Saturday, 23 December 2006

Merry Christmas Everyone!


It's the Christmas long weekend here in Brisbane, Australia. Woo hoo! Everything is moving towards the big day. I am happy to report that I have found my Christmas mojo & that all preparations are taking shape. Yesterday after dropping Gabriella off to work, I went on a shoppping frenzy. I swear I didn't mean to!

First, I called into Milton Road 'Officeworks'. I had hoped to get some wedding photos printed for my parents-in-law, but no such luck. That kind of job at this time of year was going to take until next Thursday. Anyway, I replenished the stationery supplies & bought some more photo storage boxes (the photo project is going really well - you can see the floor again). I'm convinced that some people don't become teachers because of the students. They become teachers so that they have an excuse to go stationery drooling. I do like the kids but I'll admit also that I have a gene for collecting biros, paper & envelopes. LOL

Next stop was to buy milk for my morning coffee (Gabs had used the last on her cereal). Well! This was my undoing. I thought to myself that while I was in the area that I would walk down the hill & pay the paper bill. That done, I thought (what was I thinking? By then I was on autopilot - a woman on a mission 3 days before Christmas) I may as well walk a bit further & also pay the swimming pool repairs bill. You know how the story goes ... One thing led to another. The trip that was supposed to take 20 minutes lasted from just after 9am until somewhere around 7pm.

I got photos printed at my local Kodak Express store, bought my sister-in-law, Jo, yet another Christmas gift (have you noticed that there are people who you could buy 50 things for quite easily whilst there are others you cannot for the life of you think of a single thing? Jo falls into the first category; & so does my sister, Lisa. I have gifts organised for Lisa just about until her 80th birthday), walked back up the hill & discovered that the rather cute 'Paddington Gifts' shop has moved into our local area (woohoo) & so I 'splurged' (we have monetary embargo, for the want of a term, on gift giving of $20AU per person). I am up-to-date with gift purchases. I even managed to buy a star for the tree. I have everyone's Christmas gift organised now, except Paul's - Diana & I bought him the same thing, so I will have to think again. Oh wait! He has me. What more could he want?

The day didn't end there. By that stage it was just after 3pm. Paul rang to say that he was officially on his 10 day break & asked me where I was & what I was doing. Could I tell him that I was currently stuffing my face with ... you don't want to know. I pretend I don't eat that kind of junk food. I told him that I was out spending his fortune and mine. He told me he was on the way to rescue the visa card from exhaustion. Too late! It was extinct.

Friday nights have become 'Pig & Whistle Night', that is, we go to an English style pub up at Indooroopilly for dinner. We call it 'whistling'. Before Gabriella came home from Austria, Paul & I fell into the habit of eating fish & chips for Friday evening dinner. It was easy tea & healthy for Paul from the aspect of his late-in-the-week tiredness. However, he's on a health kick & Gabriella doesn't like them so we had to abandon that & organise something else. I don't know how whistling came about, but we are now so well known there that the waitress (what's the politically correct term these days?) gets us a glass of red, hands over the menus & leaves us to it for half an hour to catch up on the day or week's news. She knows us so well that she knows what we like & don't like on the menu & suggests what to try on what we've previously enjoyed. She also knows to tell me 'no' if I order 2 courses. I never eat the second, so why waste their time & our money. Last week I so wanted oysters that the salmon was abandonned. Silly me.

So, we went whistling last night. We were four of us: Paul & I, Gabriella & Will. Nothing like turning up to eat dinner at 4pm (hey so what? It's Christmas & we got a carpark spot at Indooroopilly - a miracle!). It meant that we could come home early so that Gabriella could get some sleep before she went to work this morning.

And so it's Saturday. I'm going on a cleaning spree (chucking out all that's left on the floor from 'the photo project' - it's all packed away to come out & be scanned etc bit by bit) this morning when I leave here & then this afternoon Paul & I are popping two doors down the cul-de-sac to have Chrissy drinks with the neighbours. This is the first time I have EVER done that at Christmas. After that I will be suitably cheery that making gingerbread men will be a fun exercise.

I hope you have a happy & holy Christams, dear reader.

Bliss

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Bliss!



"My name is 'Felicity' but I'm also known as 'Bliss'. I got my nickname because 'Felicity' means 'happiness' and 'Bliss' means 'extreme happiness'. I think that 'Blissful' is a perfect 'hook' for this website. Aged in my mid forties, I lead a busy and interesting life in Brisbane, Australia, surrounded by people I love and who love me."

So starts the homepage of my series of 'Blissful' web pages. Whereas a month or so ago I was wishing I had named this blog something completely different, it's days like the last four which make me realise that I didn't make a mistake. I really do live a blissful life.

I've added this entry to both my Daily Bliss & my Blissful Creations blogs because the subject applies in both areas. I'm not a scrapbooker nor do I have intentions of becoming one. The photographs not framed and on my house walls are mostly stored in cheap sticky albums or, as the albums fall apart, in cardboard boxes. I have more than enough stash associated with photography and cross stitch as it is. I don't think I could handle more! LOL.

By the way, it wasn't Christmas that brought me to the forementioned 'blissful' realisation. It was the reorganisation and tidying of Castle Bliss (our sometimes housenotsobeautiful home) for the festival of Christmas. Yup. You guessed it. I've been doing one of those 'thorough' cleans - the ones where you get into every nook and cranny looking for dust & clutter. I found plenty of both - who doesn't? - but, more importantly, I found TREASURE!

It started innocently enough with the hanging of the cross stitch projects mentioned in a recent blog & progressed rather rapidly because Paul’s and my wedding photographs arrived in the post ready to be framed and hung.

When I lived in Townsville from 1992 to 2002, I had a gallery of pictures (mostly happy snap photographs) telling our family’s story on the hallway wall. My then husband, William, & I had moved around Queensland for more than 12 years and this was to be our permanent home (as permanent as one could get in those days). I started the project as therapy during some of my darkest days after Will left me and my mother died (events that happened within months of each other). I missed my family far away and was often alone with small fry. It helped me a lot but the best things the gallery did were: 1. Make Will’s and my faraway families ‘real’ to the children at a time when travel and phone calls were unaffordable; 2. Serve as a reminder to the children of who my parents were after they died & 3. Give the children incentive to create something for the wall – art, collage, stitching. I never had a problem with kids and crayon marks on walls where they shouldn’t be. They were too busy creating legitimate art!

The timeline of pictures started with an engagement photo taken in 1979 of me and Will, and then progressed with family weddings, births, first communions, the occasional Christmas pic or family gathering & year 12 formals in the frame. Every few years, the kids and I added (or replaced) a family Pixifoto portrait (always with William), and constantly added pieces of children’s art work or embroidery. The gallery swelled – as did Will’s and my sisters’ pregnant bellies and therefore family numbers. We included as many people as we could. A memorable pic was my sister-in-law, Bettyann, already heavily pregnant but looking more so as her hubby had tucked a soccerball under her tshirt at a picnic when our boys were 5 years old – it made every 15+ year old girl who saw it cross her legs unconsciously. LOL

To cut a long story short, I left the gallery intact when I moved away from Townsville in 2002. Put simply, as it was a temporary move I moved out & William moved back in as caretaker until I came back. After I met Paul and decided to move to Brisbane with him instead of back to Townsville, Will bought the house from me & I dismantled and stored everything in boxes for a number of years.

On Friday last week (nearly 5 years after I left Townsville), everything was pulled out and scattered over the floor so that I could work out what to keep, what to put in the now grown up off-springs’ treasure boxes and what to return to William for his memories. My theory is that doing sort of thing can only be done if you do it all at once, so I pulled out ALL the photographs, ALL the children's handmade birthday & Mother’s Day Cards, ALL the school report cards, certificates and concert brochures amassed during the last 25 years. Oi!

It was fun! In the last four days, I have looked at my 4 children snapped over many years (individually, together or with other family &/or friends) & and the thing I notice most is that, despite the calamities that befell me from time to time, for the most part, they were very happy & healthy kiddies/teens interested in many & varied activities (school, extended family life, music, travel, sport, dance, finger painting, etc). To top it off, the photographs taken recently show them to be successful, generous and well-adjusted young adults who hold family life in caring hands & with warm hearts. I now understand the comment that one of them made a few weeks ago during a family gathering about making sure that there was a picture for the album & why Gabriella always tucks my camera into my handbag as we head to visit any family even when it’s a simple meal at someone’s house or at the local Italian restaurant.

Life’s good here. Sssmile!.

Happiness & laughter to one and all,

Felicity

Bliss!



"My name is 'Felicity' but I'm also known as 'Bliss'. I got my nickname because 'Felicity' means 'happiness' and 'Bliss' means 'extreme happiness'. I think that 'Blissful' is a perfect 'hook' for this website. Aged in my mid forties, I lead a busy and interesting life in Brisbane, Australia, surrounded by people I love and who love me."

So starts the homepage of my series of 'Blissful' web pages. Whereas a month or so ago I was wishing I had named this blog something completely different, it's days like the last four which make me realise that I didn't make a mistake. I really do live a blissful life.

It wasn't Christmas that brought me to this realisation. It was the reorganisation and tidying of Castle Bliss (our sometimes housenotsobeautiful home) for the festival of Christmas. Yup. You guessed it. I've been doing one of those 'thorough' cleans - the ones where you get into every nook and cranny looking for dust & clutter. I found plenty of that - who doesn't? - but, more importantly, I found TREASURE!

It started innocently enough with the hanging of the cross stitch projects mentioned in a recent blog & progressed rather rapidly because Paul’s and my wedding photographs arrived in the post ready to be framed and hung.

When I lived in Townsville from 1992 to 2002, I had a gallery of pictures (mostly happy snap photographs) telling our family’s story on the hallway wall. My then husband, William, & I had moved around Queensland for more than 12 years and this was to be our permanent home (as permanent as one could get in those days). I started the project as therapy during some of my darkest days after Will left me and my mother died. I missed my family far away and was often alone with small fry. It helped me a lot but the best things the gallery did were: 1. Make Will’s and my faraway families ‘real’ to the children at a time when travel and phone calls were unaffordable, 2. Serve as a reminder of who my parents were after they died & 3. Give the children incentive to create something for the wall – art, collage, stitching. I never had a problem with kids and crayon marks on walls where they shouldn’t be. They were too busy creating legitimate art!

The timeline of pictures started with an engagement photo taken in 1979 of me and Will, and then progressed with family weddings, births, first communions, the occasional Christmas pic or family gathering & year 12 formals in the frame. Every few years, the kids and I added (or replaced) a family Pixifoto portrait (always with William included), and constantly added pieces of children’s art work or embroidery. The gallery swelled – as did Will’s and my sisters’ pregnant bellies and therefore family numbers. We included as many people as we could. A memorable pic was my sister-in-law, Bettyann, already heavily pregnant but looking more so as her hubby had tucked a soccerball under her tshirt at a picnic when our boys were 5 years old – it made every 15+ year old girl who saw it cross her legs unconsciously. LOL

To cut a long story short, I left the gallery intact when I moved away from Townsville in 2002. Put simply, as it was a temporary move: I moved out & William moved back in as caretaker until I came back. After I met Paul and decided to move to Brisbane with him instead of back to Townsville, Will bought the house from me & I dismantled and stored everything in boxes for a number of years.

On Friday last week(nearly 5 years after I left Townsville), everything was pulled out and scattered over the floor so that I could work out what to keep, what to put in the now grown up off-springs’ treasure boxes and what to return to William for his memories. My theory is that doing sort of thing can only be done if you know what you do it all at once, so I pulled out ALL the photographs, ALL the handmade birthday & Mother’s Day Cards, ALL the school report cards and concert brochures amassed during the last 25 years. Oi!

It was fun! In the last four days, I have looked at my 4 children snapped over many years (individually, together or with other family &/or friends) & the one thing I notice is that, despite the calamities that befell me from time to time, for the most part, they were very happy & healthy kiddies/teens interested in many & varied activities (school, extended family life, music, travel, sport, dance, finger painting, etc). To top it off, the photographs taken recently show them to be successful, generous and well adjusted individuals who hold family life in caring hands & with warm hearts. I now understand the comment that one of them made a few weeks ago during that particular outing about making sure that there was a picture for the album & why Gabriella always tucks my camera into my handbag as we head to visit any family even when it’s a simple meal at someone’s house or at the local Italian restaurant.

Life’s good here. Sssmile!.

Happiness & laughter to one and all,

Felicity

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

No Santa? Ridiculous!

Christmas for me is a seaon of mixed emotions. I have a husband & four lovely children who are the best. They also mean that I want to celebrate all out at this time of the year. However, I also have 3 stepsons who still wish that their father hadn't met me. Their mission in life is to punish us both like you wouldn't believe. Hence, they have made and continue to make Christmas a difficult time for everyone to get through rather than to enjoy.

From now on stepsons be blowed! It's time for me to get over worrying about the boys' crap & make what I can for those who wish to participate. My dear friend, Chris, went a long way to help me with that and so did the following story. Meari's Musings had this on her site. I was bawling like a baby by the time I got to the end.

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb:

"There is no Santa Claus" she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me.

"No Santa Claus?" She snorted. "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

"Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbours, the kids at school, and the people who went to my church.

I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby."

The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy.

Then, she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge.

"All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night , I realized that those awful rumours about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was aliveand well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.


May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care. May you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus.

Happiness & laughter always,

Bliss

Saturday, 16 December 2006

23 and counting!



The crown prince turned 23 years old this weekend. Babies don't stay babies, do they? Happy birthday, David!

The above picture was published in a 1984 diary the year after he was born. I haven't a clue what the Chinese words say, but the image reflects my life at the time - a wee boy and girl to love and care for.

If I could give one piece of advice to women everywhere, it would be

'Motherhood is under-rated. Take time to have children. Take time to be with them, to look after them and to watch them grow. It is truly the best thing you will ever do!'

My son and his three sisters are a joy. Don't put off having babies because you think that there is always something better to do with career, travel and possessions. In the long run, motherhood is more rewarding & satisfying than any of these things.

Love, happiness & laughter always,

Bliss

Friday, 15 December 2006

Christmas Cards


I have a list of family and friends I know all written in a book.
Every year when Christmas comes, I go and take a look.
That is when I realize that all these names are part,
Not of the book they’re written in, but of deep within my heart.

For each stands for someone who has crossed my path sometime,
And in that meeting they’ve become a rhythm in each rhyme,
And while it sounds fantastic for me to make this claim
I feel I am composed of each remembered name.

While you may not be aware of any special link,
Just meeting you has changed my life, a lot more than you think.
For once we’ve met somebody the years cannot erase
The memory of a pleasant word, family ties, or a friendly face.

So never think my Christmas cards are just a mere routine
Or are just names upon a Christmas list, forgotten in between,
For when I send a Christmas card which is addressed to you
It’s because you are on the list of family and friends I’m indebted to.

For I am but the sum of the family and friends since birth I’ve met
And you happen to be one of those I prefer not to forget.
Whether I’ve known you many years or just a few,
In some way you have had a part in shaping the things I do.

Every year when Christmas comes I realize anew
The best gift life can offer is meeting folks like you.

May the spirit of Christmas that forever endures
Leave its richest blessings in the heart of you and yours.


Friends bring out the beautiful things in each other that no one else looks hard enough to find.



Happiness & laughter always,

Bliss

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Pre-Christmas insanity

Yesterday, I told my DH & youngest DD that when I finish the current list of planned projects that I'm giving up cross stitching. Paul responded with a look that said 'Yeah, right!'. Gabriella smiled and asked 'Run out of wall space, huh?'.

I've hung my recently framed projects & - with wall space in mind - I've revamped my stitching list. Castle Bliss was never intended to be a shrine to my many cross stitch projects. I can visualise certain items on walls but not others, so unless they have another purpose from the outset (ie gifts to others), I'm not going to do all the projects that I originally thought I would.

This is not to say that I am giving up cross stitching next week or anything. The project list is about 5 years long. What it means is that in the next few weeks, I'm going to set up a stash sale page to get rid of culled bits and pieces. Be on the lookout for bargains!

Happiness & laughter always,

Bliss

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

On this day ...


For me, December is a month of milestones.
Most importantly, my son, David, was born on 16th December 1983. Nothing matches up to that!

It was on this day 10 years ago that I left Australia to go on my first trip to England. After 9 glorious days in London, I took an 19 day bus tour of Western Europe arriving in Paris on 2nd January 1997 to work for three months. Ah, what an adventure it was!

On this same date in 1995, I went to New Caledonia for three weeks intensive French language studies.

In December 1977 (I can't believe how long ago that was!) I was accepted into a student nursing programme. Felicity, you've come a long way baby! I began the following March and continued in the nursing profession until 1995 when I went to university.

In December 2001 I was offered my first teaching job in a school (I had already been teaching piano since the early 80s).

In December 2002, Paul & I started our big romance. The following December we moved in together.
And today? Nothing as grand as other years. I got my hair cut short.

Yes, life IS blissful. I'm glad I stopped and counted some of the blessings today.

Happiness & laughter always,

Bliss

Friday, 1 December 2006

First Day of Summer

1st December in Australia is the official first day of Summer. This year, it's also the last day of the school academic year at the school I started at at the beggining of the year, so on Monday my girlfriends and I (from school) are off to the local Indus Restaurant for a meal to celebrate.

It was hot on Wednesday. Here in Brookfield it got to 42C or 102F (my back veranda). In the almost three years that I have lived in Brisbane, this was the hottest day that I can remember - bloody hot!

I've been thinking seriously about my Christmas letter. I got some feedback from people about it: most of it positive, some of it negative - I think I even lost a dearly loved friend over it. I'm very sorry about that. It was that person's choice, not mine.

The good part about writing a draft is that it's not the last word. This blog is, as I said, a journal. It's not aimed at pleasing readers, it's about me writing from the heart (and reflecting on what I see on paper). My kids & step kids get a better deal out of how I feel about their actions as I move from my negative/lost perspective to understanding and encouraging them to continue current actions AND the final draft of the Christmas letter is full of blissful news of family life(Sssmile).

I'm glad I wrote the 1st draft.

The Christmas message I am planning is still short. It refects some good bits about 2006 & laments (worries) still about some of life's sores. It will evolve. More soon ...

Happiness n laughter always,

Bliss