Rich & Glorious

Today’s blogpost is brought to you by life: rich and glorious. How quickly we can forget it.

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So far 2014 has been quite the challenge. Health issues (you can read about it here), work restructures, applying for jobs, the start of preschool – busy, stressful, chaotic.  In thinking about what to write in this blogpost I found myself looking at pictures instead. I take photos, lots of them, to remind me of beautiful moments and to catalogue the happy times. I can’t help it; I like to record things. And my most recent photos made me realise that for all the hurdles of the last 2 months, there’s been joyous times too. Little events that add up to some pretty funny and wonderful moments, captured in some of my favourite shots.

1. The Advent of Maxie

I’ll begin this story with a description of a wonderful, fluffy, old boy in our household, our kelpie-border collie cross Jasper. Jasper turns 17 (yes, that’s right – 17) in a couple of months. He’s a bit slow on his feet, a bit blind, a bit deaf, a bit wobbly. He sleeps for around 20 – 22 hours a day. He’s slowed down a great deal since we lost or other pup last year (you can read about Ripley the Unholy Terror here). He has doggy-dementia so every now and then relives his puppy years, bounding around the yard in springbok-like jumps that make our daughter Belle giggle with delight. We all love Jasper immensely – he’s the sook, the dog that always wants a cuddle, the Mummy’s Boy. He lives a quiet life of gentle snoozing on a soft cushion.

So imagine my surprise finding a scrappy cockatiel waddling about our deck, squawking belligerently in the face of poor old Jasper. To Jasper’s credit, despite being more than a little bewildered, he managed to haul himself up to sniff and stagger behind the indignant creature. I “rescued” the bird and put out some water and bread, hoping it would recuperate and fly home. Not to be. The bird seemed intent on harassing Jasper and/or flying straight onto my shoulder whenever I ventured outside. It was obviously someone’s pet, flown the coup. A little while later I saw a streak of yellow past the kitchen window and felt happy the bird was likely returning home. However, it was not long before I was again “rescuing” the vocal cockatiel from our front yard, the bird hugging the trunk of our gum tree with open wings, blinking against the southerly blowing up the street, bleeding and distressed (I don’t think the resident native birds took kindly to it at all).

Belle and Maxie week 2c

This bird, now well-ensconced in a home with food and water, proceeded to ‘woo’ my daughter, my partner and my step-son. I borrowed an old bird cage from my Grandmother (who was rubbing her hands with glee at disposing of the large, rusted-metal object, having lost her Galah years ago). We bought bird seed, had a notice put up at the local vet surgery, did a letter-box drop and rang numbers in the Lost and Found. We even had someone come ’round to our house – still the bird was unclaimed. My daughter gave it a name. We bought bird seed, bird treats and a new cage.

And so Maxie became the newest member of our little household.

Well played Maxie, well played.

2. The Deviation at Nobbys

I have the luxury of taking Sunday evening walks on Nobbys Breakwall. I have 2 hours off from domestic life and I walk. I take my phone, I capture shots, I think, I listen to music, I tread it out  – it’s my “me-time” (you can read about it here).

I hadn’t been for a while; surgery in January meant I was restricted for a few weeks. When the time finally came for me to resume my walks, I decided to do something different. I grabbed my partner and my daughter and took them with me. With the clouds threatening rain and windy conditions, we walked the breakwall. We threw stones in the water, we raced and chased each other, we played. We waited as the grey clouds grew close and the crowd thinned, then hightailed it back to the car. It was possibly one of the nicest Sunday walks I’ve had in a long time.

Nobbys family walk

Whilst I highly value my me-time, on this particular Sunday I just wanted my family with me. I deviated from the norm and it was worth it.

Sometimes it pays to break tradition.

3. Nobody puts baby in the corner (dance, baby, dance).

February birthday celebrations for friends found me at a  girly ‘High Tea and Tarot’ afternoon at Mayfield. Libby and Erica, friends and work colleagues, decided to combine their February birthday celebrations into one event. And so I arrived at Teresa and Erica’s home with cake and champagne in hand, ready for polite conversation and bubbles. The table was set, the eskies were packed and the fortune-teller/tarot car reader was ready and waiting.

I had a fabulous time. I knew very few of the 50 or more women but still I found myself chatting, bonding, laughing and having a bloody great afternoon. The tarot reading was quiet respite from the party happenings, although sharing the session with 4 other women ensured that any seriousness was kept appropriately at bay.

The party continued into the night: a drag show, dancing, more drinks, more dancing. As always, I had my camera with me so I captured the fun, frivolity and joy of an arvo’ high tea gone rogue.

My favourite shot? This one, which I think imparts the essence of the afternoon. It screams happiness, fun and joy as the birthday girls (in red and blue) shimmy and laugh their way around the lounge-room. Life is too short not to eat, drink and be merry.

Pic 26

I didn’t think much had happened in my life in the month of February, nothing worth writing about anyway. Yet these images tell a different story. Seems, happily, I could not have been more wrong.

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Passage.

The older I get, the more keenly I feel the passage of time. I don’t remember feeling this way in my 20s or even my 30s. Now in my 40s, there are constant reminders of the passage of time – children growing up, facial lines deepening, my party-constitution failing me on a night out. I hear 40 is the new 30 (don’t ask me the source – I don’t care, I wholeheartedly support them anyway) so generally speaking, I’m not anywhere in the vicinity of what could possibly be classed as that dreadful term, ‘middle age’. I still feel like I’ve got a lot to do, to experience and to learn. I want to stay vital, invigorated and interesting if nothing else than for the sake of my 3 year old daughter. Yes that’s right – I’d like to be the coolest, wow-you-couldn’t-possibly-be-a-61-year-old Mum on the planet at her 21st birthday party. No pressure.

In terms of actually making it to my daughter’s 21st – by which I mean (to be quite blunt) life expectancy – I console myself with the fact we are generally a family of quality long-lifers. So I should be around. My grandmother is still alive, living in a house on her own in Merewether, the same house in which she raised her family. She still walks to the shops to get the paper. Apart from being a fairly deaf, she’s rockin’ it. She turns 90 this year. Another two family members have reached and passed the 100 year milestone. Both have arthritis, one is deaf and the other doesn’t “do” steps – but they are still loving, happy, gorgeous souls. Ummmm, yes alright, they’re dogs, but I’m including them in my familial-longevity assessment for the sheer fact they’ve been raised in our home environment. Sure, in their case it’s nuture over nature – but they’re still family so they count for the sake of my ruminations.

Centenarians

The funny thing about getting older is that you don’t feel like you’re ageing on the inside. My thoughts, memories and feelings are all swirling about inside me without a care about the general state of my body. I can still act silly and feel like a child. I can still feel infatuation, expectation and senseless passion. I can weep and mourn the same way I did 5, 10 or 20 years ago. Who I am on the inside remains relatively unchanged.

I find my memories aren’t really affected by time either. Those imprints are all there, jumbled, ready to access when wanted or needed. Many seem like only yesterday while some things from yesterday seem like long ago. And whether they exist in coloured detail or blurry sepia – what persists is the feeling around the memory. Joy, sadness, regret, happiness, shame, anticipation, embarrassment, loneliness or completeness – the memory is watermarked and I feel it more distinctly than I recall the event itself. The emotion of the past experience is like a hash-tag for accessing the memory.

Hey, I just used twitter-speak to describe personal memory referencing. See – I’m NOT old!

Tenuously connected to these thoughts: I read something in yesterday’s paper that startled me, an interview with an author about her recently published book ‘Losing February’ based on a period in her life. The author herself is quoted as saying “Falling in love is a bit like mental illness, you lose all sense of a lot of things… that’s why I called (the book) ‘Losing February’, because I was so in love. I lost February. For a woman my age I was a bit surprised”. Wait, what? A woman her age? I scanned the article for more information, wondering at what age the dramatic and wonderful effects of falling in love abandon us. She’s 50 now, it was set 10 years ago, so apparently it’s 40. Mental note: Let my single friends know they better get out there amongst it, because they might not feel that glorious emotional ascent into love if they don’t find ‘the right one’ before 40. A lot of my friends are already 40+, so I’m guessing they too will keenly feel the passage of time when I lay that one on them. Suffice to say I don’t agree with this premise at all. I can’t find any discernible loss of feelings at 43. My emotional boat still floats.

Note to readers: yes, yes, I know this author may simply be referring to the fact that she thought she wouldn’t find someone to fall in love with at 40, rather than actually losing the ability to love with age – but still, it’s a slightly grim view of the world. For the sake of my blogpost, just roll with it!

To sum up today’s mental meanderings: I’d like to think that what’s on the inside has great bearing on what happens on the outside. I’d like to think that the emotions I felt when I was younger are still accessible to me as I grow older, albeit shaded with life experience and some common sense I lacked in my youth. I’d like to think that I will still find things to wonder about when I’m older and that I can still be surprised every day. I’d like to think that I can age gracefully and be at peace with whatever happens to this housing for my soul.

And finally – paradoxically – I can’t wait for 2030. Why? Because I have a special party to go to.