My Mum the Shearer

It seems that I’ve inherited my mother’s ability to find, be found by and adopt any lost sheep. In some cases, her ability is literal. We adopted a large, lost sheep. We were in Central Australia, the year I turned 9. We’d been travelling for 6 months around the country and now had taken up residence in a single carriage of a converted silver bullet train (something like this). My bed was over the hot water service in the ‘laundry’; Mum and Dad had a fold out bed in the lounge room so my brother and sister could share the double bed in the single bedroom that there was.

When cattle or sheep were rounded up, little ones would often be brought into the community, almost like a toy, and, as toys often are, they’d be discarded and forgotten. This had happened to Sheepy. He had been around the place for a while. He was no longer little and cute, but full grown, fat and fluffy. Well, he would have been had his overgrown wool not resembled a large and fibrous tumbleweed, complete with spinifex grass and felted matting. Sheepy had wandered into our yard one day and, as I mentioned, Mum is genetically predisposed to be unable to resist something or someone in need of assistance. Sheepy became her personal project. She blunted the few pairs of scissors we had, regardless of their original purpose, trying to create a coiff from a conglomerate. The community thought it was hilarious, but I could understand her concerns. Desert days are not cool and Sheepy was lumbered with inches of filthy thermal insulation. Each day, scissors of various sizes and Mum waged war against Sheepy’s many extra layers.

With time and perseverance, Mum won the war against the wool. Sheepy bore his new, attacked by vicious lawn mower, wool cut with lightness and freedom, if not pride. His accepting personality was overcome, layer by layer, with the more realistic taciturn nature of a scruffy, hot male specimen. So Sheepy left his temporary home and ran off to rejoin the community at large. And, not long after, and not shared with the shorter siblings, Sheepy made a guest appearance at a local barbecue. Such is life, I suppose.

Not my story, obviously.

I can see why some people aren’t sure if Sam’s story is real or not. I mean, I’m a 41 year old woman, not a 16 year old boy. I don’t have the requisite parts to have testicular cancer. This is true. And so is Sam’s story.

“Nuts, A Ball and other 4-letter Words.”

He’s a real person. Not his real name for the sake of privacy. This is his journey for a short/horrifically long period of his life so far. This is the story, too, of anyone who has been dealt the punch to the face (knee to the groin?) that cancer is. It’s also the story of winning. Of not spelling cancer with a capital C. Of making it. Of living life anyway, of growth and regrowth. Of sharing instead of hiding. Of kissing and sex. Of separation and belonging. Just Life. It’s the story of family and yet it isn’t.

I spoke to most of Sam’s family while his personal story bubbled in my head and came flowing out in words both his and mine.

I spoke to his big brother who, although uncomfortable in some ways talking to a relative stranger, made his love love for his family, even an annoying younger brother, very clear.

I spoke with his little sister, who thought I was a little crazy and made a rude comment about my shoe choices….fair call, though. The two of us forged a friendship that was close, for a while, and sang the real lyrics to Mumford and Sons’ ‘Little Lion Man’ really, really loudly, just because we could. Now she’s not a ‘little’ sister any more, but a beautiful, engaged young woman with whom a coffee date seems elusive. And I spoke with Mum.

I wondered if she thought I was odd, a teacher and mother of children of my own, befriending her kids. Apparently not, thankfully. And I loved them. Hearing their stories; getting a little into their lives.

Weird, isn’t it, how quickly that depth of feeling can come? And go. Not the feeling, just the actual spending time. It just drifts off sometimes. I don’t really know why. Happens far more often than I’d like, that sort of fading. Anyway, I’m getting morose.

So Mum let me hang out. And talk to her kids. And to her. She told me all of her experiences of Sam’s diagnosis, treatment, surgery and eventual recovery. I think I expected more tears, more drama. But you’ve already read that’s not her style. So it was fact and explanation of both circumstances and emotions.

I always meant to write the whole story. The whole truth for the whole family, but I couldn’t write Mum’s perspective. When I voiced her, my pen stopped. I, who had children of my own and knew how mums felt when their children hurt. I, who could scrawl out the story of a teenager’s masturbation and fantasy, couldn’t find the words to share this mother’s battle for her boy.

Why?

I’m sorry that I couldn’t find your voice with my pen. I’m sorry that I couldn’t express your fear, or the knowledge that you just had to do what you had to do. I’m sorry ’cause I wanted to tell of your courage, your love. I wanted to write more. I don’t think I could go there, you know, because it would have been bloody hard. I haven’t looked at my notes in years, but I have one thing that I’ve always remembered.

When mums hug their children, we often put our hands on their heads, ruffle their hair up a bit. And it’s a sign of affection, of casual ‘love ya, mate’ warmth. But for you it became more. Discreetly, under the guise of casual, you’d check your not-so-little boy’s scalp and neck for the telltale heat of fever and bumps of possible infection. I already knew how I felt when I held my ‘babies’ and I think I couldn’t find your voice cause I didn’t want to even imagine having to watch them so closely, so scared. I knew I didn’t know, couldn’t even guess and I didn’t want to do you or your feelings injustice.

So there it is. Honesty. I’ve finally made myself look at it as more than just writer’s block.

If you haven’t read Sam’s story yet, you could start here.

Love,

Mandy. πŸ›<<
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House Sitting – Rules & Contradictions

As a house sitter, I’ve mopped more floors in someone else’s home than I will EVER do in my own! I’m a much better house sitter that I am house keeper and, because of that, I’ve learned a few things that I thought I’d share with you.

If you’re a house sitter, always be a better house keeper than the owner. Not ALL the time, just when you’re in their home…or at least on the day you leave.

If you’re a house owner, realise that your home won’t really look the way you left it. If you’re lucky, they might be a better house keeper than you, but…….probably not.

Communicate. This is so important for both sides. Ask questions! Lots and lots of them.

Do you want something done, or not done, while you’re away? Write it down. Write everything down. Where is the vacuum cleaner? Where on Earth is that tiny white on white button that turns on the dishwasher? What does the dog eat? Write it down.

Uh oh. Broken something during your stay? A cup? Plate? Door knob? Write it down. Text if necessary, but at the very least leave a note and an apology.

Be honest. Before during and after the experience, be honest.

I’m bringing 4 kids under 10 and our own inside Dalmatian.Β We were hoping to have just one person stay with our anxious Shi Tzu.

I’ll be out every day from dusk til dawn. Our pets need someone all day, everyday.

Be realistic.

If your house owner says, “Help yourself to whatever you’d like,” they don’t actually mean that you should eat them out of house and home. Sure, have at the pantry…in moderation. Perhaps don’t eat all of their chocolate stash and drink all of their boutique beer or feed yourself for the week on everything they own. If you had to shop and replace it all before you left, would the grocery bill frighten you? Hmmmm.

If you say, “Help yourself to whatever you’d like,” don’t be surprised if you come home to no milk, bread or chocolate. Say it, mean it.

Be prepared for weird.

It doesn’t seem like much to mind someone’s house and maybe pets, does it? And most times, it’s not. But sometimes…..

Last night, the little old terrier I’m hanging out with this week had a bad night. She’s been fine for the rest of the time, but last night she couldn’t sleep for some reason. Her insomnia and dementia had her pacing her garage bedroom, yipping. Loudly. She’d been fed, watered, taken outside for the necessities, but nothing was working.

So, what to do? It’s now 10pm. Let’s try it all again. Is she too warm? Too cold? Needs to go out? Needs to come in? Water, check. Food….bit more, check.

30 minutes later, it hasn’t worked.

So, what else might work?

I’d turn on the light, but she’s blind.

I’d turn on some music or white noise, but she’s deaf, too.

What to do? What to do?

I’m a mum of 4, I’ve got this.

So now it’s a little past 1am and I’m sitting by the dog’s bed, patting her tiny little self as she circles and pads and sniffles and, finally, falls asleep.

They say there are rules for this house sitting business. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some. What do you think? Tell me what I need to know for next time.

Awkward Eating

I’m currently at the other end of the state to where I usually am, visiting my sister and newest niece.


My own children would have liked to come with me, especially the youngest. He adores babies; we (he) often stop prams simply by standing in front of them to talk to ANYBODY’S baby. So to have one of our own is a big deal…and she’s gorgeous!

Tuesday morning on the way to school and daycare, I reminded him that I was going on the plane that evening.

“Can I come, please?”

“Not this time, I’m sorry. It’s pretty expensive to go on the plane and we don’t have that much money. Everyone would have liked to come.”

πŸ€” “Do you have money for YOU to go on the plane?”

“Well, my ticket has been paid and so jowett I have no money. Luckily though, when I get there, Grandma and Aunty will feed me.”

πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ˜• “Do you mean like Aunty feeds the baby?”

πŸ˜²πŸ˜²πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

“No. Maybe a sandwich.”

“I didn’t think it was right but I had to see if it was like that.”

Kids!

πŸ–’πŸ›

Hilarity or Insanity?

Question:

What do the following songs have in common?

  • Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
  • Can’t Fight the Moonlight – Leanne Rimes
  • Crazy – Seal
  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day

Answer:

They were all playing in my psychologist’s waiting room while we waited for appointments.

Now at first glance, this doesn’t seem to be anything noteworthy, however, let’s look at the lyrics whilst considering the context and the apparent aims of therapeutic psychology…

But we’re never gonna survive unless

We get a little crazy

No we’re never gonna survive unless

We are a little

Cray cray crazy

Crazy are the people walking through my head

One of them got a gun to shoot the other one

And yet together they were friends at school.

Under a lovers’ sky 

You can try to resist 

Try to hide from my kiss 

But you know 

But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight 

Deep in the dark 

You’ll surrender your heart 

But you know 

But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight 

No you can’t fight it 

No matter what you do 

The night is gonna get to you 

Guess I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all

It’s a quarter after one, I’m all alone and I need you now

And I said I wouldn’t call but I’m a little drunk and I need you now

And I don’t know how I can do without, I just need you now

I just need you now

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating

Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me

Til then I walk alone.

I’m walking down the line

That divides me somewhere in my mind

On the border line

Of the edge and where I walk alone

Read between the lines

Of what’s f***ed up and everything’s alright

Check my vital signs

To know I’m still alive and I walk alone.

*************************************************************************************************

I’ve got to tell you that I was definitely in an improved mood after laughing at these songs being played in fairly close succession while I waited! πŸ˜‚ I couldn’t help but wonder whether anyone was vetting the music selection.

I’ve chosen one of my favourite “Antidepressant Music” songs to share with you here. It’s called “Just Breathe” by Ze Frank. He created it in response to a Facebook follower who asked him to right a song for days when you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

Ze Frank’s TED Talk is thought provoking and hilarious. You can watch it here.
All the songs mentioned in this post are on a playlist I’ve created here.

In humour,

EskiπŸ›

I’m a person who…

Warning! Truth ahead!

I’m a person who:

*  has a very full life
*  loves doing lots with friends
*  is one of the worst housekeepers I know
*  is a master of the scurryfunge
* has lots of ‘doing’ energy outside of home, but not often ANY at home
*  has discovered she loves watching ‘gross’ medical and dermatological videos on YouTube
*  is learning much more about herself as she heads towards middle age
*  is generally accepting most of it
*  should not be allowed near stationery shops or ebay with $
*  used to buy to feel better
*  is a better talker than listener, but I’m learning
*  loves romance novels
*  doesn’t make the bed
*  is a mass of contradictions
*  knows productinating is a skill
*  has decided to accept depression, but not be a victim to it
*  excels at word games
*  has one of the best relationships with her mum that she knows
*  hasn’t properly cooked a meal at home for years
*  wants my kids to be happy in what they’re doing
*  is scared of missions trips, but going anyway
*  loves recognition for achievements
*  loves all children – mine or not
*  cries
*  loves organising 1 off projects or systems
*  suffers no embarrassment
*  is an advice giver
*  wears long pants because she IS too lazy to shave her legs
*  often realises later that I’m friends with someone who perhaps didn’t seem to like me to begin with. I find it a challenge I think
*  says what I mean
*  will take criticism, but doesn’t always like it
*  is generous
*  dislikes shopping of any kind, immensely
*  gets hurt if people think I’ve done the wrong thing and I haven’t
*  takes responsibility
*  asks lots of questions
*  will avoid blood tests if possible
*  would love to foster care but is afraid of losing or failing those children
*  doesn’t like pork
*  has phases and fads of things (by choice) and people (not by choice)
*  would love you to comment about yourself, or me.

☺🐛

Veritas, Eski

Extreme Do-Over! A fairy story for modern times.

I want to tell you a story. 

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, in an ordinary suburb, a woman – let’s call her Sally.

(Or, to be honest, it is me.)

Anyway, a woman, strategically organised jobs for her family so that everyone was doing their share. She was so considerate that she allowed her family their choice of chores and allocated what was left to herself. Now this woman has never been renowned for her particular abilities in terms of housework. In fact, she reduced her immediate family to hysteria when she landed a Home Ec teaching position. She is possibly one of the least domestic people we know. However, for the short term, the chore sharing went well and everyone was in clean, folded clothing.

A little while ago though, her life filled up more than usual and something had to go. Sighing disappointedly, she removed the self-replicating, rapidly increasing mountain of clean, unfolded clothing from its normal slothful position on the lounge room couch/floor to the hidden confines of her small walk-in wardrobe. What a relief to have this monstrosity invisible to anyone who dropped by. Now she only had to wrestle with it once a day in order to find her outfit. As happens with self-replicating life forms, however, the mountain grew and grew as days passed. Infuriatingly, no housework fairy tiptoed in at night to do it for her. In fact, not even one fairy tale creature crossed her path to offer redemption in exchange for the soul of her first born or her undying affection. Bah, humbug!

More time passed, but the woman knew she would conquer the ever widening pile soon, or die trying. As is often the case in these moral tales, time moves more swiftly that we bargain for and moment is lost. Yesterday, the clouds of the oncoming storm released their deluge upon the home of the poor, unwary woman and her family. (Literally, a pipe from the hot water service blew inside the wall between the laundry and the back of the wardrobe.) For long hours, the storm raged. (Possibly 5 hours til her husband and kids returned home.) The woman’s wardrobe, then (carpeted) bedroom, the hallway, then the (carpeted) bedrooms of the (4) children, the (carpeted) loungeroom and linen press transformed from dry, to damp, to swamp over the space of one afternoon. Upon returning to the dwelling, her longsuffering husband found frogs croaking, dragonflies skimming and a mountain of once-clean washing, steaming in the (carpeted) estuary (2 inches deep) that had been their wardrobe.

In a valiant attempt to stop further damage, said husband attacked the source with gusto. (He turned off the water.) He and the children, frustrated with the limited capacity of their mop, thought laterally and used the already wet washing (towels and quilts first, then everything down to undies) to soak up as much of the excess water as they could. It must be noted that on its travels the water had surged and back washed through the cat litter tray and so these once-clean items were now pungent and aromatic. What a delightful scene greeted the woman when she returned from inspiring the minds of the future. A tired family and a gruff wizard in plumbing kit were still at work determining the source of this evil. Holes were blasted in walls until the copper culprit admitted its guilt. (A 2 millimetre wear in a weld.) Captured and replaced with a sturdier guard, the culprit was wrapped for The Insurer’s inspection and the family once agin bent their backs to shift sodden, smelly piles of washing to the relative safety of the cork floor in the dining room. 

Fearing for their safety, and comfortable sleep, the husband manhandled (cause he’s a man) the thankfully dry mattress to the outside room and they, their youngest child, a couple of cats and an attention seeking dog attempted to sleep whilst still listening out for The Insurer’s promised vacuum wielding water diviner. Who promptly arrived at 10 the next morning while they were out. 

The woman long (3.5 hours) regretted her laziness as she slaved over huge, costly ($85 total), roasting machinery (laundromat). What had once seemed a fine plan now tortured her day off and her slim purse. She knew that laziness was not the answer. When she arrived home she found herself and her family surrounded by towering fluorescent orange dehumidifiers and fans with such gusting power they bellowed throug the hallway like an engine of a jumbo jet. Ah, the peace; the tranquility; the sarcasm!

The woman’s patience was tested further with a call to The Insurer who requested that she provide evidence of ownership of her 10 year old bed frame, two spare mattresses, numerous secondhand bookcases and desks and a, now structurally questionable, MDF toddler bed in the likeness of a well-known, blue, British steam locomotive. 

So, although this vicious attack of liquid was not the woman’s fault, she felt sorely tried by its ramifications. And the washing mountain? I hear you ask. Clean, dry, partially folded and safe.
And still in the back of the car.

Absolute verity,

Eski Caterpillar πŸ’¦