Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nancy-Bird Walton

I think Nancy-Bird Walton was an aviator. It's funny, because yesterday Jack and I watched a Brainpop movie about Amelia Earhart.

The other thing about Nancy-Bird Walton is I think she might be on that extremely overwhelming Australian biography website. I haven't been there in awhile. I'm not sure if I look forward to going back to it.

I'm tired, and in a blah weird mood. Why? I just finished reading the second installment of the adventures of Bella the human and Edward the vampire. It's a great book. I agree with the masses. But I found reading it to be very emotionally draining. I overidentified with the characters. I'm taking a break before reading the next two books.

Anyway, I guess I shall go and learn about Nancy-Bird Walton. I'm not going to go to a lot of websites. If she's on the overwhelming biography site, that will take me hours to read. So, I'll just look at Lord Wiki and that one.

Lord Wiki says that baby Nancy was born on 16 October 1915 in Kew New South Wales.

Kew is in northern New South Wales. It's close to Port Macquarie. It's home to a giant ax.

I felt compelled to compare Nancy's birthday to Earhart's. Earhart was much older. She would have been about eighteen when Nancy was born. I'm guessing Earhart would have had some influence on Nancy.

Walton had her teen years during the Depression. Because of this, she ended up leaving school at the age of thirteen to work. Her family needed the money.

When Walton was eighteen (in 1933), another famous Aussie aviator, Charles Kingsford Smith, opened up a pilot school. Bird was one of his first students.

Lord Wiki says that most women who learned to fly, in those days, did it for recreation. Walton planned to use her skills as a career.

By the time Walton was nineteen, she had obtained her commercial pilot's license.

She bought a type of plane called a Gypsy Moth. It's a British plane with two seats.

Walton and her friend took the plane and went riding around the area. They stopped off and showed off their plane to people who had never seen one before. They even gave some people some rides.

While doing her whirlwind tour, Walton met a reverend. He encouraged her to use her plane for medical needs. She used her plane to operate an air ambulance service in the outback of New South Wales. Did she know how to do medical stuff, or did she have a doctor or nurse fly with her?

In 1936 Walton won the Ladies Trophy for a race from Adelaide to Brisbane. She would have been about twenty-one at the time. A couple of years later she took a break from her flying. She went to Europe to do some promotional stuff.

She returned to Australia for World War II. She trained women to do work for the Royal Australian Air Force. I don't think women actually got to fly in the force. Lord Wiki says that she trained them in skills needed to back up the men flying. I'm not sure what that exactly means, or what type of skills he's referring to.

When Walton was twenty-four, she got married.

In 1850, she founded the Australian Women Pilot Association. If any Australian women out there is interesting in flying, their website has some information about getting your pilot's license. The minimum age to fly solo is sixteen. I'd be very impressed with a teenager who could fly a plane. Really though....I'm impressed with ANYONE who can fly a plane. Although I probably wouldn't want to take a joyride with them. I don't like small planes.

Walton died recently.  I vaguely remember hearing that now. I totally forgot. She died in January.

Anyway, that's about it for Lord Wiki. I shall go to to overwhelming biography site now.

I'll start with part 1.

Oh! This interview has only four parts! Awesome. Maybe it won't be too overwhelming.

She says she was born thirty miles north of Taree. I wonder if that's Kew she's talking about.

Yeah. I'm looking at Google Maps. It looks like Kew could be the town.

She was born with the help of a midwife. There were no doctors nearby to do the job.

Walton talks very fondly of the midwife. She says, I was nearly lost but this wonderful woman Mrs. Ritchie was a person that went through storm and tempest, flooded rivers, flooded creeks, to help the women in that district to deliver their children. And she saved my life.

Walton's mother had been born in New Zealand. I wonder when she came to Australia.

When Walton was about five, the family moved to Collaroy. Google Maps shows Collaroy as being very close to Sydney, about thirty-five minutes north.

In Collaroy, Walton went to a small private school.

Their second home in Collaroy had views of Dee Why Beach. When Walton was eight, she saw a plane make a forced landing on the beach. This image had a profound effect on her life. It seems it must have inspired her. I would think for most children it might frighten them.

She seemed to have a huge attraction to airplanes. There was the Dee Why incident. Then in school, she spotted a plane doing skywriting. She was supposed to go to her next class:sewing. Instead she stood watching the plane.

Walton had an older sister, but it was Walton that was asked to quit school and work instead. Her sister had been a better student. Walton was the more practical one. She was asked to help her father at his store, and help her mother with her homemaker stuff. Walton says she didn't mind any of this at all.

Walton is asked if she ever did well in school. She says that she was a bit of a rebel. She only did well if she liked the teacher.

There was a pilot that worked at her father's store. He was very adventurous. I'm sure he inspired Walton in some way.

When she was thirteen she went to an air pageant. She says this is when she got the desire to fly. There, she went up on a ride with a pilot. I guess it was a lot of fun for her. Flying became her passion. She got herself a book about it, and started studying. Walton says her father was supportive at first, but then later acted scared that she'd kill herself. It sounds like he supported her when it all was more of a pipe dream. He probably assumed this was just some kind of adolescent fantasy, and she'd soon get over it.

As Jack and I learned in the Brainpop video yesterday, flying in those days was fairly dangerous. So Walton's dad wasn't exactly being OVERprotective. Walton truly was taking a big risk. Still, it was her dream, so.....

What do we do when our grown children want to do something that's dangerous? There comes a time when we can't forbid it. Do we try to talk them out of it? Is it okay to destroy someone's dream because we have fears? Do we encourage them, but add in a few dire warnings?

I don't know....

Walton had to come up with her own money to pay for the classes with Kingsford-Smith. She says she managed this by being economical...for example, sewing her own clothes.

Walton says her father didn't stop her from taking the lessons. And her mother was supportive. Walton believes this was due to the fact that she had five siblings. She feels an only child would be too precious.

I don't really understand that mindset. Once I talked to a mother of three. She gave me a hard time about having an only child. She talked about someone losing their one and only horrible it was for them. Of course, it was horrible. But how is it less horrible if you have other children? Do mothers sit there and say. Oops, we lost Johnny. But that's okay. We still have Bill and Joe! I think losing a child is devastating no matter what. Although I guess for some people, the main reason they have children is to pass on their genes. In that case, losing the ONE and only child would be extra devastating. There's no chance of grandchildren and great grandchildren. For some people, that's extremely important.

Walton is asked what she learned in her childhood. Walton says she learned that if there's a job to be done, do it. I think that's a great thing to have learned. I often follow the rule, but not always. Sometimes, if there's a job to be done, I wait for Tim to do it.

It took Walton a little over a month to get her A license. I'm not sure what an A license is. Maybe it's the license that's a step under the commercial one?

When Walton was learning from Kingsford-Smith he was already super famous. So here she was taking lessons from a big celebrity. I wonder if that made her nervous at all.

Walton says in her days, it was much easier to get a license. These days there is more legislation, and therefore more to learn.

Walton says when she was flying in those early years, pilots were seen as wild daredevils. It was a crazy hobby. People hadn't taken to the idea of using planes as transportation.

Walton is asked what made her so attracted to flying. She says, I can't put my finger on it. I just don't know. This is how I feel when people ask me why I'm so obsessed with Australia. It's just something you can't really explain. I can share events and experiences that led up to all of this. But that still doesn't explain the why of it all.

In 1930, a woman named Amy Johnson flew in Australia. Walton says she was jealous of her. I can relate to that to! I had this secret desire to visit Australia, but I kept telling myself I'd never do something like that. It was too far away. There were too many venomous creatures. The airplane ride was way too long. But then my brother-in-law announced that he and my sister were taking a trip to Australia. And my cousin announced she was MOVING to Australia. I was so jealous. And that jealousy pushed me to ask Tim if we could take a trip there too.

Walton talks about her father letting her borrow money to buy the plane. I think it's so nice that he came through for her like that. It's nice when friends and family support our decisions, even though it doesn't always come immediately.

Now I'm finally on part 2. These parts are awfully long. Maybe this interview isn't shorter than the other ones I've seen. Maybe they've just made the parts longer.

When Walton and her friend went flying around offering people rides, they charged ten shillings for it. It was a way for them to make a small bit of money.

When Walton flew the air ambulance, she didn't do the medical stuff. A sister in a Catholic nun type thing. At least that's what I THINK they mean by sister.

Walton talks about how it was so great for these people to have an air ambulance. Without them, it might take six hours for a doctor to reach them. But with the airplane, they could get help in about an hour.

Walton worked in the New South Wales outback for several months. Then she moved to Queensland and worked for the Queensland Children Bush Scheme. She tried to get the Queensland government to develop a flying doctor program, but they weren't interested. Eventually, they did though.

Walton talks about how some people were nasty towards her. At some point, she was living at a hotel. Some man made nasty comments about this--making inferences about her reputation. She also says that some women in Bourke acted jealous of her adventurous lifestyle. She says, oh, you know, would be a little bit catty, especially, sort of, the creme de menthe, cake eating, bridge playing women who didn't ... couldn't get out of Bourke.

When someone disapproves of something, I think it's sometimes because they're insecure about their own choices. When we're happy with our own lives and decisions, I think we're more open to other people making difference decisions.

But not always. Sometimes disapproval IS about someone truly feeling superior to another person.

There's a thin line between both of these situations. I find it often hard to tell the difference between the two.

All right. Now I'm on part 3.

Walton never had a plane crash. That's good.

She talks about how she got burned out from the whole thing. It sounds like she had a bit of a nervous breakdown...or sort of. She says, But I don't think it was a breakdown but I would say it was controlled cracking.

The interviewer calls it a crisis, and Walton agrees with her.

I guess what happened is she came to a point where she couldn't fly anymore. It seems some of it came from fear. She lost friends to flying. I can imagine that eventually that begins to get to you.

Oh! Walton was supposed to fly a man somewhere, and she couldn't do it. He ended up having to take a train. I think Walton felt a lot of shame for this.

Walton then went to Europe to do promotional type work. It was airplane related, and she rode IN airplanes. She just didn't fly them.

She met her husband on a ship coming from America. She had traveled there after Europe. It was a ship romance. Walton says, It was a ship board romance that lasted fifty-one and a half years. That's sweet.

Walton talks about the sexism that occurred during World War II. She talks about how the flight of two women pilots, who had both the talent and experience, was stopped simply because of their gender.

Walton says she began flying again in 1950. Her break from flying lasted twelve years. That's pretty long. Actually, she says she returned in the 1950's, not 1950. And Lord Wiki says it was 1958. If he's right, that means she had a twenty year break from flying.

In the interview, she says that she entered the Powder Puff Derby in America. Walton says she enjoyed returning to flying, but she never fully regained her confidence. For then on, she chose more often to be co-pilot than the main pilot.

Okay. Now I'm on part 4.

Walton talks about getting involved with politics. It seems she wasn't one of my people. She took the side of the Liberal Party. She'd get along with certain Americans today. She helped start an organization for women against socialism.

What I DO like is she tried to convince women to get involved with politics, and not simply vote for who their husbands tell them to. Walton say she felt guilty the first time she voted opposite of her husband.

The interview was done in 1992. Walton was in her seventies at the time. She's asked how she has stayed so healthy. Walton seems to give some of the credit to simply having good luck with health. But she also says it's about staying busy. She says, you say you're not going to do a thing, no you won't do it, but you end up doing it you know. So it's rather fun to see how much you can fit into a day sometimes. It might be a bit exhausting by the end of the day, but you don't feel it until you stop.
I stay very busy. But it's not with impressive active stuff. I'm not one of those people who has a job, does volunteer work after that, and then comes home and runs a book club in their living room.

I spend a lot of time reading, researching, learning, etc. I usually bite off more than I imagine I can chew. But I usually get more done than I imagined I would. My brain is VERY active. I guess that's good. I'm having fun. I'm enjoying life. The only maybe downside of this busy feeling is time zooms by way too fast. I feel like I'm on fast forward. I feel like I'll blink and be an eighty-year old with grandchildren.

Walton talks about how it's important not to have the attitude of It's-not-my-job. So that made me think of when Tim leaves his clothes on the bathroom floor. I walk past it in a huff and think it's not my job to clean that up. When I do laundry I sometimes ignore those clothes. I leave it there, hoping he'll learn his lesson. I feel it's not my job to put his clothes in the laundry basket. Reading what she said though made me think twice. If the clothes on the floor bother me, should I just be a good wife and pick them up? I do this with Jack too often. It's so MUCH easier for me to pick up his huge messes rather than fighting with him about it. And we HAVE been fighting about it. It's probably one of our biggest parent/child struggles.

Anyway, then Walton says People just drop their clothes and expect somebody else to pick them up and that happens in a family all the time.

Now she has me totally confused. Should I get rid of the it's-not-my-job attitude and pick up Tim's clothes for him? Or should I not pick up his clothes, so he doesn't develop an it's-not-my-job attitude?

Honestly though, Tim does a TON of favors for me. I probably owe him. Maybe what I should do is think of the picking-the-clothes-up as MY job and not his job. Maybe it would be best if I simply imagine that as being one of my responsibilities.

Yeah, that's probably for the best.

I hope he doesn't read all this. If he does, he might take advantage of me. That's the thing with humans. You give them an inch and they try to take a mile.

Walton talks about stuff like feminism. She's all for women getting ahead in the world, but she believes they should retain their femininity. She says, It's wonderful to behave like a woman and for men to treat you as a woman and I don't see why we can't retain that, as well as developing our intellectual capacity.

I agree with that to a point. I don't think all men were born to be masculine. And not all women were born to be feminine. I don't think these people should have to conform to something that they're not. But I also think women who ARE feminine shouldn't have to suppress this in order to get ahead in the world.

I consider myself a feminist. I believe women should have equal rights. I believe a woman can be a firefighter. I believe she can be the CEO of a corporation. I think she can be Prime Minister or President.

But I'm also a woman who likes pink. I love pink. I like dresses and long skirts. I like some forms of chivalry....especially when it involves a man protecting the women that he loves. One of the things that I loved most about Twilight is how Edward is so protective towards Bella. He works hard to keep her from harm. I've never had that from a man, and it's something I've always longed for. I'm guessing since the book is so popular....I'm not the only one.

I feel today that these sentiments are frowned upon. It seems men want women who are very strong and independent. They want the woman who says I'm fine! I can do it on my own. I don't need your help. Don't worry about me. I think women DO want to say these things, but then I think they want the man to insist on protecting them anyway. We want to be both brave and protected....all at the same time. Or maybe I'm just speaking for myself.

Walton talks about some very early childhood memories connected to flying. None of them sound very significant to me. She dreamed of flying. I dream of flying. I think a lot of people do. I don't really think it has much to do with aviation. She says she remembers stretching out her arms and pretending to be an airplane. I think all kids do that...or most of them.

Walton is asked how she feels about death. She doesn't really fear it, but she hopes it doesn't happen while she's off alone in the wilderness somewhere. She wants to die among people. Well, it's weird that I'm writing that in the present tense. She's already dead. I hoped she died the way she had hoped to die.

She says she hopes there is an afterlife, but doesn't put too much thought into it. She believes it is better to concentrate on THIS life. I think that's a good attitude to have.

The interview ends with a discussion about boredom. Walton talks about how you can avoid this feeling because there's always something you can do. I think that's true in most cases.

I think there's two kinds of boredom. The first is where you feel like you have nothing to do. This can usually be alleviated by FINDING something to do. With the Internet, it's not that hard these days. Plus, there's always a book that can be read, someone to call, a TV show to watch, a game to play, a place to go, etc.

The second kind of boredom is where we're forced to do something that is not interesting to us. We might have to read something we don't want to read. We have conversations with people we don't want to talk to. We have to sit through religious services. We wait in line. We sit in traffic......

I think this second type of boredom is much harder to deal with. I felt it a lot during the first years of motherhood. I loved baby Jack....tremendously. But I think the fun of bouncing a baby on my knee and playing peek-a-boo only went so far. In massive doses, I felt it was torture.

I'm SO glad that baby Jack is now eight-year-old Jack. He's much more fun now. I enjoy playing with my baby nephew in very small doses. Then I thankfully hand him back to my sister.

Speaking of Jack, we're going to play a game of Monopoly together. So I'm going to quit now.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mary MacKillop

Mary Mary. Who are you?

I have a feeling she's from the past...dead already.

But enough guessing. I should start researching. I woke up late, and I'm way behind schedule.

Well, Lord Wiki confirms my suspicions. MacKillop died in 1909.

She was a nun.

I don't think I've written about a nun before. This might be interesting.

Oh. It might be VERY interesting. Some believe that Mary MacKillop is worthy of sainthood. Wow.

Yesterday I learned about nuclear war. Today I'm learning about Catholic Saints. This is why I love my blog. Each day I get to learn about something new.

Baby Mary was born on 15 January 1842. Should I assume that was her real name? Lord Wiki doesn't give another name. But I think nuns are provided with new names once they join the convent. Right? Do they keep their birth names a secret? Or maybe she really was born with the Mary name.

Mary was born in the Fitzroy suburb of Melbourne. Lord Wiki says Fitzroy was the first suburb in Melbourne. Cool.

Mary had seven younger siblings.

She was educated by her father...homeschooled!

Tim says that since homeschooling still often has such a negative connotation, we should tell people Jack is privately tutored. That makes us sound more like upper class celebrities rather than religious fanatics.

If I'm understanding Lord Wiki right, Daddy MacKillop had once wanted to be a priest; but ill health prevented him from doing this. Well, he went to Rome, but then he had to return to Scotland. I'm not sure exactly what happened. I guess eventually he ended up in Australia....married with kids.

When Mackillop was seventeen, she began working as a governess. Governess? Nuns? I'm gonna have to start singing "Edelweiss".

MacKillop took care of her uncle's children in Penola South Australia. It seems that Penola's greatest claim to fame is Mary MacKillop herself.

Oh! Penola is right near Mt. Gambier. One of my blogging friends lives there. Penola is about an hour north.

While she was doing the governess work, MacKillop met Julian Tenison Woods. He was a priest who was also a geologist. That's an interesting combination. I like when religion mixes with science. I think it's a beautiful combination.

From Woods, MacKillop learned about the need for religious and secular education for children in the outback.

Lord Wiki says she wandered off a bit and did teaching. But then in 1866, she returned to Penola. There she adopted the name Sister Mary of the Cross. Really? Don't you have to go through special nun initiations or something?

At this time, Woods and MacKillop founded the St. Joseph's School in an unused stable. They also founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. I'll look at their website later.

The sisters moved to Adelaide. There they provided a school, an orphanage, a women's refuge, and a house of providence. What is a house of providence? Well, I googled house of providence and I saw sites about homeless shelters. I also saw a Ronald McDonald House that was referred to as a house of providence. I'm guessing it's about providing people a place to sleep when they need it.

In 1869, some of the sisters went to Brisbane. MacKillop stayed there for a few years. I guess what they were doing with all this traveling is spreading their ministry.

MacKillop and Woods began to experience tension with the Bishop Sheil. Sheil wasn't happy with them. I'm not sure why. He ended up having MacKillop excommunicated. A little bit before his own death, Sheil changed his mind and removed the excommunication.

In 1873, MacKillop traveled to Rome. She wanted papal approval for her congregation.

The pope approved.

I'm a little lost here. I guess because I'm not Catholic. There's this thing called the Rule of Life. It's like the religious rules a person follows. Okay....

I guess the Sisters of St. Joseph had a certain rule of life. The pope said he'd give them final approval for this after a trial period. For some reason, this caused some problems between MacKillop and Woods. Oh, I get it. I think the pope made them change some things. Woods was annoyed that MacKillop hadn't managed to get it approved of in its original form.

In the 1880's, the Sisters of St. Joseph expanded their services out to New South Wales and New Zealand. MacKillop herself moved to Sydney. This is where she died in 1909.

In 1925, the Mother Superior of St. Josephs began the saint making process for MacKillop. It wasn't until 1973 that they finished with the initial phases of investigation. Wow. That's kind of a slow process.

In 1992, Mackillop was declared to have heroic virtue. Does that means she's on her way to being a saint? Or is it more along the lines of a second place prize? Sorry, you're not quite saint material. But you do have some heroic virtue.

In 1961, prayers were sent to MacKillop on behalf of a dying women. The woman survived and was still alive in 1995. This was scene as a miracle.

Well, we all have our own definitions of miracles. I'm personally not overly impressed by that story. Dying people sometimes end up surviving. We can't really know for sure why. I do believe that spiritual stuff is sometimes responsible. But how we know for sure WHICH god or angel is responsible.? Maybe a Muslim guy nearby secretly prayed for the dying women. Maybe a Pagan prayed to one of their Gods. It could have been Allah who saved the day. It could have been some Celtic God. How can we assume it was Jesus who saved the day, or Mary MacKillop?

Anyway, the decree of the miracle was read in 1993. By 1995, MacKillop was beautified. I'm not sure what it means to be beautified. I can't easily find any explanation.

It seems the Catholics are waiting for a confirmation on a second miracle. Then she'll be canonized. Does that mean she'd be a saint?

Okay. Yes. Lord Wiki says this is what canonization is.

Is Mother Teresa a saint?

Well, no. Lord Wiki says she's in the same boat as MacKillop. She's on her way to being a saint. Maybe.

I feel like something was quite lacking in Lord Wiki's report on MacKillop. From what he says, she doesn't seem all that impressive. I'm thinking. Yeah. Okay. What's the big deal?

I need to find out more.

I guess I'll start with the Sisters of St. Joseph website.

They have about a thousand sisters today. Australia is their mothership, but they also have sisters in New Zealand, Ireland, Peru, East Timor, and Brazil.

From the photos on the site, I can see the sisters no longer wear nun clothes. They wear normal everyday clothes.

The sisters do work to support Indigenous Australians. It is one of the main issues that they concentrate on.

They also care about the earth. Good.

Oh. I might actually love these people. They have this BEAUTIFUL thing about the beginning of the earth. Since I'm all prejudice about Christianity, it totally threw me off guard. Why? Because it talks about the Big Bang! It's a beautiful combination of spirituality and science. I shouldn't be totally surprised because I was talking to my Christian friend the other day, and she believes in the big bang. I don't know. I guess the media clouds my mind. I figure people like my friend are the exception, and that most other Christians believe the earth was created in seven days and Harry Potter is evil.

The website has information about MacKillop. I'll read it.

On Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, there is a plaque that marks the place of her birth.

Daddy MacKillop was fairly well educated since he had studied to be a priest. He was not so great with finances though. The family didn't have a lot of money, and often had to depend on the help of family and friends.

In her late teen and adult years, MacKillop worked at various jobs (including the governess one) to help her family. The reason she didn't immediately follow her dream of working with Julian Tenison Woods is that she still felt the need to support her family.

The website says that MacKillop often met opposition from people outside the church and within it. She'd be attacked, but refused to attack back.

Here's some information about the saint stuff.

On MacKillop's death bed, she was visited by a cardinal. When he left he said, I consider I have this day assisted at the deathbed of a saint. What did she say or do to make him feel that way? Or did he just get some kind of feeling?

At her funeral, people wanted to touch her body. The website says this is unusual in Australia. It was as if the people knew there was something special about her. I guess they felt touching her body would make them blessed. At her grave site, people also took some of the dirt for souvenirs.

This page talks about how the Catholic Church looks at the cases of medical miracles very carefully. They study it to make sure there is no scientific or medical explanation for what happened. I trust that. I do think stuff happens that can't be explained by what we currently understand from science. I just don't think we can know for sure what spiritual thing caused the miracle.

The process of making someone a saint is very complicated and time-consuming.

This page talks about the definition of a miracle...well, in the Catholic sense.

They say miracles that are looked at are usually ones that involve organic illnesses. It needs to be something where the changes can be proven by science. Psychological issues are much more difficult to prove. People could more likely fake those.

There's a lot of qualifications that the disease and cure must have.

There must be proof that the person actually had the disease. There must be proof that the disease is actually gone. The cure has to be permanent. A child must be well for ten years. An adult must be well for five years.

The medical stuff all seems right to me. It makes sense.

The theological stuff....not so much. They say, Did it happen in the context of prayer to God through the intercession of the holy person?

How would they really ever know the answer to that?

The Victorian Heritage Database has a page on MacKillop's birthplace.

Daddy MacKillop bought land there in 1840. That's two years before Mary was born. They lived in something called Marino Cottage. It seems their financial difficulties forced them to leave when Mary was just an infant. I might be reading this wrong though.

This website about Catholic social justice has a page about MacKillop.

They say Daddy and Mommy MacKillop had an unhappy marriage. The writer of the piece guesses that this was because Daddy MacKillop was away a lot.

According to this website, that bishop who excommunicated MacKillop was an alcoholic. He had listened to gossip, and this is why he did what he did. Later though, he apologized and made things right again.

MacKillop and her sisters helped the poor, lived very simple lives, and avoided active proselytizing. This is the kind of religious person I can respect. The vow of poverty probably is the least important my opinion. But I do find there's something admirable in having a simple life.

The South Australian History website has a page about MacKillop. Her birth name was Mary Helen. At her Baptism, she was given the name of Maria Ellen. Well, so she truly WAS born as a Mary. That's what I had wanted to know.

One of Mackillop's siblings became a priest. Another ended up becoming a nun. So she wasn't the only one in the family with that kind of calling.

This website says MacKillop wasn't completely homeschooled by her father. She also went to private schools.

The Sisters of St. Joseph was the first religious order began by an Australian.

It seems the most important thing about MacKillop and the sisters is that they helped families in need. This might not make her a saint, but it does make her a heroine.

This blogger has a whole blog dedicated to Mary MacKillop. This person doesn't seem like my type of person at all. In his/her entry on Ramadan, he/she says By all means let’s accept underprivileged immigrants, including refugees. But let’s stick to those with a Christian background. Colour and language don’t matter much so long as we get that part right.

That's lovely. Maybe I'm being hypocritical since I have prejudices against Christianity. But I don't sit there and say they should be banned from coming to America.

What would Mary MacKillop say about that? Would she have the same prejudices? When she helped the poor and desperate, did she insist they be Christians?

From what I read of this guy's blog, he represents the type of Christianity and Christians that I DON'T like. I'm hoping that MacKillop wouldn't be like him. I'm hoping she wouldn't be honored that he's using her name to promote his causes and beliefs.

But who knows....

The blogger has also written a book called The REAL Mary MacKillop. It's written in first if she really wrote it. They say it's accurate because it's based on letters she wrote. Maybe. Their website provides the first chapter. I guess I'll read it.

The fictionalized MacKillop says, In our day there was no Department of Social Security. No dole office. If you were hard up you had to accept charity wherever you could find it -- from relatives and friends, from the Church or from strangers.

What? Is she supposed to be talking to us from the beyond?

I've heard Republicans talk about this--the good old days where we just helped each other out. That's fine. We can STILL go and help our neighbors and family according to our own free will. The government's not stopping us.

There seems to be emphasis here on the goodness of begging. This seems to be valued over accepting government funds. So are we saying instead of Welfare offices and stuff like that...we should have more beggars?

I don't know. I can't read the rest of this. I find it difficult to read fictionalized biographies like this. It makes me sick to imagine someone someday writing as me after I'm dead. I mean it would be nice in a way because that would mean I did something awesome enough to become famous. Although I guess I could have done something really awful. Anyway, I would never want anyone to assume they know enough about me to write a whole book written in my voice.

This is kind of cute though. The Pretend Mary stops her story and addresses readers of the 21st century. Actually, it's not that cute. It makes me think of people who speak for "God" on billboards.

I don't know why, but it deeply offends me when people assume they know what god is thinking.

Pretend Mary lectures us modern people on our divorces and sex outside of marriage. Naughty. Naughty. I wonder what Pretend Mary would say about gay folks.

I've had enough of that website.

Oh my. After I wrote the above, Jack wanted to go get a snack. We did that, and then had a scientific experience of the creepy kind.

We've been having ant problems. So one of my online friends suggested cinnamon with baking soda. We spread that around along with my secret weapon of boiling hot water. Then I was trying to spread the baking soda around a bit and ended up with a dead ant on my spoon. A light bulb went off in my head. Our microscope!

We brought it upstairs. I put the ant on a slide, and put that under the lens. We saw nothing at first. We tried and tried. Finally, I saw something, but I soon realized it was specks of the baking soda. I got a scalpel and scraped off some of the baking soda from the ant. Then I put it under the lens. I soon saw the leg of the ant. It was SO creepy looking, but awesome. I showed it to Jack. Then I thought I saw something on the lens move. I looked back in the microscope, and yes indeed the ant was still alive. We could watch it move through the microscope. Freaky. Freaky. Freaky. We did some scientific gawking, and then I put the little guy out of his misery. The thing is....when you look at an ant through a microscope, they don't look small at all. It looked like a giant alien insect creature. I totally have the creepy crawlies right now.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program.....

There's some Mary MacKillop stuff on YouTube. I'll watch some of that.

First, we have a video done as a confirmation homework project. I find it a bit hard to read the purple font.

Here's another video. It's about the Mary MacKillop museum. The woman in it announces that MacKillop is Australia's first saint. I thought that hadn't been finalized yet. It seems the video was made to entice World Youth Day Participants to visit the museum. Is World Youth Day always held in Sydney, or it somewhere new each year?

Lord Wiki says it's always somewhere difference. The next one will be in 2011 in Spain.

Here's a video about the whole saint thing. It helps to convince me that prayer can make a difference sometimes when someone is seriously ill. But it does nothing to convince me of the superiority of Catholic prayer. The family and friends of the cancer patient prayed to Mary MacKillop. The cancer patient got well. But maybe it was just a case of minds over matter. I think we CAN sometimes heal someone simply by thinking positive thoughts. I don't think it really matters what or whom we believe in. I think it's more about the strength of our faith. In my opinion, the family would have had equal luck if they prayed to the god of peanut butter and jelly....if they truly believed in him.

Here's a bit from a musical about MacKillop. I wonder what kind of animation that is. It's pretty cute. The voice of Mary reminds me Mitzi from The Koala Brothers.

I found this ironic video by searching for Mary MacKillop. It's someone who's pro-religion, but plays John Lennon's "Imagine" in his video. The YouTube user says in his description, Far from being a "cause" of conflict, good religion seeks to examine and eradicate the causes of conflict and iniquity in the world - Greed, Wrath, Anger etc. I disagree. Religion IS a cause of conflict, but I don't agree with the people who believe it is THE cause of conflict. I also agree that much good and beauty has resulted from religion. Like all things in life, religion has its good and bad.

The video is beautiful, but I don't like it because it equates religion with Christianity only. Where is Gandhi? The Dali Lama? Confucius? Harold Kushner? Deepak Chopra?

I despise this idea that some Christians have....this belief that the synonym for goodness is Christianity.

Christians are not the only people who do good in the world. Some Jews do good things. Some Muslims do good things. Some Buddhists do good things. Some Scientologists do good things. Some pagans do good things. Some Atheists do good things.

We need people more often looking at websites like this one. It provides quotes and teachings from a VARIETY of faiths.

Oh well. I did learn a lot today. Some stuff inspired me. Some stuff bothered me.

As for Mary MacKillop, in my eyes....she's already a saint. It seems like she has inspired so many people, especially Catholics. To me, that's enough. I don't think there needs to be complicated evidence and proof. I don't think you can ever truly prove something like that. Sometimes, you just have to have FAITH.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Helen Caldicott

I wonder if Helen Caldicott has any connection to the children's book illustration awards in America. Probably not.

Who is she?

Lord Wiki says she's an anti-nuclear advocate. That should be interesting. Jack and I recently did some major science-learning. We learned the basics about energy, chemistry, ecology, etc. Maybe all of that will help me better understand what I read today.

Baby Helen was born in Melbourne in 1938. Lord Wiki doesn't provide a month or date of birth.

She went to Fintona Girl's School, and then later got a medical degree at the University of Adelaide.

Oh. Then she came to America. She worked at a children's hospital in Boston, and also was a professor for Pediatric medicine at Harvard. That was from 1977-1978. I think the attachment parenting guru Dr. Sears went to Harvard. Maybe Caldicott was one of his professors. Although I have no idea when he went there.

Well, I just checked. He was born in 1940. The two doctors are close in age. It's more likely they'd have a colleague relationship than a professor/student one. But they DID both do medical stuff at Harvard. I'm just not sure if they were there at the same time though.

It seems what changed Caldicott's direction in life was the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1980. Caldicott ended her medical career to concentrate on that instead. Did she have enough money to do that? It sounds risky.

I've heard of the Three Mile Island thing, but I don't know much about it. I shall go and read.

It happened in Pennsylvania. That surprises me. I pictured it happening on some far off tropical island somewhere. An accident occurred, and a lot of radioactive gases were leaked into the atmosphere.

The accident didn't actually happen in 1980. It happened on 29 March 1979. I guess 1980 was the year Caldicott left her job. So it wasn't a rash decision. She must have taken several months to get obsessed and make the decision.

Here's something weird. Twelve days before the incident, a movie was released called The China Syndrome. It's about a radioactive leak at a nuclear power plant. In the movie, there's actually a line where a character says that a meltdown could contaminate an area the size of Pennsylvania.

So here the movie probably made people super paranoid....and then it actually happened. Yikes.

Lord Wiki has a ton of details on what happened. I'm not reading that. As for health damages.... It was said that people within a ten mile radius received radiation equal to a chest x-ray. That might not be so bad, but when you have a chest x-ray you wear those protective things on your body. It was also said that the people received 1/3 of the radiation that normal people receive within a full year. That's kind of a lot.

What I'm getting from this is that certain people and groups tried to downplay the damages. Other groups and people try to show that the health damages were significant.

In 1982, a documentary was made about Caldicott's work. It was called If You Love this Planet. The movie won the 1983 Oscar for best Documentary short. Not everyone loved the movie though. IMDb says that America's justice department had the movie declared as being foreign political propaganda. They hoped this would slow down it's distribution. Any place that sold the movie was required to submit the buyer's name to the justice department. Of course this made the movie MORE popular because anti-censorship activists got involved. When the director of the film did her acceptance speech, she thanked the justice department for providing marketing for her film. That's AWESOME.

Lord Wiki says that Caldicott got her hands on some confidential memos from the Hershey Foods Corporation. They're located in Pennsylvania, and they worried radiation might have leaked into the milk used in their products. A study done by the Pennsylvania State University, College of Engineering showed that radiation had been found in the milk of the local cows. The government had studies that disputed that.

Yeah, I think I'm going to believe the university over the government. I really don't trust the government when they assure us that something is safe.

While in the United States, Caldicott was involved with an organization called Physicians for Social Responsibility. They fight against nuclear war, global warming, and other environmental terrors. Caldicott also involved herself with similar international organizations.

In 1982, she won the American Humanist Association's award for Humanist of the Year. The AHA has some really awesome Atheist-pride stuff products on their site. They have other great stuff as well...including a pin that says Hatred is NOT a family value.

Now I need a site that has some good neo-pagan pride stuff. I'm sure it's out there somewhere.

Caldicott returned to Australia in 1986. In 1990, she tried to get into Parliament. She didn't get in. She tried again in 1991, but that didn't work either.

Caldicott doesn't just have problems with nuclear stuff. She also seems to be against space travel stuff. She claims that the Space Shuttle Program causes major ozone layer depletion. Lord Wiki says there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

I don't know who to believe.

In 1995, Caldicott returned to America. She worked at the New School in NYC. I remember that place. I always imagined it was new....I guess because of the name. But Lord Wiki says it has been around since 1919. I'm so gullible!

In 2004, another documentary was made about Caldicott. This one was made by her niece. It's called Helen's War-Portrait of a Dissident. It won best documentary at the 2004 Sydney Film Festival. It looks like YouTube has the whole documentary. I don't know if I want to watch the whole thing, but maybe I'll watch some of it.

It looks fascinating and well done. It's not just about nuclear dangers. It questions whether activism truly works. The niece, Anna Broinowski, says, I've marched against America's wars through the decades and it hasn't changed a thing. A few moments later she asks, and can a 80's era dissident like my aunt really make a difference in George Bush's land of the free?

I think we CAN make a difference. But I don't think we'll ever be able to achieve all that we want for this world. There's too much opposition. But if we didn't protest and try to make changes, I think the world would be even worse off than it already is.

Well, see. Look. I already have an answer. I don't need to watch the movie.

I'm joking. I'll watch at least the first bit of it.

In the movie Caldicott says, Certainly, the Bush administration has used September 11 brilliantly to enact all their laws and to stop... to destroy your constitution and your civil rights.

I totally agree with that. I'm not paranoid enough to buy into the conspiracy theories of the American Government directly CAUSING 9/11. But I do think the Republicans greatly used it to their advantage. They promoted the idea that if you voted for a Democrat, you supported Terrorism. It's just like today if you support Obama, then you're allowing America to become a Fascist Communist country.

If Caldicott had said these things more recently, she would have probably been cheered and supported by many Americans. But I'm getting the idea that she said this soon after September 11. A Publisher interviewed for the video talks about the enforced patriotism of this period. We were almost ALL patriotic. I doubt we'd be willing to hear anyone speak bad of our perfect yet horrifically victimized country.

This documentary has some reality-TV style stuff. Caldicott and the niece sit in a hotel room and bitch at each other. Caldicott becomes very passionate and says that the Iraq war could lead to nuclear war and kill us all. The niece responds. That's when you lose the media...when you say that stuff. Caldicott gets very angry and uses some colorful language.

Maybe they're not in a hotel room. Maybe it's their home. I'm not sure. It probably doesn't matter.

I'm going to stop watching the documentary for now. I may watch more of it at another date.

I'm going to feed myself and my child. Then I'll do some more reading....

Caldicott has her own website. It has a biography. She founded the Cystic Fibrosis clinic at the Adelaide's Children's hospital. I used to be very involved with Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis was kind of like my Australia of the 1980's...probably a little less intense though.

In 2003, Caldicott won the Lannan Foundations Prize for Cultural Freedom.

The Smithsonian Institute named Caldicott as being one of the most influential women of the 20th century.

She's had a lot of impressive honors.

Caldicott has written seven books. The most recent was called War in Heaven. It's about weapons in space...stuff like that.

She is the president and founder of an American organization called Nuclear Power Research Institute. Caldicott's site has a link to the organization, but it seems that it's a dead link. Maybe the organization doesn't exist anymore?

This page of her site links to articles. Maybe I'll read some of them.

Here's an editorial written for a newspaper in Albany, New York. The author says, I had the chance to attend a talk by this very real, down to earth, charismatic and brilliant woman. It was a life changing experience, intensifying my own level of commitment and activism. She was impossible to resist when she thoroughly detailed the dangers of radiation to the future of human beings and then asked each of us what we were going to do about it.

Can a person be down to earth and charismatic? I kind of think of very passionate people as NOT being down to earth. I know because I've been this way at times. I think sometimes we become fanatical and obsessed...we lose sight of the big picture. Our focus becomes very narrowed. I guess though it depends on what one's definition of down to earth is. My idea of it is someone who is easy to talk to and relate to. This online dictionary gives various keywords for the term. They include sensible, practical, realistic, common sense, matter-of-fact, unsentimental, plain-spoken. Does this describe Caldicott? From the little bit I saw in the documentary, I don't think so. Her speech was very extreme and her niece pointed out.

The author of the editorial says it was Caldicott's work with Cystic Fibrosis that helped her understand the genetics of children. It made her see the harm that radiation could cause in genes.

Her husband is a pediatric radiologist. That's interesting.... It's almost ironic. Caldicott is so into the negativities of radiation, yet her life partner works with the somewhat positive aspects of it.

This article in the Science Alert website talks about uranium in Western Australia. Caldicott is interviewed for the article, and she says uranium mining in WA can lead to cancer. I guess Uranium mining used to be illegal, but now the new state government has overturned that law. Caldicott says this might be a very bad thing.

Caldicott has a radio program called If You Love this Planet. I guess it was named after the documentary made about her. It has a link to many articles that can make us feel terrified and hopeless. There's one that says toxic chemicals are still being found in so-called BPA free baby bottles.

I don't know. I think these days it's close to impossible to live a toxic-free life. You just have to try your best.

Here's a holistic health magazine's interview with Caldicott. The Three Mile Island institute wasn't the first catalyst in Caldicott's passionate war against nuclear power. When she was fifteen, she read a book called On the Beach. Lord Wiki says it's a science fiction story about the after effects of a nuclear war. The bombs hit the Northern Hemisphere and kill all the animals. That includes humans, I presume. The Southern Hemisphere, including Australia survives. But the radiation poisons are flowing south.

It sounds very scary and depressing. I can see how it would influence a teenager like that. It's neat that she has kept up that passion through out her whole life.

I'm so glad to be reading this interview with Obama as our President. It makes me so relieved that Bush is gone. She talks about the Heritage Foundation and how it is an omnipresent right-wing advertising agencies for corporations such as Lockheed Martin and other military corporations and oil companies.

I think this is the group that sponsored the conference that Steve Fielding went to. Yep. It is. Fielding wanted to educate himself about global warming, so he went to America to attend one of these conferences.

Yeah. I'm not a fan of this Heritage Foundation. I talked about it on my Steve Fielding post, so I won't blab on and on about it again.

Caldicott says The Cheney energy policy was determined after consultation with oil and energy companies--with absolutely no input from knowledgeable academics or environmental groups who are deeply concerned about the rapid progress of global warming and its devastating ecological and economic consequences.

That's just scary.

Caldicott says, Nuclear power, apart from nuclear war, is the greatest medical threat posed to life on this planet. I would have to know much more before agreeing with her there. It seems to me that there's a LOT of medical threats on our planet.

She does say a lot of scary things. Nuclear waste lasts over five hundred thousand years. That's a pretty long time. She says this will cause cancer and genetic defects.

Maybe Caldicott is less of an Atheist then the Humanist Association imagined her to be. Or maybe you don't have to be an Atheist to win their awards....well, because Caldicott mentions God. She says, This is the ultimate spiritual and religious issue ever to face the human race. For what is our responsibility to God to preserve the creation and evolution? We are the curators of possibly the only life in the universe and our responsiblity is enormous. Maybe she found religion later? Who knows....

Oh. Later she also brings up Jesus. But she just uses him as a frame of reference in terms of time.

Here's an Andrew Denton interview with Caldicott. It was done in 2003.

Caldicott talks about how it's so easy for a nuclear war to happen. It can happen today. It can happen right this minute. That would suck because I'll never get to find out what happens between Edward and Bella. I'm in the middle of reading that right now. I left off with Bella and Edward heading off on a hike together. Well, I did see the movie, but I forgot what happens at the end. Plus, there's the three other books I need to get through.

Caldicott says the American government has decided to build 500 new nuclear weapons a year. What the fuck?

America is a very scary country.

I'm scared of us.


But if it wasn't for our people, there would be no Bella and Edward. There'd also be no Grey's Anatomy or Lost.

But you guys would still have Harry Potter.

Caldicott says, These people in this Administration, um, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle — the Prince of Darkness — Rumsfeld — really scary guy — and Cheney, they're really into using nuclear weapons now. They've written a Nuclear Policy Review about it, and they've got a new thing called the Project for a New American Century and they say they're gonna use nuclear weapons on anyone they want.
This is not the first time I've seen Caldicott say something like this. It was mentioned in the niece's documentary. I kind of ignored it because it seemed to scary to be true. I'm trying hard to be in denial here.

If the Bush administration isn't scary enough, Caldicott then talks about how terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda could get their hands on nuclear weapons.

Denton asks how we can make things better....put the genie back into the bottle.

Caldicott's answer is education.

I'm not sure that works. You educate the choir, and we just get really scared and paranoid. We get depressed. The other people don't listen. They don't care. They have their own fear....Obama and higher taxes.

Caldicott talks about meeting Ronald Reagen when he was president. When they met, she told him he probably didn't know who she was. He proved her wrong by saying she was an Australian who had read On the Beach as a teenager and was scared of nuclear war. He told her he was scared too, but he felt the best way to prevent the bad stuff from happening was to build more weapons.

I can understand that viewpoint. If we build more weapons, people won't want to attack US because we'll attack them back. But that just sounds stupid and cowardly. It sounds like a childish game. It's also a very expensive game.

She's very harsh about Reagan. She says, He's a nice old man. He was a nice old man, but tot… Would have been a nice chicken farmer or something, you know? But totally inappropriate to be president. Now, the one we've got now is not as intelligent.

That's not that nice, but I can't honestly disagree with her.

She talks some about her family. Her marriage broke up. Her passion was hard on her children. She says she was away a lot when they were teenagers. It sounds like in some ways she chose her cause over her family. She says, On the other hand, my family did suffer and, um… But if I had my time again, I couldn't not have done it again. I…I, in a way, was born to do it. And I'm not finished yet. I'm going to fix it in five years. I'm fed up with this.

No, this does not sound like someone who is down to earth. She seems like a fanatic. I agree a lot with what she's fanatic about. But still.... we can't limit the fanatic label to only people that we disagree with.

I think the world might NEED fanatics sometimes. They can make positive changes. But they're not always the most pleasant people. And I don't think they make the best parents. I also wonder if they alienate people when they become too extreme. Could they alienate those who'd otherwise join the cause?

Caldicott mentions Denton's own child. She says, I'm talking to you now as your paediatrician. It doesn't matter if the child cleans his teeth, or if he has his immunisations up-to-date, or he has a good education, if within the next 10 years, there'll be no planet for him to inhabit…Andrew.

Yeah. He could also get hit by a bus or killed in an earthquake.

We could all be hit by an asteroid tomorrow.

Jack and I watch these videos called Brainpop everyday. They're brilliant little education films. They're very gentle and kid friendly, but they do talk about scary things. Jack and I have finished watching all the science videos. We joke about some of the videos causing us to be paranoid. We both predict that when we get to the health section, we'll have major paranoia related to that.

So far, the video that has scared Jack the most was the one that said our sun is likely to die in 4 billion years. He was more bothered by that than the video on terrorism.

I tried to reassure him about the sun's death. Oh, it's okay. We don't be around. Even your great grandchildren won't be around. If there are people, they'll probably have moved to a new galaxy.
But then as I thought of it, I got sad too. I don't want our sun to die! It doesn't actually bother me that much to imagine one day humans becoming extinct. But I'd like to imagine our planet and galaxy will be around forever. It makes me feel safe. The sun will always shine. But now Brainpop says that's not true.

Caldicott has hope for the world because she has faith in the goodness of all people. That's where we differ. I used to have that faith. But I don't any longer. I mean I think ALL people have at least a tiny bit of good in them. But I think that little bit of good is overshadowed by greed, selfishness, ignorance, and stupidity.

I think we're doomed. Something is going to destroy us all eventually. Hopefully, the people with a LOT of good in them will help postpone that day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fifty-Five Thousand Hours in Queensland

I had another Australia-related dream:

I'm outside. I think there's a lot of people, but I don't remember much about it. A man approaches me, and compels me to come with him. He doesn't forcibly grab me or anything. It's more like he makes a suggestion that I don't consider refusing.

We walk.  Slowly, I become somewhat lucid.  The man asks me something like am I real or fake. I think it's funny, because in my lucid dreams I usually ask my dream characters that. This time, the role is reversed. I think this gives me the sense that this guy must be real. Otherwise, why would he ask me if I'm real?

At some point, the man becomes a woman. I don't see any exciting morphing special effects. It's just one of those dream changes which you don't realize happened until you wake up.

The woman is a mother who wants me to be her son's bride. She's taking me to where they live in Queensland.

I question the logistics of all this. What about paperwork?  Certificates? Identification? I think she tells me she has that taken care of.

She says something positive about me, and I question that. She doesn't even know me. She tells me she knows me from reading my blog.

I then realize I have something that will have her stumped.  I ask....what happens when I wake up?

She tells me there's no problem. She has a special drug she's going to give me. It will keep me asleep for 55 thousand hours.

I don't bother to try and do the math in my head, but I figure that's an awfully long time. I'm wondering what will happen to me in MY world. I decide this must mean that I'm going to go into a long coma. Like most moms, the thought of abandoning and losing my child horrifies me. I tell myself I can probably visit him when I'm sleeping....visit Jack in HIS dreams. But that doesn't seem like it would be enough.

I'm a little worried but not horribly so. I'm mostly in denial. This can't really happen. Well, I AM in a know. It's not real. Although, I think a little part of me questions that.

I try waking up a few times, and it doesn't work. I don't try too hard, though....just make little attempts. (I feel maybe I didn't try hard then, because I worried if I tried hard and it didn't work; then I'd be REALLY scared.)

We eventually get to Queensland. I guess we walked there. I don't remember taking a boat, plane, or anything.

We come to their house. We enter from the back. As the man-turned-mother opens the door, I say the house reminds me of Mary Poppin's house. I feel stupid right after I say that, because I'm not even sure what Mary Poppin's house looks like.

I think actually seeing the inside of the house made me panic more. It makes it all seem more real. I feel trapped. But it's not like there's anything horrible about the house. It's actually pretty homey looking.

Still, I want out of there. I force myself to wake up.

For the first few seconds upon wakening I felt the following:

A) relief that I had escaped
B) Satisfaction as I imagined this woman realizing that I had gotten away. Ha!
C) Fear of going back to sleep. Could she find me again?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Edith Cowan

Who is Edith Cowan? I don't know. I'm betting she's dead though. Lately, the people I've been writing about are ones from long ago.

Let's go see.....

Edith Cowan is famous for being the first Aussie female elected into Parliament. That's a pretty big honor.

I was right. Lord Wiki says she's dead. She died in 1932. That's four years before Mary Poppins was published. To those reading this, that might seem like a random statement. To me, it's not because I have the Mary Poppins book sitting in front of me.

Anyway, we should probably rewind and get to the birth of Edith Cowan. She was born 2 August 1861 in Geraldton Western Australia. I recently finished reading A Fortunate Life, and some of it takes place in Geraldton.

I'm going to find it on Google Maps. It's about five hours north of Perth. It's a coastal city. I think I want to move there. I just looked at the weather. It's warm all year round....well at least the averages are warm. I want to live in a place where I can wear shorts and sun dresses every day. Although it might be better if we moved to the east coast of Australia since most of my friends are there.

Let's get back to Cowan....

She had a traumatic early childhood. When she was seven, her mother died in childbirth. Young Edith was sent to a boarding school in Perth. Her father, Kenneth Brown, remarried, and he also got into the whole drinking thing. When Edith was fifteen, her dad killed her stepmom. He was hung for the crime.

This was not the first huge drama in the family. Edith's uncle (Kenneth's brother) was the leader of the La Grange Expedition. In 1865 in Western Australia, three white people went missing. Maitland Brown and his mates went out to find them. They managed to find the guys, but they were dead....killed by indigenous Australians. The expedition people ended up avenging the death of their friends by killing 6-20 Indigenous Australians. There's controversy on how this all happened. Some say they walked into an ambush...maybe they were both seeking revenge and protecting themselves. Others say they just walked into a camp and killed indiscriminately.

Yeah. The Brown family has some major stories in their history. There's even some rumors and conspiracy theories. Lord Wiki says that Kenneth Brown's daughter from the second marriage claims she saw her father in America. So there's a rumor that he wasn't actually hung. His brother Maitland helped him to escape. Could it be true? Probably not. But you never know....

I'm trying to figure it out.  What happened first.... Kenneth's execution or the La Grange Expedition? I need to do some math.

Oh, okay.   that was easy. Edith was four years-old when her uncle led the massacre of the Aborigines. Her father killed her stepmom much later.

After her father was executed, Edith left boarding school and went to live in a suburb of Perth called Guildford. Lord Wiki says that MAYBE she lived with her grandmother. I guess he's not exactly sure.

When Edith was seventeen, she married a guy named James Cowan. They lived together in Perth.

As an adult, Cowan started concerning herself with social issues and the legal system. This might have been influenced by her husband's career. When she met him, he had been working for the Supreme Court. Although she could have also met him because she was INTERESTED in the legal system. It could go either way...or neither.

Cowan was most interested in social and legal issues in regards to women and children. When she was about thirty-three, she helped start something called the Karrakatta Club. It was the first women's club in Australia. The name of the club comes from the suburb of Perth were the club members met. It's purpose was to give women a political purpose in life. In the 1890's they pushed for women's suffrage. By 1899, Western Australian women had the right to vote. That right was extended to all white Australian women in 1902. It wasn't given to American women until 1920. Swiss Women didn't receive that right until 1973. What's the deal with that? They're not as bad as Saudi Arabia though. Lord Wiki says women there STILL can't vote. Is that true? I'll have to confirm that. Well, according to this CBS news article, not only can women not vote....they also can't drive. Yikes.

Lord Wiki says that the Karrakatta Club was also responsible for bringing the RSPCA to Western Australia. These are the people who help animals.

They did good things, these Karrakatta people. But these days, they're seen as more of a social club. Lord Wiki says people accuse them of being irrelevant. I can't find a website for them. You'd think there'd be one.

I'm going to go feed Jack some breakfast. He's hungry. He's been sitting with me on my chair. We looked at women's suffrage together. He was quite fascinated by it. I should have him sit with me while I do research more often. He might learn a lot....

I'm back. Breakfast is done. Actually, it was more like lunch.

In the early 1900's, Cowan concerned herself with welfare issues. Because she believed children should not be tried as adults, she founded the Children's Protection Society. A children's court was established. In 1915, she sat on the bench of the court. She was in that position for eighteen years. What does it mean to sit on the bench of the court? Does that mean you're the judge? I think it does.....

During World War I, she helped soldiers. She collected food and clothing for them, and also helped those who had returned from the war.

In 1920, Western Australia passed a law that said women could now be in Parliament. She ran for the Western Australian Legislative Assembly in the seat of Perth. The funny thing is she ran against the man who introduced the legislation that allowed women to be in Parliament.

Cowan won. She was part of the Nationalist Party which was actually conservative. Yeah. I'm sorry. It does surprise me. If a female politician today pushed for the rights of children and women, I'd assume she was part of a left political party. If a right-wing politician says they want to protect women and children, I'm likely to assume what they mean by this is they want to protect families from homosexuals, socialists, and pagans. Sorry. I'm probably stereotyping.... And I know I'm wrong. I know there are American Republicans and Australian Liberals who want to protect women and children from unfairness and abuse.

Lord Wiki says Cowan was one of the first to promote sex education. Now that doesn't seem like something a modern conservative would do.

In 1924, Cowan lost her seat in Parliament. She tried to regain it in 1927, but didn't win. In her last years of life, she remained active with social issues.

In King's Park in Perth, there's an Edith Dircksey Cowan Memorial Clock. I'm guessing Dircksey was her middle name. Lord Wiki says it's believed that this is the first Australian civic monument built to honor a woman.

There's a university named after Cowan. Lord Wiki says it's the only university in Australia named after a woman. Although I don't know of many big famous Australian universities named after ANY person. The only ones that come easily to my mind are Alfred DeakinLink University and Monash University.

 Actually, I'm not sure if Monash IS named after a person. Was there a Mr. Monash?

Okay yes. There was. Lord Wiki says it was named after John Monash. He was a military general in World War I. And he was Jewish. How exciting is that.

The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts is part of the Edith Cowan University. This is the school that Hugh Jackman went to.

I'm done with Lord Wiki. I shall go to that Australian Dictionary of Biography now.

The boarding school that Cowan attended as a child was run by her future husband's sisters. Interesting.

The website says that the trauma of her early teen years made Cowan a solitary person. Solitary? She seems pretty active to me. You can't really be a solitary person and be in Parliament. Although maybe in her FREE time she was solitary. Maybe she was the type of person who, if she had a spare moment, preferred sitting alone to chatting with friends.

Mr. Cowan...the husband was the registrar and master of the supreme court. I'm not quite sure what that means. I don't know what those job titles entail. Plus, I'm not even sure what supreme court they're talking about. Is it the supreme court of Perth? Is there a supreme court of Perth?

Nope. But there is a Supreme Court of Western Australia. I'm guessing Mr. Cowan worked for them. I'm still not sure what a registrar and master is. I did a LITTLE work trying to figure it out, but didn't find anything fast enough. I'm ready to move on. What's probably important is that the job brought in enough money to make Mr. and Mrs. Cowan financially comfortable. They were secure. Sometimes such security makes people blind to the injustices of the world. I'm doing great! Who cares about anyone else! But for people like Cowan, sometimes their own financial security pushes them to be concerned for those in less secure lives.

Cowan was the Karrakatta Club's first secretary. Later, she was vice-president, and then president. She was involved with other organizations and boards, including The North Fremantle Board of Education, Ministering Children's League, and Alexandra Home for Woman (for unmarried mothers).
She was part of the Women's Service Guild. Their work led to the eventual building of the King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women. Their hospital provides a Family Birth Centre. You get a homelike atmosphere with double beds and your own little garden. It's great for families who want a homebirth, but don't quite really want a homebirth. judging by the photos, it looks more like a hotel room birth. Still. That's much better than a hospital room birth. At least in my opinion.

You know, I just wrote all this stuff about how Texas doesn't have stuff like that. I was wrong. Fort Worth has a nurse midwife program. It's actually part of the hospital where I had Jack. I wish I had known about it. They say, We view the components of healthcare to include the emotional, spiritual and physical needs of the individual. Pregnancy and childbirth are viewed as normal life processes and every woman should be allowed to actively participate in the decision-making and planning of her care. That SOUNDS really good. It sounds very different from the philosophy and attitude of OB/GYN we used.

I'm really not sure where to go from here.

I can't even think of a good conclusion.

I guess I'll end by saying women have come a long way. But we still have many miles (or kilometers) to go.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I Don't Like that Nanny

I read Mary Poppins last night. (but it won't be last night by the time I post this)

Now I must say that my feelings about the book might be slightly clouded from what I know about the author, P.L Travers. I didn't feel much love for this author who acted ashamed of being Australian, and separated her son from his own twin.

Still, even without knowing about the author, I don't think I would have liked Mary Poppins. I had heard that the book version of her is dark. I wasn't quite sure what that meant. A little wicked? A dark sense of humor? A bit moody sometimes? Maybe she's warm and loving, but a bit firm? I think I could have liked a woman like that.

Mary Poppins, though, is a vain uptight snob. She's a total bitch. But all this is forgiven because she's MAGIC. She takes the kids on marvelous adventures. She talks to dogs in front of them. She has medicine that changes flavor. She has a magic compass. She has all kinds of cool stuff in that carpet bag of hers. But she's NOT nice. She's cold to the children. She rarely smiles. She doesn't show affection. She lies to them, and invalidates their experiences. After they've experienced magic and try to talk about it, she insists it never happened. She even goes as far as scolding them for discussing it.

Mary Poppins doesn't seem to like the children in her care. She treats them as if they were a nuisance.

The children don't seem to mind at all. They like Mary Poppins. They grieve when she leaves. They prefer magic to nice. It's not surprising that these kids like her. They didn't love their previous nanny. What was that nanny's crime? She was old, fat and smelt of barley-water. There's no mention of her being abusive or irresponsible. She simply wasn't young and attractive enough. Mary Poppins is attractive. She makes sure of it by frequently looking in mirrors.

Now it is of course important to look at the time period in which Mary Poppins was published. 1934. In these days, a lot of people were probably still following the parenting advice of people like John Watson. There was the idea that parents (and caretakers) should treat children with emotional detachment. If you give your child too much affection, you'll ruin them. Despite all the modern parenting advice that opposes that viewpoint, some parents today still cling to that old-fashioned idea.

I think though that most of us believe at least a LITTLE warmth should be given to children. If we had a choice between nannies, I think we'd pick Maria Von Trapp over Mary Poppins. Maria can't do magic, but she's so loving and understanding. She's patient and kind. Her happy enthusiasm is contagious.

In the book, Alex the Life of a Child by Frank Deford, little Alex fills out an All-About-Me project. One of the questions asks what kind of friend she'd like. Does Alex prefer a friend who is cute, funny, rich, or nice? Alex underlines nice. When asked why, she responds simply Who wants a mean friend?

Sadly, I think many people DO want a mean friend. We like nice people, but we tend to have this attraction to people who are physically beautiful, super talented, famous, funny, and rich. Sometimes we will ignore the nice people and give more attention to the mean people who have traits that we find intriguing and attractive.

The good news is that there are beautiful women and handsome men who also happen to be super nice. There are nice, rich people. There are nice, funny people. There are nice, smart, and talented people. There are even nice, famous people.

But then there are these people who think that since they have these certain gifts, they don't really need to bother with being nice. A model might have so many men fawning over her, she decides she can treat all of them like crap. Why not? They still hang matter how mean she is to them. A chef might be so talented with food that he doesn't need to be nice to the restaurant patrons. His veal is so tender. He can be as rude as he pleases. He knows people will keep coming back.

When I was recovering from my eating disorder, a light bulb went off in my head. It doesn't matter how thin I am! It matters how NICE I am! People like people who treat them with kindness. People like people who will listen to them, laugh with them, and comfort them when they're sad.

Now unfortunately I've come to realize that this is not always true. Hopefully, they're in the minority, but I do believe there are some people who care more about what you look like than how you treat other people.

The sad truth is we live in a rather shallow world. We no longer live in the 1930's, but we still live in a society where people would prefer an attractive magical cold-hearted nanny to a fat and old one.

I wish we lived in a world where kindness was valued over everything else. Now I'm not saying I expect people to be nice ALL the time. There are valid reasons for bad moods and bad tempers. Your boyfriend died. You have bad period cramps. You lost your job. You have a headache. Your mother doesn't like your vampire girlfriend..... We can't be happy, friendly, and loving all the time.

I think we simply need to remember that things like beauty, talent, fame, wealth, and magical powers should NOT be included in the list of valid reasons to be rude, cold, cruel, and obnoxious.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Elizabeth Macarthur

I actually know who Elizabeth Macarthur is. She and her husband did sheep farming in Sydney.

That's about all I know.

I think she may have had some connection to William Charles Wentworth. I forgot what it was though. Maybe he wanted to marry her? Their daughter? I forgot.

I shall go talk to Lord Wiki.

Wow. She goes way back. She was born before Captain Cook set foot on Australia. He came in 1770. She was born four years before...on 14 August 1766. Of course, it's all relative. There are people and things that are from MUCH longer ago. It's just I think she was born before most of the people I've researched. She might have one of the earliest birth dates. I think the only person I've written about, that was born before her, was Arthur Phillip. He was my first ever biography post.

Baby Elizabeth wasn't born in Australia...obviously. There was no white British people there in those days. She was born in Devon England.

Lord Wiki lists famous people from Devon. Agatha Christie is one of them. They don't list Macarthur. I guess she didn't leave a big impression on the Devon people.

Elizabeth was born to farmers. Her father died when she was seven. About four years later, her mother remarried. Lord Wiki says Elizabeth lived with her grandfather. Something like this happened in the book I'm reading now...A Fortunate Life. I don't understand these mothers who remarry and abandon their children. I guess it's the new husband putting pressure on them. Still. It's sad that a woman would choose her new man over her children.

In 1788, Elizabeth married a solider.  John Macarthur. They had a baby named Edward. The three of them rushed off to New South Wales. Macarthur was going there as part of something called the New South Wales Corps. I'll read what Lord Wiki has to say about them.

They were also called The Rum Corps. I'm guessing they were the ones who started the whole Rum hospital thing?

Lord Wiki says the group was formed to relieve the officers who had come on The First Fleet. The First Fleet arrived in 1788....the year that Elizabeth and John tied the knot. The Rum Corps were established in 1789. The Macarthur's came over in 1790. I'm just trying to arrange things in my brain here.

Lord Wiki says this Rum Corp job was not very popular. Most people weren't too excited to go to the very remote continent of Australia. Therefore, the soldiers in the Rum Corps were ones who were fairly desperate. They were men who had been paroled from military prison, soldiers on half-pay ( longer actually working), and other people who really had nothing better do. I wonder if John Macarthur was one of these desperate souls.

The Rum Corps wasn't an original alternate name for the group. This nickname came later. It had something to do with their leader (Francis Grose) relaxing the prohibition on Rum. I think we might learn more about that later. I see Macarthur's name mentioned. But I'm going to move on for now.

Mr. and Mrs. Macarthur moved to Rosehill which was near Parramatta. They bought a farm and named it Elizabeth Farm. That's the tourist destination that we had planned to visit; but we never made it over there.

The Macarthur's had a total of nine children, but sadly two of them died.

Their eldest daughter shared her mother's name. Lord Wiki says she had two offers of marriage. Both of them were rejected by her parents. I wonder if one of them was William Charles Wentworth. This might have been how Wentworth was connected to them.

John returned to England from 1809 to 1817. Elizabeth stayed and took care of the farm. Wow. That's a long time for spouses to be away from each other.

Elizabeth did a great job with all the farm stuff.

Lord Wiki says she was the first soldier's wife to arrive in New South Wales. She was educated and had good literary skills. Therefore, her letters provide a good account of early life in the colony. I wonder if the letters have been published. They probably have been. I figure at least the museum at her old farm might have some of them.

That's about it for Lord Wiki. There's a lot of holes in his information which could probably be filled by reading his entry on John Macarthur. I'm trying to decide if I should do that, or if I should move onto another website.

I think I'll do the latter. I love Lord Wiki, but I think it's best to expand my horizons.

I'll look at the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

They say Elizabeth's parents were probably educated and affluent. Elizabeth too was educated. I wonder how rare it was in those days for woman to be educated. From the little I know, I'm pretty sure it wasn't common.

John and Elizabeth married in October 1788.

Oh. I'm so dumb. I just went to look up when the First Fleet arrived so I could compare that date to their wedding date. I totally forgot the whole 26 January thing. What is wrong with my brain this morning?

Eight months after they married, Macarthur joined the New South Wales Corps. Together they went on the ship headed to Australia. They had a daughter born on the ship, but she died. On top of that, when they arrived their son Edward was sick.

Because of her educated status, Elizabeth was welcomed into the society. She was friendly with all the important officer people.

It seems that changed in 1809. This is when her husband rushed off to England.

Something happened here. I guess it was controversial. Lord Wiki mentions it. This website mentions it. But they don't tell me what it was exactly. I guess I WILL need to do a brief reading on John Macarthur.

Yikes. It's long and least on the biographical dictionary site. I shall see if Lord Wiki can put it in more simple terms.

Okay. Yes. This looks like something I can handle.

Macarthur was the kind of person who had a lot of fights with people. He involved himself in a campaign against the Governor John Hunter. The campaign alleged that Hunter was involved with rum trafficking. Hunter ended up having to return to England where he was forced to defend his reputation.

Macarthur had even more problems with the third Governor of New South Wales...Philip Gidley King. I'm not going to go into deep details right now. I'm adding some of these people to my list though.   I'll get to them in a few months. Eventually, I'll probably get most of the story. Hopefully.

For now, to make a long story short..... Macarthur was in England from 1809 to 1817 because he was avoiding an arrest warrant in New South Wales. This had something to do with the Rum Rebellion.

The Rum Rebellion was a fight between Governor Bligh and certain officers of the New South Wales Corps. One of these officers was Macarthur. The officers were accused of a corrupt rum trading thing. That's weird that earlier Macarthur had accused a governor of Rum Trafficking. Isn't that a bit hypocritical? Or maybe I misread something?

Anyway...again, I'll return to this stuff at a later date. Let's get back to Elizabeth and her wool.

Despite having to move so far away from her original home, having many children to take care of, and a husband who surrounded himself with battle and controversy....Elizabeth managed to be fairly happy. At least in her letters she appeared to be happy. I don't know though. I think a lot of times people make themselves LOOK happy in letters because they don't want to appear to be miserable. We don't want people to read our accounts and say, Oh. She sure made the wrong choice. It all kind of depends on who we're writing to. If I'm talking to people I feel comfortable with, I can let it all hang out. If I feel people might judge me, I kind of stress the good and gloss over the bad. Actually, I don't know if I do. I think I sometimes reveal too much to the wrong people. I end up putting myself in the line of criticism. Oh well.

Macarthur kept up a very proper home for her children. That along with her education level, charm, and sense of humor, helped her to avoid much of the criticism that was given to her husband.

I think they had a property besides the Elizabeth Farm one. It was the Camden Park Estate. I'm not sure though if this was part of Elizabeth Farm. Was it nearby? A totally different place? According to Lord Wiki, it was built AFTER John took that long trip back to England.

I'm looking at Google Maps now. There's a whole area named Camden. It's east of Bicentennial Park. There's also a Macarthur Park nearby.

I wonder if they still kept Elizabeth Farm, and then also had this property. Or did the whole family move?

Wait. Something is not right here. I'm not sure if I'm simply confused, or if I'm being given the wrong information.

Lord Wiki says, In 1821 the Macarthurs built Belgenny Farm House, a timber 'cottage ornee'. This house and the related outbuildings, known as the 'Camden Park Home Farm', form one of the oldest surviving groups of farm structures in Australia. I took that to mean that the whole property began at that time. But the biographical dictionary says that while her husband was away from 1809-1817, Macarthur had to deal with the Camden Property. She VISITED it though. She didn't live there. She'd go there and discuss sheep stuff with people helping on the property. Then she'd report back to her husband through snail mail.

I'm guessing then that they HAD the property early on. 1821 is probably around the time that they turned it into their homebase. Actually though, Lord Wiki says they didn't turn it into their home until the 1830's. What did they need the cottage for then? Maybe workers? Perhaps the Macarthurs stayed overnight sometimes?

Macarthur's letters to her husband didn't just deal with business stuff. She wrote of her children...the daughters that were with her, and the sons that were off in England with their father. She seemed to have much love for her family.

The biographical dictionary says that Mr. and Mrs. Macarthur were devoted to each other. They say, The devotion of husband and wife for one another was of deep and moving intensity, yet Mrs Macarthur was able to endure the long years of separation from John without the stress which might have troubled a woman of less aristocratic temperament. That was a pretty long separation. I think it would be hard for most couples to endure it.

From letters, people have inferred that John questioned remaining in Australia. It seems he wanted to return to England. Elizabeth convinced him otherwise. She felt they had a future in New South Wales.

Okay. Now I'm getting the biographical dictionary's version of the Cambden Park thing. They say that once John returned to New South Wales, he began working on building a family mansion there. That was in 1817. The dictionary says, It expressed his own vision of his family and its grandeur more than it was designed to please and delight his wife. I wonder what THAT means? Was his taste different from hers? I wonder if they fought about it. What did he want vs. what did she want?

It seems in the 1820's their marriage problems began. John had depression issues. He also became obsessed with the idea that Elizabeth had been unfaithful to him. Well, he WAS gone for a long time. I wonder if he had any affairs in England.

It sounds like John became quite paranoid. He lost trust in his wife. The website says he no longer could tolerate seeing her. So, they separated. This was all very upsetting to Elizabeth because she still loved her husband. Even though he rejected her, she remained devoted to him.

Macarthur died in 1850. Her husband died sixteen years before. That would be in 1834. Right?

The ABC website has an entry for kids about Macarthur. I'll read that. It seems almost like a child wrote it. It sounds kind of like a child's school report.

The website says Macarthur liked reading as a child.

The website says John was a snobby ambitious army officer. I wonder why Elizabeth married him? Did she love him despite his snobbishness? Was she ambitious herself? Would marrying him get her to the position in life she wanted?

The website says Elizabeth was disgusted by the people that were with them on the ship to Australia. They say, she didn't have much sympathy for poor people. That's sad. I wonder if it's true. I think you can be disgusted by poverty and still have sympathy for the people that are forced to dwell in it. But maybe in Elizabeth's letters she said something to show she had no sympathy for them.

The sheep that they brought to Australia were Merino ones. I guess they were the first people to do this. That's why they're known as the parents of the Aussie wool industry.

In summary, I'm getting the idea that Elizabeth Macarthur was a rich snob who was devoted to her husband and children. It's much better than a rich snob who is NOT devoted to her family.

The Historic Houses Trust website has some brief information about Elizabeth Farm. What's supposed to be cool about the museum, is that it's one where you're allowed to touch a lot of stuff. They say, you can wander freely through the old house and garden as if you were its original occupants. There are no barriers, locked doors, fragile furniture or untouchable ornaments in this unique, ‘access all areas’ house museum. That sounds really cool.

The reason we didn't go to it was that it's open only on the weekends for tourists. We had only two weekends in Sydney. We needed to use that time to be with friends, because that was the easiest time for most people to get together with us. If Elizabeth Farm had been nearby and easy to access, we would have probably squeezed it in. But going to Parramatta seemed like a complicated all-day affair.

I can't say I regret our decision. We had great weekends. Although there was that Sunday we ended up doing nothing. I guess we could have gone then. Although that was the day we found the Cook+Phillip Park. That was pretty fun. It's also the day we lost our camera. That wasn't so fun.

The Historic Houses Trust has some information on the farm and the family. I'll read it to see if they have any unique insights.

Elizabeth was a year older than her husband. That's interesting.

Their son Edward was fifteen months old when they arrived in New South Wales. They doubted he'd survive. But I guess he did.

The website says that her family and friends back home saw the marital union as being disastrous. So I guess this means her parents weren't the ones who pushed her into the marriage.

It sounds like Macarthur was a difficult man. It seems like he had conflicts with almost everyone he encountered. But for some reason, Elizabeth had a soft spot in her heart for him.

In New South Wales, John made a lot of money. But he did not make a lot of friends. That's the basic story I'm getting here.

The websites says that John's letters to Elizabeth, when he was away in England, had much criticism regarding how she was handling business in Sydney. Why did she put up with him? I guess love makes us tolerant.

In 1831, after years of depression, one of the Macarthur's sons died in London. John became even more depressed. That's understandable. It's hard to overcome mental illness when one of your kids dies. By 1932, Macarthur was given the official label of lunatic. He was a rich man who died crazy and sad. As they say, money can't buy you happiness.

The website has an excerpt from some of Elizabeth's early letters back home. She does sound very positive. She talks very fondly of the landscape, and all the fruits they can grow. Her only complaint is the lack of proper education for her children.

I think I might have been right about what I had said before. I think Macarthur was positive in these letters because her family and friends had been so against her marriage. I'm going to assume they also weren't too pleased with Elizabeth leaving them behind to go far away with this guy they despised. They probably expected her to write to them saying, I hate this place. Why did I marry this jerk! It was such a mistake. You guys were right. Please help me find a way home!
I think she was positive because she didn't want to prove them right. And I don't think it was just her letters that were positive. Her whole attitude might have been positive because of all of this. I think sometimes we CHOOSE to be happy....just to spite those who doubt our decisions.

Their youngest son Edward left for England when he was only eight. He made only two return visits to New South Wales during Elizabeth's lifetime. Wow. She didn't get to see that son too much. I can't imagine.

Oh. Wait. There was another son...John. Elizabeth said goodbye to him when he was seven. Then she never saw him again. I can imagine that was heartbreaking. Was stuff like this common in those days?

I know there are people who come to America to find work, leaving their children behind. I think that's so sad. I think these people have no other choice sometimes though. But to send your child off to school knowing you might never see them again? I guess these people valued formal education over family life.

The 1840's were rough on Elizabeth and her family. Her eldest daughter Elizabeth died in 1842. Well, she was pretty old her fifties. So, it's not like it was a huge tragic death. Still. It might have been sad. Plus, the family had some financial issues due to the Great Depression. Things got to be a bit tight.

The Macarthur's youngest and most cherished daughter married someone that Elizabeth didn't approve of. Like mother like daughter. But eventually the new son-in-law won Elizabeth's heart. I'm not sure actually if Elizabeth disapproved of any marriage in general...or just this specific guy. It's nice that she ended up accepting him in the end. It does seem like the Macarthur's were a bit picky about who their kids married. Remember, Lord Wiki had said they rejected two of their eldest daughter's suiters.

The website says that in the end, Elizabeth returned to Elizabeth farm. She was fond of Camden Park which went to her sons. But she preferred the Parramatta home.

There's an Elizabeth Macarthur High School in New South Wales. It's in Narellan. I'm looking at Google Maps. It's in the southern part of Sydney.

There's a whole area in Sydney named after the Macarthurs. Cambden is part of it. The Macarthur area website says it's located between Sydney and Wollongong....thirty minutes away from each.

There's an Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute. It's part of the government. They deal with plant and animal health. Recently, the Institute was involved with a new type of sheep lice test. They're also involved with reducing the rabbit population in Australia. Rabbits are SO damn cute. They're one of my favorite animals. But they do cause a lot of damage in Australia.

A rabbit disease was purposely introduced in the 1990's. This is RHD (rabbit haemorrhagic disease). That seemed to be working, but now rabbits are showing resistance to it. Before that, there was Myxomatosis. Rabbits became resistant to that disease as well. Rabbits are resilient little creatures, aren't they! They're like coachroaches...but cuter.

In many countries, Myxomatosis came about naturally. People sometimes use vaccines to protect their pet rabbits. In Australia, the vaccines are illegal. There's a worry that the resistance will spread to other rabbits. Really? Since when are vaccines contagious? If that's so, why do I need to get Jack his next shots? I can just have a vaccinated child cough on him.

Not everyone in Australia hates rabbits and supports their destruction. There's a Coalition Against Myxomatosis. They say in Australia that the RHD vaccine is available and legal. In my country, there's no vaccine for either of the diseases. I wonder why? I didn't think rabbits were seen as pests here as much as they are in Australia. Maybe the disease is less of a problem here?

Their FAQ section says that the vaccine contains a live virus. They say, However, the virus does not readily spread from one animal to another and all rabbits in a group should be individually vaccinated. Ah! So you CAN spread a live virus from a vaccine.
I know this has nothing to do with Elizabeth Macarthur. I just find it fascinating.

You that I remember. I had Jack's chicken pox vaccine postponed because my sister was pregnant. I think she was going to be visiting, and there was concern that she could catch the disease from Jack. I totally forgot that.

Anyway, I can spend hours going off in tangents about this. I should probably stop now.