Saturday-a Musing

Today I had such plans. Nothing earth shattering, just running errands, laundry & spending time in my studio. Like I said, nothing earth shattering. I was still really looking forward to having some catch up time with myself. Plus I have art to do.

A phone call comes in. It’s my brother. I don’t have a lot of contact with the family that I grew up in, because… I am particularly fond of this brother & was happy to hear from him. I haven’t seen him for about four years so was pleased to hear he was in my state & headed my way.

Everything was put aside for catch ups, questions (from me), discussion about his family & mine, and his current life events. I got the laundry done, luckily had already run my errands, and took the dogs out. That’s it. No housework (so sad), no art work (now that is sad) & time spent with brother & my daughter.

Isn’t that just life?

Perpetually broke, almost – an Introspective

This is a world problem. I am not complaining, I am not even shaking my head at myself. I am wondering how we manage and the strength of the political and corporate will to keep the population perpetually broke, almost.

I recently turned 55. 55! and the magic didn’t happen. I did not automatically become a financially responsible grandma. Nope, it didn’t. Sure, I pay my mortgage, bills, owings and have enough food. I have enough. Except savings, I don’t have those. I re-mortgaged last year and the bank, in it’s wisdom, offered me a mortgage that would make sure it was paid out by retirement at 65 (yes! only ten years to retirement!). However, this makes my mortgage nearly half my income. That’s a lot.

I’ve done everything you are supposed to do, reviewed my bills, taken up steady payment options, reduced my insurance costs and still I cannot make headway. Heaven forbid, I go out for a meal or to a cafe, there really isn’t extra. Or pay my rego or an extra bill? Nothing left, and I have to borrow $50 to get to my next pay. And food costs? Oh my goodness! I grow and purchase food from the Community Grocer and support other food sharing initiatives.

This is not a whinge about how badly I am off, I am not. I earn a reasonable pay and live modestly. This is a shaking of the head that if I am finding it this difficult to manage, and all my children have left home, how are others with dependants making ends meet? I struggled as a single parent and am struggling now. I am asking myself, is this really because I am hopeless with money or is this symptomatic of an economic system that foists all costs onto its people, despite the level of taxes and contributions we make?

We have politicians who are earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and creating a punitive society where the poor are punished. Recent data from the Rental Affordability Snapshot showed how little people on Newstart had available to survive on and that there was 0.01% of affordable housing options for them. We have elderly people turning up at our door at work, unable to pay their bills and buy food. We have people with disabilities unable to juggle finances in this terrible transition period to NDIS. We have families in our Shire going without meals every week. (12% in a Shire of 105,000 people is a lot of people going hungry.) And we have average families, like me, who no longer have capacity to save and just barely keep the starving Drop Bears from the door.

There is something very very wrong here. Very wrong indeed.

What spare room?

I have been keeping a spare room. Daughters have slept in it, mother and friends. It’s been good. I’ve kept the animals out of it because not everyone can sleep with a stack of furry bodies. But no longer. Youngest daughter has moved back in and it is now her room. Where will I sort my towels?

There’s been me and three dogs and three cats for the last six months. While what precipitated this alone time was heart-breaking, I have been happy living by myself with my Fluffy Floozies (ergo, ‘fluffy floozies’ collective description for said furry peeps). Now I have to share again.

Oh, I want to, happy to do it, more than happy. It’s just confronting. It’s been 30 years since I lived alone and as a young woman, didn’t do so well. As myself now, did absolutely fine, better than fine. Who knew? It’s been a revelation that I can live happily by myself. I hope it’s equally a revelation that  can live with my youngster again.

So, no spare room for awhile. Day trips are us for the rest of the family. Sharing a bathroom again. Ugh. Oh well, I’m thrilled to have her here, we will see what the future brings.

From brown to grey in a few short years

Very recently, Youngest Daughter, re-posted a photo of me from 2009. I looked so much younger than I do know. A lot has happened over the past eight years and I am completely grey. (I tell Youngest Daughter that she is responsible. heh!)

I don’t mind being older, in fact I relish it. There is so much that once used to bother me that now doesn’t. My hair being grey? Looks good. Other people’s opinions? Who cares? What I relish most is what I know. Feeling down? It will pass. Sliding into a depression? I have the skills now to balance out. Stressed out about kids, work, house, elderly animals? I can deal.

All that ‘dealing’ has been hard won. Does it sometimes get on top of me despite my best efforts? Totally. Do I break under the strain? Sometimes. Do I know that I can get back up? Absolutely. At times it seems to take me longer, I don’t bounce back any more. ‘Getting back up’ can be laborious and take some serious determination. Do I pep-talk myself every morning to get up and get going? Yes. Do I have internal debates about every effort? Yes. Do I do it anyway? Yes, I do.

I am better at what is good for me and better at not giving up. Sometimes it takes an inordinate amount of time to figure how to get things done with limited resources (for example, gigantic dresser down to Middle Daughter’s place without strong people to help), and I eventually succeed. I am better at knowing when one thing extra is too much or when one thing extra will be just the thing. Falling asleep at the wheel on the way home from work? Go to sleep or take dogs for walk? I take the dogs for their walk. I feel this deserves cheering!

My reluctance to socialise does not concern me any longer. I work with people five days a week, belong to committees and volunteer. Enough people. Being at home, peacefully with my fluffy peeps is the best.


Today is Sunday and I am tired. (Yesterday was exhausting, searching for missing child.) I will take the dogs for a walk after this, then have another cup of tea. I will do some shopping (yuck) and housework (double yuck) and rest because it’s back to work tomorrow.

Yes, I like being older. I am sad that I have physically aged so much but vanity was never my concern. I do wish I had more pep. I know that I will still get done that which needs to be done and the selectivity between need and want will prune the extraneous. It may take me longer but I get there in the end.

Grey hair rules!


Tree-change for the better?

In conversation with a co-worker today we noted that our move to small country towns had netted us some really good friendships. We moved, with our families, to different towns in the same Shire. The towns themselves are very different. Mine is a bush town and hers more a farming community. Both of us have experienced very different levels of inclusion than when we lived in suburbia.

Is this just our experience? Does it say more about us as newcomers? Is it a general experience for people moving into small towns? Has it anything to do with our Shire? I don’t know the answer to these questions but, as always, I am curious.

My town is in the Dandenong Ranges of Melbourne and it really it a bush town. Summer poses its own risks of bush fire but for the most people live here because hearing the birds calling throughout the day and the wildlife that lives around us and the trees that are in every yard, is our choice. In the back corner of my block (and it is the once traditional 1/4 acre) is a group of ten gum trees. I think of it as my mini forest. Now I am well aware that eucalypts go up like candles when fire comes through. Facing facts though, I have no hope of beating back fires so figure I may as well enjoy my trees. My hopeful theory is that fire may leap to the trees and leave my house alone. I said hopeful.

Anyway, we moved here 6 1/2 years ago although it does seem longer. At first because I was working off the mountain, it seemed quite lonely. While my children were at school, I didn’t know any of the parents. We did the usual round of sporting activities and I gradually became a more familiar face. Even with being unfamiliar, people were friendly and would smile and nod hello long before they knew who we were. The mail here is collected from the post office (it is a very small town) which gives everyone a chance to pick up mail and get to visit the shops.

It took awhile for me to get involved in anything here. Mainly because my full time work left me too tired to add in anything else. Last year I changed jobs and came to work in the Shire in which I lived. I now travel 20 minutes through the trees to get to work without any traffic. Bliss. More than that, my new job didn’t ebb my creativity and it began to flow back into my life and demand attention. More than that, my work involves community development and I have been able to focus some of that up here in the hills.

It’s interesting to live in the area in which you work or work in the area in which you live. I love it. It is such a blessing to have an insight into the towns and people for whom you are intending to make a difference and to know some of the people who are leaders in the communities you frequent.

So, is it the towns that are friendlier or is it life arrangements that allow access? My co-worker’s new living situation gave them much more space to run and a happier place to be. Maybe our tree-changes are working because we were ready for it. Maybe small towns have more to offer than a lot of people realise.

One thing is for sure, I am very glad we are here.