Category Archives: Lifestyle

Remembrance Day 2016

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Never forgotten

Each night I get a dose of what my husband calls ‘war porn’.  No, I am not into video battle games or S&M in the bedroom this is what I see when I turn on the television and watch the evening news whilst preparing dinner.

The kitchen commando is particularly sensitive to what he perceives to be constructed war zone scenes and the excessive zeal of news correspondents dressed in combat gear.

I engage him in discussions on what he thinks is appropriate reporting, interrupted by the occasional critique, hurled like a missile at the computer screen.  His opinions I suspect are still based on experiences from the Vietnam War.

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Finding a Great-Uncle

I accuse him of being an armchair critic, safe in our bunker, whilst we watch whole communities disintegrating under enemy fire in far off sandy places. We see families wandering dazed from the bombardments their cities are being subjected to, with children being plucked out of rubble and raced to emergency vehicles. This is what he describes as soft war porn, ready images of the distressed individual, or the fighter wandering into the haze firing at unhittable targets. He dislikes the hyperbolic language used to present the ‘news’ for our voyeuristic delight.

More boring and less dramatically reported are the conditions that our troops are experiencing, the dust particles that tickle the nose, the energy sapping heat that makes you irritable, tired and less patient, the constant tension from always being alert to your alien and rarely welcoming environment.

Remembrance Day is a trigger to reflect on the service our men and women give to us in Australia and elsewhere defending and supporting the values and morals which makes this democratic country a safe haven in which to live.

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Reflecting on their sacrifice

Of course they are paid to do this, but when deployed they don’t leave if the conditions become uncomfortable and unsafe. They cannot turn away from the ghastly sights that unfold in front of them. War is brutal and horrible, there is no escaping from that fact. They don’t have a ‘trigger warning’ allowing them to distance themselves from this harrowing place they find themselves in. They cannot choose not to participate because it might cause them distress. They learn to deal with the issues, develop resilience and keep going in an environment that is often debilitating and toxic. But then they return home to a totally different world and sometimes find it difficult to convey to their families and friends the shattering effects it has on their mind and body.

 

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Villers-Bretonneux

In his tragic warrior, Ajax, the Greek tragedian Sophocles portrays the psychological wounds inflicted on Greek warriors after fighting in the Trojan War.   Twenty-five hundred years ago Ajax struggled to deal with the guilt over atrocities inflicted during that conflict.  This is often thought of as the first example of PTSD.

Living your life doesn’t mean that you spend your time in rosehip jelly, insulated from what we don’t want to see or hear about.  I watch friends coping with family  members suffering from PTSD and it isn’t easy. We aren’t living in a simulator where if it becomes too terrible we can turn it off and walk out of the room. No-one should have to deal with these ghosts by themselves.

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Today I will reflect not only on those who served and didn’t come home but on those who have returned and are dealing with life after what they have experienced. That can be just as challenging. No-one is ever the same when they return from the ‘Theatre of War’.

A father comes in many guises

Father’s Day in Australia really isn’t a big deal in our house. Of course I’ll have my father to lunch if he isn’t playing bridge or golf with his mates or lunching with his wife of 61 years. Our children might phone in to say hi, but if they don’t, their father isn’t going to be cast into the doldrums feeling neglected. He knows he is loved.

I, like other women I know, have played father to my children. Whether it was because of long hours at work, divorce, or death there have been many times when I have had to play the traditional role of father as well as mother.

Sailing Days

A competitive father and disgruntled daughter

I have kicked the football, thrown the cricket ball, discussed dating and sex education and offered the ‘don’t drink and drive’ advice often to a withering scowl. I have learnt to communicate in grunts and lived with nocturnal teenagers.

Web-The-Craigs-1My husband was in the reverse situation of playing mother to three boys and a girl. He adores them all and is immensely proud of his brood of 7 children and 10.5 grandchildren.

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What do you mean I cannot raise my daughter like the boys? It worked for these three fellows.

He is the first to admit that bring up a girl in a family of boys was a challenge.  He isn’t the most demonstrative of men, (read that as hugging), but he can cook a mean brownie to take to the school rugby and is prepared to defend his daughter’s honour, even when she doesn’t want him to.

Whether you are a father or mother, being a parent is equal parts fun, hard work, lonely, terrifying and exhilarating. It isn’t a role for that can be discarded when you are tired, busy at work or disinterested. It is a job that demands everything of you, it is draining emotionally and physically and you should not expect devotion; that is for the dog. Affection must be earned.

You will never stop being a parent no matter how old you grow as my Grandmother told me when she was 100 and still worrying about her girls. My father at 90, is not above giving me advice, nor is he above competing with his grandchildren when he can.

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Showing off

Fatherhood is fun but the competitive nature of the man keeps coming out. He has to climb higher trees, do what his kids do and do it better. For some obscure reason lost in the Neanderthal mists, he continues to compete despite the handicaps that age eventually imposes on his body. I doubt if we women are any less good at accepting age gracefully.Web-Canberr-trip-1998-3-(1)

I trained as a midwife and thought I was prepared for motherhood, but nothing prepares you for that gut wrenchingly complicated feeling when you hold your baby for the first time. As their stepfather says, ‘If you thought too deeply about fatherhood, you mightn’t do it.’Bill with newborn Angus

As a father (and mother) I accept that we are to blame as we started it all. Yes, I realise that you blame me for your separation anxiety dating from when you were forced to leave the home that you and your mother shared but you had to make room for the others. My fatherly advice is ‘Get over it.’

This is our father’s day message to you, our children. You are the most awesome, overwhelmingly frustrating and challenging thing we do in our lives and you changed us and our lives from the moment you arrived. We have adored being a mother and a father however, there are some points that we hadn’t anticipated including:

  • Never having a moment of privacy again and no, you cannot always cross swords with me when I am having a pee!
  • If you want to share my bath you had better stop complaining that Chanel No 5 is too girlie. There is a perfectly good shower over there that you can have on your own,Version 2
  • Our dog appreciates the delicious well-balanced meals I cook every evening even if you don’t so if you don’t like what I’ve cooked, help yourself to cereal and milk,
  • No, I don’t eat cold toast because the butter doesn’t melt; my toast, like all my food is always cold by the time I have cut yours up,
  • Experiencing that feeling of rejection when even at 4 years old you let me know that you prefer the company of your friends to me,

    Bill playing with Angus on Main Beach

    A new take on dermabrasion

  • being prepared to look like a fool in public and being chased around the house wearing a hat made from newspaper shouting Ninja at the top of my voice, but why do I always have to be the baddie,
  • Never catching a fish off the beach again because I am untangling little people’s lines

    Beach fishing for Gus and Jemma

    What do you mean that I never catch a fish?

  • Feeling utterly desperate when you are lying in a hospital bed running a fever,
  • Being appalled at my wish for you to grow up so that we can talk as adults,
  • Knowing where to find a hairdresser when the home dye job turns green,
  • Wishing you hadn’t grown up because you are drinking too much of my whiskey,
  • Being impressed when you turn up with a replacement bottle,

    Andy teaching Sophie to tie a bow tie

    Its easier when I do it on myself

  • Being furious that you don’t share my opinion but delighted that you have an opinion,
  • Being enormously proud of your every achievement,
  • Being asked for advice on your love life, knowing that you probably won’t take it and realising that we are the same – human and fallible.Old memories 6

 

For our family, father’s day is just another day to talk with each other, toast our strengths and peculiarities and take pleasure in each other’s company.

Hello Possum

Possum sitting in bird feeder

 

Dame Edna may have popularised the greeting ‘Hello Possums’, but in my bed, no thank you.

I grew up in a wonderful family that embraced animals as members of the family and allowed our dogs and cats onto our beds at night. The coolness of a winter night was often measured in cats: a one-cat or two-cat night. Competition was high between the sisters and I can remember waiting until my little sister was asleep to creep in and lift a cat off her bed and into mine. We never rolled onto them, even the new-born kittens survived without being squashed.

A father I know recalls when kissing his young son goodnight, being asked to also kiss his son’s friend and discovering that each night a baby possum had been crawling under the covers and snuggling up to the small boy.  I am amazed that a small possum would sleep next to a child without scratching but I guess it was a nice warm non-threatening environment as long as it din’t mind being squashed occasionally.

They are such voracious feeders and devour my flowering plants regularly.  They are an absolute pest in our garden and I have pulled down the passionfruit vine in defeat and planted a jasmine across my railing in an attempt to deter the hungry mammals from carousing on my deck each night as they munch on their passionfruit cocktails.

In desperation, we have strung wires above the deck railing  to deter them from using our handrail as their footpath. Our barrier would make a European border patrol proud but hasn’t acted as a deterrent.  The possums regarded the high wire as an opportunity to practice their circus act and still manage to leave their horrible stinking trails along the railing.

Colin viewing the world

Alert to the situation

Possums aren’t cuddly although they might look cute when curled up in my bird feeder with their large pink domed ears and matching pink nose. The smaller ring tail possum fights for dominance against the brushtailed possum on our verandah each evening. That is the only place I want to see or hear them.

Fortunately I am married to a man who tolerates our cat sleeping on my side of the bed only because Colin ‘chat bizarre’ has learnt that sleeping on your master’s chest leads to being catapulted violently across the room.

However I am becoming less tolerant because a hot husband snuggled up to my back and a warped cat snuggled up against my tummy raises the temperature in bed to intolerable levels on other than absolutely freezing nights, of which there are few in Brisbane. In fact last night was so warm I opened the windows and the door to the verandah to avoid suffering heat stroke or a night-long hot flush. I was absorbed in reading about beautiful gardens in Australia but slightly unnerved by the bronze snake fountains and decided to roll over and join my sleeping husband.

As I snuggled up against my dozing companion a movement of the bedroom curtains caught my eye and a tug at the blanket that had fallen off the end of the bed. ‘Come on puss’, I said reaching over the end of the bed and came eye to eye with a brushtailed possum climbing up the blanket. We both bounced off the bed with me tripping over the blanket whilst flapping my arms and shooing it out of the room. My intruder didn’t seem to very perturbed; it ambled slowly over to the doorway, turned and looked at me as to say, ‘I’ll be back,’ before it walked the length of the verandah and jumped off into the banana trees. Too late, Colin arrived at the scene, nose up, sniffing possum smells.

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‘Possum, what a quaint endearment,’ said my husband cuddling up to me. ‘No you deaf fool, I was chasing a possum and much use you were in defending my honour as neither you nor the cat came to my rescue.’ Snores and purring were the only response.

My International Women’s Day lunch

I have to tell you about my lunch which makes me proud to be a daughter of a most exclusive group of women.   Four women in their very late 70s or 80s who have been friends for decades have a regular lunch date and when one of them cannot come they often include a daughter which this time happened to be me.Version 2

These wonderful women have such a variety of skills and talents and their lives have been packed with experiences. They have lived and worked overseas, been married, raised families, have successful interesting children and grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. They keep their brains alert with playing card games including bridge. They have been to more places than I have including the Amazon, Nepal, India, and Africa as well as the more traditional destinations of Europe and America. I cannot keep up with the number of books and journals that they read and their social life, as my husband says, ‘Would kill an ox.’ They are resilient and independent despite their age. You might expect their conversation to revolve around family, children and grandchildren etc. Perhaps it might include their ailments and the limitations of age. Forget it. Not once did they discuss illness, problems or the vicissitudes of life of which there have been a few.

These women are alert, intelligent and curious about life. The conversation around our table was vibrant and stimulating. I would go on too long if I gave you all the topics we discussed over our lunch but just to give you a quick overview I’ll start from where the discussion brought up David Morrison AO because his family and career were known to this circle of women. This naturally brought up the topic of gender diversity, its impact on professions such as theirs and how they managed. We segued smoothly into a discussion about minority groups and activists and how they are represented in mainstream media and society including films and television shows. The recent Sydney Mardi Gras came up in conversation with much laughter at the suggestion that perhaps they should have a float for the traditional (unnoticed older) heterosexual members of the population. This led to a discussion on government policies and the influence of minorities in decision-making and  the consequences of this on the Australian community. As women we all expressed concern about what comes across as a lack of strategic thinking in our politicians who seem to make decisions based on broadly watered down community consultation and what it takes to keep as many people happy as possible.  From here we moved onto what we expect of government, the quality and capabilities of our politicians in general, their leadership characteristics and the evolving role of our leaders, including the Prime Minister and whether a Prime Minister should attend or participate in the Gay Mardi Gras. Thus we discussed the LGBTI landscape and the Safe Schools education program and what its impact might be on families and society. These women have experienced good and indifferent education policies and we all would prefer it if the Education departments didn’t experiment on our children. This led onto their concern over what is commonly being perceived as a ‘witch hunt’ of Cardinal Pell, again known to some of these women from an earlier life. We reflected on the role of social media in society, the relevance of religion and how attitudes towards individuals have evolved in the workplace since when they first started working in the 1950s. And this wasn’t all we chatted about.

It was the most delightful and intellectually stimulating conversation I have had for a while. These gorgeous ‘old’ ladies expressed their considered opinions, listened to each other, and participated in a lively thoughtful discussion without once maligning or being hurtful about anyone. I cannot wait to be invited to join them again for lunch.

Raindrops of fantasy

Last week I awoke to a feeling of absolute delight. I could hear heavy succulent raindrops splattering on my tin roof. This rain would certainly be heavy enough to get through the leaf litter and into the soil. As we lay listening, to ensure he didn’t feel too neglected I enticed my knowledgeable husband into a discussion on the meteorological conditions that influence raindrop size. Scintillating I know, but I am a keen gardener. Enough said.

Web,-Watermark_Raindrops-on-CitrusI love rainy days because they tempt me to bring out my wet weather gear that doesn’t get a lot of wear in our dry climate. The garden skinks and spiders are brushed out of my Wellingtons, the umbrella mechanisms are tested to ensure they haven’t rusted out and my raincoats get aired and the dust shaken from the shoulders.

Sophie & Angus on Home Beach – Version 3I think raincoats can be such a fashion statement but here in Brisbane they aren’t commonly used other than by primary-aged school children wandering around in bright high-vis yellow plastic coats Paddington Bear style. We usually have wet weather in summer so wearing a coat just adds to the discomfort of wearing clothes. There is something to be said for living in a nudist colony in the sub-tropics.

As I child I loved dressing up, so it is with glee that at the first sign of rain I slip into my full-length waterproof coat with its pleated hood around me. There is something about an elegant cape that triggers fantasy and imagination in most adults.  The reversible coat is forest brown and shiraz red which does tempt Captain A to comment that I look like an ageing Red Riding Hood in camouflage whilst I feel as if I could swish across time zones fighting evil dragons rather than just wolves in the forest. Leaving my childhood I can always turn to another favourite Susie in raincoat hood fashion model.  I could wear a light trench coat that reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. It is very practical even when riding a bike but the problem occurs when I arrive at my destination because Brisbane hasn’t yet embraced the concept of cloakrooms where wet coats and umbrellas are placed.

 

I remember as a child walking home from school in the rain, bare foot in the gutter, making dams with my heels, and feeling the cool water surge across my toes. Absolute bliss!  Wellies may not be my fashion statement choice but they do serve a purpose. My large yellow boots were a lifesaver when wandering through the flooded streets in Venice during a snowy November. The pavements were so cold it was warmer wading and my only challenge was preventing the bow wave from washing the cigarette buts and rubbish into my boots. Now, in Brisbane these boots have Susie in St Mark's Sq, in wellies – Version 2been relegated to the shed where they make a foray into the garden more pleasant after heavy rain and hopefully, are a deterrent to the odd snake. Captain A who feels I am reverting into fantasy, has developed an inclination to spray what he perceives to be escapee caterpillars from Alice in Wonderland. I put up with their discomfort but I have to agree with him that they are cumbersome and inelegant and I shouldn’t be seen out in them. Definitely not car to bar shoes!

Thus, if it continues to rain during the morning will I use an umbrella but which one?

My first choice would be a small flip-up umbrella that inevitably does flip but upside down in any breeze.  I cannot count the number of small umbrellas I have left around the world, because I avoid putting a wet item into my handbag which already contains camera, iPad, iPhone as well as lipstick and sunglasses. Small folding umbrellas are workable only in very light showers and once our tropical downpour starts the only option to prevent drowning through inhalation of raindrops is to use the large golf umbrellas that have become corporate billboards. Compromise has been reached in our Andrew with umbrella in LAhousehold with me carrying the small umbrella when on my own, but when sharing the large size, it is Captain A’s responsibility. I am not sure he agrees with me but it is that or we both get wet. I remind him that we once witnessed a discussion in a Gentlemen’s outfitters shop in London where a customer deliberated between two umbrellas each costing over £400. And that was at the lower end of the price range. I really do think a pocket handkerchief and a snazzy umbrella contribute to the male sartorial style and have suggested Captain A consider it his fashion statement or weapon as John Steed did in The Avengers.

A tightly furled umbrellas is particularly useful in claiming space in a crowd in addition to tripping the odd irritating passer-by. When I see a phalanx of umbrellas charging towards me from across the street I am tempted to run in the opposite direction. I am surprised in our risk adverse society that we don’t get issued with a warning and instructions on what not to do with an umbrella. Even when it is a dismal wet day I will wear sunglasses so that the points from someone’s umbrella don’t remove my eyes. I think I should also carry a bucket.

BBC 4 umbrella sculpture

Umbrella sculpture outside BBC4, London.

The water has to run off these umbrellas somewhere but why does it have to be down my back. Recently while I was waiting at the pedestrian lights in the city, minding my own business and keeping dry under my dinky umbrella I felt water trickling down my back and into my shoes. My neighbour was completely oblivious of the damage being done to my attire much less my sense of wellbeing. At least I didn’t have a carry bag full of purchases also getting wet.

My saddest umbrella experience was occurred during a stormy afternoon when along with everyone else I was doing last minute Christmas shopping hoping I could get it all done and meet the next day’s deadline for postage home. I had a cache of bags with all my purchases clutched tightly under one arm to avoid getting wet, a shoulder bag slung over the other arm and with my free hand I was carrying an opened umbrella bent against the wind. I got to my destination, sat down and as I moved the bags containing my gifts out of pedestrian way, I thought they felt very light. I had been totally oblivious that the rain was dripping off my small foldup umbrella into the bottom of the carry bags which being paper, and once damp, tore apart and allowed all my carefully chosen presents to fall out. I think I was more upset about the time wasted than the money.

Umbrellas are an appendage we don’t know what to do with. Next rainy day, watch people shut their brolllies, shake the water off and then look around wondering what to do with them when they enter a shop? The drops make the smart marble floors as slippery as an ice-skating rink and the pile of brollies is very tempting to sort through as they leave and I am sure you won’t mind if I take the one that hasn’t got the broken strut.

Playing in raincoats – Version 2
We need to encourage more workplaces and shops to install the clever apparatus that encases the wet umbrella in a plastic bag and perhaps we could put the odd damp child in there as well and contain them. That is one thing to be thankful for, I don’t have small children to entertain on wet days. Been there done that!

 

 

The year of the skink

It may be the Year of the Monkey for some, but for me it is the Year of the Skink. Why, because the skink showed me what my 2016  New Year resolution will be.

Web_Colin-alert_7903I was digging out weeds in my garden in the company of le chat bizarre dozing in the curve of a piece of sandstone in our garden. Suddenly my companion was alert, twitching tail, ears pricked, eyes wide open, watching something under the sasanqua. The loud rustling made me wonder whether there was a field mouse searching for food. Le chat bizarre’s latest sport is to bring them into the house, let them go and watching me chase them with a broom.

I moved closer and saw a the yellow underbelly of a large tree snake twined around itself and another reptile. Initially I thought it was a second snake then I realised it was a large skink that was being swallowed.

 

The skink’s head was inside the snake’s mouth and it was wriggling and thrashing its body and tail, trying to get out of that mouth.  I and le chat bizarre watched mesmerised, as the snake moved its jaws wider and swallowed even more of the skink. That lizard was not giving up the fight. It was scrabbling against the leaves with its hind legs and flailing its forelegs against the predator.  The snake wrapped its body even tighter around the skink and you could see the muscles contracting. I was convinced the skink was going to be swallowed but suddenly and I don’t know how, the skink managed to wriggle out of the snakes’s mouth and escape into the leaf litter. The snake slithered away and le chat bizarre went back to contemplating life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That skink reminded me to always keep trying and never give up. Curiously, I read a quote the other day which dates from the 1920’s and sometimes attributed to Franklin D.Roosevelt.

Web_palm-seeds-&-rope_7898‘When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.’

Life is very precious, fight for it.

(Skink and snake got away before either could be captured on film.)

Remembering the owl and the pussycat

Colin being benign_6867‘So my fave event about which I am most passionate is having dinner with my family.’ I floated my statement above the aroma from our dinner waiting for someone to nibble at the bait and expand on it. In the silence, I wondered whether they understood my teasing. Then came the laughter and their suggestions. Listening to the discussion bouncing between us reminded me that words are a pleasure and there is nothing better than to have a nonsensical conversation over good food and wine. Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense with his clever prose and limericks was a favourite bed-time read.

I grew up with a mother who would write her rhymes in birthday cards and scrabble was frequently played after dinner. Before iPads, the Dictionary sat within reach of the table so that a point could be clarified. I encouraged my children to develop their skills in repartee, the better to extend their curfew times, and debate was often vigorous between us.

Captain A and I enjoy the power of eloquent language and frequently comment on the poor quality of reporting in our media.  The list published by the Lake Superior State University, Michigan of words people have found annoying and overused has been a source of discussion in the news and I have my contributions to that list.

‘So’ on that note I am suggesting two of my ‘faves’: event and passionate. Over summer in Australia we now have ‘rain events’ and ‘flood events’. Doesn’t it just rain with a flood being one of the consequences?

Recently at a women’s networking function every speaker said they were just so passionate about improving the lot of women in the workforce. You might feel strongly, even very strongly about equality but passionate. Sorry, passion is what I feel for my husband.

Colin in hot weather_2I would love to hear what my friends think are over-used or inappropriately used words. Send them through please.

 

Remember those who served their country

Well I have managed to grow poppies that are flowering in my garden. Despite the rains this week causing the tall plants to tumble over each other, the delicate red and orange flowers are raising their heads, reminding me that Remembrance Day is here again. Mingled amongst them is the occasional yellow rose which also symbolises remembrance.These same poppies do appear each year all over France, on roadsides, fields and between cultivated crops. Poppies in field, France

I went to our Remembrance Day service and each year another thought springs to my mind as I listen to the same ode and the same music. Today I thought about the many people fleeing their countries because of war, failing economies and governments that restrict freedom.

For these men and women that I didn’t know, I will remember their service to our country, our nation and to us whom they couldn’t know. Their lives were given so that we should live in a world that allows freedom of speech and thought. A freedom that should not be taken lightly.

I don’t think I will ever forget the many manicured cemeteries scattered throughout the French countryside. Sometimes it seems there is a cemetery beside each road however minor. It is worth stopping and walking past their tombstones. They are a gentle reminder, chiding us not to forget.

‘When you go home, tell them of us and say,

For your tomorrow, these gave their today.’

      John Maxwell Edmonds 1875-1958

Polygon Wood, France

Polygon Wood, France

Hearing the words about loyalty and service to their country caused me to reflect on what these characteristics really mean. Sitting on my desk at home is my latest ‘Loyalty’ card. Loyalty is too easily trivialised into a point’s game aimed to attract my commercial loyalty to boost corporate profits. True loyalty remains even under extreme duress and absolutely awful conditions.

These still silent tombstones say it all.

These still silent tombstones say it all.

I reflect on the concept of service. The corporate brand of ‘Customer service’ that is a commercial tactic to increase profit hijacks the integrity of true service. Who considers service any longer? Are we proud of the Service to our country and nation the way these men and women once were? I worry that the collective commitment to our country is being diminished in the public debate that espouses the greater need of individuality and cultural and religious identity over nationhood.

Sitting here listening and thinking is a humbling experience. I haven’t been in a situation where I have been called to give service to my country but I am surrounded by many family members who have. My feelings reach out to other mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives who waited and worried. These feelings have been shared by generations of women and men not just for the 100 years since World War 1 (WW1) but forever.

The words of John Maxwell Edmonds were part of a collection of epitaphs for WW1 are an adaptation of words written by a Greek poet, Simondes of Cios 556-468 BC on the battle of Thermophylae in 480BC between the Greeks and the Persians.

Go tell the Spartans, thou that passest by,

That faithful to their precepts here we lie.

Red poppy

Blanket Date or Doona Day

The early morning cool breeze and soft folds of blanket were tempting me back into bed. I dashed my husband’s hopes and justified my desire to have one cup of coffee in bed whilst leafing through my new book.   ‘Why not? We have had early mornings because the grandchildren stayed over and we sat chatting and sipping wine until after 1 am.’ However, I resisted as I had things to do that wouldn’t wait. ‘If I am not going back to bed, then we have to make it,’ I said.

Blanket versus donna?

Blanket versus donna?

How can I have an immaculate bed when I don't iron the donna cover?

How can I have an immaculate bed when I don’t iron the donna cover?

Why I have this compulsion to make the bed once I am up intrigues me. There is no logic for why a messy bed wrecks my day’s organisation as our bedroom is tucked away at the end of the veranda and I don’t need to walk past it once I am up and dressed. In fact if the bed wasn’t made, I might not notice until later that night. If all our problems can be blamed on our mothers perhaps I will add this to the list. Mum always insisted that her children tidy their rooms and make their bed before going to school.

But getting back to a messy bed. Who cares? The bedroom isn’t my office so why does it make such an impact on my efficiency? I haven’t got an answer but I just know that I am calmer and easier to work with when the bed has been made. Muttering about hang-ups and hangovers, I reach for the covers.

Cat having Blanket Date

Cat having Blanket Date

A claw sinks into my hand and anchors me to the blanket. Ouch! Obviously Cat doesn’t mind a messy bed. I extract my hand and very cautiously lift the blanket to find said Cat, curled into a lovely warm hollow and displaying no intention of leaving any time soon.

'Don't disturb my Doona Day'

‘Don’t disturb my Doona Day’

The Cat won the day and I left him there while I pondered on blankets versus doonas. If I were a retailer I would be persuading customers to buy doonas because then they need a doona cover that must match the décor, the season, the latest colour trend etc.

Moi, I prefer blankets. One of my best decisions and investments (and I mean investment as we ate sausages for weeks) was to buy a pair of gorgeous very light mohair blankets that 20 years later I still adore cuddling under.

Mohair blankets are so soft and light.

Mohair blankets are so soft and light.

I particularly dislike the trend of hotels to provide a doona in a sheet bag but no additional sheet. This is great in winter but means in summer you need the air-conditioning on very low to keep the room cool enough to sleep under a doona. I wonder how a committed ‘greenie’ feels about this use of energy. You either sleep with nothing or under the doona and by the middle of the night I find I am having nightmares because I am too hot. Most recently my husband was staying in a Hyatt hotel during a 35-degree evening where all he had was a doona. He phoned to say he had finally understood why I always take the doona out of the bag, so that I can use the bag as a top sheet with the option of the doona. This does cause great confusion in the morning when the hotel staff come to do the room.

Web-doona-crumpled_7516-(1)

I do love the look and feel of the donna wrapped and crumpled.

However, I do love the way the doona plumps up around my body when I sit up having coffee in the morning. There is truly something very sensual about being wrapped in a doona and having a Doona Day sounds so much catchier than having a Blanket Date.

Generosity of spirit

Well done to Lincoln Sherlock who showed by his quick response to an emergency situation that he is a selfless and brave man. Even more so, as once he had saved this man’s life, he left the scene beside the Brisbane River without seeking to be noticed.

Recently I saw a young girl pull up in a car and rush to ask an elderly man if he was okay as he leant puffing and heaving against a light pole on the side of busy Kelvin Grove Road. Another young girl passing by also stopped to see whether he needed assistance. It was heartening to watch.

Realistically very few of us are placed into a situation where they save a life but during our day kindness doesn’t have to be so dramatic. A smile, a greeting and a gesture of friendship or assistance without expectation of reward are what create a good society to live in.

A delicious goat cheese from Le Fromage YardOn the week-end I bought some cheese from two young people, Stephanie and Pierre who have started a small business. I like their cheeses and I like them so I sought them out at the market. After purchasing the cheese, Stephanie placed another small goat’s cheese into my bag. I am becoming a regular customer of Le Fromage Yard and this generous act was much appreciated.

I don’t think generosity of spirit means that you have to offer a gift that costs money. It can be a simple genuine act of spontaneous friendship, kindness or thoughtfulness. The pleasure the person receiving this act should be sufficient and because happiness is infective it will make the giver and the receiver feel happy.

Rarely do you have the opportunity to return the gesture, rather, you pay back that generous act not to that person but to another individual because most people respond to kindness and want to reciprocate. Pay it forward, as the saying goes. You will never know what effect small acts of generosity of spirit may have; such as letting a car move in front of you when waiting to get into the carpark. I am willing to bet however, that it will have a ripple effect on those around you.