And here’s the link (with a lovely photo of me I admit): Electric Press story
Flick through to pages 78-81
In gratitude for the independent press, G xO
And here’s the link (with a lovely photo of me I admit): Electric Press story
Flick through to pages 78-81
In gratitude for the independent press, G xO
I admit: I was an ‘eggshell’ daughter. Sorry Mum. This blog post just resonated with me so much, I had to share it. My story with my Mum is almost exactly the same; not an easy read, but so honest. My dear Mum is now totally liberated from the memory of how poorly we got on, and all the terrible things that happened to her during her lifetime. She’s free. And I’m so relieved, for us both ❤
I’m grateful for the way Alzheimer’s is affecting my mom’s brain.
I attended a Moth Story Slam last night here in Asheville. I love these events. Hearing people tell stories. Being in the presence of vulnerability. Feeling the support of the community as people reveal their joy, their sadness, their fears.
The theme this month was “Gratitude.” I thought about preparing a story to share, and then sitting with mom for four hours after a run in with the dining hall manager, spending two hours at the bank dealing with dad’s estate, and writing thank you notes took precedence and the story was never practiced, though it resided in my thoughts.
A few weeks ago, I heard some women my mom’s age talk about their “eggshell daughters.” I had never heard this term and asked, “What’s that mean?” They explained that though they loved their daughters tremendously, they felt like…
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I live in a small country town near the seaside in Australia, and am essentially a small-town girl. I love cities, and have spent years living in both Sydney and Adelaide, but I do love the friendly simplicity of cycling round a limited number of streets and shops, seeing familiar faces.
I’ve been lucky enough to own my current home since 2005, so my share is now way bigger than the bank’s- hurray! I live left of the town centre, down a quiet yet popular street, within a 7-minute drive to the beach.
And since ’19’ flew the nest, I’ve been house-hunting. Yes, I’m just one more statistic: downsizing now that I’m at home alone.
Until three months ago, I’d been looking at properties almost every week. Then I suddenly realised I felt like I was trying waaaaay too hard, for no result.
So I stopped. I took a deep breath, sanded and oiled the front stairs, did a gardening blitz, then chilled out.
I’m very blessed: my elevated home faces a small mountain, so I get nice breezes to keep me cool. The place is small, but easy to clean and tidy (especially now ’19’ has taken his ever-evolving mess elsewhere).
The cat and I have as much peace and quiet as we like…
Apart from the yapping dogs two doors to the right, and the one yapping dog to the left.
Apart from the renovations four doors to the left, and across the road, and in the street behind.
Apart from the husband and wife who yell at each other sometimes, and the teenagers who yell at everyone.
Apart from those noisy Airbnb folk three backyards over, playing bad guitar at midnight round the pool.
Apart from the back neighbour starting his hotrod car at 7am on Saturdays, and the occasional garden parties two doors up with bad music which go on past midnight.
You get the drift.
And now that I will be turning 54 this year, I’m taking up my deserved title of ‘Grumpy Old Lady.’ Not all the time, sure. But hell YES, when everyone’s disturbing my peace.
Now into my lap has fallen the opportunity to buy into an ‘intentional community’, or Multiple Occupancy (MO) as we call them here. A two-acre share on a 40-acre forest valley, with creek frontage, and only 5 shares in total.
A very different lifestyle: surrounded by birds and trees, with an enclosed veggie garden, a dam for water as well as rain tanks, and a cute 2-bed house with off-the-grid solar system and batteries.
What do you think? Does anyone out there have any experience of community living: the Pros and Cons? It’s been going for 30 years, with 3 of the 5 shareholders either yoga teachers or artists, so there’s a lovely mindful tranquility in the air as soon as you step out of the car…
Negotiations are ongoing, and I admit I’m feeling quite excited, in both my heart and mind.
Any opinions? Thanks!
In gratitude for consultation, G xO
Hello again everyone, and Happy New Year! It’s been 2 months since I’ve written anything: a very busy, stressful, exciting, and terrible time. I’m dragging myself out into January, as is all of Australia.
You’ve seen the tragic footage of fires. We’ve lost millions of hectares of bush and forest, not to mention maybe a billion animals, plus bugs, birds, butterflies and of course bees.
Unprecedented calamity. Yet predicted back in 2007, if the government didn’t address climate change challenges… And a dangerously useless Prime Minister now, who has to go. But you can easily research all that, because I’m exhausted/furious by the political spin and denial, while regular people lose their entire homes (& sometimes lives).
Yet I am safe, and so are most of my friends, although those in Melbourne are wearing masks both inside and out of the house because their smoke pollution is currently the worst in the world.
*sighs [But not too deeply]
To be more positive, here’s a quick review of my last 2 months, with pictures:
We also went to the Walls of Jerusalem, which was an alpine hike in much nicer weather. It was all stunning, and tough. But I’m tougher.
2. In early December, I took on a half share in a horse called Star. I rode a lot as a teenager, and found myself horses to ride wherever I lived; now that my darling ’19’ has left home to live with his cousin up the road, I clearly need a new project, so she’s part-Arab, very sweet, a bit stiff and stuck in her ways (like me of course), and I love her already.
3. I finished the year at the incredible Woodford Folk Festival, which is my favourite place to both work and celebrate. I love my job as a performer, and I got to be both a giant snail’s wife by day, and an illuminated Cloud on stilts by night, so I was happy.
Then I greeted the first dawn of 2020 by getting up at 4am (after only 2 hours sleep by the way) to sit on the Woodford hillside with the chanting Buddhist monks- perfect.
My new year resolutions? To meditate more, hike more, ride more, and speak more truth from my heart. Hopefully all these will come to pass, and I will try to be here more often like in the old days.
To finish, a very dear friend has just won a cancer battle, and urged me to find 10 hours a week to write in 2020: H, congratulations, and this is for you xx
In gratitude for love, health, resilience & creativity, G xO
During the one hour ‘Blog Mentoring’ session I paid $250 for 3 years ago, I was told I had to find my ‘niche’, and write to it [with all the appropriate hashtags/images/Facebook groups aligned etc etc.]
The ‘niche’ hunt continues. Last week I wrote about bushfires; 6 weeks ago it was a shortlisted Short Story, and next month it will be about a wilderness walk in Tasmania, similar to my Kakadu one (but hopefully without the drama).
Would I be doing better with a timetable of topics, and a calendar? Maybe. Define ‘better’ though? I’m happy, I’m having fun, I feel connected and supported, I enjoy my blogging; there’s my motivation.
And big credit has to go to my increased Meditation practice. It’s not daily [yet], but definitely at least three times a week. Plus one glorious Sunday a month, when I get to sit in a circle with amazing women from all walks of life, and meditate pretty much all day 9.30-3, except for a gloriously chatty lunch hour.
Even the 30 minute morning tea is in silence, as we pay mindful attention to the act of making & drinking tea, including eating homemade orange almond slices or carob bites.
As you can imagine, when lunch is announced, we shoot onto the verandah like hens being let out of their coop in the morning!
Our esteemed facilitator
Yoda Carol was away last weekend, so the session flowed differently, but here are the essentials I decanted:
“When the mind is quiet, heaven and earth lie open in complete abundance”
Whatever style you practice (and there are many), essentially all meditation is bathing in silence: what emerges is Gratitude, Reverence, and Love.
Try it soon.
There are a million tutorials on YouTube, and articles to research… or you could just sit down, turn your phone off, set the timer for 20 minutes, then just breathe… Here’s a hint: its power triples when you do it with others. Could you find a group?
Good luck! Tell me how you went: it has helped with my anxiety, self-esteem, my inner critic, all relationships including with my lover, and just generalised wellbeing.
Now who doesn’t want more of that, especially if you’re doing the menopause?
In gratitude for the privilege of just sitting and breathing, G xO
The texts had reassured us all, anxiously listening for news of our friends’ latest bushfire threat. They dealt with one in February (the height of Summer fire season here in Australia), but this danger so early in Spring was scary…
As I began to tell in Part One, I’m just back from helping with a tiny part of the massive clean-up: they battled all night to save their home, while thousands of acres burnt around them.
Like, literally up to the verandah. I took this photo standing on their front deck:
As you saw in Part One, destroyed sheds and landscape made for eerie surroundings.
Plus the silence.
Until the loud revving of a loaded truck, as an unknown farmer, his wife, and three kids from half an hour away arrived with a load of donated hay.
His wife had even baked a chocolate cake.
Just writing that down makes me cry; we were all fighting back tears as the team gathered to unload the hay and roll it into the [miraculously-saved] shed.
This tough little community doesn’t need second hand clothes or children’s toys. They need the practical: hay to feed the starving cattle, water to quench their thirst (cattle/humans/dogs, in that order), and money for fencing.
Kilometres and kilometres of fencing need to be replaced. Cattle are wandering loose, as well as horses. Farmers are feeding whatever stock they can find, whether they belong to them or not. Dams are low, creeks are drying up, and everywhere is ash-covered.
My friend considers herself lucky that she’s the only one in the small valley who hasn’t had to shoot some of her cattle.
A neighbour lost his 10 house cows; kangaroos have keeled over with shock and stress so need to be buried.
It’s a shock to really see the damage, and the true challenge of recovery.
So much wildlife habitat lost: old nesting trees burnt through, while shrubs and ground covers perfect for sheltering small birds have also gone. Bees and butterflies- where do they hide from an inferno? Even the tops of trees were alight, with air so hot and black my friends burnt the inside of their lungs and throat, lying flat on the ground while the fire front passed over them.
It was so hot that glass and aluminium melted, while fencing wire just snapped. But that’s also a good thing, as it meant cattle could flee from the fire front.
What can we do to help? Frankly, the whole community just needs money. Money to buy tools and fencing wire, metal posts and chainsaws. Money towards replacement tractors, diesel, and hay. Lots and lots of hay.
There are two options: BlazeAid (a volunteer-based organisation that works with families & individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires & floods) or the specific Ewingar community fundraiser on Facebook, just search for the Ewingar Bushfire Emergency Fund (stoopid Facebook won’t let me attach the direct link).
Thank you so much.
In eternal gratitude for water, and community, G xO
Can you imagine seeing a wall of flames heading towards you as you stand on your front porch or driveway, or perhaps the entryway to your apartment block? What if it was coming from the left hand side? Or the rear? What would you do?
This exact scenario has happened to my dear friends TWICE this year already, on their 300-acre beef cattle property, about 2.5 hours from where I live [comfortably] on the coast.
I don’t know how they do it. In the 2002 bushfires, a fireball landed on the place, and they lost everything. Everything. Animals, sheds, machinery, trucks and tractors, fencing, and their home. Completely vanished in an inferno they could do nothing to stop, as they weren’t there.
17 years later, they were at home, and fought the blaze.
‘Fought’ is the correct term too. All night long, they doused with water, directed hoses, ran pumps (only solar and generator electricity available), and finished up emptying buckets by hand as the power failed.
They’re living legends as far as I’m concerned.
So I drove out a few days ago to help with the beginning of the massive cleanup; the country is in drought, so rivers and creeks are nearly empty, cattle are thin from the sparse feed, and the landscape feels parched.
Now it’s black.
My first shock on the drive out was crossing the massive river… a third of its width now. And the trees: burnt to cinders, and simply keeling over. Sure, some of the big ones will survive, but a lot of native vegetation is gone.
Then crossing the creek which runs through my friends’ farm, and taking my 2nd favourite photo of the whole terrible trip:
Usually, you drive through the farm gate, across undulating green grass, then up gentle slopes to the outbuildings and yard…
All I could smell was smoke and burnt timber. The ground was crispy as I walked, with occasional pops and crashes of dead branches.
It looked like another planet.
I pulled up beside other cars- various friends come to offer support and physical labour- and we began to dismantle the destroyed stables, trying to save as much roof tin to reuse as possible. The black smudged faces greeted me as a fellow worker, and the action helped me integrate the shock of what I was seeing.
And it wasn’t even my home. I hadn’t made the trek out there for years…
No filter on these photos folks- just snapped on my smartphone. And so much silence- no birds, no bees, no buzz of insects.
Until we heard the sound of a loaded truck crawling up the driveway- who was that, and what did they want? What they brought made us cry- Part Two tomorrow.
In gratitude for water, G xO
And here’s the third and final, based in Kakadu after my recent incredible off-track bush adventure:
Their palms scraped skin across branches and boulders as they launched into the dark ravine. Down, down, down they slithered, heaving their bags ahead of them, legs protesting at the speed and brutality of the descent. A spiky pandanus drew blood across Kelly’s cheek, and Sam’s ankle twisted hard in the scrabbling, but at last they burst through the scrub to touch the smooth rock edges of the river again.
Kelly’s whole body trembled as she stripped naked and jumped into the creek, gulping mouthfuls of water as she cooled down and almost cried with relief.
‘This is better than any Christmas ever, even as a kid,’ she yelled.
Sam paused, then went on ahead to check the way forward, barely stopping to refill her bottle and guzzle.
She returned with heavy steps.
‘I don’t wanna say this, but there’s another overhang coming up, so we can’t continue. We can either go back up and across, or…’
‘No. Not a chance. I’d rather camp here on these hot rocks for a week than go back up to that stony hell!’
‘I thought you’d say that. But you’re not going to like our only other option: to inflate a sleeping mat, unpack both bags, then float everything to the other side and start again over there. Can you handle it?’
The words hung in the air like smoke from the grass fires they’d driven through earlier. They both sighed, as if seeking strength from their bone marrow. Sam watched the other woman, who pulled herself from the stream, water sliding down her battered legs, standing like a witchetty grub against the grey granite. It felt as though the earth was waiting for Kelly’s answer as well. Grass trees leaned in, while Rainbow Bee-eaters swooped and dove for insects, tail streamers reflected in the pristine waters.
‘Let’s do it,’ she said. ‘You swim, I’ll load and unload.’
The eucalypts, rocks, and native shrubs stood sentinel while the women toiled back and forth. They felt the sting go out of the sun as their bodies cooled and shivered. They repacked, gobbled sticky dried bananas, then dragged themselves round the next river bend.
And there they saw it: silver gum trees fringing a white sand beach, gently sloping to a clear blue pool, sheltered by cream sandstone walls, with a natural campsite marked out by flat sitting rocks. Scratched rock paintings showed fat kangaroos and fish. Palm prints outlined in splattered ochre dotted the caves, as if protecting the site. In exhausted silence, they stood before the art, and held hands for a moment. Then they sparked a fire and made billy tea. They took turns adding wood, slumped side by side, staring into the flames, or over at the sharp cliffs they’d just battled.
It had been a close call. They both knew it.
Kelly looked up at the sacred paintings, imagining the ceremonies that had taken place for millennia right where they sat. The land waited again for her to speak. Grass trees leaned in, while Rainbow Bee-eaters swooped and dove for insects.
She slipped to one knee on the dirt, and reached for Sam’s hand.
‘Will you marry me?’ she whispered, ‘Now that we’re allowed at last. Can you handle it?’
Grass trees leaned in. And Country waited once more.
THE END (C) GG 2019
So what did you think? Kinda cute hey? Obviously the end isn’t real, but everything else is pretty much exact!
I’d love to get your comments, and thank you so much if you clicked on all 3 parts.
In gratitude for Readers, G x0
But did you miss Part One?? Don’t do that! It’s HERE
… Then Sam stopped, hands on hips, and squinted into the distance.
‘Shit, I don’t think we can get through along here after all. Let me look at the map and compass again.’
She frowned at the contour lines on the creased page, telling her a story of steep cliffs and gullies, without revealing the safest route.
‘Sorry honey, but the only way we’ll get past that massive overhang is to tackle the stone country along the top of the ridge. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle up there, which you can never solve. Brace yourself.’
Kelly clenched her jaw for a second.
‘I never knew off-track walking was quite this tough,’ she admitted. ‘Especially for old ladies like us.’
Sam smiled at the familiar joke, but her forehead worried, as they tightened waist straps and headed away from the water without looking back.
Within thirty minutes, thighs screamed with lactic acid as they scrambled over boulders and fallen tree branches, spearing through chest-high spinifex grass. Previous hypothetical worries about snakes were replaced by very real battles with swarming green ants, dropping from their leaf-woven nests to nip at soft skin. The heat lay heavy, while they fought the relentless gravity of their packs on tender hip bones. Squeezing between granite crevasses, trying to keep up with Sam, Kelly soon realized both water bottles were nearly empty, and cursed herself for not re-filling them.
Suddenly she wobbled from one loose rock to another, feeling the weight on her back pitching her sideways; as she fell to her knees with a rush of adrenalin, a newspaper headline staccatoed through her brain:
‘Two women in their fifties died of heat exhaustion bushwalking in Kakadu, within 300 metres of fresh water.’
No! That was not going to happen, she thought, feeling panic surge through her body.
‘Sam, help me up please. I’m scared we’re getting too far from the river. Can we go back down?’
‘No, we’ve no choice. I know this is fucking hard work, but we just have to find a way round…’
Another hour passed, as they crashed, pushed, and flailed against the stone country. The sun blasted them from both sky and rock, while vines tangled their feet, knee flesh was bloodied and scratched, and their cotton shirts grew wet.
‘I almost want to vomit. I need a rest. But we haven’t got any water. This is so stupid Sam!’ Kelly’s voice choked.
Sam licked her lips and wiped sweat from her red face.
‘I’m sorry. But we’re gonna make it. Let’s throw our packs down this ledge, swing off that tree branch, and hope that gully is manageable…’ Her confident voice quietened as they contemplated their fading options.
‘It seems like the bush doesn’t want us here; as if the ancestors are hating our invasion, and we’re being punished. I feel like such a dumb white-fella.’ Kelly began to cry.
‘It’s OK. This is just the first big challenge. We can do it darlin’.’ Sam squeezed her hand, and just for a moment the hum and throb of the tough landscape settled. ‘We are welcome here Kel; we’ve paid our respects, we are treading lightly on the earth, and we’re good people. The spirits don’t want us dead. Now come on: pass me your pack, and let’s get back to that water.’
TO BE CONTINUED…
Part Three to follow soon.
In gratitude for Kakadu, and the wildness within us all, G xO
Wait, I’m not going to launch straight into the story; I want to say Hi first, and set the scene. Remember that 4-day off-track bushwalk in Kakadu I survived? While there, I was struck with inspiration to write about the adventure, and scribbled sentences into my tiny notebook one dreadful evening while being attacked by mosquitos (the only time we were hassled).
I sat down 2 months later to draft 500 words at least, for a short story competition with looming deadline (I can only work under pressure it seems). Again I was grabbed by the muse, and spent all day pouring 1500+ words around the competition theme ‘Earth’ onto my computer (such a good feeling).
Edit, edit, exaggerate, edit etc, and voila: ready just in time. Weeks passed with no word, so I assumed I’d slipped into the discard pile… then last week got an email to say I was shortlisted (another really good feeling).
Alas, I heard on the weekend that I didn’t win, but I don’t really care. I don’t care because I already won just by finishing it; I knew myself it was good; and I re-connected with my short story writing muscles (which are definitely different to blogging muscles).
So here it is for you, dear Readers, in 3 parts; please let me know what you think.
In gratitude for the Muse, G xO
‘EARTH’ (c) GG 2019
The escarpment snaked beside the 4WD on the remote highway, arching its back as though to strike. Bush fire scent smudged the air, while skinny gum trees and sand palms looked more vulnerable without the usual messy groundcover of grasses and fallen leaves.
‘The turn’s coming up soon on your phone map,’ Kelly said, frowning at the blue pulsing dot. ‘Actually, right now!’
The car shuddered as Sam swung it hard onto a narrow red road, disturbing birds of prey. More blackened eucalypts scattered along both edges of the track, with pops of green grass tufting through the ashes.
‘Look at those kites, Kel, circling for food,’ she said, lowering the electric windows. ‘We can probably hear them whistling… yes… such a Darwin sound, and now you’re hearing it at last, at the ripe old age of fifty-three. Better late to the Top End than never hey?’
They both smiled, then Sam shifted into low gear, as waves of corrugations began to shake every nut, bolt, tent peg and trail snack they had.
Two hours later, bouncing in the passenger seat, Kelly asked, ‘Isn’t there an optimum speed to cross these ruts on? Didn’t I read it somewhere?’
‘Look it up honey, while I just navigate them.’
‘Very funny. You know there’s no more reception, only the emergency beacon if we need it, and we’d better not need…’
Kelly snatched back the rest of her words, as they mounted a dirt rise, swung down the peak like foolhardy surfers, churned through a creek as high as the door bottoms, and bounced out the other side of the trough with water streaming off the car panels as fast as the fine red dust could powder them again.
‘We’re here,’ Sam said, skidding to a halt beside the tenth crocodile warning sign they’d seen. The adjacent Welcome to Country sign announced that they were on Larrakia Land. ‘I want to be hiking in thirty minutes, so let’s cram breakfast as quick as we can; it’s already nearly ten, and that sun’s only getting hotter.’
By noon, with twelve-kilo packs each of camping supplies, toiletries, spare clothes, and dehydrated food, both women were sweating and quiet. Birds complained about their intrusion, darting among shrubs as if warning the earth to brace herself for unfamiliar feet. The river along which the pair travelled was flowing fast through the gorge, as centuries of natural energy carved a path of least resistance.
Then Sam stopped, hands on hips, and squinted into the distance.
‘Shit, I don’t think we can get through along here after all. Let me look at the map and compass again…’
… TO BE CONTINUED