On the 26th January, the Gnome Convention was held at Glenbrook Park. This annual event is put on by the Rotary Club of the lower Blue Mountains and we look forward to it all year!
It is whimsy at it’s best. We were entertained by the extraordinary bush poet, Greg North. If you haven’t experienced his act, you are missing out! Check him out here!
Brendan Kerin had us enthralled with not only his music, but stories. Did you know that the Didgeridoo’s actual name is Yidaki? It originated from the top half of Australia and was named the Didgeridoo later on as that is the sound it seemingly makes.
We bought Gnome Hats, and had a grand time amongst the gnomes and fairies. It is my birthday today, and I bought this delightful Green Man incense burner (the smoke comes out of his head) for $15. We all need whimsy in our lives, and knowing that the money raised goes to charity is extra incentive to get your gnoming game on!
We have some English ex-pats as friends, and they invited us to Christmas in July celebrations. My mate Dianne loves Christmas, and couldn’t wait to revisit it at the halfway point in the year. Out came her glorious white Christmas tree and decorations. There was enough food to feed several families, and my daughter devoured five Yorkshire Puddings, declaring them a winner! The feeling around that table is one that I delight in, laughter, irreverence and warmth. Hilarity ensued when I found myself locked in the bathroom, unable to get out as the door handle was missing! They heard my little screams eventually!
There were games aplenty, which produced more laughter.
Oh, and a snow fight indoors! It was eventually taken outside. I loved that the family couldn’t care less about the mess left behind. They were living in the moment, and it was great fun!
These Brits mean business with their snow!
Santa even made an appearance, to everyone’s joy, and we were each given a gift, as a sort of incentive (bribe), to behave until December 25th.
I feel overwhelmed that I was welcomed into this family’s celebration. They do real, they know that mess can be cleaned up, and that it is great fun to make! They play games and have fun. They laugh at guests who get locked in their bathroom. I adore them, and I love that Christmas can occur in July.
I had (another) birthday! For someone who wasn’t predicted to reach 16, they are coming around in rapid succession these days! I get self-conscious and usually don’t organize anything for my birthday. I get frightened that I wont receive a reply. I have to work on the long-held belief that people will leave me. I have set up a life of independence to make sure that I am not in that position. I feel like a child, shyly asking others to come hang out with me. Some dear ones know me (frighteningly) well, and took it out of my hands. I went to the movies with a treasured soul-sister the evening before, and we laughed hard! The local council even put on a fireworks display, and we parked and talked as we watched the champagne crackers glitter and shimmer.
The next morning, I woke to a knock at the door, and three friends were standing there, with breakfast for us all. I was touched by their kindness and we enjoyed a feast of pastries, fruit and coffee. My birthday was to be a busy day, of doctor’s appointments and going to a friend’s for a catch-up. I was waiting on a lovely cedar dining table and chairs to be delivered before I could go out. I had purchased them from a second-hand shop-extremely cheaply-and someone else had organized delivery, then notified me. Time passed, and there was still no sign of the furniture. I messaged my friend to apologize, hoping I may get there later. I ended up having to cancel the doctor’s visit, as by mid-afternoon there was stil no sign of the table and chairs. I was on the phone to the store when a friend called in. She spilled the beans that I had missed a little surprise party in my honor! I was mortified, particularly when the store told me that they did deliveries to my area the next day! I had stayed home for nothing! It meant the world to me that these three ladies wanted to spend time with me on my birthday, and even though I didn’t get over, I will carry their thoughtfulness with me all my days.
In the evening, four friends took me out and we enjoyed a meal at a Cuban restaurant. We laughed and were silly and I felt celebrated, enough to carry me through another year.
My little girl performed a dance and song for me, and presented me with poems, cards and clay ornaments she had made. The whole day meant so much to me, even though I missed my own surprise party! I have to overcome my fear of being rejected and left alone. I am trying to reach out more and plan fun things with others. I am not that child left looking out the door of a clinic, waiting for visitors that don’t show up. I am surrounded by good people. I have to be brave enough to let them in.
Ten months ago, a friend asked her doctor to be referred for a mammogram. She hadn’t felt a lump, and had no other symptoms. She wasn’t in the age bracket where they are offered free of charge. She knew she wouldn’t feel peace until she had undergone the screening. They found a lump, and within a week, she had undergone a mastectomy. She took her kids to school that morning, and myself and another friend held her hands as we walked her back to the car. She was going straight to hospital. I didn’t want to let her hand go. I would have given anything for her not to have to endure what was ahead. In the months ahead, she underwent a course of chemotherapy and then radiotherapy. It seemed like an endless night, and there were many days when she languished in bed, too spent to communicate. The day came when the treatment finished. It had begun swiftly and brutally, then one ordinary day she walked out the door after her last treatment and into daylight. An ordinary day for all but her. Changed forever. She offered me a lift to the train station on the way, and impatient drivers refused to make room for her to turn onto the road. She joked that she was going to lift her wig, and holler, something along the lines of “now, do ya think you could let me in?!” All these silly people, thinking that their time is so important. Unable to wait five seconds to let a good woman in. The storm changes you.
Her family arranged a surprise picnic to celebrate the end of her treatment. It was held on a thirty degree day in Spring, a slight breeze tempering the heat. Perfect. She walked up, crying. This is for you. We are assembled for you. We couldn’t step in for you on the days when the thought of more treatment seemed unbearable. We couldn’t take your discomfort away. We can do this. Your daughter’s made a glorious cake and cookies, and we enjoyed an Australian BBQ and salads. You got through it, sweetheart. The dark night of the soul has passed. Her message to others is to routinely check yourself. To have the necessary screenings, if only to put your mind at ease. It is harder to feel comfort in burying your head in the sand, when you have a friend that has saved her own life by not doing so. Cheers to you, my darling. I look forward to enjoying many more Australian picnics with you.
Can you believe that we are in February? January leans in, digging its elbow into the tender parts of our psyche. People struggle with big issues. Finances are depleted after Christmas, relationships are in turmoil, people you love are in pain. At the same time, you are attempting to plot the year ahead, and work ramps up for another year. January can be pressurised. What do you do to escape? We went to Casula Powerhouse to see the Mind the Gap exhibition.
A wondrous affair, resplendent with model trains grafted into sculpture.
I felt my hair, barreling down my shoulders, tired and splintered. I sought reparation. I usually do a haphazard job of trimming it myself, but as I had pledged to take better care of myself this year, I had it done at an actual hairdresser.
I had a fortnight of no sleep, due to my bulging spinal discs. I lay awake with a pillow between my legs, my hands attempting to force the discs back into place. I tried to rest, my back brace tightly bound around my spine. It was hard, particularly when life demanded that I partake during the daytime. On Australia Day, I went to the annual Gnome Convention at Glenbrook. I had to go. If one can’t find escape from one’s pain at such a do, then I don’t know where one can!
Feeling entirely restored, I celebrated my birthday. Now birthdays have always been a weird dark night of the soul for me. Melancholy, renewal, taking stock and everything in between. I ran away to Sydney with my daughter. We looked around, rode on public transport, and came home to a glorious delivery of flowers.
Friends took me out for lunch in the coming days, and I was humbled by their thoughtfulness. I was driven to a birthday dinner last weekend and had a lovely time. It was an occasion where you imbibe with good wine and company, and can be silly and free.
Another friend had a party, Superhero themed. I adore this lady. So far, we have celebrated space, feet, the first letter of our name, and now heroes. I was the Queen of the Rainbow.
I also confronted a park containing many memories of Serena. The number of times we have sat at the seats below, watching the children play and drinking coffee… I expected her to come along at any moment. There were tears, and my little girl hugged me. She knew. She felt it too. After the sorrow, we smiled, recollecting the parties, festivals and many joyous times we had experienced there. At the end that is what remained. Above all the strife in January, that is what we shall hold onto.