could mistake for a real one. People were riveted to it.

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Rob Bast Chainsaw Sculptor
As we wandered around there was not an “I don’t like this” nor a “he did this to me” squabbly fighting noise to be heard from our kids. At times they would wander off, so engrossed in something new and exciting that they wouldn’t realise we too had wandered off just as engrossed in something else. “Look at that horse mum, that’s beautiful!” came tumbling out of Master 10’s mouth without thought, about a magnificent looking working horse.

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This is someone’s happy place
Tractor pulling – who’d have thought all six of us would love such a thing so much?  We stood in the dust and diesel and noise and cheered on rusty old pieces of machinery that didn’t look as if they worked at all, let alone could pull a weighted sled as far as they could to win the greatest distance. “Come on, you can do it!” screamed….well, maybe me… IMG_4970

As the day came to a close we went into the Walli Pavilion to collect the kids art and see the fresh produce, fairy gardens, cooking, flowers, photography and other pieces of beautiful art. “Your daughter got Champion!” said a friendly face we’d met the day before. “It’s so exciting!” We wandered over to the Children’s art section: All of them had won a prize, firsts and highly commended, and sure enough, there it was – Champion of the Show for my little 7-year-old girl, who sometimes gets lost in the mass of boys in our home, but definitely not today.

Tired, dusty, with a wallet not empty, belly’s full of sausage sandwiches and the most incredible memories in our minds, we got all those kids back in that car and looked down the barrel of that long drive home. Immediately the chorus began…

Thanks so much mum and dad – that was so much fun, that was THE BEST! Can we come back next year?

Yes, we most certainly can.

 

 

 

            

 

  

 

Diana

Today, 20 years ago, Princess Diana stopped me in the midst of a furious time to teach me a lesson. I was creating high pressure on everyone near to me, as I worked on an entry for some international fashion awards and putting too many hours into a job writing about clothes. It was all so important, you know.  I had a self-indulgent mini breakdown about it all, which would see my competition fashion piece hurled out of the garage where I sewed, and past my mum who’d been helping me thread beads and pacifying me with cups of tea. But death stops the clock in more ways than one.

I remembered skin so finely velvet in texture and softly feminine in colour that I almost reached out my 6 year old hand and touched it when Diana and Charles (no desire for touching there) came out to Bayview. DianaWe queued and got squashed and it was worth every second we did. I had seen a real-life Princess with my own eyes, a vision I still remember as clearly as if it were this morning.

I felt utter sadness at the waste of a seemingly beautiful human being, that day I heard the radio splutter out the news. After my girlhood wonder, I watched that impossibly perfect peaches and cream skin make sick African kids smile, walk through landmines, and provide the world with a perfect example of what it means to love one another. The perfect definition of the word Princess, in my young impressionable mind. If only it were people like this our current society idolised, instead of Krappy Kardashians.

I remember the next day going to work at the paper and hearing talk of the media being reported as her murderers, and whether or not our paper should run the story on the front page, or not to show our respect.

Then I remember those little boys, a similar age to my kids right now, having to walk behind the coffin of their mother in full view of the world. I felt it mean and heartless that they had to endure that. I felt like I shouldn’t watch; I cried some of my first relentless tears. I wondered if it was the fault of the Royal Family making them do it, or the media for showing their too-suddenly mature little faces in full screen, or even my very own personal fault because I was gawping at it all.

But oh how Diana’s legacy has lived on in those little boys. What a woman to have raised such strong individual’s, even without being able to finish the job. Now, as a mother myself, to me the vision of those boys and now highly respected men, tells me it is worth the exhausting work and choosing hard but right roads parenting requires. And I am happy that Diana’s little Princes now provide the same inspiration to my children as their mother did to me – true Princes of heart, courage and wisdom. I think as a family we will delve into all they do in their work more, glean inspiration in their work, rather than celebrity or meme’s.

Today, on this anniversary, let us take a little of their lesson. Let’s not throw our fashion toys out of the cot (or the garage), no matter how much we might feel like doing it.  Let’s love one another, even those we have to be brave to do so. Let’s try our hardest to walk tall with respect, courage and wisdom.  Because, after 20 years, a legacy as strong as Diana’s is not one to be ignored.