Tag Archives: family

Purging minions


Scurrying to hide and go, and move and do, flying and jumping in erratic motion of crazy … manic minions fighting for attention like spoilt children vying for the last sweet on Earth without knowing where it is.

They clash and scrap within a mess of scattered matter, bullying if they must in their desperation for validation and prime place. The frenzy becomes a bubbling cauldron of emotional prod and pull, too big for the heart to contain. It erupts, overflowing to the brain.

That’s when true plumbing havoc begins with blockages of activated sludge and leaks into cracks of permeability. Crusts of tar form to smother reason and logic, fear grips to suffocate what’s right and best and nurture the growth of trepidation and uncertainty. Manic minions have now become tribes of egos that squabble amongst their own.

Where to look and what to do …

A stroke of unexpected softness from innocence, a touch that says, ‘It’s okay.’ The stroke becomes a hold that stops your breath and grounds you to the earth in shuddering reality, sending those manic minions scurrying.

Their withdrawal is short-lived however, and those minions return revived and more frenzied than ever. But you’ve had a glimpse now, a reminder from your heart.

The minions come and go, like and dislike, take a sneaky peak. They want but don’t know how to want and send mixed up messages. They’re greedy and self-satisfying with egos that thump and demand.

Each minion has its own agenda that changes by the minute, sometimes repeating to never end or begin, as the chicken and the egg. All are urgent, yesterday urgent … the wheel spins faster and faster until a centrifugal force kicks in.

Then, in the momentary flick of a switch, everything stops. Everything falls to nowhere.

A life is gone.

All that remains are memories and grief, and people with minions yesterday, bound together today. Nothing is the same again. What mattered yesterday, matters nix today.

Instead, spending an hour having dinner together, savouring the conversation more than the food, takes centre stage. And when that stage moves to the kitchen to clean those dishes, the chatter moves with it, as an oozing luscious centre from a warm chocolate pudding. Yesterday’s minions are floundering as they wash down the eternal emotional drain. Until the minions are gone.

You remember what’s important to you and not what’s important to anyone else, what makes you happy and your heart sing as the most exquisite sound on Earth. You remember the power of love and that when fear knocks at the door and love answers, there’s never anyone there.

That black hole of love


A gut in endless summersault, a head in spin … an attack is now. It’s personal. It’s senseless. Humans can be senseless, actions and words can be careless and pointless, even if they come from a place of  passion. Whether that’s misguided or not, whether I understand or not, is irrelevant.

Then from nowhere in this tumult that rages as a wild sea, mother instinct kicks in and big sister armour spikes out. The loyal friend shell hardens, ready for any skirmish that may come. Passion heats as a cauldron of boiling oil and the fierceness of the King of the Jungle emerges.

Yet underneath the layers of shields and barbs of thousands, a stomach still wrenches in subterranean caverns, over craggy mountains jagged that scrape any soul bare, through bogs of black and bracken that render all motion, motionless … those children, leave those children alone!

And suddenly, physical reactions to instincts that aren’t seen give way to a heart that needs no armour, a heart that is the core of existence. A heart knows the depths of love of family and friends where limits are non-existent. A heart knows that in the slightest breath of a whistle call, those hearts will come together to become a black hole of love with its own life force. It’s the black hole of love of the universal family where distance is no barrier and passion is its own entity that runs deep through a complex stratal network that can’t be unravelled.

It’s obvious as we stand to farewell one of our own, that we are who we are, in numbers that double and triple, as beings that reverberate beyond this space.

And in that moment, the first spike of armour retracts, the shell begins to soften. Fear starts to dissipate into that black hole of love of the universal family, a love that in times of farewell shines from crevices normally submerged. There’s no place for fear when a family unites in invisible armour. Our children are fine. Our armour together is invincible.

Last night, yesterday and the night before


I wake this morning to cuddles in bed with son three, a rare treat as at almost twelve, he prefers to wake to cartoons. My mouth is claggy, my head’s in haze. We chat about the party and the dream I had of him living in an apartment somewhere I didn’t recognise, a dream probably more vivid than usual because of the rich chocolate mud cake I ate with my cup of chamomile just before I went to bed at two this morning.

We both need a shower, he because he went to bed in his clothes after being too tired to bother changing into pyjamas at one this morning, and me because I must wash this thick layer that coats me, an accumulation that began the night before yesterday dawned.

After ten or so minutes, my cuddly son leaves me for the bathroom and I lift my body to creaks in my lower back to make a pot of oolong. By the time I’ve made my tea, son three is finished and it’s my turn to wash that layer away. Not that it’s an awful layer, just a heavy, busy one I want cleansed from me.

I stand under the warmth of the water and allow the droplets to rinse that first layer away. I sigh. The flounce in my hair flattens down past the first vertebrae on my back. I sigh again and swipe my hands over my eyes and forehead, down the back of my head. The preparation and planning of food and drinks, chairs and tables. Crockery, cutlery.

This dear man of mine loves to celebrate with big parties as last night, and he loves them to extend over days as this milestone fiftieth birthday has, by beginning the night before yesterday with a few close friends who are as family. His sense of fun and loyalty to them and our family is admired and reflected in the eighty plus who came last night.

I reach for the cotton washer to wipe at the oily layer over my face. I rub in circles over my skin. A communal effort brought this birthday party together with so many doing so much. Susi, Chrissy and Carolyn, Pat and Matt. Cooking and baking. Organising, setting up. Frank and Warren. The Boys. The Girls. Cleaning, tidying. Mum cleaning with me, Donna my confidant in the kitchen at the end of the night. Family as friends as family.

The skin on my face tingles and I feel satisfied that I’ve removed even the finest of residual layers. I squirt shampoo into my hand and lather my hair into a lush of light suds, revelling in the soft and luxurious. Pork and beef dancing round and round above coals, salads tossed and mixed. So much left over as is always at our parties. ‘Better to have too much than not enough,’ they say.

I extend my finger tips and scrub into my scalp, determined to release any party-particles clinging to the insides of the pores of my skin. I rinse until water runs clear and end with a silkening that releases all unsecured strands of hair.

Such laughter and joy mingle to mash on our deck. Singing and swaying, Joan and E, and sometimes music blaring. Old faces unseen for time upon time. Gerard, Ross and sweet Dominic. Smiles of lovely Lisa, unchanged over the years, Melissa my neighbour, Maree my ‘spesh’. They’re all special.

Now my teeth, scrubbing and brushing to release every minuscule of last night. Why do some people over-indulge and lose their way. I scrub harder. Is it a despair that causes excess, where coherence leaves and obnoxiousness blooms? My gums hurt. A hiccup in splendour.

A lather of lemon scent, a tallow laden soap to remove the most stubborn of residues for the finish cleanse. Softness over from my skin emerges from the layers falling away.

Finally, I’m done, although only after a Bikram yoga class tomorrow will my cleanse be truly complete. Time for a cup of oolong before cleaning the remains of last night, yesterday and the night before.

A cleanse and a clean from which memories are immune.

The only family without a microwave

microwaves 2

The pang in my chest caught me by surprise as son three said after school one day, kids at school had been laughing at him.

‘Why?’ I demanded. I was ready to rip into the school for allowing those kids to laugh at my gorgeous guy and into those mocking tweeters, and anyone else around me that dared say a word.

‘Because we don’t have a microwave,’ he smiled and half rolled his eyes. ‘They want to know how we heat up food.’

My mouth dropped. I didn’t know how to respond.

‘My friends laugh at me too,’ said son two. ‘Because we don’t have a microwave. We’re the only ones that don’t!’

‘And we still have a T.V. that has a big bulge in the back,’ chimed in son one, stealing my attention from son two. ‘My friends laugh at me for that! And my grey runners. Everyone else has coloured ones.’

I looked at the three boys sitting around the dining table, peeling the melted dark chocolate that coated the fruit cake I’d baked on the weekend and eating that before the cake. They seemed happy enough. I didn’t think they were too concerned.

‘And one kid in class wanted to know why I was eating two apples,’ said son three, licking his chocolate. ‘I could eat three!’

‘I want to know when we can go on a holiday and relax on a beach, like in a resort.’

Poor kids! What have I done to them? But no. As a parent, I’ve done what I believe to be right. ‘Well, microwaves are no good,’ I said. ‘They kill off all the good stuff when you heat things up.’

The nurse’s voice resonated clear in my head, telling me when I had son one to never use a microwave to defrost and warm stored breast milk from the freezer because the microwave would damage the milk. She gave me research to read that outlined how a microwave changes the milk’s composition and causes a loss of nutrients and important immunological properties found in it. I deduced from that, that if a microwave can alter breast milk, it must change the properties of other foods too and so I never bought a microwave.

The three boys looked at me, smirking while eating, as if enjoying seeing me squirm at their interrogation.

‘And the T.V., well, it still works doesn’t it. Why buy another one if this one still works? That’s just a waste.’

‘We never get to have tiny teddies or shapes for school,’ said son two. ‘I haven’t got any good stuff to trade at lunchtime! No-one wants sour dough bread for lunch, except for Ticky. He loves it. But I haven’t got anything else good I can trade.’

The way he’s scoffing into the cake now that he’s finished the chocolate coating, I don’t think he’d want to trade his cake with anyone, that’s for certain! ‘I give you brain food,’ I said. ‘You know that. You all studied the brain at school and understand what it needs.’ They’re smart enough to know that.

They begin talking about a teacher at school and I drift into my own thoughts. They’re not bothered by not having those things and I think in a way, they like standing out as not being the same or one-of-the-crowd. They reek of individuality, in their sourcing of clothes from nonstandard shops like op shops and in their confidence to say no to their friends at a time when peer pressure is at its greatest. They’re not afraid to have friends from all walks of life.

As a parent, I do the best I can to raise my children and give them opportunities to experience, such as to travel around Europe and Asia as backpackers and not as tourists, or grow plants from seeds to pick their own beans, mandarins and apples, and to collect fresh eggs from our chooks. All parents give their own opportunities to their children. And our parents did the same for us.

It’s just that my experiences for my children happen to include learning to cook and heat food in a pot or in a conventional oven, and sometimes over a coal fire while camping.

A special eye

a special eye
The scent of hyacinth from the windowsill draws down into the pit of my belly and the core of my drained brain begins to lift to wake my senses. I’m standing by my eye into the soul of life and want to trap the scent of the flowers that trails out through a small opening.

It’s through this eye that I glimpse life outside and those playing in its party.

As I dip in and out of soapy suds that dull with the immersion of each food-covered utensil, I watch young children scuttling up the ladder to the tree house. Some afternoons, the rhythmic thump of a tennis ball being hit on the outside brick face comforts me as I fry onions for the base of our favourite bolognaise dinner.

Today, my gaze follows the trailing scent out to the laughter of the three boys collecting washing from the clothesline. There’s boy one wearing boy three’s Karate gi. The sleeves barely reach his elbows as he spins around in chops over the head of boy three, who uses all his Karate blocking moves in confident practice.

‘He’ll get you one day,’ I call to boy one through the opening, laughing along with them.

And there’s boy two smashing a ball with a cricket bat for blue-eyed dog to fetch. She charges with such passion that sometimes she crashes into the steel leg of the trampoline or hits the edge of the trailer. One time, she slipped as she took off after a ball, over the freshly oiled deck. She didn’t whine in pain until hours later when she tried cuddling up to sleep in the corner of the lounge room.

My eye into the soul of life is special and I love to stand by it and watch the two dogs break into the chook pen to steel food scraps. And later when the chooks are having a backyard wander, I giggle at them waddling for their pay back to scratch at the dog food and the dogs moving away while barking, to allow them at it. Such softies!

I listen to the coo of the doves at dusk while exploring the grass and the singing of the wattlebirds as they perch in the bottlebrush bush, happy to sip the nectar of the flower.

My eye has been my saviour at times too. When the boys were younger, I could watch over them while they played beneath the tree house in the sand pit and I prepared cool drinks or snacks of crackers and fruit inside.

I’ve glanced out through my eye into that soul outside for the past sixteen years, to watch play that only children understand and listen to the code of bonding men. Some evenings, aromas of garlic lamb and capsicums barbequing would bombard me and make me salivate. And octaves of muffled chatter and the laughter of many on the deck would overflow into my eye and suddenly the delineation between inside and out did not exist as bodies helping me do and serve appeared by me.

Mostly, I’m invisible to the outside of my eye and sometimes, private talks reveal things that need to remain outside. I’m always careful not to abuse my privilege, which makes my eye all that more special.

Now with the washing and boys inside, I watch the cricket bat rest against the deck and I know there will come a time when those boys will most likely bring someone special home and I will need to retreat to the back stalls of my eye. I know too however, that my eye into the soul of life will always stay as my special eye.

My bag of mixed sweets

Love Hearts

We all have our own little indulgences, beloved drinks or foods, the yummiest lollies, chocolates, treats or candies. Mine is a bag of mixed sweets dominated by a Caramel Bud, a pot of honey and an old-time favourite, the Chocolate Mate.

My Caramel Bud is full of buttery charm with a determination for balance and equality. When he’s not cuddling over me in a swathe of lanky arms, he loves to chat and stir my bag of mixed sweets. He’s never afraid to ask a hard question or say what he thinks.

My pot of honey is smooth on the surface with complex layers of richness beneath. His kisses are sparse and skim my cheeks as butterfly wings, but occasionally come with a vigour that penetrates my core and lingers until he drops the next one on me.

Then there is my enduring Chocolate Mate, my buddy. Beyond the fine chocolate layer is a staunchness rich with strong ties and cuddles of thanks to have me near, or happy to have been to the shops with me.

Chocolate-coated Aniseed Rings too scatter through, adding curves and dips of complexity and sometimes sharp contrasts. Smarties bounce in and through gaps and lodge to add layers of colour and excitement.

Sometimes Pop Rocks explode like fireworks to stir my mix. I’m not a fan of the havoc they create to my palate of balance, nor do I enjoy the sometimes squirm of Sour Snakes as they test my mix further. They ensure though, that I hold my bag of mixed sweets tight as it constantly changes, as the beige Smarty who can transform as a chameleon to move with the flux.

Then just when I think that this balance is complicated or challenging, in sneaks a Love Heart to nudge me not to cry and remind me that I’m loved, or that someone wants to kiss me! They stick close to my Caramel Bud, pot of honey and old-time Chocolate Mate.

My bag of mixed sweets never empties. It’s always full of delight and decadence that reveal more deliciousness each day, jelling and adding more depth to the embodiment of my mix. My favourites don’t disappear, they just change and remain as faithful as my dogs by me now, snuggled and snoring together.

An angel is here

Two baubles of hazel rimmed in brown, glimmer and follow me as I walk across the expanse of this room.

They know.

They care.

They watch high and low, near and far, protecting as a long-time guardian. Their ripples of warmth and colour flow to wings of abundant love that nurture its young.

Tears well at the framed image of you on the wall above our table. We know you’re here today. The man dressed in red knows too, within his own pale eyes, sad and lonely and that pine for you. They say more than anyone dares to see.

He feels you in his yard of joy, among the fluttering fuchsias and vacillating vines that once you touched.

We know you’re here, where your eyes radiate and watch over us as a sentinel on lookout duty. Our keeper, the newest custodian of this family.

We see you in the face of those sitting today, in their smiles and laughter and their eyes too, in their frowns of tiredness after this being-together, grand day, dressed in your apron of yesterday.

You’re always with us, in our dreams and thoughts, in your knick-knacks within our own homes, and in our every way.

We know an angel is here today.

That bobby dazzling time of year

There seem to be so many souls departing this Earth at the moment, and others experiencing turbulence and ending in relationships. And with that, is the heartache and readjustment to a life without someone who was there yesterday.

Or are there so many? Perhaps it’s the same amount throughout the year but we notice it more now because it occurs when people join to celebrate being together. For some, it’s a time of the year that can cross a fine line of when now is just too much to cope with.

Of course there are those that have their celebrations at other times of the year, of Ramadan and Eid Al-fitr, Chinese New Year or Bozic, and I’m sure there’s heartache and contemplation then too.

In the recent and immediate vicinity of my life, five people died in a car accident on a highway and a friend’s father passed over after an accident on the other side of the world. Friends are uncovering transgressions in relationships while others are realising that friendships are changing and fading away. So many are dealing with ending and change.

And then there are the departures of others not directly connected to my immediate life sphere that still affect me, of young and innocent souls lost around the world, and of those in mental, physical or survival battles.

There comes a point where I question, why. Why does all this happen? Why is there so much heartache? I don’t find an answer other than, that’s life. Of birth and death, and learning in between.

I think of my three boys, safe and asleep in bed when at this time a week ago, they were preparing for school. I instantly feel grounded and my gratitude for them overwhelms me. I sip some tea. They’ve finished the school year on a marvellous high, all achieving in their own right and so happy at what they have accomplished – in academia, music and sports. I am beyond happy for them, and that they are happy within themselves. I know I am lucky.

They’ve given out cards and gifts to teachers to say Merry Christmas and thanks for the year. My youngest gave the Lollypop Lady a gift in thanks for helping to cross the busy school road, and she gave Christmas ornaments that she’d made herself and toffees to all those (in the hundreds) that crossed her crossing. Now, her flags are rolled away for the summer holidays and will only unfurl in February to begin a new school year.

For us, the next few days are about baking biscuits, decorating our Christmas fruitcake and wrapping presents to sit under the tree. There are suppers, dinners and drinks with friends and a swim in the pool to get through 30+ degree Celsius days (86+ F). There’ll be street Christmas lights to wander through, Nanny’s tree to decorate and maybe Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve, or we may stay home and the boys will catch their annual bag of lollies tossed by Father Christmas from the back of a fire truck as he does the rounds of the neighbourhood. Even my teenage boys would be in that!

Then on Christmas day, the boys will wake at a time they’ll synchronise between themselves. Although I’m sure early, it won’t be a repeat of a few years ago when they emulated Bart Simpson to drink several glasses of water before they went to bed on Christmas Eve, hoping to wake super early to relieve their bladder and catch an early glimpse of presents left by Father Christmas!

The tree will dazzle with coloured fairy lights and dangling chocolates. Nibbles will appear in the piece of fruitcake and carrot left out for Father Christmas and his reindeer, stockings will bulge and the dining table will wait with plates, glasses and cutlery laid out as sleeping soldiers and fat bonbons watching on guard, ready for a fried ham and eggs breakfast, croissants and jam.

Very quickly, goodies will strew the lounge room and a mishmash of boxes and paper will scatter and pile over the rug. Toys will play, balls will bounce and things will fly while carols ring out and we chomp on treats from the Christmas tree.

After breakfast, it will be time to prepare our allotted contribution of two kilos (almost four and a half pounds) of beans to share at a sister’s lunch. Of the 35 gathered, some will be tired from attending midnight mass while others will be in full celebratory mode, jovial and joking with the brother whose turn it is to dress as Father Christmas to hand out presents after lunch.

Then it’s off to an uncle’s place for some more of Christmas and a whiskey cheer.

The day will end at night, more tired and with full bellies than at any other time of the year, Christmas tree lights subdued, eyes glued to a Christmas movie and eating ham sandwiches. I’ll have an extra strong cup of chamomile tea by my side, and the boys, and husband asleep.

That’s a bobby dazzling Christmas, to souls gone, those in their turbulence, and those present in the now.

You can read more on the struggles of those suffering mental illness in my blogs https://monischott.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/the-dark-cloud/ and http://redroom.com/member/moni-schott/blog/he%E2%80%99s-in-his-head 

Jewels from the kitchen window

As I stand by the kitchen sink looking out into the dawn of a Sunday morning, an orange and green twinkle of a diamond enchants me. It’s a brilliant twinkle amongst a smattering of gems that dance throughout the backyard; day in, day out.

Opals of spring blossoms that emerge at the birth of a child, splashes of glistening aquamarine in a blow up pool and moonstone prints made by excited children that sit on the concrete path after hopping out of that pool.

Sometimes, a sea of birthstones congregate and dazzle at night as people gather to celebrate a birthday or a bon voyage.

From my kitchen window, I watch the ever-changing lapis of zooming scooters and bikes jumping over ramps, the shimmying ruby of a hammock that cocoons a body, and radiant emeralds of grass tips that reach for the sky on a crisp morning.

Occasionally, tears of tigers eyes’ appear when a call comes in the early dark of a morning to tell of someone dear that has left this living Earth.

As I stand by my kitchen window, staring at the next drip of dew falling from the roof outside, I wonder what gems I’ll find next, what new orange and green twinkle of a diamond will sparkle and grow.

Perhaps it will be the agate of a new duco parked in the driveway as a new driver joins the household, or the onyx of another loved one lost.

Growing gems takes time. I’ll savour the fruits of this harvest while the next gestate.

We’re all part of this world

A wonderful verse struck a chord lyrical within, a few weeks ago.

Love so vast, love the sky cannot contain. How does all this fit inside my heart?

Popular thirteenth century poet, Rumi, wrote it.

I know love is vast and endless. I feel it. I see it.

What I don’t know is how such grand amounts of love can fit into the small heart of ours, especially when its physical function is to pump mechanically and continuously to keep our life flowing. And yet despite its tireless work, the heart feels, gives and receives endless amounts of love that a sky cannot contain.

Ask a parent about the love for a child that takes its first steps or performs at a first concert, or new and old lovers about what they feel for their mate. Ask any pet owner about love following the loss of their dog or cat after fifteen years together. They will struggle to utter a word through tears that weep from an endless well in their broken heart.

I like to believe that we humans know what love is and what it means to love and be loved, even if it’s after being hurt in love. And although I sometimes wonder how the vastness of love can fit inside a small, pumping heart, I know it’s because at the essence of our hearts, is a soul.

It is a soul that is endless in its being and strength.

Days later and as quickly as the beauty in Rumi’s quote struck me, a shock jock spoke and jarred me out of my warming image.

A well-known radio broadcaster in Australia told a crowd at a $100-a-head political fundraiser that the Australian Prime Minister’s father died a few weeks earlier of shame because his daughter was a liar. Unbeknownst to the shock jock, his address was recorded and subsequently leaked.

However, the recording wasn’t important. It’s his heart, or maybe missing heart, that interested me.

His callousness and disregard for a grieving human being, bewildered me. Where was his compassion and love, his heart? Surely, even in political games, it must exist.

Perhaps I was naïve. Or perhaps his love sat quietly and alone in a small crevice in his heart, unable to extract itself from its depths. Or perhaps he was without a soul. I felt saddened by that thought.

I didn’t understand and I didn’t know that I was meant to. As I’m told over and over, we live in a polarity of positive and negative, good and bad. It takes all kinds of people, plants, animals, air, and whatever else to live on this Earth. And that includes love.

I think we all have it, love, somewhere in our hearts, just differently. Maybe dressed differently, acting differently.

I think it takes all of us, as different as we are, to live in this world.

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