Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Sweet Sixteen - A Boys Story

On Thursday 28th, my only child, Tom, turns 16.  He's ever so excited to be reaching this milestone.  In his mind, he's now a man and able to learn to drive, surely the definitive benchmark of independence for any teenager.  Never mind that he has to do the first 120 hrs with Mum or Dad beside him.   He'd better hurry up and study the online tests or he wont be driving anywhere.   

Its a crazy age for boys.  They have all these hormones running around and they are unsure of how to deal with urges that make them want to beat their chest and go out a kill a mammoth but at the same time still need reassurance and nurturing from Mum and Dad. 

All this confusion is coloured in my son because he has Asperger's Syndrome  This just means that he has to try harder to fit in with 'normal'  behaviour (what ever that is) and has difficulties understanding social cues, body language, eye contact and written work. Tom prefers to be at home where he is comfortable and safe.  He has a really good friend that has stood by him since creche to whom he is very loyal.  No wandering the streets or staying out in unknown places for Tom.  I am always going to know where this kid is because he is going to tell me, often, or he's going to ask me to go with him. 

All Aspie's have an obsession, a singular interest in one thing which is why many of them are very  successful in their field eg.  Bill Gates, Andy Warhol, Einstein.   Tom's specialty is military.  I'm not sure where this interest is going to take him.  He has big plans to join the army and fly helicopters next year, Gulp! He might want to try spending the night somewhere else first. I don't envy his history teacher this year when they study military history.   If the teacher asked the class an open question he better be prepared for a lecture in minute detail on everything from where, when, who, how right down to the color of the buttons on their uniforms. 

Tom prefers to watch engineering programs, Mythbusters, and Top Gear and YES, he is a very big and committed military gamer.  He tells me that inside the games he is not Tom and he is by all accounts very very good.   Its amazing to see a boy that struggles socially in real life put a headset on and start commanding troops (of other online gamers from around the world) through a strategic battles using all the military jargon and codes and be totally in control.  It’s surreal
Junior Rifle Club

Tom is working part time at Hungry Jacks (Burger King) for 12-14 hrs a week after school and on weekends.  His motivation is purchasing military games, DVD's and consoles and at the moment i am greatful that he is able to finance his own interests.  His Manager tells me that he is a good trainer and he is very detailed in his guidance of new staff.   I am very proud of him for going outside his comfort zone and making an effort.

Tom loves his dog, Peppy, and has a special relationship with his Dad, also an Aspie.  They understand each other which is more than i can say, but i try.  They have their own special brand of humour and laugh riotously often.

Iron Man Dad

Tom and his dog, Peppy

The Boys
I sometimes cant tell the difference between them.  Obviously its not all beer and skittles but therapy, medication and a lot of love, goes a long way. 

First Day of School - its a mother's right to embarrass their son on their 16th!
Tom in full Aussie national costume.

I'm posting today because he wants his friend and his family to come over for fish and chips on Thursday.  Saturday he has a couple of kids coming over for gaming.  This is what he has asked for.  That and a coffee machine. Huh!  What 16 year old boy wants a coffee machine.  Not complaining, I'm sure I'll score some occasionally and its use will be monitored.

So in closing what can i say to my funny, loud, interesting & clever young man who will be sweet 16.  He's just gone to bed giving me a kiss and telling me he loves me, so tonight its all good.

Happy 16th Birthday Tom 

Love Mum XXX

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Monday, 25 February 2013

The Joy of Handwritten Letters in an Electronic Age

That's right, handwritten.  I think the most hand writing that any of us receive these days is in a greeting card.  Many times, the card in itself is part of the gift, not because it cost almost as much as the gift but because someone stood there and went through the myriad of choices on display and chose one especially for you.  If you are really lucky they might even have had the time and skill to make one.  They then sat down and wrote a message, just to you. 

Is it just people of a certain age who feel this way?  I've watched so many cards just put aside carelessly by younger people in favour of going straight for the present.  That is unless the present is inside the card in the form of a gift card. 

All this sounds strange coming from someone who has newly discovered the joy of sitting down at a computer and writing a blog.  For me the biggest thrill is when someone responds.  Its like i made a connection.  It could be a good one or a bad one, but i reached out and connected with someone and they responded.  I often reflect on comments because i get to see my views and opinions from anothers perspective.   I hope I'm not only sharing with others the joy of Living in The Land Of Oz but also making a connection with myself, clarifying my thoughts and sometimes just clearing the cobwebs.

For me the biggest gift of all is to know that someone, somewhere took the time to sit down and put pen to paper and write to me.  It takes time, and effort not only to write but to then go out of their way to buy a stamp and then post it.  What bigger commitment can there be to say "Hey, I'm thinking about you."  Pretty special isn't it.  No text, no tweet, no email but a hand written letter. 

Coming home to find an envelope addressed to ME that doesn't have a plastic window is a thrill.  One where i know the sender before i even opened it from the familiarity of the writing.   So who sends me these special gifts?  My big sister.

This sister (i have three) is very private, and she wouldn't like it if i posted a photo or mentioned her name.  Nor would she like me even mentioning her full stop.   So i will just say that i love her dearly and that she is a wonderful sister, mother, daughter, friend, work colleague ......  and is loved and respected by all (though she wont believe it).

So what does she write about.  Things about her everyday life.  Where she is writing the letter so i can imagine her there, things that have happened or are happening in my family that I might not have been told.   My 83 year old mother often thinks she has told me things but hasn't. I think she's allowed a little grace given her age and having six kids to keep up with.   My sister tells me what's going on in my home town so that i feel connected.   Sometimes its just about the weather.  It doesn't really matter about the content.  She doesn't use fancy paper as that's not her way.  Often she is sitting in the back yard balancing a pad on her knee and so its often not neat but who care, she is thinking of me             

sending her love and for that i say thank you.

Is anyone writing to you?

Thank you for visiting Living In The Land of Oz


Friday, 22 February 2013

Im Guilty !!!

Have I hooked you?  Are you all wondering what I've done that's SO BAD that i should feel guilty.  What is it about someones downfall that seems so attractive we just have to know?
Dreaming up the post titles, i feel like a newspaper editor.  What title can i come up with that will hook the reader and make them want to read the latest news, or article.  Is there a picture that i can put that will draw you in?  Did it work?  Do you do this too?

I digress, or is it that i deflect you away from my original thought and that is that I AM GUILTY.

What is guilt? I've spent quite a bit of time on this word and that other word - Shame.  What's the difference between these two emotional responses?


Focus - who i am
Source - damaged heart
Target - My identity
Perception - something is wrong with me, i am a mistake, i am worthless


Focus - what i did
Source - moral awareness
Target - behaviour, choices
Perception - I did a wrong thing, I made a mistake.

So which one am i feeling right now.  Probably a little of both.  What do i do now? 

Well all the best books tell me that is should just acknowledge to myself, and if necessary others (so this is what i am doing now) my behaviour or choice that i made that 'I' think is wrong and also to acknowledge that I'm not a bad person because i made that bad choice (in my opinion).


OK, so here it is - I use packet mixes!!!!! 

There it is, its out there.  Sometimes its cake mixes and some times it spice blends in sauces and other times it plain old ready made.

PHEW!  I do feel strangely relieved !  

I read all these blogs from so many wonderful and capable women and men that are spinning their own fibres, home baking bread and making pasta and cheese, grinding their own flour, creating their own energy and articulating their thoughts into interesting posts.  They are doing it ALL and looking good while they do it (no doubt).  Oh and don't forget that they are all budding photographers capable of making the most mundane of tasks look so attractive and the latest craze.  I mean no disrespect, im envious.

At this point I should say that NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY OR HAVE SHAME except yourself.  You alone control your feelings and emotions and how you respond to things.  

I feel guilty (because i allow myself to) for the short cuts i have to take to get it all done.   I know that a certain blogger (Rhonda) would say to give myself a break and that this is just a stage and that perhaps at another time in my life ill be able to live life the way that feels true to me.  She's such a wise woman.  

So what was my most recent crime that I'm feeling guilt over but also a certain amount of smugness? 

Here Tis...

I got home from work about 6pm last night and was expecting a guest for dinner in 30 minutes.  Lucky for me and totally unplanned (since we had only made arrangements during the day) I had pulled about 8 chicken drumsticks (bought from wholesaler at $3/kg) out of the freezer the night before.  At 7am I quickly browned the legs and threw them into slow cooker.  I grabbed my guilt ridden packet mix of butter chicken sauce, mixed it with a can of coconut cream (am I suppose to make that too?),  put it on the slow setting for the next 6 hours and then went to work thinking id use them over the weekend sometime.   So when I got home, I boiled a kettle (to cut down time) put on some rice and while that was cooking I took one of my own zucchinis from the garden (massive) made big cubes and gently fried them golden.   Think, Think Think...   all that is a bit mushy so for texture I grabbed down some peanuts and put them under a rolling pin.    The result was sensational, if I do say so myself and I can’t show you a photo because it hit the table and was gone in a moment.  I presented it in a white deep quiche dish inside a silver stand with the rice on the bottom, the lovely falling apart chicken in a thick smooth rich spicy sauce next, then the cubed zucchini with peanuts sprinkled on top and a fresh garden salad on the side.  

So here comes the guilt part.  When you are asked "did you make all this?" What do you say? Yes?  Did I? Not technically.  I didn’t get out a hundred and one spices and a mortar and pestle and blend it all up to a paste and cook it off and then make a butter sauce.  The lovely people at Passage Foods did that.  So yes, I confessed to using a packet mix sauce with some extras and guess what?  No lightening bolt came down from the Goddess of Domesticity (not even Nigella) and hit me on the head and my guest didn’t look aghast that I would do such a thing.  All she said was Yum!  

PS - The leftovers tasted even better for lunch the next day.   

PS.  One day ill show you what i can do to a packet mix cake.   I only do this when pushed for a dozen cakes at a time (which i have been known to do) and only with a lot of guilt.  

Thank you for visiting Living In The Land of Oz


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Veggie Patch - A Sea of Green

This busy ant is tending my celery
I came home tonight and found that my husband had mowed the backyard and done the edges, so i couldn't help but take some pics of the veggie patch.   Its was about 8pm.  Everything is so green and looking so healthy. 

There is certainly an abundance of edibles and i think I'm going to be looking for some celery recipes shortly.  Time to wrap them in black plastic to blanch the stems to keep them white and sweet.  Don't think i know what i am doing, i just read about it.

The green green grass of home - i cant bring myself to kill it but its sucking the moisture from my beds.

I know i can grow spinach well but nobody wants to eat it except the bugs - it looks pretty though. 

Chard hiding in among the zucchini plant. 
This zucchini plant was a freebie from Bunnings and it just keeps on giving.  I'm grateful for the free meals I've had off this plant but it doesn't come close to what Ive put into Bunning's coffers.  I need shares. 

Lots of tomato bushes still growing

Lots just waiting to ripen

I know its late but my corn is still young - thanks Ella for seeds

My next crop of iceberg lettuces - hoping the birds scare the bugs away!

What am i going to do with all these chillies?

Capsicums just starting to come through - note the asylum border in front (companion plant)

Can you see ladies from Shoestring - i did listen during the permaculture course about companion planting to deter bugs.  Ive got it all going on but there are always those that are resistant.  I'm loving Eco-oil which Gavin from Greening of Gavin put me onto. 

OK, i can tell you are getting bored now and I'm only amusing myself, so I'll finish up by saying that my veggie patch is giving me lots of pleasure - especially now that the hard work is done.   I cant say that I'm really using it to its best advantage, it probably a little too ornamental but it is so lovely.   I think i need to start preserving some of the herbs as they are all going to seed and on that score, maybe collecting a few of those seeds for next season. 

Oh, to thank hubby for his work and for letting me grab a nap (a bit longer than i intended) when i walked in the door, he gets a bowl of pasta with homemade sauce (better late than never - 9pm).  I have about 4L of bolonaise meat sauce cooked for 6 hrs in a slow cooker and then placed in plastic tubs in the freezer.  Within 10 minutes i can have a fresh homemade meal on the table - who needs take away. 

Thank you for visiting Living In The Land of Oz.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Belshazzar the Majestic

Doesn't he look majestic.  The King overseeing all in his dominion and welcoming the day.  He's  waking the neighbours, as if it was his right.   Well perhaps, like his namesake ( he saw the writing on the wall because life for Belshazzar is not as it seems.

I think he probably should have been called Napoleon for this proud and mighty rooster definitely has a big case (excuse the pun) of 'short man's disease'.

Don't Laugh - he cant help it

He is beautiful but he has a definite arrogance about him.  I'm not sure if its his breed (???) or the strange distance he has between his legs but, oh my, does he strut.  Its very comical considering his size in relation to the girls.  Even the petite ladies (the silkies and other bantams) are bigger than him.   He makes up for it in bad behaviour and even has his owner, a lover of all animals (especially chooks) offside.      

Today Ella sent me a photo of a visitor to her garden with concerns that it might be after the chooks.

A Hawk
 My first thought (which i quickly emailed off) was "Don't Do It".  I had visions of her running out, grabbing Belshazzar and holding him up as an offering in order to protect the others.   Seriously, he doesn't have too many friends. 

I can't claim ownership but he does have me in stitches when i visit my friends (Ella, Rob and Fi) in Lara.  They are fortunate to have a very large rear garden that includes a  fenced yard for the girls (and Belshazzar) to free range as well as a protected internal yard & coop.  There are plenty of veggie scraps from the garden and stale bread from the bakery to supplement their diet of worms, caterpillars (unfortunately for Ella their steady diet at the moment) and other bugs.   I think they are living in chook heaven and are very much loved pets as well as compost manufacturers and providers of eggs with yolks so so yellow.

I've sat on this bench and had the odd cuddle
I love the girls and hope to one day incorporate a coop and run in my own backyard.  I live right in the "burbs", unlike some lucky ducks, and have 5 neighbours.  Lucky for me two of the three that might possibly be affected by my having chooks have put their hand out for eggs, so I think I'm covered.  I probably can only manage two large chooks for eggs (Isa Browns) and two silkies, which my husband calls little punk rockers, for amusement.  Its all still in the planning stage and those who have read my previous posts or who know me should be aware that this is a long long process and i will have researched the subject to death and drawn up many designs (I'm up to version 3 already) before i ever put a shovel in the soil.   I'm off to a course run by Shoestring Gardening shortly to learn more about building a coop.

Tina - a Silkie Bantam

My favourite Girl - Pip - she's tiny and looks like she has no legs when she walks

All the above photos were taken by Ella - lovely, clear and well composed - thank you.

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Monday, 18 February 2013

From Miss M to Mrs - A Wedding

You know you are getting old when the children start getting married.   The Marvellous Miss M is not my daughter, though she will tell others I'm her second Mum and i think of her as the daughter i didn't have. Her Mum is my bestie and I've known the children since they shared creche with my son, aged 2.  B Boy, is my son's best friend. Given that i am isolated geographically from my Mum and siblings, their family has become my own and we move freely from house to house.   At times i play the role of the naughty aunt that gets told all the juicy bits and all the things parents don't hear about.  Its an honoured place that i treasure.   I'm able to dish out advice and discuss the subjects that parent couldn't possibly know anything about (even though I'm one myself).  

Anyway, on Saturday I was an honoured guest at the marriage of Miss M to her beloved, Nick.  Yes, she is young, but they are in love and with the blessing of family and friends this love is now recognised officially and they can start their life together.  Not everyone gets to have it so good. 

My honorary daughter - Marvellous Miss M

A beautiful Dress

Pre Wedding in Back Yard

It was a small affair as the registry only allowed 8 guests (like i said, i was honoured) and it was a beautiful ceremony.  It was held in the City of Melbourne in a historic building known as The Old Treasury Building (built 1862).   Its now a museum but houses the Registry also. 

We were shown to a separate room which was decorated in line with the age of the building with seating and a desk for signing. A lovely lady celebrant performed the service and we we were given plenty of time and privacy afterwards for celebratory hugs, tears, photos, tears, hugs (did i say tears, Bestie!!!).

The Ceremony

The Happy Family

Grandma's Blessing
Later we crossed the road for more photos in front of one of the many city fountains with the historic Windsor Hotel in the background.    I had volunteered my car as a wedding car and so it had been polished to a midnight black sparkle (thanks hubby) with a white ribbon across the bonnet.  I got to escort first the bride and her father there and then return home with the bride and groom, lucky me.

The reception was a small affair with just us at home.  The table had been decorated with sparkling glassware and cutlery on white tablecloths, arrangements of flowers and bright pink napkins.  There were tearful speeches from Mum, Dad and Grandma and lots of yummy food.  Best of all there was plenty of love and support in the room for the newly wedded couple.   I could say that poor Nick is from overseas and that he had no family present but he has already been welcomed into the family home and so he did have his new family with him.  

A Continental Cake

Kudos go the my Bestie and her husband for giving their daughter their love and support no matter what.  They even gave them a couple of nights away as a honeymoon in Aireys Inlet on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria.  Nick went swimming in the ocean for the first time and loved the location.   Did i say he was from Persia. 

Aireys Inlet, Victoria
Wishing you both years of happiness together, much love, Lynda. XXX

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