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!

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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!

She’s a Lovely Boy

Tyler Croped

How many choices can an 8-year old really make every day – an apple over a banana, a blue t-shirt instead of red. But essentially, all decisions are made for them.

So when my 8-year old son decided to grow his hair long, it still fell back on me. Would I allow it or not? His conviction was strong, and because I couldn’t see the harm, we decided not to overrule his personal freedom and let him grow his hair.

It now reaches well below is shoulders and is causing lots of confusion. Strangers refer to him as ‘she’ and comment on his being ‘a lovely girl’. Ignoring his obvious ‘boy section’ clothing, people react only to the most obvious visual cue – his long hair – and decide, therefore, he must be a girl.

We take no offence, because at his age it is impossible to tell, and we no longer correct them, because it really doesn’t matter. But we had to learn to accept the confusion and common mistake about his gender with good grace.

To be clear, he has no gender confusion. He knows he’s a boy and doesn’t want to be anything else. So when kids at school comment and say, ‘you look like a girl,’ he simply smiles and shrugs, because he doesn’t care. He just loves having long hair.

Then this happened. One of his teachers threatened to tie back his hair if he didn’t behave in class. That ruffled my feathers. Did she threaten the female class members with the same punishment? Were the shorthaired people threatened with a scarlet letter pinned to their chest if they misbehaved? I doubt it…. but let it slide.

Then waited (somewhat anxiously) for the letter from school formally asking us to have his hair cut, and considered in advance how would I react to their request. Did they even have the right to ask? Thankfully, the note didn’t come and I breathed a sigh of relief.

….. But for the record, if we had been asked to cut his hair, I would have refused.

There is no reason why an 8-year old boy can’t wear his hair long, and it shouldn’t – doesn’t – mean anything other than the child has been allowed to make a bold, personal decision for himself.

Blonde on!

Leap

When birds fall down the chimney and land in the belly of the wood fire, they scratch and flutter, desperate to get out. So to aid their escape, we draw the curtains to darken the room and open the double front doors as wide as they will go, clearly laying out their path to freedom.

Then we open the wood fire door.

Half the fallen birds will fly straight out. No hesitation. The other half will stay buried in the ashes…. Staring at ‘The Light.’

The proverbial ‘Light’.

I sort of understand that leaving their safe, ashy pit is a leap of faith. After all, how many of us feel ready, right this minute, to fly toward ‘The Light’? But unless the bird takes a chance and leaves the heater, it will ultimately die…..

(….. not really. We get a towel and release it outside. Don’t panic. Let me explain.)

At some time or another we all must take a leap of faith.

So what would you do if you were that little bird, fallen down the chimney and sitting amongst the ashes. Would you stay or fly toward ‘The Light’?

It’s an interesting question. Have fun with that.

Blonde on!