grave yards for pianos

November 29, 2009

I was reading about different places around the world where space has been put  aside by by  people for pianos.  Others go visiting,  playing, and recording the music.   So out amongst trees, in paddocks, amongst grass and flowers, wind and rain, sun and heat, these grand and beautiful pianos live out their days,  strings pinging out, wood splitting, animals nesting in them rain splattering .

My fantasy with my old piano, bought for my daughter,  hardly played, as my learning didn’t  allow for a move beyond scales is to hire a crane and fling it far into the universe .   Some majestic arc  in a remote and difficult place, like the Grand Canyon,  a sea cliff top on the Great Ocean Road,  maybe  a mountain, but not so high I couldn’t see and hear it.  I am sure some where some one is hurling a piano.    It would be the end of restrictions, of the piano’s loneliness,  waiting to be played, and my guilt because it looked so beautiful, so old, and I cried when the shop assistant played it, and so bought the fantasy.    Yet never was it really played .

There was some thing pure and noble in the idea of a place for pianos, an acknowledgement of the frailty of beauty and temporariness of music, it exists when played and heard.  It was as though I could hear the those dead souls rising up and gathering for a deceased concert, the music played by the forces of nature, not human hands.  A concert, not limited by time, space, free to who ever was in earshot, playing on and on and on.



children’s toy choices in evacuating

November 16, 2009

The start has been made – the five year old has pulled out toy clothing,  amazing to see some belonged to her  mother.  They were made for  the teddy bear’s back pack as he or she accompanied us on  the world trip when she was nine . What a good dressmaker I found 25 years ago.     I have bought a plastic box as a way of creating a structure although I know the huge stuffed polar bear won’t fit.  I got a poor reponse when I suggested he go in a nice plastic bag in a store room under the city house .  He was taken from me and hugged  tightly.

Will I have a room filled with big cuddly soft toys this summer ?  I had a plan to box, label and pack everyone’s belongings into sturdy plastic this year and stack according to importance.  There was a lot of rumaging to find different files last year.  There is also the plan to scan everything onto a computer  memory stick so that would ease the storage problem.

Tomorrow is test pack day.  The plan may be met with enthusiasm or it might be doomed, as five year olds live in the present with creative ideas and alternatives to the adult suggestions.

The number one thing for children is to give them some control, make decisions, and include them in the plan.  Catching the cats will be interesting, and she could do that ,as hopefully before Christmas all the children’s precious items will be off the mountain in my storage, what ever that happpens to be.





bold step

November 8, 2009

I have taken a bold blogger step, and told two friends the name of my blog. As one put to me so succinctly,  why are you doing this and not letting anyone know?  Well it’s a new thing,  I might not want to continue, there might not be much to say.  Why would want a blog anyway, why not articles, short stories or just write a diary?  It seems the chance to share ideas when one half of the globe is in darkness and I am not sleeping is a great comfort.

I have been a member of a grandparents grief web based post site since January 06.  It was amazing to write for the first time and press send and the next night receive a stream of posts saying,’ sorry to welcome you to our club, come any time, write what ever you need,’ and on it went.  I wrote back and then this became my 3 am support group scattered cross the globe.   That has been my experience of the web, and you could say it has taken a while, but, I have realised how this internet communication can add another personal dimension to my life.

So this blog, red presence, came out of watching my friends glaze over as I ponder the bush-fires past and present. Now a safer city dweller after thirty years in a fire zone  and currently working in the second most fire prone area in the state.  My family and many friends are  living in what is considered one of  the most fire prone areas, so  it’s not surprising to me that I am fire obsessed.  So rather than offend friends, who have permission to say “enough fire ” as  my signal to shut up, I run and blog and google.    I am finding the interim report of the Royal Commission into the Victorian Bush-fires  a great read, almost a detective mystery, so complex and  moving, and a sense of  sadness pervading each page.  There are maps, past history’s of some fires  and great links to research and other experts.      It gives a deeper picture of some of the many aspects of the fires.

A child’s sense of lightning

November 8, 2009

The lightning caused the five year old to run from the window,  grabbing me, the  nearest adult  and crying  ‘ it will start a fire. ‘   In contrast,  the two year old stood there, smiling, turning his lit face toward me at every flash and laughing,  then saying ‘boom ‘ as the thunder cracked.

‘Come and sit with me at the window,’I say to the five year old,  ‘I’ll hold you.’  Reluctant tight arms have a strangle-hold on my neck.  At the next flash her shaking face is buried in my shoulder.  ‘ Don’t you know it will burn our house down? ‘  ‘Lightening starts fires.’  I do know that.  I see and feel her fear.  A real fear why pretend,  it has happened.  I say,’ that’s true ,it could happen, but it won’t tonight, do you know why ? It’s raining.

‘ I get a hard look. ‘It might. ‘   I realise my knowledge of lightening is perfunctory and a deep discussion on lightning strikes in the rain will need google research.  I take another tack.  ‘ What happens to the fire when it rains or we squirt water at it ?’

The thoughtful reply.  ‘It makes smoke. ‘   ”And ?’    ‘Stops burning,  but Nannie, it still could burn down but not if it is raining.’    I  acknowledged that was true. We stepped outside into the rain long enough to get wet  between lightning flashes.

The lightning and thunder light up the room and shake the house.   ‘ So our house won’t burn down because it is raining, will it Nannie?’

I shake my head and say,’ You know, mum will drive you all down to my house, and you can leave your precious things there too .’

She says, ‘and the dog and the cats but we will open the gate for the chooks, mum says they will find a safe place in the garden, but Nannie, your house won’t burn down because  it’s in the city. ‘

Is this a false security? maybe,  so I reply, ‘ It is brick,  so it won’t burn like a timber house, and we have no bush near us. I think it is pretty safe.’   Then we talk about, sometimes, there are house fires, and the fire siren goes for those, for trees down, and for car accidents.

This little one knows how people change in the face of death, of the unexpected, the too tiny and the very old. I can only guess at the sense to be made of her past experiences.  One thing is for sure she likes to talk about fire  when she wants and the one time  I brought up the topic at all it was met with ‘I know that,’  and ‘I don’t want to talk now.’   My daughter asked me not to talk about fire to her.    I have had to say it is brought  up by the little one so it only seems fair to answer and let her keep drilling down as she makes sense of February  09  and the coming summer.

I forget sometimes that our family conversations are listened to, taken in, and retold back to me.  That gives me a chance to respond and support the parents.   The latest is concerning animal evacuation.  ‘We are getting 2 cat boxes but we will have to get the old cat early. She hides under the house.  They will go in the back with the dog. It will be very crowded.’  A supply of litter, food, bowls and bedding is to be assembled at my place, before Christmas.

The other suggestion is change of clothes and night wear for everyone.  Then some favourite toys not played with everyday and activities to occupy the children as Mum and Dad stayed glued to the radio, computer and TV.   All this planning  makes the nebulous stressful concept of evacuating a little more concrete.

Some weeks later the five year old is staying in the city.      There is a lightning storm and this time she is telling me to look and stop doing the dishes as I am missing it.  We step outside  and feel the rain.   The next day she is talking to her mum telling her about the lightning.  ‘ We turned off all the lights. It lit the room.  Nannie didn’t see it all.  She wasn’t even looking.  It was OK. It was raining.’     In the night she wakes me as she climbs into bed next to me and snuggles down.