4 Dec 2017
24 Jun 2017
I wonder what you know about New South Wales' fifth Governor, Lachlan Macquarie. If you're like most Aussies, you'll recognise his name because of the things named after him - Canberra's suburb of Macquarie and Lachlan Street, Sydney's Macquarie Street and Macquarie Place and Hobart's Macquarie Street, Macquarie Island south of Tasmania, Lake Macquarie on the NSW coast, the Macquarie River in NSW and the Macquarie River in Tasmania, Port Macquarie, and the Lachlan River to name a few. Maybe you've sat it Mrs Macquarie's Chair, overlooking Bennelong Point and the Sydney Opera House. The inscription on his tomb on Mull in Scotland names him "The Father of Australia" and yet we know longer know who he is. Should we?
Arriving in Australia in 1810, Macquarie took up the position of Governor vacated by William Bligh who had been deposed by the military during the 1808 Rum Rebellion (remember that?). From the beginning Macquarie saw the colony as both a settlement as well as a penal colony. "This country," he wrote, "should be made the happy home of every emancipated convict who deserves it." He was frustrated by what he referred to as 'the party spirit' - the class divisions and factional fighting that were so rife in the colony. "Free settler in general...are by far the most contented persons in the colony," he wrote to the colonial office in England.
Macquarie believed that the solution to the convict problem was to put them to work. During his 12 years as Governor Macquarie was responsible for over 250 new buildings, including churches, schools and hospitals. He built roads and tidied up the design of Sydney's streets. He built Sydney into a city as fine as any in the world. But England was not keen that Sydney become too attractive. New South Wales was meant as a place of punishment and they worried that people might actually commit crimes in order to be transported!
Macquarie produced the first official currency for the new colony. He authorised exploration of the 'west' beyond the Blue Mountain where well watered grassland and forests were discovered. It was Macquarie who ordered all traffic on New South Wales roads to keep left. He encouraged the creation of the colony's first bank. He drew up plans for Castlereigh, Pitt Town, Richmond, Wilberforce and Windsor.
The Startling Story of Lachlan Macquarie - Founding Father of Failure by Michael Sedunary and illustrated by Bern Emmerichs goes some way towards introducing Australian kids to the unfairly forgotten Governor Macquarie. It's an oddly sophisticated book, and I am not quite sure who its written for. It is aimed at kids of 10-12, but I suspect that without some prior history knowledge the story would go over the heads of most of them. It's a long book using complex language and discussing deep questions, and I suspect that most kids would lose interest long before the end. That said, it is wonderful for use as part of a study of Australian History. It is well balanced, discussing Macquarie's considerable accomplishments with his many less than stellar decisions. It covers Macquarie's treatment of the Aborigines in a way that is sensitive to our native Australians but without falling into the trap of revising history inappropriately with the wisdom of hindsight and putting our modern worldview onto past events.
23 Jun 2017
My dear friend, Ruby, was buried today. She had a strong faith in our gracious and merciful God and I know she was ready to be with her heavenly Father, but I can't quite believe she has gone.
It is entirely possibly that many of you might know Ruby too, because when I blogged more regularly Ruby was one of a special group of close friends - a coterie that included Ganeida, Sarah, Rosemary, Mel, Erin, Therese, Jo, Rebecca and maybe you, too. It is these girls who have kept me blogging at least sporadically over the lean years, who have prevented me closing down the blog completely because I needed a way of staying in touch and I need to know that they're still out there somewhere and caring about me the way I still care about them.
And now Ruby has gone. And I feel bereft.
I can't remember when we both got to know each other, but it was some time in 2008. We quickly became close friends and discovered that we shared much in common - we both homeschooled, we both blogged. We attended Reformed Presbyterian churches of almost the same denomination. We both loved our families dearly and we both shared a love of the English language and word play. We both had a dry wit that could, and did, get us into trouble. We talked about deep things and we knew each other's secrets. I considered it a privilege to be included in Ruby's prayer group and we prayed regularly for each other's families.
Ruby was much more willing to share her faith than I am and I envied her knowledge of God's word and her assurance. She was wiser than I am, too, and encouraged me to justify my decisions in light of the Gospel, which often made me worried that she found me shallow. She was always encouraging and she never wavered in her beliefs. She inspired me greatly and I so appreciated her down-to-earth wisdom and gentle mentorship.
At their end of 2010 Ruby flew to Melbourne with her two teenaged sons to spend a week with us in our peaceful home. It was the first time she and her sons had travelled out of Queensland and they had a long list of sights to see and things to do. My, we fitted so much into that week! You can see a little bit of what we got up to in the photos here, but what you can't see it how much our friendship grew as we spent time together. She was every bit as wonderful in real life as she was online and we spent hours talking and laughing and joking and just doing what friends do.
My friendship with Ruby was as strong and true as the friendships I have with my local friends - possibly even closer because we got to know each other through our shared interests, not through random circumstance. Even though we haven't been in touch in recent years as much as in those early days - Ruby's much loved children and grandchildren took much of her time and other interests took over mine - I still considered her a very special friend and I have spent this past week since her death, and especially this day of her funeral, thinking about her and praying for her husband and children almost constantly. She will be so missed.
To those of you who I met online and know only in my computer, I thank you for your loyal friendship. I thank you for reading here and leaving nice comments and encouraging me to continue blogging. Your friendship is no less real because we don't see each other every day, and I just want to tell you all that now, before its too late. Because thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
Hugs to you all, my lovelies.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
21 Apr 2017
I'm a big believer in commemorating Anzac Day and remembering those who fought so we might be free. I'm also a great fan of our National bard, Banjo Paterson, and of the illustrations of Mark Wilson. Put them all together and you're going to have a pretty special book.
We're All Australians Now was published in 2015 but I only discovered it the other day in my local Australia Post store. Have a look and see if yours has a copy too. It was $9.99.
When Australians went to war in 1914, Australia had been a nation for all of 13 minutes. Well years, really, but it's still a really short time to forge a national identity, isn't it? The brave men and women who fought together in WWI as Australians played a great part in defining us as a people, as a country, as Aussies. By 1915, we had already suffered through Gallipoli when Banjo Paterson penned an open letter to Australian troops there at The Dardanelles , a poem entitled We're All Australians Now.
The book is Mark Wilson's beautifully illustrated rendering of that poem.
Here's a copy of the poem if you really can't find the book, but do try. As I say, it's pretty special. It's times like this that I remember that living books really are still being published. And that's a really good thing.
We're All Australians Now'
Australia takes her pen in hand
To write a line to you,
To let you fellows understand
How proud we are of you.
From shearing shed and cattle run,
From Broome to Hobson's Bay,
Each native-born Australian son
Stands straighter up today.
The man who used to "hump his drum",
On far-out Queensland runs
Is fighting side by side with some
Tasmanian farmer's sons.
The fisher-boys dropped sail and oar
To grimly stand the test,
Along that storm-swept Turkish shore,
With miners from the west.
The old state jealousies of yore
Are dead as Pharaoh's sow,
We're not State children any more —
We're all Australians now!
Our six-starred flag that used to fly
Half-shyly to the breeze,
Unknown where older nations ply
Their trade on foreign seas,
Flies out to meet the morning blue
With Vict'ry at the prow;
For that's the flag the Sydney flew,
The wide seas know it now!
The mettle that a race can show
Is proved with shot and steel,
And now we know what nations know
And feel what nations feel.
The honoured graves beneath the crest
Of Gaba Tepe hill
May hold our bravest and our best,
But we have brave men still.
With all our petty quarrels done,
We have, through what you boys have done,
A history of our own.
Our old world diff'rences are dead,
Like weeds beneath the plough,
For English, Scotch, and Irish-bred,
They're all Australians now!
So now we'll toast the Third Brigade
That led Australia's van,
For never shall their glory fade
In minds Australian.
Fight on, fight on, unflinchingly,
Till right and justice reign.
Fight on, fight on, till Victory
Shall send you home again.
And with Australia's flag shall fly
A spray of wattle-bough
To symbolise our unity —
We're all Australians now.
Here's Wallis and Matilda's version set to music. It's pretty special, too.
26 Dec 2016
...on Boxing Day.
:: Get outside and play games in the fresh air.
:: Drink glögg.
:: Sing a carol.
:: Eat mince pies.
:: Walk along the beach.
:: Discuss life, the universe and everything with your family.
:: Read your Christmas presents.
:: Spend time alone.
:: Watch the candles flicker.
:: Write a letter to a friend.
:: Watch Love Actually with your significant other.
:: Start a jigsaw.
:: Eat cherries.
:: Bake gingerbread men.
:: Phone a friend.
:: Enjoy the simple things.
3 Dec 2016
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do…So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.
Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland
She might be almost as tall as me, but I'm so glad that she's not too old for making daisy chains. It's one of those simple, peaceful things, isn't it, and I'm thankful that amongst the busyness of Christmas she had time today to have nothing to do.
Why don't you sit outside today for a bit and make a daisy chain, too?
1 Dec 2016
Hello, my darlings! It's the first of December. I guess you knew I couldn't stay away for the whole of my favourite month, didn't you, and here I am inspired to write to you on the very first day. Wow! So how are you all? Well and happy? We are, and I do hope you are too. It's been so long since I've written that Blogsy didn't recognise me and I had to register all over again. Now I can't find the photos that I've only just taken of our Christmas decorations to show you, so I think I'd best write now and worry about that later in case the inspiration leaves me and the post won't get written at all.
Is your tree up? Ours is, even though it's only the first day of December today. A few years back we decided that putting up the tree on a weeknight was too stressful for words, so now we do it the weekend before. Much better. We trimmed our tree on Sunday night, with much laughter, glögg and shortbread, and The Snowman on the telly. It's gotta be The Snowman while you trim the tree.
Jemimah is at rehearsals for her dance concert at the moment. In December she's almost always at dance, but she loves it, and she has good friends there, so all's good. She's 15 in February - can you believe that? Do you remember how young she was when I first started writing here? Now she's almost as tall as me. I still have a few centimetres on her, but not for very much longer, I fear. She's a lovely young lady, and I enjoy her company very much. AO10 next year. How can that be when she was only in kindergarten last week?
We started our Christmas read alouds today. I posted them on Facebook for you to see. I love doing my picture book advent countdown over there each year. I have some lovely books lined up for this year, and even have a few blog posts planned to tell you about them, so we'll see how that goes. I especially want to share my very favourite super special books, so I'll try to get that post up at the very least. I haven't started my 'book for mum' yet. I have my book club breakup next Tuesday, and I still need to read that book, so I'm trying to be good and sensible. What are you reading this December? Any ideas for me? I've picked up Jeanette Winterson's new book, Christmas Days, and it looks beautiful, filled with stories and recipes - yes, recipes - for mince pies and trifle and red cabbage and mulled wine and other perfect Christmas food. Did you know that Jeannette Winterson has a Christmas Eve ritual that includes champagne? Champagne AND smoked salmon? She even gives her favourite French champagne choices. I just knew we were kindred spirits. There are twelve stories here, so I was thinking of saving this for the 12 days of Christmas, but I'm not sure I can wait that long. Besides, I might need to try that trifle. And some champagne, of course.
We are almost halfway through our long summer holiday this week, and I don't feel organised about AO10 at all. I need to order the books at least, so that they arrive before the start of term. I've got lazy over the years. Long gone are the days when I planned years in advance. Poor child deserves better from her teacher than this. It's amazing how it all seems to fit together, though, in the end. I love the books she'll be reading next year. I hope she does too.
Okay, I'm going to stop now so I can sort out how to upload these photos and resize them so they fit between the columns. Hopefully I'll be back in a day or so with some booklists. If not, feel free to give me a nudge. It's been so nice chatting to you all. Let's just imagine for a moment that I'm standing under the mistletoe in our hallway waiting to give you a kiss.