The Old Married Couple.


We love festivals! A marvellous opportunity to get together with friends and share food, conversation and ambience in the fresh air. We attended Picnic on The Green at Gledswood Homestead and Winery on Sunday, and had an absolute ball. Pretty Picnics outdid herself!

Daughter and her little friend dancing to the music.
My daughter and her friend, feeling the music. Scott Mills Photography.
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Cupcakes in Camden, Pretty Picnics, myself and The Old Married Couple.

I was delighted to catch up with my friend, Katie Beech, and her husband, Riley, who are The Old Married Couple, a very talented duo. Their music carries me away, into sunny fields of daisies and sunflowers, a flower crown atop my head. No worries or cares in their land of whimsy. They are an indie-folk couple from Sydney. They play at weddings and events, festivals and fairs. They perform both originals and cover songs. They also offer personalized songs for weddings and other occasions. They are the whole package, man! I had to find out more of the history of my gorgeous friends.  Riley: “We started as a young dating couple ten years ago, but formed a musical duo a year ago, when I wrote a duet song (Stuck with me), for my solo album. As the song discussed so many things from our relationship, it made sense that Kate would sing the female parts. I started leaning towards writing for the duo, and The Old Married Couple organically formed over a few months.”  Katie: “We got married in March this year after being a couple for ten years. We met at school, when Riley’s best friend tried to pick up by following me to the train station, attempting to convince me to hang out with him. He meant well, but it was intimidating. Riley was there with him and something about him made me feel more comfortable. Over the next few weeks, we ended up together!”

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What are your musical influences? “We love our Australian music. We find a lot of inspiration in artists like Things of Stone and Wood, Frente and Darren Hanlon, as well as other duo’s like She and Him and Simon and Garfunkel. Mostly our songs come from each other’s quirks and quotes. What are your goals for the future? “We’re very focused on the immediate future and we like to set small goals and change them as they happen. Things have been growing very quickly and our focus right now is to keep them growing in terms of the quality of our music and performance. Our number one goal has always been reaching as many people as we can and forcing smiles onto even the sourest of faces.” The Old Married Couple have just completed a tour around Melbourne, and I asked how they found it? “Melbourne was a major moment for The Old Married Couple. We were treated so kindly and professionally by the industry and audience down there, that it gave us the motivation to grow. We want to have the same experience in Sydney, and then all around the country and in time, the world.” I have no doubt that they shall. If you want to discover whimsy through music, this is the duo for you.  For further information, or to purchase their CD,  go to www.theoldmarriedcouple.com or www.facebook.com/theoldmarriedcouple

The Old Married Couple.
The Old Married Couple.

30 Day Challenge-Day 20. Concerts you have attended.


 

Katy Perry's Prism Tour
Katy Perry’s Prism Tour

I have attended many concerts in my time. Some that come to mind are:

The Eurythmics. I was a child and they were extraordinary!

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Tim Finn and Paul Kelly at the Opera House. Incredible songwriters.

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Lolo Lovina. They pierce your soul.

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Pink, because she is wonderful and great fun!

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Katy Perry. My little girl adores her, and I must say, I do too.

The Old Married Couple.  Gorgeous humans I am proud to call friends.

I have been to many Indie concerts in small venues, as well as scores of festivals. Sydney has at least one festival each week! It’s a great way to uncover new talent. I always buy the cd’s. I haven’t even mentioned theatre and musicals, both of which I love.  In the years to come I hope to get to many more concerts!

Ten Things I Dislike/Ten Things I Love


The marvellous Corina invited her readers to make a list of things they dislike and those they love. I agree with her that “hate” is a word I try not to use, and much prefer “dislike.”

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10 Things I Dislike.

1. Lateness. I am a punctual person. It reflects respect, being on time. It is an acknowledgement that the person’s time is valuable. It is also necessary. I take medications at certain times to curtail my spinal/nerve pain. I have to self-catheterise at specific times as a result of my spinal injuries. My days are timed to such an extent that an hour spent sitting  is calculated. If times blow out by as little as twenty minutes, everything goes to hell.

2. Noisy Neighbours. They can make or break a place!

3. Talking on phones. I can reply to texts and emails in blocks, and just don’t have time for several phone calls each day, especially when service providers keep you waiting for hours!

4. Drama. Drama is something that one trains for as an actor, and should only be seen on-screen or in the theatre.

5. Politicians. Need I say more?

6. Wrapping gifts. Mostly because I suck at it.

7. Big shopping centres. Sensory overload. I resent being deliberately hypnotized by lighting and sounds into a state of inertia.

8. People who gossip and are mean. I would hope that we have evolved as a species.

9. Winter. I lay broken on the ground in winter, going into shock as the paramedics wrapped  a foil blanket around me. Winter doesn’t float my boat.

10. Noise. Why are people scared of silence?

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10 Things I Love.

1. My Daughter. She is magnificent. She sings and plays guitar.

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2. My Guinea Pigs and birds. They are whimsical, affectionate creatures.

3. My computer and Wi fi connection!

4. Springtime. The season of hope.

5. Loyal Friends.

6. Music. Everything from Lolo Lovina to The Old Married Couple and many more aside.

7. People who make me laugh and are fun! Life can get so heavy. It is a blessing to be around those who lighten your load.

8. My errant treasures of books, vintage clothing, photos and decorations.

9. The magnificent fresh produce available in my town, and the purveyors of such.

10. Art in all its forms.

If you would like to devise your own lists, feel free to do so!

 

 

Spoons


Usually I am okay with the delegation of my spoons. You know, the ones those with relentless pain are given each day? You only get a few, so need to use them wisely. My daughter has started a program in the theatre. She absolutely loves it, and it has been a pleasure to transport her there. The other day though, I was still recovering from the pneumonia. Several nights of relentless coughing had made my spine excruciating, and my chest burnt. When one is running out of spoons, the promise of rest, of laying supine is tantalizing. ‘Ten minutes walk to the station, then an hour on the train. Once you round the corner to home, you can rest,’ I promised myself. Ha! There was a work vehicle outside, and a fellow cutting up steel. Yes, tonight is a splendid night to do several hours of building work, whilst your dog barks incessantly and your whole family hollers a metre or so from my home.

I am usually a considered person, not prone to losing the plot, but this particular night I did. It wasn’t much on the angry scale, but for me (who hates confrontation), it was spectacular! The pain escalated, and the noise was phenomenal. Now when one has no spoons left, one can get a bit beside oneself. I drank red wine, and turned up my stereo. I played Sam Smith at full volume. I paced. Pain makes one agitated. The only thing that helps me is silence and rest. I went through my list of strategies. Hot bath, liniments, Tens Machine, brace, etc. It has taken me a few days to gather more spoons. Every event has to have a break in between, each outing meticulously planned. Sometimes the best strategies can be brought down by the actions of others. The good news is I survived, and the noisy people have been introduced to Sam Smith, Indie Artists, The Old Married Couple and many more. Don’t mess with an overtaxed lady who is in excruciating pain! They were very fortunate that I was restrained and didn’t shove my collection of rusty and warped old spoons where the sun doesn’t shine!

Happy New Year! 2014 in Review


I thought I would recap some of the posts on Hummingbird Redemption this year.

I have to start off with Serena

DV is a post I wish I hadn’t had to write.

Hold On

Paddington
Paddington

Endo to end all Endo’s 

Winter
24 Hours
Raphaela’s Companions-Nicci Peverill
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Revising Life

Never Again
Good Vibes
I Love my Face
Personality
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My Best Physical Feature
Pink is the New Black
The Old Married Couple
Community

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Lizzie’s Art
It’s a Wonderful Life
Never Assume
No Time to Scratch
The Story Behind my Book
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Finally, we finish with Christmas Greetings

Happy New Year, beautiful people. I look forward to sharing 2015 with you. xxx

What it Takes to go to Court…


My dear friend lives in the city, and she and her husband work hard to build a future for their family. Sadly, sexual abuse featured in their lives as young people, and whilst the scars have healed over, they can occasionally be picked open by recent events. My friend sought the services of a professional, for a sensitive matter. She trusted that what transpired in that room, would stay in that room. Little did she know, that the professional man would bank on that happening. She divulged her fears and innermost feelings, and he preyed upon her in insidious fashion. The sexual abuse happened within five minutes, leaving her confused and stunned. She hurriedly left, stumbling out of the practice, then ringing her fiancee. Within a week, news of this professional man’s crimes hit the media. My friend went to the police, and reported what had transpired at her appointment. She went back and made a statement, the event opening up old wounds, and a fear of whether she could trust anyone in a professional capacity, again.

In the interim, she married and had a baby boy. The week after his birth, she was asked by the Department of Public Prosecution’s to come to their offices for an appointment to run over her statement. She explained that this was impossible, as she had just given birth, and so she was granted a Skype interview. She was nervous in the lead-up, and anxious on the day. I went over to look after her baby whilst she talked in another room. They said that she would likely need to come to court within the next couple of weeks, and she prepared herself as best she could.

The matter kept being pushed back, the accused deciding to plead Not Guilty to all charges. There were over thirty charges, and scores of women and girls had given statements to the police. Finally, it was scheduled. Two days off work for her husband, and two days spent in a courthouse in her last days of maternity leave. These were days she wanted to spend with her baby, and instead they were spent in the company of the accused’s barrister, who was aggressive. Day one, she left after eight hours, without having been on the stand. Day two, she was up, and left exhausted. It took weeks for her to regain her energy, and I was worried that she may go into a post-natal depression. She just hoped that by standing up, he would get as long a sentence as the law allowed.

I was with her months’ later, when she received a text from the DPP, saying that the charges of him molesting her had been dropped. She was devastated, and wondered what she could have done or said that would have made a difference. I assured her that there was nothing that could have been done differently. Even though she was assured that he had been found guilty on other charges, it would have meant the world if they had said that he was guilty of this charge too. It would have meant the world to the little girl within her soul. Validation means everything, though is hard to come by. I took her for a cuppa, and bought her flowers.

Two days of unpaid leave for her husband. The expense of meals and petrol, not to mention the emotional toll. Hours spent giving statements, in interviews and on the stand. Time away from her baby. This couple asked me why would anybody go to all this trouble, if the event hadn’t happened? What on earth would they have gained? The law is a tricky business, with sleight of hand and confusing verdicts. This creature is going to jail, for quite a while, nonetheless. I am so very proud of this friend, for standing up and telling of her encounter. It took everything she had, and then some. Somehow, within the telling, it has freed this little girl, regardless. You fought the good fight, and your courage caused other’s to stand up and go to the police too. Your clarion call was heard, sweetheart. Those who have found their voice, shall never be silenced again.

Rotorua, Sulphur, Mini Golf and Flemish Rabbits!


My daughter and I travelled to Auckland airport from Sydney to attend a wedding in Rotorua. It was our first international flight, so we were excited! We left home at 5am, and got to our lodgings after 8pm. Fortunately, I had prepared my spine -full of arthritis, spondylosis, etc- for this epic adventure, and after a hot shower, crawled into bed.

The trip to Rotorua. This van was in front of us for a few hours.

The next day, I needed a good walk, so we went into Rotorua, and had a marvellous time looking in shops (which are markedly different to ours), and talking to the locals. The cost of living is a lot higher here, which was evident in the price of petrol and food. Over half  the population exist on the minimum wage, and rents are high. I worried about the local people, and how they manage.

My friends were married at the Black Swan Boutique Hotel, a stunning place overlooking Lake Rotorua. Black swans glided by as the vows were exchanged, and the grey skies cleared and sunbeams touched our skin. The bride was absolutely stunning, and I loved how we were invited to hold the rings, placing our love and hopes for the couple into them before they were exchanged. The reception was exquisite, as were our attempts at dancing afterward!

My vegetarian meal!

We left the Black Swan at midnight, collapsing into bed, and woke early the next morning for breakfast with everyone. The bride and groom were glowing and ever so happy. It filled me with joy. We decided to head to the Polynesian Baths to partake of a sulphur spa, naturally heated to 40 degrees. I lost track of time as my body relaxed and I floated with my daughter, and it was only when we went to get dressed that we noted the sign stating that you shouldn’t stay in longer than 15 minutes! Oops! We drank lots of water afterward, to avoid dehydration, and I went to have a nap, my pained spine temporarily eased.

 

As I slumbered in our Airbnb, my daughter uncovered what she called a fairyland, Mini Golf NZ, ironically on Fairy Springs Rd. The manager, Fiona MacGregor was an angel, she said, and I just had to go and see for myself. On the way, we stopped at the local shops for a takeaway dinner, and met many homeless youth. The weather had turned nasty, and a bitter wind whipped through their thin clothing. We gave them some of our NZ money, so they could at least get something to eat. This is the hidden face of any country, concealed behind the tourist attractions and natural beauty. The operators rake in the cash, but the poor see barely a cent.

I was already entranced by the music, bubbles and fairy lighting I could see outside of the mini golf centre, but when I went in, I was captivated! Flemish rabbits bounded up to us for cuddles and pats, and were very involved as we worked our way around the course.

There was also a tame dove and a rainbow lorikeet! I was in heaven! Fiona has been here a long while, and has not only raised her own kids, but looked after many others. She is very aware of how the community is struggling, and organizes canned-food drives and Christmas hampers for organizations like Food Bank to distribute. Fiona is a good woman with a huge heart. There was something very special about her and this place. She was here for love, an essence that shimmered like gossamer around this slight woman.

Fiona and her Rainbow lorikeet

We met a lot of  Maori’s, and they expressed concern about lack of  job opportunities, homelessness, housing affordability and much more. I admire the local community organizations, who have set up linked charities to tackle the major issues. One of the major ingredients has to be a sense of hope; that things can turn around. If that is lost, mental illness creeps in, aided by alcohol and drugs. As long as hope and good people like Fiona abound, communities and their whanau shall prevail. The rest of our trip was spent in quiet contemplation and thankfulness that we had seen our friends marry, and that we had met Fiona. If you are ever in Rotorua, go see her!

The gorgeous bride and I

Wedding Expos and Cults


I am surrounded by Nicci's cakes!

A friend had a stand at a wedding expo and asked if I could give her a hand. Now I know nothing about wedding expos, other than that they have never been my cup of tea. I can’t even stand trying on clothes or shoes before buying them!  My idea of a heavenly wedding would be to grab a colourful dress and shoes, and quickly organize  flowers and a bespoke cake and voila! My friend is a baker and makes the most beautiful cakes imaginable. Rather than using fondant, she uses organic and locally sourced produce, such as honey, berries and flowers. She makes her cakes affordable, and also does baked donuts, created with coconut oil.

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I offered cake tastings to prospective brides and their families. I met scores of radiant couples, their parents and friends proudly by their sides. I thought it may be confronting, to see a way of being that I hadn’t experienced. Instead, it filled my heart. I am glad that some young women and men have this sense of belonging and security, I really am. There was only one occasion where I felt like pleading with the bloke to do a runner. “I plan on being the biggest bitch,” a bride smirked, promising to be a horror in the lead up to her wedding. Her mother laughed delightedly at the prospect.

I bumped into  an old acquaintance and she asked if I had seen a mutual friend. “No, I haven’t,” I replied. “She became a real hermit,” the woman replied. “I think the disconnect was caused by the  cult she belongs to… Remember all the crap  they taught? She used to go to all their classes,” I said. I went into quite the diatribe about this silly cult with its silly teachings, and how I worried about this friend. The woman paused and then said quite sternly, “I still attend all their classes.” Oops! At least she wont be pushing their teachings onto me!

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I have attended a wedding expo now. It wasn’t as grim as I feared. Far from it. I saw young women about to be married for the first time, and older ladies who had found their true love at last. It was a local expo, filled with local characters. Quite the organic day, really. It wasn’t about grandiose displays; rather the couples were seeking  symbols to represent who they are as individuals and who they shall be when married. I wish them all well, particularly the fellow marrying the bridezilla!

The Aftermath.


Has it only been five days since a sink-hole opened and swallowed my home? Everything has changed. I have changed. If I didn’t know I was strong before, I do now. Diamonds are created under immense pressure. For years, he has told friends how he worries about me, as though I were made of porcelain. Deflection at its best. I am not scattered. I don’t disappear. I watched a musical with my girl and several friends Saturday. I couldn’t tell you anything about it, as I was bone-shatteringly exhausted. I kept bumping into friends, dear people who asked how we were. We were assembled to be shown to our seats. Does one say “my husband disappeared and I don’t know what the hell is going on?” Once home, the mask collapsed. He was there. I had nothing to say. I was so tired by this point. I changed, grabbed my little girl, and on the way out the door, noticed his bandaged hand. “Mummy is taking you to the carnival, just as I promised,” I said breezily. As I entered the showground and the swarm of people, my head was thumping. It grew worse in the searing sun, despite the painkillers I had taken. I didn’t want to meet familiar faces. I was too spent for conversation, and too exhausted for a fake façade of togetherness. By a miracle, I ran into an authentic family. A family who loves unconditionally and does real. Hallelujah! I told the sorry tale to the couple as Lizzie played with their daughter. I got to hang around them throughout the night. My friends sat with me, and understood my introversion. This was kindness. We watched the fireworks, then I went home. Hubby was in and out of the house. I didn’t speak to him. I was too spent.

 

The next morning, we had a christening to attend. Our dear friends are moving to England and I was not going to miss the opportunity to meet their baby, and bid them farewell. My spine was excruciating and I had to ask hubby to drive. I read the Sunday papers, and he said nothing. Our daughter watched DVDs in the back. “What happened? How could you do this?” I finally asked as she slept on the long journey. “I messed up,” he shrugged. “I didn’t know if you were dead or alive!” I cried. Back to silence. I am so tired. We enter the church in the Southern Highlands, and a grown woman, who has intellectual challenges, greeted me. She held my hand upon my entrance, and sat with me. I had on a black coat, and she nuzzled into its softness. “I feel sad,” she whispered. I looked around at all the folks gathered, and said. “There are a lot of people here, more than you are probably used to. I feel afraid sometimes too.” We hugged, two child/women connecting in their fragility. It was special, raw and honest. My friend came over with her new baby, and my daughter kissed his head. How I wished I could give her a sibling. A lady spoke an obscure Bible verse and my jaw dropped open. It was the verse I had selected to open my book! My husband sat beside me, unaware.

 

Afterward, outside in the glorious sun, I met a music teacher who lives in the same area as I, and formed a new friendship. My daughter was playing, and my husband had extricated himself. We went to find him when it was time to go back to the house. I searched the vast grounds, then rang his phone. We found him in the car, staring into space, the seat in recliner position. Wanting to bring some food to the house, I asked that we stop at a market. There were complaints that I spent money on bread and chips, and on a little bracelet for a friend’s birthday. How much does a six-pack cost? I wondered. “Please slow down, it’s hurting my back,” I winced as he sped down the bumpy rural road. He wasn’t listening. We missed their house in his haste and had to turn around. As Lizzie played and I chatted to our friends, he paced outside. Disconnected. My friend watched him pace up and down the patio. I confided in her, told her how he hadn’t come home Friday night. She had bi-polar running through her family, and understood. Her father-in-law pulled me aside and said my husband looked gravely unwell. He was concerned about him.

 

Back home, I did what parents do; fed my child dinner and prepared for school the next day. In the shower Monday morning, I wept, soul-wracking tears. I felt raw, exposed, going up to school. I told a few close friends and they weren’t surprised that my husband was an alcoholic with mental health issues. They had suspected as much. I went to the gym, and did the circuit of the damned, attempting to exorcise a demon. I figured at least I wasn’t drinking, or dying. A friend shouted me a coffee and confided that she and her husband had the experience of seeing my husband come to their door with a fresh beer and our daughter in hand. Horrified, beyond belief. He had been drinking at ten am in the morning. Shame and humiliation, anger. He came home and I asked that he give me the key to his car. He wouldn’t. I looked in. Empty cigarette packets, brown paper scrunched up, empty bottles and fast food wrappers. Bills and envelopes. Chaos and filth. I wanted to smash the window. In the spare wardrobe in the garage, I found a demand letter addressed to me from a company hired to collect payment for Centrelink. I had been receiving a family payment years before, and when I had broken my back again, my husband took over the finances. He made some huge errors, and now I found I had relationship-acquired debt in my name. I wasn’t even privy to my own affairs, my own life! The madness saw me tearing through every jacket pocket, trying to find evidence and hoping to find none.

The past fell into place in a devastating manner. Why, when he was working interstate, I uncovered that despite receiving a living away allowance, he was sleeping by the side of the road in his car. He was spending hundreds each week on booze and heaven knows what else. He was a master of deception, made easier due to the long hours he worked. I hardly saw him. People have been kind, though I have been asked many times in the past five days, “what are you going to do? Are you getting him to see a doctor, into treatment, into AA”? Healers have been suggested, or offered their services. Somehow it all falls on me. I tell you, I am a mum, and a writer, trying to earn a living. I barely sleep and I need spinal surgery. I have no more energy. I have invested thousands in therapy, in alternatives, in resources for him since he began to fall apart. Why am I then asked, what I am doing about the situation? I didn’t create it! I have no power over it. I can control my life, and keep my daughter’s life orderly. I can’t control his. He has to make the appointments, and put in the work. I can’t do it for him. I will die in the attempt.

 

He went to AA last night, and I sat up until midnight covering books and doing all that is necessary to lead a manageable life. I am doing it solo. At the moment, it seems an unfair equation I can’t believe that this is where we have ended up. I have shown people a picture of him from before we were married. He glowed. He was handsome, charismatic, and healthy. He was a vegetarian who didn’t drink. I can’t believe the man whose eyes are dead and whom never smiles in photos now, is the same man. Where have you gone? The past six years have been excruciating. Anxiety every time I log on to pay bills, tension every time you disappear at a dinner party. You have become a phantom. I miss you. I hold on because I love you. I know you are in there. I am not angry, not really. Just very sad.