Time for a change – A musing

It’s been awhile since I have written here. Since my Little Doggy Hero died, in fact. It wasn’t because of that, I had not been writing much for the past few years. It was because life was turned upside down by rampaging young people and my focus was there.

I was a foster carer for over ten years, by myself. Can I tell you that I would not recommend it unless you are a super woman and / or have a large supportive family? I am not a super woman, nor do I have an extended family. I continued to support my ex foster children as they left my care and became young adults. Everyone has their own journey and sometimes, I have discovered, that journey no longer includes me. I am living with that.

Now I am living with my two cats and two dogs, who are lovely company, in an over 55s village. I am the youngest here. That causes me amusement. I never imagined myself living in a unit or side by side with others. I always needed an expansive garden and room for a studio. My health has meant downsizing and re-visioning my space. I could not longer maintain my garden or my house and it was so ready for a new family. That all happened over the last two years, along with the rampagers.

As a woman in her Maga years, I find I am reinventing myself. At the moment I am not-mother, not-artist, not-writer, not…? What I am is discovering the joys of singing together, crafting together, writing together, drawing together, creating together. In this period of contagious disease when we must be isolated for each other’s protection, I am finding new ways to share a cuppa, sing with friends, tell stories and create. It will be interesting to see what we are when we all come out of this period. I hope for changes that honour our world and don’t see everyone go back to the way it was. Like you, I hope I get to see it. (In the meantime, I have refreshed my will, I am always a sensible woman.)

Let’s see who we become. I am interested to see how I fare myself. I’m very interested in you.

 

Little Doggy Hero

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My little mate, Wally, died. 36 hours ago. In his sleep, his little giant loving heart gave out. He is my forever hero.

Heart failure, lungs full of fluid, enlarged liver, failing kidneys, tumour on his adrenal glands, going blind, gone deaf, tiny legs chunky with arthritis, my little hero squeezed every ounce of joy from his life, never giving up. He is the most chipper person I have ever met.

Just last week I watched him drag his little body determinately up into the garden bed to bury a chicken drumstick for later. His nose still worked, if nothing else did. He stumbled, fell back, got up, pulled himself up into the bed and buried that sucker. Satisfied, he came back in through the dog door, that was just the littlest bit too high for his lowering undercarriage and trotted off to his favourite position on the carpet under my bed.

On Sunday I took them all to Cockatoo off-leash dog park to get the sniffs and see their friends. Since we moved, the early dark after work and weather have conspired against our visits. They were all pleased to get there. He sniffed, got pats, saw old friends, made new ones and ‘played’ with the new pups. ‘Play’ consisted of tiny jumps in place and arfing at them. In his mind, it was a grand romp. The pups just looked interested and confused.

Wally was my fluffiest floozy. Pepe is actually fluffier, but Wally made no secret of his demands to be petted by all and sundry. If you didn’t notice him noticing you, he’d sit on your foot, if that didn’t work, he’d roll over to display his belly for appreciation. Occasionally I have had to prompt people that he was communicating with them. Don’t know how they resisted him, I never could.

I met Wally 9 years ago, a year and two months after my previous elderly gentleman dog, Mr. Rupert Scruffaluffagus, died. I had waited a year as I wanted to be sure I was looking for another dog person, not a replacement. It took Youngest Daughter and I two months to find him. One Friday night as I fell asleep I heard, go to the RSPCA. That’s a long way, I thought sleepily, but okay. I woke up at 7 on a Saturday morning, bright and ready. I woke the kids and off we went. I caught myself smiling on the drive and reminded myself sternly that we may not find our dog. We got there before they opened. It was adopt a senior free day. I had no idea but it was a senior I wanted. I had younger dogs and needed one near their age, not too old, not too young. I saw him straight away. He was similar in colouring to Scruf but so sad. I was intrigued immediately. While the kids went to find a staff person to let him out to meet us, I stood in front of his cage and blocked other visitors’ view, redirecting their attention to dogs further along. Finally we got to meet him. He was just the right size, just the right everything. i was besotted. We raced home to get the other dogs so they could all meet. It wasn’t love at first sight. It was friendliness all around. He didn’t play ball but he enjoyed sniffing. We loaded him up and home we went.

The best bit was when we got home. He peed inside. That wasn’t it. We went outside. My dogs rang down to the very back of the yard to bark at the dog there. It was their funnest game. Wally’s little ears and curly tail perked up and he scampered after them, as fast as his ten centimetre length legs could take him. I began the traditional voice over, “What are we doing? Oh, we are barking at this dog? Okay. Arf Arf Arf Huff huff that was fun. What are we doing now? Oh we are running over here and barking at this dog? okay Arf Arf Arf Huff huff. Who’s this coming through the little door in the fence? Oh the neighbour dogs? I can go through to their place? Alright! oh, more people, more pats! Hurrah!”

And so began his time with us. He had been the good boy of two elderly men in succession. They’d both been unable to continue to care for him. He’d been returned to the RSPCA twice. He’d never got to dog. With us he was talked to, talked for, played with, chewed bones, arfed, went for walks, got yummy food, got pats, brushed, loved, carried, petted and adored. And he made friends.

I love that my dogs have their own friends, both dog and human. Wally made even more. He had a penchant for older men still, liked but avoided children and definitely had his favourites wherever we went. There were some people he ran to meet. I was his absolute favourite, I’m glad to say. He is/ was my favourite Wally in the whole wide world. I liked to have him with me as much as possible. He had to stop sleeping in my room though.

I once dreamt that the house was full of dog poo and woke myself up to find it. After racing about the house in the middle of night and finding nothing, I realised that Wally was sleeping under my bed, farting. His farts were memorable and sometimes, to his horror, came with contents. The more ill he became, the more his bodily functions featured. On occasion he would look so shocked and guilty that I never had the heart to tell him off. I knew he would have gone outside if he could have made it. He was still a good boy.

I’ve moved twice recently. This elderly gentleman handled it with aplomb (and a bit of inside peeing). Daisy Dog showed him how to get through the new dog door and fetched him when he was too long outside or had wandered too far away on a walk. Pepe Pup kept Wally’s eyes and ears clean, whether Wally wanted it or not. I made sure he was brushed, groomed, petted, fussed over, fed, got his good boy treats morning and night with all his medications, had time with his friends, carried him to bed so I could cuddle him and just loved him to bits.

We’ve only been here two months and he already made firm friends with neighbours who walk my dogs. His preference was still for older men and he bonded quickly with the husband. They are so sad that he is gone.

Fifteen years old, Wally lived five years after his diagnosis with heart disease, then all the other ailments piling on. He was so determined to squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of his life. He was so determined to keep going no matter what. He was always ready to greet everyone happily no matter how much he hurt. He was always keen for an adventure and a treat. His teeth were awful but he hoed into his chicken drumstick every night. He thoroughly enjoyed a cat poo snack if I wasn’t quick enough. His nose was what allowed him to find his way around our new place and choose his spot. He was/ is an inspiration.

Wally is my hero. Boy, I miss him.

Dreaming, an introspective

Our minds are strange things. Especially in our dreams.

Whenever my mind is sorting fear, I dream of something terrible happening to Youngest Daughter. When I am sorting hurt and betrayal, I dream of my ex. When I am in emotional pain, I dream of small animals being hurt and feeling frantic to rescue them. All are disturbing.

Learning the symbolism of my own dreaming has assisted me in separating fact from fiction. What gets to me though is having to learn how I’m feeling through my dreams

As a survivor of abuse, I learnt early on to compartmentalise my feelings, to keep functioning. It took a great deal of effort as an adult to reintegrate myself and learn to recognise each feeling. For example, fear, hunger and nausea felt the same to me as a young woman. It took quite some work to unravel that.

Waking from a dream and recognising the feelings, doesn’t always give me the reason. I do not know why I am feeling hurt and betrayal, it just appears to be something my sleep brain is sorting. It may not even be current. Perhaps it is to do with recently moving house and sorting through memories.

I do pay attention, just not let it take over. My internal night time filing system is a mystery to my daytime logical self.

Enough pondering, things to do.

Bankicidal

I sold my home. I was not expecting to be as sad as I am, it has caught me by surprise. My home sold unconditionally at auction and I had to move out at settlement.

I had an offer accepted on a unit and it should have been a straight security transfer of my mortgage. I rang my bank, Suncorp, several times, anxious about the process. My constant contact escalated my request. They declined as the unit is in an over 55s village.

I know. Age-ism. I’m still working full time and have shown I can pay a mortgage for the past 20 years. Not to be defeated, I found a broker who applied to Bank of Melbourne. At the time of writing, they have been stringing me along for 3 weeks. I still don’t have an answer. I have a third application into another bank, with no answer there either.

I know the Royal Banking Commission made the industry pull their socks up. However, I think they are targeting the wrong people. Women my age and older have an escalating risk of homelessness. I begin to see why. I was fortunate, someone offered me a place to stay with my elderly doggies until sorted. I am extremely grateful.

This situation is ridiculous. I’ll let you know what happens.

It’s time to go…

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I’m selling my home.

The children and I moved here 11 years ago. In that time I have parented 5 children, ranging in age from 6 weeks to 28 years, done some yelling, crying, laughing, silliness, been afraid and fearless, became less physically able, and learnt to live on my own and love it.

There were 4 dogs and 5 cats (not counting the visiting grand kitties) at different times. There were birthday parties, round the fire parties, handbag parties and sumptuous afternoon teas. There was quiet meditation, Meetings for Worship, playing chase in the dark, hiding in The Box Thing and crazy dancing. There has been veggie gardens, fruit trees, mud slides and herb gardens. There have been experiments, art work, loud games of Uno and the occasional mishap. This house has seen a lot.

When I found this house, it was dark and gloomy and sad. I am leaving it bright and airy and full of expectation of the next family to fill it. There’s room for swings, trampolines, climbing frames and forts (we had those too). There’s room for kicking the ball or batting it, room for running around and having fun.

As I move into the next stage of my life, I wish for this house a family full of hopes, dreams and wishes. Blessed be.

Make-up & kayaks – a Musing

I awoke in pain. Not unusual for me, very irritating, just not unusual. I went out with Youngest Daughter on Friday night to the NAIDOC dinner, had a lovely time, then trudged around Mornington window shopping the next day. Concrete and I are not friends. I did the best I could and paid with pain.

I do not want to end us as a fat old woman in a scooter and I’m very much afraid that is where I am heading. I took myself off to the pool today as it is the only place I can move relatively pain free and it has helped a lot. (Would have helped more if I’d remembered to take pain relief, but there you go…)

I’ve written before how much I love swimming. I love the water and will gladly be in it, despite the stares my large, tattooed, grey-haired self gets. I am currently searching for a way to go kayaking. My daughters tell me that I have to wait for summer, when it’s warmer. They’re right. Bugger it. I think I’ve found a way but if anyone knows anything, please let me know.

YD was my make up artist for the dinner. She gots loads of compliments on my make up. I’ll post a photo. She really is incredibly talented and I’m not biased at all. I made a comment about the yearly effort for my make up and she offered to do it more frequently. I looked at her and said, for what? Her response was oh yeah, you do all outdoorsy stuff. I’d never thought of myself that way and don’t know that I am. However, my idea of fun is an adventure. Taking a road never travelled (side tours are us), going to the beach, the river, the bush, parks… hmmm, now I think about it, she may be right. Not 4 wheel drive adventure but adventure all the same.

When they were young I took them on a secret holiday. I wouldn’t tell them where we were going until we arrived at Secret Valley Cabins in Deans Marsh, not far from Lorne. There was bush, feeding King Parrots, beach, a kids’ barn of games, a playground and our own fun. I once took them to Sydney on the train (13 hours) and we played the whole way, board games and cards. It was fun. I took them down the Peninsula to Balnarring and there was beach, cows, kangaroos, bush, kids’ activities and horses. These are all my favourite things.

I’ve never really been someone who dresses up and goes out to have fun. If you don’t get a bit dirty, has it been fun? Now, taking the compost to the garden beds hurts and has to be navigated carefully. I can’t balance to dig a hole and as most of my garden is on a steep slope, I would have to crawl to plant in it but my knees are ruined. I’m not complaining, I’m cross. I still want to do all those things.

I really want to go kayaking. I probably won’t wear make-up when I do.

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NAIDOC Week 2018 – Community Conversations

National Aboriginal and Islander Days of Celebration (originally it was National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee, but let’s spread the joy) has begun.

Tonight Youngest Daughter and I attend the regional dinner dance with awards, friends, food and community. And dancing. My walking stick and I will be up to boogie as best we can. It has become YD and my tradition to attend.

There is also a march today. I can’t do marches anymore but I am with everyone in spirit. Next week there are family days, weaving classes, flag raisings, gatherings and more. I’ll be at the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens next Wednesday July 11th. I’ll add the photo. Pop over and join in. This event, called Koolin-ik ba kirrup-buluk, is a truly reconcilative event, with cultural activities for all ages. There’s a whole week of celebrating but this is my favourite.

see you there x

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The Jumbly Man – an Instrospective

I have been invited to enter one of my Jumbly Man tales for an anthology. I am so happy that someone likes him. His stories only appear on this blog and no-one has ever mentioned it before, so I stopped putting them up. There are so many of them.

Often when someone reads a piece of writing for you, they feel obliged to critique it, rather than just enjoy the characters. That’s true even of told stories. I recently told one of my short tales to a friend and she was completely baffled by it and labelled it ‘cute’. I suspect she is trapped in the idea that storytelling is just for children. It was not a child’s story I told her. I find with people like this, you have to sit back and wait for the immersion and conversion.

Told stories are significantly different to read stories. In a read story, I can picture what is happening and see it for myself. There are occasions where what is being read in the story is so intense, I have to put the book down for a time. I know not everyone experiences reading a story like that and not everyone can visualise. When you are told a story, it is mesmerising. You cannot take your gaze or your ears away. You can experience a full gamut of emotions and the intimacy of being told a story and what you visualise for yourself is entrancing. So it is for me and all of the storytellers I know. It is not the same experience as going to the theatre (fourth wall and all that). Your audience is right in front of you, you are looking into their eyes, telling the story to them. If you have not experienced storytelling as an adult, I highly recommend it.

The Jumby Tales are not told stories. Yes, I visualise them, I see him, Deirdre and all the events as I write. I know his full story to old age, even if I haven’t written it down yet. Even so, he is not a told story. One of the tales that spins off and crosses over his is though. What makes the difference? Is it that the protagonist in the told story is female? Possibly. Is it that the told story has implications for me that weave in and out of my history and identity while not actually my personal story. Maybe. It will be a written tale too, eventually. I have been working on it for two years and there is still some way to go. I hope to complete it and perform in the next year.

Adam Jumbles though, I am so pleased that someone likes him as I do. I do hope one of his stories gets into the anthology and is shared. He deserves it.

Swim swim – a Musing

I have severe arthritis. I was diagnosed in my late 20s and practised determined denial for the next 20 years.

Now I wear braces on both legs, from thigh to calves, to assist me to stand and walk, while I wait for surgery. (I’m not even on the list yet.) On bad days or where ground is uncertain or I know I might have to manoeuvre around many people or small spaces, I use a stick as well. The arthritis is everywhere but my hips. Go hips!

I have been battling with fitting swimming into my schedule. I work full time, go to yoga twice a week, participate in two choirs and am assisting with a community group. Plus gardening, art, writing, craft, family and life.

I’ve tried a few times to fit in swimming, unsuccessfully. I seem to have solved the timing now and have been going regularly.

When I walked into the pool today, the relief as the water took the pressure and the pain was immense. It was wonderful and warm and weightless. I walked, swam, exercised, swam and walked. Then finally had to get out of the pool.

Now my difficulty seems to be, not getting there, but getting out and leaving.

Dealing with liars – a Musing

This is a tough one. I really struggled with dishonesty. It took a lot of working through for me to understand that lying is a reflection of the liar, not me.The impact of lies on me was massively challenging to let go.

I came to understand that making them wrong for lying didn’t help anyone. Where I got to, and it’s a hard road, is no longer minding what other people say.

I’ll give you one example. My eldest brother would visit my state and call me to tell me that he couldn’t get out to see me. It was a cruel thing to do. It falls into lying as it shows an insensitivity and lack of care of the impact of this behaviour and the implied promise that if they came to my state they would come to see me.

I came to undestand that most of my upset came from my thwarted expectations. I expected them to visit, I expected to matter to them as they did for me. I expected them to treat me with respect. You know what? They don’t have to. Isn’t that a bugger?

When I looked closely at my upset I found that most of it was due to my own expectations being thwarted and unfulfilled. And that hurts.

I changed my expectations of my brother and stopped calling or expecting anything from him, I was able to appreciate when I did see him and not look for anything more.

There came an occasion where he apologised, one out of the blue visit, for not seeing me for over a year. I stared at him in absolute astonishment and said no, you were here in summer. No, he said, that was last summer. Oh, I said surprised, I hadn’t noticed. I truly hadn’t. He was so offended! How funny is that?

I will say that others’ duplicity is one of the things I’ve really struggled with. It’s been very painful. My expectations on others now do not impede the development of my relationships or enjoyment of my life.

PS I still love him & think he’s a lovely man and am pleased to see him whenever I do.