Welcome to the blogspot of Melbourne writer, Elizabeth Jane

Welcome to the blogspot of Melbourne writer, Elizabeth Jane

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The North Wind ...

This is possibly carol is sung to the dreariest tune in the world.
But the words are nice.
The North Wind is tossing the leaves,
The red dust is over the town,
The sparrows are under the eaves,
And the grass in the paddock is brown;
As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ-Child the Heavenly King.

The tree-ferns in green gullies sway;
The cool stream flows silently by;
The joy bells are greeting the day,
And the chimes are adrift in the sky,
As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ-Child the Heavenly King.
Have a Good One

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Corbett Family Christmas Letter - December 2008

It is that time of the year again. A moment to reflect on the year that has passed and to somehow convey, in a manner that does not send the reader to sleep, where we are at, and what we have been doing. It is customary to make such an epistle breezy and self-congratulatory, to pick out highlights and to celebrate achievements. This year, as any other year, there have been many such events. There have also been some difficult moments: times that have brought us to the conclusion of 2008, with slightly less cheer than we might have hoped. But let’s start at the beginning …

Jack and Ness moved to Canberra in January, where Jack took up a graduate position with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It has been an exciting year to be in Canberra. He was able to participate (in a voluntary capacity) at the 20/20 Summit. He also stood on the lawn during the Prime Minister’s historic apology to the Stolen Generations and took part in a community cabinet in his old home town of Adelaide. Jack has been offered a permanent position within the Office of National Security and, although enjoying his work; he is still toying with the idea of doing a Phd, eventually.

Ness has tackled the move with her usual drive and tenacity. She landed a temporary job within the Attorney-General's Department the day after arriving in Canberra (trust Ness) and has since been offered a promotion and permanency. Ness has enjoyed the challenge of playing soccer for Belconnen United and won the Player’s Player and Most Improved awards this year. She is also looking forward to being a bridesmaid in her sister Heidi’s wedding in January.

I have always told my children, by all means go away to work, but make sure you live somewhere interesting so that I can come and visit. I am not sure if Canberra exactly qualifies, but we did enjoy visiting them earlier this year.

Phoebe turned twenty one and celebrated with a big party. If you want to see photos, they are on my blog at: http://hannercymraes.blogspot.com/2008/09/phoebes-21st-birthday.html She has also completed her second year at university. Phoebe achieved reasonable marks in all subjects but, just between you and me, her interest was somewhat eclipsed by her growing friendship with a young man called, Andy. On a less exciting note, she has continued to experience back pain since her tobogganing accident in Switzerland. She therefore decided to have the plates removed from her spine in November. The operation went well but she is still recovering.

Seth turned eighteen this year and started driving. He also did year twelve. It isn’t easy doing VCE when your older brother and sister both got high scores. He is no academic slouch, however, and has given it his best shot. He also had a good time in the process. There are photos of him dressed up for his final day of school on my blog:(just in case you hadn’t noticed, my blog is a serious hobby). We get the VCE scores on Monday and then begin the process of applying for universities. He is planning to take from study next year and to work for a few months, before travelling overseas with Phoebe.

Naomi Priya has had a difficult year. It is as if she has read a book called how to be a rebellious teenager and applied herself diligently. I am not going to go into the finer details of her misdemeanours (no, you won’t even find them on my blog). I will only say they have angst, expensive mobile phone calls, heavy eye-liner, and a change of schools. Andrew and I have found the most difficult aspect of the whole experience is our divergent reactions. It feels like we are being torn apart.

Apart from the trauma of a hellion fourteen-year-old daughter and a wife who in her middle age has developed self-confidence and opinions, Andrew has had a great year. He now works pretty much full time from home. He has made a number of trips overseas with work but has still managed to fit in some recreation. He has hiked frequently at Wilson’s Promontory, has continued to cycle long distances, his most recent achievement being to complete the Great Victorian Bike Ride. He also led a small group for our Church, Heathmont Baptist and had his last year on Vermont Secondary College council. He and Monique have continued to make music together but on a smaller scale. You can check them out on: http://www.myspace.com/andrewmonique

Liz continues to attend Welsh language classes (although her knowledge retention is less than brilliant). She has also enjoyed a successful year studying Novel at TAFE (technical and further education). She has started writing reviews for a magazine called the Historical Novel Review and has been invited to submit a feature article to their magazine, Solander. She has been doing an extra day per week at the library since June, which as allowed her to contribute to the City of Boroondara youth blog.(there’s that word again). She enjoyed being involved as a volunteer in the Melbourne Writers’ Festival and spoke for the first time at a Balwyn library book talk. The extra library work ends next week (yeah!) and hopefully, teenage issues aside, she will finish the re-write of her novel in 2009.

We will celebrate Christmas 2008 at home with the Canberra Corbett’s, Paul (whose Mum is Liz’ Godmother) and, of course, Andy:-) My Mum will not be joining us for Christmas as Ian and Wendy are home from Malawi. But the Rev. Dr. (latter is a newly acquired title) Ian Dicks and family will join us, afterwards for a beach holiday in Port Fairy.

Well that is it, the year in brief. I trust you also have many things to celebrate and that you have managed to find your way through the obstacles that 2008 and has thrown in your path. My God Bless you with a continued assurance of his presence in 2009, and the grace to honour his precepts.

Love as always
The Corbett family

Monday, December 15, 2008

Georgiana: woman of flowers

Georgiana: woman of flowers
Libby Hathorn, Hachette, 2008, $17.99 AUD, pb, 298pp, 9780733609169

Georgiana Molloy and her husband, Captain John Molloy, were among the earliest settlers of the remote Augusta region in the colony Western Australia. The novel begins in 1839 at the time of their arrival in Western Australia. It finishes with Georgiana’s untimely death in 1843, following childbirth.

Running parallel to the story of Georgiana and her growing family is a fictitious tale of the poorer, less educated Summerfield family. The narrative is told in a lyrical, omniscient voice that shows the varied hopes and aspirations of each family. The stage is set for a compelling read when we learn that Will Summerfield, and his sister Charlotte, are living in fear of their mother’s second husband the brutal Thomas Summerfield. The lives of the two families are loosely interwoven and there is potential for the story to build to a satisfying climax that it never quite achieves.

Georgiana Molloy was a pious young woman and Libby Hathorn makes a concerted effort to reconcile the evangelistic fervour of Georgiana’s Christian faith with her, otherwise, gentle demeanour. There is reference to a book called Peace in Believing from which Georgiana is said to have derived considerable inspiration. We are not, however, given insight into what aspects of the text particularly affected her. It is therefore difficult to develop any empathy for her convictions.

This is a worthy novel. It portrays the struggles and triumphs of early settlers in Australia and their attitude towards the aboriginal peoples of the region. It also illustrates the significant contribution Georgiana Molloy made to the study of the region’s unique flora. The narrative had a strong biographical feel and would therefore be suitable for young adult readers who enjoy life history, rather than those who want a compelling story.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bad hair days ...

Have you ever had a bad hair day? I have had a bad hair week.

It started the Friday before last Friday. I showered and washed my hair (as you do). But as I began to blow dry, I realized a patch on the top was really greasy. Silly me, I thought. You haven't rinsed properly.

Fortunately I have a stash of hippy headbands in my drawer. The kind you stretch round your head twice and cover a multitude of sins. I chose purple that day, for energy and vitality.

The next day, Saturday, I made sure I rinsed my hair extra carefully. But, lo-and-behold, same problem: hair extra greasy.

I chose a green headband that day,a sort of questing, what-is-happening-to-me sort of affair.

The next day, Sunday, I did two washes and rinsed thoroughly. But, no way! My hair was still disgusting. It was like working in the Woolworths service deli, during my teens, and having the metwurst drip on me.

I chose black that day, for mourning.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I was becoming alarmed. For no matter how I rubbed and scrubbed, no matter how low the water temperature, no matter how much shampoo I used, or how thoroughly I blow dried - my hair was like suet. You could have fried chips in it.

On Thursday I went shopping. Now I don't know about you, but when I am perusing shops, possibly trying clothes on, I don't want my hair to be greasy. Firstly because when you go into a shop with big mirrors and fluorescent lights you immediately feel yourself diminishing. Every wrinkle shows, evey small acne scar looms, let alone the hairs that are not growing on your chin. Added to which, the sizes are ridiculous in those stores. I can't possibly be pushing a sixteen!

I wandered around the shops for about an hour. But I didn't have the heart to try anything on (yes, that bad). Other shoppers were staring at me. I was sure of it.

'Look at that woman's greasy hair,' they whispered. 'It must be really bad under that black thing.'

'Euw! Disgusting,' they said. 'I bet she doesn't wash it.'

I tried to be philosophical. Told myself I was identifying with those who do not have the luxury of regular showers. Told myself that in future when I saw a plumpish, middle aged woman wandering round the shop with greasy hair and the early stages of a beard on her chin, I would be more understanding.

It didn't work. I felt dirty.

On the way home, I drove past the hairdressers.

Shall I? Shan't I? Greasy? Clean? It was like pulling petals off a daisy. I decided to go in.

'Caroline,' I said (I can not stress the value of the family hairdresser in these sort of emergencies. Someone who knows your folicle history). 'I have a problem.

'Do you need to bring your appointment forward?' she asked, smiling.

‘No, it's my hair. I can't wash the grease out of it.'

'How long has it been greasy?' she asked.

'A week,' I said.

She and her assistant were by my side in an instant. Touching the offensive patch. shaking their heads, tut-tutting and deliberating. I can only say, it was like two librarians collaborating on a reference enquiry. A religious thing.

'Come over to the basin, we'll wash it straight away.'

It was a relief to be taken seriously.

'This has happened before,' they said, cheerfully. 'One lady's whole head turned greasy. It took us ages to get on top of it.'

I trembled in the chair, hoping this wasn't a bizarre stage in my ageing process. Hoping I did not have to visit the skin specialists, only to be told there was no cure for me. Praying I wouldn't have to go through life feeling slimy!

It took two vigorous washes to get my hair clean. The second wash had bi-carb soda mixed with heavy duty shampoo.

It did the trick. My hair is now wondrously clean. I feel like a girl on the Pantene commercial. Like shaking my head and letting it cascade around me. Feeling young and liberated and free.

Yesterday, I went to the hair salon for my regular ‘cut and colour.’ Then I am going to move on, try and put the whole thing behind me. Perhaps buy a lottery ticket, or shares in a shampoo company.