My Hard Yakka Dad

Some of you may not realise (I know I didn’t until yesterday!) that Father’s Day in Australia happens on the first Sunday of September.  Which means in two days time!

It’s a bummer, really, because I had this Father’s Day all worked out since Susie Lindau’s post My Father the Madman back in June.  (If you haven’t joined her blog yet, it’s more than worth the ride… :) )

The problem is, the mail usually takes longer to get to Tasmania than it does to the other side of the world.  And Dad doesn’t have a computer.  So now it looks like you’re going to get this before he does…I won’t tell if you don’t?

In my comment on Susie Lindau’s post, I made the mistake of saying my Dad was a ‘bit of’ an amateur inventor.  I didn’t expect her to be interested, but she was, so now I have to confess it was a ‘bit of’ a white lie.

My Dad is not so much an amateur inventor as an all-round fix-it man.  He is a builder by trade, and what that means is – even if he has not an ounce of engineering knowledge – he can figure out how stuff works.

Back when I was still young enough to be admiring, my Dad built a tractor-powered saw mill from second hand chunks of metal (that’s my technical term for it).  He welded it together, sharpened the saws by hand and it all worked like a dream.

I LOVED working on that saw mill.  I just wanted to be one of the boys, and Dad – desperate for all the help he could get – would let me play along.

I’d hang about on building sites and wood chops…

…even in the veggie patch…(actually, that’s not me, it’s a scarecrow :) )

..and all the while Dad (and Mum, of course) were hard at work.

Maybe he could have been an inventor.  But there were never enough hours in the day for my Hard Yakka Dad.  (Hard Yakka is Aussie for ‘hard work’.  It’s also a brand of tough guy workwear.  Check out the video).

Even when we went camping, it was work, work, work for Dad…

And when eventually he got to stop?  Well.  No words necessary.

Over the years, we’ve had our share of differences. But the great thing about growing up is that you get to see your parents as people.  With stories, and a history of their own.

Dad, the eldest of seven kids, left school early to help his parents on the farm.

Later, he relinquished a Pacific Island dream at their request, and came home to build their house.

The rest, as they say, is history.

“What’s done is done,” he says. “No use dwelling on the past.”

But history is important.  It’s what makes us who we are.

Somehow, in its knowledge, anger dissolves.  It reveals a child’s disappointment in discovering the humanity of those we love.

Today, when I go home, Dad likes to take me on a tour of the homes he’s built.

He’s a stalwart of the industry.  One of the few remaining all-rounders.  Worth his weight in gold – they say.

Except Dad, out of some old-school sense of modesty, continues to charge less than half the going rate.

But at least he’s starting to enjoy himself.

Maybe one day soon, he’ll accept that retirement means ‘stop work’.

In the meantime, I’ll just love him for the Dad he is.

Wishing Happy Father’s Day to all the Hard Yakka Dad’s out there.

Maybe you know of one yourself?  Or maybe you, too, had a moment of discovery, when you finally saw the man?  Please share….

Thanks for Being YOU

Many of you will know the private blogger nightmare so well articulated in Valerie Davies’ post on Bloggers Complexes.

My own little complex was recently solved by the delightful and talented Coco J. Ginger.  The next best gift, following her surprise visit to my blog, was being offered “an imaginary award in which you do not have to do anything, but just be happy”.

Like a blogger reborn, I found myself soaring with the weight of a lifted burden, and looking at my little bundle of neglected awards, I at last knew what I had to do.

To all those people who have been so thoughtful as to nominate me for an award – despite what may appear to be my ungracious refusal to participate – this one is for you ;)

Delirious prose of supreme poetesses
Powerful rebirth of Phoenix goddesses
Dames of the nyght and the sun, moon and stars
You are the Venus to many the Mars

Young teenage men with ambiguous notions
World scholars dealing in happiness potions
Peace-loving fellows with wheels for their wings
Yours is a world fit for nobler kings

Kind hearted souls giving pause to good karma
Eyes tuned to hearing the wild’s hidden drama
Tread lightly trekkers whose world is their muse
You are the jazz to the ponderer’s blues

When the blog bites
When the guilt burns
What else can I do?
But simply remember what each blogger yearns -
And thank you for being YOU!

Now, if I’ve made the fatal error of leaving someone out who should be on this list, please give me a gentle nudge below ;)  If not, tell me, for what do you yearn (or, alternatively, what makes you burn)?

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Credit for images goes as follows:

  • Stork in the night by Tinneketin, courtesy stock.xchng
  • Music Band 2 by fangol, courtesy stock.xchng

One Tiny Possum

I’m blown away by all the lovely people who came by last week – from all across the globe!  If I haven’t caught up with you yet, I promise to be around in the next few days.  In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a bit of Aussie talk.

It might surprise you to know that most Aussie neighbourhoods don’t in any way resemble the cast of Neighbours.  Strange, but true.  If you don’t believe me, check out this hilarious South Australian post, Writing, Not Bludging.

My neighbours think I am the biggest bludger on earth.

This wouldn’t be a problem if I lived in an arts suburb, like Brunswick.  But alas, I live a much less glamorous existence in a block of units housing several retirees.

On one side is Ethel.  Her biggest preoccupation is cleaning up possum poo so that her cat, Leo, doesn’t roll in it.

One day she handed me the broom and suggested I might like to have a go.  I, of course, politely declined. I could see it in her eyes, Young people these days…Whatever does she do in there all day, anyway?

So as not to make an awkward situation worse, I scampered away back inside, confirming her belief that I’m a shiftless layabout.  Later I heard her grumbling to Leo, “Those possums make such an awful mess! I don’t know where they keep on coming from…”

On the other side is George.  He has many preoccupations – watering the garden, pruning the buggery out of the trees and Friday morning bin collection, just to name a few.  He also dislikes possums.

One morning, as Pepi and I ventured on our walk, I happened to compliment him on his lemon tree.

“You know, the possums?” he booms, “They come here, from the golf-course, I think – ” he gestures, “Anyway, they come here – they eat the buds, you know? The buds!”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah! The buds. The skin. Everything…”

“Oh! No, I didn’t know.”

He proceeded to tell me how, when he chased the possum away with a stick, it ran across the power line.

“They are very clever, you know, but – yeah…they eat…”

Now, just in case you’re wondering, possums in Australia don’t breed in epidemic pest proportions.  They are unique little natives to Australia.

Brushtail possum by dr_yew courtesy stock.xchng

The smallest, forest dwelling types, like the Leadbeater and the Pygmy Possums, are on the brink of extinction.  Others, like the Brushtail and Ringtail varieties, exist in urban areas quite happily, despite our best efforts to run them out of town.

What I didn’t bother to tell George or Ethel is that I know exactly where our possum neighbour lives.  And it’s not over at the golf course.

Outside Ethel’s guest room window stands a tall conifer tree.  Invariably, there is always a small sprig of green that stands out at an angle from the tree.  The OCD in me had always wondered at its messiness.

But then, one moonlit night, as I pulled up in my car spot, there could be seen the faintest outline of two ears and a tail.

Up there, sitting on that sprig of green, was the smallest ringtail I have ever seen. He watched me, curiously, from his open door.

We stared at each other for a long while, and then I went inside.

Over my back fence is another neighbour I refer to as The Gorg.  Unfortunately, her main preoccupation is screaming at the kids before they go to school.  I’m not talking a couple of minutes of raised-voice frustration.  I’m talking spine-chilling, half-an-hour, top-of-lungs tirade.

The Gorg is growing a lemon tree by the fence so she can’t see us from her kitchen when we come out our back door.  We don’t talk much, for obvious reasons, but her cat, Lollipop, loves to spy on Pepi from the fence.

Another moonlit night, I took Pepi out the back to pee.  I heard a rustle, and assuming it was Lollipop, braced myself for a Pepi-sized tirade.

But when I looked up, it was my little possum neighbour staring from the fence.

While we stared at each other, Pepi wandered back inside, oblivious.  And then, after what seemed like an age, my possum friend jumped back into The Gorg’s tree for a feast.

One tiny possum, eking out an existence against all odds, and quite despite our petty people politics.

I don’t know about you, but his secret’s safe with me :)

A Moonbeam Lullaby

A couple of weeks ago, I was introduced to a boy with a hat.

He is worthy of admiration for having taught himself English in just three years.  Now, he has greater mastery of the language than many natives that I know.  It’s a bit intimidating.

One particular day, we were (or, at least, I was) bemoaning the demise of handwriting by its fine rival, the keyboard.

I happened to let slip that the only use I have for my scrawl these days is writing in a gift card.

“Oh! Will you send me one too?” he asks. “Leave it for me on your windowsill (tie it with a red ribbon so I know it’s from you)…”.

I had to ponder this challenge a while, which now makes me a little ashamed to call myself a creative writer.

The solution, though, is one of the reasons I had to free up space in my posting schedule :)

So, in honour of the boy who inspired me to let the moonlight in – this one is for you… ;)

Do you send gift cards? What do you love about sending or receiving them?

If you’d like me to leave you a gift card on my windowsill – don’t be shy! Just leave  a comment, with a link to a favourite post of yours that may inspire or intrigue me. Tell me something about yourself and your passions – you never know where it may lead :)

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I’m no graphic artist, so credit for the images assembled goes as follows:

  • Vintage envelope by dubyadesig courtesy stock.xchng
  • Red ribbon by kunistvan courtesy stock.xchng
  • Owl in the moonlight by rknds courtesy stock.xchng
  • Vintage card by ba1969 courtesy stock.xchng

Welcome to my Rock

This post marks the end of my twelfth week in blogosphere – which means, in job terms, I’ve just passed my probation.  Yay!!!

You’d think by now I’d have some idea what it is I’m doing, but a couple of weeks ago, one question pulled me up short:

Why do you blog?

I’m very thankful to Jenny Hansen for posing this question in her post Does Blogging Jack Up Your Schedule? because (as her blog promises to do) it demanded MORE from me.

In my travels so far, I’ve found almost as many approaches to blogging as there are people in the world.

For some, it’s a means of meeting and keeping in touch with friends, a public form of ‘diary’, or a place to heal and figure out your thoughts.

For others, it’s a highly professional gig.

If you’re like me, you’re here because you finally realized that living under a rock is no longer an option for writers in the 21st century :(

Until I read Jenny’s post, I thought that was enough – except for the one small problem of it having robbed me of my Quiet.

For example, this is what I actually wrote the week I posted An Island in a Sea of Words:

I was whining explaining to my most important person that I had lost my Quiet.

Helpfully, she told me how I if I don’t learn to Logout.  Shutdown.  Exit the program. I will drive everyone insane.  Including me.  This is not sustainable.  She says.

“But that’s just it.  It’s not like I don’t know that!” I squeal, hands in the air.

“It’s like my brain is fighting with itself.  On one hand it’s like – You have to interact – and the other side is saying – You can’t keep doing this – and then I’m like – But look at all those tweets – and then it’s like – What about your writing? – and them I’m all – You haven’t read their blog posts…And next thing I’m staring at the screen and

…I am Not Responding anymore!”

By this time she is pissing herself laughing at the monster She unleashed…

Clearly, I was in need of help.

In my quest to manage this thing called a ‘Social Media Platform’, I’ve consulted some incredibly generous souls for their advice:

Anne R. Allen is an advocate of Slow Blogging.  For a variety of illuminating reasons, she promotes quality-over-quantity, which for her means blogging once a week or less.

Amber West has a refreshingly principle-over-rule approach.  Her ‘You’ve Got Questions’ series answered a lot of mine, including the big one, Do Writers Need to Blog? and a fantastic overview on Everything Twitter.

Nina Badzin is the go-to-girl for detailed Twitter tips.  This includes how to organize Twitter so you don’t go insane, as well as solid tips on how to avoid driving other people insane.  She also defends those of us with Facebook lurking tendancies! ;)

Pooky shares a succinct and sincere approach to social media.  She reminded me that the point is interaction.  After all, who has time with 5000+ followers, to send a personal tweet notifying you they’ve replied to your comment on their blog?  Well, she did, and for that I am immensely appreciative.

Suzannah Windsor Freeman tops it off with help for burnt-out bloggers.  A fellow lover of small things (including tea cup chi’s and elves), she encourages us newbies to enjoy the benefits of having a small audience.  She doesn’t need to tell me twice…

It became clear to me, from all the good advice, that the question of what to do is best answered if you know why you are doing it.

I was reminded of Mokey and her song (at 3:27 mins) from Fraggle Rock:

Sometimes I’m alone,
Sitting on my very own,
Trying to find a simple kind of clue.
And I would like to know
Why the Doozers Bloggers move me so,
Doing all the things that Doozers Bloggers do.
Why do caterpillars crawl?
Why is there a sky?
Why is there a world at all?
Why, do I ask why?

And then the answer came.

Have you ever noticed how animals won’t come near you when you’re noisy?  But sit still long enough and you get to experience a whole other kind of wild?

It’s like that with the Fraggles.  They might run away from Gorgs, but don’t be fooled – they got it goin’ on!

That’s when I realized.

Living under a rock is not the problem.  It’s failing to invite anyone else under it!

So, what can you expect from my cosy little den?

  • For now, a move from weekly to fortnightly wordy thought provoking posts (phew, relief, right?) :).
  • On alternate weeks, shorter posts about fun things Fraggles like to do – cook, chit-chat, send postcards, scamp about, sleep – I don’t know, I’ll make it up as I go along.
  • Until I have a better plan, a less-is-more approach to social media.
  • The space to Go Wild. Quietly.

Hopefully this will make me more congenial to be around for everyone concerned ;).

So – consider yourself officially invited.  And while you’re here, please tell me:

Why do you blog?  Are there any tips you care to share for all us baby bloggers?