sound waves

country road

Two different experiences of sound  this week; one my own, and one experienced by another that brought back memories of my own experience, brought home the effect that sound has on our lives and our emotions.

I usually rise about five am each morning, either as a result of my alarm clock or a wet Augie Dog nose poked into my face or armpit. Earlier this week I had only been upright for a few minutes when the sound of a very mournful siren reached me through the open bedroom window. It was not a siren, and I am still assuming that it was a siren, that I had heard before.

Living in a rural area our fire brigade is run by volunteers and remembering the scream of the siren to alert volunteers back in my childhood home town, I surmised that the sound I was now hearing was a call for the fire brigade. It was the actual sound of the siren, or the type of sound that it emitted that affected me instantly.

Last weekend I was watching a British television show and it mentioned the “workhouse howl”, the howl that inmates in the workhouse, people who had suffered immeasurable loss, grief and suffering cry in their darkest moments. This siren sounded just as mournful and instantly touched my mood. Days later, I still feel a heaviness in my heart from that sound. It wasn’t because of the thought of a fire and potential suffering somewhere connected to a fire alarm, it was more primal than that. It was the sound itself.

When I was a small child I remember seeing a movie, and only now I think back that it was probably the original Anne Frank movie. It was a world war two storyline and there was the sound of the SS cars and trucks, sirens blaring through the streets as they set out to tear the Jewish from their hiding places. The sound of those sirens haunts me down through the decades.

This week, we skyped with an old Japanese man who is a survivor of the bombing of Nagasaki. He spoke of the silence immediately after the bombing, how the world went silent. No human sound, no animal or bird sound. Complete and utter silence. He could not tell if it was seconds or minutes, eventually he heard himself calling for his mother and for Buddha to help him. Then the human cries rang out over his cries.

His description brought back to my mind the floods we experienced in 2011 when so many people lost their lives. I remember the silence as the waters encroached and the animals, especially the birds left the area. Silence that was unnatural and frightening. Nature knows, it speaks through silence.

Now that I live in the country I notice sound more acutely. When I spend the weekend in the city I feel the pressure of sound – cars, planes, neighbours and their activities, children crying and playing – and by the end of the weekend I want to run back to the natural sounds of my home.

I wonder if we pay enough attention to the sounds in our environment, of our selection or of our tolerance, and how it shapes our human experience.  I know that, especially when I am tired or stressed, that sound can be the “thing” that tips me over the edge into stress. Sound, such as the howling siren of fire alarms and movie sound tracks, can stay with me for days, even years it seems.

I hope your day is filled with the sound of laughter and love today. May the sounds you hear bring you comfort and joy. That is my wish to you this day.

the perks of the job


This week has been a good week to be a teacher librarian.

Yesterday we ran sessions by an Australian author for our students. He spoke about his life and how he goes about writing his books, as well the creative writing process as a whole. He was both interesting and inspiring for both students and teachers. I wanted to run home and start writing, so I hope it at least shaped the creative instincts of at least one or two of our students!

Today, I ran a skype lesson for our history students with a Nagasaki bombing survivor. He is 86 and shared his memories of that day when he was just a school child in the classroom, as well as the impact it had on his life. It was a very powerful session and a once in a life time experience for our students.

Tomorrow is that last day of term. Two weeks of vacation time to follow!

A very good week indeed.

The granny bag


Each weekend since our Petit Fille was born I have spent the weekend with her in the hope that he parents can catch on up on a little lost sleep. Petit Fille can be a little pernickety at times (no, I don’t know where she inherits that trait, and you should not make any suggestions) and so Grandma and Granddaughter Flamingo Dancer spend quality time walking the floor, rocking in the rocking chair, doing leg lunges -something that apparently colicky babies find comforting and generally treading the floor boards together. No trouble getting those 10,000 steps in over the weekends now!

The first weekend I thought about what I would need and took an enough clothes to cover each day and one spare. Oh, and one work outfit in case I needed to stay over until Monday morning. There was also two pairs of pjs in case baby threw up on me.  Each Sunday evening I return home and throw the laundry into the linen basket and leave the bag in the corner until the following weekend. Naturally the following weekend I add fresh clothing.

Now that autumn has arrived a cardigan or two have been added just in case the weather decides to surrender the forever summer attitude it currently displays and turn coolish of an evening. It was 31C yesterday and with the humidity it felt like it was 35C so no need for those items!

Then there is the ipad, the phone charger and the professional journals that I just know I will read when I have five minutes break from waltzing the floor or doing my best impression of a gum tree with a koala attached (me the gum tree, Petit Fille the koala) . Just between dashing to the toilet and grabbing a hot cup of tea I know I am going to read about the latest views on content curation… one day.

There is also the book club’s latest reading offer which all other members have completed reading and I am yet to browse the back cover. It has gone to the top of my bag to the bottom and back to the top with all good intentions as well. There is also the book I thought I would really rather read and as I write this I can’t even remember its title so obviously the passion is no longer as great.

Add in a couple of “little things” purchased online for Petit Fille that arrive during the week and require delivering, the rotating shoe selection with rejects not ejected, and possibly the kitchen sink and a globe artichoke and my overnight bag has gone from a light toss over the shoulder to a two handed drag along the garden path, up the front stairs, through the house and down the internal stairs to the guest room; and back again.

It does not end there though, dear reader. Now that most of my earthly belongings are ensconced in my luggage it means I can no longer function Monday to Friday as dressing for work means an escalating  stress ridden search for underwear, footwear, toiletries and general clothing items. I can no longer find the charger to my phone and Mr FD and I argue over who owns the one ipad charger we can find about the house as the other one lives in the Tardis . Naturally I do not search my suitcase first, but hold to the inaccurate notion that I will find these items in my closet or bathroom shelves. Age does not always make one wiser it seems.

Only when I have exhausted every possible nook and cranny in our house will I consent to searching  within my weekend luggage and there I will almost always find what I was searching for, crumpled in a corner of the bag and needing an iron.

What is worse is that I fear that once my weekend mercy Grandma visits are no longer required (sacre bleu!) that my goods and chattels may just remain in their imprisonment until the next baby arrival, and at the rate this one is impressing her parents, there may not be another arrival!

Last viewing of Petite Fille Flamingo Dancer as I fear her beauty will make her stand out in the crowd and no privacy compromised.

Last viewing of Petite Fille Flamingo Dancer as I fear her beauty will make her stand out in the crowd and no privacy compromised.

the naked truth

Martin Munkacsi 2

All the cares of my world were whirling and snarling around in my brain this morning as I sat predawn on the patio hand feeding cone head Augie Dog his rice and chicken breakfast (no greater love has a woman for her dog…. you know the rest). Sick and ageing mothers, colicky babies, sick puppies, and the state of the world in general were a portion and I was giving in to the sad faces when the sound of a bird way up in our tallest gum tree caused me to raise my head and look towards the early morning sky.

Silhouetted against the blue black sky was our lovely garden that we have inherited from the previous occupants. Trees, shrubs, grasses and the wildlife that inhabits them is gifted to me every single day and I never cease to marvel at the time, effort and dedication that others have put into my precious garden.

The wildlife is not restricted to the garden either. In the kitchen I discovered a little large lizard. I have no idea which lizard is which, I just scream “lizard!” and leap about the house calling for Mr FD. The long ago silently agreed consensus was that Mr FD coped with lizard, frogs and cleaning up vomit and I did spiders, his relatives on the phone and the Christmas cards.

My efforts were directed in keeping Augie away from the lizard, but with his cone head I doubt he would have stood much of a chance, but I wasn’t going to be blamed for any set back in his recovery, so I occupied him by alternating between calling “puppy, puppy!” and “Mr FD, a lizard”.

It was 5.30 in the morning and Mr FD knew there was no way his day was not about to start, so he slowly came out to our rescue. Naked.

N-a-k-e-d. Naked.

Think naked bald, hairy pear shaped creature with short thin legs.

I handed him the broom and pointed in the direction of the last sighting of our invader.

“It’s a gecko!” he sighed.

It didn’t look like any gecko I had ever seen, it was huge, but like everything else in the country it came in the free range jumbo size.

”You’re sure it’s not a baby goanna?” I needed convincing.

It’s a gecko, you mad woman”.

It was at this stage that I reminded MR FD that he was naked and told him to take a look at what happened to Augie’s manly bits, so he pursued his conversational direction no more.

Mr FD chased the MUTANT MONSTER gecko around the kitchen, through the family room and out onto the patio where he stood sweeping the gecko towards the great outdoors and freedom. NAKED.

So, for the second time this morning I was thankful for our tall lumbering trees and thick undergrowth; for it hid Mr FD’s nakedness from the passing public. Or at least we can hope it did.

Mr FD returned the broom to the cupboard and returned to bed, his heroic duties done. I put an extra tea bag in my mug not sure if the day was looking up or down…

tea 3

It’s a dog’s life

cone of shame

Augie Dog arrived home late morning wearing a neck cone. He looked much brighter than yesterday afternoon, and had no further bleeding during the night. Blood tests showed nothing sinister and so the vet’s best guess was perhaps colitis and stress. He is on antibiotics and anti-inflammatory tablets.

The cone is to stay on for ten days and we have already discovered what a nuisance it is for Augie; and for us! Naturally, he is learning how to negotiate the house wearing it, but the worst is trying to feed him. The collar just seems to hinder his reaching the food, so tonight I found myself sitting on the patio hand feedins Augie his prescriber meal of rice and chicken (home cooked). It is small penance for what we have made him suffer!

Augie normally creeps under our bed to sleep at night, and we have marvelled for some time how he still manages to fit, but with the cone collar I think he might have to settle for sleeping beside our bed! Right now he is sleeping on the floor next to Mr FD watching the football! He may have lost his manly bits, but he is still showing he can mix it with the boys!

[Any suggestions for dealing with life with a cone head dog, please feel free to comment!]

the ultimate betrayal

Dog sad 1

Augie Dog went to the vet today to be desexed. Son called it the ultimate betrayal last night and I laughed, telling Augie that Son was feeling his pain.

Son and Mr FD collected a very sad looking Augie late this afternoon. He was no sooner in the house than he started to pass blood. No faeces just blood.

I phoned the vet and they naturally told us to return to the clinic.

Augie is staying in overnight for observation and treatment. As yet we don’t know what the problem is. Possibly the operation, possibly an injury by the male vet who rammed a thermometer so hard into his anus that Augie jumped in pain. Or just a strange coincidence and an independent issue, perhaps something he consumed that we don’t know about.

Needless to say that it is a very sad and worried Flamingo Dancer nest tonight. That little guy, well not so little guy as he weighs 31 kgs now, he has earned his place in the family and we are all hurting as he hurts. He had tears running from his eyes…

It really has been the ultimate betrayal…