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Quote for the Day : Death

“…Death twitches my ear…

“Live” he says,

“I am coming…”

— Virgil

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Hairy-Backed Pie Dish Beetle
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Blogging Challege : Day 1 – Blog Name

Originally posted in Swinging With Babies , this blogging challenge (which, in turn, came from livelovesimple.com) is going to help me on the days when my brain is not working very well and I can’t think of anything to write, photograph or blog about.  Which is often, these days, let’s be honest.

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So, today’s topic : My Blog’s Name.  Why did I call this blog The Paper Wallflower?  Well, mostly, because the name “The Speckled Egg” was taken, ha ha.  Truly.  I wanted The Speckled Egg as my blog name.  I’m always using eggs (or, at least, pictures of) in my
card-making, and speckled eggs are very popular as a design element/feature, but the name was taken, by a few different blogs, so I moved on.

I obviously favour paper above all other crafty mediums – I use it for card-making and collaging, drawing, painting, journaling, writing etc, so having “paper” in my blog title seemed a given.  Then, I was going to incorporate my favourite flower – violets – into the name but couldn’t make it work, and I didn’t want to have just my name, Violet Annie, as the main heading.  So, I chose a wallflower.  It seemed fitting – I am horribly socially anxious, the absolute prime example of a wallflower (if anyone is sitting on the outskirts of a dance, not dancing, it is me) and the title seemed to work.

So that’s pretty much it.  Not a very exciting story, but there you are 🙂  I’m happy enough with it, as a blog name.  It will do!  I guess I’m stuck with it now anyway.

I should, at this point, while we’re on the topic of names, confess that my real name is not Violet Annie.  It’s my business-if-I-had-a-business name.  It’s actually my Grandmother’s name and, as violets are my favourite flower, I pinched it for my own devices.  I don’t think it’s a great idea to have your real name out there on the internet for all to see.  Even though, in reality, I’m sure it’s easy enough to find.

My Grandmother was an amazing lady – she lived with us for the last 15 or so years of her life, after she emigrated at 80, until she was 95.  No dementia or any real health issues, she was a character alright.  Loving in her own way and, despite being a tad cantankerous at times, she was very grateful for everything we did for her.  My Mum had quite a tough time with her, some days – she wasn’t always easy to deal with – and we all had to care for and look after her on a daily basis.  She was fairly independent, right up until the end, and didn’t ask for much except company and her blessed smokes (sigh…you can’t tell someone who is 95 years old that smoking is bad for them).

I will always remember her last night on this Earth.  She had taken ill in the day (respiratory problems, not surprisingly) and was in hospital.  Mum and I went to visit her in the evening (she’d only been admitted that morning, and was doing quite well, all things considered) and she was sitting up in bed, eating her dinner (pumpkin soup – her favourite) and complaining about the nurses.  She was calm and not frightened or distressed (a huge blessing for my Mum – she didn’t want to leave her if she was upset) and talked about coming home the next day.

But there was no next day for her.  At around 2am, we received a call from our GP.  Nanna had passed away, very peacefully, in her sleep.  The doctors and nurses were all a bit shocked – they had not expected her to go so quickly, although she was not expected to come out of hospital any time soon.  I really believe her spirit just decided it was time to go.  She was warm, her belly full and we were all safe.

So, I guess this blog is dedicated to my Nan.  I hope she is proud of it and me.  She was a mad crafter – knitting was her thing – and so I think she would have liked seeing all the things I make.  One of my favourite memories of her was when she asked me to help her make my Mum a medal.  It still makes my Mum and I teary, even now.  This little tin-foil-covered cardboard medal, with Nan’s writing on it, saying thank you for everything Mum did for her.  That says LOVE right there.  It couldn’t be more valuable if it was made from solid gold.

Have a good day everyone.

 

 

 

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Love for Orlando

I’m not going to get on my political high-horse and discuss my beliefs about gun control or sexuality or religion – that can wait for another time.  All I know is that innocent people have been murdered in Orlando.  At the end of the day, the reason for it doesn’t matter.  They were living breathing people, and now they are not.  Their families don’t get to hug them or say goodnight to them, tell them they love them or celebrate holidays with them.  The victims won’t get to tell their stories or share their lives or live their dreams.

It just makes me sad, that’s all.  The world is a dark place sometimes and seems to be getting darker all the time.  I want to believe that love conquers all, but I fear it is fighting a losing battle right now.

How do you bring up children in this world?  How do you plan or dream or hope and teach them to do the same?  How?

The only shining light right now is that there is outrage and sadness after this mass shooting.  There are still good people and people who care about the lives of others.  ALL hope is lost when we stop feeling and caring.
I am trying to remember that today, but it is hard.

Today I send love to the victim’s families, and to the victims themselves x

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Gecko

Had a death in the house this week… This tiny little gecko decided to meet his maker, under a pile of my crafting supplies (which I am sure will be my fate someday).  So sad.  I had seen him earlier in the week and had desperately tried to catch him (which also involved me having a conversation with him whereby I tried to convince him he should come out so I could take him outside) but he had disappeared into my book shelves.  Then, when I was clearing up on Sunday, I found his little corpse in between some sheets of scrapbooking paper  😦

Look at his tiny little toes!  Those pretty, gem-like and almost metallic eyes!  The patterns in his skin!  So sweet.  I don’t think he was long gone…his body was still soft and pliant.  I’m glad I didn’t squish him – he wasn’t flattened or anything like that.  Just looked like he was sleeping really.  He may have just gotten dehydrated, stuck in my house, or maybe he was already sickly.  But he’s so tiny!  And perfect!

Apparently geckos are nocturnal and eat insects.  That’s about all I know.  Other than them being cute.  I did have a much larger one in my shed a while back and he scared the living daylights out of me.  He leapt off the wall as I opened the door and basically flung his tail at me.  Which was a bit horrifying.  I (again) was having a conversation with a reptile – “Please keep your tail!  I don’t want to eat you!”- but to no avail.  His tail wriggled and flipped for ages by itself as he ran off into the undergrowth.  Icky!

I’m not sure what kind of gecko this one is.  I guess he’s just some sort of common house gecko.  Let’s go with that.  He wasn’t wearing a name tag.  You can look at some other kinds HERE if you’re in to that sort of thing.

I’ve kept him for now, as my brother sometimes does resin art and uses, ahem, dead things.  But, besides that, he (the gecko) seems too lovely to get rid of.  I’ll bury him if nothing else.  He deserves that, and will go into the earth or be dinner for other critters.

RIP little dude x

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Quote (Lyric) for the Day : Beautiful Peace

Fly away where a new world waits for you
Always look back though
Not to cry, and not to regret
Just to help who’s left behind
Help us all to heal and understand
Cause we don’t know why you had to leave
I can only guess it was time for you to be free
To ascend to a broader more wonderful life than this
I believe you’re in a better place now
A place where only beautiful souls will hold you
Be sure to comfort, and protect your children
They need you now
Stand behind them
Rise within them
And love them

— Beautiful Peace by The Murmurs

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Amanda’s Garden

Amanda’s Garden

In 2010, I had the misfortune of falling prey to Meningococcal Meningitis with Septicaemia (read HERE if you want that long story!).  I was exceedingly ill, almost fatally so, and was lucky to survive.  Very lucky.  Most are not that fortunate and many people who do survive are left with life-long health issues, including brain damage, the loss of limbs or digits, vision impairment or total loss of sight, loss of hearing etc.

In 1997, Amanda Young died from this terrible illness, at the age of eighteen.  Her parents, Barry and Lorraine Young, were given roses as gifts of remembrance from Amanda’s classmates and friends.  From these roses, a beautiful garden bloomed and the Youngs decided to open their property each year to the public, to raise funds for research into meningococcal.

Mum and I visited the garden this weekend.  I hadn’t been before but Mum goes every year – she feels that she should (in fact she went twice this weekend, mostly so she could come back and buy more plants!).  I too should go regularly, being one of the lucky ones, so I am going to try and do so from now on.  There is only a small entry fee and then you can look through the gorgeous garden, buy plants, enjoy a Devonshire tea and just spend a few peaceful moments in this lovely setting.

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Every inch of space is lush and blooming, with roses, bulbs, cottage plants and annuals of every size and colour.  The weather on this day wasn’t fabulous – we narrowly missed getting rained on – but it didn’t matter. The place was packed with people but it was such a tranquil setting, you barely heard any noise.

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Mum and I made a beeline for the plants-for-sale section of the garden.  Pots and pots of all different kinds of plants were laid out for us to peruse.  We both bought a few specimens (and Mum had already bought a boxful the day before!) and were very happy with our purchases.  It’s not often you can buy an orchid for $4 and roses for $10 🙂

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Some of the roses on display were just exquisite.  The colours were stunning and such variety!  You could smell their fragrance a mile away – not overpowering, just beautiful.  The “Amanda” Rose is the most gorgeous deep yellow.  So pretty.  I love yellow roses – they’ve always been my favourite.

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The garden also featured dense, pond-like areas with water lillies and irises in many fabulous colours.  I could hear the chorusing of lots of happy little froggies 🙂

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The entire property was like a little oasis.  I loved the more overgrown areas – it was like a proper Secret Garden. Just needed a few fawns or some robins, maybe a frolicking lamb or two 🙂

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I really liked this idea : using old garden solar lights for planting succulents!  How good do these Haworthias look?

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If nothing else, it was nice to spend some quality time with my Mum.  Time we might not have had if I had not been so lucky in 2010.  I think about it every day.  I’m sure Mum does too.  Giving a few dollars to the Amanda Young Foundation is the least we can do.  And if it means we get to add to our growing collection of plants in our own homes, well, that’s just a bonus! Neither of us needs an excuse, really.

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“Amanda’s Garden” is open to the public in October each year.  It is well worth a visit.  Lorraine and Barry have put their heart and soul into the property, turning their grief and loss into something worthwhile.  And while it will not bring their daughter back to them, it may help to prevent any future deaths from this awful illness.  To learn more about the Amanda Young Foundation, the garden and other facts about Meningitis, you can visit their website HERE.

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RIP John (or, A Lesson in Expectations)

RIP John (or, A Lesson in Expectations)

Last week I had some sad news : a friend of mine, John, had died suddenly over the weekend. I was in shock for a few days. It didn’t seem right or fair or even possible. How could this happen? He simply fell whilst walking to his car in a car park, hit his head and suffered a major bleed in his brain. And that was it. Gone.

A mutual friend of ours phoned to let me know. I couldn’t quite grasp what she was telling me. It couldn’t be true. I sat at my desk at work and cried. I had lost other people before, but they had been elderly (Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, parents of friends etc) and although it had been very sad at the time, it didn’t affect me the way this loss did. The funny thing is, John himself was 76 years old and that would be considered elderly by some people. But I didn’t see him that way. He was part of my group of friends – I didn’t see him as a Grandfatherly figure or as an old guy. I didn’t treat him any differently to my other friends. I talked to him in the same way I did with all my buddies. He’d send me dirty jokes and rude emails. He and his wife travelled a lot to far flung places, right up until this last year, where I am pretty sure they would have been planning their next getaway.  He volunteered, after retirement, within the courts system and supported victims of crime. He was fit and healthy, liked a beer or two and was adventurous and spirited. He was just, well, John.

To have him gone is just weird. I feel the loss of his presence in the world like I haven’t done before with anyone else. He’d be pleased about that. He’d probably tease me about it, actually. Our little group of friends won’t be the same. It will be hard getting through those first few outings, dinners and get togethers. There will definitely be a feeling of something missing, though we’ve all agreed we must continue meeting as a group – he would want that and would disapprove of any moping about.

John’s death has made me look at my own life (isn’t that what these moments are supposed to do?). At his funeral, he was fondly remembered and it wasn’t a solemn affair at all – there was laughter and smiles as his life was celebrated. I watched his wife and although her pain was obvious, she also smiled through the service and laughed with her son when memories of John were shared. I noticed the closeness of her little family – that is always an indication of a life well-lived and a person well-loved – and hoped that that closeness would protect and comfort her in the sad days ahead. I can’t imagine what she is going through and I was glad to see she had support.

While John was 35 years older than me, I never thought of that age difference at all. Whether that’s because I don’t feel my age, or because I didn’t see him as the age he was, it made me think about the expectations and pre-conceived notions we attach to different ages.  I didn’t think of John as “old” because he didn’t do all the things “old” people are “supposed” to do. But then I think of all the things someone of my age is “supposed” to have done, I find I am falling short of expectations also. I don’t have my own home (I rent), I’m not married (recently divorced) and I don’t and won’t have children.  I haven’t figured out what I am going to do when I grow up and I have no idea about things like superannuation (sure, I have it but don’t ask me how much) or mortgages or even tax returns (I do them, but I don’t understand them and can’t quite figure out why I get screwed every year by the tax department, even though I earn less than just about everyone I know).  People often think I am much younger than my actual age and this is probably due to the fact I don’t particularly ACT my age.  But I don’t even know what that means.  John did not consider me a failure because I was doing things a little differently.  In fact, he delighted in my sense of humour (which can be a little bit sarcastic and offbeat) and applauded anything I was doing, if I was doing it with honesty and courage.

Most of the time I am happy with who I am.  I think I’m a good person.  I try to live tolerantly and with empathy for others.  But I don’t always treat myself with the same respect.  I get far more disappointed in myself and frustrated with my own failings, far more than I would with anyone else.  I speak harshly to myself and berate myself for the smallest of mistakes and misjudgements.  But part of this, I suppose, is due to thinking about expectations I am not meeting.  So I need to be kinder.  To myself.  I need to believe that while my path in life may be very different to anyone else’s, it is just as valid and worthy.  So I can’t balance my cheque book – big deal.  I can pay my own bills and keep food on the table and a roof over my head.  Maybe I don’t own that roof, but it’s a start.

Rest in Peace, John.  You were an example to us all of a life well-lived, a life that exceeded and defied expectations.
I, for one, will miss you very much x

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