Monday, 27 February 2012

Big hands and sawdust

My Dad was a builder and my favourite smell as a child was that sweet damp smell of sawdust and freshly cut wood, which I would absorb in the air around him as I sat nearby, watching him hammer nail after nail and hold the planks of wood across the wooden horse. I liked to touch the wood scraps, hold them to my face where I could breathe in their scent, feel the roughened edges and try to avoid a splinter. Dad would work away and whistle, tell the odd joke and come over and tickle me or throw me around in a spin in the air occasionally. At home he would let me stand on his feet as we danced around the kitchen, his big feet feeling strong and reassuring under mine. He loved to give me piggy-backs and shoulder rides and once he laughed as my sister and I got in the bath, pyjamas and all, with our pet duck. He wasn't perfect, my Dad. But then, neither was I.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Read more from Sue Oaks on Scribd

Hi! If you enjoy reading my posts, please sign up to follow me, so I know you are reading! Also, I have a number of documents online and available to read on Scribd - just go to and search for Sue Oaks. Enjoy!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Where the Hell am I going?

I sometimes wonder where I’m headed. Is that common to humanity? 

Sometimes we float around, get lost in whatever crisis or problem shows its ugly head, get caught in the escape route of entertainment or mind-altering substances, or simply become so immersed in our own problems we can’ t see past our own noses.
I want to live in a directional way. That isn’t easy. It takes energy initially when we sit and ponder our goals, and then write them down in a concrete form. It takes energy in the midst of them, as we swing between striding towards things we want to achieve and hovering around temptations, those dreaded devils that poke in front of us like hairy hands from the corners of ghost-train alley. But despite the challenges, its worth giving it a go.

I want to live with enthusiasm like a Pentecostal Christian lives to worship. I want to live for life, be thankful for life, and grab hold of opportunities fully charged and ready to spread the good news. To do this, I need a boost. Where do I get this boost? There are times when I feel it. Sometimes it comes from within, but at other times what comes from within are barriers and walls. My phone is handy – I can browse through articles in the news, look at tweets, seek encouragement on Facebook. I can keep fit, head to the gym, swim in the ocean, play a game of tennis – those hormones inspired by movement are supposed to do wonders. Music can inspire, a delicious morsel of chocolate or a spicy dish can fire the senses and the soul.

Life is like music. You take hold of it sometimes in both hands, using your creativity and your spirit to compose its parts and shape its outcomes as best you can. But at other times it takes you by surprise, lifting and guiding you and sweeping you out of the realities you have become accustomed to. The inspiration can depend on the player of the instrument and the singer of the words. The same words, in life, can guide you in completely different ways, all depending on the personality of the messenger and the manner in which the message is communicated.

Sometimes it is like a bommie, submerged beauty beneath the heavy mass above, colours and life which are hidden to the naked eye. Can the bommie be revealed, with a vacuum which sucks away the sand and water like a liposuction operation, revealing beauty which was formerly in disguise… only to see the life within it die and wither away?

Is superstition banned in a directional life? Some will find a portent in numbers, natural disasters, a crow flying over-head, and it inspires a certain action, influences a choice. Does a life with direction become devoid of splurges? Does it become dull and routine, a shovel digging a hole, shovelful by shovelful? Or is it more like the polisher of gemstones… rolling and polishing, rolling and polishing until eventually the deep shine and depth of colour is revealed?

Reality – my day to day life. All I can do is try – set myself goals, be inspired wherever I can, accept that sometimes it’s just a treadmill and my inspiration might be just around the corner. But it will come. Once I can learn to enjoy each moment within the goals – then I will start really living. That will be deadly. I still mightn't know where I'm going, but I'm far less likely to care!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Susan can be a little ... obnoxiously bitchy! (Step-family chronicles)

My partner returns from his access visit with his daughter. Which logically I know is necessary, right, nurturing to his child, the done thing… and all that. But the old green eye dude seems to want to cloud my logical brain stems. So he comes home and I can’t help making bitchy comments. She has bought a Harry Potter book at the market. I have to bag the choice, thinking to myself, will this child ever grow up? I know it’s about me. Also tied to the fact that his daughters have chosen not to have anything to do with me, refusing to see their father if I am going to be there. I take it personally. It has to be about me, about my worthiness or unworthiness to be a part of their lives.

Is it unrealistic? We have been partners for nearly two years now, and I have seen these girls for a total of 3 times. The first was at a shopping centre. I asked my partner to consult his daughters if it would be okay to meet up with them. He didn’t. They resented it. No surprises there! The second, I came along to pick up the youngest from her piano lesson. Whoops. Obviously a bad decision as I have entered her territory without consultation… And the third was when I accompanied my partner to watch the youngest in a play. After that they refused all contact with us both for months. Now he has resumed access visits. At a time designated by the child. Every week. With no flexibility for coming to other events, with no opportunity for them to meet me or my children, to get over the jittery nerves that the unfamiliar provokes.

My initial enthusiasm in getting to know the girls included  choosing books they might like, sewing a bag for the youngest one, thinking of things we could do together according to their interests, imagining going places they liked, taking the dogs for walks. Maybe playing piano together, etc. All I can think of that time now is DELUSIONAL SUSAN!!!!!!! So when he comes back today, already tired, and it’s just the start of a day with him for me, and for my kids, I get cross. I find it hard to have empathy. I will push him and push him. And then later, will probably wonder how I managed to get myself into a step-family again, after the trials and tribulations of growing up in one myself. Some serious mental work needed!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Tastes and Togetherness in Melbourne City

Sunday in the city, late summer, afternoon.  I am busting for the loo after a long drive and too many coffees and ginger beers – so first stop, National Gallery ladies room! Relieved and re-energised, we wander down to Federation Square, a Dutch custard-filled donut for my son to enjoy bought on the way. Further down the road is ACMI and we have a bit of a go on some old-fashioned computer games – the stick men fight with swords and jump over each other, but the blood and gore is nice and un-realistic. Next door we wander through a display of moving image paraphernalia. A sign warns that our eyes will need to adjust to the darkness and it compels us inside a dark foyer, through heavy black curtains, where a tunnel of light beckons through wafts of smoky swirls. My partner and son join us and our bodies are silhouetted through the smoky tunnel, which brings back memories of night-clubs and morning hang-overs.

My daughter finds  a friend she 'must' see, so to fill in time we go to a cafĂ© over-looking a stage, where actors appear to be playing court-room dramas and the fight for Indigenous justice. We  munch on Napolitano pizza and guzzle down cappuccinos with frothy hearts on their surface. Tummies half full, off we stroll, fetching Holly on the way, gazing at strange wooden moving-sculptures and then walking on down around the city streets. An Asian grocer catches our interest, and quite a few minutes are spent enjoying the vast array of unusual packets – pizza potato chips; Choc wafer biscuits, Wei Lih noodle snacks, Nata de Coco jubes, Disney mini-biscuits, ginger and orange chews, Oreo crunch bars, sparkling grape juice. Yum!

A little more walking, then we peruse a bit of China-town, with its fun little gimmicky shops, and settle on dinner at the Spicy Fish Restaurant. A shared banquet – steamed pork and vegetable buns, beef and black-bean sauce, delicious fresh vegetables, honey chicken, fried rice and cokes to accompany the meal. Happy family! Full tummies! We walk back down Swanston St, have a look through a jewellery shop, look at the crowds flowing from the Sidney Myer music bowl and the kids buy magazines –  tattooed model and X-box. Home we drive, past the Royal Oaks (‘my ancestors’…. Lol) and back home.