REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL, PART TEN

Over at Facebook, I was tagged in a meme that required me to list three things that made me grateful, every day for three days.

So I thought I’d list them here, too.


  1. I’m grateful for my art. It has provided me with friendships, income, travel opportunities, and was the vehicle by which I escaped the soul-destroying depths off despair I was slowly being crushed by while working in the Public Service. I’ll never be famous, I’ll never be remembered, and I’ll never be considered at even the middle of the tree, but my art has been the thing that has kept me from disappearing into the obscure midst of my mediocre family tree, and I’m grateful.
  2. I’m grateful for a reasonable income. Yes, we struggle, and we juggle finances on a fortnightly basis, but I’m aware that we do so from a level of decent comfort. My children go to a good school, my wife is able to study, essentially, full time, and we have room to both expand our horizons and entertain our hobbies & indulgences. We never suffer, and having both come from backgrounds of grinding poverty, Lyn and I have only ever wanted our children to appreciate a good upbringing.
  3. I’m grateful for the respect of my peers. I get little of it at work, and I rarely feel like an author doing good work, so when a fellow artist expresses their respect or admiration for the work I do then it usually comes as an enormous, and humbling, surprise, because, to be quite honest, I generally don’t know what I do to merit it. I’ve undervalued my work for so long– it’s only in the last fortnight, for example, that I’ve decided to set a minimum fee for appearances, despite doing them regularly for the last 12 years– that I’m always a little stunned when others do value it. And grateful, because sometimes, I doubt I’d go on without it.
  4. I’m grateful for my readers. Despite all the mechanical hoo-ha-ra that goes into writing, ultimately it comes down to entertaining a stranger with the power of your imagination and your words. Anybody who comes back for a second helping, or who picks up my work because they like the cut of my snippets, is someone who has chosen to invest their time and imagination into my maunderings. It’s a weird kind of long-distance love affair of the mind, and I’m thankful to all who take it on.
  5. I’m grateful for my children. As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve read this Facebook page for long enough– by which I mean half a day or more– my kids constantly entertain me, fill me with wonder, and enrich my life by keeping me innocent, impish and focused on doing good for others who need me in their life. Whether it be my naturally-arrived Miss 12 and Master 9, or my inherited bonus kids Cassie, Aiden and Blake, granddaughter Little Miss 2, grandson Little Man
  6. I’m grateful for the quickness of my mind. I’ve mentioned before that my father’s mind is failing, and it’s killing me to watch a charming, erudite, quick-witted man struggle for words and concepts he used to fling about like gossamer. I love being funny, I love being deliberately unfunny to spark a funny exchange, I love to tease, to argue, to explain, to build worlds and concepts out of nothing more than my vocabulary and my ability to knit words into never before-seen shapes and tastes. All my other gifts belong to the people who bestow them upon me. This is the only thing I have going for me that is purely mine. If it ever begins to desert me, I don’t know what I’ll do.
  7. The care and love shown to Master 9 during his illness by people who have no other investment in it than they are his teachers, or our friends. From just-because gifts, to messages of support, to structuring his classroom, people have gathered round him for the 14 months of his illness and provided him with an atmosphere of caring and support that has done wonders for his morale and self-esteem. To Kris, Kim,Grant, Lilysea, Mark and countless others, my gratitude.
  8. Free education. I went to a shitty High school in the 80s, when my pre-Child Support Agency divorced mother raised two teenage boys and covered a mortgage on a single mother’s pension and a $30 a month in child support payments, and thanks to a nominally free education system I still managed to claw my way through 4 years of University. Now, it’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars to send my children to a good high school. Much as I would love to do my Master’s degree, I simply can’t afford it. My wife’s attendance at University each semester is a matter of financial negotiation. My eldest sons struggle to hold down shitty part-time jobs and find enough time to attend to their study obligations. If I were starting my educational career today, I’d be working at K-Mart full-time, because that’s the best that people like me could have hoped to afford. I’m grateful that free education enabled me– and subsequently, my children– to escape a lower-class existence through education.
  9. A stable political system. Yes, Tony Abbott and his Ant-Hill Mob of witless cronies are a blight on our culture, and yes, we can argue back and forth about the relative merits of our chosen allegiances until we’re blue in the nads. But nobody shot at me today, and I own my house, and my children are safe and my wife can wear whatever she wants and get herself a tertiary education, and any meal I’ve missed since I was at Uni has been by choice, and I have freedom of travel, speech, religion and thought. And I’m an artist, and a well-paid member of the permanent workforce. I’ve never been conscripted, I’ve never fought in a war, or against my own people. I’ve never been gaoled for my beliefs, tortured, or disappeared. My neighbours don’t spy on me. I’m safe, and warm, and comfortable and educated. And I’m grateful.


And, things being what they are, here’s a little bonus extra grateful content:

10. Above all else, I am grateful for the presence of Luscious Lyn in my life. We have been together almost twelve years now, which boggles me to think of, and in that time we have faced innumerable struggles, traumas and hardships, but throughout it all she has been the pivot around which our family revolves. She has brought me unparallelled joy, belief and support, and whatever happiness I have managed to gather unto myself has been, in large part, because she is beside me, pointing me always towards positivity and joy. I cope, and occasionally flourish, because of her. I am a better person because of her.

And for that we should *all* be grateful.

HAPPY EIGHTEENTH, AIDEN

A huge shout out to our eldest boy Aiden, who turned 18 during the week. I first met Aiden when he had just turned ten, and have seen him grow from a quiet, withdrawn and shy boy into a young man with such strong values, and such a mature and honourable attitude to life that I have long been proud to call him my son (we don’t do halves or steps, and I’m glad. I want to be able to stand alongside all of my children without the artificial minimisation that comes with a blended family).

I look at him now– a young man with a plan to follow a career in land management, his high school years behind him and a path through TAFE mapped out, with a young family of his own that he loves, about to leave the family home and begin his life as a man in his own right, and I am filled with pride, and hope for his future. And I am comfortable in the knowledge that whatever mistakes he makes from here on out, and whatever setbacks he may encounter, will come from his attempts to do the right thing, to be an honourable and humble man with the needs of those he loves uppermost in his mind.

You are already a man who makes me glad to call myself your father, Aiden. Happy birthday, son.

NOVEMBER WAS A MAD OLD MONTH, MY FRIENDS

Ahhhh, the best laid plans of mice and Lee are aft to gang aglay all over the frigging place.

See, what I was going to do was post regularly about my progress through Nanowrimo, pausing only to ruminate upon the occasion of my 40th birthday, and congratulate my favourite 5 year old in the whole world on turning into my favourite 6 year old in the whole world. And indeed, those things did happen. But along the way, the world changed ever so slightly.

Well, let’s be honest, the entire household has been turned upside down, inside out, and arsehole to breakfast by this:

 

Allo, babeeeee. No, wait, I’m the babeee!

Luc Aden Jeremy Triffitt, my first grandson, arrived in the world at near-as-dammit 11pm on the 11th of the month, having caused his Mum and Dad to finish the last mouthful of my birthday dinner and say “Well, that was nice. Can we go to the hospital now?” He was a tiny, tiny little thing on arrival– 3090 grams and 49 centimetres long, and is a tiny little thing now: at the pool this morning, two old ducks who were cooing over him had to be persuaded that he wasn’t actually only a few days old.

He’s been with us three weeks now– parents Aiden & Georgie have neither the spondoolies nor the age to live in their own space, and he is a beautiful, smiley, snuggly little bugger who has the good grace to cause everybody ructions and then fall asleep peacefully within about 90 seconds of me picking him up. Needless to day, he and me are the best of buddies 🙂

So, this the world, Luc. Try not to break it, and be back for tea.

SO VERY CLOSE YET SO VERY VERY FAR…..

Outside the Bunbury art gallery there’s a seating area, covered by a pergola whose roof is slanted at something like 60 degrees. I point at it as we cruise past.

ME: Check it out. Rodin’s “Ski-jump”
AIDEN: (Deadly serious) Why would he need a ski jump? He’s got wings.

I swear, I had to pull the car over so we didn’t crash.

 


Merde, I have dropped mah beret!

THEY’RE NOT FISH! FISH DON’T HAVE PAWS!

A couple of months ago, inspired by his friend Kaneda’s Wall-o-fish and with the prospect of inheriting a free tank from a mate, Aiden very politely enquired as to whether he’d be able to keep a couple of fish. We said yes. So he duly brought home said free aquarium, filled it with water and filters and things that made bubbles, and plopped a couple of fish from the local pet store into their spacious new abode.

They died.

We felt pretty bad for the poor kid, so Lyn took him down to the pet store to see if we could get him some less exotic, easier-to-care-for fish. Something a little hardier, more suitable for a beginner, something in the order of goldfish, that he could use to learn about fish care while still experiencing the joy of having brightly coloured fish floating about. Apparently, these fish are called ‘mice’.

I fucking hate mice. But Aiden was thrilled with his purchase, so now we had two mice. We emptied the water out of the tank, replaced the things that made bubbles with things that could be run upon, and bought mouse food. And all was well in the land, at least until the mouse realised that loosely-fitting lids that don’t clip on like they’re supposed to might be all right for fish but are really no match for creatures that can stand on their back legs and run away into the night, giggling (Well, making squeek squeek noises and saying “What shall we do tonight, Brain?”). At which point I gently intimated that perhaps he might like to consider a cage that was not quite so unutterably non-mouse proof. A mouse cage, perhaps.

Enter the inimitable Grant Watson, who had just such a cage going spare, and would we care for it, as he was just going to elbow it otherwise? We certainly would, and took possession with thanks. And a damn spanky one it is too: two spacious cages connected by a series of interlocking tubes, with all sorts of cool mousey entertainment devices for running up and down on, drinking from, and generally lazing about like the mouse equivalent of a supermodel being asked to get out of bed for less than 10 000 blocks of cheese a day. Aiden was at his dad’s for the latter part of the school holidays, so in his absence Blakey put it all together, we transferred the mice into it, and *then* discovered that it was too big to fit on any horizontal surface in the house. (except the dinner table, but there are some centrepieces I do not consider suitable…). Aiden was due home in a few days so we put it on the patio table, with the idea that we would all work out a solution when Aiden got home.

Apparently, a plastic and wire cage is really not that much of an impediment to a hungry cat.

Now, we felt really bad about the loss of the mice: they’d been in our care, and we’d rather cocked it up, despite our best intentions. We let Aiden know what had happened, expressed our regrets, and promised him that, when he returned, we’d take him out and get a couple of replacements. Aiden was cool with it: he understood, and all was well in the land. Yesterday, I returned home from work, and his mum greeted me with the words “Aiden, show lee what you bought at the pet shop today.”

Rats. Two rats.

Aiden is thrilled. Erin and Connor are thrilled. The rats are thrilled. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re currently in a whopping great mouse cage on the desk in Aiden’s nice, warm bedroom. Everybody’s thrilled.

FISH! I said he could have FISH! Since when are rats a form of fucking FISH?

*Incidentally, said rats are named ‘Plague’ and ‘Famine’. Nice…

LUCKY LUCKY LUCKY JAMMY JAMMY LUCKY JAMMY………

Wanna know what Aiden’s been doing? Huh? Do ya?

Riding elephants, swimming with dolphins, skurfing, eating exotic fruits, shopping like a beyatch…. He’s on holiday, the lucky little bastich: his best friend invited him to travel to Singapore with his family, and that’s where he’s been ensconced in an umpteen-star resort on the coast for the last week.

I’m as jealous as hell, particularly as it’s been pretty much constant downpour here in exotic frikkin Clarkson since his departure. But he is, by all accounts, having the time of his life, and he deserves it– his school grades are excellent, he’s brilliant to have around the house, he’s a fantastic brother and son, and even with the 20+ year age gap I’d consider him one of my funniest and most articulate friends notwithstanding the special nature of our Bonus son/father relationship. He’s an amazing kid, and deserves an amazing adventure.

Of course, I’ve still turned all his furniture backwards in his room and hidden dead fish in his underwear drawer. Some things are traditional……