An award and other important trivia…

 

lovely-blog-award-logoMy favourite UK blogger, Vic Briggs has misguidedly generously tagged me for the ‘One Lovely Blog Award’ and I’ve accepted because Vic lied said really nice things about me, and because:

(a) I am hugely susceptible to flattery and compliments of any kind although I am too modest to repeat them and repeat them to everyone.

(b) Awards are like stickers dispensed in the classroom – they make you feel good.

Vic writes beautiful poetry, travels widely (taking glorious photos of everything) and as well as this, her tips and insights on writing and life issues (not to forget the dashing Cumberbatch) are clever and entertaining. One day I’ll traverse the Indian Ocean and meet her for tea. So thank you Vic, I’m honoured you thought of me.

Now I must reveal seven random facts about me and I’ll start as Vic did, with something on eyes:

1. I have green eyes (more pond than forest), but unlike Vic’s gorgeously (adjective not adverb) dazzling ‘Mad Hatter’ gaze, my eyes are ineffectual. If only I could swap them for Julie Bishop’s death-stare-eyes. I’d be a lot more effective in the classroom.

2. Tea is the only thing I could never give up if I were marooned on a desert island. I’d have to make bark or shell tea. Or die.

3. I left the town I grew up in many years ago yet still hanker after red-dirt plains and gum trees.

4. I am very embarrassed about how little I’ve seen of the world. I could use child rearing as an excuse, but it would be just an excuse. One day.

5. One of my main obsessions is kindness to animals – they’re at our mercy. I can’t even kill ants. Pathetic I know.

6. I think Oscar Wilde was one of the cleverest men to ever live. His insights spoken 200 hundred years ago, still resonate. This magnet is on my fridge.

Excuse the specks of food (it's on the fridge)

Excuse the smears (probably food – it is on the fridge)

7. I’m flippant to a fault. I’ve been known to make inappropriate comments at school assemblies (frequently) and funerals (infrequently). I sometimes wonder if I’ve ever really left the adolescent mindset.

8. I love shopping but I only like stores with mirrors that make you look taller and thinner. I want one of those mirrors for home.

I’ve listed 8 things, not 7! Only a self-indulgent narcissist (is that tautology?) would break the rules this way.

Next, I am to nominate some bloggers for this ‘lovely’ award (lovely in the broad sense of the word). So here is a mix of bloggers who are brilliant at words, pictures and/or food.

Pinky Poinker because she can turn the slightest topic into scintillating reading.

Debbish a consummate blogger with an impressive range.

Alana  a consummate blogger with a wealth of experience (that shows).

With Some Grace has lovely insights on life’s many vagaries.

Putting in a Good Word  an interesting ‘outside the box’ perspective.

Zimmerbitch  shares a rich chronicle of beautiful photos and anecdotes.

Bake Play Smile every post makes me hungry, every time.

My Slow Living Adventure makes simpler living enticing.

Peak Perspective a fascinating range of thoughts and personal experiences.

The Tunnel Presents – makes politics LOL (not easy in Australia where it’s all so tragic).

That Montreal Girl – takes exquisite photos.

I can’t say goodbye without something trivially important, and what better than a meme from my Pinterest junkie friend. It doesn’t need a segway, it’s self-explanatory.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

In my previous post, I’d promised to write about flirting, where I expose myself to be wantonly susceptible to flirtatious attention (in addition to awards, praise and stickers). Next time.

A little story (and some regulation trivia).

Continuing on with my short piece, The Appointment, because I am too lazy to think of another blog topic and also because I like stories and wanted to see where this writing prompt would go.

Image credit.

All credit to: Urban Circus.

The Appointment – Part 2

Although feeling a little adolescent, Miranda silently chanted her mantra as she stepped onto the train: ‘You’re okay’. She’d had a few mantras over the past three years since “that awful business”, as her mother had put it. Kathleen O’Sullivan had only censured her daughter once but her bewildered expression stung more than any curt retort. Her father hadn’t said a word, but the look on his face spoke volumes – tomes. He’d already had his piece when she’d moved out and in with Jimmy: “’Shacked up’ with more like! You’re a fool, my girl, if you can’t see the real Jimmy…the man beneath that smooth front.”  Patrick O’Sullivan was proud of his only child. She was the first, the only, member of his family to go to university, but somehow that made the shock of her decision to live with Jimmy worse. It was 1963 and not yet commonplace to live in sin, at least not for good Irish Catholic families newly arrived on these vagabond shores.

Jimmy was everything that her father wasn’t. At times (not often, for she’d tried to expel him from her mind during the past two years), she’d wondered if that had been the attraction. Where Patrick O’Sullivan was dour and economic with his words – joking rarely and only in a grim, scathing fashion – James Nelson was warm and loquacious. Charming. There was no avoiding the fact that Jimmy was charismatic, despite the pain it cost Miranda to acknowledge it. He laughed a lot and had a way of looking into her face with a peering intensity that made her feel as though she were fascinating. No one before or since had ever made her feel that special.

Her mother was less critical and inclined to hope that Jimmy would do the right thing. She hinted about an engagement and Miranda’s heart ached that she couldn’t produce one just to satisfy her mother’s dogged sense of convention. She herself didn’t mind, so heady was her adulation of Jimmy. “Mum, I don’t care about the ring…it isn’t important. He loves me!”

Miranda blushed to think of it now. Enough! She swept the rogue thoughts from her head and opened her briefcase, withdrawing the contract and smoothing it over her knees. Is this skirt too short? She’d been a bit daring but then it was an informal kind of affair. Affair…what a faux par – a Freudian slip! It was an interview, an appointment, that was all. Miranda couldn’t work out which was the more daunting word for her meeting. She felt a bit like a schoolgirl, not a junior partner at Bradley, Stein and Parker.

Her heart began to pump at an eager staccato pace and to deflect her nerves, she at once began scanning the document. She knew just how much reading she could accomplish on the forty minute commute.

….to be continued.

Image Credit

All credit to: My Darling Darlinghurst.

Regulation Trivia.

On writing.  Apparently adverbs are the enemy. Experts of a high calibre have warned writers and would-be writers (who are writers anyway as they write), to avoid using adverbs because they’re clumsy and bad writing. My friend Pinky is working on a novel and she’s been advised not to go down the adverb-path-of-ruination, however, I am sceptical. J.K. Rowling got away with an abundance (but then she was J.K. Rowling) yet Stephen King hates them. Jane Austen rarely used them but ‘Adverb’ was Charles Dickens’ middle name. That probably gives us modern wordsmiths scribblers carte-blanche. 🙂

I’ve only included ONE adverb in the above little piece and feel very virtuous. But before I become overly pompous, I’ve used twenty four adjectives! 😦

Food Selfie. I frequent a lot of cafes because I am a decadent and self-confessed cafe whore. Also, it’s easier to meet friends in cafes rather than subject them to my inferior coffee and cake. I recently blamed Poppet for taking ‘food selfies’ and posting them on Instagram but if I’m honest, snapping pics of nice food is a teensy bit addictive.

I simply had to take a photo of this when I caught up with some friends in the school holidays (that was 2 weeks ago, but we all know I’m a bit slow with posts). This gastronomical experience was a first for me – a Scone in a Pot. BizarreA purist would be appalled as I don’t think it’s etiquette to dig scones out of earthenware pots. 🙂

Scone in a Pot (bizarre)

All credit to: ME!!

Enough about me, what do you think? 🙂

  • Do you to prefer to have friends over instead of going to cafes? It’s certainly easier when you have young children. But then you miss out on all the gossip when you’re stuck in the kitchen frothing milk and opening packets serving freshly baked muffins.
  • What’s the rule on adverbs and adjectives? Do you like your prose richly descriptive or spare and economic? Seriously, life is too short to stress about parts of speech – even in the interests of your epic masterpiece!

I’ll leave you with a meme my Pinterest addict expert sent me. It highlights the perils of online dating superbly (another adverb – why oh why are they so bad?)

pinterest - pitbull

 

Next time, I am moving out of my comfort zone with a post entitled ‘My Friendly Stalker’, on flirting – a true story. However, on reflection, I may not as it shows my character in a very poor light…

Linking up today with Jess and IBOT because, well, it’s Tuesday. Joining Grace’s FYBF  for her bevy of blogging brilliancy. 🙂

Short Sojourn Shameless Selfie.

Nothing deep or philosophical today…

It’s school holidays and we escaped the city to see a family member starring performing in the chorus of a production of Legally Blonde. Reece Witherspoon made a guest appearance Family member autographed my program, though I’m not one to name-drop. IMG_1656The seaside hotel had a tolerable view of the sea.   Poppet on balconyOn a raving recommendation, we eschewed the hotel buffet (what were we thinking?) and had breakfast in a cafe on the beach, where the prices were pretentious and we queued to get a table, then waited so long for our food that we began attacking the serviettes (or is it napkins – I never do know which?) Of course, Poppet posted her elegant meal on Instagram. Hand up if you remember a time when we ate food instead of taking a photo of it?

What's that darl? #thecastle

Just eat it!

There was a sunrise where the sun spilled like molten gold into the ocean. It was worth sacrificing sleep for.

Sunrise.

Molten gold.

Last week was exciting as Pinky made an impromptu visit to Sydney and we caught up. It’s a bit daunting meeting blogging friends as you wonder whether your online persona equates with your real persona. Pinky is just as warm and lovely as her blog reveals. This brilliant overexposed selfie showcases my new teapot, courtesy of Pinky (pink of course).

Teapot selfie.

Teapot selfie.

Next time she comes to town we’re planning a blogger-fest so if you’re in the vicinity (and even if you’re not) please join us. 🙂

It is Wordless Wednesday and I must avoid waffling at all costs. Over to you and your views on some very important trivia.

  • Do you resent paying high prices in trendy cafes and restaurants? Do you actually complain or smile sweetly and vent privately?
  • Do you take pictures of food or are you sensible and mature, and just eat it?
  • Do sunrises or sunsets move your thoughts to poetry?
  • Have you ever attended any blogger events? Please share!

Linking up with Trish and My Little Drummer Boys and Wordless Wednesday and joining With Some Grace’s FYBF.

*Clutching the baton*

While this post deals with the much vaulted topic ‘Why I Write, I must first be consistent with my reputation and blog title – Important Trivia – and start with a meme.

 

Image: Pinterest.

Image: Pinterest.

An array of dazzling blogsters, from the famous Mrs Woog to the infamous Pinks Pointer (JOKE), to that feisty queen of hawt hot (spelling counts – at least in my classroom blog 😉 ), the Fab Mumabulous…it’s now down to little moi. *Attempts stoicism under pressure to be entertaining and witty. Loses battle and buckles. Reaches for wine tea*

This move of Pinky’s has propelled me from blogging complacency to posting twice in 3 days. “Ho hum” you say but for a novice who only posts once a fortnight, this is traumatic!

As I’ve alluded to previously, I don’t have a niche. I am niche-less.  But rather than be scarred by this gaping hole of niche-lessness, I’ve acknowledged – like many bloggers before me – that as well as narcissism, blogging in any form, is therapy. Coupled with abundant coffee and cake, wine and cheese or magic tea, it is far more enjoyable to baring (or is it bearing??) one’s soul to an expert.

Work Stations (pretentious moi?)

I rather like the term ‘work stations’. It’s a bit like the ‘learning spaces’ that schools and education are fond of, and lends a certain gravitas to my frivolous penning.

I am incapable of remaining in one spot.

Desk, kitchen bench, gazebo and garden.

Desk, kitchen bench, gazebo, garden.

Down to the business:

Flippancy aside, I was flattered – honoured – to be mentioned by Pinky, whose eloquent wit is legendary in the blogosphere. However, such an honour involves reigning my usually wayward ideas into the semblance of order:

Why do I write?

In short, because I enjoy it. I didn’t write as a teenager as I thought I was much too cool for doing anything so nerdish. But one of my best writing memories is sitting beside the sandpit writing long-hand, while my toddler made a castle. I was lucky enough to have this manuscript published by Penguin as a little teenage novel – This Summer Last – a big fluke really, since it’s not high literature. It’s about loss and deals with the theme of grieving. Heavy stuff I know, but I’d just heard a true story about a family who’d experienced a sudden death of a child and I thought about how difficult this would be. I based my book around their inability to come to terms with the tragedy.

Again fortune beamed kindly on me and I won the Ashton Scholastic Award for Older Readers with Jake, about a damaged city kid, fostered by a family in the country. There was another book but before you hate me for all this insufferable bragging, they’re all out of print and only available in the National Library Archives. Haha, so much for fame and fortune! 😉

I got very busy with more kids and teaching in High School so writing took a bit of a back-step until recently when Poppet was badly bullied, (cyber and face-to-face). I wrote So Not Funny, as a parents’ and teachers’ resource, releasing it as an e-Book. I was advised to start blogging, but have never before used my blog space to promote my book (except now – please don’t hate me!)

How does my writing differ from others in my genre?

I’m not sure, except that I am VERY flippant and much of what I babble about is either tongue-in-cheek, ironic, silly, or all of the above. I probably include too many chook and dog pics, but hey everyone has their Achilles’ heel.

 How does my writing process work?

Randomly. As the above fancy collage suggests (for a non-techno person aren’t you impressed?) I am hyperactive and can’t sit too long in one spot. So when I’m not in the classroom or attending to domestic/family/farming matters, I’m hyped on tea and writing something.

What I’m Working on.

I won’t bore you because I’ve already written a post about my brutal rejection by a large publisher for my latest literary masterpiece little manuscript, Non-Compliance. Suffice to say, I am EDITING. This is a painful process, involving a self-discipline that is quite foreign to my character. So, my writing consists of:

  • shopping lists.
  • marking students’ work and writing tactful suggestions on essays, stories et al.
  • new units of work to stimulate class into brilliant adequate English skills.
  • ‘to do’ lists (to make me a more efficient, productive and better human being).
  • posts – the best fun of all.

Now it’s my turn to pass the baton to two bloggers, and it was a difficult decision as there are just so many brilliant bloggers out there. I’ve chosen Deb and Susan, each accomplished and eclectic in her own way.

But just before I leave the subject of blogging, one of the things I love most about this type of writing is – corny n cheesy as it sounds – the friends I’ve made. And the comments. I think I can safely liken the high of a delightful comment to a hit of ice (in my cocktail of course).

Credit: Pinterest.

Credit: Pinterest.

I can’t claim credit for any of the silly pictures I include in my posts – they’re down to Poppet and a funny dog-friend. (I do, however, claim credit for being consistently silly).

Over to you. What’s your best skill – within or without the blogosphere?

Just added my link to the delightful Always Josefa and Maxabella Loves and their ‘Why I Write’ link-ups. Joining With Some Grace’s FYBF, as it’s Friday. 🙂

The Appointment.

 

It’s been months since I wrote any fiction in response to a writing prompt, but inspired by Lydia (Where the Wild Things Were) and her ‘first of the month’ writing prompt (and as a nice foil to my current regime of editing), I embraced this creative little project and wrote a short piece of 100 words entitled ‘The Appointment’.

 

As Miranda stepped outside, a blast of air tussled her carefully blow-dried hair. Buttoning her jacket, she wound the scarf twice around her slender neck.

Winter had arrived. Breathing in deeply, she lifted her chin and strode the well-worn path to the train station. Her calm gait was at odds with the thoughts in her head, which ricocheted like the remnant gold leaves flung high by the helter-skelter wind.

The appointment. A fifty minute slot (they were precise), could make such a difference to her, to everyone. Its power loomed and Miranda dipped her head and repeated her newest mantra.

 

Some clever person once said something like, “It’s not about originality, it’s what you do with it that counts.” What prompts you? External stimulus or do you have a fertile imagination, just bursting with original ideas? 🙂

Flogging today With Some Grace and FYBF.

The right time.

Meet Blossom!

Meet Blossom!

It’s been over three months since she died. Although Daisy was only a dog, Poppet wasn’t moving on, she was bogged down, bereft with grief. As mentioned in A Little Tribute, she couldn’t recall a time before Daisy. So, very impetuously, I jumped in the car and drove to a faraway place to rescue Blossom…and Poppet, who would never have made the decision to get another dog – she felt guilty and disloyal even thinking about a replacement. Blossom isn’t a replacement. Daisy was unique and so is Blossom.

Since this photo was taken, Blossom has matured morphed into a minx, creating joy havoc all over the place. Basically, the pic below encapsulates Blossom.

Who have you rescued lately, animal, vegetable or human? Or maybe you’ve been rescued rather than the rescuer – restored and revitalised by someone or something…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joining Trish and My Little Drummer Boys and linking up With Some Grace

SERIOUS and other important trivia…

Those of you who read this blog and they’re aren’t all that many, (but it’s QUALITY not quantity that counts right? 😉 ) understand that flippancy is my middle name. That my preference in writing posts is for tongue-in-cheek, self-mocking nonsense about chooks, dogs, coffee and Poppet, although anyone who is the parent of a teenager or remembers being a teenager, will appreciate that teenagers and in particular, teenage girls, are anything but trivial individuals. And indeed Precious Poppet is every bit an important and high-maintenance individual.

Autumn Perfection.

Poppet and Autumn Perfection.

 

S & M     D & M

Occasionally though, I do get a bit existential deep and meaningful and wax on about something weightier, more philosophical.  I’ve read a few insightful posts this past week or two on a variety of serious topics – too many to mention now, so please don’t be offended if I’ve commented on your post, but haven’t mentioned it here.

One on incivility in social media stands out: Let’s Talk Twitter and Trolls and Dinner Parties, shall we? Kat’s post looks at ‘trolling’ and general impoliteness on social media and urges us to engage in virtual discourse as one would do with face-to-face discourse, with good manners and decorum. This post made me think about life before social media and I got all contemplative. Of course, there was work, family commitments and writing a year ago, before I started writing a blog and twittering, and I was very busy but it was a different kind of busy. I didn’t jump with glee when I received notification of a comment or an email to inform me I had a new follower on Twitter. I was a rather simple creature in my non-virtual world. I didn’t squeal with girlish delight when my tweet was retweeted or avidly read a particularly warm and charming comment on my post. I was spared the pleasure, or pain…if my tweet disappeared unanswered into cyber space or my post languished comment-less. I wasn’t needy. I think I was a bit cooler.

Yet there’s so much good about social media – engaging with clever and interesting people everywhere – the sheer scope of talent and opinion is vast. They might not be real friends in the sense of those we meet up with regularly for coffee or brunch or dinner or just meet up. But real ones, nonetheless.

SERIOUS

I read several brilliant posts written on ANZAC Day and its significance and one lingers:  ‘Reflections on the selflessness and sacrifice of some ordinary Australians…’ I’ve never before read anything more lyrically worded on war and its devastating implications than that of Wing Commander Sharon Bown. Simply beautiful words. Then there’s Majoring in Literature, an erudite blog that’s good value, reviewing books with a close understanding of the text, combining travel and history, interspersed with beautiful photos.

And there was Deb’s interesting post on idealised TV shows and life envy: ‘Why I won’t be watching Offspring.’ I seriously believe ‘life envy’ has increased exponentially since the advent of social media. There might have been perfect people with perfect lives around before but we didn’t know about them. We were spared their perfection.

Bad Behaviour and Girls’ Schools.

Jonah Takalua has a lot to answer for. I recall when Summer Heights High came out  a few years ago and Year 8 boys thought it was funny to draw dictation on the black/white board. They chanted “Puck you, Miss. JOKE Miss!” with monotonous regularity until I wanted to send them all back to Tonga, except they weren’t from Tonga. They were typical Aussie kids just trying to escape writing essays.

Image courtesy of: futuremusicgroup.com

Image courtesy of:
futuremusicgroup.com

Jonah from Tonga is back. No wonder Pinky (that witty minx blogger I know) wants to work in a girls’ school. This post is HILARIOUS: ‘Why I want to work in an all girls’ school!‘  And you don’t need to be a teacher to appreciate it. (Apparently smiling – even the act of stretching your lips in a grinning expression whether you feel happy or not – releases feel-good endorphins that literally lift your spirits). I guarantee that after reading this post you’ll be giggling, very naturally. 😀

CHOOK UPDATE – THE STORY OF RED.

We bought Red, Snowy and Blacky as two day old chicks  all ostensibly GIRLS. Snowy and Blacky were feminine hens but Red was always a bit butch blokey. But hey we’re not discriminatory about gender in our family, feathers or no feathers. But when she he started crowing pre-dawn, a VOCIFEROUS TRILLING “COCK-A-DOODLE-DOOOO!” it was time to take Red back to the farm (we’re in the middle of suburbia!) I should’ve noticed before this, especially when she he was mounting cuddling the other hens in an unplatonic way. The Sexer had got it wrong. (Bizarre as it sounds, there is a profession/job entitled “Sexer”. They look at chicks’ private parts and deem them male or female…Sometimes Sexers get it wrong).

CHICKIBABES.

growing chickadees

They’re getting bigger and have moved to a larger pen, but I’ve observed an undesirable hen dynamic: Lasquisha – the biggest and bossiest – dominates. Unfortunately, the pecking-order is alive and flourishing in real life. Lasquisha keeps Cinnamon, Princess and Lacey under control. She pecks them on the head for no apparent reason except to show she’s the boss…a bit like the classroom/playground bully, really.

I'm boss!

I’m boss!

Who is big and bossy in your life? Or are you the boss? And I’m not being sizeist either, I mean big in the metaphorical sense…

Linking up today with Rhianna and Thankful Thursday which has made me focus on the things I am grateful for: I’m thankful that Lasquisha can’t boss me around (I just can’t avoid flippancy!) I’m thankful that Poppet is no longer being bullied. And I’m thankful for the dying splendour of Autumn leaves. Is there anything in your life that you’re thankful for?

Joining With Some Grace for FYBF

Transgender Hen.

Visiting Grace at FYBF today.

Red.

Red.

You’ve probably gleaned that the above isn’t a real rooster, it’s made of metal. This statue is in memory of Red, the handsome hen-rooster we had to take back to the farm. You see Red was meant to be female. We were assured he was a girl-chick when we bought those three tiny chicks prior to ‘the massacre’. Red’s story is diverting, if only to show what an accomplished  incompetent urban farmer I am. We picked up two day old chicks – black, white and red – from the free-range farm and gave them the imaginative mundane names of Blacky, Snowy and Red. They grew into gorgeous hens. Well, two did. But more about this later. It’s Wordless Wednesday and I’ve already written too many words. More pictures…

Our latest chicks are growing fast, losing their fluffy feathers, gaining sleek ones.

From left:  Princess, Cinnamon, Lasquisha, Lacey.

Princess, Cinnamon, Lasquisha, Lacey.

Identical twins Cherry and Merry will start laying in about a month. Meanwhile they’re exploring the garden…

IMG_1079

The hens might look pretty but for an urban farmer my gardening skills are amazing  horrendous.

Image courtesy of: homeimprovguide.com

Image courtesy of: homeimprovguide.com

 

This is how I envisage the vegie patch.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of: ourlocallife.com

Image courtesy of: ourlocallife.com

 

 

This is the reality.

 

 

 

 

However, The Orchard is flourishing alive . A lemon and an orange tree are clinging to life after the lime tree dropped dead retired. But who needs a lime tree when you can buy that nice condensed lime juice in a packet and keep it in the fridge? It never dies.

 

The Orchard (note metal sunflower - will not die).

The Orchard (note metal sunflower – will not die).

Are you an urban or country gardener? Can you grow anything – herbs in a pot on the windowsill, tomatoes on the balcony? Any tips?

Linking up with Trish over at My Little Drummer Boys.

Monument. A little tribute to Daisy.

Linking up today with FYBF and With Some Grace. Happy Easter!

IMG_0479

 

Monument:

  1. A statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a notable person or event.
  2. A statue or other structure placed over a grave in memory of the dead.
  3. A building, structure, or site that is of historical importance or interest.
  4. An enduring and memorable example of something.

Despite the various definitions, the word “monument” makes us think of lofty statues and grand architecture. This little monument is something quite different. No crowds flock to admire its gravitas or muse on its symbolism and place in history. This monument – placed recently – engenders raw feelings about a tiny dog that passed in and out of our lives, so quietly and magically. It’s a tribute to Daisy:

IMG_0243If you look closely at the tile in the centre of Daisy’s garden, you’ll see a daisy etched into the stone.

Linking up today with Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument. Do you have a favourite monument? Is it grand or modest?

 

I still have my marbles…

Jack Nicholson’s face encapsulates my attitude to blogging lately:

Image courtesy of smashinglists.com

Image courtesy of smashinglists.com

 

Recently, I only seem to be able to write with prompts. This is bad because it shows an unimaginative and lazy character, and good because there are prompts to lure me from my slothfulness. So hopping on late to Anna Spargo-Ryan’s flash fiction prompt “they ate grapes together in the fog of afternoon”…

I Still Have My Marbles

With a deft motion, Arthur slipped the small beige pill into his jacket pocket while the nurse poured his cocoa. What was her name? A person couldn’t keep track of the staff nowadays…always changing, barely any time to stop for a chat. So busy.

“Don’t forget to take your pill, Arthur.” He nodded a bit too vigorously, to hide his guilt. My legs might be gone but not my marbles. They’re all I have left.

He sipped the bile-coloured liquid – lukewarm and too sweet. He’d complained once, politely requesting more chocolate, less sugar, but the nurse – one of the new ones – made tsk-tsk noises and spoke to him as though he were a wayward schoolboy. Arthur, it all comes out of the same pot, you silly thing. We don’t have the time to go making special drinks for everyone. We’re not baristas, Arthur! She’d laughed as though her comment were witty, when all it did was make him feel small, troublesome. He understood now that the senior citizens were all a generic bunch at the facility, individuality and preferences were left at the gate.

Arthur thought of Marianne’s cocoa, rich and dark like Marianne herself. It wasn’t too much trouble for Marianne to make him a separate cup, once she’d noticed he wasn’t drinking his communal cocoa. It’s no trouble, Mr Mackenzie, I like it this way myself, she’d said, her singsong voice making him think of wind-chimes.

Arthur tried not to be offended that she hadn’t said goodbye. So busy, everyone is so busy these days. But if the truth were known, he was a bit hurt. He’d grown attached to Marianne, to their little conversations punctuating his day. He’d learnt all about her family, the few that made it to Australia, the rest still in the Sudan. He’d even contemplated making her a gift, just a small sum to help ease her life here…perhaps pay for music lessons for her little girl. But that would have meant running it by Steven and Arthur felt Steven wouldn’t have approved.

He was due for a visit from Steven, who confined his appearance to special occasions – birthdays, Christmases, Father’s Days and perhaps at Easter, if they weren’t going away. Belinda rarely came. Too busy with the children. How many are there now – two or is there a third?

Arthur gazed at the photo of Millie and him beside his bed, their smooth faces sublime under the purple mountains, grazed with afternoon sun. Why do they call it the Blue Mountains when they’re purple?

Arthur’s thoughts meandered. You’re batting for the Ashes with Millie, Arty, not the local club, said his mate Bill, who applied cricket metaphors to every contingency. But Millicent O’Grady had accepted him on that foggy afternoon. There was a bit of a mix up as he fumbled with the camera in one hand, the ring in another, down on one knee. Please get up Art, I don’t like my chin from that angle! Millie had thought at first he was taking a photo, before he’d begun his stilted proposal – suddenly inarticulate, shy. They’d laughed and laughed about it later, as they ate grapes together under the fog of afternoon.

As fortune had it, there was a photograph. A lone bush-walker happened by and seeing their bliss, captured the moment forever.

Ten o’clock was the lights-out curfew but all the residents – they called them that instead of patients as it sounded more respectful – dozed off earlier. It was the pills, and the boredom. Arthur was lucky having his own room, where he could read or watch television whenever he liked. Steven had organised it at great expense (and frequently reminded him of the fact). Arthur had resisted the urge to tell him that it was his money, after all. Increasingly, he was glad he hadn’t signed that document Steven waved before him at regular intervals: Power of Attorney.

Arthur refused to wear his pyjamas until the very last minute. It was a rule of his – one of the few he had left – a kind of last bastion of independence. And tonight he was especially glad he’d hung onto that rule.

A faint knock at his door, a mark of civility not often afforded, and a woman quickly crossed the room.

“Hello Mr Mackenzie…Arthur, I hope it’s not too late to pay you a visit…my new hours are so long.” She lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, “That new nurse was very disapproving.”

“Marianne!” Arthur couldn’t manage any more words, just a grin that bisected his face and sparked his eyes.

 

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