Toxic Cloud Warning

A MOSY News exclusive

Southern Australia, 8 January 2017

Meteorologists are warning the public of a large testosterone cloud that has emerged in a small area of south-eastern Australia in recent weeks. They are unsure of the reasons for the development of the toxic plume but it is assumed to be caused by the cessation of normal activities in the area.

It is not known what health impacts are likely from exposure to the testosterone cloud but medical experts have issued a warning to anyone living in the area who is genetically female and carries the motherhood gene that there could be moderate to severe psychological effects. Such persons are advised to exit the area whenever possible to reduce exposure. Some relief from symptoms is possible through contact with other genetically female persons not affected by the cloud.

Non-residents are being advised to steer clear of the area.

While climate experts cannot yet fully account for the emergence of the cloud, analysis of historical data would suggest that this is not an entirely new phenomenon and there has been evidence of similar developments in the past. In these cases, the cloud has dissipated by early February which would indicate that the reduction in normal activities in the area is the probable cause of the toxic cloud.

Based on such evidence and despite the unusual size of the current development, it is hoped that this testosterone cloud will dissipate by mid-February. The Bureau of Meteorology advises that the cloud should hold no immediate danger to the wider community but that those living in the area should exercise caution at all times in the coming weeks.

MNN

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Empty Chairs

There were empty chairs at the Christmas table. Some temporary, some permanent. Some have been empty a long time. Some we are still getting used to.

Others might think thirteen around the table to be a grand-sized party. The table was full and crowded. But the empty chairs were obvious to me.

I sat in my father’s chair. It made sense, as the only one of his children present. But the burden of taking that place felt heavy.

The party was congenial but I missed my natural allies.

Little things were difficult. A discussion of family likenesses to those not there. The bottle of wine my father always bought for Christmas. Traditions replaced by new alternatives.

The grief has been hard this year.

Things were wrong and there was no way to make them right.

I went to the ocean. I felt the cold water on my body, the sting of salt in my eyes and I let the ebb and flow of the pounding waves carry away some of the pain.

But still next year there will be empty chairs at the Christmas table.

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Christmas Morsels

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it “Christmas” and went to church; the Jews called it “Hanukka” and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Hanukka!” or (to the atheists) “Look out for the wall!”
~ Dave Barry

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It’s going to be 35 degrees on Christmas Day. That’s in Celsius, by the way. As in, Bloody Hot. Needless to say, lunch will not be a hot roast. And you can keep your pudding and brandy custard. Ice cream all the way, baby.

Now, I can imagine my Northern Hemisphere friends are trying to wrap their heads around a Christmas Day with sunshine, heat, a cold lunch and flies. And why wouldn’t you? It’s not the common conception of Christmas, is it?

See, we here in the Southern Hemisphere have the advantage of being able to simultaneously understand both a hot and a cold Christmas given the plethora of snowy Christmas TV specials and movies that abound in the global culture in conjunction with our actual experience of Christmas. Pity, then, those in the wintry Christmas lands who are spared the equivalent televisual experience of a baking Christmas (and I’m not talking about cookies). I imagine one can count on one hand the number of Christmas movies set down south of the world.

So you may or may not understand this song.

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I do like Christmas on the whole…. In its clumsy way, it does approach Peace and Goodwill. But it is clumsier every year.
~ E.M. Forster

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Last year someone suggested to me that I should be developing my own Christmas traditions rather than just perpetuating the ones from my childhood. I found this mildly confusing as I thought that was the whole point of tradition. Also, given my boys were already teenagers, it seemed a bit late to be starting new traditions.

Then, at an event this year, we were asked to bring along something that represented a Christmas tradition for our family. Uh oh.

I conveniently forgot to take anything.

But a few days later, as we decorated the Christmas tree, I realised that we had established a new Christmas tradition. Introduced two years ago, we have our own special tree-topper that minds our Christmas tree each year now.

Why have a standard star or cutesy angel on the top of your tree when you can have one of the most terrifying monsters ever to come out of Steven Moffat’s frightening head? #ChristmasWeepingAngel #WeAreNotInsane

I can’t wait for the next opportunity to share that Christmas tradition.

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In a wonderful book I was given for Christmas by a dear friend, I learnt that you can learn the twelve cranial nerves to “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. It might be my new favourite carol.

On the first nerve of the cranium,
my true love gave to me:
My sense olfactory.

On the second nerve of the cranium,
my true love gave to me:
Two eyes a-looking,
And my sense olfactory.

And so on, the last verse being:

On the twelfth nerve of the cranium,
my true love gave to me:

Twelve lovely lickings, (Hypoglossal)
Eleven heads a-tilting, (Spinal accessory)
Ten heartbeats a minute, (Vagus)
Nine quick swallows, (Glossopharyngeal)
Eight sounds, and balance, (Auditory)
Seven funny faces, (Facial)
Six sideways glances, (Abducens)
Mas-ti-ca-tion! (Trigeminal)
Four superior oblique muscles, (Trochlear)
Three cross-eyed glances, (Oculomotor)
Two eyes a-looking, (Optic)
And my sense olfactory. (Olfactory)

Just because.

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Santa knows Physics: Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That’s why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig.
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Half the parcels I’ve been waiting on (stocked full of Christmas presents for the boys) haven’t arrived. It’s a common phenomenon apparently.

Sucks to be a postie at this time of year.

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Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.
~ Johnny Carson

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To all my friends, family members, fellow bloggers, and random strangers who came here by mistake, I wish you all the appropriate greetings for the celebration of your choice and hope that the coming year brings all of the things you want and none of the things you don’t. And may we all find peace on earth.

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I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: “Why, this is Christmas Day!”
~ David Grayson

 
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Sailing Away From Sailing

I used to sail. In a boat. On the water. Really.

(You would know this if you’ve read the extensive list of what I’ve attempted to be good at on my About page.)

Hidden in a shed at my parents’ house there is a boat. My boat. The “Eleanor Rigby”. (I was a big Beatles fan from about the age of nine.)

She hasn’t been sailed in…. oh…. I don’t want to think about how long. Decades.

It’s time to let her go.

I haven’t sailed her since my teens but I’m finding it unexpectedly heart-wrenching to part with her.

I developed a passion for sailing after reading Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome when I was twelve. I think part of the reason why sailing, in the end, didn’t stick was because it was never (and was never going to be) like it was in the book. I wanted to sail with hearty mates. I wanted to sail on a lake to a private island. I wanted secret adventures and seed cake and tea cooked over a fire. I wanted to be friends with John and Susan and Titty and Roger. I most especially wanted to be best friends with Nancy and Peggy, the Amazon Pirates.

But it was fantasy and this was reality.

So I sailed in a not-a-clinker dinghy on a bay (well, technically a lagoon off the bay) by myself and there were no private islands on which to camp and make parley with the natives.

It was never quite the same as the dream I held.

But I think it’s mostly hard to let her go because she reminds me of my father.

A father who understood the weird dreams and desires of his youngest daughter and bought her a boat even though money must have been tight.

A father who drove his daughter every week to the lagoon and waited on the bank while she tried to fulfil that dream.

A father who travelled hours around the bay towing the boat so his daughter could share her sailing passion with her school friends at camp.

A father who continued to pay the registration on the boat trailer for years after his flighty daughter had moved on to other things just in case she wanted to come back to sailing.

Life changes. Dad is gone. Mum needs to move on. And the boat must go.

Anyway, she needs to feel the wind in her sail again. Feel the water lapping at her sides. It’s only fair.

But I’ll miss her.

 

 

 

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Move Over Etsy….

….there’s a new craft business taking the world by storm!

Okay, so maybe it’s only taking Australia by storm.

Okay, so maybe it’s just my town that’s getting stormed.

Okay, okay, so it’s only my immediate circle of friends and family.

And there’s no storm.

It’s not even a business.

It’s just MOSY Creations – my new initiative to explain the weird handmade gifts I like to give to people.

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I have, for many years, rather enjoyed making things as gifts. I’m pretty sure there’s still a couple of small framed watercolours I gave my parents for Christmas when I was about 13. I know. You may pity them.

I especially like making things when babies are born.

I went through a period of making animal gift baskets with themed baby items including embroidered singlets. eg, a duck basket with ducks embroidered on socks, singlets, etc.

Then, each of my nieces and nephews received a handmade teddy bear for their first birthday. (The absolute tragedy of this commitment is that I never did the same for my own children. I still feel bad about that.)

Then, in the throes of raising my own children, I got a bit slack. My apologies to any friends whose babies received a store bought present. I owe you one.

I did, however, keep my hand in by making costumes for my kids when required for various school events.

The Youngest Son dressed as some explorer whose name escapes me for a ‘Wax Museum’ exhibition of his work. Some of it made from scratch, some just a clever use of what was in the wardrobe. The jacket was a lucky find in an op shop that just needed the sleeves adjusted to look like they had cuffs. (Smoke and mirrors, people, smoke and mirrors.)

But recently, I’ve been reinvigorated to make things again, inspired mostly by a creative friend whom I knew would fully appreciate a handmade gift.

First it was Mr Snuffleupagus when her son was born.

A year later, I dragged out the knitting needles for the first time in about ten years to knit him a beanie. (It’s Rowlf, for the Muppet-uninitiated.)

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And there have been capes and wallets and Muppet Money (very valuable on the Puppet Exchange).

But the thing about all these creations is that I really had no idea what I was doing and was mostly just making it up as I went. Snuffy was based on an elephant pattern but I had to adjust his head. And his trunk. And his tail. (I think it took three trials to get the tail right.)

The beanie was made up of four different patterns.

So they’re never perfect. There’s always a slightly dodgy element to them all. But I never really thought of giving them a label until recently.

Another friend was expecting her first baby this year and she’s a Doctor Who fan. So, it occurred to me that a really cool present would be to make a Tenth Doctor doll (David Tennant being her favourite Doctor). I figured I’d try and knit one but when I went looking for patterns, I didn’t like any of the knitted ones. I did, however, love a crocheted one I found:

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Image courtesy of Allison Hoffman at craftyiscool.com

In typical fashion, I took to this project with gusto despite not actually knowing how to crochet. (Sometime in my deep dark history I must have learnt because it felt familiar but let’s just say YouTube is a wonderful thing….)

It was far from perfect. I honestly had no idea what I was doing. So, this time I really felt I needed to attach a tag to clearly indicate that this was made by a Jack of All Trades who definitely had not mastered crochet. And thus MOSY Creations was born. It seemed easier to declare at the outset that this was something you would not find on Etsy or Ravelry or even some sort of “Crafties Have Talent” excruciating audition episode. “This is just between you and me”, it says. “It’s not perfect but it’s made with love.”

I was still pleased with the result of my efforts. You know, in that “Gee, that was hard, but I did it” kind of way. And as long as I didn’t keep going back to look at the picture of what it was supposed to look like….

I should perhaps explain that this is a baby-friendly version of the pattern. The original required a piece of dowel in the neck and wire in the limbs. These were obviously omitted in this rather wibbly wobbly Doctor.

My dear friend loved it and she paid me the ultimate compliment. On opening the gift she exclaimed, “Where did you find it?!”

Oh, in a very exclusive establishment.

A Boy and his Doctor (Photo used with permission.)

A Boy and his Doctor
(Photo used with permission)

 

 

 

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The Emotional Memory of Music

You’re standing in a shop and a song comes on the radio that makes your heart do a little dance and you smile. Perhaps it reminds you of a happy wedding, a joyous celebration or a ridiculously fun weekend with friends.

 

“No Life Without Wife” from the movie “Bride and Prejudice”, once performed (with costumes) at a raucous girls’ weekend away. Still makes me laugh.

You’re sitting in the car and a song comes on the radio that makes your heart skip a beat and tears appear in your eyes. Perhaps it reminds you of a significant loss, a painful goodbye or difficult time in your life.

 

“Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds, played and movingly danced to at the funeral of my sister and niece.

Music has memories. The most potent of these are emotional memories.

 

“Deep Peace” by Bill Douglas from the album “Celtic Twilight”. I compiled a playlist of Celtic music as a ‘birthing tape’ for when my boys were born. This song always makes me think of them. (Unfortunately, I actually forgot I had the tape when I gave birth to my first child. With the second one, he arrived so fast the tape didn’t make it out of the bag. It was only with the third child, who took his sweet time coming, that I got to enjoy the whole playlist. Many, many times…..)

Songs can be the most likely to bring up memories, as we connect not only to the music but also to the lyrics. Words can have power.

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Sometimes it may even take you a while to realise why a song or piece of music is making you feel the way it is because the emotional memory of it remains strong while the mental memory has faded with time.

The emotional memory of music can also linger for much longer than the situation that created the emotion. A song may have triggered a strong reaction because of the space you found yourself in at the time and the connection you made to the lyrics. Years later, you may no longer be in that space in your life but hearing the song can still elicit the same reaction as the first time you heard it.

 

“Here We Are” by Belinda McArdle. This is written and sung by the amazing woman who runs the community singing group I attend. When she first introduced this song, I was at a stage in my life when I didn’t know what I was doing, what I was supposed to be doing or where I was going with my life and I felt I was wasting the gifts I’d been given. This song made me cry. That was four years ago and until very recently, if it came on my playlist in the car, it would still make me teary. This despite the fact that I have now found my way and I am happy and fulfilled in my life. I am no longer in the place I was but the emotional memory holds tight.

I do believe it’s possible to change the emotional memory of music. If the new connection is stronger than the previous, it is possible to change one type of memory for another.

I recently attended a vocal workshop facilitated by Belinda and it was an amazing experience of finding newfound confidence and trust in my own voice. After the workshop, we sang the chorus of Here We Are together and it was a powerfully emotional experience for me. And thus, the emotional memory of this song rewrites itself to a new one. This song now reminds me of what my voice can do if only I trust in it.

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What song or piece of music holds strong emotional memories for you?

 

 

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(Re)Living The Italian Life

Last night I went to Tuscany. San Gimignano to be precise. Oh, the food, the wine….

Yeah, okay, so I didn’t really go there. Well, not on an aeroplane in actual person. What do you think I am, a movie star?

I did, however, buy a bottle of Vernaccia di San Gimignano and make homemade ravioli. And I listened to Italian music while I wrestled with the pasta machine. (There may or may not have also been some choice Italian swear words in action.)

“Why??”

I knew you were busting to ask that.

Two lovely friends are currently living the Tuscan life on the trip of a lifetime in Italy. They’ve been posting photos and stories on Facebook and I’ve been reminiscing.

Yes, we did once fair dinkum go to San Gimignano.

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On a seven-week European odyssey with three small boys in tow (ages 11, 8 and 5), we had wisely booked a week in a small Tuscan town at about the halfway point. We didn’t know it was wise at the time. The wisdom only became apparent when we got there after our previous stop in Nice included the line “I’m over it! I want to go home!” That was me. As chief travel agent, tour guide, purchaser, cook, washer and seemingly font of all travel wisdom, the pressure was building. The opportunity to stop and breathe in one place for a week brought sanity back to us all.

Sometimes the significant travel memories that stay with you are not about awe-inspiring art or impressive structures or spectacular landscapes. Sometimes they are about living the life, feeling a part of a community of which you are a part for just a tiny moment. That was Certaldo for us. I’d managed to book a three bedroom apartment in a former 13th century palace with a tower where you could sit and see the towers of San Gimignano in the distance for only AU$800 a week.

Of course, first impressions count when you travel and the fact that we arrived on the weekend of their annual food and wine festival may have had some impact on our positive experiences. We didn’t know it was on when we booked. Another of those serendipitous moments that make a holiday special.

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Boccaccesca Wine and Food Festival, Certaldo Alto

It was like it was all meant to be.

We relaxed, shopped at the market, read books, ate a lot of good Italian bread and cheese and made day trip forays into neighbouring tourist centres such as Sienna and San Gimignano. We didn’t have a car so these were accessed by public transport. There’s nothing quite like squeezing onto a crowded local bus to make you feel a part of the community.

It was a favourite moment in our holiday and I can’t help thinking that its impact was greater because it came at just the right time. We headed off after our week-long stay with renewed energy and patience.

I’d love to go back but I suspect that it wouldn’t be the same.

In the meantime, I’ll find the odd bottle of Tuscan wine in the local Dan Murphy’s, drag out the pasta machine and relive la dolce vita at home.

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Certaldo Alto, Tuscany

 

 

 

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Further Life Lessons From The Doctor

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It’s time for some more wisdom from everybody’s favourite Time Lord.

Things got very philosophical and deep for a while there…. (And for my blogging friend Bun and his boys, I finally found a quote from the Tenth Doctor I could tolerate.)

But you can always trust the Eleventh Doctor to come in swinging with the optimism:

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Truths were told:

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And my favourite fashion choices were upheld:

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Relevant observations were made about the state of the world and its politics:

We’ve definitely all had moments like this (I feel like this right now with only one more week of term before the holidays):

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And to finish, the Eleventh Doctor swings again:

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An Imaginary Friend

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Me and My Imaginary Friend

Have you ever had an imaginary friend? Do you have an imaginary friend now?

If you once had an imaginary friend, I feel very happy for you.

If you have an imaginary friend now, I feel even more happy for you. (You thought I was going to say I feel worried for you, didn’t you?)

I think I’d rather like to have an imaginary friend now, at my age.

But that’s a discussion for another time. It’s not actually what this post is about.

Sometimes, a random thought will come wandering into my head like a lost tourist, plonk itself down on its suitcase in the middle of my thoughts and wait for me to ask if there’s anything I can do for it.

The latest one was this:

“I wonder what it would be like to be an imaginary friend?”

Let’s think about that, shall we?

You’d never have to feel guilty for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the right time or the right place at the wrong time. An imaginary friend always has perfect timing.

You’d never have to take your foot out of your mouth or apologise for saying something thoughtless, hurtful or stupid. An imaginary friend always knows the right thing to say.

You’d never have to agonise over a gift, wondering if it’s appropriate or too much or too little. An imaginary friend always buys awesome imaginary gifts with his/her imaginary millions.

You’d never have to second guess yourself about whether you were a good friend or not. An imaginary friend has absolute confidence.

You’d never have to make conversation with other friends or relatives of your friend, especially those with political views that make your blood boil. An imaginary friend is invisible to everybody else.

You’d never have to worry about posting the wrong thing on Facebook or Twitter or forgetting to reply to an email from your friend. Imaginary people don’t have Facebook or Twitt….er….acc…..ounts….. Okay, you might have to wear that one.

What would it be like to be an imaginary friend?

I reckon it would be freakin’ awesome!

How about you?

 

 

 

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A Selfish Good Person?

Am I a good person?

Do you ever ask yourself that?

I ask it a lot. It’s something of a tenet, a measure, a check and a balance to my life.

Am I a good person?

How do you measure if you’re a good person?

For me, it’s always been about how I treat others and, more importantly, what I do for others.* Born into a family ‘blessed’ with an overactive servant gene, it has always filled my soul to be helpful to someone.

Until recently.

I’m not sure but I think somehow my servant gene has mutated into a selfish gene.

There are significant people in my life who require my help but I can’t seem to muster the willpower to do it.

There are tasks I have willingly undertaken for years for someone about whom I care very much that lately I have found a chore.

I take forever to answer emails requesting assistance for some task or other (if I answer at all).

Issues of justice for which I used to advocate passionately all just seem too hard now.

Friends regularly chide me (gently) for not being in touch for months on end.

When it comes to the blogosphere, I’ve been binge-watching shows on Netflix when I know I could be reading the blog posts of people who so kindly read mine.

Is there such a thing as a selfish good person?

Even when I try to be a good person, I can end up in a no-win situation. A genuine offer of assistance to a friend has become meaningless as I find myself regularly unavailable on the day required because I want to do what is best for a special group of children. Being good to the one means being selfish to the other.

Maybe it’s too hard to be a good person.

Or maybe we just have to be as good as it’s possible to be under the circumstances. A ‘good enough’ person.

And then we hope the circumstances change to allow us to be the person we really want to be.

What makes a good person to you?

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You and me both, Dave.

 

*Consequently, should I do something against this tenet and do or say something that causes hurt to another, I never really get over it.

 

 

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