Thursday, December 31, 2020

Beloved Companion of the Sunrise

We recently acquired a new family member - a little bundle of energy and soft adorableness - a puppy. She is supposed to be an emotional support dog for my son, but really, she makes all of us laugh and we are all in line for cuddles. 

As heart melting (and mischievously funny) as she is, she also brings out our old dogs most admirable attributes. His patience and gentleness are highlighted as she spends hours wrestling with him. He lies on the floor and she throws herself at his face and tussles with his ears and snout. Sometimes, she'll thrust the entirety of her tiny head into his big jaw, entirely, and rightly, confident, he won't hurt her. And patiently he sits. Occasionally he'll heave a sigh, or a groan, and put one paw down on her, as if to say 'chill'. Occasionally, he'll take a leisurely swipe at her with one of his massive paws, and she'll summersault away, pick herself up, and then run right back to attack. But generally, he just sits. She has taken to trotting around after him, or curling up next to him, knowing him to be safe. 

Wolfie is the best of dogs and the best of companions. He's always ready for a sunrise or sunset walk (he agrees with me that only a mad person would leave the house during the heat of a Queensland day - that way lies madness and death) and prances with joy through the gloaming. On a beach he sits with easy companionship as we watch the sun rise or set. Occasionally he leaves me to joyfully greet another dog, but then he bounds back. 

At home he sits as the small girls roll over him and jump around him, examining his teeth or picking up his paws. He loves all people and dogs, and has only growled once when he believed one of his younger charges was threatened. 

Wolfie is everything you could want in a companion - loyal, gentle, responsible, devoted, a great listener, always ready for a beach walk or dam swim, no matter how early or late. He is an expert at finding the coolest place in the house, and always keeps a watchful eye on the children when we're out, running from one to the other to be sure they're all alright. 

This year has sucked, but here's a shout out to all our wonderful furred companions who have steadfastly helped us through it. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

wind, sand & stars


Some much needed days by the sea on the Sunshine Coast gave me time to sit at the foot of sand dunes and study patterns of wind and water on the fine, dry sand. To look at the resilient plants at the border between land and sea. 

Leaving the house early, before the children woke, there was a time of quiet Listening to the sea, studying the fine details, drinking in the scent of the sea, reminded me so much of days back home, down south, on the Surf Coast. Vitamin Sea is a necessity we all crave. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Divided - and Vortex


This year has been a year of separations and sharp divisions. At home alone, we find our own social media bubbles, and while in some ways the connection is crucial for our sense of community and mental health, the way we surround ourselves with carefully curated like minds makes it difficult to see viewpoints beyond our own. We enter our own vortex - and I love my vortex. I love all the interesting wildlife and archaeology stories my feed shows me, and I adore seeing photos of relatives and friends' kids, of distant, beautiful seascapes, but knowing everyone is spiralling down their own separate vortexes, is worrying. 
We have been lucky in Queensland that we have seen very little illness and lockdown has been briefer and less severe than most other parts of the world. To be honest, in many ways even at it's height it felt very much same-same. Living with a child with disabilities often feels like a permanent semi-lockdown. The Queensland lockdown is ended but I can still go a week and the only adults I'll have talked to are the cashier at the local supermarket (about as desperate for conversation as I am, we discuss Minecraft farming and the weather), the teachers at the kids school ('Really, you want me to collect him now? I only dropped him off ten minutes ago. Oh. Ok. I'll be there in ten,) and my husband, who, with upward of thirty patients a day in an area with the highest suicide rate in Queensland and many, many complexities, comes home from work completely people-d out and monosyllabic. 

There is a reason I am somewhat dependant on my vortex, and understand why many others are as well. While social media brings us together, we see in America how people have become completely divided, each half seemingly living in alternate realities, which become increasingly difficult to bridge. 

On a recent evening walk, the sunset was non-spectacular until I turned at the crest of the hill, and saw the last light beyond the fence. We refer to the hill beyond the fence as 'Wallaby Hill' as each time we pass at least a score of very well camouflaged wallabies will be staring down at us. I like to imagine they're considering world domination (let's be honest, they're unlikely to do a worse job), but I suspect they've merely marked us as predators and are waiting till we leave. 

I've always loved the character of silvered wood - but as much as the aged wood of the fence posts delights me - the barbed wire reminds me of this year - of all the ways in which we're separated - by distance and border control, by lockdowns, death, illness, grief, world-views, distrust and misinformation. 

With four unruly kids, and adventurous dogs - the latest is a husky-cross - I have a tendency to view fences as the things that keep my little wild ones safe and alive, and some of the separations of this year have been necessary, and life saving. Others - those of the media and world-view seem increasingly worrying. 

Now, at years end, with hope in sight, with vaccines arriving and (hopefully) the American election settling, I am hoping we can take a deep breath and move towards a new year that is not so rent with tragedy and division. 

Around the world the same stars surround us - and tomorrow night we can all watch the Christmas Star, the near alignment of Saturn and Jupiter until they almost seem to merge. Although some of us will see it back to front. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Ten for Ten


My oldest girl turned ten this year - reaching double digits for the first time. As she becomes more independent I am posting less about her and writing less about her, but I am so proud of the independent and courageous person she's showing herself to be. This hasn't been an easy year for anyone, and she's had so many different challenges. She's the child that gets all the responsibility and few of the perks of being the eldest. She is the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter. It is not surprising that she is strong willed and determined. We often forget how very young she is, and how sensitive. As a young child she was my Poppet, my sweet and perfect one who I could never imagine answering me back or being anything other than completely in accord. Times change. Now it is rare I say or do something she doesn't dispute.  But this is how it should be and I rejoice that she is finding her voice, discovering who she is and how she wants to relate to the world and those around her. Growing up is tough. But she's got this. 

ephemeral - variations.


The sunset was muted - the setting sun hidden in cloud, and it wasn't until we were returning from our walk and nearing the curve of the hill near home that I turned and saw the way the last light hit upon the  tall grasses lining the roadside. Until recently I hadn't noticed the enormous variation in grasses and their seeds. The ones the dying light caught upon looked soft, as if they were sheafs of tiny, delicate, furred animals about to take flight. The ephemeral nature of grass seeds, and the way they catch the light is becoming an increasing fascination. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020



The rains came this week, pelting down, turning the sky into a theatre of lightning and thunder. Until now, although nominally spring, all around us has been dry and parched. Within days of the first fall lush green has appeared, and I am no longer looking the few small spots of gentle restful colour. 

While waiting for the rain, I found a tangle of green, wild and exuberant and unplanned, probably mostly unwanted, along the banks of the dam. 

The vigorous life, intermingled with the dead plants, intrigued me, and I loved how entangled and entwined the plants were, how interesting the shapes and how soothing the muting tones of the vigorous and outreaching weeds were, as darkness fell,