The Torment of Charitable Avoidance

On my way into the supermarket today, I was stopped dead in my tracks by a near-naked fireman. Now I love a fireman as much as the next girl but something wasn’t quite right about this particular local superhero. He raised his hand high in the air and boomed hello to me across the arcade.

Assessing the folded-down yellow overalls and glossy naked chest – covered by no more than a set of shiny red suspenders – I eyed him warily. Ah ha… this was no fire fighter at all, but a cleverly constructed ruse. A chill ran through me. Stopping had been a big mistake.

“Wouldn’t you just love one of these sexy fireman calendars?” He asked flicking salaciously through the pages. Needless to say it was a tantalising glimpse of Mr January through to Mr December, all near naked with muscles bulging, brandishing the tools of their trade…. Oh my!

But there was something decidedly smarmy about this semi-nude faux fireman harking his wares – and in the space of five seconds I wanted to be as far away from him as possible. As I prepared to go forth with a cheery, have a nice day, the bare-chested bandit began to babble. Shifty-eyed, his focus darted left and right, clearly scouting out his next unsuspecting victim as he continued to speak – and by now he was seriously creeping me out.

Still I couldn’t move…

… No rope, no axe, I was being held captive by nothing more than my good, old-fashioned manners…

… and it was making me mad.

Silently seething – what was stopping me from just walking away? Darn those good manners, I thought. My conscience was clear. I give to charity, in addition to being inundated by an endless stream of raffle tickets, chocolate drives and bell ringing Santa’s. I didn’t need to buy an unwanted calendar from a sleezy faux-fireman. So when my oil-slicked tormentor finally drew breath I smiled through my ire to utter a surprisingly polite, ‘Sorry. Not today.”

Forced to ignore the fact that he was looking at me like I’d just smacked his puppy – making me feel like a total heel – I was seriously tempted to throw good manners to the wind and really let him have it. The cheek!

But good manners run deep and much to my regret I held it together to calmly walk away…

…. and it rankled me for the rest of the day.

There’s a limit – even on good manners – and next time I’ll be ready.

So beware all you smarmy faux-fireman.

Wrangle with this little blonde firecracker again and you’re gonna get seriously burned.

 

 Blonde on!

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Feeling the Beat

As a supporter of inter-generational sharing, I took it in my stride when a young man stopped alongside me at the traffic lights today. Even without his windows wound down the music playing from his subwoofer was clearly audible, cranked up to a teeth-shattering volume. Concerns about his long-term hearing aside, I took a moment to appreciate the Doof-Doof beat and spoken-rather-than-sung vocals being enjoyed by this fine, upstanding example of today’s youth.

When his music lulled and the air literally buzzed with silence, I decided to repay the favour by giving him a short sample of the sort of music the ‘middle-aged’ generation liked to enjoy. Cranking up my radio, I generously unleashed the splendid tones of Barbra Streisand’s greatest hits – so you can imagine my surprise when the young man’s face transformed into a mask of horror.

Realising the magic was probably being lost in translation, I locked eyes with the young man in the car next door and began to sing, clearly and deliberately enunciating each and every word.

When his eyes widened and his jaw fell slack I realised there was simply no avoiding it – I was going to have to pull out all the stops if the young man was going to fully appreciate this musical gold.

Becoming even more earnest, there’s no doubt my expression reflected all the heartfelt emotion I was trying to convey as I increased the volume of my fine vocal performance. Then in a final act of desperation, raised my hands in true Babs fashion, pressing my open palms skyward – all the while staring directly at the young fellow to ensure I had his full attention.

Much to my dismay, my short performance seemed to have little impact. Clearly not ready to embrace this impromptu form of inter-generational musical sharing, when the light turned green he took off to the renewed strains of his psychosis inducing Doof-Doof beats leaving me to trail in his wake with the thought that perhaps Engelbert Humperdinck might be more appropriate choice at the next set of lights – cue the CD, mama.

Blonde on!

White Balloon

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There is something inherently sad about watching a balloon fly away.

I remember as a child the simple joy a balloon can bring. Holding onto the string as it bobbed along above me; just as I can remember that horrible feeling of the string slipping through my careless little fingers. How quickly the balloon would sweep out of reach, and I would be left watching it go, drifting away on its solitary adventure. What would it see? Where would it land? Would the airless shell end up desolate and limp lying over some brittle branch however many kilometres away? These were all questions I wondered as it left me behind, enduring an unwavering sense of loss.

Having learnt their lesson more than once, my parents would tie the string around my wrist until we made it safely home. How ferociously I then fought to keep the balloon inside. Shepherding it away from the doors to prevent its escape. Chastising my sister for her carelessness if she left the door ajar or allowed the balloons to venture too close to freedom.

As a mother I soon realised balloons are more trouble than they’re worth. Too much. The stress of keeping hold of them, tying them to wrists and prams, not least dealing with the upset when they ultimately burst is too much extra work for a busy mum. So now when I see people offering free balloons, I give them a very wide bearth. No balloons for us, please. No balloons for us.

Then a couple of weeks ago we were at a park full of happy kids playing and parents picnicking. There must have been a party somewhere for one solitary, pearlescent white balloon drifted overhead toward the clear blue sky above. I stood and watched, fascinated and a little sad. Even though the balloon wasn’t mine, and I couldn’t hear any cries, that drifting balloon filled me with an acute sense of loss. The fact that it was white made it even sadder.

Balloons are transient, temporary; evanescent. In this context the balloon could be a metaphor for any number of things from moments to relationships to life. But when I started this blog, it was simply about a white balloon and how it made me feel as it drifted silently into the sky.

Blonde on!

Best of All Recipes

 

recipe book cover 1

I recently came into possession of this lovely old recipe book. Lovingly kept, its pages are yellowed, its cover lost, the edges tattered and torn, but on the front cover is this charming little ‘recipe.’

How to Preserve Children’s Lives

Take one large grassy field.

One half-dozen children.

Two or three small dogs.

A pinch of brook and some pebbles.

Mix children and dogs well together and put them in the field, stirring constantly. Pour the brook over the pebbles. Sprinkle the field with flowers. Spread over all a deep blue sky and bake in a hot sun. When brown remove and set to cool in a bath-tub.

Louie Fritsch

No pictures, no flashy photographs, no food stylists employed and each recipe is listed by date(?) I am grateful that it has found its way into my care, bestowed upon me by fate and I will house it in safekeeping. Simple and plain, wholesome and honest, the instructions are succinct and the outcomes traditional, salt-of-the-earth goodness. There’s potato scallops, tomato chutney, salted almonds and lamingtons. Delicious.

Recipe Book 1

Then there are a few quirky recipes. Have you ever heard of cheese bubble bread, velvet pudding, Campbell busters, kornies or matrimony tart? Well, I hadn’t and I have the recipes if you’d like them.

Recipe Book 2

Why this world-weary book is so refreshing and evocative of such strong sentiment is different for us all. But at its heart I think it touches on our human need for simplicity, tradition and history. Amid everything that flashes and blinks, whistles and beeps, the key to happiness still lies in a large grassy field filled with children and pets, next a bubbling brook and a picnic hamper filled with love.

The Best of All Recipes.

Blonde on!

Polarised Views

While on a shopping expedition with his Grandparents last weekend, my 13-year old took a serious liking to a pair of sunglasses. When he couldn’t persuade them to part with $40, he pounced on me the moment I arrived to pick him up.

“They are really good, Mum. They have rubber on the arms, so comfy and polarised lenses. Can I get them? Please? I’ll use my own money.”

I pointed out $40 was a lot of money to spend on glasses for a 13-year old, especially a week away from winter. On top of which, it’s not his birthday or even remotely close to Christmas and he hasn’t done anything worthy of a reward.

After a relentless weekend of nagging, I had dealt with every argument he could think of and stood my ground, but was thoroughly exhausted and sick of the discussion. I hoped with Monday would come the end of the battle, but as soon as he clamoured into the car after school, the nagging started again.

“Did I mention they have polarised lenses?” He asked.

Yes, I moaned disinterestedly.

“And I did a Google search and compared to some, these ones are really cheap. Some sunglasses are worth over $150. Some cost more than $300.”

Yes, I know… I lamented. Doesn’t mean I’m prepared to spend $40 on sunglasses for you.

“And…… I read people who squint a lot, because they don’t wear sunglasses, get wrinkles. When did you start wearing sunglasses cause you know you have…..”

Yes, thank you. I cut him off short, batting away the finger being pointed at my eye. Show me the picture of these magnificent glasses, I finally relented, thinking ahead to his birthday. They’re $50 bucks!!!! I cried. What happened to $40?

“They’re 20% off,” he huffed.

No! I stated bluntly. We’re not buying you any sunglasses and I don’t want to be nagged about it again. I’d reached the end of my tether.

He folded his arms and I knew I’d won; an very weary victory.

Then a little voice piped up from the far back seat. “When we were out shopping with Nanny, I found this camping chair I really liked. It was only $80 bucks… Can I get it? Please Mum. I’ll use my own money.”

**** Smacked forehead****

Blonde on!

Life Gift

The last few months my over-extended 12-year old has asked me repeatedly, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ It could be argued there is no meaning. We are simply born to exist, procreate then die.

Theologians would argue our purpose is to glorify and serve God. Others might say it is your journey. Follow the path and learn, enlightenment of the individual is life’s true meaning.

But I was recently at a gathering where the speaker introduced us to a quote by artist Pablo Picasso. An unlikely source, he is quoted as saying, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.’

The meaning of life is to find your gift.

The purpose of life is to give it away.

Pablo Picasso

I bonded with this philosophy right away; if not for the advancement of ourselves and the betterment of others, then what? My 12-year old wasn’t so easily convinced. When I presented it to him he shrugged and replied, ‘I think life is about more than painting.’

So I elaborated, what if your gift is to make music, music that inspires people, lifts them up and makes them happy? What if your gift is caring for other people, and you spend your life attending to the sick or elderly?

He thought for a few moments, leaving me with the words, ‘Something to think about.’

Indeed. It is actually a lot to think about. But the meaning of life is kind of like walking. And I use the term walking as a loose metaphor. It doesn’t matter the terrain upon which we tread or even the destination, we have no choice but to walk. If necessary, we are forced to walk, even during the worst of times and circumstances. Life will not allow you to simply stand idle. You can’t stand still at all.

So the meaning of life in those terms is by-the-by. Irrelevant. It could all be for nothing, unless we extend ourselves and give to the greater good. Make the unavoidable journey in some way worthwhile. I hazard to suggest that Mr Picasso hit that nail on the head. Perhaps that is the true meaning of life.

Blonde on!

Little Birdie

“Ahhh,” I sighed stretching my arms wide. The Lord of the Manor and I had been sitting across the table from each other without speaking for a good fifteen minutes.

** His attention didn’t waver from his laptop.

“Wa-ahhhhhhh,” I sighed louder shifting from side-to-side in an even bigger stretch.

** Still nothing from across the table.

“Ba-caw,” I imitated a little bird softly.

** Nothing. Not even a flicker.

“Ba-caw-caw,” I increased the volume and waved my wings a touch.

** The Lord of the Manor sat transfixed by his screen. His eyelashes didn’t even flutter.

“Baaaa-look-up-here,” I tweeted louder, flapping harder.

** Still nothing.

“Look-up-here, look-up-here,” I hollered gesturing wildly and shaking my head.

** Without batting an eye or even cracking a smile the Lord of the Manor intoned utterly deadpan, “I know what you’re doing.”

“What am I doing?” I goaded him, trying not to laugh.

** “It’s not going to work,” he added, determinedly expressionless.

“Why not?” I demanded, grinning manically.

** Finally cracking a smile, he shook his head.“Dufus……”

Ah ha! Got him.

Yep, just another normal Sunday morning at our house.

Blonde on!