Monday, July 30, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I read A Boy's Life by Robert McCammon over the Christmas of 1991. In looking back through my old journals I found this extract which I think is worth sharing.
"I have seen many boys come and go," she said. "I've seen some grow up and set roots and some grow up and move away. The years of a boys life pass so fast Cory." she smiled faintly. "Boys want to hurry up and be men and then comes a day they wish they could be boys again. But I'll tell you a secret Cory. Want to hear it?"
"No one," Mrs Neville whispered, "ever grows up."
I frowned. What kind of secret was that? My Dad and mom were grown up weren't they? So were Mr Dollar, Chief Marchetta, Dr Parish, Reverend Lavoy, the lady and everybody else over eighteen.
"They may look grown up," she continued, "But it's a disguise. It's just the clay of time. Men and women are still children deep in their hearts. They still would like to jump and play, but that heavy clay won't let them. They'd like to shake off every chain the world's put on them, take off their watches and neck ties and Sunday shoes and return naked to the swimmin' hole, if just for one day. They'd like to feel free, and know that there's a momma and daddy at home who'll take care of things and love them no matter what. Even behind the face of the meanest man in the world is a scared little boy tryin' to wedge himself into a corner where he can't be hurt." She put aside the papers and folded her hands on the desk. "I have seen plenty of boys grow into men, Cory, and I want to say one word to you. Remember."
Remember? Remember what?
"Everything", she said. "And anything. Don't you go through a day without rememberin' something of it and tuckin' that memory away like a treasure. Because it is. And memories are sweet doors Cory. They're teachers and friends and disciplinarians. When you look at something, don't just look. See it. Really, really see it. See it so when you write it down, somebody else can see it too. It's easy to walk through life deaf, dumb and blind, Cory. Most everybody you know or ever meet will. They'll walk through a parade of wonders, and they'll never hear a peep of it. But you can live a thousand lifetimes if you want to. You can talk to people you'll never set eyes on, in lands you'll never visit."
She nodded watching my face. "And if you're good and you're lucky and you have something worth saying, then you might have the chance to live on long after - " she paused, measuring her words. "Long after," she finished.
The words resonate more strongly for me now than they did way back then when I was a 34 year old father of three. Though even then I was searching for the boy that had been locked away by the expectations of myself and others. I wonder if I ever did actually take the time to walk that parade of wonders, in keeping my journals I am thankful that at times my eyes were open and the voices of my children as children echo strongly from the pages of those books. I will always be grateful that I took the time to record some of the things they said and did at the time they were said or done. There is of course no recapturing the lost moments.
I recognise in the voice of Mrs Neville the feeling that at times I do want to return to the bedroom of my childhood, with it's vintage car wallpaper and venetian blinds, and the safe feeling of being tucked in at night by Mum or Dad. Where the dust motes floated in sunbeams and the steam from the paper factory could be heard late in the still of the night. I wish the man I am now could revisit the homes of his grandparents and soak up the smell of freshly baked scones, or hear the laughter from the crowded kitchen table as another game of cards were dealt. Or be licked on the face by a dog and not care. Or splash in puddles of water on unmade roads, and fall over in the schoolyard skidpans and gaze in wonder at fireworks as if for the first time.
I am thankful for all that has gone before. I look forward to rekindling my wonder, to the things that were once simple pleasures. I am grateful for this world now which does mean that I can connect with people all over the world and with them continue to explore this journey.
It’s very simple. When this is passed on to you, copy the whole thing, skim the list and put a * star beside those that you like. (Check out especially the * starred ones.) Add the next number (1. 2. 3. 4. 5., etc.) and write your own blogging tip for other bloggers. Try to make your tip general. After that, tag 10 other people. Link love some friends! Just think– if 10 people start this, the 10 people pass it onto another 10 people, you have 100 links already!
Here are the tips!
1. Look, read, and learn.
2. Be EXCELLENT to each other.
3. Don’t let money change ya!
4. Always reply to your comments
5. Blog about what you know & love.
6. Don't use filthy language-buy a dictionary.
7. Whenever possible, spread some positive thoughts and love. The world needs more of them.
8. Write down from your heart or head. Either way asks yourself why you ever get started.
9. Try to make your template something unique and easy to look. Your template gives the blogger identity as much as the post content.
10. Join some of the social network sites like MyBloglog and BlogCatalog.
Leisel at Dead Man's Honda
Kim at Laketrees
Wondah at Disjointed Intelligence
Finding Heart at Finding My Heart Again
Lady Penelope at Lady Penelopes Thoughts
Walks Far Woman at Kissing the Dogwood
Michelle at One Full House
Angry Barcode at Intellectual Hedonism
Dave J at Wandering the Ether
Heidi at Virushead
I don't really mind if those tagged participate or not. I would encourage any of you who care to read this blog to visit each of those listed above because I'm pretty sure you'll find some gems amongst them that you will wish to re-visit.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
One of the major advantages of those sites is the recent viewers or recent reader widgets that can be installed which tells me who is visiting and I make a point of returning the favour to those people. I also find that I will click on the icons for visitors to their sites on their widgets and I have stumbled on a number of blogs in that manner which are now regular reads.
One of the things that I have found is that there are very few Aussie readers of my blogs, whilst the traffic to my blogs in terms of numbers is split fairly evenly between Australia and the US as the largest number of visitors, I suspect that 95% of the Aussie visitors are in fact me.
I also don't profess to know a lot about Web 2.0 in fact I'm very much learning as I go which is part of the fun I guess.
So I thought that I might try a bit of an experiment and have searched for some Aussie bloggers today and decided to leave a few comments to see if any of them do find their way back here. Laurel Papworth who blogs about social networking has set up Bloggerati Australia to link Aussie Bloggers together so I'm off to join and I'll watch with interest to see if the number of fellow Aussies visiting here shows any increases over the next weeks and months.
Incidentally, if any of you who read this aren't members of MyBlogLog or BlogCatalog, I would urge you to join. You're sure to find people you enjoy spending time with.
Friday, July 27, 2007
"All we really want is to get to the point where the past can explain nothing about us and we can get on with life."
- Richard Ford; The Sportswriter - Bloomsbury, 1986, p.21
I was drawn to this book by the blurb on the cover which told me it was about a bloke who was entering his own midlife journey and I have found much to like about the way it is written and some parallels with my own.
The sentence I quote above struck a particular chord with me because since I stumbled unknowingly onto this path I have spent a great deal of time pondering the long distant past. There are many events that lead us to where we are now and in the natural evaluation that comes with a midlife episode we spend a lot of time pondering the wotifs.
For me there are many that are a direct consequence of childhood - wotif my Dad didn't drink to excess, wotif he had not had an affair, wotif Uncle Arthur didn't die as a comparatively young man, wotif Dad had not had to work two jobs or if agoraphobia had not set in? Wotif I hadn't joined the police force, or if I didn't leave the police force when I did? Wotif the business I bought into had not failed? I could go on forever and of course the answers are moot anyway because all of these things did happen and all of them have made me what I am today.
I am not an angel. I am doing my best to put regrets behind me and not to dwell too much on things I can no longer change. Easier said than done.
I was told a couple of years ago that I appeared to be depressed and that I should see someone about it - I did and the diagnosis was that I wasn't, which I already knew anyway. What I did find, however, was that there was much about my life with which I was dissatisfied and in being unhappy I was withdrawing and making those around me unhappy as well. I regret that but again I cannot change it.
It is very hard to forgive yourself for so many things when you spend so much time dwelling on the past, so like Frank Bascombe, the sportswriter, I look forward to the time when the past will reveal no more.
Post Script 05/01/2011
This has been dusted off as part of Blog Gems over at The King and Eye.
The header photo is one I took on a magical Easter Saturday evening at Lake Bonney in South Australia near the border of Victoria on a school trip to Central Australia with my eldest daughter. And whilst I am shamelessly promoting my other blogs you can see more of my photos at Visions of Oz.
I think I may have lost some of my blog links in the transfer so if I have lost you or if you would like a link here or on my other blog Midlife - A Journey please let me know.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
From an old Journal - 12 November 1989
It's funny how things don't really change. The other day I was out in the car with Luke and Glen when Luke said, "There's a horse!"
Both Glen and I looked and Luke started giggling "Made you look you dirty chook", he said.
I remember the same phrase from my days at school and it's probably been around for much longer than that. All these things that Luke is learning have obviously been passed on from schoolyard generation to generation and will no doubt continue to be. It's something I hadn't thought about for years and it surprised and delighted me to hear it again.
Glen tried to mimic Luke. "There's a horse you chook," he said. And Luke as so often does sighed and patronisingly told his little brother the correct phrase.
Glen tried again. "Look a dirty chook," he yelled with conviction.
All three of us laughed with Luke shaking his head wisely "Glen always gets it wrong doesn't he Dad."
The photo is of my boys today, a far cry from the 4 and 5 year olds of that post above. And you know what they still get on well most of the time, but love nothing better than taking the piss out of each other when they can.
Edited 08/12/2010 because I'm joining in a game of Blg Gems organised by Jen from the King and Eye
Welcome to anyone who drops by :)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Virtue of Selfishness
Answer by J. Raibley
Ayn Rand rejects altruism, the view that self-sacrifice is the moral ideal. She argues that the ultimate moral value, for each human individual, is his or her own well-being. Since selfishness (as she understands it) is serious, rational, principled concern with one's own well-being, it turns out to be a prerequisite for the attainment of the ultimate moral value. For this reason,
This is something I have pondered deeply over the past few years. I have believed that the hats I wore were the roles required of me by my life – husband, father, son, brother etc. And I also believed that in wearing them I was putting other people before myself constantly. Of course there is satisfaction in being good in those roles but when you are living them it is difficult if not impossible to be able to step back and actually consider what motivates you in those roles.
I have been criticized for not being the person I thought I had been in each and every role that I have had. Perhaps with some justification, perhaps not. At the end of the day those who you are required to relate to in those roles are the ones who make a judgment about whether you have been successful or not.
I do believe that I did my best. I also believe that at times that best was probably pretty ordinary. The midlife journey has allowed me to evaluate and accept that there were times when I failed and that is my cross to bear, no one elses.
There were times when my selfishness intervened in the lives of other people – when I wasn’t there for people when I was needed, when I ran from conflict or failed to give in fully to the needs of others. I don’t yet fully understand whether that makes me a lesser person or maybe just normal. There were times, are times now, and probably will be times in the future when selfishness will be important to me. But does that necessarily mean that it is detrimental to the welfare of everyone else? I don’t believe it does, because the act of giving oneself for the benefit of oneself, whilst selfish in one context, has the end result of being good for other people too.
Pursuing interests may well be selfish but if that makes a person feel good about themselves surely that has more potential to be positive for other people than negative. If a person is satisfied with life because they feel good about themselves or the things they do, are they not more likely to be a better person to be with?
Rick Gaber wrote that we need to distinguish good selfishness from bad selfishness –
You've heard of the "bait-and-switch" con? Well, guess what? This is the "scare-and-switch" con: "Selfish" has two entirely different meanings. One is: "taking advantage of people against their will." The other is: "taking care of yourself and your family first and foremost and to whatever degree YOU deem appropriate." Obviously, the latter is a virtue, and the former is a vice. But if you fail to distinguish between the meanings you're prey to being suckered by con artists of either the deliberate variety* or of the more common unwitting, unthinking "disease carrier" kind.
If we accept the notion that selfishness can be a virtue we should not be concerned when people choose to do things that make them feel good, provided of course that there is no harm done to anyone else in the process.
There is a book by Rachael Heller called “Healthy Selfishness – Getting the Life you deserve without the guilt” in which she says –
"To be Healthfully Selfish to is know your limits and to accept and respect them; to rest when you are tired, provide yourself with nourishing, appealing food when you are hungry, to go to the bathroom you feel the urge, to get emotional and physical nurturing without feeling that you must earn it and, in all things to accept (and even appreciate!) that you are not perfect.
"Healthy Selfishness brings with it a zest for living that is astounding, a joy that comes from truly experiencing - deep within yourself - your accomplishments, and a pride in your ability to determine how you will be treated by those around you - no matter how important they are in your life."
I have not yet gotten to the stage where I am totally guilt free in doing things that others may look upon as selfish. It is not an easy concept to learn and very easy to get caught up in lessons of the past, where others expectations of what role you are supposed to play intervene and impose guilt upon you.
It is no coincidence that the onset of a midlife episode often comes with a person having major issues with self esteem and self purpose. It should not therefore come as a surprise that the word self features so highly when people begin that voyage of self discovery that is midlife. And it should therefore not come as a surprise that in overcoming issues of self esteem and in determining a self purpose that selfishness is needed.
I truly feel that I will be a better person if I can learn that lesson, where I can be more content with who I truly am, and not having to second guess what other people expect of me. The trick is to let other people see that in being selfish and doing things for me that any relationships I have with others will also be healthier. At least I hope that is the case.
Monday, July 23, 2007
I used to joke with my older daughter that the Van Morrison song "My brown-eyed girl" was about her - [maybe I should have read the lyrics a bit more carefully]. Anyway my youngest then use to ask what her song was and I decided that "A Little Ray of Sunshine" by Axiom would be the one. Now I can't find a copy with the Glenn Shorrock vocals but have got this one by Brian Cadd.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Many people in responding to questions will commence their sentence with the words "Yeah No..."
Now I don't know about you but that seems a contradiction to me. I was thinking that maybe it was a contraction for "Yes I know..." but that often doesn't make any sense at all in the context of what people are saying.
So I thought I'd write a post about this queer turn of phrase and ask those of you who hail from across the water, and given Australia is an island, that could be anywhere, whether or not this is creeping into the English language everywhere.
Ahhh, an original theme for a post I hear you think. Yeah no actually it's not. When I googled the term I found 113,000,000 entries for the term "yeah no". That in itself is amazing, how is it that it's exactly 113,000,000 and not 113,000,001 or whatever.
At Language Hat the good professors of linguistics say the term is often used by bashful people to defuse a compliment. The Age, a major daily newspaper in my home town reported way back in 2004 that Monash University's chairwoman of linguistics, Kate Burridge, and colleague Margaret Florey, have written about yet another speech-junk development in "Yeah-no he's a good kid: A discourse analysis of yeah-no in Australian English". They call it a term of "verbal cuddling".
Finding out that was published in 2004 started the realisation that maybe this wasn't such an original post after all. And that was confirmed when I found reference to it in another blog, Cafe Mo, also dated 2004.
Then I thought I'd google "yeah no blog" and guess what - there is one which is however apparently temporarily suspended. And I also found another one with a post titled "No Yeah" which at least was written in September 2006.
So I apologise folks. I was trying to write a cute little original post and guess I failed on the original anyway, and I don't think I actually do cute very well either. Still at least the next person who does the search on google will click over the 113 million mark.
Yeah no though I'd still like to know if it's common elsewhere if you would be kind enough to let me know.
Friday, July 20, 2007
From Journal 2 – 22/08/1988
I had to go up on the roof of the extension today while Luke was at kinder and Glen asked if he could come up too. I said “When you’re a bigger boy you can come up.”
Ten minutes later I was on the roof and heard a voice calling out to me. I looked around and there was Glen on the top rung of the ladder saying “I’m a bigger boy now Dad.”
The great question is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure. - Chinese Proverb
I have had failures in my life and they have impacted upon the person I am now. I failed physics in Form 5 and Chemistry in Form 6, primarily due to a total lack of motivation and the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. One of the worst questions you can ever ask a kid is what do you want to be when you grow up. I envy those who do know early on what direction they wish to take but for the vast majority of us it’s a bewildering and complex decision. What you aren’t told is that most people these days will have several different careers and that is not a bad thing.
Despite the failures at High School I still qualified to do an Arts Degree at
The first couple of years I drifted through doing as much as I needed to pass, but not excelling in anything. In third year though I realized that I still had no real idea of what was at the other end and I took an easier option. I worked my butt off and qualified to complete an honours degree in Geography. I had decided that I wanted to be a Park Ranger but as the applications I sent in came back with a “don’t all us we’ll call you” rejection slip time and time again, I saw my options narrowing. For a lot of jobs I was either over qualified or didn’t have quite the right qualifications. In those days rangers needed to be able to use a chain saw or drive a four wheel drive, academics weren’t really valued. So again, I took the easy option and started a Masters degree, but my heart wasn’t in it.
I worked in a retail store whilst I was studying but it wasn’t enough money to give me any sort of lifestyle so I also worked early mornings cleaning offices. At one stage a lady I worked in the store with got ill and I was asked to come in full time for a couple of weeks whilst she was away. That fortnight grew to six months whilst she recovered from a major operation and the whole time I worked 9-5 there I was also working from 5-8 in the morning cleaning offices, always expecting to continue my studies at some stage. Something had to give and I gave the store an ultimatum – put me on full time or I would leave and go back to cleaning and my studies – they offered me a full time job.
I never saw that retail was going to be a long term option for me either and the store I worked for, Waltons, was sold to a bloke [Alan Bond] who was eventually declared a bankrupt and jailed for fraud offences. With the changes looming there I decided that I needed to look around for something else and applied for both Officer Training in the Air Force and the Victoria Police.
The offer to join the Police Force came through first and within six weeks of application I was marching in the front door of the
Some years later I transferred to what was then the Counter Terrorist Explosive Information Section, later to become the Counter Terrorist Intelligence Section and then the Protective Security Intelligence Group, a job I loved. Challenging and interesting, a need to keep abreast of current affairs and one I felt had an important role to fulfill. Several years in the job was reclassified and I found that I was required to do
Now this course is regarded as one of the hardest and most prestigious in the job – three months of intensive study into things such as criminal law, interrogation, crime scene examination to name a few. It is said that the participants do as much criminal law in that three months that lawyers do in an entire degree. It really is head down and bum up, eighteen hour days seven days a week.
At that time the School had a new Commanding Officer and as sometimes happens it appears he was determined to make his mark. The course consisted of six different modules and in order to pass the students needed to achieve an average of at least 60% for each module and an overall average of 75%.
It was evident early on that the 30 in the class were different, for some reason, to any class that had gone before. Where other classes had averaged 75% during the progressive exams with a spread of 60-90% across the class, our average was only 65% and the spread 50-80%. What wasn’t evident at the time was the apparent lack of effort the instructors were putting in to get the students up to the required standard. Many of them had been there a few years and were wanting to transfer out so in hindsight their motivation may have been suspect. I was later told by the Assistant Commissioner for Crime who was a past O/C of the school that he had spent many nights working with his students after hours to ensure they got through. That didn’t happen with us – all we were told was that we shouldn’t worry everything would be alright.
There were a few things that changed for that course compared to previous ones. Firstly, an open book exam on fingerprints was cancelled – as part of the overall course that subject as a standalone was enough to boost most people’s overall mark by around 5%. Secondly, the multiple choice questions on some of the criminal law exams went from 3 or 4 alternative answers to five – often with two very similar answers that relied upon a photographic memory of the law. What that meant was that it took longer to read the questions and you therefore had less time to answer them.
Additionally in the last practice exam before the finals the instructors decided not to give out the results nor to go through the questions and answers, with some of those questioned repeated on the final exam we were at a disadvantage if we answered wrong the first time around.
The final day everyone is given a number which is the order in which you are brought before a panel of instructors to answer a final lot of questions. This is also an assessable part of the course and in what I thought was a lucky stroke I drew number one. I went in to face the panel with a fair amount of confidence but that was shattered pretty quickly when I was told I had failed the course with an overall mark of 74.3%. Remember the pass mark was 75% and in virtually every course up until that one around 3 out of a class of 30 failed. As the day wore on the litany of disaster unfolded with 3 of the class failing to complete, and 16 failing. The new O/C had made his mark, drawn the line in the sand and in the process ruined the careers of a lot of good coppers. There was no second chance at this course, having tried and failed, people were rarely given a second chance to sit it again.
I was one of only two of the failures to turn up to the graduation dinner that night. I wasn’t going to skulk and hide, disappointed as I was, I was not going to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing me run away. I did object to the petty and snide remarks made by the O/C that night criticizing my fellow class mates who did not front and I therefore left at the first available opportunity.
A couple of months later I was sitting at my desk late one Friday night when I received a call from the Assistant Commissioner of Crime, under whose department the school fell.
“Laurie,” he said, “I have in front of me 15 letters of appeal from the other students who failed the course. You’re the only one who hasn’t appealed, why not?”
I explained that I believed that I had done my best and that if that was not good enough I was prepared to wear the decision. He said, “But I know you were second in your double squad at the Academy, duxed the analyst course and I would hate to think that if the appeal succeeds that you will be the only one who doesn’t get the chance to redo the course. I want you to put in the appeal by Monday morning and I’ll hold onto the others until I get yours.”
So the following week an investigation into the course was announced. It was my opinion then, and nothing has happened to change it since, that there was no way any misconduct on behalf of the instructors, nor any conspiracy to fail students would ever be proven. And to be honest I don’t think there was any. I do believe that the instructors were lacking in motivation and did not do as well as they could have to try and get the students up to standard, too many of them had been there too long. I also believe that there was no slack cut for the changes in the course structure. I do know that in previous courses, provided they hadn’t really stuffed up, that students within 2% of passing would have an extra couple of marks found somewhere to ensure they got over the line. If the fingerprint exam alone had remained as it was on previous courses then an extra eight people would have passed, myself included.We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.
- Bishop Reginald Heber
Anyway the appeal process unfolded and I was interviewed and spelt out everything I said above. I got a call from the inspector conducting the appeal who said, “Laurie, I understand your daughter was ill during the course, if you wish that will be grounds for you to be given another opportunity to do the course.”
“Thanks, but no thanks,” I said. “There is no way I will use her as an excuse, I did my best, so be it.”
The conclusion of the enquiry into the course was that the students were academically worse than previous courses and that the proportion of failures was due to our comparative lack of intelligence and not systemic failure. They were prepared to make an exception for me but I was more than a little pissed off with the system at that stage and I also had no intention of using
Despite the fact that I continued to work at the Counter Terrorist Section and in fact was promoted to the position of Sergeant in Charge of the Analytical section, my faith in the organisation was battered by this experience. Within three years 12 of the 16 who failed the course had left the job. Many of them were very good street coppers, far better than I, who had basically had many of their future career choices taken from them. I followed them and resigned in May 1997.
So I have failed three things of an academic nature in my lifetime. I have failed many more as a person. But we can learn as much from failure as success can’t we?
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last." - Robert William Service
Thursday, July 19, 2007
My sisters had organized for some portraits of my kids to be done for my birthday but when they found out they wouldn’t be ready in time decided to do a scrapbook photo album for me. This was written on one of the pages –
“The Boy and Girl in Blue
I was so proud of you when you joined the Police Force. It had been such a struggle for you to find work. Even after graduating from uni with degrees in everything, you had an enormous folder filled with applications. They were the days when they told you you were too qualified.
So into a life of crime (on the right side of the law) you went. I loved coming out every Wednesday to visit you at the Academy with Mum. For me it was more about having a good perve on the other police! Soon much to your disgust I was dating one of your Squad mates. You joined and said to me “Why don’t you join?” my answer was a defininte no at that stage.
Then only some 2 years later, I was also to enter the Police Academy. My graduation was one of my proudest days – not just because I had achieved it, but because finally I was smart enough to do something kjust like my big brother. The girl that failed Year 11 – against all odds had finally achieved a good result!
When you turned up in your police uniform you made me the proudest sister that there could have been. Even though we had to stand and have our photos taken with our old aunts in their fur coats.
Thanks for everything Loz. You were my inspiration back in 1983 – the day I graduated.
And you still are today!
I love you
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
- Dean Koontz, 1987 Twilight Eyes, W.H.Allen & Co., London, p.9
And so life goes on! Turning 50 has made me look back on the last 20 years in particular and the people who have left this world, together with the ones who have entered. Life does ebb and flow – death comes to all, but the circle continues to turn and for each person gone, many more have entered my life. Some have passed through, others joined me for a while along the way. In the end though the last journey is one we all do alone.
I don’t wish to be maudlin here but looking forward I know that the next twenty years will also bring great change. My Mum is 77 next week in the seventh month of the seventh year of the 21st century, which happens to be three times 7, all of which proves that you can look for 7’s in most places, and come to any conclusion you want to about that. But I know for sure that it is likely that she will leave at some time in the next 20 years and I hope in a dignified way and still in full possession of her marbles. I’ve seen several loved ones with dementia and the hardest part is that you can’t tell the moment that they have finally gone. It is the lingering that hurts more than anything.
I look forward to watching the continued change in my children as they grow older and reach adulthood themselves – I hope that they give me a little more credit for intelligence and good humour than I remember giving my parents. I wish more than anything that the distant father I seem to have become in the past few years is one that they seek out and whose company they enjoy. I fear growing old without them.
Time now for living, for company, for something other than work, an overseas trip, an exploration of space as well as that of time and self that I have been on for the past year.
What I want to conclude is that it is perhaps time to live like I was dying.
Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe: Carnival of Australia Number 6
Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe: Carnival of Australia Number 6
Australians can register as an organ donor here.
Australian's Donate has the role of promoting organ and tissue donation throughout the country and to aim at having the practice considered the norm rather than an aberration. My personal opinion is that it should be an opt out situation rather than opt in. That way people who object for religious or other lifestyle reasons would need to register not to be a donor rather than the other way around. In a lot of cases time is of the essence when harvesting the organs or tissues so allowing doctors to move quickly has the potential to both save or improve the situation of many people on the organ donor waiting lists.
Read the stories of some of those who have been recipients here and make up your own mind. And so I am not accused of failing to practise what I preach I am registering with the Australian Organ Donor Register.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Peter over at Worldman has given me a Schmooze award. He is one of the first to find my blogs and leave a comment so I thank him for passing this one onto me.
The award was established by Mike at Ordinary Folk and Danielle at Pink Reviews who have defined it as -
Schmoozing as defined by Dictonary.com is the ability “to converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.” When it comes to blogging, schmoozing is your ticket to making new friends, getting yourself noticed and building a reputation. Some bloggers are gifted with the ability to effectively schmooze and others not so much. My new friend Danielle and I would like to recognize those bloggers who exhibit strong schmoozing skills. In order to do so we’ve created the new Power of Schmooze award! Each of us are rewarding five bloggers to kick things off. Here are my five. These folks are not only wonderful friends but also masters of the schmooze.
And so it falls to me to pass it on to the following people -
1. Jeff at Psychosomatic Wit who has also been someone who found me early on and has been generous in his support.
2. Beth at My Life Starts at Forty-two who is also generous and honest in sharing her story and in the comments she makes on other peoples blogs.
3. Pen at The Pen is mightier than the Sword who I have only just discovered in the past couple of weeks.
4. Micki at My Rearview Mirror. Again someone who visited and began commenting on my blogs very early on.
5. Meleah at Momma Mia Mea Culpah also someone that I've met in the past month who has been generous with her support.
Congratulations one and all.
The second award was given to me by Seiche at Seiche and that is a Thinking Blogger Award. This one originated with Ilker Yoldas at The Thinking Blogger.
I wanted to award this one to people whose blogs I visit regularly who make me think and who don't appear to have already received the award. So to start with I am going to award three to people I have already named above.
1. Jeff at Psychosomatic Wit who is one of those blokes not afraid to bear his soul on his blog.
2. Micki at My Rearview Mirror. Again someone who is honest and able to share her deepest darkest thoughts with her readers.
3. Meleah at Momma Mia Mea Culpah whose blog roams across a wide variety of intersting topics and who also reveals parts of herself that make us care.
4. Josie at Picking up the Pieces to whom I will always be grateful for rushing to my aid in some dark times via her comments on my blogs.
5. Last but not least Dan at Cafe Leone an amusing and deep thinker who I also never tire of reading.
Now folks the rules of this one are these -
Congratulations, you won a !
Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. I thought it would be appropriate to include them with the meme.
The participation rules are simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,I want to thank all of the above for continuing to visit and assure them that I will keep coming back to their sites.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).
I have no real idea how typing “car+cleaned” or facial or Vaucluse High would lead to this blog, although I think I may have mentioned facial hair in the entry on my porn star name. I’ve never been to Vaucluse High and have to admit that I don’t even know what suburb let alone what country Vaucluse might be in. I can understand that someone might get here typing in “deadwood" because I did say somewhere that I was watching and enjoying the DVD’s.
But I absolutely deny that I have ever mentioned anything at all to do with “cousin’s having sex” and I’m pretty sure the person who visited here on 25th June would have found absolutely nothing to their liking.
I've decided that I'll simply post a song on a Monday. These may be a piece of music that has meant something to me in the past, or simply something I enjoy listening to, or perhaps a reflection of my mood at the time. I think though that music does have the capacity to reveal something about the listener. Enjoy! Take me up on the challenge and post some of your own.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
He pulled up next to a woman in a car and attempted to intercept her by raising his arm, pointing his finger to the left hand side of the road and yelling “Pull Over!”
As with many members of the publis when confronted by a policeman this woman panicked and instead of pulling left, swerved to the right, narrowly missing the motorcycle cop. This made him a little angry so he pulled up beside her again with his siren screaming, gesticulating wildly and yelling “I said pull over to the left.”
This time the woman understood, only when her car left the bitumen she lost control and it rolled a few times eventually ending up on its roof. The poor cop thought to himself that he might be in a bit of strife. Fortunately by the time he had pulled over the woman had gotten safely out of the vehicle and apart from being shaken she was alright. The cop radioed for assistance and an ambulance duly arrived.
The ambulance officer asked the woman “Was there anyone else in the car?”
She replied “Oh yes my husband was there.”
The cop was shaken again because he certainly hadn’t seen anyone else in the car before it crashed and on checking it after the crash didn’t find anyone either. He had a quick look around the scene and there was no evidence of anyone having been flung clear so he said to the woman,
“Are you sure your husband was there, I can’t find him.”
“He’s dead!” she said and the cops face dropped again. “He died last week in Melbourne, was cremated and I’m taking his ashes home to be scattered on the farm.”
The cop felt like laughing but thought that it was probably more prudent to remain silent. He went back to the vehicle and sure enough there was the box, open, and beside it the ashes scattered everywhere. He scarped some ashes and a lot of gravel and dust into the box, closed it up and returned it triumphantly to the woman.
He didn’t say if he booked her or not.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Then there was the drama of the Amanda incident. I really am not sure how many others who know me are reading this, but I guess there will be some who judge and those who gossip, perhaps even some who do forgive. I was grateful for the email from the ex stating she did forgive me and that she was now looking forward to moving on.
With that also came a letter from her solicitor seeking settlement and we are working through that. I got advice from a solicitor as well who said that the settlement was within the realms of what a court would order, but if we go to court it could end up costing thousands in legal fees, so we won't go down that path. I have been paying well beyond what I am legally required to as far as child support goes and will continue to do so despite my solicitor advising against it. I figure that I don't want to force a sale of the house and I need to maintain that level of support if I want my kids to stay in the family home for the forseeable future. Our youngest is still only 13 so that will be at least until she turns 18.
Tomorrow is my birthday and despite the fact that the separation is now more than a year old I still hate these sorts of anniversaries. Not that I want to go back, just that they do make me sad - when will that sadness end?
I was planning to spend the day with my kids but daughter number one is working and son number two is going to the footy. I will turn up at daughter number two's basketball game tomorrow afternoon for the first time since she told be to stay away. I hope she doesn't mind that. All of the kids and I will be going to my sister's who has asked us over to celebrate my birthday.
I will be having dinner with my new lady and some work colleagues on Sunday night. One of them mentioned today that maybe my sister is giving me a surprise party and I laughed because apart from family there is no one to ask. My mate Ian is still overseas and I don't see anyone else from before separation so I am expecting that it will be with my two sisters, their families and my Mum which will be nice.
I do look forward to the time when the two sides of my life will merge and there is no discomfort from anyone associated with any side of my life. Maybe that won't happen till my ex does find someone else and everyone sees her happy again. At least that's what I hope.
I haven't really been affected by milestone birthdays before but I have to say turning 50 is a bit scarey. Moving into my second half century with the end of life likely at some time in the next 50 years. I've called it the rush of years before, that feeling that life accelerates as you get older. As a kid I used to measure life by birthdays and Christmas, now both seem to come up far too regularly. I think it was Woody Allen who said "I'm not afraid of death, I'd just prefer not to be there when it happens."
- Granger to Montag; Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury 1954, p.152-153
Reflections 1 – I remember the warm, balmy nights of late spring and summer, and a young boy with skinny legs and baggy shorts listening with wonder to the song of the crickets somewhere beneath the ground. It amazed me that as I approached them attempting to find them beneath leaves or wherever they happened to be hiding, that they would fall silent.
One day I discovered that if I walked very softly I could locate the crickets burrow and with a quick stomp of my foot I could stop the song. This was a great game and the song nearly always began again. One day the grandfather of the girls next door was visiting them. He was obviously watching me creep around the garden stomping on cricket songs but as he was hidden by a screen of shrubs alond the common fence, I did not see him. Suddenly a deep gruff voice yelled at me across the fence.
“Why are you killing those crickets? What have they ever done to you?”
I was ashamed. I didn’t know that stomping on cricket sounds would kill crickets. I didn’t even know what a cricket looked like. From that day on, although the sounds still fascinated me, I tread warily near the cricket burrows and never stomped on one again.
This is for the Friday flashback meme - albeit a week late!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
“….really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it it. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s peanuts to space…”
Douglas Adams, The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, p.62******************************************************************
I do get overwhelmed when I start to ponder the extent of space and even more so when I realize that no matter how vast it is there is an edge, and in understanding that I wonder what lies beyond that edge. There has to be something right? I mean how could it be possible that there is nothing there at all?
I have found that there is an entire theory about nothingness which I do not pretend to understand. It says something about the big bang and the fact that the expanding universe will continue to expand until all forms of energy in it are expended, whereupon it will collapse into nothingness. What I find equally remarkable is that there are people who actually understand this stuff.
I prefer to ponder two things. One, the gift man was given that allowed us of all the creatures on earth to gaze at the stars and ask the question why? Secondly, the gift and trap of time, that has given us an ability to place all of human experience into the context of history, so that what has gone before can be shown to have influenced where we are now, both individually and collectively as a species.
Have you ever truly looked at the stars? Have you wondered as you gaze skywards and back into the past, whether there are other beings on far away worlds casting whatever their equivalent of an eye is in the general direction of this small green and blue world, orbiting a small yellow star on one of the outer arms of a galaxy amongst countless galaxies? Have you ever contemplated that every single point of light we see is different to any of the others we can see and those we can’t. That there are no two stars, or planets, or organisms that are exactly alike. And yet every molecule wherever it is scattered throughout our universe has one thing in common, they were all born at precisely the same instant and they will return to that exact same state when this universe ends.
From Journal 1 - 21 July 1981
I wrote this on Amanda’s Christening card some time ago –
I suppose on the occasion of a Christening it is pertinent to offer some sort of advice to the Christenee; even if he or she probably won’t be able to understand it for another fifteen to twenty years.
Firstly always listen to the advice of others. This does not imply blind acceptance but rather a careful consideration of all points of view before you make up your own mind.
Secondly, remember that wisdom is measured in experience and not merely in years. I have known children with a clearer view of the world than many adults whose years have clouded their views with bigotry, hatred and bitterness. Remember therefore, that wisdom can be found in places where it is least expected.
Thirdly, believe in wilderness for it is the only sure escape from the regimentation of day to day activity. The knowledge that wilderness exists provides a possible escape from the rule of the clock. Anyone who has seen an ocean sunset or felt the cold sting of a mountain wind on a winter morn will know what I mean.
Finally be not afraid to dream.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Those who read my other blog, Sunrays and Saturdays, will know that I have begun to post a number of entries from old journals that I wrote dating back to the 1970's. I had intended those entries to remain on that blog but when I read this one it somehow seemed to fit more appropriately here.
From Journal 1 - 03/12/1980
Man has a propensity to name things, to lump things together, to categorise and collect, to recognize similarities. This in turn leads to a fear of differences or at least a blindness. I mentioned previously that my perceptions of the bushlands had heightened in recent years, I now believe that I have still not reached the ultimate in perception; I am not yet one with the bush. My familiarity has bred a love but not yet a oneness. There are at least three stages to our perceptions. Firstly there is that stage in which we see but do not perceive. We, as children, perceive the bush as a single entity. Few children are aware of the differences between a mountain forest and a lowland forest, each are alien and each therefore to be feared.
The second stage manifests itself differently in different people. With familiarity of the bush we lose the fear and begin to gain respect. For some this is enough; for others, myself included, there is a need to recognize elements of the bush, to place names to familiar items like flora or fauna. These people can enter bushland almost anywhere and see something they know, but this kind of cold academic appraisal for some breeds a peculiar kind of contempt.
The ultimate in perception is not where we recognize the similarities but where we can perceive the differences. For the true marvel is not that anything in a category has the same name as any other thing in that category, but that each is different. A spiderweb in one place is not the same as a spiderweb in another, they differ in size, shape, time of day, time of year, whether it is windy or still. The bush is not static as naming things implies and no matter how man times we return to the same place, if we are aware of it’s ability to change we shall never tire of it.
I was in my honours year at university in 1980, studying geography, specifically palynology, which is the study of fossil pollen grains. Before anyone asks, I had collected a core of sediment from a small lake in the mountains of Gippsland in my home state of Victoria. The core was five meters in length and sampled at 5cm intervals and looking at the distribution of fossil pollen throughout the core I was able to determine a vegetation history for that area that stretched back beyond 30,000 well into the last Ice Age.
As an aside, I completed that thesis in 1981, at a time when it was hand typed and the diagrams hand drawn - interestingly doing a search on google tonight I came across several references to that thesis, and found that the work I commenced there has been expanded upon by many subquent researchers, not only in palynology, but sedimentology as well. And it is gratifying to know that the name I gave that small basin in 1979, Caledonia Fen, is widely used and has become a site of significance in the vegetation and climatic history of Australia.
So I was exposed to a whole new world during those years, learning the taxonomy of plants and enjoying the fact that when I did go into the bush I could identify plants that a few short years before I would not have given a second glance to.
Study had a profound effect on my curiosity, I yearned to know more and I enjoyed the way my perception of things was changing. When I read this post I wondered when that curiosity became stifled, when the boy’s excitement became the man’s practicalities. Have I really gotten to the point where the wonder of the bush has left me, or has it just been cloaked in responsibility and shelved because the pressures of marriage and fatherhood intervened?
It is time to rediscover wonder, to appreciate difference and to try and prevent the categorization of life. Time to remove the blinkers and once more seek knowledge for nothing other than the sake of knowledge.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Monday, July 9, 2007
I am a Cancerian and some would say I have typical cancerian properties – crabby just like the sign says, quick to retreat into my shell, have trouble sharing innermost secrets, shy etc. Some sources claim, however, that it is the least clear cut of all the signs of the zodiac. It is said that we can be untidy, sulky and devious, as well as loyal and easily flattered. In researching what a Cancerian is truly like I have found that the best description is perhaps that we are full of contradictions, and maybe that explains the similarity of the cancer sign [above right] to that of the Chinese symbol of Yin and Yang [above middle].
That symbol represents the balance in the universe between the masculine and feminine, the passive and aggressive, the warm and the cold. The theory states that all phenomena consist of two opposite affects, and the contradictions evident in the cancerian character are perhaps a true refelction of this.
Do I beleive in Astrology? I would have said no once, and I still find it a little hard to grasp that the position of stars in the sky at the exact time of my birth had an impact upon my character. It's also a bit of a stretch in reading a daily horoscope in a newspaper that it could apply to one twelfth of the world's population. But there is always something in the way these things are written that can be applied to some particular aspect of our life at the time. Perhaps, where we read them and actually see some message we are simply enabling ourselves to view an event, or a state of mind in a way we may not have had we not read the prognostication.
Those who are regular readers will know that I have considered myself to be a loner for most of my life, that I have certainly hidden many things from people, including from myself, that I am sometimes contradictory and maybe not as open as I would like to be. And it seems in reading other peoples blogs that there does appear to be an attraction of like minded people occurring – those with angst, or a degree of confusion, those who are looking for direction or who are seekers of self knowledge seem to visit here as I visit them.
I wrote about that concept of friendship in the blogosphere a few weeks ago and the theme was taken up by a number of you. Follow-up posts Best Friends and Loners, For Sale Friend... , Midlife Friendship Questions, and Friendship, all link to the responses to that first set of questions.
Recently Josie has also written about it in a post on her blog Picking up Pieces.
Somehow we seem to have found a community here and I have wondered whether there are an inordinate number of Cancerians amongst you, or indeed if there is any coincidental number of any particular star sign amongst the readers. So I ask – what is your star sign?
The original author of that post is Lori Borgman and it can be found here.
More than a decade ago now, when I was still in the police force, I was sent down to East Gippsland to monitor some anti-logging protests that were underway in some of our State Forests. During this particular protest there were a number of arrests and we were back at Orbost Police Station. There were the usual pot smoking, drum banging, caftan wearing, dreadlocked panoply of protesters I'd seen in the streets in any one of dozens of causes over the years.
One of the girls demanded to be allowed to go to the toilet and on exiting the door was waving her wet hands in the air, shaking the drops of water off.
One of the coppers saw that and asked "Are we out of paper towel in there?"
"No", she said, "we don't use paper!"
"What did you wipe your bum with then?" he asked.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Agree with the war or not, we must never forget that the soldiers who serve are there because their countries demand it and this video more than any other should serve as a reminder of their human side. It is also pertinent to remember that more than 3600 US, Brits and yes even a couple of Aussies who are fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters, will not return because they were doing their duty.
"...I would have strangled him by now!" said Mum today when I visited for lunch with my sons.
"What are you talking about?" I asked, raising an eyebrow quizically.
"He's waking me up every night," she said. "He'll wait till I'm in a deep sleep then he'll start to shake the bed. I'm not going crazy. This place is haunted. I've also seen a woman with a dog and a man in a trench coat standing in the doorway, but I don't know either of them."
"But your father...if I ever meet him again, I'll go through him."
And I know she would.
I would have been totally sceptical about this once but I've said elsewhere that he came to me one night too. Now I have no real idea whether this is purely a product of our imagination and in some ways that doesn't matter because at the time it happens it's as real as anything is.
Son number 2 couldn't help but scoff so I told him he could expect a visit from his Grandad tonight in his thermal singlet and y-fronts. If you're reading this Dad, go easy on him :)
One of them, Alice, emails me weekly, and whilst I don't respond a lot it is nice to know she does think of me. Today I received a forwarded email from her with the following text -
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
Thank you for being a part of my life,
whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.
There was a certain synchronicity about this email that I had to share.