Friday, November 28, 2008

Signs and symbols

Last week when I was walking across the road to our city Christian bookshop with a box of books beneath each arm, a gorgeous white dove strutted right in front of me. And when I'd dropped them off and left, another lady was leaving too and she said, "Look at that, don't you think we could take him as some sort of sign?" And I'd love to think that's true, because I love receiving unexpected little gifts from above like that. The white dove has always been a symbol for the Holy Spirit and for peace. So I'd love to think he was God's way of telling me that everything with the books and my family is going to go fine and I can relax and be at peace about it all. After all, I've been to that store many, many times and never seen a white dove before.

When I got home and mentioned it to my husband, I asked, "Do you think he could have been a sign?" and he replied, "Yeah, a sign that someone's car might get bird poop over it." But knowing him as well as I do, that's the sort of reply I expected from him.

Years ago, in May 1994, I was driving with my sister, her husband and their 2 little boys when I noticed that 3 large, fluffy clouds in the sky were shaped like letters and spelled the word SON as clearly as any writing I'd ever seen. They were all the same size, perfectly white and even and perfectly spaced. I pointed it out to the others and we all oohed and aahed over it. Then, the following morning I discovered that I was pregnant! I'd genuinely had no idea the day before. I had no children at the time but had suffered a couple of early miscarriages, so I was sensitive, frightened about the whole thing. That word in the sky helped me through those dodgy early stages and in February 1995, my first baby was born and he was a son.

I think signs are like this. They don't necessarily occur when you're looking out for them but come out of the blue to spur us on and remind us that we really are inscribed on the palm of God's hand and He hasn't forgotten our circumstances.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A bit snowed-under

I've been pretty flat-out and exhausted all last week. I've been busy with a number of different tasks and at the same time, have been having this vertigo, light-headed type of thing. If I look up from the computer fast, or turn my head quickly, things begin to swim. It's led to a panic-attack sort of situation where I start feeling really spaced out when I have to get out and talk to people. I've just started tipping a bit of olive oil into my ears in case it's all ear related.

Anyway, let me give you a sample of a day last week to show what things have been like. I woke up one morning and remembered that I had a few boxes of books to get ready for freight and a couple of parcels to post. I figured out that I should have that done by about 10.30. But as soon as I started I realised that we had no packing tape so dd and I drove into the shops to get some. Then back home, I started writing the addresses on the boxes with my black marker, just to find that it was running out of ink. There was nothing for it but to get back in the car, to go back to the shops for another one. And this time we thought of other things we needed, such as dish detergent.

By the time I'd got everything together and looked up the addresses I needed from the computer, the telephone rang and it was a lady who'd been given my number and wanted to ask about homeschooling. As she has 3 little ones who she's just on the verge of removing from their school, I was happy to chat, but it lasted for about half an hour, as these talks sometimes do. After the call, I found I had to pause to do a few home-related, tidying up sort of chores. But I got to the Post Office with the parcels as quickly as I could. While I waited in line I glanced up at the clock and saw that it was almost 3.00. I found that quite depressing. There are only a certain number of days allotted to each of us and I hate the thought of frittering them away and not getting as much done as I'd hoped.

While talking it over later with dh, he said that he thinks it always takes longer to do simple tasks when you're working from home. But the depressing thing is that all that days (and others like it) I felt as if I was rushing like the wind.

Reminds me of a day on a holiday to Mount Gambier, when I briefly left Andrew and the kids to hike up from our caravan park for a glance at the Blue Lake. And when I did, the ripping, cobalt blue expanse appeared so serene and shimmering, I realised that I'd been rushed off my feet without even knowing it. The Lake was an example of God's time while I was trying to live an accelerated life and that was on holiday. How many times does that happen to us? We have cortisol and adrenaline and who knows how many other stress hormones surging through us, but we call it every day life. I guess the theme of this catch-up post is that I want to learn to pace myself to use God's time instead of the accelerated time that seems so normal but wears me down so much.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"The Risky Way Home" is now available

We've had a busy week, with Emma's birthday and then the brand new books being delivered here the following day. Andrew's been busy getting our website set up for easy purchasing. He found he could no longer use the old web programme he used to use, because it only runs on Windows XP instead of Vista, which we now have. But he found another programme which allows Pay Pal to be set up.

It isn't quite as handy as the first programme we had, because it only allows us to use either Australian or US currency but not both. To my way of thinking, that's an annoying limitation, but he carefully figured out the currency differences to let our international customers know approximately how much they'll be spending. It turned out to be a bit of a headache but I really wanted to get it up and running and make it easy for everyone.

So to all my great international blogging buddies who would like one, when you purchase the book via Pay Pal on our website, it'll still automatically convert your currency to Aussie dollars as it did before. You get into it via my web site on the toolbar as you did before. And you'll see the page for international customers right down the bottom. We'll be here ready to get books in the post straight away, as always. And I know I've left enough time to get them across in time for Christmas. For those readers of this blog who don't know, this is a contemporary romance/suspense for women readers. Please refer to my website for more details.

Blessings to everyone,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Emma's Birthday

Emma turned 10 on Tuesday. She'd been looking forward to her birthday for weeks and weeks. It a fun age because it seems such a transition between little girl and pre-adolescent/young lady. The range of gifts she requested shows this as much as anything. The pair of singing Barbie dolls from "Barbie and the Diamond Castle" was on her list along with a hair straightener.

In the end, we didn't get her Alexa and Liana, the Barbie dolls because they're $48 dollars each. Paying $96 for two Barbies is something we couldn't bring ourselves to do. We did give her the hair straightener along with a DVD of her favourite movie, "Enchanted", a painting game for her Nintendo DS and a couple of T-shirts. Logan bought her a Beanie kids and she got plenty of cash given to her by relatives.
We took her ice-skating in the day. It was a very hot day up in the high 30s, so it was nice to be in the ice rink. I hadn't been skating myself so it was good to discover my skating legs again. Although I try to do a lot of walking to keep fit, I think it's a great thing to try other exercises from time to time, to use other muscles. Swimming at the beach is good, and ice-skating is definitely a good work-out for the legs. You can do several laps of the rink without getting puffed out, but at the end your legs ache as if they've run a marathon. We had the whole rink to ourselves for most of the time, as the school term hasn't finished yet.

Now for a quick update on those guinea pigs. Andrew did finally end up making a new hutch. We got those two introduced to each other with a sheet of chicken wire between separate little compartments. They started off by rubbing noses, and now they run around together on the grass down the bottom and seem to get along famously. Bamboo, the big fellow, did try to establish ground rules by making a chirruping noise deep in his chest which we discovered to be an establishing of who is boss. I'm pleased and surprised by how reasonably quickly they've taken to each other.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Who are our senior citizens, anyway?

I was thinking what treasures the older generation are. In the matter of just another decade or so, most of them will have passed away and that will be the end of the pre-computer generation. That's actually a a scary thought. As far as I can remember my parents have always been pretty much the same but sometimes gems from their past come up.

My Dad, who was born in 1932, can remember when he had to wear a little medallion with his blood type on it around his neck, when he was a schoolboy. And he can remember being frightened and having nightmares that Hitler was going come and march his Nazi army down the city streets of Adelaide. He can remember street peddlers selling rabbits (to cook), blocks of ice, and pots and pans.

A few weeks ago we found a few photos of my Mum at her 21st birthday. The year was 1957 and she looked like one of the girls from "Happy Days." (OK, now I guess the younger generation would say that I'm showing my age too. "What's 'Happy Days'?") She can remember having to save ration tickets for the most basic grocery items when she was a girl. And one of her favourite afternoon snacks was bread and dripping. My Nanna used to scrape the cold old fat from the bottom of the frying pan and save it to spread on sandwiches. Mum says that sometimes there were mouse footprints on it but Nanna would simply skim the top off with a knife and give the kids what was underneath. To those, like me, who might shudder at that, what a different world it was back fifty years ago.

Yet already I've noticed that our own generation already is 'the oldies' to the youner generation. Was it different in the 1970s and 80s when many of us grew up? You bet it was. Not all that long ago, my sister hired, 'Return to Gilligan's Island' from Blockbuster, to show our kids the sort of comedy we used to love. After a short time of watching the Skipper swipe Gilligan over the head with his hat, and Ginger mooching around the island in her glittery ball dresses, and Mr & Mrs Howell waving their bank notes around, our kids were bored. "This is corny and stupid! How could you have enjoyed this?" We had no answer except that we were products of our time.

I've already told my kids about chunky telephones with cords and proper dials, huge vinyl records in the music shops, being able to stretch out in the back of the car at night without having to wear seatbelts, running around the district with bare feet and not worrying about stepping on needles and syringes. I can remember during heatwaves, when we knew that anyone who drove with all their windows up must have air conditioning in their cars. I can remember when "Wet Ones" was a brand new invention that my mum loved to keep our hands fresh in the car. I remember when we'd only just heard of lasagne, and thought we'd have to try this delicious looking Italian meal. I can remember when my brother and his friends were crazy about being able to communicate with others on their CB radios. And when TV tennis used to be the sort you'd play with two sticks and a little dot. My dad was one of the first in our circle of friends to buy a video recorder in the early '80s, and it was a Beta, the sort that was like an old-fashioned tape-recorder.

And during my High School days, we all had to research class projects with the "World Book" encyclopaedias in the school library because the internet was a thing of the future. If the project was on Shakespeare for example, I'd always find others hogging the 'S' encyclopaedia, so I'd have to be inventive and try 'E' for Elizabethan Theatre instead. Is that old fashioned? The way the kids laugh when I tell them, I'd have to say yes.

So I'm afraid that maybe our generation are not all that young anymore either, and have priceless memories too, to impart to the younger one. We should remember as many stories as we can because the mundane details of one generation is bound to become entertaining folklore to the next.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guinea Pigs

Here's the newest addition to our family with Blake. But first some background.
Here's the young guinea pig we got from friends at the end of July. He is now a very large fellow. His name is Bamboo. I think Emma called him that because she thinks he's the colour of bamboo and she just likes the sound of it. He's a skitterish, standoffish sort of guinea pig who hates being picked up.

And one day last week, Emma's friend who gave her Bamboo phoned and offered us a new baby one to be a companion for him. He turned out to be the tiniest, cutest little 3-week old darling with silky, striped hair. We couldn't think of a name to start off with. Because of his stripes, we thought of Harlequin, Humbug (the boiled sweet sort, of course), Triple Deck (after triple deck Cadbury chocolate bars, with dark, milk and white chocolate), or Joseph (after the coat of many colours that Joseph wore.) None of them seemed to be quite right but we've settled on Creme Brulee.

He's the perfect little snuggly, carting around sort of guinea pig but we have one problem. When we tried to introduce him to his 'companion', Bamboo was very aggressive towards him. He bared his teeth and made weird noises. Logan logged onto a website that translates guinea pig noises into English. Bamboo's comments to Creme Brulee turned out to be "GO AWAY!" By Bamboo's tone, I think there were probably a few extra nasty comments thrown in there too. Worst of all, he started getting really mean and twitchy with us too, and scratched poor Emma with his claws. We can understand that he's had the hutch to himself for so long, he's become territorial about it. But because of their size difference, we don't dare put CB in with him. Bamboo would finish him off in no time flat.

So Emma made a temporary little living area for him in a plastic storage box and that's the way it currently stands. We now have two guinea pigs living in separate apartments. The kids have talked their dad into agreeing to make another hutch with a partition in between to help them get used to each other, but he hasn't had time yet. And Emma's trying to talk me into buying a new baby guinea pig to go with CB, so at least somebody will have a friend. She feels sad for him because he was willing enough to be friendly to Bamboo. But I haven't agreed to anything yet.

We'll see how we go. Has anyone else had this sort of dilemma?