Lost for words…

It’s been a shocker of a week. One of my nephews died in his sleep. We’re still waiting for the autopsy report, so we’re in the dark as to why. On getting the news, his mother, my sister, ended up in hospital with a suspected heart attack. You see, she’d only buried his father a few weeks before. Thankfully she’s okay and back home now, waiting for the coroner to finish his/her work so she can bury her son. There isn’t much I can do to help her. Saying, ‘I love you’, doesn’t seem enough. Then, a friend told me the doc has said she’s running out of time, now. She has been fighting cancer for a number of years, so in one way it’s not a surprise. But, when someone like her seems to be on top of it, you get used to the situation and you forget that there’s going to be an end. Of course, (spoiler alert!) that’s true for every body, but having this sort of illness brings that fact into sharp focus.  Saying, ‘I’m so sorry.  Sometimes life sucks’, doesn’t seem enough. Our new government has managed to install an all-male cabinet, bar one token female, and a ministry of 32 men and 6 females; upset the Indonesians with a high-handed approach to foreign affairs and a draconian approach to asylum seekers; get rid of the portfolios for science (not been done since the 1930s), climate change, aged care, disability care, youth and families, and is threatening to make it illegal to boycott companies, and to encourage others to do the same, even when said company is a threat to the welfare of the environment, communities and individuals. And they’ve only been in government a couple of weeks! We’re living the dream, or a nightmare, depending on which side of politics you lean. Saying, ‘Don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for them’, doesn’t seem enough. A bunch of terrorists/freedom fighters thought it would aid their cause if they took ‘the war’ into a neighbouring country and, specifically, to a shopping mall. After all, that’s where all the soldiers hang out, right? Yes; shopping malls are the modern day battle fields. They had to withstand the resistance of unarmed families – including pregnant women and small children – but still managed to gain a glorious defeat, with maximum loss of life. It certainly gained them lots of attention that’ll last for a few days, but I’m not sure what else. Still, they wiped out lots of civilians, and that’s what warfare is all about. I’m sorry but saying, ‘Allahu akbar’ isn’t enough. It’s never enough. And, finally, to the person who continually sends me very long comments that consist of lines and lines of question marks: Dude, what’s your problem?...

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Things that make me smile

The last few posts have been a bit miserable, so this week I’ve decided to be thankful. My mother used to sing an old gospel song, “Count your blessings” and, as she chose to do it when I complained about something, it used to annoy the heck out of me. However, now that I’ve reached the more mature years, I realise there’s a lot of truth in the old refrain. Here are some things that make me smile. A baby’s laughter; their teeny tiny fingers and toes; the way they snuggle their heads into the crook of your neck… Babies. The (well-deserved) adoration of Rex the Wonder Dog. (In fact, animals, birds and most insects in general.) My children, children-in-law and grandchildren (including the dogs, cats and bird). Music, art and literature. (I won’t be more specific because we all have different tastes.) A slice of lemon cheesecake. A crisp, clear pear cider. Laughing so hard you have trouble breathing and water squirts out of your eyes. Butterflies. The lush exuberance of spring. Reading an absorbing book, in my favourite chair, while it storms outside. Good friends with whom you eat, laugh, cry, discuss and, sometimes, pray. The random kindness of strangers/ doing random acts of kindness. Codeine. Feeling a gentle breeze kiss your cheek before it plays with your hair. A cold drink of clean water on a hot day. Being loved, respected and appreciated. Being wrapped in the Old Boy’s arms when things are lousy. I could go on and on but that’ll do for today. As I thought about what makes life enjoyable, worthwhile and hopeful, I’ve realised (once more) that it’s not the gadgets, money, or the so-called trappings of success. It’s finding beauty in the world around us. It’s loving and being loved. But, you already knew that – right? What would you add to the list?      ...

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Rage against the machine

I’m finding that the more frustrated I am about the “big picture” things in the world, the more annoyed I am by the little things. I want to grab Mr Assad and the leader of the rebels and give them both a jolly good talking to before sending them to their rooms. I want to feed the starving hordes in the Sudan. I want little girls in every country to have a decent education, and then be able to do something with it. I want to save the Great Barrier Reef from being dredged by greedy, thoughtless, narcissistic…(insert rude words). I want to give asylum seekers safe haven. Oh I sign petitions until I’m seeing them in my sleep. I vote according to my conscience, and write to my local member of parliament but it doesn’t do any good. I give money when and where I can, even though we still have a big mortgage, lots of extra medical expenses, we live on one average income, and the Old Boy and I are hurtling towards retirement. I pray for a better day. But, deep down, I have a sinking, nagging, gut-wrenching feeling that I’m not making much of a difference. So, I see a Johnson’s baby oil ad, in which the child thinks in an American accent and calls its mother, “Mom”, and my teeth are set on edge. I shout: We’re Australian for Pete’s sake (sanitised version)! We say, “Mum”. We’re not an annexe of the USA! Why are we buying ads from America, instead of using our own?!! The TV screen never answers back. (I’ve lived in the United States and there are still people and places in that great country that I love. BUT – we’re not the same. And, that’s a good thing. I’d like to keep it that way.) I wasn’t going to mention the recent election but I have to share this little snippet. I heard that the Greens party gave their preferences to the Climate Sceptics Party in the recent election. How utterly hypocritical and self-serving! No wonder the average voter is drenched in cynicism. I hear about book stores closing down, because everything is on-line these days, and I want to grab everyone’s smart phones, i-pads, kindles and what-nots, throw them on a huge bonfire, sprinkle petrol on them and set it alight. Of course, I make this statement using my desk top computer. I didn’t say my thinking was rational. I’m just frustrated and saddened by the thought of proper paper books going the way of the dodo. I told you: can’t fix the big picture things, so I’m going nuts at the little ones. Hmm… Perhaps my “time out” wasn’t long enough. Bring on the tennis....

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