Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

The Glass Lid

Last week we broke our ceramic wok.

To be honest, I’m not sure how it lasted as long as it did. But I was desperate to keep the glass lid as it’s the perfect size for my dough bowl…but it’s a tricky item to store. My initial plan – to store it upside down above head level, balanced on a stack of mixing bowls – did not meet with approval. So my oh-so-clever husband created a dedicated spot to store it by adding two spare knobs to the old warming oven we use as shelves.

I was reflecting (ha!) this morning on what a blessed life I’ve had. It’s been pretty tumultuous too, with our fair share of sickness and loss and sadness, but it’s always been underpinned and supported by this amazing relationship which started when we were just 18 years old. And I never take it for granted – possibly because I’m a sentimental fool – but every little word or gesture, every kiss on the head, every small act – feels like a gift. Last night he saw the glass lid precariously jammed (upside down) on the top shelf, shook his head and smiled, then solved the problem. He didn’t berate me for being daft or insist we get rid of it. This is how it’s been for 38 years.

A couple of days ago, my daughter-in-law told me about how she was upset because she’d spilled something all over their new tablecloth. She said Big Boy saw her distress, shook his head and smiled, then scooped up the cloth and said “don’t worry, it’s gone now”. And I told her it was because he’d trained at the foot of the master, and that she was going to have the best life ever. 💕 

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When I was 17 years old, I had this Norman Rockwell poster on the wall of my room at college. And at the time, I took its instruction to heart – treat other people as I wanted to be treated. View other humans with kindness and compassion and charity, especially those who were less fortunate than my university peers and me.

In hindsight, it was a remarkably socially privileged view of the world, but at the time, I didn’t have the life experience to interpret it any other way. And I’d argue that many people never do – they feel sorry for those whose lives don’t appear as comfortable or happy as theirs, they give to charities because it’s the right thing to do (and it is, don’t get me wrong), and they think “there but for the grace of God go I”.

Fast forward nearly 40 years to a recent conversion I was having with Small Man.

We were talking about the work being done by the folks at Fashion Revolution, and specifically about Lucy Siegle’s excellent but slightly traumatising book To Die For. I read him the information panel in the photo below…

And I said to my son, “It’s not just that this is a terrible thing and basically slavery. But what you have to understand is that that woman IS me. She wants exactly the same things in life as I do – a place to live, enough to eat, happiness and security for her children”.

It’s not until we truly understand that there is genuinely no difference between any of us, in fundamental human terms, that we’re able to feel real empathy rather than just sympathy. Whilst we continue to see a “them” and an “us”, there will always be suffering. In a world which is today so deeply divided on politics, religion, race and gender, understanding this feels more important than ever. ♥

. . . . .

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee

John Donne 1624


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“What’s your favourite quote?”, my young friend Imaan asked me.

“This one by Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet”, I told her…

All things summon us to death: nature, almost envious of the good she has given us, tells us often and gives us notice that she cannot for long allow us that scrap of matter she has lent…she has need of it for other forms, she claims it back for other works.”

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704)

Then I added…“I think we forget that we are just atoms from a dead sun in temporary form”.

A week later, this beautiful framed artwork arrived in the mail. It now has pride of place on our living room sideboard, a reminder that life is transient and fleeting. Thank you so much, Imaan! ♥

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Scraps of Matter


All things summon us to death: nature, almost envious of the good she has given us, tells us often and gives us notice that she cannot for long allow us that scrap of matter she has lent…she has need of it for other forms, she claims it back for other works.”

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704)

We are but scraps of matter on borrowed time, waiting to be recycled into something else. Regardless of our human age, the atoms we are made of are billions of years old, on an endless transition from one form to another. We get to use them for an eye-blink … and then they move on. I find that oddly comforting!

And who knows, maybe one day some of “my” atoms will end up in a magnificent fossil like this one – wouldn’t that be grand? ♥

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An Overwhelming Week

In 2020, we’ve had bushfires that have destroyed our old growth forests, driven rural communities to the brink of collapse, and killed over a billion native animals.

We’ve had a global pandemic that has infected over six million people. We’ve had lockdown and closed borders that have bankrupted businesses and basically put folks under house arrest. I’ve had three friends lose a parent during this time and not be able to attend their funerals. I’ve got friends with relationships at breaking point, know of at least one suicide, and don’t know a single person who isn’t stressed.

Then last week in America, land of the free, a white police officer, sworn to protect citizens, killed a black man by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes. For having a counterfeit $20 note. Have you ever seen American currency? It ALL looks fake. I thought I had a counterfeit $20 note once. It came out of a Bank of America ATM cash machine and the supermarket took it without question. Does that make me a criminal?

The very many really good people of America were filled with entirely appropriate rage and anger at the complete betrayal of everything they put their hand over their heart for whenever the anthem plays. And we sit here and watch in horror as, in the midst of a highly contagious pandemic, they don ineffective cloth masks and gather in huge numbers to protest this horrific gross injustice. But what else could they do? Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

And even as the rest of the world watches in surreal disbelief, we here in Australia have been forced to turn our eyes to the inhumane and callous way we treat so many of our indigenous communities. Since the release of the royal commission into black deaths in custody in 1991, more than 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander have died in custody. The Australian press has (finally) begun to draw attention to how similar incidents to the George Floyd death have occurred here, but with little or no media attention at the time.

May 26 is National Sorry Day in Australia.  You can read about it here – it is a day that remembers and acknowledges the irreparable harm caused to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who had their children forcibly removed from them – “The Stolen Generations” as they are now known. 26 years after the report which highlighted this incredible injustice, and 12 years after a national apology was made by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are still ten times more likely to be removed from their families than non-indigenous children.

This year, two days before National Sorry Day, Rio Tinto destroyed – legally – a site sacred to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People, two caves that showed 46,000 years of continuous occupation, including an artifact that proved a genetic link between the traditional owners and their ancestors of 4,000 years ago. This was not only a huge blow to the PKKP People, but to every single Australian. It was mindless destruction of our country’s history in the pursuit of expansion and wealth, and yet another example, in a long line of many, of the truly appalling disrespect with which Australia treats its First Nations peoples.

I’m honestly not sure how much more my heart can take this year. And it’s only June. 💔

. . . . .

Diane commented recently that my posts were never negative. I try very hard to keep it that way, but this week I’ve felt overwhelmed, and the words needed to come out. I hope though that you will take something positive from this. The only long term way to change societal bigotry and racism – especially the subtle forms that we’re not even aware we all have – is education. If you’re Australian and like me, your knowledge of indigenous history is limited, then make it your job to find out. Read the Uluru Statement From The Heart. Celebrate our First Nations cultures without appropriating them. Read books written by authors like Stan Grant and Bruce Pascoe. Watch Vernon Ah Kee’s Tall Man art installation, but be prepared to weep, as I did both times that I viewed it at the MCA.

It won’t be a comfortable learning curve, but nothing can change until we acknowledge that a problem exists in the first place. ♥

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