Last June Josh died. On the 16th of June it was 12 months exactly.
He would be wondering why on Earth I don’t write here more often. He’d reckon I’d always have something to write about. Even if I just wrote about him!
Thinking back over the last 12 months since last I heard his voice, for real, at the other end of the phone line. So much has happened. So much is kind-of the same. He is in my thoughts so often. I have grown a deeper friendship with some of his blood relatives, and some of our mutual friends.
He would ask me to change the topic, if there was one thing Joshua did not want to talk about it was death. Not of a human anyway. Pets were fine to share the mourning of.
I bought myself a mirror-ball hanging pot- plant holder last winter. In the midst of sadness, and locked-in weirdness I came across such a beauty online and had to find a local provider of such glory.
I hung it from the curtain rail in our kitchen. When the sun is lower in the sky, for the autumn and winter months, at the right time of day our kitchen is full of wonderful, dazzling little reflections. They remind me of my Josh, and his absolute love of a disco ball.
So, he’s never far away it seems – often in my thoughts and sometimes his memory sheds little diamonds of light around my kitchen.
Yes, back again. About time I hear you mutter. So much to tell, so much muddling in the mind, but I’m here.
November is well on the way to nearly being over. The kids are back at school, on campus and I think that they are really enjoying being with their friends again. Both their high schools did a stellar job of online schooling, which makes it so much easier to be the in-person supervisor of such activities.
Al and I got back on the Mosley wagon again, and are now in week 7 of 12 of his Fast Diet. This time I signed up online and am doing the whole shebang, following the diet to a t, and also doing the exercise program – mostly – and the mindfulness – sometimes. The food is delicious, the kids eat whatever is on our menu for dinner, with rice or pasta, and thankfully the results are great – and swift!
During lockdown I realised that we needed a 2IC dog in our family again. I did a lot of searching. We didn’t want a teeny tiny pup and really I wanted a 4 year old. After a lot of applications, for dogs up for adoption through various pet rescue organisations, and through the purebred breeders website, we hit paydirt. Denver, a 2 year old smooth coat Fox Terrier joined us in August. He was (and I stress was) a show dog, and a champion at that. He is now living his best life in the equivalent of Las Vegas here, a real fall from the showground and the best behaviour he must’ve been on to win various competitions. He is getting used to being an urban dog after having a lovely time in Gundaroo with his mates! We are getting him under control, which is fun and rewarding. Jaffa thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread – which is lovely!
We are also experiencing the joy (?) of having a dog that sheds, after all these years of our Australian Terriers, who really don’t shed much at all! So we have a little bit of Denver spread evenly throughout this home it seems.
A few months ago my neighbour called, with a question. Would I like to join an over 35s women’s soccer team? A local club, the Rockdale Raiders, where her sons play, was wanting to start a team for the Friday night winter women’s comp. All the games would be played down the end of our street. I told her I’d think about it.
I got off the phone and told my family – and pretty much we all laughed at the concept. I don’t think I’ve ever willingly joined a sports team. My children both then got very serious with me, the lad was all “You need a growth mindset Mum, of course you should join the team” and my daughter followed it through with “You’ll meet new people and make new friends”. I told them I thought I had plenty of friends and really, do I need this sort-of challenge. Then I decided to make a deal with my daughter, I’d go outside of my comfort zone if she would too. Her part of the deal was to invite friends over.
Before you knew it I was back on the phone to my neighbour, linked up to the whatsapp group, and signing up to the team!
G also went into action and had a group of friends over one Friday afternoon before the season started. It was lovely to meet some of her school friends at long last.
Now you may ask what does this have to do with Josh, and why am I writing about this today? Well, after I’d played my first ever game of soccer I posted on Facebook, with a photo of our team after the game. Josh rang me up in fits of laughter, he was in disbelief that I was playing sport, and he was full of comments like “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you run”. I met him when he was born – I knew him all of his fifty years. He knew that I’m built for comfort, not for speed.
Within a week or so when we were having one of our many conversations he was full of plans. Could I let him know what time my games would be, could he come with Jess to watch, and could he ask me a favour – to all of which I replied Yes, yes and yes.
The favour was not for a million dollars (I couldn’t help him there anyway) but, if he was going to come along to a game could I please wear my hair in pigtails. The answer was a resounding Yes. I laughed and laughed at the ease of fulfilling that request. Once a year, or so, I decide to wear that hairstyle anyway.
Today, in honour of Joshua, who unfortunately never got to see me play, I have my hair in piggies. Here’s cheers to absent friends – he’s never going to leave me really.
Late this strange old, locked down Sunday afternoon we went out to the Bay for a walk with our Jaffa Dog.
Surprisingly the older child was also happy to join us on our stroll.
Even more surprisingly she went for a paddle.
I’ll take this as a win. Even if it was a late, mid-winters afternoon. She enjoyed herself.
Actually we all enjoyed ourselves.
Jaffa was totally exhausted when we got home.
She has a second wind right now, and is now hell-bent on annoying as many of us as possible, in turn.
One thing I’ve enjoyed doing, during these strange times, is going out with the kids and the dog to the dog park, or the beach. We all enjoy being outside, the dog plays with the kids and other dogs and I get a feeling of contentment. Life might be confined in many ways but its okay really.
Once again we are in the midst of a lock-down here in Sydney-town. This one feels like second nature though. The kids were on school holidays and now they are almost at the end of the first week of term, home-style, with one week of online schooling pretty much done and dusted.
At the end of last term you knew it was coming, as ever so slowly everything that was written on the calendar was cancelled. Sunday sport for the kids, Friday night soccer for me, music performances and music camp for them. The list went on.
The bonuses have been many. The first is that my autocorrect says lick instead of lock – makes it sound like a lot more fun than it actually is. We got to lay in most mornings (after taking out the pup) during the hols as I reckoned there was no need to get up more than fifteen minutes before A’s first meeting of the day.
Now the kids are back at schooling we are back to getting up in a timely manner. I have also decided to dust the cobwebs off this website and tell you more about what I’m loving these days. Sometimes we need a little dose of happiness in our day.
Today I present to you Jaffa. The waker of the parents, the lap snuggler to all, and the overwhelmingly cute pup that melts each and every one of us when we are trying to get her to do the right thing.
In early January, on one of those evenings that cooking seems a stretch and holiday homes are only days away, G and I went down to our Main Street to get some takeaway.
We had the dog (who also needed to get out of the house) and a little bit of grocery shopping to do as well as pick up dinner. We ordered our takeaway from the best noodle house in Rockdale and waited in the pedestrian mall for our food to be cooked.
As we were sitting there, a fellow, who is a rough sleeper, waved hello to us across the way. I waved back, and that was the beginning of our little conversation. He was beaming at us, as I suppose we looked a picture of family contentment, the Mum, the daughter and the dog sitting together in the summer evening.
Next thing he came over and asked a question “Would we like some food?”. He had, in his bag, a packaged Christmas fruitcake, a chocolate cake mix and some arnotts oat biscuits. He really wanted to give us this food, he really wanted us to take the food, and he really wanted us to eat the food. He confessed that he didn’t have a sweet tooth. In fact he confessed to not having very much at all these days. He asked us where we lived (I was was conscientiously vague) and told us that he used to live with his wife on King Street. He told us how his drinking had taken over. He implored us to eat the food, he kept telling me that the food was good, he just wouldn’t eat it. He really wanted to make sure that we would eat it, I assured him that we would have the biscuits with cups of tea, and the fruit cake as well. We told him that G would make the cake and take it to her picnic with her friends the next day. He patted Archie, and told him he was a very good dog. My heart strings were tugged, he was so lovely to us.
I felt like our roles had been reversed. I could’ve been giving him a meal and here he was giving us what little he had to share. We introduced ourselves and I said that I would look out for him around the place.
I took photos to show him when we ate the food that he gave us, and I have been looking out for him for nearly two months now. I do hope that he is safe, and that I do indeed meet him again. I have thought of him often, and hope that he finds the strength needed to change the path he is on. Next time I see him I will show him my photos, and shout him some food.
His generosity has stayed with me. His kindness was so surprising in some ways, and so typical of people in our neighbourhood. Just because he was doing it tough didn’t take that away from him.
When I was little we moved house a lot, according to those who know. I have one memory of living at Croydon, we lived behind a Chemist shop (apparently) and there was one of those great big wooden dolls houses. I know that this must’ve been at Croydon as the dolls house didn’t move with us. I have a faint memory of playing with the dolls house. I’d have been two.
Illawong, and our home there was another matter! This was the house that Jean and Keith built. It was meant to be our forever home, as people say these days. Mum and Dad had bought the block of land, on the top of the cliff on the river, before they were even Mr and Mrs and in both their names. That alone was subject for discussion, as it was not the done thing back in those days.
They built a three bedroom home with not only river views but river frontage, if you scrambled down the cliff (perhaps an over-dramatic word to describe where the house was built, but it was definitely up, and the access to the river was not straight-forward).
The home was lovely. When we moved in a baby sister also appeared. As I was only 2 and a half when my little sister was born I couldn’t tell you if we moved before she came or not, all I know is that I shared a bedroom with my big sister and there was always a bedroom for the baby!
Our home had a lot of gum trees in the garden (which was accessed down a set of stairs just near where the car was parked, outside and to the right of the front door. There was one big gum tree where Dad hung our great big orange rope swing. This length of rope had originally been used on a ship, to tie it to a bollard, and I think it had been snaffled one evening from Wollongong harbour (which now when I think about it would’ve actually been Port Kembla). I’m not sure if Dad had found it or whether it was his Dad, our Grandfather Bill, who did the honours. As it was, that length of rope was well used, and the end of the rope was looped with a piece of canvas that would’ve originally secured the ship to the shore, and also formed the perfect place to sit on our swing.
In the garden we also had a fabulous cubby house that our Uncle Mervyn had built for us. Inside the cubby was a lovely canvas with a beautiful picture our Aunty Joy had drawn for us, of three canaries, including a baby in the nest – on it was also written “Welcoming the New Arrival to Canary Cottage”. So our cubby was Canary Cottage and the New Arrival was indeed our baby sister.
Today, when I was walking our dog down at the Bay and thinking about other doggies I know, and their names, I was reminded that in the garden of our home in Illawong we had a possum called Rustle. He used to visit us a bit, in the big trees out the side. How lucky we were to have wildlife living in our garden, not just passing through!!
Today is the official Last Day of Winter. This one has been a doozy. Covid 19 is still making sure we never really know what will happen next. One thing that is a given is that each day starts all lovely and new, full of possibilities.
The last few days have been delightful, weatherwise. We had a gorgeous weekend. I got my new marimekko x uniqlo sundress out on Saturday for lunch at my parents place with my brother and his children as well. It was just wonderful to be out on my parents verandah watching Spring coiling and getting ready to indeed spring all around us. There is nothing like a good meal and a glass of chilled white wine (or two).
Then on Sunday it was a case of too much sport is never enough. Down to Waratah Oval for the Ramsgate Rams Under 11s match, where T played his heart out.
A quick stop home and we were out again. Over to the Alan Davidson Oval to watch G play two matches for the Newtown Swans Under 14s Girls. Usually she plays for the Whites, but yesterday both girls teams had home games back to back – so G backed it up and played for the Reds as well. She also had a cracker of an afternoon.
I am glad when t-shirt weather comes around again. Sydney winters are never really a hardship but I am pleased when I know it’s nearly really over.
Very early this year a new corona virus started it’s spread. Like SARS seventeen years ago this one started in China. Unlike SARS this one became a global pandemic.
In March things were getting scary here in Australia. So many things turned on a dime. People in NSW were told to work from home. From Sunday night to Monday morning the message changed, it was time to keep your children home from school. Online classrooms started that very morning.
The week before I had started driving G to and from school. I was so worried about her catching public transport, with this new virus rampant it seemed. I was also giving a classmate (and family friend) a lift. On the Monday morning I was going to keep G at home but my friend eventually returned my messages and wanted me to take her daughter to school. Against my own heart-wishes I packed up G, collected the friend and dropped them to their school (a two train commute across south west Sydney). As I parked around the corner from the drop-off point I turned on the radio to hear the Premier announce that children should be kept home if possible. I promptly burst into tears as I felt like I’d thrown my daughter to the wolves. Driving home I listened to the Teachers Federation President talk about what was going on, and how the teachers felt about the new challenges.
It was official. March 23 was the last day of face to face teaching for my daughter, and the first day of distance education for my son. Already all the ensembles at the schools had been cancelled, lunchtimes had been staggered and vulnerable members of the school community were told to stay home and stay safe.
I cried to myself at irregular intervals, daily, for weeks. So much heart-worry. So much international news of times that were so much worse than what we were experiencing in Australia. Seeing that and wondering if it truly would happen here made for such anxious times.
They’re not over. I do feel better though now that we have had 14 days of no local transmissions in NSW.
I could write about this all day.
It has been a long time since I posted here. Prepare yourselves for a flurry of activity now!
Our primary school, like many in Sydney, has families from all over the world. Many of these families are Muslim, and this time of year is very important to them.
Every second year our school celebrates with a big community dinner under the lights. We all bring a plate to share, mains or dessert. This year I baked a coconut cake. I think it went down a treat as by the time I went to the dessert tables it had gone!
Respectfully we wait til sunset before we start our meal.
This is the third and final Community Dinner for our family, as part of the APS family.
Each time my heart fills. I will miss this feeling of local community.
The tables filled up as families arrived.
The food was placed on long tables under cover. There were picnic tables out on the top court. It was cold out, but the community spirit warmed our souls.