The Blue Balloon – revisited

Standard

A year ago, I wrote a post about buying a blue balloon. I’ve been meaning to blog this week but we’ve had what was essentially a cyclone rip through Newcastle, and things are a bit of a mess. We’ve made it through OK, and have opened our home to people who are still without power.

With tragedy all around, and a warzone atmosphere with helicopters and sirens and trucks surrounding us, it’s been difficult to blog.

But here is what is beautiful: People are helping people. People are helping animals. People are demonstrating their humanity.

So it’s somewhat fitting that I repost The Blue Balloon for you. I wrote this out of my own tragedy – losing mum. Twelve years ago this year, this week. After 12 years it’s not so much the sadness that bites at my heart. It’s the simple longing.

This is the Blue Balloon post.

http://thenaughtycornerofsocialniceties.com/2014/04/23/the-blue-balloon/

Game On: 10 Steps to Understanding NRL

Standard

My beloved is an avid footy fan. The Manly Sea Eagles are her team of choice. And my God, isn’t she a woman of passion when it comes to her boys in purple.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

It’s Sunday morning, there were three (yes, THREE) games on yesterday and she watched two and a half of them. And we’re about to watch the second half of the third game. Even though we know who the winner is. And this season, it’s a pretty safe bet that it won’t be Manly.

But wait, it’s not all bad. You see, I’ve adopted the “If you can’t beat them, join them” mentality, and I have now randomly carefully selected a team of chumps sportsmen to barrack for. I like to call them the Pandas, however they’re the Panthers. And now that I have a team, I like to think I am somewhat of an expert on the game. So here is what happens in a typical NRL game.

1. They players are all neat and tidy and they do a funny back slap hug shaking hands thing. Then they make a line and run onto the field. Ladies shake pom poms and the crowd either cheers or jeers.

2. Someone plays the National Anthem. The players put their arms around each other. Most of the players stand there like they have a problem with their footy sock, like it’s slid down in their shoe and they’re not sure if they can do a full game with their sock like that. One or two will sing. Then there is another big cheer and everyone stops hugging and they run into positions on the field.

3. One team gets the ball and they throw it to each other then run forwards, directly into the other team. The other team encourages the player with the ball to have a little rest on the grass, then they do a massive “STACKS ON!” and all lie on top of him. This happens six times, and they either do a big kick or they run towards a white line then have another lie down, this time with the ball as a pillow.

4. Sometimes, during the six run and lie down sequence, a player will do something that is considered thuggery. Everyone yells and dobs and points and waves their arms around. A man, who wore pink last year but this year is wearing yellow, comes and huffs and puffs. Then he will make a decision and the players grunt and groan and wave their hands.

5. When players do a lie down over the line with the ball as a pillow, the man in last year’s pink or this year’s yellow will make two hand signals. The first indicates whether or not the player has tried hard enough. The second is to get someone else to look at the footage to decide if the player has tried hard enough. The someone else is known as the Video Ref, and is apparently a bit of a fuckwit. But the pink (or yellow) ref seems to like to keep the Video Ref in the loop, and so most things go to him to have a look at. Then a swirling sponsorship logo loads on the big screens and if it is red then they player hasn’t tried hard. If it is green then the player has tried hard enough, and everyone does the back slap hand shake cuddle thing again.

6. If the logo goes green, then one player from the team who tried hard gets to kick the ball through the goals. This is called converting a try. I am not sure what they are trying to convert the try to. But this is done by giving the ball an almighty kick and hoping it goes through two metal posts. I think this seems a little unfair. Because sometimes they choose to kick the ball from a very odd angle, or from a very long distance away from the posts. And to be honest it would work better if they could take the ball a little bit closer. The other thing that might help is if the player were to lick their finger then hold it up to see if there is any wind.

7. This continues for 80 minutes. Yes, 80. It’s important to keep an eye out for a couple of distinct moves. The first is the “rooting the air” move. This happens during the STACKS ON moments. The player at the bottom of the pile thrusts his crotch into the air with a tenacity that interests even this little gay duck. The second is the big group hug that my beloved tells me is called a scrum. I’m not certain of the purpose of the scrum. Basically, the two teams cuddle up close and someone pops the ball in at their feet, and then they push backwards and forwards until the ball pops out. Now, given the player who puts the ball into the scrum tends to put the ball as close as he can to his team, it’s a given that that team will “win the scrum”. But it would be more impressive, I think, if the ball was placed centrally.

8. At the end of the game, one team will have had a sleep on the ball more than the other, and they get points for doing that. And the team with the most points wins. They win the right to walk on the grass in a circle and wave to their fans, while the opposition’s fans throws things at them and swears.

9. One player is named Man of the Match, and I think his mum has to wash the team jerseys.

10. Between games, the players like to train, disgrace themselves publicly, and smile at each other when they stand in cold water.

That’s pretty much it, as far as I can tell. And it goes on and on and on. For weeks. And about halfway through the season, when all the players are tired, they suddenly mix them all up into two teams and they then play three Very Special Games, called The State of Origin. It is peculiar to think it takes three extra games to decide The State of Origin, because it would be much quicker to ask each player what state they come from. Then make a special graph, and the state with the most players is the winner. Quicker, and also removing three games of footy from the TV.

Because ultimately, that is what the game is about for me. Finding ways to minimise the impact of it all. And if that means I cheer for the Pandas when they run and lie down and play stacks on and hump the air, then that is what I do.

I’m classy like that.

The Shifting Sands

Standard

My head has been completely occupied with thoughts lately.

I don’t think I have even told you about my emergency trip in an ambulance over Easter, or even the visit to my sisters. I’ve just been so caught up in the thoughts that are bothering me.

We live on a beautiful planet. And we’ve treated it like shit, but we’re learning from our mistakes. And we treat each other like shit, and for the most part, we’re learning from those mistakes too. As individuals, we know now that it’s OK to chase dreams and set goals and embrace what you are good at. Generations have changed now. Having a “proper job” and a “career” aren’t really the be all and end all that they used to be. It’s OK to be creative and clever and to have opinions and thoughts and dreams and goals. You can brag about your kids without being a wanker and you can be proud of your kids without being labelled a helicopter parent.

And I think the Internet has a lot to do with that.

And this is good.

The example I have in my head when I’m writing this, is my beloved. She creates awesome stuff with her interior design knowledge. Cushions and clocks and tables and all sorts of stuff. It’s great. It really is. Even if I didn’t totally love her, I would still think it is good. You can check out her Etsy store. But this isn’t about throwing publicity her way.

Because the other side of this is a Facebook page I’ve been made aware of that exists solely to “save” Australia from the religion of Islam. It’s a hate page. It offers frequent videos and rants, full of swearing and incitement to jump on the bandwagon to “reclaim” Australia. And I cannot tell you how ashamed the page makes me feel. Ashamed, but also concerned for the welfare of the person behind it.

This seems like a totally unrelated bunch of words at the moment, but bare with me.

Because here is where I am going with this:

For some reason, this hate page has very quickly grown in support and numbers. My beloved’s page is growing… but slowly. Same with the page for this blog. What is it that makes people jump on board with hate speech instead of creativity, is what I want to know.

Not because I want more numbers for me or my beloved, but because I think it might be offering an insight into what people really are passionate about. And this is a scary, scary thought. Because what if it’s the increased access to a ready audience that fuels this kind of thing. People who have these extreme “anti” viewpoints aren’t outsiders any more. There’s a heap of people ready to support them in their vitriol and not one stops to consider the well-being of the person behind the posts.

The thing is, everytime something like the page I’m talking about starts spewing forth opinions and hatred, more people rise. People who share the #illridewithyou hashtag. People who say “You do not speak for me”. People who can see beyond the actions of extremists and embrace humans, regardless of their religious beliefs. And for every ounce of ignorance, there seems to be double the weight in love and courage and humanity.

Because it just isn’t brave to be hateful and destroy.

It takes a lot more courage to love and create.

And yet somehow, this hate page has garnered a lot of support. And there are plenty more just like it.

Have we turned into a world that supports hatred? See, I don’t actually think that we have. I hope we haven’t.

And maybe, just maybe, that is the conclusion I’m looking for, in this blog post. Because I’m aware I haven’t said a huge amount, not really. And I’ve done nothing to empty the thoughts out of my head. But the crux of it is maybe those two words. And they might be what we need to take away when we see hate and vitriol on social media, alongside our friendships and our creativity and our passions. Two simple words, which are the ultimate response to hate and also to the pursuing of dreams. Just two words.

Here they are again:

I hope.

And they held hands

Standard
And they held hands

Several years ago now, I walked into Tafe and started my Diploma in Community Services. And I remember this girl joining us a bit late, a girl who spoke of her passion for shoes. She said that even though she loves shoes she is often barefoot, and I decided that I like her. Now it could well be that the girl who said she liked shoes but didn’t really wear them often might not have been the girl I’m about to write about, which is the problem with having a memory that remembers words but not so much faces. But I think I got this one right.

Her name was, and is, Sally. I’ve written about her before, she’s the face behind The House of Damask and also A Little Bit Purry. After Tafe finished, it turned out that Sal and I had created a bit of a friendship that has stood the test of a relatively short time. She’s awesome and I love her guts. So it’s only fitting really, that I wish her every single happiness in all the world.

A couple of months ago, Sal came over for dinner. Her man friend doesn’t like food that is red. Or something like that, so when Sal comes for dinner I make food with red in it, specifically lasagne. Once, I sent her home with a full lasagne to cut up for lunches. Because that is what I do. Anyway anyway, Sal came over for dinner and asked me if I would play the ukulele at her wedding. And I agreed.

But first, the engagement party!

Right?

WRONG.

Sal and her beau, BriBri, had a might big surprise planned. How exciting! The engagement party was going to be the wedding! How brilliant is that!

Here’s my beloved and I at the party while it was still an engagement party:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

And then Sal gestured to me and Beloved grabbed the ukulele and Sal magically turned into a bride and her gorgeous Pop walked her down a makeshift aisle and they held hands and I played Somewhere Over The Rainbow and her Pop walked proudly with his Sal’s hand held so tightly, with tears and love and it was just beautiful.

This is Sal and her Bri Bri getting married, and you can see Pop and Nan behind them, watching. And Pop and Nan are holding hands and helping each other through.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

The thing about weddings, I’ve found, is that while they celebrate love and joy and happiness and all that crap, they also highlight the absent friends and family. But last night, there was a pressing in of love atmosphere, acknowledging the missing but using that acknowledgement to increase the love and support. Hearts were full.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Here’s something funny about this wedding (aside from the fact that it was meant to be an engagement party): I’d met a lot of the attendees, at Sal’s 30th. Which you might recall, was cat themed. And I dressed up as a cat in a kitty litter tray. Remember this?

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Anyway, I spent a lot of the night being called “Oh, Kel! Kitty litter Kel!”, which is quite a strange thing to be known as.

We left after my beloved performed a particularly rousing rendition of Devil Went Down To Georgia, which is her signature karaoke hit. And somehow amongst all the dancing and the loving and the smiles and the hands and the laughter and the people, I wound up with the bridal bouquet, which is peculiar given that it isn’t legal for me to get married (yet), but it doesn’t matter. Because the point of all the hand holding and the loving and the dancing and the kitty litter and the surprising and the people and the laughter was love.

Just love.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Gizmo

Standard

Dear Gizmo,

I can’t share the photos of your obnoxious number plate because I’m hoping that there is going to be some follow up legal action regarding this. But I can absolutely share your story.

I can’t share photos of the two year old and 6 month old fast asleep in your car.

But I can write about how it felt when we pulled into the Spotlight carpark. My beloved pulled into a carpark, pulled on the handbrake, turned the engine off and stopped. Paused. I looked to see what she was doing and her face said it all: there was something bad in the car next to us. I looked to see what she was seeing.

Two sleeping babies. A boy, maybe 6 months. A toddler, a little girl – around 2. Fast asleep. In the back seat of your car.

You were nowhere to be seen.

The windows were cracked open – maybe a centimetre at the front, and 2 centimetres at the back. I’m guessing you didn’t want to risk your sound system or anything in the front.

And to be fair, it wasn’t a beltingly hot day. Not like yesterday.

But Gizmo, that’s the thing about car park towers. They tend to hold in heat. And yesterday was hot. Really hot. 37 degrees. Those parking stations are made of concrete. So actually, Gizmo, it was warm in the carpark.

My beloved stayed watching over your two babies while I went into Spotlight and got them to page you by your number plate. In fact, they paged you twice. Then I returned to the car to be with my beloved.

Your son woke up. Had a wriggle, then went back to sleep.

And still, you shopped.

We stayed there, parked next to them. Watching over them. Waiting for you. While we sat, my beloved called the police, who sent the NRMA and a patrol car. They asked if an ambulance was needed and my beloved discussed the kids and how they looked with the words that parents use.

We’re a couple of women who came to Spotlight to get some fabric and some yarn, and some stuffing for a project. Neither of us have criminal records. We’re both good people. Honest. Protective of the vulnerable. Passionate.

You got lucky, Gizmo.

Because there are other people in Newcastle.

People who have guns. People who have less than humane intentions towards others. People who would see your children as a jackpot. People who would see your two little ones sleeping peacefully locked in your car, and rub their hands together with glee. People who are sick. Twisted. Criminal. Dangerous. Deadly.

And you were parked in the dark corner of a parking tower.

We could have smashed the windows of your car, Gizmo, and pulled the kids to safety. But if we had done that, they would have woken up. Fear would have etched across their little cherubic faces, and in that still sleepy haze, they would have panicked. Because regardless of how innocent we are, waking up to strangers smashing in a car window would be terrifying. But if you were parked in the sun. If it was a hotter day, and the heat was even more amplified than it already was. If your children were awake, or scared, or crying, or listless. Then we would not have hesitated.

Because, Gizmo, here’s the thing: Kids rely on adults to make smart choices for them. When you have kids trusted to your care, you have a responsibility to make choices that protect those kids. Leaving them locked in a car with the windows cracked open a touch does not equal a choice to protect those kids.

You eventually returned to your car and sleeping babies, with your hands empty. So what was important enough to leave your kids behind while you shopped? Maybe they were out of stock. I’d like to say you rushed back to the car. That you checked on the kids before you drove away. But you didn’t. You gave the two dykes glaring at you a smug smile, hopped into the car and drove away.

The police still came. We spoke to them. They are following it up. We’ve already had a call asking if we’re willing to give statements. We are, as it happens. And fingers crossed, if you have a wife, she might have a word or two to have with you about this.

You got a second chance with your kids, Gizmo.

Don’t fuck it up.

How to Drive to Nowhere

Standard

We’d been waiting for this weekend.

A comedic writing workshop with the amazing Mandy Nolan; a birthday celebration for my beloved’s father; a chance for beloved and her siblings to be together for the first time in years; cuddles with babies; friendship. A big weekend, a good weekend, a weekend that we’d been counting down to.

I awoke with a sore nose and upon closer inspection, turns out I have a massive pimple growing on the inside of my right nostril. It’s still growing. My nose is still swelling. Beloved is calling me Papa Smurf, which is a little bit offensive.

Image by the Naughty Corner

Image by the Naughty Corner

The dog sitter was ready to roll, our bags were packed, the sun was shining.

And shining.

And shining.

It got to about 37 degrees (Celsius) and we were sweltering in beloved’s truck. Which was peculiar, given the air conditioner was on. It wasn’t until the sweat was rolling down my face and we were about an hour in to the trip that I queried as to the functionality of the air conditioner. Turns out it had none. Yep, after a service on the car last week, the air conditioner had died. And it was hot.

We carried on.

Now, my beloved loves her truck. And I admire the amount of stuff it can carry, and I love how much she enjoys it, and it’s great for carting stuff around. And I love that it’s her first ever brand new car. But the one thing it seems to be lacking is suspension. You tend to get bounced around and jarred and jolted for the duration of the trip.

Usually, this is fine and I can manage.

But when my Achilles surgery is still 12 days away and pain levels are out of control? This was not working.

After about three hours, of sweltering and sweating and clenching muscles to try to avoid being jolted, and stopping every half hour or so for stretching, beloved pulled into a roadside rest stop and we had a chat. About pain, about communicating pain, about options. Then she made some phone calls.

While she was on the phone, all I could think about was what she was missing out on because of my foot. About feeling old. About being so stuck with how things are, and knowing that while the solution is only 12 days away, it’s still 12 days away. And feeling guilty and horrible and crap that she has to miss stuff because of my foot, and that I have to miss stuff because of my foot.

We got in the car, and found somewhere for a cold drink. It was while beloved was eating an icecream that it happened. The photo opportunity that summed up the entire day. The dead air conditioner, the sweltering heat, the pain, the tears, the disappointment, the lost opportunities. And look at the devastation on her little face. Because, you see, on the table is half of her Gaytime.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

It broke off, and melted into a puddle of brown and white milk. We watched it. I laughed.

Then we got in the car and headed for home.

Pie Night

Standard

It’s pie night tonight.

Pie night is usually saved for Fridays during the football season, and it is an absolute favourite for my beloved.

It’s pretty simple – a heap of veges thrown in with some chicken in a mushroomy sauce (or a cheesy sauce or whatever I can find), with some puff pastry on the top and baked for about 30 minutes. But it’s like a big old hug, and given I do most of it in the slow cooker, it’s an easy dinner.

As I write this, the pie is in the oven with the pastry starting to puff in a very satisfying way. Which means I’ve got about 15 minutes to write this blog.

The last couple of days have been busy. I had a trial meeting with a client for my new job, and it went well. But it left me feeling a bit sad, and a bit anxious. Because the thing is, the people I will be working with are vulnerable. And they rely on me to be a decent person – someone who will respect them and honour them and promote their needs. I have no problem with this because this is how I try to treat everyone in my world. But there are some people who don’t act this way, and one of them is in charge of all of Australia at the moment, and it’s heartbreaking.

It never pays to assume. To assume decency or to assume that you’ll get change or assume that a certain size will fit you. You have try things on and test them out and make sure that they’re worth trusting. I’m a big fan of giving people respect, and then seeing what they do with it. From experience, I’ve observed that they either rise up and meet that respect and it becomes a mutual thing, or they act in ways that slowly erodes it. Then it’s up to them to act in ways that slowly earns that respect back.

I’ve been sore today. It’s crap. 15 days til surgery. I’ve been hooking:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

That’s for Little Miss A. Love her guts and I haven’t met her yet. She’s been on earth for a fairly short time, but I get to meet her soon and I am thrilled to buggery. We’re heading up north for a writing workshop with the gorgeous and talented Mandy Nolan. So, hopefully we’ll get to meet Little Miss A, and see E, K and I as well. Oh, and their parents. Who are awesome.

The timer has just gone off and I’ve written a blog about not much really. Sorry about that.

Here’s the pie:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

How has your day been?