Friday, January 30, 2009


Besides fearing the flights home, I'm feeling incredibly good right now.

I feel hopeful.

I feel satisfied.

I feel spiritual

I feel excited.

I feel love.

I'm excited for all the very special moments I'll have with Jack and Tim.

I'm excited to see my friends.

I'm excited to meet new friends.

I'm excited to see my cousins.

I'm excited to see extremely deadly animals...with a thick piece of glass between us.

I'm excited to ride the Manly Ferry.

I'm excited to have picnics in the park.

I'm excited to go to Australian museums.

I'm excited to get that VERY special phone call from my family.

I'm excited to take long walks.

I'm excited to find treasures in used bookstores.

I'm excited for all the silly moments and the shared laughter.

I'm excited for those moments where I feel so much at home that I forget where I am. Then suddenly I remember I'm halfway across the world. And it all feels amazing.

Something I Dread

Okay. This is sad.

I'm already dreading the flights home.

I don't dread COMING home as much as I did last year. I'll have a new niece (or nephew) to see. I have a bunch of exciting Australian people to research. I'll see family and friends again. I'll have daily Internet.

I'll be sad about leaving Australia. But I don't think I'll be devastated like I was last year.

I really dread the flights, though, because they're both at night. I HATE night flights. I've hated them ever since I saw the Stephen King miniseries The Langoliers. Night Flights completely creep me out. I can barely sleep. But when I do finally manage it, I hate waking up to see all these strangers in the dark. And the worst is when everyone else seems to be sleeping except for me. I feel incredibly alone.

Well. I just looked at our flights again. I feel a little better. They both leave in the early evening. People probably won't start sleeping until about halfway through the flight.

All right. It shouldn't be so bad. Last time, we left Japan pretty late at night. I forgot the time exactly. I'm thinking though that it was around nine. That was awful.

Anyway. I guess I'll try to block all that from my mind!

No More Comment Moderation

I took off comment moderation. I wanted to do that, because I was afraid people might leave comments while I'm gone; and if I didn't moderate, the comments would be stuck in limbo.

I hesitated doing this because I didn't know you could still get email notifications even if you don't moderate comments. This is the main reason I use comment moderation in the first place. Otherwise, I can't keep up with comments...especially ones that are done on old posts.

But now I know I can do it, so no more comment moderation.

I don't really get any obscene horrible comments (knock on wood). The ones I've deleted in the past were advertisements.

So, good news to solicitors and blog is now open to your crap!

What I Plan to do Today

Last night I was very disappointed in myself because I was thinking about Tasmania and couldn't remember the name of the famous Aboriginal woman. I can see her face in my mind. But I can't get her name in my head. I tried to remember other names and I did. That made me feel a little better. I remember Pemulwoy and Bennelong. I also remember Windschuttle. He's not Aboriginal, but rather he's the man who tries to deny really bad things happened to the Tasmanian Aborigines.


I decided I'm going to go back and read my old research posts, the ones I did before I started doing the biography ones. I did all this research on the places we'd be visiting, and now I've probably forgotten too much of it. I need to re-educate myself.

I'm also going to print out some maps. Tim had wanted me to do that and I forgot. We have a navigation system, but who knows if it will work.

I've been less excited about this Australia trip than I was for the last one. I mean I've had moments of excitement (as I wrote in the post a few weeks ago), but feelings of anxiety have overshadowed the good feelings. Last night I finally realized and faced what I'm nervous about. Once I came to terms with it, I felt much better. Now I'm much more excited. I even feel much better about that which was distressing me.

Sometimes in life I'll feel really down or anxious. I can't figure out why I'm upset, so I'll start believing that it's a chemical imbalance type of thing. But I usually find, if I really think hard, I can find what's upsetting me and feel better about it. Often, it's something really trivial. I'll have this dark cloud over me. I'll feel really nervous. And then when I think about it, I'll realize I dread having to call the vet to make an appointment for the cat. It's silly and stupid. But for some reason, it makes me feel down.

Last night I had a weird theological lucid dream. I had hopes of finding something I was looking for. I found myself suddenly praying to God. Please God. Let me find it.

I stopped in my tracks, surprised at myself. I wasn't surprised to be be praying, just surprised to be praying to God. I AM a believer, but I don't believe in God....or so I thought. I started wondering why I was praying to God. Was it because I was dreaming? I wondered to myself if I'd still believe in God when I woke up. If I truly had this belief, would it carry over to my waking life? And I also wondered if my beliefs would be influenced by whether I found what I was looking for or not. Is it easier to believe in a God that gives us what we want?

I didn't find what I was looking for, and I didn't wake up with a sudden firm belief in God.

But I woke up open to exploring the possibility.

I do believe in a generic higher power type thing....kind of like The Force in Star Wars. I don't believe in a personal God, one who watches over me and loves me. I don't believe in a God who wants and/or needs to be worshiped. I refuse to believe in a God conceited enough to send people to hell simply because they picked the "wrong" religion.

I don't know. Now that I think of it. Maybe my dream prayer was a simple gut reaction--brought on by my many years of Judaic-Christian. I often find myself wanting to write or say something like Oh my God! I don't think that means I truly believe. It's probably just ingrained in me.

I decided since I won't be posting for over thirty days, I'm going to write thirty posts today. That way I'll feel caught up. No, I'm joking. But I may post a few times....if I have something to say.

I'm going to miss this blog. I'm going to miss the blogs I read.

I'm going to be missing some Australians even though I'll actually be in Australia. I'm very amused by that irony.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

One More Day

We were going to actually put the stuff in the suitcases tomorrow. But we decided to do it tonight. I have a few pajama shorts/t-shirts to wash. I'll throw them in tomorrow. We ended up not taking two big suitcases and a duffel bag. Instead, we're doing a small suitcase, a big suitcase, and a duffel bag. At least, this is the plan right now. If we can't fit it all in, we'll have to change something. Tim weighed everything to make sure it's under 20 kilos. So good.

We're trying to figure out what we should do about Los Angeles. We have a four hour layover. I'm really paranoid about getting stuck somewhere and missing our flight. But then I really don't want to spend four hours in an airport. I've done a little research on nearby places. There's a beach close by that looks nice. Or we could go a little farther away (which scares me) and do a museum type thing. The problem is LAX has no baggage lockers right now so we'll have to carry our carry-on stuff with us. That will be a huge pain. Maybe it's better to just stay at the airport. No, it's not. I hate airports. And LAX is not a fun far as I've seen. My worry is we'll end up parking ourselves somewhere and doing all the stuff we should save to do for the six hour flight to Hawaii.

What would you guys do if you were us?

I HATE traveling. I like BEING at a place, but I don't like having to get there. When is someone going to invent teleportation?

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by my favorite new commenter. Mr Spooky!

Here are the rules:

Link to the person who tagged you.
Mention the rules.
Tell six quirky yet boring and unspectacular details about yourself.
Tag six other bloggers by linking to them.
Go to each person’s blog and leave a comment that let’s them know they’ve been tagged.

My 6 quirky, boring and unspectacular details:

1. I run very slow.
2. I have kyphosis...a hunched back.
3. I have these horrible episodes where suddenly I have tons of saliva. I start gagging and it's hard for me to breath. I hate it.
4. I don't like making phone calls. I especially dislike calling somewhere to make an appointment.
5. I didn't have my first kiss until I was 18.
6. I'm not as smart as some people think, I'm not as dumb as some people think, but I'm much weirder than most people imagine.

I'm not going to tag anyone specifically. If you want to play, be my guest.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Letting Things Go

I'll admit it. We're not light-packers. We're not the type of people who can squish a holiday into a small duffel bag. We're bringing two medium/large suitcases and a duffel bag. Plus, we're all bringing backpacks on the plane.

Clothes-wise, we're packing about a week's worth with plans to do laundry.

Toiletries and medicine-wise, we're bringing more this year than last year. Last year, I thought it would be cool to buy Aussie toiletries. Now I know the prices of Aussie stuff vs. American stuff. We're bringing our own! We might miss a few things and need to get more. But I think we're the most part, we're set. Ah, just remembered. I need to pack cotton for ear drops!

We have let a few things go. I had planned to take a video camera. But then I changed my mind. If I take it, I'm going to want to film people we hang out with. That leads us to the awkward moment of asking permission to film. I'd feel I have to do this because if I took videos, I'd edit them and put them on YouTube. I wouldn't want to do this without permission...especially if I filmed someone's children. Plus, I want to ENJOY my time in Australia and not worry about having to film stuff.

Tim has decided not to take his huge fancy camera. I'm so relieved about this! He became a bit obsessive last year. I'll admit. He did take some awesome photos. But there were moments I wanted to say. Hello? Are you part of our family or our private photographer? And that camera is heavy!

We're just going to take our small little point/shoot digital camera. I think this is totally enough!

This returns me to the issue of asking permission because I'll probably put photos up here. But I think people do that a lot without asking. At least from what I see on other blogs. Or maybe people DO get permission? How about this? If you read this blog, you're planning to see me, and you don't want photos of you and your children showcased, tell me! Otherwise, I'll just imagine you're okay with it. I hope!

I personally don't think photos are as intrusive as video. But that's just me. I know some people are very sensitive about it, and I respect that.

We were planning to take two laptops, and then I realized how stupid that was. I thought it would keep Jack busy on the plane, but he's rarely used it the other times we've traveled with it. We may end up fighting for the one laptop if we end up in a room that has Internet Access. But I'm thinking it's good I stay away from the computer. If I go on the Internet just for a quick hello....I'll end up checking my email which will take way too much time.

 My family writes emails back and forth everyday. There will be TONS of stuff to fish through. Someone will write something controversial. I'll feel the immediate need to respond. This will take about thirty minutes. Then I'll go to write a quick entry on my blog. I'll see my blogroll. I'll start missing everyone and decide to read their blog entries. I'll realize I'm lost because I haven't read in a few days. I'll start reading back entries. I'll find a controversial post. I will either spend way too much time responding or I'll obsess about it all day.

SO....the more I stay away from the computer, the better!

I probably will need to check every so often. I hope I don't sign on more than once a week though. The again, if it's 40 million degrees outside, the Internet might be our only fun.

I have a little purple purse with my spiritual tools in it. I have these little spirit guide cards in them that I made. Yes, I'm weird. I decided not to take the cards. I'm leaving the whole purse behind. I feel if the spirit world needs to give me a message, they'll find a way to get it across. There's always dreams and synchronicity. I trust in those messages more anyway. I'm losing faith in the cards. It's seeming a bit random lately. In the beginning, the cards made a lot of sense and fit my life. Now I usually read them and think Huh? What?

 I can make them fit a little, but I have to REALLY stretch my imagination.

I'm also not a big believer in ritual and material items when it comes to spirituality. I think it's fine to have those things. I have a few. But I don't like the idea of becoming too dependent on them. I also don't like the idea of becoming too attached to them. I think it's good I'm leaving them at home.

I was going to take a journal to record any meaningful dreams or "coincidences" I have. But I rarely have that much to write. And the journal is heavy. So I just grabbed a handful of notebook papers and stuck them in my backpack. That should be enough.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Three More Days

Three more days until we leave!

I'm almost all packed. I love packing for trips. And I love unpacking once we get there. I don't think I enjoy packing to go home...or unpacking at home.

Okay. I'll be honest. I really don't have much to say. It's just that if I post today and tomorrow, I think I will have done a post every single day for 6 months. I don't know where I got the idea that I needed to post every single day. I know I didn't have that plan the day I decided to start an Australian blog. I figured I'd write it in every so know when something Australia-related happened in my life. But then it came to the point where I was MAKING Australian things happen every day in my life. Well, that's how the whole research thing began.

I'm paranoid about us getting sick and not being allowed on the plane. I've been pushing Vitamin C on all of us. Hopefully, it will work.

I'm worried that the weather will be horrible. And I know that's selfish of me because some of you are LIVING in that weather. Then again, Texas is very hot in the summer. So I have to live in it too. I want my holiday to have nice weather! Is that selfish? Is that greedy? Maybe. So be it. Sorry.

Oops. Never mind. I just checked to make sure I had the date right. I started this blog on June 22. I don't know why I thought it was June 28. So I already passed my anniversary. And I know. You're supposed to celebrate one year--not six months. But at one year, I won't be able to say I wrote an entry everyday because I won't be able to write everyday in February and March. So, I'm kind of cheating...I guess.

Monday, January 26, 2009

An Award

Lightening was nice enough to bless me with an award. Thank you!

Here are the instructions which come with said award:
Put the logo on your blog or post.
Nominate at least 10 blogs which show GREAT ATTITUDE and/or GRATITUDE!
Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

So, here we go.....

thesydneytraveler Lauren writes about the fun things that are going on in my favorite city. She has a lot of enthusiasm, and a love for Sydney that's contagious.

my journey to eliminate debt Louise is awesome. She gives great advice about personal finance by sharing her own personal triumphs and struggles.

Three Ring Circus Tiff is up for a MAJOR award. She probably doesn't need another one. But I have to give it to her because she so deserves it. She really should just get every award by default.

Magikquilter- The funny thing is I met Kathleen through someone's very unethical behavior. Sometimes good things DO come out of bad events. Kathleen is so passionate, and Linkan amazing artist. I'm very grateful that she came into my life. I feel my life is better for knowing her.

Michael Gorey-I love his blog. I love all the comments he leaves on my blog. Michael is great for me because he knows a lot about Australia history. And anyone anyone who understands me will know why I love that!

A Writer's Life-This is Magikquilter's son. I haven't seen many of his posts yet, but the ones I've seen are amazing. He has inherited his mother's passion and good heart.

Memoirs of An Aussie Living in the USA
-I hardly know this person. I just found her blog. But I'm amused because she's an expat living in Dallas. That's not too far from me. She puts me to shame because I think she's seen more of America than I have. I haven't read much of her blog, but I flipped through and looked at the photos. They seem like very fun people. They're really embracing the experience of being in a new country.

Georgina- This blog is about a horrible tragedy. It's incredibly sad. But it's amazing how much faith these people have. Religion is involved with a lot of conflicts in our world. It's easy to imagine we'd be better off without it. Then I read a blog like this and I realize sometimes religion can be a good thing. It can give people strength, and it can pull people together.

Lightening-Okay, I'm boomeranging this award. But if anyone deserves this award, it's Lightening. Well, she already got the award. I know. She deserves two though. Her blog probably has the most gratitude I've ever seen.

Bona Fide Mama-This is my fellow Unschooling mom. She's been my online friend for a pretty long time. We lost touch for awhile and then being the stalker that she is....she found me again. I'm so glad to be reunited. Mandy's posts are full of gratitude. She is full of bright enthusiasm. Even her sad posts are somewhat cheerful but not in a fake way. I think even when she's sad, she has hope. She has faith.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Happy Australia Day!

To honor all you Australians, Jack and I had Vegemite on toast.

BUT as I've said before.....

In my life, EVERY day is Australia Day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rolf Harris (Thanks, Fe)

This will be my last biographical post for several weeks. We'll all get a nice break.

Today, we have Rolf Harris.

The first time I heard of him was from the Wiggles. They did a version of Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport.

I don't really know much about the man. I guess I shall find out.

Wow. He's older than I thought. I pictured him being in his 50's or 60's. He's 78!

Rolf Harris was born in Perth. His birthday is March 30, 1930.

Even without the birthday website, I see something interesting. There's a lot of 3's in his birthdate. Two 30's. And then March is the third month. Interesting.

Besides that, he's a Aries, and a 1 in numerology. 1 is about independence and leadership. What is an Aries? I forgot. Let me go check. Oh no. Wait. I remember. It's the one that's a bit wild and daring....but also generous. It sounds a lot like my brother-in-law. And he's an Aries. See? Sometimes these things do fit.

Baby Rolf was named after the pen name of his mommy's favorite writer. Rolf Boldrewood. He (Harris not Boldrewood) was born in a suburb called Bassendean. It's about twenty minutes north of the Perth airport. I wonder if he heard planes flying overhead.

His parents emigrated from Wales. His aunt was a writer and illustrator of children's books. Pixie O'Harris. Did she add the O to give herself a new pen name, or by coincidence did she marry a guy with a last name similar to her maiden one? This woman has a lot of books to her name. I'll have to look out for some of her stuff. Are any of you fans? Is she well known and well loved?

Like Margaret Whitlam, Rolf Harris was into the whole swimming thing. I don't think he competed in the Commonwealth Games though.

Harris attended Perth Modern School. Lord Wiki says by 2011 this school will be for gifted children only.

Bob Hawke went to the school too. He's only one year older than Harris. Maybe they knew each other.

Harris studied art at the University of Western Australia. Here he met his wife who was also an art student. He got married at the age of 28. They have a daughter named Bindi.

Another Bindi. Is that a popular name in Australia?

Before the marriage thing, Harris spent time in England. I'm not sure if his future wife was there with him or not.

In England, he illustrated a book about paper folding written by a magician named Robert Hardin. And he did some acting. He was in a show called The Vise. This show was on from 1954-1955. I'm not seeing him listed on IMDB though. Maybe he used a different name? I'm confused.

Oh never mind. I found him. He was in some movies too: You Lucky People, Crash Drive, and Web of Suspicion (with Ian Fleming!).

Harris returned to Perth and involved himself with children's shows. Then he returned to the UK again. Is he still there, or in Australia?

He invented an instrument! That's cool. I never knew that. The Wobble Board. I heard of that instrument in association with Harris; because the Wiggles mentioned it. But I didn't realize  Harris invented it.

In 1959, it seems Harris was back in Perth because Lord Wiki says he worked at a television station there. TLW. Lord Wiki says it was the first television station in Western Australia. It started in 1959 so maybe this means Harris was one of its first employees.

It was here at TLW that Harris recorded "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport". He then recorded it as a record. Here's something funny. He offered the backup musicians 10% royalties, but they opted for a 28 pound recording fee. Why? They thought the record would be a flop.

The original name of the song was "Kangalypso".

And here's some controversy. In the original song, there are some offensive lyrics. Let me abos go loose, Lew/ Let me abos go loose/ They're of no further use, Lew/ So let me abos go loose. I'm not sure which is worse. The use of the term abos, or the part about them being of no use. Although I guess it's nice that he wants to give them some freedom. I mean I guess I should TRY to look at the bright side.

In later versions of the song, the offensive part has been taken out. And Harris expressed regret about it in 2006. Was this a one time offense?

In 1963, Harris sang a version of the song with the Beatles. The lyrics were changed to refer to them.

Also in the 1960's, Harris did a song about a man with three legs. Jake the Peg.

That was a funny song. But he also did a serious/poignant song. Two Little Boys. It sounds upbeat, but it's about war. It's kind of eerie. It sounds cheerful if you're not listening to the lyrics.

This made me chuckle. He was on a BBC show called Desert Island Discs. On that show, people choose which eight pieces of music would they take on an island with them. Harris chose all of his own music. Wow. Lord Wiki says it was the longest running music show in the history of radio. I feel a bit pathetic because I had never even heard of it before. Oh! The show is still on.

I feel so in the dark. It's my fault. I never listen to the radio. Besides, I don't know if they play BBC stuff on our radio.

For the 1982 Commonwealth Games, Harris performed in a version of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport". The show included a kangaroo who came on stage and then children popped out of her pouch. I'm guessing it was a fake kangaroo.

In the year 2000, Harris did a song called Fine Day. It went to the top of the charts in the UK. I'm not trying to succumb to ageism here....although Jack has accused me of that recently. But Harris was seventy-years-old. That's pretty impressive.

I'm listening to the song now. It sounds really fun. I like it. You know, the video on YouTube shows photos of Harris. He looks a bit like Colonel Sanders.

Oh! This song is really awesome. It's fun!

Harris is one of those awful people who have the nerve to be talented in multiple disciplines. He acts. He sings! He plays the didgeridoo (that in itself is quite an accomplishment). And he still does fine art stuff.

Does he do brain surgery on the side? Huh?

He was commissioned to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II for her 80th birthday. You know what that reminded me of? The episode of The Simpsons where Marge has to do the portrait of Mr. Burns.

Some people thought the painting was offensive, but the queen liked it. See? I think that's what happened on The Simpsons. Isn't it? I'm not sure how I feel about the painting. I don't think it really looks like Queen Elizabeth II; or at least what I've seen of her. Lord Wiki says Harris said that it was supposed to be more of an Impressionistic painting than a photographic one. I have a feeling that's his way of saying it didn't turn out quite the way he had hoped. No, I'm joking. But that would be kind of funny.

Harris used a variety of interesting instruments including the didgeridoo. He played the didgeridoo in a Kate Bush song called The Dreaming. It's quite a weird video. The only thing I've heard from Kate Bush is This Women's Work from She's Having a Baby. This is quite different from that.

For Andrew Denton's show, Harris performed a version of I Touch Myself. I'm not sure what to think about it.

He did Six White Boomers. I love that song.  A while back I downloaded it from I-Tunes.   But it's not the Rolf Harris version.

Lord Wiki is driving me nuts. He keeps going totally out of order.

Now we're back to his television career.

From 1989-1993, he did a show called Rolf's Cartoon Club. I think the show had various cartoons and then he'd also give drawing tips to the kids.

After that show, he was the host of a reality TV program called Animal Hospital. Wow. The show lasted for ten years. During his time on the show, Harris adopted a Border Collie that had been abandoned. Cool!

Harris did a series about art. Rolf on Art. This was also for the BBC. He sure does a lot for the BBC.

I'm done with Lord Wiki now. Bye bye, Lord Wiki. It will be a long time before we have a playdate again. I wish you well.

I'm going to look at the official Rolf Harris site now. I think I'll start with his biography. I feel like Lord Wiki held out on me about that stuff. He gave me a lot of career information, but not a lot of personal stuff. He didn't even give me much personal stuff regarding his career. How did Harris get to be on television? That doesn't just happen. Does it?

Well, the website doesn't give me much information either. Maybe I need to buy his autobiography.

Okay. Here's some FAQ's. This might tell me something.

His dad and his uncle came over to Australia in 1911. Shortly after they arrived, the war happened. If I'm reading this right, Crom (the dad) lied about his age so his younger brother Carl would seem old enough to fight. Isn't it interesting how times change? These days it seems people are more likely to lie to keep away from the fighting. In those days, I bet more people lied so they could be IN the fight.

On one of their leaves, Carl and Cron went to visit their family back in the UK. It was here that Rolf's daddy met Rolf's mommy. Rolf's grandma was horrified to learn that her younger son was a soldier. She reported him and he had to stop fighting. But once he was old enough, he started again. Both young men were injured. Carl died. Lord Wiki had said that the song "Two Little Boys" had special meaning for the family in light of what happened...two brothers fighting in a war. From what Lord Wiki says though, Harris wasn't aware of the story until way after he recorded it.

Daddy Harris convinced the rest of the family to move to Australia. They did that, but weren't too fond of Perth. They went to Sydney. Crom stayed in Perth and sent for the woman he had met in the UK.

Harris has an older brother. Bruce.

Here are some dates regarding his moves back and forth from the UK to Perth. He went to the UK in 1952. He returned to Perth in 1959.

Oh! At one time he lived in Canada.

In 1962, he returned to the UK.

They had a black standard poodle. That was one of our family dogs....Toby. She was very sweet, but neurotic. She would chase the pool vacuum , barking at it like it was some kind of monster.

I guess the FAQ was written before Harris adopted the Border Collie because that's not mentioned.

His favorite food is curry. I haven't had that in a long time. I kind of have a taste for it now.

His favorite book as a child was The Magic Pudding. I really need to read that.

Harris can NOT paint your grandma, your aunt, your dog, or your new baby. He's a bit too busy for that!

This art news blog talks about the portrait of the queen. The post I'm reading was done in 2005, and it says Harris lives in the UK. It seems like he spends more time there than Australia. The blogger says this about the painting, the big toothy smile doesn't look quite right. It's no Mona Lisa smile but is probably better than most British critics are saying about it. The smile is kind of funny looking.

Here's an article about his racist lyrics. He apologized. And then he said, get up off your arse and clean up the streets your bloody self. Yeah. Well, I'm not sure about that one. Noel Pearson might agree. My grief with this is the guy sang something racist. Yeah yeah. I of his times and all that. But it took him until 2008 (or 2006 as Lord Wiki said) to apologize? Maybe he apologized in 2006 AND 2008? Maybe his first apology was nicer? This one was a bit rude.

He blames the Aborigines original lifestyle on their awful condition now. He said, The attitude is that, in their original way of life, they would really wreck the surrounding countryside that they lived in and they would leave all the garbage and they would go walkabout to the next place. Wow. Harris is so know because white people never leave their trash anywhere. We never waste anything or cause destruction.

Okay, this article from 2006 says Harris DID apologize back then. Here's something interesting. The song was a hit in Australia and the UK. But it was banned in Singapore because of the term Abos. Harris says since 1960, he hasn't sung that verse.

So, what happened in 2008? Maybe that article isn't even true? I need something to back it up. Here we go. He apologized later for his remarks. He said, You think you're talking quietly off the record about things that you feel, and then you see it printed up and you think, God, did I say that? Did I mean that?' I didn't mean that. I would just like to apologize for any offense that I've caused and put it behind me.

Maybe he was drunk at the time?

This is off the subject, but I've been noticing something. Almost every time I quote something from another website, my spell checker finds a mistake. For example, in the above, the word apologize was spelled a-p-o-l-o-g-i-s-e. I kind of just thought that Australian editors weren't putting their spell check to good use. But now I'm thinking maybe it's a cultural difference. I knew of differences such as labor/labour and harbor/harbour. I guess there are other differences too. I feel incredibly stupid and ethnocentric right now. But unlike Harris, I shall apologize immediately. I'm sorry.

Now I'm going to read the Enough Rope interview.

I guess on his art show, Harris does paintings in the style of various famous artists. Well, maybe he recreates their paintings. So, he's like a mimic. But instead of imitating someone's voice, he imitates their art.

One of his paintings sold for 100,000 pounds. Wow.

His dad sounds cool. He encouraged Harris to be different. When Harris came home from school he told his dad he had been made prefect. The condition was Harris would have go get a haircut and wear tidier clothes. Daddy Harris was mad about this. I don't know. Maybe he's not so cool. I like the idea of parents allowing their children to be different. I'm not sure if I like the idea of them forcing it. And it seems from the story, Harris didn't mind getting a haircut and new clothes. It seems the father put expectations on him. Or maybe I'm reading too much into this.

Well, okay. Harris says his dad was wonderful. Maybe I did read the story wrong. Maybe Daddy Harris knew his son liked to have long hair. Maybe he was saying that Harris should stick up for his rights. That would be a very good dad.

He was weird and arty in high school; didn't have many friends.

He really loved his dad. That's very sweet.

The interview has a few tear-jerker moments. He tells one story of a fan coming up and asking for a hug. They hugged. That doesn't pull on my heart-strings much, but then Denton says Harris cried while telling the story. That's pretty touching. The next story says that Harris went to visit his very sick mother. He tried to cheer her up by doing jokes and all that. Harris's friend pushed him to stop and tell her he loved her. Harris did. And he then realized he had never told his mother that. Really? I have a hard time imagining that. What about when he was a young child? I guess maybe they had one of those families that never expresses their love. My family is all about expressing the love. We express that love even when we're pissed off at each other. Our fights are along the lines of You are such a selfish bitch! You're completely impossible. Oh, but I still love you. I'll always love you.

Oh no. This is TOO sad for me. He talks about his childhood relationship to his mom. She'd be all excited to see him when he got home from school. She'd ask all these questions and he'd politely brush her off. Then he'd run and go to tell his father about his day. He made it obvious that he liked one parent over another.

I really hope I don't treat anyone that way. I mean I'm sure I treat people that way sometimes. We all do. But I hope I don't do it to any particular person on a regular basis. Jack and I do it to each other. I'm too busy researching at times and only half listen to his numerous interruptions. The other day he was too busy playing to listen to my extremely important safety lecture. So yeah. We ignore each other at times. But we have enough other times during the day where we give each other love and attention.

Harris says he was away a lot during his own daughter's life. That's the thing about having an important and busy life. You don't have much time for your family. You do great things for the world. But where does that leave your children? Obama might end up being a great president. But what kind of husband will he be during the next four years? What kind of father will he be?

I don't know. Maybe it can be done. Maybe it's just about priorities. If you have a really busy job, then you cut back on other stuff so you have time for family. My dad had a very busy work schedule. He was gone a lot. He worked late. But I don't remember thinking of him as absent. He made us a priority. We still had dinners together. Sunday was family night. And we took vacations together. He used to say (when asked) that his hobby was his family. I think if you work a lot of hours, this is how it needs to be. I think in the ideal situation, you have both quality and quantity time to give your children. But if you can't have both, than make the best of the short amount of time, away from work, you have.

Oh this gets more and more sad. While Harris was enjoying 1960 and the "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" song, his wife was at home thinking about suicide. He never knew she was that sad until five years later when he saw her diary. Why was he reading her diary? And why didn't he notice she was sad? How does that work? Was he too preoccupied with his own life? Was she a good actress? Did she keep things well hidden? Did he not know her well enough? I think this is hard for me to relate to because I notice things. I can pick up people's moods. I notice if someone is unusually quiet. I notice if someone is annoyed. I notice when someone's in a bad mood. I notice when someone is feeling snarky. I notice when someone feels uncomfortable. But who knows? I could be completely wrong. Maybe there's someone in my life now who is thinking about suicide and I have no idea.

Harris says he has trouble saying no to people. I can see how this can totally cause problems in a marriage. If you're constantly saying yes to people, when will you have time for your wife and child?

Harris says he was self-centered but is trying to change.

He also seeks attention and craves approval. I think this can be very hard on a family as well. If someone seeks attention and approval, they're likely to give more time to people outside the family. Families have a tendency to take each other for granted. After you're married to someone for five years, your jokes become old to them. They've heard all your stories multiple times. They're less impressed with all your various talents. So, there's that desire to seek attention elsewhere. And it is often too hard to compete. How does a wife of fifteen years compete with women who are new, exciting, and completely entranced by her husband? And should she have to compete?

Who is to blame? Is it the spouse and children who can't manage to laugh after hearing the same joke for the fiftieth time? Or is it the person who constantly seeks out the thrill of new and outside attention?

I've been on both ends of the stick. I've probably given out less attention/praise than I should. I really do TRY though. I try to notice what my family is doing, and I try to give them attention for it. Mostly because I know how it feels when you don't get that attention. I do feel hurt that some people in my family don't read my blog. I mean I don't expect ANYONE to read it everyday. But it would be nice if they looked at it every so often....and then told me they did. That would mean a lot to me. Because they don't, I feel at times that I have more of a connection to some people halfway across the world. I feel they appreciate me more than certain people in my family appreciate me.

I guess in a way it's the fault of both people. Or maybe not. I really don't know. I guess the problem is if someone is very famous, their expectations for attention might be too high. They're worshiped by the public so they might expect to be worshiped at home. If they're not worshiped they feel unappreciated and they seek attention elsewhere. I'm actually not famous. I know because my StatCounter tells me so. Therefore, my expectations are fairly low. I don't want much. I don't need to be worshiped. All I would want is for an email every few weeks (even months?). Hey, your blog. Saw what you wrote about breast cancer. What do you think of.....

Maybe Mrs. Harris didn't give Mr. Harris enough attention. Maybe she stopped grinning when he sang "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport". But did he give HER attention? Did he see her as a separate individual, or just his little supportive pet? Did he ask her how her day was? Did he know who her friends were? Did he know what was going on in her life? Was he aware of her hobbies?

Although that doesn't always work. I know a lot of people give the advice, that to improve a relationship, you need to work on improving yourself. If you want to have a better grandma, be a better granddaughter. If you want to have a better husband, be a better wife. If you want to have a better sister, be a better brother. But that doesn't work sometimes.

Sometimes you give and give, waiting to be reciprocated and it doesn't happen. I know that from experience. I hope no one knows that from experience on account of me.

This whole Rolf Harris thing has made me worried that I'm neglecting people who need me. If I am, I'm sorry! I'm especially sorry if you're reading this. Because if you're reading this, you're really putting an effort out there for me. And so if you feel I'm not giving you attention, then that's really awful of me. I sincerely apologize.

And speaking of ignoring people, I need to go give some attention to my child!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Noel Pearson (Thanks, Louise!)

Noel Pearson. I've heard of the guy, but don't know much about him.

Let's see.....

Let's learn......

Lord Wiki says Noel Pearson a lawyer and land right activist.

Unlike the previous three Indigenous Australians I researched, Lord Wiki does provide me with a birthday for Pearson. June 25 1965.

Good! I've missed the birthday website.

He's a Cancer and a 7. My husband is a Cancer. I'm a 7. Not only that, the birthday website says Pearson would be most compatible with 1, 5, and 7. My husband is a 1. I think we should invite Pearson over for dinner. My husband and I struggle to find friends we mutually like. Pearson may be our man!

Pearson grew up in the Cape York Peninsula. I'm ashamed of myself because I didn't know what that was. But now I know. It's the Peninsula in Northern Queensland. If you look at a map, it's the triangular like figure on the top right.

Pearson was part of an Aboriginal Community called Hope Vale. It has Lutheran Mission origins.

Lord Wiki says the 2006 population of Hope Vale was 765.

Pearson's father was from the Bagaarrmugu clan and his mother was Guggu Yalanji

Pearson attended primary school in Hope Vale. For high school, he went to boarding school in Brisbane. St. Peter's Lutheran College. This school is another that provides a period of outdoor education. It doesn't last a year though...just five weeks. During that time, the students have no formal academic instruction. Instead, they work on a farm and do various outdoor activities.

After St. Peter's, Pearson went onto the University of Sydney. He studied history and law. For his thesis, he did a study on Hope Vale.

The 1990's theme for Pearson seemed to be land rights. He was appointed to a taskforce that was formed to deal with land rights issues, and he was a legal adviser for the ATSIC. He was involved with the Native Title Act of 1993. I'm trying to understand all this Native Title/Land Rights stuff. It confuses me. This website gives a definition of Native Title. A form of communal title whereby land is not owned but is used by those who have rights over it. Describes traditional Aboriginal rights over land in Australia. I think I understand that. You don't get to own the land, but you can use it.

In the year 2000, Pearson changed his mind about things. He did a lecture called The Light on the Hill, and in that lecture he expressed his changed views. Now this is intriguing. It always fascinates me when someone changes their viewpoints; especially when it's a huge change. Was this a huge change?

In the speech, he's against passive welfare. Is that the big change? Did he used to support welfare? Some of his speech goes over my head. This line is interesting, but I'm going to have to get out a dictionary. It means that even among the lower classes the blacks have few friends because the whites focus their Hansonesque blame and resentment upon the blacks, who are either to be condemned for their hopelessness or envied for what little hope they might have. Hansonesque? I can't find a definition. I see the word used on other websites, but I can't figure out what it means. Does anyone know?

Pearson describes the difference between passive welfare and what he labels proper welfare. He says with the good type of welfare, the working taxpayers collectively finance systems aimed at the their own and their families' security and development. Passive welfare is when there's a complete dependence on government handouts.

I like what he says here. You put any group of people in a condition of overwhelming reliance upon passive welfare support - that is support without reciprocation - and within three decades you will get the same social results that my people in Cape York Peninsula currently endure. Our social problems do not emanate from an innate incapacity on the part of our people. Our social problems are not endemic, they have not always been with us. We are not a hopeless or imbecile people. It's a good counterargument to the racist idea that there's something inherently inferior about Indigenous Australians.

I love this line. I do not thereby mean that the Australian welfare state is a bad thing. It is just that my people have experienced a marginal aspect of that welfare state: income provisioning for people dispossessed from the real economy. I think that makes a lot of sense. And I'm glad to know he's not completely against welfare. But I agree. There's probably good welfare and bad.

Pearson divides society into groups. There is a small group at the top that is influential. There is a middle stratum that possesses intellectual tools and performs qualified work. The third and lowest stratum lacks intellectual tools, and does manual, often repetitive work.

I agree with his observation, but I wonder if the Internet has changed things. In "real life" the groups don't often mix. We often stick with our own kind. But on the Internet, we can't easily tell the difference between the man who is the CEO of a company and the man who cleans toilets. There is the fact that some people have easier, and more frequent, access to a computer and the Internet. That makes a difference. But I think more and more people are getting Internet access. You no longer have to be wealthy or know the "right people" to have a voice.

I find this quote interesting. Our society and our culture is not a conspiracy. There are no cynics at the top of the pyramid who use their power to maintain an unnecessarily unequal society. Stratified society is perpetuated because of the self-interest that everybody has in not sinking down. 

 I think I wrote something about this on my other old blog. People at the top don't usually do bad things because they're wicked and want to cause harm to others. They do it because they're greedy. They're putting their own needs first. Let's take the example of infant formula companies. I don't think the people at the top of these companies say Ha ha ha! Let's trick mothers into using our formula rather than breastfeeding. We want to risk the health of babies. We want to overflow landfills with formula cans! Let's see what kind of tricky marketing we can use to lower the rate of breastfeeding! I think it's more along the lines of them ignoring the harm they cause because they want to make more money.

It's like when I eat a Hershey's chocolate bar. I'm not eating it because I'm wicked and love to imagine slave labor. I don't want to hurt children. But my gluttony gets the best of me. I unwrap the delicious candy bar and enjoy the delicious chocolate. I never think about slave labor while I'm eating. If I did, I'd probably choke.

Pearson talks about culture. He says, On the contrary, they are right in rejecting most of our culture, but they throw out the baby, the useful intellectual tools, with the bath water. Most people unnecessarily have a bad conscience for their lack of interest in culture. They shouldn't. Most of our art, literature, history writing, philosophy, social thinking and so on really is as irrelevant as most people think.

This reminds me of a Young Adult Literature class I had in college. We had a teacher initiated debate about the use of YA lit in place of the classics. If you have a group of reluctant learners, is it better to read Shakespeare with them, or is it better to read modern young adult authors? Romeo or Juliet or John Marsden's Tomorrow Series. Moby Dick or Harry Potter?

Some students scoffed at the idea of not teaching Shakespeare. These students would probably love Ed Hirsh. He's the one who writes the series of books, What Your First Grader Should know, What Your Third Grader Should Know, etc. I think the basic idea of this is we should all know about certain things. It's about having a SHARED culture. And I think there's merit to the idea. I think there's something fun and beautiful about most people being able to spot and understand a certain cultural reference. But I was one of the students who believed it was better to use young adult literature. I think many people in our society shy away from reading and intellectual matters. When we become snobs about it, I think it makes things worse.

Jack was a reluctant reader. Although he learned to read early, he didn't have much interest in books. He didn't even want me to read to him. Yes, I'd love for him to be reading Charlotte's Web. We tried it. He rejected it. I tried Little House on the Prairie. He hated that. Then we tried Captain Underpants. He loved it. Some people would be disgusted with his reading choice. I was just happy that my son was reading.

I'm not a book snob. Book snobs annoy me.

Music snobs do too.

I taught at a preschool in Fort Worth. The director was against any music that's not classical. I think classical music is lovely, but I think it's foolish to discount other types of music. I think it's also somewhat racist since most classical music (at least the kind she approved of) was composed by white men.

That's the thing about classics in literature as well. Most of it was made by Caucasians. I'm always shocked at the arguments against multicultural curriculum. We should be choosing material based on its merit not based on the ethnicity of the writers. It makes me angry when I hear people saying that because what I'm hearing is nonwhite people haven't written anything of quality.

Well, guess what? They have! But a lot of us don't realize that because we're too busy reading all the classics written by white people.

 I think most of the books I read for high school English were written by white males. People could argue that I could read other stuff in my own time. And I did. I love to read. But what if a teen is a reluctant reader and won't take time to read outside the classroom? I think it's better to give him literature he can relate to. Maybe then he'll learn to love reading and when he's older he may choose to read some of the classics. That's the other thing. I feel we learn the classics too young. I remember not understanding the books we read. I was dependent on classroom discussions and Cliff Notes. The books went over my head. But as an adult, I read some classics independently and was able to understand them. You know, I feel this way also about some modern children's books. I read the books as adults and loved them. I know though that if I had read the books as a child or teen I would have been bored and confused.

Anyway, I've completely gone off on a tangent here. I better get back on track.

Pearson talks about crime in Aboriginal communities. He believes too much emphasis is put on helping the person who committed the crime, and not enough emphasis is put on the victim of the crime. He says, You ask the grandmothers and the wives. What happens in communities when the only thing that happens when crimes are committed is the offenders are defended as victims? Is it any wonder that there will soon develop a sense that people should not take responsibility for their actions and social order must take second place to an apparent right to dissolution. I think he has some merit there.

He talks about alcoholism and how it's blamed on society. I'm one of those people. I mean I see alcoholism as a symptom of being alienated from society. Pearson says, The symptom theory holds that substance abuse is only a symptom of underlying social and psychological problems. And he says, The symptom theory absolves people from their personal responsibility to confront and deal with addiction. Worse, it leaves communities to think that nothing can be done to confront substance abuse because its purported causes: dispossession, racism, trauma and poverty, are beyond reach of social resolution in the present.

I don't completely agree. I think you can believe in the symptom theory while at the same time have hope in correcting things. Blaming others doesn't have to equal personal passivity. Let's say a teenager is sexually abused by her stepfather. She has a multitude of problems as an adult. She can't hold a relationship. She hates having sex. She has nightmares. She has eating disorders. Who is to blame for all of this? Her stepfather. Who is responsible for getting this woman well again? She is. If the stepfather is remorseful; maybe he can help pay for her therapy. But it's up to her to go to the therapy. It's up to her to want to get well. It's up to her make healthy choices.

I don't think the Indigenous Australians should say. It's the fault of the white people! They should apologize and fix things. I think they should say. It's the fault of the white people. But we can fix things. We're a strong people. We might need some financial assistance, but we can work things out.

All right. I'm done reading the speech.

Oh my. I'm still on Lord Wiki. It might be a long day.

Lord Wiki has a chronological list of events. I'm not going to sit here and list all of them. I'll try to pick out the ones that might be interesting.

In December 2005, Pearson publicly criticized the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions for deciding not to press charges against the police officer responsible for the death of an Indigenous man. And after reading some of the article about the incident, I can't blame Pearson for his public criticisms. What happened is disgusting.

In May 2007, Pearson launched a new welfare program for Hope Vale. The fund provided for home improvements and low interest loans for house ownership.

The following June, Pearson argued for the intervention program in The Northern Territory. It seems he supported John Howard. I can imagine that lost him some fans.

In September, Pearson convinced the Indigenous leader of the Northern Territory, Galurrwuy Yunupingu that intervention was a good thing.

In November, Marcia Langton (one of the stars of The First Australians) came out in support of Pearson's support of intervention.

Lord Wiki has a link to a bunch of articles Pearson has written. Maybe I'll read a few.

This one is about Obama winning the election.

He has some interesting quotes in this article.

White guilt became a source of social leverage for too many black leaders. Obama, like a pantheon of successful African-Americans from Sidney Poitier to Oprah Winfrey, makes a bargain with white America: "I won't hold your history of racism against you if you don't use my race against me.

I think there's some truth to that. But I think it would be foolish to assume that a black American made it to the top only because us white people feel guilty. Do I think race played a part in Obama's win. Yes. I don't think it was just white guilt though. I think we wanted a change. I think we were sick of white males. But did we pick some incompetent loser just because he had dark skin? No. I think we chose someone who had the skills to lead the country. And yes he happened to be black. And yes many of us think that's awesome. In all practicality I have two political parties to choose from. I always choose the Democrats over the Republicans. This time the candidate was black. If Obama was white, I'd still choose him. Now if the Democratic candidate was white, the Republican was black, and I voted Republican....then yes you could say that was completely racially motivated. I love the idea of a woman as President. But there's no way I'd vote for Sarah Palin.

I love what Pearson says here. For both the emphases of responsibility will be different. For whites to take responsibility, they must not dismiss racialism as a real social evil, and they must understand that past discrimination left a legacy. For blacks to take responsibility, they must wake up to the fact that racism does not present the kind of barriers to full citizenship that it once represented and that it is not a catch-all explanation for all of their problems.

I think that's a brilliant statement. Both groups have to make changes. Although is Pearson trying to say there's no racism or discrimination anymore? I don't think he's saying that. But if he is, I think he's being a bit naive.

In this article, he talks about Sorry Day. He seems to believe that the apology was more about a fight between Howard and Rudd than a genuine apology...if I'm reading this right. He says, So let's not get too caught up with the "this is an act of decency whose time has come" line. The imperative for the apology was a product of cultural war. If that was not its original intention, then it immediately became a weapon in this war.

I think it's along the lines of look, Howard is an asshole. He won't apologize. But I will! Was the apology from Rudd sincere, or was he just trying to make himself look better than Howard?

I love his line here. There is no doubt a majority among the political leadership and ordinary white Australians hope the country will be able to, to use the Prime Minister's words, move on. There are two ways to take this hope. The first is ominous: that it represents a hope to dispose of the apology in as decent (and politically and financially cost-free) way as possible, and to put the subject into the "box ticked" compartment. The second is optimistic: it represents a necessary start for a genuinely hopeful era in indigenous affairs.

I'm not sure I agree with everything Pearson believes. But I like the way he thinks. I think he expresses his arguments very well. I can see merit in his viewpoints even if I don't believe in them. But I do agree with the one above!

I disagree with Pearson here.

One of my misgivings about the apology has been my belief that nothing good will come from viewing ourselves, and making our case on the basis of our status, as victims.
We have been -- and the people who lost their families certainly were -- victimised in history, but we must stop the politics of victimhood. We lose power when we adopt this psychology. Whatever moral power we might gain over white Australia from presenting ourselves as victims, we lose in ourselves.

You know, I think I've actually read this editorial before. I'm not sure when though.

Anyway, I don't think seeing oneself as the victim is necessarily bad. It's only bad if people refuse to take responsibility for their future.

Pearson says, The truth is the removal of Aboriginal children and the breaking up of Aboriginal families is a history of complexity and great variety. People were stolen, people were rescued; people were brought in chains, people were brought by their parents; mixed-blood children were in danger from their tribal stepfathers, while others were loved and treated as their own; people were in danger from whites, and people were protected by whites. The motivations and actions of those whites involved in this history -- governments and missions -- ranged from cruel to caring, malign to loving, well-intentioned to evil.

I'm sure that's very true. There was a variety of experiences. But that doesn't mean there wasn't a stolen generation and that they don't deserve an apology.

One of the things I learned this summer, through all my personal drama, is that relationships are complex. I learned (by reading various self-help books) that it's okay to be angry at people. I learned that just because you're angry at someone doesn't mean you don't recognize all the good they've given you.

Saying sorry to the Stolen Generations does not mean we ignore the fact that there were many white people who did good during those time periods. It does not mean we ignore the fact that some children were rescued and not stolen.

I'm tired and hungry. This is already very long so I'm not going to venture far from Lord Wiki land. But I do want to see some opposing opinions. I'm going to see what the Green Left has to say.

They say Pearson has drifted to the far right. I can see how they'd think that. I'm not sure I'd put him on the far right. But I do think he's far from the far left. Maybe he's in the middle. I don't know. I think the Green Left is too quick to dismiss him. He may have ideas that make them uncomfortable. And I don't agree with all he says. But I do think SOME of what he says makes sense.

This anagram website says an anagram for Noel Pearson is a lone person. Interesting. I think that fits. When you have controversial opinions, you stand alone. I think anyone that is not on either side of the extreme ends up feeling a bit isolated. We practiced attachment parenting with Jack. We used a sling. We breastfed him past infancy. We let him sleep in our bed. We didn't send him off to preschool. This put us outside mainstream society. Mainstream people saw us as radical. But I'd go to (the mothership of attachment parenting) and would feel alienated from the other parents on there. Because.....We let our child eat artificial flavors. We let our child eat white sugar. We circumcised him and we vaccinated him. When you're in the middle of two extremes, you feel rejected from both ends.

I guess the question is whether or not Pearson is rejected from the far right. The Green Left seems to think he has become a hero of the far right. Is that true? I don't know. I can imagine maybe he's accepted by the center right. I'm not sure about the far right. I think the problem with the far right and the far left is they have a George W. Bush attitude towards things. You're either with us or against us. And you need to be with them all the way. Otherwise you're seen as a traitor.

I think how this blogger summarizes the left and right attitudes towards the Aborigines. Hence, in Australia what is known as the "Right" promotes indigenous responsibility. What is known as the "Left" promotes indigenous rights. Usually, the "Right" and the "Left" righteously denounce each other. The "Left" (eg. the Greens) says that the Howard government is "callous', "brutal", "lacking compassion". The "Right" says to the "Left" - you are not facing reality, drug abuse, welfare dependency and child abuse in aboriginal communities are realities that simply have do be dealt with.

Okay this is totally off the subject, but this blogger (in a more recent post) has a link to a New York Times editorial written by the controversial Muammar Qaddafi. He has some very interesting views about Israel and Palestine. I like them. I don't know much about Qadaffi, but Lord Wiki does have a quote from him condemning Israel. In this recent editorial, he has some very wise opinions on how peace can be achieved. Did Qaddafi like Pearson change his viewpoints on things? If so...I bet while some people appreciate his more moderate approach, other people might see him as a traitor.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mum Shirl (thanks Louise!)

I think I'm researching another person without a definite birthdate. Well, she definitely has a birthdate. I just don't know if anyone knows what it is. Lord Wiki doesn't know. The Green Left says her birthday is November 22, 1924.

That's my birthday! I'll just imagine we have the same birthday....whether it's true or not.

Mum Shirl's other name was Colleen Shirley Perry. Once she got married, she became Shirley Smith. And then at some point, she became Mum Shirl.

She was born in Cowra New South Wales. That's about four hours west of Sydney, and it's not too far from Bathurst. Mum Shirl was part of the Wiradjuri people. and she was born at the Erambie Reserve.
Lord Wiki says that the Wiradjuri were the largest Aboriginal group in New South Wales.

Their language pretty much died out by the 1980's. For the most part, this can blamed on government policies; the push to assimilate Aboriginal people. The awesome thing is people are working to actually bring the language back!

 In New South Wales, the government decided all their schools would offer classes on the language. It's open to both indigenous and non-indigenous students. I think it would be cool to learn it. This video has Head Shoulders Knees and Toes in Wiradjuri, but the didigeridoo makes it hard to hear. Here's a brief lesson, but he talks a bit too fast for me. Now this guy is awesome. He might be my new best friend. I LOVE free educational materials. I wonder if Jack would be interested in learning this with me. It would be an awesome homeschooling project.

Back to Mum Shirl....

The family moved to Sydney in the 1930's.

She had epilepsy. Lord Wiki says there was no medication for it back then. It seems from this Epilepsy website, that medications weren't really available until 1939. Wait. No. Phenobarbital was created in 1912. But I'm not sure how effective or readily available it was.

Lord Wiki says Mum Shirl couldn't read or write, but she did know sixteen Aboriginal Languages. I think that's pretty impressive.

Mum Shirl's brother went to prison and she'd visit him. She found that the other prisoners benefited from her visiting them as well. She did that; and then expanded her services to accompanying indigenous people to court. She would guide and support people who were unfamiliar with the legal system. Officials would ask who she was in relation to the prisoner. She'd say I'm his Mum. And that's how she got her nickname.

At one time, she was given unrestricted access to prisons in New South Wales. She did a lot of traveling from one side of the state to another. Then later her pass was revoked which made her prison work pretty much impossible. Who revoked her pass. And why?

Mum Shirl didn't just help prisoners. She helped children. If she couldn't find them their own parents or help them find new ones; she'd take them in herself.

Mum Shirl and some friends (including Fred Hollows) were involved with several important Aboriginal projects. They established the Aboriginal Medical Service, the Aboriginal Legal Service, the Aboriginal Black Theater, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the Aboriginal Children's Services, and the Aboriginal Housing Company.

She was a committed Catholic.

She didn't ignore white people. She would visit Caucasian schools and communities; try to educate them about Aborigines.

She was Aborigine of the Year in 1990. The National Trust put her on their list of Natural Treasures, and she was honored with Queen Elizabeth II's Order of Australia thing.

A few months after she was listed as a living treasure, she died. That was in April 1998.

I'm done with Lord Wiki. I shall move on to other things now.

I think first I'll return to the Green Left website.

I love what this website says. That is why it is sickening to hear some whites speak as if time of itself should erase the past, particularly when they have done nothing to ease it.

I strongly agree with that.

A few weeks ago I unlocked one of my old teenage diaries because I wanted to read about something that had caused me a lot of pain. What shocked me is within a couple of days I seemed pretty much over it. I seemed relatively happy. I seemed so strong. I sounded brave. I was impressed with my teenage self. How resilient I was! But then I realized two things.

1. I still sometimes feel the pain twenty-one years later. It still effects almost all my relationships.

2. I hadn't been expressing my true self when I had written in my diary.

I remember my childhood and teen years. There was always that push to move on, get over it, and be happy. So, what's what I tried to do. And in my diary, I played the part well. In real life, I did less well.

The incident involved a betrayal and a loss. I was never really given a chance to deal with the anger. I was never really given the chance to mourn. Time was supposed to heal my wounds. It did somewhat. I'm still a functioning member of society...although some might debate that. But I still believe I would have been better off if I had given the chance back then to be sad and angry. I would have been better off if I had been given genuine apologies and sympathy.

I often hear from people (about other incidents in my life) Why do you keep bringing that up? When are you going to get over it? I think I would have stopped bringing it up if I witnessed remorse and received an apology. But regarding these incidents, I usually either get outright denial, accusations of exaggeration, or the trivialization of what happened.

So, when people complain that Indigenous Australians, African Americans, or Jews should get over it. I say how can they get over it when so many people are not even sorry. And what happened to them is MUCH worse than what happened to me. If I can't get over my past pain without apologies, how can they?

The Green Left website says, But shame is another matter. We must in all honesty and shame admit that none of the benefits that we now enjoy were acquired except at the horrific expense of massacre and unbelievable grief and starvation, including snatching of children of Aboriginal people in the past and selfish grabbing of entitlements from Aboriginal people today.
I think people often ask why they should be sorry when they didn't personally cause the mass atrocities. Should I be sorry for the slavery of Africans in my country? Should I be sorry for what happened to the Native Americans?

I didn't personally have any slaves. I didn't steal any land....well, at least not in this lifetime. Not even my ancestors were involved. I think we've only been in this country for about three or four generations. But I live in a land that was pretty much stolen from others. I enjoy the prosperity handed down to me by earlier generations knowing that other people were not given the same chance to prosper. I enjoy more than my fair share in a world that's not fair.

Back to Mum Shirl....

 In 1980, there was a Conference of Catholic Social Workers. Mum Shirl was Catholic but not invited. Can we guess why? She and some friends got together and crashed the party. They tried speaking to the guests but they were ignored. Mum Shirl and her friends got everyone's attention by pulling table clothes off the table. That's a bit rude. But it sounds kind of fun. And it's definitely a way to get attention.

Here's the kid's ABC website again. I like these pages. I'm going to read it.

Mum Shirley had thirteen siblings. Wow. Her parents found taking care of all those children exhausting so they sent Mum Shirley to live with her grandparents. Her grandfather was probably a powerful influence. He said, You have to love yourself first, and pass it around.

One of the things Mum Shirley would do for prisoners is track down their families for them. This is very nice!

This website is from a church in Redfern. It has some information about Mum Shirley.

We're back to my birthday again. On November 22, 2000 an exhibit opened about Mum Shirley.

I'm wondering about the dates. Did Indigenous Australians have birthdays back then? I'm doubting they kept track of time in the same way we did. But maybe by the 1920's they did. Is it a matter of them not adapting the white folk's calender so they don't know specific birthdates? Or did they know their birthdays and the white folks lacked trust in them? Yeah. They say this kid was born on November 22. But what do these people know? Don't take their word for it.
The church website has a speech from Williame Deane. I guess he spoke at the opening of the exhibit. I love what the man says here: Some of you may be wondering why I am opening this Exhibition when there are many people here who are much better qualified than I to speak of Shirley C Smith - Mum Shirl. The best response I can make is that I was invited and am greatly honoured to be here. In other words, any complaints should be directed to the management. There's something sweet and humble about that.

He says later down the line, If, as I profoundly believe, the ultimate test of our decency and our worth as a democratic community is how we treat the most disadvantaged and vulnerable of our people, Mum Shirl made an absolutely extraordinary contribution towards helping us pass that test.
I think that's very true. You know what it reminds me of? It makes me think of that dating advice. If you want to know if your date is decent or not, worry less about how he/she treats you. Pay attention to how he or she treats the waiters and waitresses at the restaurant. Does he show respect for them? Is he patient with them? Is he understanding? Does he lose his temper if they make a mistake? Is he friendly?

Oh! You know what I think would make another great test? Stick a piece of spinach in your teeth. I think this would really give you a good idea of how good a boyfriend/girlfriend you date would be. If he doesn't say anything, he's one of those people who avoids conflict. They'll lie and keep things from you. If he acts disgusted or disappointed in you (or never calls again) you know you're dealing with a superficial asshole who can't tolerate mistakes. If he politely tells you with a twinge of humor, then you know he's a guy who's honest, helpful, and accepting.

One quote I keep seeing in reference to Mum Shirley comes from the priest Ted Kennedy. He said she comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. She worked for the Aboriginal community in two ways. She helped them the point of taking them in and giving them a home. She also worked to raise awareness of their issues in the non-indigenous communities. She was a nurturer and an advocate. I was about to say being two of those things is rare. But I don't think so. Once someone starts taking care of those in need, I think it's quite common for them to become an advocate. It would be very hard to personally witness suffering and not speak out against it.

The speaker uses several terms to describe Mum Shirley....About her generosity; her selflessness; her understanding; her outspokenness; her anger; her humanity. And her love.

All those terms have very positive associations except one. Anger. She was angry. Some people are against anger. They label it as unattractive. They label it as shameful. They label it as worthless and unproductive.

But is it? Is anger always bad?

I don't think so. I think it gets us up off our ass. It makes us take action.

Lately, I've seen a trend that I find somewhat disturbing. There's this idea of avoiding people who bring us down. It reminds me of some of the advice in that book The Secret. If you want to be happy, be around happy people and think happy thoughts. If you want to be thin, avoid fat people and think thin thoughts.

I've heard people say things like I don't need more drama in my life or I'm going to surround myself with happy and emotionally healthy people.

I don't know how many times I've seen people apologize on their blogs because they wrote that they felt sick, or they wrote that they're feeling unhappy. I'm sorry my entry sounded so pissed off yesterday. I'm sorry I've been whining so much. Then there's the very common, I shouldn't be complaining. So many people have it worse than I have it. But you know what? THOSE people are probably writing the same damn thing in their blog.

Why do we have to be like this? Why do we have to be happy all the time? Why do we worry that if we're not a barrel full of laughs, all our friends will abandon us? Maybe it's because we ARE sometimes rejected for our negative emotions. We see t-shirts that say Save the Drama for Your Mama. We see terms such as negative energy vampires. We don't want to be the drama queens. We don't want to be vampires! How sad and angry are we allowed to be until someone calls us a vampire?

I'm not discounting the fact that there are annoying drama queens. I'm not discounting the fact that there are people so negative that it's uncomfortable to be around then. We all know people we'd like to shout out. Oh! Come on! Do you ever smile? Do you ever laugh? Stop feeling sorry for yourself already. There are people who never let any light into their life. It's sad. But should we completely abandon them? Should we say you bring me down so I'm no longer coming around?

Is this what Mum Shirl did? No!

I think whenever we have a choice whether to be there for someone or desert them, we should do the old WWJD. What would Jesus do? And I don't even think you need to be a Christian to ask yourself that? For those of us who aren't Christians, we can say what would that mythical character named Jesus do?
Most of us can't be as good as Mum Shirl and Jesus. I know I can't. I'm selfish. I can handle extremely negative people....but only for a very limited period. Then I need to get away. I think that's fine. But imagine. If we all gave a little bit of attention to negative people, then maybe they'd feel less deserted. And we can still give ourselves enough space that we're not dragged into their cyclone of depressing doom.

Okay. Here's a man I'd find a hard time loving. Father Gerry Prindi-ville. He's the priest at St. Vincent's in Redfern. His predecessor was Mum Shirley's friend Ted Kennedy. When Kennedy and Mum Shirley were around the church was one that spoke out for social justice. And it provided comfort to those in need. The Catholic Hierarchy wasn't happy with Kennedy. Then Kennedy died and the Hierarchy had the opportunity to replace him.

The new priest hasn't been very respectful or mindful of the Aboriginal churchgoers and/or inhabitants of Redfern.

One day, some angry people drew a mural in the church. It featured Aboriginal totems and a quote from Pope John Paul II. Your dreaming is your own way to touching the mystery of God's spirit in you and in creation.
Father Prindi-ville was furious about the mural.

And it doesn't end there. He stormed out of a service once because he felt it was too political. He removed photographs of Mum Shirley and Ted Kennedy that were behind the alter.

Kennedy's sister says, Ted used to reach out to the Aboriginal people. These priests don't even want to meet them. They're only interested in evangelizing.
Last February, the was a ceremony led by Clover Moore to introduce new lights in Redfern and honor Mum Shirl. There was some angry confusion, because plans to revitalize Redfern included removing her commemorative bench. But then a new memorial to Mum Shirl was unveiled. Moore said, The Mum Shirl Memorial has now been restored and historical buildings and memorials along Redfern Street will be highlighted with environmentally sustainable lighting. That sounds good to me. The memorial is going to be near the gates of the park. I wonder if it's there yet. Maybe I'll look out for it.