Saturday, January 26, 2013

The end of the world

The subject of the end of the world, is a hard subject to get away from. There are many real events happening (globally) which cause substantial damage. Then there are the ongoing commentaries about how the world is going to end - imagined by the traditional schedule of ominous signs which precludes the end must be nigh.

When I took my blog break recently, I was also able to pay attention to what was happening around me (everything) and saw the world as something new. It's about an ongoing symphony of survival which disaster plays a part, but is not the final encore. While my garden had dried up from the extreme heat recently, and I saw some of the small trees we planted die - strangely, the cicadas were having an absolute ball in the heat.

New life was indeed emerging from the ground (cicada nymphs live in the ground and up to seven years later, emerge to complete their final moult) the life just wasn't emerging from all the places I had touched with my own hand.

I've been fortunate enough to live through a natural disaster (2011 Queensland floods - two, if you count Cyclone Tracy in 1974 as a baby) and I would have to say the "majority" of us do survive. We just don't always have the same world afterwards. We do see the "end" of many things in that regard, but are we also paying attention to what is beginning anew?

It has done me some personal good to have "disaster" touch my reality. There were things which really needed to end, so I could put my energy into areas of new growth. Our entire household has benefited from this brush with reality. It's a real knife's edge - you live or you die. It slices right down the middle, so there can be no ambiguity with "almost" the end or "almost" the beginning.

Yet so much of my reality lived before then, was fear of the beginning or the end.

The rain has recently set in again. There are predictions some areas could see rainfall totals, similar to that of the 2011 Queensland floods. We have a Severe Storm Warning for our area. As much as news like this, sets my hackles on edge, it also does me good to know that every day is a day I share with the symphony of survival. I shouldn't have to run away from it, dig in and build a fortress. There is nothing I could build that a natural disaster couldn't remove in a mere day anyway.

I've had minor stress about some areas around the house we haven't fortified yet, but only just recently, I was admiring our handiwork on the retaining wall out the back. So many millions of years went into each rock we laid by hand. Each rock has a story of their own to tell. The reason we came to lay them in the first place, was because of a natural disaster which hit our area. The rocks and our story, are intertwined now.

There are many reasons behind our actions on this property. Mainly because a system suddenly changed (our own systems, or nature's) but generally they are intertwined - like the beginning and the end. Perhaps that is our mortal destiny, to live or to die, along with everything else: so we may derive a purpose of being "beyond" that?

I can therefore find no joy in acknowledging the end of the world, for the sake of the end alone. An ominous sign is just something we noticed - it pays no heed to what we weren't paying attention to at the same time.

The more I work with our property, the more I come to realise there can be no "one" system to cater to all. We cannot have everything our way, it's about developing a relationship of compromise with everything else living around us. Some years we celebrate things working to our expectations, other years we accept the challenges presented, far exceeded our capabilities.

What matters, is that we don't waste time supposing the "end game" with all it's intricate details of destruction. We can easily get caught in details of ominous signs. The work by our hands though, that is what really makes us feel connected and engaged.

I choose to enjoy what work I have available today, even when that work involves a bit of failure or fear. It's not always about what we hope for, but also accepting what comes along. That is life happening as it must, and it's not always easy to embrace. But it is what it is.

I had hoped to post some new pictures of the retaining wall out back, but it seems the "weather" has conspired against me.  It hasn't of course, I'm just required to sit back and wait for another opportunity to take photos. The real business of life is falling in the form of rain today, and that's important too.

It's early in the morning, and I can hear the birds chirping outside. They are a welcome sound to a brand new day. Happy Australia Day, to my fellow patriots.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Half way there

I've officially reached the half way point of my pregnancy: 20 weeks (21 weeks now). The ultrasound went well. Nothing major to report, other than everything is going as expected. Oh yes, and the gender. We found out, which was really exciting.

Sarah was hoping for a baby brother, and she was disappointed to realise that's EXACTLY what she was going to get! Ha, yes, fooled you. She was really excited and so were David and I. I've got some photos of the ultrasound.

Don't be scared of the skeletal imaging - it's meant to look that way. Click on the images to make them larger.

Side Profile

The head pictures weren't very clear, because he decided to park it right underneath my belly button. The radiologist got a lot of the necessary pictures of the heart and blood flow (plus other body parts) but he wouldn't budge his head from my belly button. On the contrary, he was quite happy to get the radiologist to chase his hand  around like a conductor though!

Side profile (close-up)

Twenty minutes into the ultrasound and after every other accessible image was taken, I was asked to walk around and have something cold to drink, to see if that would make him move. Fifteen minutes later, we returned and his head changed position just enough to get these poor quality shots. He sure was having fun hiding.

Front profile

This is Sarah's favourite photo because she's already nicknamed her little brother, "The Red Skull". If you're a Marvel comic book fan, you will recognise the Red Skull as Captain America's nemesis.

I was told by the radiologist some people freak when they see these head shots, because of the skeleton, but we all thought it was cool. Did I mention, Sarah joined us for the ultrasound? School holidays didn't give us much choice, but we wanted her to come along anyway. I suspected I was going to have a boy, and I wanted her to join in the moment we all found out.

The shirt is orange, not red like it looks here

This photo was taken at 21 weeks. The large shirt I bought second-hand, and just tied the straps around me. The maternity skirt was a loaner from someone I know, who likes to wear some items of maternity clothes. They believe they're more comfortable to wear, and I would have to agree!

Finding clothes hasn't been too hard, or that expensive. I've been able to get a few items second-hand (fill a bag for $5) and other items I have modified from my own wardrobe, thanks to these internet tutorials:

Modest maternity mini - my favourite
Maternity shirt and shorts - simple and easy
Room to grow top - spacious and inventive
Maternity pants

As I've had a baby before, I know I don't really need a lot of stuff. We will buy a new baby-carrier for the car (safety reasons) but everything else will be what we can purchase second hand. Like these cute singlets I collected, in fill a bag for $5...

The yellow is my favourite and still suitable for a boy

Some items we won't even bother with, like a change table. It takes up too much room, and I have plenty of tables I can change him on, with a thick towel. I would like to use cloth nappies, which I hope to sew myself with more internet tutorials - but I will share those later.

I'm really happy to have gotten this far in the pregnancy, and my only (small) gripe is the medical side. Too many appointments. Nothing is wrong, it's just standard procedure apparently. It's not my thing to fuss so much, so I've canceled a few appointments here and there. It makes for managing my stress levels easier.

I can't believe it's been 10 weeks since I last posted about our baby's development though. Time has just flown by.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Another year

I really enjoyed my small break from blogging between Christmas and New Years. It gave me time to reflect on what I truly get out of writing my blog, and what can be gained (or lost) by reading others.

I came to realise, not all blogs should be read by me. It seems like an obvious statement to make now, but I wasn't choosing where to spend my time. I stuck with blogs (and discussion forums) that I shared similar interests with, and simply took the good with the bad.


During my break I came to realise however, I need to review where I spend my time. If where I visit offers more negative experiences than positive, it's time to move on. This isn't a reflection on the authors of those blogs (or discussion forums) as they clearly write for an audience. I'm just not always one of them, and I feel better for recognising it. I can visit where I feel comfortable and exit where I don't.


Making this realisation however, helped me understand how better to write my own blog. So for me this year, I'm going to write about the stuff I enjoy. The things in life which makes me happy. There will be opportunities to share when things don't go entirely to plan, but it will be motivation to persevere anyway.

I'm actually feeling very positive in this not so perfect world of ours. The climate may be harsh, but it's teaching us more about plants, eco-systems and how they work, even in the extremes. We've lost some trees we planted, which is always disheartening, as you lose money and the potential for shade in the future. But it also teaches you about the plants which are better suited to the conditions!

I will leave you with my favourite quote, possibly for this year...

So when you get a chance, plant a tree for the future. They will probably need it in 20 years time.