Another year

“Oh wud some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us” – Robert Burns

I need to lose a couple of kilograms.  They just attached themselves to my belly sometime over the Christmas period (ie early December to early January).  I have managed to get rid of all the chocolates and shortbread I was given for Christmas (by eating them, of course).

I love Christmas!  Christmas Eve was shared with my three daughters and their husbands, seven grandchildren, one (an only) beloved ex and her husband.

Christmas Day lunch (turkey with the works) was at beloved ex’s home with family and Canberra relatives.  After lunch, I drove to Sydney to share dinner with my brothers and sisters and their families.

I spent a few days down at Jervis Bay with my sister and her husband and managed to get in a number of swims in the beautiful waters of the Bay.  It is a beautiful part of the world and one day I just might move there.  On Sunday we visited Bundanon, Arthur Boyd’s home and studio on the Shoalhaven River.  Just wonderful!

Bushfires have been raging across Australia since the weekend.  So far there have been no human deaths but quite a few homes have been lost, particularly in Tasmania.  The extreme weather events will continue and we still dig up coal to sell to other countries to slowly make our planet uninhabitable due to extreme weather events.  I despise the coal industry!

Before Christmas I won one of 20 double passes to see a preview of the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition at the National Gallery followed by a delicious breakfast. I’ll be going to the exhibition again when my sister visits in a month or so.

I have no great plans for the year ahead.  Life is good and I’m quite happy just going with the flow.

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Tempus fugit

I’ve just returned to Canberra after another delightful few days at Jervis Bay.  And here we are at the end of February already.

I am really enjoying my retirement!

It has been a very mild and wet summer but I’m not complaining about that.  I have never seen Canberra look so green at the end of Summer.  We’ve only had a handful of days where the thermometer has nudged above 30.  Nevertheless, I managed to spend 3 days lazing on the beach at Jervis Bay in early January.

I’ve seen another couple of movies and enjoyed them both – Midnight in Paris and The Descendants.  And I just love the quote from the Descendants where George Clooney’s character says “you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing”.

We had a bit of a family gathering last Saturday night.  A cousin’s son does a Roy Orbison Tribute show and was playing at the Huskisson RSL Club.  Three of my cousins, a brother and a sister and their partners were all there to enjoy a dinner and the show.  The show itself was actually very good and it is always nice to catch up with the cousins.  We generally only get to see each other at funerals!  I also had a ball with some of my sister’s friends who joined our table.

Earlier this week my sister and I travelled to Sydney to see the Picasso Exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.  It was wonderful.  What many people do not know it that he was a very good drawer and could have followed a conventional path of painting life-like portraits and still-lifes but chose to take his art in a brilliant, unconventional direction.  I’ve booked tickets for my sister and me to see the Renaissance Exhibition at the National Gallery in 4 weeks time.

My youngest daughter and her family have moved to Brisbane and I really miss them, especially the 3 grandkids.  I’ll plan to head north during the winter and spend some time with them.  We spent a lot of time with them before they left.  My other two daughters are still here and we have had a couple of birthday parties for 4 and 2 year olds already this year.  And grandchild number 7 is due at the end of May.

The pace at which this year is flying by means that it will be no time at all before the new arrival is enjoying the cuddles and love of our family.

Carpe Diem.

Lucky Canberrans

One of the many wonderful things about living in the nation’s capital, Canberra, is our proximity to the National Gallery of Australia.  At present the gallery is exhibiting Masterpieces from Paris, a number of works by French  post-impressionists on loan from the Musee D’orsay.  Iconic works by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin and others.  My sister drove up from Jervis Bay yesterday and today we went to the exhibition along with my eldest daughter and her daughter.  It was just magnificent.

We then went back to my daughter’s home for lunch and were joined by my middle daughter and her son and newly arrived daughter and a son-in-law with his daughter.  Four of my grandchildren together.  My eldest grandson was at school so missed out.

Having all three daughters close by together with my five grandchildren is just another reason I’m so lucky. 🙂

December

Early each December I feel as if I am hurtling towards Xmas.  There’s an unfamiliar busy-ness to life as social commitments sometimes feel overwhelming.  So many friends and relatives have birthdays around this time of year and add to that the Xmas parties and shopping in very crowded spaces.  And yet I LOVE Xmas.  It is a time for celebrating with family.

We had our traditional Canberra get-together with all the Canberra clan.  The three youngest grandkids are 18-22 months old and surprised me by their selfishness.  Perhaps it’s a necessary stage of development but they were not interested in sharing.  Beloved ex had once again organised a grand, traditional feast and it was good to have B (my children’s cousin) attend with his new partner, K, and new child, Q.  B has been living in Canada for the last few years and will be heading back in a few weeks.  All 7 of Grandma and Poppa H’s grandchildren were present as were all 11 great grandchildren.  Who forgot the photo opportunity??

On Xmas morning I went to my youngest daughter’s home for breakfast.  My son in law did a fine job preparing a full breakfast for all 16 of us who attended.  For some reason, 4 yo Kman is obsessed with Indiana Jones and was runnung around the house sounding the theme song from Raiders of the Lost Ark and cracking his whip.

I then drove to Sydney to spend the afternoon and evening with my siblings and their families.  The rain was appreciated although it meant the pool and tennis court went unused.

Returning to Canberra, I had arranged for a nephew to come over and do some gardening for me.  Armed with a chain-saw and a mulcher, we got rid of a great many shrubby weeds that had found their way into my garden and which I had allowed to grow out of control.  There is still much work to be done.

I then headed down to Jervis Bay to spend some time at my sister’s.  I’m afraid that I have never seen the Bay so crowded.  But we managed to find uncrowded beaches for our daily swims, went to the Art Gallery at the Lady Denman Museum to see the latest exhibition, caught up with friends.  And relaxed and read.  I’m currntly reading Richard Flanagan’s Wanting and he makes me chuckle at times.

New Year’s Eve was celebrated firstly at B & S’s home and then we moved on to H’s home for more festivities. B is recovering from a heart attack and so we left at around 9:30pm when he appeared to be getting really tired.  H was hosting a party for my sister’s gym group and their partners.

A pleasant end to a pleasant year.

There was more controversy in the glbti community during the month when a new contributor to the Bilerico Project decided he would use his first column to deny the existence of trans folk.  Some cis folk seem to have trouble with the concept of gender identity.  They assume that their gender identity is directly linked to what is between their legs.  They believe their gender identity is a consequence of what is between their legs.  Most people are very fortunate to have a gender identity that matches their genitalia. Those of us whose gender identity does not match the genitalia we were born with do not need privileged folk telling us our condition does not exist.

November

This month has gone by so quickly!

Early in the month I attended a Melbourne Cup Day BBQ at my boss’s home.  Some beautifully prepared salads and gourmet sausages washed down with beer made for a pleasant day.  Chatting to my host’s mother, we discovered that she knows my eldest daughter’s mother-in-law.  Both were Hungarian migrants who came to Australia after the war.  Small world, eh.  We had a sweep and I drew the eventual winner, “Shocking” so came home with some extra change in my purse.  As winner of the sweep, I got to plant the first tomato plant in their vegetable garden – local knowledge here in Canberra suggests that you don’t plant your tomatoes until you know the winner of the Melbourne Cup because by then the chance of frosts is minimal.  All in all, a good day.

I accompanied my middle daughter, my grandson, my son-in-law and his mum to have ultrasounds done of her baby who’s due in January.  The 3-D rendering of the ultrasound images is just amazing.  It was fascinating to watch her (she’s a girl!) fingers and toes, her eyes and nose and her sucking on her thumb.  I hope my daughter manages to remain comfortable carrying a nearly developed baby through our summer.  I don’t envy her.

Mid month was the class reunion which I’ve posted about already.

I entered a painting in the “Gender Rights are Human Rights” Art Exhibition hosted by A Gender Agenda at the ACT Legislative Assembly.  I was expecting about 20 people to show up at the opening and was pleasantly surprised to see about 70+ people there.  The Director of the ACT Council of Social Services, a friend from our Democrats days, gave a speech as did a representative of the ACT Commisioner for Human Rights.  Peter H from A Gender Agenda also spoke.  His speech is found at their website.

This was the first time I have shown any art work publicly and I thought my entry looked rather pathetic among the other works.  Oh well, a good experience.  My BFF and her partner came along to the opening for moral support.

Dignity

I attended the TDOR at Glebe Park here in Canberra on Friday 20th.  This day is important as a political statement.  TDOR was started by Gwen Smith following the murder of Rita Hester.  The way Rita’s death was treated by the media was disgraceful – and we are still faced with the inappropriate use of pronouns when such deaths are reported.  Rita’s murder has not been solved and was almost certainly a hate crime.  Another young woman murdered for simply being herself.

Word has come through late in the month that Christine Daniels had died – probably from suicide.  Christine’s transition attracted much publicity as she was a well-known sports writer for a LA paper.  Her detransition also attracted much publicity.  She never gave any reasons for her detransition.  I think the pressure on any high profile person who transitions in such a blokey profession as sports writing would be enormous.  I know that I finally decided to do something about  my transsexualism after I hit rock bottom and was once more suicidal.  Transitioning wasn’t a brave act – it was the final throw of the dice.  If things didn’t work out, suicide was always the next  option.  It still is.

On Saturday night I went with friends to one of Canberra’s top restaurants to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  For the first time I ate kangaroo.  I was very unimpressed.  Like eating a cheap cut of steak.  Never again.  The rest of the food was delicious and the conversation sparkling so overall the night was very pleasant.

And that was the month that was.

October

Another month comes to a close.  We had a return to cold weather for much of the month and a decent amount of rain, but it’s warming up now.

I started going to some art classes again this month – painting in oils.  It’s a few years since I painted with oils and I really love the medium.  Over the last few years I had returned to drawing classes and tried watercolour for the first time.  I added a page where I’ll be posting some of my current paintings along with some earlier works. 

Early in the month, my ex and I, along with our eldest daughter took the four grandkids to Floriade, Canberra’s annual festival of flowers.  It was a bitterly cold day with a strong wind making the day quite unpleasant.  The youngest three are all under 2 years old and were happy to be wrapped up in their strollers.  The 4 yr old was a bit grumpy about having to walk while his little sister and two cousins got ride around in luxury.  We spent some time at the Petting Paddock where the kids were able to get up close to a range of baby animals  – lambs, a calf, a rabbit, several chicks and ducklings, a foal, and a kid (baby goat).  They were all fascinated and Isaac was quite excited and chased after all the animals wanting to give them a big hug.

I also went to the movies for just the second time this year – to see Julie and Julia.  I loved it. I bought 1/2 a lb of butter on the way home!  I’d forgotten what flavour it adds to dishes.  I don’t plan to overdo it though and will continue to use cholesterol-free spreads on my sandwiches.  Gotta watch the weight.

Today I went to the Springout  Fairday, the first event of Canberra’s annual GLBTI Springout Festival which runs for the next month.  I don’t mix much with the GLBTI crowd, but think it is important to be visible at events like this and TDOR which is about 3 weeks away. 

 I had found a shady spot to eat my lunch – the obligatory sausage sandwich washed down with some Victoria Bitter – when a guy with a dog sat down next to me to have his lunch too.  He asked if I was from “The Division”.  I looked blankly and asked if he had any Division in mind.  He told me and then it all clicked.  Back in 1998 to mid 2000 I worked for a Division of General Practice and my job was to help doctors computerise their practices – particularly with patient management software rather than front desk appointment and billing software which most practices had already adopted.  The guy talking to me was  a doctor from one of those practices.  We had I nice chat and talked about our lives since those days. 

I also spent some time talking to one of our Greens Members of the Legislative Assembly.  I wanted to know what was happening wrt the Australian Human Rights Commissioner’s report “The Sex Files” which made a number of recommendations concerning gender identity and bureaucratic processes.  He said the local Dept of Justice had a pretty full workplan for the next 2 years so couldn’t see any legislative change occurring for some time.  He did say he was hopeful that the ACT Human Rights Commissioner might hold its own inquiry which would have the effect of keeping the matter on the agenda.

A local T support group will be holding an art exhibition in a few weeks as part of the festival and I’m planning on submitting a work for the exhibition.

Earlier in the month I attended the inaugural Ray Mathew Lecture at the National Library.  Geraldine Brooks, the Pulitzer Prize winning author gave the lecture.  It was a well presented talk – she knew her audience well – latte drinking socialists that we were.  Brooks lived just up the street from us when we were growing up in Concord and attended the same church.

I have booked hotel accommodation in Sydney close to the club where my old Class of 69 are holding the 40th anniversary reunion next month – gosh I’m looking forward to that.

Milestones:

October 1998 – Transition – I went from presenting 24/7 as male to presenting 24/7 as female.  Changed my name too.

October 2004  – Ran for the Federal Parliament – (Senate, ACT, Australian Democrats). I lost.

October 2007 – I had my last cigarette.

Story Telling Magic

From Ukraine You’ve got Talent.

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