Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Put me doon! There's gonna be poetry!*

There's hasn't been enough poetry in my life recently, mostly because I'm not reading to the kids as much any more. We start kids off with poetry and many of the books that I hold closest to my heart are full of the stuff.

Yesterday a twitter hashtag wandered into my tweetstream and pretty much made my day, it produced such gems as these:

: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, Dam this Navman to hell.

: Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments, unless the couple are same sex

: Your face, my thane, is as a book where men may read strange matters. You must've fallen asleep on the newspaper again

: Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone , actually just wait I'll order a pizza first

: Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi' the sun; I will luve thee still, despite severe climate change
I added a few efforts of my own to the mix:
Macavity, Macavity, there's no-one like Macavity, except for that ratbag cat in my kitchen.
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house we were searching for the safe place where we hid the pressies

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around that the train's cancelled and we had to change platforms

There once was a swagman who camped by a billabong and got moved on for loitering

I was reading the quotes out to Adam and the kids which of course eventually led to me reciting bits of various poems and ultimately in me rummaging for books of poetry on the bookshelf beside me.

There's the Clancy of the Overflow picture book and Mulga Bill's Bicycle, and also a collection of Banjo Patterson's poems with illustrations by Pro Hart. A book of nonsense poetry which includes The Owl and The Pussy Cat, The Quangle Wangle's Hat and The Walrus and the Carpenter. Two copies of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. A hardback edition, identical to the one that still sits on the shelf at my mum's place, of The World of Christopher Robin encompassing When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends, which was a gift from friends in the US when I was 10 years old. I won't go on to list the multitude of kid's picture books that are poems spread over a line per page or the various novels which include poetry. No, wait, I will mention one of the latter - The Magic Pudding, full of quotable bits of poetry such as the lines my Uncle Rob was wont to use at the dinner table: "Eat away, chew away, munch and bolt and guzzle. Never leave the table till you're full up to the muzzle!" My two copies of the Complete Shakespeare and the four volumes that comprise a complete A. B. (Banjo) Patterson and a complete Henry Lawson are downstairs.

I have read to my kids from all of these books and have quoted bits of poetry from them and from other sources at them at the drop of a hat since they were tiny. My childhood was filled with the same poetry, my dad particularly was prone to quoting bits of poems whenever there was an opening.

My Nanna, Dad's mum, was an obsessive Shakespeare fan and I can't remember when I first heard "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment" but the strongest association that line brings to mind is my parent's dining room and my father reciting.

Mulga Bill's Bicycle brings back memories of bike riding holidays with my cousins at Bundanoon and my Aunty Liz making a certificate of achievement for my cousin Warwick, decorated with a picture of Mulga Bill, as an award for riding his bike UP Constitution Hill (a hill so long and steep that you were forbidden to ride hired bikes down it).

I hear The Quangle Wangle in my mum's voice in my head when I read it.

The line "Bears, just look how I'm walking in all the squares!" conjures an image of me looking down at my own very small feet walking on a paved footpath.

I wonder what associations poetry will have for my kids, probably mostly of their mother launching into recitations whenever an association of her own was triggered and being shouted down because they didn't want to have to listen to the whole damn thing. I'm still working on getting them to join in instead like I used to and still sometimes do with my Dad.

I told Twitter I was going to come here and blather about books, I guess this qualifies. There doesn't seem to have been much point beyond me saying that I love all this stuff and I want to share it with my kids. Perhaps you lot can amuse yourself in the comments by working out who all the various quotes and poem titles belong to. Or you could tell me what your favourite poetry is, for kids big or small.

*One of my favourite Nac Mac Feegle quotes. The concept of combat poetry amuses me no end, it made my kids laugh too :-)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The penultimate post - NaBloPoMo as therapy

This posting every day business is hard. I hesitated to sign up for NaBloPoMo this year because I haven't been terribly well in the mental health department lately. I'm on anti-depressants and they are helping but I still feel quite fragile and don't have as many spoons as I'd like to spread around. When I'm down I tend not to post as much, my commenting on other people's blogs dries up and eventually my tweet rate slows as well (that's the last to go, 140 characters I can usually manage). I also stop reading books.

Back in August I set myself a goal of posting a decluttering story every day in the hope that it would a) get the house cleaned up and b) bootstrap me out of the depression by forcing me to engage online. A fake it till you make it ploy. The house did get a bit more organised and I did post most days in August, but in September and October with 3 and 6 posts respectively I was right back to hibernating again. The things I had hoped we'd achieve by the end of September are almost all done, a mere 2 months late, but the house doesn't look even a little bit tidy. Moving rooms full of stuff around creates chaos, I'm going to have to start the decluttering and tidying process all over again once we have everything settled in place.

I rather suspect that without the impetus of NaBloPoMo I'd not have been engaging with people online very much at all this last month, it's been a difficult time even without the depression. I'm glad that I was motivated to post about my visiting my Grandma and saying goodbye to her and that I was able to share the story of her life. I've enjoyed looking through old photos and I've even written a few posts that I'm quite proud of: my thoughts on turning 40, the one about swimming and my sentimental tea post.

I love being part of the little corner of the blogging and tweeting community that I've settled in, that there are so many people out there who are full of love and acceptance and caring for others, with whom I can share stupid geeky jokes and from whom I can learn so much and who are so supportive and understanding. It takes a certain amount of effort to reach out and engage and sometimes I don't feel able to do that, but the benefit I get from making that effort is huge. So I'm glad I drove myself to do it this month, even though I didn't feel like it, thank you NaBoPoMo for not letting me give up and an even bigger thank you to everyone who has read my posts, left a comment or chatted with me on Twitter - you're all awesome.

Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to keep myself going through December...

50 Things post No. 45

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday snippets

We re-strung the clothes line yesterday so of course it rained today and is forecast to do so all week. Ariane claims she is responsible but I think we made some contribution at least.

Blog divider pic

Today Adam and I dismantled Caitlin's old loft bed, finished cleaning up her old bedroom and turned it into our gym. This involved moving the treadmill, exercise bike and weights machine from the half of the rumpus room that is not our bedroom, out the back door and back into the new gym. We did this in the rain. We decided not to move the lounge from the upstairs lounge room, out the front door, up to the top of the driveway, down the driveway, through the impassable garage of hobby associated junk, out into the backyard and then back into the rumpus room. I maintain that this decision was due simply to not wanting it to get wet and had nothing to do with the daunting prospect of a) clearing a path through the garage and b) carrying the damn thing all that way. We will be moving it before the end of the week though. Somehow.

Blog divider pic

Adam is making sourdough again. Looking forward to breakfast tomorrow!

Blog divider pic

I have been putting together a wish list by using Pinterest, so far there's not much on it, but there is something there that I really, really Must Have. It's these:

Time for a ThinkGeek order perhaps...

Blog divider pic

Adam is awesome. He has done so much cleaning up around the house this weekend, way more than me - I keep having to stop and rest because the heat an humidity does me in awfully quickly. He's still at it now while I'm here blogging and he hasn't so much as hinted that I ought to be helping him. Which I should have been. Don't tell him, but I'm deeply appreciative and I owe big time.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Travel with kids scares me

And this is why. I remember, you see. I remember being 14 years old and being completely hideous when my parents took us on a month long trip to Athens, Crete, Paris, London, Boston, Washington and New Orleans before we settled in Boulder Colorado for a 6 month stay.

Here I am with my mum and brother and sister at the Parthenon in Athens. It's on the top of a bloody great hill you know, and we'd just walked up there. I was not pleased.


We did a lot of walking in Athens, I spent a lot of time being displeased. My poor mother.

And here I am in the gardens of the Meudon Observatory in Paris reading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and daring anyone to try to get me to be enthusiastic about the view or going for any more walks. (To be fair, I had the worst period pain that day.)


We went the the Louvre, maybe the next day? My strongest memory of being there was reaching a point at which I announced that if I saw one more painting of fat naked babies I was going to scream.

I did enjoy the food though, especially in Greece. Developed a taste for olives and fetta cheese in greek salad that was a little ahead of the culinary curve back here in Australia.

Dessert at the waterfront restaurant in Iraklion.


Maybe if we take the kids to Europe we should make it a culinary tour and we'll sneak the visits to historical sites in between lots of seriously amazing meals. That's a reasonable plan isn't it?

50 Things post No. 39

Friday, November 26, 2010


My first pet was a grey tabby cat named Tiddles. He walked out of the bush across the road from our house when I was a baby and took up residence.

Me at 6 months old with Tiddles

Miriam with Tiddles April 71

Me (13 months) saying “aaah” to Tiddles

Miriam (13 months) saying “aaah” to Tiddles, Nov 71

Note the no hands touching pose, I gather it had been necessary to forbid me to lay hands on the poor beast, probably more for his protection than mine.

When we came back from living in the US for a few months, when I was 10 years old, we were greeted at the airport with the news that Tiddles had died while we were away, not the most wonderful homecoming ever. Once we were settled back home we made the trip to a cat shelter and were chosen by a lovely red and white tabby. He was named by committee and ended up with Jonathon Aragorn as per the cat naming guidelines set out by T.S. Elliot. (The Aragorn bit was my contribution.)

Jonathon sitting beside Grandma in the pergola, July 1982.

Grandma with Jonathon July '82

There was a brief interlude of mouse ownership at about the time that photo was taken. One white mouse named Trillian and one black mouse named Mrs Frisby. One day when I was cleaning out the mouse cage on that very table you see Johnathon sitting on I was startled by the sudden appearance of said cat under my feet (I had thought him safely inside). I was holding Mrs Frisby at the time and in a moment of distraction I'm ashamed to say I dropped her. Right in front of the cat. He pounced and bolted out of the pergola and over the back wall. Consumed by remorse I finished cleaning the cage, put Trillian back all by herself and retreated to my bedroom. A good half-hour had passed since the dropping incident when I heard the distinctive muffled "merrroowwwwwwfff" of a cat announcing his hunting prowess "Look what I've got in my mouth!" There on the front lawn, crouched between Jonathon's paws, was a slightly damp but completely unscathed Mrs Frisby. Back in the cage she went to eventually outlive Trillian.

When Adam showed up in my life Jonathon took on the role of chaperone. He did not like us getting too close together and would jump up and try to insinuate himself in between us, sometimes with the aid of claws. I used to call him my knight in furry armour. I can't remember what year it was he died but I do very much remember going to visit Mum and Dad's place when Jonathon was getting very ill and frail. I lay down beside him on the floor and he made a huge effort to stand up and come and rub faces with me. He died on my brother's birthday.

Not long after we married and were living in a rented unit in North Ryde, friends of ours rented a unit in a block just down the street from ours. I went to say hello on the day they got the keys and as we stood in their doorway a fuzzy streak of red and white bolted past our feet and straight into their kitchen. The fly screen on their kitchen window was claw-shredded so we surmised that the cat had been abandoned by the previous tennants. My friends were not fond of cats so I picked him up and carried him outside before walking back to my own place. He followed me up the street, up the steps to the stairwell door, inside the block, up the stairs to our front door, inside to our lounge room and settled himself on one of the armchairs. We weren't supposed to have a cat, but the upstairs neighbour had 2 and our real estate agent never bothered to do inspections so he stayed. No one seemed to mind. I named him James Fëanor.

James on the windowsill at the villa we owned in Marsfield.


James took great delight in bringing live prey (mostly mice and, on one occasion, a rat) into the house and letting it go for the amusement value of watching us chase it. He would sit in the middle of the lounge room with an air of perfect innocence as we dragged furniture around and frantically blocked access to the back of bookshelves and the like. He also had a habit of turning into a vicious fiend after about 10:00pm. He would lurk by the hallway to the bedroom and leap out, wrapping himself, all teeth and claws, around your ankles as you headed to bed. It was much less funny in summer than in winter. We would bribe each other to be first down the hall at bedtime. We dubbed this game "tiger and peasant", there was another version which we called "lion and wilderbeest" in which you could see him coming, on one memorable occasion I wasn't quick enough getting away and he jumped up and bit me on the bum.

When David was little and raised the classic "I'm scared of the monster under my bed" protest at bedtime, I told him so he should be! After all, it had fur and claws and a habit of attacking ankles. On the other hand, you could be pretty sure there wasn't anything else under the bed with James on duty.

In July 2004 James was diagnosed with bone cancer in the jaw, he would have been about 10 or 11 years old. Caitlin came with me when we took him to the vet for the last time. I still sometimes look out the window at his favourite spot in the garden and see him curled up there in my mind's eye.

A week after we'd had to say goodbye to James we were at the local charcoal chicken takeaway and bumped into the real estate agent who had sold us our house. Pleasantries were exchanged and she asked half-joking if we knew anyone who wanted a kitten. "Yes," said I "in fact I want two." Her cat had given birth to seven kittens that morning. We went the next day to see them and choose two. I held Jack and Sam together in the palm of one hand. Their mum ended up at the vet and almost died and the kittens had to be hand reared, we brought them home at 8 weeks old. Jack and Sam were the first kittens I'd owned.

Samantha Tinúviel and Captain Jack Sparrow

In the dollhouse


They don't snuggle like that anymore, instead they fight. Loudly. In the wee small hours of the morning. Sometimes under our bed. But at dinner time if Jack is inside and Samantha is outside he will stand at the front door insisting that you open it and find her. They greet each other with every sign of affection...for about 15 seconds. Then the hissing and paw-swiping starts again.

Last but by no means least came Clara, a staffy/mastiff cross according to her papers. The cats were not amused. Samantha is still not amused but Jack and Clara have become quite, well, let's say tolerant of each other. She doesn't mind when he grooms her ears and he puts up with her bouncing at him and trying to get him to play. Clara's introductory story is already written here and she features regularly in posts and in my tweets/facebook statuses, as she did last night when I left the cheese platter unattended on the coffee table for just a little too long while I cleaned up in the kitchen. Nearly a whole wedge of King Island Smoked Cheddar had completely disappeared and she was about to start on a big piece of King Island Discovery Ash Blue when I came back into the room.

Clara - how could anyone stay mad at this face for longer than 10 seconds?

Clara looking quizical

We also have 3 fishtanks and a hermit crab but I don't really have any interesting stories to tell about them. Plus it's late and I want to go to bed!

50 Things post No. 6

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I'm taking a leaf out of Ariane's book for this one (oh, and I believe there's some sort of big holiday about giving thanks happening overseas somewhere...), here's what I'm grateful for today:

Friends who respond to a very last minute invite to a candle party (like a Tupperware party only with, well, candles), and turn up at my place to provide great conversation and remind me how lucky I am to have wonderful people in my life.

Children who rise to the occasion when I really need their help and do a terrific job cleaning up and, as David did tonight, offering to cook dinner while I went to grab some groceries.

King Island cheeses.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Playdough taste test
Caitlin, about 21 months old

Playdough taste test

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Enough about me, let's talk about you for a while

I suspect I already know a fair bit about most of my lovely readers, given that if you comment here and blog yourself then I try to make sure I visit your little corner of the net too.

However, indulge me anyway (especially if you haven't commented before!), say hello and tell me a little about yourself? Pretty please?

Feel free to ramble in any way you like, or if you prefer you could answer the following questions:

Who are you?
How did you find my blog?
What keeps you reading?
What, if anything, would you like to see more posts about?
Should I do a Christmas blog giveaway of a gift voucher for my shop?
What is your favourite colour?
What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kids, ruining photos for decades

Way to ruin the photo 10 year old me!
Aunty Liz, my Dad, my Mum, Grandma, Grandpa, me,
Uncle Bruce, Aunty Faye, Warwick, Emma, Rebecca and Martin.
(Uncle Rob presumably took the photo.)
At Epping c.1980

I'm always complaining to my kids that they're ruining photos by making stupid faces in them, but I sort of like this photo. Nice one, ten year old me!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Finally! I made something!

My lounge room has been taken over by boxes of bead trays and I'm not feeling much inclined to put them away again any time soon so I might even make more stuff in the next few days. I'm rather excited by this, it's been months since I made any jewellery!

I only have one finished necklace from today to show you, plus a couple of pieces of tablet weaving I did ages ago that have been waiting to have their pictures taken. They'll all go in to the shop shortly.

Moss agate, brown zebra stone and sterling silver necklace.

Moss agate, brown zebra stone and sterling silver necklace

Kivrim tablet weave.

Kivrim tablet weave

The zig-zaggy pattern I don't have a name for.

Tablet weaving

Now, make more jewellery or feed the children?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

OOTD - Another new necklace!

I'm off to Caitlin's second dance concert of the week tonight and I'm taking my new fabulous fat necklace out for a spin

Tunic - Autograph
Leggings - Target
Shoes - Mathers
Necklace - Definatalie

I didn't get a close-up of the necklace in the outfit I'm wearing now, but here's the one I took the day it arrived in the post.

My "fat" necklace from Definatalie arrived

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dried leaves in boiling water...

...an exercise in associative blogging.


My Nanna (Dad's mum), who I remember as teaching me to drink tea - no sugar, a bit of milk, strong and hot.

Breathing in the steam from the mug, cupped in cold hands, sitting around a campfire at night. So many glorious camping holidays with my family and my mum's twin sister's family when I was a kid.

Yum cha, the brew getting stronger as the meal progresses until the pot is refilled and it goes back to hot water lightly tinged with colour and flavour.

The ritual of Grandma's teapot, readied before every meal and filled with boiling water as dessert was finished, the cosy tucked around it, and cups of tea poured when perfectly brewed.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and the cup of something that was almost but not quite entirely unlike tea which was all poor Arthur could get out of the Nutrimatic drinks dispenser.

Cold tea being used as a burns treatment in one of the Sue Barton books.

The Swallows and Amazons were always drinking tea; Lucy had tea with Tumnus the faun; Bilbo drank tea with Gandalf; the Mad Hatter had a tea party; Bunyip Bluegum, Sam Sawnoff and Bill Barnacle brewed tea in a billy to have with the puddin'; and there's nothing better than sitting down with a nice hot cup of tea and a good book.

Standing at the bus stop waiting to go to school in the morning with my cup of tea, the bus stop was right by our letterbox, when I finished my tea I'd put the empty mug in the letterbox and retrieve it when I got home in the afternoon. I once dropped and broke a favourite mug (given to me by my best friend Rowena) juggling too many belongings while trying to open the front door.

Tom reaching for my mug of hot tea from his perch on my left hip at maybe 9 or 10 months old and demanding his share of it before it got cold. Asbestos mouth that child.

Sitting on our front deck with my gardener, drinking tea and listening to tales of him growing up on a farm in South Africa and becoming a cheesemaker and eventually emigrating to Australia. He's moved up to the Central Coast now and has passed the Sydney part of his business on to his son. They're both lovely people but the son sends minions rather than coming himself (he's also living on the Central Coast) and I'm not at home as much so the tea break with the gardeners isn't happening any more.

Comfort, the cure for all ills. Peppermint tea for morning sickness (or rather morningnoonandnight sickness as it was), chamomile for sleep, English Breakfast tea for fueling up for the day, Earl Grey tea at night.

Watching Star Trek with Adam and wrangling cups of tea from each other with humerous orders "Tea, Earl Grey, hot. Make it so?"

Smoko at the shearing sheds when I went on a Scripture Union Agriculture camp during school holidays in year 7. It's called a smoko but it's really all about the mugs of tea. And the enormous trays of slab cake. I rode a pony bareback (and fell off) and drove a car across a paddock on that camp too. Then sprained my ankle so badly I couldn't walk for several days because I tried to chase sheep over rough ground wearing gum boots. My friend Rowena carried me piggy-back from the paddock back to where the camp staff were.

My kids bringing me cups of tea when they see I'm stressed or upset. On Wednesday night after Caitlin's dance concert this week I was so exhausted and strung out that when we got home I collapsed on the lounge and cried a little. Next thing I knew I had two cups of tea, both Caitlin and David had independently made one for me. I drank them both.

Drinking tea with my Mum and my brother on Saturday night. We sat at the kitchen table at my Mum's place after having left Grandma's room at the nursing home. We talked and cried a little and remembered and smiled and even laughed a little.


Dried leaves in boiling water.

50 Things post No.18

This isn't quite a usual Friday Fragments style of post, not least because it doesn't just cover the last week - more like the last 40 years - but it's certainly fragmentary and it does include a couple of bits from the week just gone, so I'm linking up anyway. Don't forget to visit all the other fabulous fragmenters too!

Mommy's Idea
Hosted by Mrs4444.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

100 years - a life

This piece was written by my very wonderful Aunty Liz. Liz is my Mum's twin sister and our family historian, she has self-published a series of books about various branches of the family and I've very much enjoyed reading them all. My cousins Cameron and Rebecca read this out at Grandma's funeral on Tuesday and as I listened I thought I really wanted to share the story with my readers. Liz has very kindly given me permission to publish it here. I've added some photos (mouse-over for captions) from a slideshow that Liz also put together for the funeral.

Gladys Adam 1911 12 months

Gladys Joy Adam was born on 20 November 1910 in West Maitland, fifth child of Arthur Adam and Jane Montgomery who married in Newcastle in 1901. Arthur worked as a telegraphist for the NSW Government Railways. His family had been living in the Hunter River area for 60 years before he married Jane, who was born in Irvine, Scotland.

Jane & Arthur Adam

Glad was born in the age of early aviation when planes were made of canvas and piano wire and were called flying machines. She lived long enough to travel on jumbo jets. In the years before World War One, the style of life was very much 19th Century. Glad remembered the lamp lighter lighting the gas lamps in Wallace Street, West Maitland. Few townspeople had their own horse drawn transport let alone a car so generally the family moved as far as they could walk, which wasn’t a great distance by the time the eighth child was born.

In the meantime WW1 intervened and Glad remembered waving to the soldiers as the troop trains passed the end of Wallace Street. She was fortunate that the toll in human misery had little impact on her own family. Her uncle Oswald enlisted and served for four years on the Western Front but returned relatively unscathed.

Occasionally Arthur would hire a sulky on a Sunday and take some of the children for an outing around Maitland. There were occasional excursions by train to Newcastle on Sundays to visit both the paternal and maternal grandparents at Wickham and Linwood. There were also fondly recalled memories of holidays at Careys Bay, Lake Macquarie and in the Blue Mountains to which the family travelled by steam train. Glad’s love of travel remained with her throughout her life.

Grandma aged 14 years 1924

Education was narrow in Primary School, knowledge of the railway stations, rivers and other facts were learned by rote but Glad’s handwriting, until the end, was copperplate and she could recite lengthy poems learnt at school. She completed her Certificate of Proficiency at the West Maitland Superior Public School in 1925 then did an additional year to earn her Third Year Certificate in 1926, doing English, Business Principles and Book Keeping, Arithmetic, Shorthand and Typing. Unwillingly, she had to leave school at 15, just before the Adam family moved to Goulburn.

Grandma at school

Adam family in Goulburn c1950s

Career opportunities were minimal, especially after the onset of the Great Depression but with her office skills and experience in a succession of jobs, Glad was able to move on to a responsible position as a proficient book keeper for 12 years at the Baxter Shoe Factory in Goulburn, virtually doing the work of an accountant until she was 30 years old. If she had been born even 20 years later, Glad would have enjoyed the opportunities available to married women in the workplace but she was always content with her life and, as social and economic changes evolved, she felt sorry for women who had to juggle the responsibilities of home and employment.

Baxters Shoes factory

However, through her work for the Presbyterian Church, Glad found satisfying opportunities to use her skills. She had been baptised into the church at West Maitland on 4 January 1911 at six weeks of age and throughout her life was an active participant in church organisations, teaching Sunday School, leading fellowship groups and in later life being active in Presbytery and state wide committees, taking office, organising events and writing reports and newsletters. Her typewriter was put to constant use. She received recognition and many accolades for her efforts.


Glad made trips with the various Goulburn church groups to Sydney and other destinations. Added to her childhood holiday experiences, it fostered her curiosity and desire to travel. When she was about 19 and working in the office of Milligens, a Goulburn garage, she would hire a Studebaker or Buick for the day with the mechanic, her friend Bob Gudgeon, as the driver. They explored the local area from Bundanoon to Cotter Dam near the fledgling city of Canberra. In the 1930s Glad saved up for annual trips within NSW and interstate trips to Tasmania and Queensland by sea with her friends. Despite the Great Depression, the girls dressed well as photos testify. Her elegance was captured on her Box Brownie on many an occasion.

Grandma aged 21 yearsGrandma riding, Goodnight Island 1937

Grandma & Nell McNaught 1935Grandma (far left) & friends, Terrigal 1938

Glad met Ted Whitfield, a Sydney boy, in the Goulburn Presbyterian Fellowship in 1933.

Jim Anderson Glad & TedGrandma and Grandpa far left 1930s

They waited seven years to marry due to his part-time study at Sydney University, and then they settled at Manly.

Gladys and Ted at their weddingGrandma & Grandpa Manly 1942

But after only a year, Ted felt it was his duty to enlist in the 2nd AIF and they were parted for another four years. Glad’s two brothers Bill and Jim also enlisted so they were worrying times. The three Whitfield children were born during the war and, while Ted was serving in the army, like many newly married women in the same circumstances, Glad moved in with her in-laws at Earlwood. Also living there were Ted’s sister, aunt and grandmother.

Grandma & Aunty Faye 1943

When Ted returned from the war, to a household of seven females, he was a stranger to Faye who was three and the twins who were six months old and it was another year before Glad and her family had the house in Wardell Road to themselves. They were difficult years.

Whitfield family c 1949Whitfield family at Marrickville

The two post war decades were devoted to looking after the children and the home. In 1952, the acquisition of a Hillman Minx car created opportunities for weekend outings, visits to relatives and occasional holidays. Glad learnt to drive at 42 years of age and also found time for more social and devotional activities through the Earlwood Presbyterian Church. She took on responsibilities in the local Women’s Guild (PWA) as well as on NSW committees, especially the State Council and the Home Mission Standing Committee on which she served for 20 years. She was the editor of the Home Mission Committee newsletter for a long period and a Convener.

After moving to Essex Street Epping in 1975, Glad and Ted joined a broader range of organisations within the Epping Presbyterian Church which included the Camera Club, the Friendship Club, a Bible Study group and indoor bowls. She continued to be an active participant in the church until she was 90 years old. When she was no longer able to contribute her time, she continued to generously contribute financially to many charities, especially the Bible Society.

Glad and Ted had wonderful years during his retirement, frequently travelling overseas and within Australia. They were among the first Australian tourists who went to China in 1972. They travelled extensively in Britain and Europe, explored Canada, the United States, India, Israel, South Africa and New Zealand. Many friendships were forged in those years and memories were treasured.

Grandma & Grandpa with my cousin Warwick Feb 1974

Glad lost her mate in 1989 but proved to be a very independent woman in the years after Ted’s death. Physical frailty forced her to leave her Epping home at 90 years of age but she enjoyed living at Leisure Lea Retirement Village for over seven years. As life’s experiences contracted, she had a stoic, accepting and uncomplaining attitude. Until the end, she was a continual support to her family, always interested in their lives, sympathetic in the difficult times and she encouraged them in their aspirations.

In the kitchen at Essex Street 2001

In Glad’s last years, a lot of pleasure was gained from reading and watching documentaries and various drama series. Having the capacity to manage some modern technology, anything she missed was available to her on DVD. She enjoyed her virtual ‘travels’, her travel diaries and took a lively interest in the world.

Grandma after yet another scrabble gameGreat Grandma and the kids

There were other past-times such as reading the Sydney Morning Herald, completing the Crossword, playing Scrabble, and she consistently won the weekly Word Games at Shalom, even as recently as two weeks before her death.

Grandma doing the SMH crossword puzzleGrandma's winnings

She appreciated the loving care of the staff at Shalom who made her life bearable even when she lost her independence completely. Despite that, Glad was looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday on Saturday with us all but it was not to be. She lived for 99.98 years. It was a long life and a life well lived.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


Tom, 14 months old

"Is that apple I see you bringing me?"

Rainbow lorikeets on the back deck
Rainbow lorikeets on the back deck this morning