A to Z of my childhood

The A – Z of my Childhood – Why I Turned Out the Way I Did.

P is for Parties and Pianola

When I was a kid we had a pianola in our living room.

Dad had bought it when my mother decided that my brother and I should have piano lessons.  His logic was that while we were learning to play for real, we could all play by pedalling.



The pianola was pretty cool in its day.  It was a big heavy old thing that Dad had found advertised in the newspaper.  We drove over to the other side of town one Saturday morning to see it and try it out.  At age eight, I could only just reach the pedals by perching on the edge of the seat and stretching my legs out straight. Dad negotiated a good deal with the man  who owned the pianola and we went home with the back of the car stacked up with boxes of pianola rolls.  The pianola itself arrived in a truck a couple of days later.

My brother and I had to do our daily piano practice on what we christened ‘The Beast’ – scales, scales and more scales – but the pianola really came into its own at parties.

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My parents loved to entertain and did so as much as possible.  Having that pianola meant that there was no shortage of music and singing in our house.  Even the most unmusical person could participate by volunteering to pedal ‘The Beast’.  My parents found that this was also a handy method of dealing with anyone who had had too much party cheer.  Anyone appearing to be a little the worse for wear was guided to the pianola and instructed to ‘play us a tune‘.  It was very effective.  All that effort pedalling sobered them up quite quickly.

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My Dad loved music and often commented that he wished he could play an instrument. One of his favourite tricks was to open the French doors, sit at the pianola and pedal, allowing the music to float out into the street.

One day a lady stood at our gate listening to him ‘playing’.  Eventually she came to the door and told him how beautifully she thought he played.  He did not disillusion her by telling her that he had only been pedalling, just thanked her graciously and bade her farewell.

He never forgot the incident, even when he was suffering from dementia in the last years of his life.  ‘I was playing Rachmaninov in the key of Z minor,’ he would chuckle. ‘She recognised genius when she heard it.’

Music in the soul can be heard by the Universe.

Lao Tzu


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Out of Balance

Last week, on Tuesday, my husband and I visited our hopefully soon-to-be-completed house with the site manager for a walk through.

At one stage of the inspection it was necessary to walk across a plank to access the next floor – kind of like the balance beam in the Olympic Gymnastics. No problem right?gymnastics-583669_1920 copy

Well, let me tell you, I was a bit wobbly. I made it across but I surely wouldn’t have won any medals.

As is my habit, I thought about the incident for quite some time afterwards. Overthinking? Me? How unusual! 

Last week was also a jittery week for me. I was aware that I was winding up inside. My chest was tight. I was physically shaky. I was taking longer than usual to fall asleep. I was feeling on edge. Why? I have no idea, but it was happening. It was definitely happening.

I wondered whether emotional balance is connected to physical balance.

To test out my hypothesis I decided to track my ability to maintain the Tree Pose when doing my yoga practice.


On Tuesday last week I could barely manage ten seconds. As the week progressed my balance and my anxiety both remained wobbly. I still have no idea what has caused this spike on my Stress Meter. It could, I suppose, be the prospect of the upcoming move – although I am really looking forward to this one. I do have a doctor’s appointment this month – always freaks me out. I can’t pin it down no matter how much I over-analyse it.

Today I completed an entire minute in Tree Pose (on each leg) and I am feeling far more grounded.

Interesting, isn’t it? I found this article on the matter.

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I am going to continue to track my balance status compared with my jitter status just for my own information. I know I can work on strengthening my physical balance, maybe I can add strength to my emotional balance as well.

Stay tuned for updates. 

A to Z of my childhood, mindfulness

The A – Z of my Childhood – Why I Turned Out the Way I Did

O is for Odours

I noticed today how smells bring back memories in a rush of emotions.  I walked past a lady who was wearing Yardley’s English Lavender, the same perfume that my Nanna wore on special occasions.

When I was a kid I would save up to be able to buy her a little bottle for Christmas.  It is a light fresh perfume that never fails to evoke memories of Nanna squeezing me up against her in a sideways hug.  I was usually in too much of a hurry for a proper hug, so the sideways version had to suffice.  When Nanna died, I bought myself a Yardley’s English Lavender sachet to put under my pillow to remind me of her. Today, passing that lady wearing my Nanna’s scent, I braced myself for  the sideways hug that happened  in my mind.

The smell of camphor reminds me of the little bag that Mum would hang around my neck every winter.  The camphor bag was to ward off colds and flu. I had to wear it next to my skin, under my flannelette petticoat. I am not sure how well it worked, but I cannot smell camphor without putting a hand to my chest where that little muslin bag rested.

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The smell of eucalyptus reminds me of the steaming kettle that was in my bedroom at night whenever I was having problems with my asthma. This was pre-asthma puffers. Great clouds of eucalyptus steam floated around the room and the light from the little spirit stove created dancing shadow monsters.  It was scary and exciting all at once.  My imagination ignited and I saw myself camping out on the prairie, or in the jungle with Tarzan or on a pirate-infested island.

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Another odour that brings back great memories is the smell of library books.  Frequently handled, much read, not so new books have a smell all their own.  It is the smell of exciting tales of adventure and mystery, the smell of stories of faraway places, the smell of journeys of discovery, the smell of infinite possibilities.  It is a smell to be inhaled deeply as one opens the chosen book.  It is a smell of wonder and comfort.  I was two when I first joined a library and I have loved libraries ever since.

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Of course, the most enduring and delicious smell is the smell of home. Our house smelled of Mr Sheen furniture polish in the dining room, naphthalene flakes in the linen closet, something yummy in the oven, Sunlight soap in the laundry, all manner of Avon perfumes in my bedroom, all manner of boy smells in my brother’s bedroom, the occasional doggie smell wherever Candy was, and tea and biscuits on the kitchen table.  The smell of home was always special.  It was the smell that signified safety and welcome.  It was the smell that meant all was well.

It was/is the smell of my childhood.

Scan 5


A to Z of my childhood

The A – Z of my Childhood – Why I Turned Out the Way I Did.

N is for Nose

When I was a kid I had a ordinary looking nose.  It sat there in the middle of my face and behaved like any other nose. See?  Cute, eh?


All was well with my nose until the cricket season in the year I turned eleven.

Cricket was a big deal in Australia during the summer months.  Everyday all the kids from the neighbourhood would get together for a game. We played with the same enthusiasm as our heroes from the national team. We assumed their swagger and mannerisms as we batted, bowled or fielded in whichever backyard the game was being held.

Being a girl, I had to work extra hard in the field to be granted the opportunity to have a bat.  So when, one afternoon, I had the chance to wicket keep, I jumped at it.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with cricket, the wicket keeper stands behind the batter and the wicket, sort of like a baseball catcher.  The distance between the wicket and the wicketkeeper depends on the speed at which the bowler is delivering the ball.


Here is an Australian wicket keeper, Brad Haddin, in position behind the wickets. (Photo

Notice the gloves, leg pads and helmet.  In our backyard game we had none of these.  I simply had to take up the position, keep my eyes on the ball and hope for the best.

Everything was fine at first.  I was doing really well catching the ball when the batter missed it, catching the ball when it was thrown back from out in the field.  I was really pleased with myself because I knew that, if I did a good job, I would get to have a bat later on.

Then my brother, who was the batter, said to me, “This is a slow bowler, Ric. Stand up closer to the wickets.”   So, I moved closer.  It made sense to do so because, if the bowler is delivering the ball more slowly, it doesn’t carry as far if the batter misses it.

The theory was sound until my brother decided to give the ball a jolly good thump.  He swung his bat with mighty force, missed the ball completely and hit me right on the nose.

Yup!  That hurt! 

There was blood, lots of blood.  Everyone came running toward me.  I heard them coming but I couldn’t see them because I had my hands over my eyes.  Someone fetched my Dad, and I was taken to the local doctor. He pronounced my poor little nose broken, placed his thumb on one side of it and his forefinger on the other and pushed.  There was a click…a definite click.  He smiled at me and gave me some ice to hold on my nose while he cleaned up the blood.  That was it…end of treatment.

I was sore for a couple of weeks, had two black eyes and a great story to tell at school.  I embellished that story quite a bit, making it extremely gory and involving much pain and agony for my poor, poor self.  I was the centre of attention in the playground for a whole week. The notoriety was worth the pain.


These days my nose looks exactly my father’s did.  It is  quite a beak with a little ledge at the top on which my glasses rest.  The scar from the break is right under the bridge of the glasses. I guess I was always going to have a goodly-sized nose, given my genetics, but that ledge is all my brother’s fault. I remind him of it on regular occasions.

I also guess that there may be just the tiniest bit of Karma at play here.  After all, I did give my brother a bit of a hard time when we were kids.  


anxiety, mindfulness

Easy to Make Stress Putty

Something to do with my hands.

For as long as I can remember I have needed to be able to keep my hands busy.

My husband can sit and watch television – JUST sit and watch. I can’t do that. I need to have a pad and pencil on my lap or my iPad or my cross-stitch – something – anything to keep my hands busy.

Having something to do with my hands actually helps me to focus on the tv program in the same way that doodling in my notebooks helped me concentrate during lectures in college.

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I am very uncomfortable if my hands are not occupied.

Fidget Spinners

The fidget spinners that are very popular today are supposed to enable children to release their anxieties through the movement of the spinner. Teachers I know hate the wretched things as the students use them as toys or weapons of warfare.

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Stress Putty

When I was first diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, my doctor gave me a ball of Stress Putty. It is a squishy, stretchy ball of dough infused with essential oil. When kneaded or shaped it a) gives hands something to do and b) releases calming essences to ease the anxiety.  Much nicer than a fidget spinner.

How to make Stress Putty

What’s Needed:

1 cup Cornstarch/Cornflour

6 oz. hand lotion (unscented or scented)

*Optional Food Dye

*Optional Essential Oils (lavender, clary sage, lemon grass



  1. Add 1 cup Cornstarch/Cornflour to bow.
  2. Squeeze 6 oz. of lotion into your bowl of Cornstarch/Cornflour.
  3. Mix it with your spoon and then your hands – kneading the dough until smooth.
  4. Optional Add 1-2 drops of color and mix
  5. Optional Add 1 drop of Essential Oils
  6. If the mixture is to stiff, add some more lotion. It should be stretchy and pliable.
  7. If the mixture is too soft or slushy, add some extra cornstarch.
  8. You can also add a little glitter for a unicorn effect.


Store your Stress Putty in an airtight container. It will last for ages.



Happy Squishing!


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