Category Archives: Family

Don’t laugh! But ….

I had a girls’ night out with my eldest daughter-flea yesterday. Nothing funny about that is there? Oh, yes there is, according to her work colleagues who thought a mother and daughter going to see Rod Stewart at the  Entertainment Centre was hysterically funny. There was much joshing all afternoon about the anticipated zimmer framed audience, much disbelief that she didn’t think her mother would be hoisting her undies onto the stage –  “not even a clean pair in her  handbag?” was the follow-up.

Not to disappoint them, there were quite a few older and usually larger women there in wheel chairs and on electric scooters; a few (larger) men in wheelchairs and a few walking sticks that we saw. A lot of older women, quite a few older men and a remarkable number of younger women and men. But not a single Zimmer frame in sight.

But the only item we saw go up on the stage was a toy kangaroo for Mr Stewart’s little boy. Did I say little? A 70 year old father with a little child? Yes, there he was, a cute little poppet on the stage briefly to receive the kangaroo. Did I mention he had blond hair and was dressed rather in his father’s style?  Black trousers with a voluminous white shirt untucked and appearing as though the collar may have been turned up at one stage; all topped off with a small black vest.  He was a cute little poppet, standing there with one hand on his hip, bopping to the music and trying to get one little foot to tap at the same time as Dad’s.  The two obviously had a very close and loving relationship, but we couldn’t help wondering how often this happened, and what he’d be like when he hit his teens. Time will tell.

Rod Stewart puts on a great evening of entertainment, but he seemed to be very tired and didn’t have the same energy that he’d had when I saw him six or seven years ago. He has a self deprecating sense of humour and sent himself up with great style. At one point a large photo/poster of a younger Rod Stewart was projected to the back of the stage – Overwritten was a statement that he’d made in an interview at that age – words to the effect of “What? You’d think I’d be still singing “Do you think I’m sexy” when I’m 50? I’d be a parody of myself.” He looked at the poster shrugged his shoulders with a grin and launched into it. What fun. My only disappointment was that his voice has changed – that husky quality seems to have gone.

So now you know – I’m a Rod Stewart fan – but not one of those shouting out “I love you, Rod” across the arena.  XD

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow …

… the common name of a pretty purple flowered bush whose flowers fade from deep purple to white. And absolutely nothing to do with what I’m going to write – if I were a radio personality, I’d say a “nice segue” ….

Yesterday ..

… was our 48th wedding anniversary – and despite it being on my mind for some weeks before, we both forgot! That’s what happens when you’ve been married (or partnered) for such a long time. Also, only  OLD PEOPLE are married that long, aren’t they?  And we’re not old, are we?

Fortunately, we are not big on marking “significant” events – Grandpa Flea is very fond of telling me that I don’t need presents, as every day is Christmas for me! And said GPFlea is absolutely impossible to buy presents for – he doesn’t need anything, he says – and apparently he doesn’t want anything either. How annoying to have such a contented man in your life!

Despite the lack of wants and needs I always have a card for him – as I did this year – bought some time ago when I saw a suitable one. I guess I’ll use it next year instead!!

Today …

… was my knitting group day at Epping Library.  We had a good roll up and there was a lovely murmur of voices across the table. We are having our 5 year anniversary in June and have a bit of work to do planning our display and the event itself.

Tomorrow …

…  once apon a time, used to be Fungi Friday but I eventually ran out of fotos. BUT – over Christmas I came out of our holiday cabin one morning to see a little bunch of toadstools which had sprung up overnight, so I thought I’d post it today – who knows when I might post again! The toadstools only lasted 24 hours – when I looked the next day, they had wilted to little black things that were almost indistinguishable from the mulch on the garden.

DSC02467 DSC02468It looks rather like a fairy ring, doesn’t it? I was very fond of fairy rings when I was a child – but no matter how hard or how long I looked, I never saw a fairy!

School Holidays …

What a joy the school holidays are. I haven’t always thought that – but grandchildren are the unexpected reward for living through the many school holidays of your own children! 

I fully expected that the day would come when our grandchildren would not want to spend time with us – the teenage years are busy with friends and homework and sometimes holiday jobs. I thought we had reached that stage with the two older baby fleas – one works at a restaurant in the holidays when she is not out socialising. Her brother changed schools last year, and then again when he started high school this year. Both changes were good for him, and he has found a group of friends that now have more to offer than his grandparents.

Like many things in life, the change seemed to happen overnight. Fortunately I expected it, but was still amazed at how abruptly it happened. I don’t think I have ever fully gotten over the fact that with our own children, we had our last family holiday without knowing it. I would have liked to have marked it in some special way. 

Yet, there are compensations – the unexpected phone call from our grand-daughter a few months ago, wanting to bring some friends with her to Sydney for a girls’ weekend – Grandma and Aunt included! What fun. And they want to do it again. Then these school holidays, the phone call from our nearly teenage grandson, wanting to stay with us while the rest of the family went away – he hates spending long periods in the car – but also knows that he gets a bit spoilt with us. Assuming that his parents knew of his call, he got the “Of course – we’ll look forward to it” answer. Big mistake. I had forgotten that you should never assume that children tell their parents everything! After a lengthy stand off at the Not-OK Corral, it was at last agreed that he could stay with us – wise decision in my books. I well remember our first trip overseas when our 13 year old daughter didn’t want to accompany us – they have many ways of making life hard unbearable for their poor parents! So we are enjoying a lovely week with a beautiful grandson who has suddenly changed from a morose, hard to please boy, into an amiable young man-boy. 

Welcome to the ….. same old, same old?

Well, I’ve done my citizen’s duty and voted today – but I sometimes wonder why. Of course! I get fined if I don’t. But it’s not much fun living in an electorate where my vote doesn’t count for much. It will count in the Upper House, but not the Lower where Greg Smith is a shoe-in. Our previous electorate was blue ribbon Liberal and we hadn’t moved to this electorate when Maxine McKew had the upset win of the century. Over the years there have been some great Liberal Party politicians, but they were great because they were liberal thinkers. Sadly, the Liberal Party today is dominated by the large L variety.

Not that I want to see the Labor Party returned (that noise is my parents, turning in their graves!). I grew up in a Labor family. I had a beautiful black and white cocker spaniel called Ben Chifley and my brother had a golden one called Doctor Evatt. We were reared to believe in the values of kindness, compassion, care for others, care for the environment and justice. Part of my parents’ belief system was a firm commitment to the trade union movement and being a dutifully obedient daughter, I was a union member for most of my working life, as was my brother. I came to understand the importance of unions as I matured but I also came to understand the way that union principles can be corrupted by personal ambition and the so-called “bigger picture” at the expense of the least powerful members of the union. I still believe in the union movement. I still believe in the Labor Party. But they are no longer blind beliefs.

So today I cast my vote in the knowledge and hope that the Labor Party would lose its mandate. It had been in power for too long and had been dysfunctional for too many years – as is the case with all political parties who survive too many years at the helm. When Labor eventually returns to government, it will be a renewed and rejuvenated party.

In the meantime we have Barry O’Farrell and his band of trusty Liberal Party members. Let’s hope he can swing into action quickly and effectively and that a dramatic improvement occurs in our health system, public transport and support for public education. Not to mention the environment. Yes, let’s mention the environment with this plea:
Please Barry, whatever you do, replace Craig Knowles as head of the Murray Darling Basin Authority. Just make sure his replacement is a person of knowledge, insight and commitment to the science of the environmental needs of that system. A person who can make the difficult decisions required to ensure the viability and long-term survival of that waterway. I have no confidence that Mr Knowles is the man for the job.

P.S. In the time that it has taken to write this, with a break for dinner, it is clear that the projected massive swing to the Liberal Party has occurred. I wait in breathless anticipation for all to be right with NSW ………

It’s that time of year again ….

when I think of things done and things not done during the past 12 months. Today I made my Christmas pudding (well, it’s just gone on to boil). The cooking of the pudding invariably invokes thoughts of Grandma Lucy, Grandpa Flea’s mother. Grandma Lucy was very organised – and energetic. She had to be. Six children and a low-income -brought home without fail by Badgery Pa who was a farm hand. Part of his wages were a side of mutton – a half side twice a week to take account of the lack of electricity and refrigeration in those early days. Not that early, in fact. Grandpa Flea was in his second year of high school before electricity was connected to the little village where they lived. The only form of food cooling was the old Coolgardie safe. When I was a child we lived in towns and at least we had an icebox. I have no idea how Grandma Lucy managed to cope in such primitive conditions – not that she ever thought of them as such – she thought she was a very lucky person, despite suffering from malnutrition at one stage and having the last two of her children develop rickets when she was unable to breast feed them (no one thought to tell her that the formula she was given needed supplementation with vitamin drops ….).

However, back to the pudding. I always make a pudding recipe given to me by my friend, Maureen. It also comes with bittersweet memories as Maureen died eight years ago at sixty – too early and still deeply mourned – but this year I have mislaid it, along with Grandma Lucy’s Christmas cake recipe.

Fortunately my daughter came to the rescue with Grandma Lucy’s recipe for Christmas pudding! The things that mothers don’t know about their children. Of all the people who would have this recipe, this daughter is not one who’d spring to mind – as far as I know, she doesn’t like Christmas pudding. But she had a very close relationship with her grandmother, and Grandma Lucy must have offered it to her one year. So, for better or worse, it’s on cooking. Not that it’s a bad pudding, but my memories of it are always tainted by the fly spots on the pudding cloth from where it was hung to dry! No amount of boiling could allow me to enjoy that pudding until after Grandma Lucy moved into the town and it was stored in the frig.

Again I’ve wandered from the point of the story – as I said, it’s that time of year for me, when reflection accompanies most things. On one famous, or perhaps infamous, occasion I became the stuff of legends – still talked and laughed about by Grandpa Flea’s many brothers and sisters, and even nephews and nieces. Grandma Lucy was with us for Christmas that year – and to her horror, I cooked the cake and pudding on Christmas Eve. I don’t think she ever quite recovered from it. Certainly, every Christmas, almost until her last breath, she never failed to remind me of the occasion. Fortunately I loved her too much to take too much offence – and as time went by, it became one of those warm and loving memories that recur and are talked about each year at this time, keeping Lucy’s memory alive for all of us.

Grandma Lucy

So, I’ll add Grandma Lucy’s Christmas Pudding to “Flea-bites” in the hope that her memory will last across the generations.

Tailored in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong …..

…. is written on the label in Grandpa Flea’s shirt that I’ve just ironed. I’ve never noticed it before, but as the shirt is “on its last legs”, the little stiffening thing in the collar having worn the point away and popped out for all to see, I was wondering how old it was. Not that I expected the label to tell me – perhaps it was more a way of postponing the next shirt – I hate ironing – surprise! surprise! This is a particularly nice shirt – when I remember to hang it as soon as it comes off the line, it requires minimal ironing if any; it is only 55% cotton but a cool shirt to wear, unlike the wicking no-iron “cool” shirt that GP Flea can’t bear to have on his body as it’s so hot (so much for travel clothes!); and what’s more, it suits the handsome old dog.

The Hong Kong shirt was bought to replace a similar shirt which was the King of shirts. GP Flea already owned the King when we met, nearly 50 years ago – 100% Egyptian cotton – as fine and as soft as silk, it was drip dry – and it, too, suited him. In fact it looked very similar to its Chinese brother – perhaps we should call it the Prince. The King lasted for many years – when it eventually succumbed to old age, its fabric becoming as thin as the skin of a old man, it was very hard to say goodbye. I don’t feel as attached to the Prince, but wonder at the ability of some items of clothing to “keep on keeping on”. Wikipedia tells me that Hong Kong reverted to China on 1 July, 1997, so the Prince is at least 13 years old, but I suspect probably more like 25. It must have been worn and washed four or five or more times as much as any of its peers along the way. It is the old man of the wardrobe, its playmates having come and gone over the years in various states of disrepair. The only shirt that will outlast it is the “cool” wicking travel shirt – it hangs in splendid isolation, ignored by its owner but protected from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – the baby spew, rose thorns, grease and spaghetti sauce, irons that are too hot, the black blackberry and privet berry stains that visiting birds thoughtfully drop from on high. Would the Prince change places with it? I doubt it – it has been loved and worn close to its owner’s heart for many years – getting old and tattered goes with the territory – I should know 🙂

I can’t keep up with my social life ….

By nature, I’m quite a shy, reclusive person – if there’s a party going I can easily get sick with the ‘flu at the thought of having to put in an appearance. I don’t like to go out on consecutive days … the fact that my current interests/commitments require my absence from home on three days in a row each week is a constant source of frustration to me; but clearly my desire to go outweighs my desire to not go …..

So where is this leading, I hear you mutter … well, in a frenzy of self-inflicted sociability, I have just come to the end of an EXTRA three days in a row – and, I’m appalled to hear see these words leave my fingers, but I enjoyed them.

Day 1, Saturday: I had booked into a seminar on Blogging for Family History at Richmond Villa, the headquarters of the Society of Australian Genealogists at The Rocks – a most appropriate place for Australian’s researching their roots. Whilst not covering everything I’d have liked, I learnt a lot of interesting tit bits about making better use of my computer, and family history resources for bloggers.

When the seminar was over, I decided to walk back to the train, at The Quay, through The Rocks – since Grandpa Flea retired nearly 8 years ago, I have had very little “me time” , alone with my thoughts, and especially, very little time to go window shopping and browsing without a body guard intent on making sure that I buy nothing unless it can be eaten – “Can you eat it? Don’t buy it!” – not that it stops me, but it becomes a little wearing over the years …. so I spent a wonderful couple of hours wandering the streets. I had intended to go to Buttons, Buttons, Buttons the antique button shop in Nurses’ Walk, but I was quickly distracted by the street market in The Rocks, and by the Craft NSW gallery. Before I knew it, it was getting dark, so I reluctantly left.

Day 2, Sunday: On Sunday morning, I met a friend at Customs House at The Quay. We had intended to have lunch there, but the outdoor cafe must only be erected for special occasions as it had, very annoyingly, disappeared. After lunch elsewhere, and much talking, we headed up to The Museum of Sydney for a talk, The Fabric of Society, by Dr Annette Gero who has just published a magnificent book, by the same name, on the history of quilts in Australia. Her talk was associated with the current exhibition at the Museum, Skint and concentrated solely on the history of waggas and contained a lot of information accompanied by some very interesting slides.

I should say here, that I very nearly headed today’s post Synchronicity, as I had brought a book, The Gentle Arts, with me to show my friend a photo in it of a wagga rug that my mother-in-law, Lucy, had made. In the lead up the Bicentenary in 1988, community groups received grants to identify and document objects of historical significance in their local areas. Lucy had been approached about her wagga rugs and some letters she had dating from early last century. She happily donated one of her waggas to the Pioneer Women’s Hut at Tumbarumba, and it later was included in a Bicentennial touring exhibition of women’s quilts. When Lucy was alive, she was very disappointed that her wagga was not identified with her name, in either the book (which I had come across by accident in the optometrist’s while waiting for an appointment), or the touring exhibition. Wagga rugs have been part and parcel of my husband’s family for generations, but until I met the family, I had never seen one. Our family claim to historical fame was a fox skin quilt that my father had made – he had shot the foxes, tanned the hides, then cut and sewn them into a double bed quilt which had the fox tails hanging down each side of the bed. Both waggas and the fox skin quilt were products of a need to stay warm with limited money. My friend had never heard of waggas and was most interested in the book and the talk.

After the talk was over we raced upstairs to have a quick look at Skint before the Museum closed. And this is the amazing, slightly scary, sychronicity of it all – there, under glass, was Lucy’s wagga. Beneath it, a little sign with the attribution: Mrs Lucy Gallagher, 1980. I very nearly cried. She would have been so proud to have seen it. So, there will be another, less hurried visit to the exhibition with Grandpa Flea and our eldest daughter who was very close to her grandmother. And I know that a few tears will be blinked away that day.

Day 3, Today: A full day outing to Sans Souci where, along with the members of Grandpa Flea’s Probus club, we boarded a rather rickety looking boat for a “luncheon cruise” along the Georges River.

I don’t often go on these outings – originally because I went to a Knitters’ Guild meeting on a Monday, but these days because I try to catch up with the things that I don’t have time for in the rest of my busy life (ROFL) – but today I went because was hoping the boat would go past the waterfront house I lived in for 6 months when I first arrived in Sydney. In those days a waterfront property like the one we rented was not an object of desire – quite the reverse – we lived there only because we could afford the rent. There was no road access and we had to cross a narrow footbridge across the Georges River in an inlet, then follow a goat track around the waterfront for quite some distance to the house. The house would have been a beautiful old home in its day, but it was then very run-down. It had a long shotgun corridor down the middle, and the doors were all locked on one side of the corridor. We had a very large room at the front of the house which served as the bedroom – my mother put the wardrobes across the room to divide it into two sleeping spaces, one for my parents and the other for my brother and me. To get to the other rooms, we had to go out on the verandah. The end of the verandah had been closed off to make a bathroom and a small kitchen. From the kitchen we walked though the verandah doors into a very dark living room. The people who owned the house lived on the other side of the locked doors. The pan toilet was outside behind the house – heaven only knows how the “dunny man” lugged the clean and dirty pans to all the houses off the track.

And did I see the house? Well … maybe … we certainly went by the inlet where the house had been, but we weren’t close enough for me to be sure which inlet it was. I guess I will just have to drive over there one day and walk around the track again.

All in all, a VERY satisfying three days. And now I’m off to bed – exhausted – don’t bother knocking on the door until tomorrow afternoon!