The System Needs to Get it Right:

The passing of life causes me much sadness; the taking of life through domestic abuse causes me sorrow and anger – as it should not happen.

When a person has threatened to kill children and a partner, they should not be allowed unsupervised access to the children, if at all. If this has been reported and it is not acted upon, then the system has not followed up on it.

Just in the last few days there have been horrific losses of life that could have been prevented. Domestic abuse needs to be at the fore front as an issue to be acted on and not just paid lip service.

There have been improvements in how domestic abuse is regarded as it is no longer seen as something to keep behind closed doors but the message needs to be out there: you do not have to stay in an unsafe relationship. There are people who will genuinely help if you reach out and ask for help.

For those people who have recognised the danger of these abusive relationships and gotten out – stay safe; be vigilant and pursue help!

I grew up with domestic abuse around me and in those days it was a closed door secret. I lived through domestic abuse in my later life and recognise narcissistic and lamp-lighting behaviour for what it is – but I learnt that lesson the hard, painful way. Until I was strong enough to move on and not look back, I struggled. But that is behind me now. I was one of the lucky ones – I survived! 🙏🙏🙏

Let me give you a mere glimpse of that life where you have gone from being a rational, respected person, central in your family and their well-being to a person who finds them self caught in a world beyond comprehension; a world far removed from love, loyalty and respect; a world where you wonder why your partner is saying the things that baffle and pain you – where is it coming from? (Lamp lighting); a person that reveals oneself to you and another ‘pretty’ face to the world and so effectively that no one can believe you; where your family believe you are crazy because it could not possibly be true – they would have seen it, have not recognised it for what it is; where you fear for your life. There are many facets to domestic abuse and I have touched on only the tip of the iceberg.

Domestic abuse is prevalent and the shocking thing is that often it is out in the open but nobody acts on it. Is this through fear of retribution? How can the domestic abuse cycle ever be stopped if it is not recognised and acted on in an appropriate and effective way: safety for children and the partner victim and counselling for the offending partner.

We all need to get behind this huge issue that is tearing out the fabric of our safe existence – being instrumental in youth crime and violence, death and sorrow.

Will you read my post quickly and move on without giving thought to how you can assist? Get involved! Lobby your local member! Read up on domestic abuse so that you are informed. Do your part effectively, I urge you!

🥲🥲🥲🙏🙏🙏

Glenda Colling April, 2021. Copyright.

Under the Bismarkia Once more:

As the Wet season rainy time nears its end, and with it the balmy tropical evenings and humid days, I find myself drawn back out to the bottom garden where my hens roam freely. Sitting under the Bismarkia with a cup of tea near at hand, I refuse my critical eye permission to scan for jobs that need to be done.

Instead, I smile at the antics of my Girls, as despite all of my efforts to impose equal rights in my little flock, they have their own way of doing things; with my darling Dorrie Australorp as the bossy leader and her second in command, Fluff, giving out swift pecks to any chicken that doesn’t know their place.

Rusty Red quickly isolates herself and ranges independently as much as possible, leaving Cissy to bear the brunt of many pecks. Her, once gorgeous and glossy red feathers trimmed and haphazard in parts, she scurries out of their way.

Bossie, the ‘new’ Australorp is adept at leaping away from their pecks but her stomach drives her forward into the food bowl, where she snatches and runs to eat at a safe distance.

A flash of red and green feathers attract my attention to my nearby red custard apple tree across the garden fence. Two red-winged parrots alight in tumbling turns to feed on the assorted seeds in the bird feeder.

Sitting higher on a branch, a preening friar bird catches my eye. I move nearer to the fence for a clearer view and it ducks it’s long neck beneath the screen of leaves to identify the danger, then dismissing me as a nuisance, it flies higher and continues its grooming. Swift and tiny wings just below flash into view momentarily before disappearing into the greenery of the tree; another tiny songbird.

I smile and sit back under the Bismarkia; my thoughts of a friend’s recent lovely post on Facebook about planting a tree for attracting birds, in my mind.

I’m content that my garden wilderness is providing food and shelter for many birds and lizards. Sometimes, I disturb their busyness with my attempts to record their presence, but mostly I am just happy to enjoy their presence. 🤗🐉🦋🐝🪲

A Way Forward with Respect and Consultation

Good morning, my friends, family and other readers. This morning I wanted to write about happy things as that is a current reflection of my life.

While I was deliberating under the Bismarkia tree, with my cup of tea and Girls close by, I browsed Facebook posts until I came to a crime update group where I read some comments that stirred me from my apathetic role of observer and internaliser of injustice and my conscience and soul compelled me to speak up.

I’m speaking of youth crime in particular, which unfortunately, has often been perpetrated by the young of a culture within our community who struggle to survive on a daily basis.

We are aware of some of the issues but many of us have not known how to help, or have been afraid, so we have stayed silent for too long.

I hear the term ‘do gooder’ too often when people speak up however, to my shame, I have been silent for too long. For this I am deeply embarrassed and hope my friends will not hold it against me.

I am not condoning crime; I have also been frightened and angry about the injustice of the criminal acts being perpetrated, however I realise that the only hope of reducing this crime is to address the issues of the youth involved. I believe that requires consultation with members of that culture as well as members of our culture, in a respectful and progressive way forward.

Shortly after, I read a very sad, brave and honest post from an Indigenous person who bared her story to us.

It was a story of alcohol, sexual and domestic abuse in her community and the lack of voice children and women have about their issues.

She recognised the crime epidemic confronting us all and addressed it in her story.

She talked about money, sometimes forcibly obtained, being spent on alcohol and not food, the lack of positive role models and the despair from facing these huge issues with no voice and no control.

I have been reflecting on my writing and doing lots of reading and reflecting on the message in the stories that I read. It is easy enough to write and paint a picture for readers to be enthralled by, but I have pondered long and hard on what message I want my writing to carry. I want my writing to be worthwhile and not a negative influence on others.

I am sharing the post from this remarkably brave young woman in her own very powerful words in the hope of this message from her being a way forward for all of us, in peace, respect and consultation. I know that this will not be an easy way forward, but nothing worthwhile ever is. 😊❤️🙏

My name is Cheron Long

I grew up in a small community called Bulla in the Northern Territory. It is a place that I have very dark feelings for. I am the oldest child out of 6 children. My brother who’s 5 and 4 sisters 7, 10, 11 and my sister Meesha who turns 18 in a couple month time.

Because of the neglect from my family I have been the main carer for my brothers and sisters for a long time now.

I’ve got two children of my own as well. It’s been very hard raising them as well as my brother and sisters but they have no one else to watch over them and keep them safe.

There is alcohol fueled violence in our community every day, too much drunk fighting. It is not a safe or healthy environment for our kids. On any given day you can see and hear women getting assaulted by their partners. You can see kids walking around from house to house looking for food. The kids see the drunken parties, they see and hear the drunks walking around Bulla yelling abuse at people.

We have to live with an ‘Aboriginal rape culture’. Sexual abuse is accepted as normal in too many Aboriginal communities. When I have been interviewed by the media I have been told not to use these words because they demonize Aboriginal men.

The media don’t want to hear the truth. But white feminists are allowed to say whatever they want. Why is it that Aboriginal women and children suffer the most but they won’t let us have our own voice when it comes to violence and sexual abuse in this country? Why won’t they let us tell our own story?

We can’t fix our problems because we cannot tell the truth about what is happening. There is no support for the victims in these communities, only for the perpetrators.

I can’t stop thinking about my cousin Layla Leering. She was found dead under a tree in Bulla. The police said she killed herself, that it was suicide. Then why did she suffer vaginal and anal injuries just before she died?

My cousin was like so many teens in her community. She lived life with no support. She lived with constant boredom. She was always looking for something to take her mind off her problems. My cousin like too many other young girls looked for alcohol and gunga to escape from the pain and boredom. This is their reality.

Layla was so bored that she would hang around with a lot of the older family members. Most of the time she’d get drunk with them. She got no support from family and she kept failing at school so her life just got worse and worse. Instead of helping her, adult relatives would give her alcohol and encourage her to drink although that was against the law. She never stood a chance.

A lot of welfare reports were filed but there was no follow up. Her care was transferred from family in Bulla to family in Katherine. That failed very quickly and she soon ended up back in the alcohol fueled life of Bulla. That led to her horrible death. The coroner said, “she died in suspicious circumstances”.

In the hours before her death witnesses said that she was drunk, arguing and fighting with a 30 year old male family member over alcohol in the main street in Bulla.

The coroner’s report also said that an underage male she knew admitted to having sex with her when she was drunk just before she was found dead.

Because they couldn’t find enough evidence and because people in the community would not talk to them the police decided there was no foul play. They decided that my 15 year old cousin had killed herself.

There are so many young girls out in the bush who have no voice and are too afraid to talk up, to tell the world what is happening to them. They are forced to be silent.

Under customary law it is widely accepted for older men to take an underage bride by force. Some times this is supported by the criminal justice system. Many older men have been given a ‘slap on the wrist’ sentence for raping their underage promised wives.

When customary law is accepted it is always the victims who suffer not the perpetrators. Everybody knows that Aboriginal women suffer the most from DV right across the nation. Yet customary law does not let young women and girls have a voice.

No one thinks about young girls like my cousin Layla who have their lives brutally cut short by the toxic, vicious community culture. That culture is never talked about. These young ones are the hidden victims with no voices and it is wrong! They need a voice! They are citizens too. They have the same human rights as any other girls in this country.

Australia needs to see what my mob go through every day. It hurts me when I see these Change the Date protests about Australia Day. They don’t have anything to say about the abuse that Aboriginal women and children go through every day at the hands of other aboriginal people. The protestors push us down, they don’t care about us. They don’t want to hear the truth.

For me, Australia Day is full of happiness and sadness all mixed up. We should all think about our past and celebrate how far we have come as one people. It is a day for celebration and reflection and by God it should stay that way.

There is a youth crime epidemic at the moment in the Northern Territory. It is much worse there than in the rest of the country.

I’m sure many of you would have seen the recent story on a Current Affair, about the youth crime crisis Alice Springs. These are very real problems that need very real answers.

Good people are prisoners in their own town. They are afraid to go out at night and afraid to go to sleep. Car thefts, break and enters, assaults, DV, willful damage, disorderly conduct and anti-social behavior are daily issues for police and community members.

And these problems are only getting worse. The kids who prowl around the town in large groups are looking for refuge from a bad home life. They are often turning to the streets to get away from their homes and families. Their home life is filled with alcohol and violence.

When I was a young kid growing up alcohol was around me everywhere I turned. Both my mother and my father were heavy drinkers. There was very little escape from it. Many other kids in my community were in this same situation with no good home life and no support. The chance to run away to town for a couple days and prowl the streets was always a better option than sitting around watching all the adults get drunk and fight.

They would spend all the welfare money that was meant for the kids on grog. It was damper for breakfast, lunch and dinner as the money was all wasted. We had to rely on elderly family members, poor, sick, old people for food because of the lack of parental responsibility.

Running away to town was an escape for many youngsters. Having no positive role models makes for a very hard up bringing. Often kids are left to grow themselves up. The basic principles of life are not taught to many of the young ones. Bullies and perpetrators are the heroes. Many bow down to them in fear.

I hear Aboriginal leaders in our parliament attack other members of parliament because they are white when they try to speak up for us. This is not true reconciliation. When I hear Aboriginal leaders say that they feel unsafe in their own workplace parliament house in Canberra because they are Aboriginal I think — well why don’t you come and live in a remote community for just one week and then tell me if you féel safe?

When I hear academics and Aboriginal leaders slam the Basic Card /Cashless Debit Card I think — why don’t you ask us women who have to feed children and try to keep our money safe from relatives who want to take it from us for alcohol and gunga?

Why don’t these people fight for our rights instead of the rights of those who do the wrong thing? The respect for culture and elders is at an all- time low as well as the willingness to teach or practice culture in many areas because of alcohol abuse.

I would love to see these Change the Date protesters come to places like Alice Springs and Bulla to march and protest for the kids. They are the ones who need everyone’s support. They are the most vulnerable. They are not being supported enough by their own families, their communities or the Aboriginal organisations. They are the ones whose voices are silenced. The protestors, the Aboriginal leaders, the politicians need to learn to listen to them.

I invite anybody to come and tour the remote communities out bush and see what is happening on the ground instead of shouting your opinions and making statements from the city and trying to silence those who are trying to tell the truth. Please come out and visit with your eyes and ears open. I CHALLENGE YOU!

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Australian Black Conservative

Blog: Life in General

I have to remind myself to pick fruit as it ripens, if it is paw paw and when it’s ripe, if it’s citrus or custard apple. It’s seems easy enough to do but delay can mean the loss of choice fruit.

My current red paw paw is quite tall and the fruit is clustered near the top; large breast-shaped fruit, with large nipples, which is just starting to ripen up.

This tree does not produce like its parent tree which had never-ending delicious, red paw paws massed from low on the tree to high.

I don’t like to be without paw paw and I have a younger red paw paw tree growing which will eventually replace this one. My favourite paw paw is the red version as I find that it is always sweet.

So, I got the ladder out and with help from a long handled mop-stick (my long handled saw is missing a strategic nut and bolt at present and the paw paws won’t wait) was able to dislodge three paw paws streaked with yellow, indicating they were ripening.

A day sitting on the table and they were ready. Two, I stored in the fridge and the third smaller and most ripe pawpaw, I sliced open. It was beautifully orange-red in colour and my mouth salivated as I remembered the delicious taste of red paw paws.

I placed it in a bowl with a generous tablespoon of Greek yoghurt and spoon in hand, I went outside to enjoy my delicious treat in the garden, sitting under the Cempaka tree up top, where I could look out over much of the garden and enjoy the birdsong, while the dogs lay at my feet.

I knew there were more paw paws almost ready to pick but I didn’t want to be too hasty. If I was making paw paw salad, they would be perfect green, however I wanted to enjoy the ripe fruit.

I deliberated for a day or two watching the show of colour develop and overnight a bat or bird had a taste of two of them before me. I’m okay with that. There were more.

Likewise with citrus fruit. It is wise to check the readiness of fruit as in the event of a windy, Wet season night it is likely to be dislodged to lie on the damp ground for beetles to gnaw on. I’m not okay with that.

I can’t imagine what my diet was like before limes and lemons were in abundance, but I appreciate them.

Every day I start my morning with a hot lime/lemon with a dash of ginger and cinnamon.  Apart from the supposed health benefits, it quenches my thirst for quite a while, unlike my favourite tea drink. As well as hot or cold drinks, I squeeze the juice of either on my fish, which I enjoy several times a week.

Both lime and lemon fruit are very useful in culinary dishes, whether sweet or savoury and the skin grated as zest is a wonderful addition to cooking. I also have a small kaffir tree so that I can use the leaves in my cooking.

All in all, it can be a busy, but happy life in the garden with quite a lot of maintenance to keep it healthy and orderly. Many of my stories have begun in the garden, sitting at the table under the Bismarckia tree. I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be.

A Tale of Carey Clutter

Loud sobs disturbed the early morning quiet. Gerald stiffened, glancing at his wife, unsure which one of her was present yet, before her first orange juice. She chuckled, “Oh, don’t get anxious, Gerald! I know who it is.” The trouble was, he did too. “Well, go on then!” She prompted. “Find out what the problem is, so that we can get some quiet again” She added, as though an after thought.

He leaped out of bed before she changed her mind, noticing her shoulders were shaking. He hesitated, only until he realised that it was mirth. He shook his head, “Strange creatures, women! You never really knew what they were thinking”, but his thought was wisely unvoiced.

A quick change into shorts and shirt and he was on his way into next door. Carey was a bit different. Sometimes, she was transparent with her thoughts – too much so. It hadn’t endeared her to the neighbourhood wives, nor her now-departed husband.

Charlie Clutter had departed to find himself a woman like Gerald’s, Aggie. Gerald snorted with wry amusement. He deserved to find a She Dragon of like sort. That might fix what ailed him. Only a very special sort of man like himself was suited to She Dragons.

Gerald knew exactly where he would find her, even if the loud sobs hadn’t been a tell-tale. She was sitting in the garden, with Theodore perched on her shoulder and a fat, red hen balanced on the chair rim opposite her. Theodore was tut-tutting as only corellas can do in that non-committal noise that can mean almost anything that suits the occasion, Red Hen appeared to be listening to Carey’s noisy sobs with sympathy and Dog was lying at her feet, offering support by presence, as he, like Gerald, was quite used to Carey’s tears.

Gently, Gerald touched her shoulder briefly, just to let her know that someone always cared. Her sobs died down enough to choke out the revealing words, “I killed it!” before resuming louder than before. Carefully, he posed a safe question. “Was it accidental, Carey?”

Anyone who knew Carey, also knew that in those generous curves, there was a very generous heart and she would not be able to kill anything deliberately. Her round pink-flushed face raised toward him, dark eyes drowned with tears, “I was trying to improve my ways, no more clutter, no long-legged spiders and crickets scuttling around in my house – and that’s how I did it!”

Gerald was a patient man. God knows he had needed to be over the years with his beloved She Dragon, but it was becoming difficult to restrain his urge to fix the problem and return to the safe confines of his home where the only danger was from Aggie, his wife.

“And?” he prompted. “I sprayed! This morning, I found it under a stool, all shrivelled and dead.” Sobs shook her shoulders. “Shh now! ” he soothed. “What was it?” he dared. “A baby gecko!”

“Oh! ” he nodded wisely, the irony not lost on him of the two women on either side of the fence, opposites in every way. “Oh, Gerald!” she burst out, “I do hope that I do not return to this life as a gecko. They are so vulnerable!”

Carey believed in reincarnation. Gerald stifled a snort of mirth as he had a vision of his She Dragon as a gecko, dodging a broom. He was not a believer of reincarnation.

“Come on, then!” he encouraged Carey and her menagerie toward the kitchen for the cure of all her ills so far, a hot cup of good English breakfast tea. With a bit of luck, he might have time for a generous rasher of bacon as a reward for his sympathetic ear before he hastened back to report to Aggie.

His taste buds moistened in eager anticipation. Aggie had faith in him, knowing her man well. Food was his only temptation.

Copyright, Glenda Colling.

Mrs Pernickety

Swish! The cloth arced through the air and landed with a splat on the unsuspecting gecko. Startled it fell to the floor, then regaining its feet, it scuttled out the door, just ahead of the swiftly moving broom.

With a satisfied expression attached to her angular face, Mrs Pernickety closed the door behind it, “No more gecko splats marking these walls! “ She voiced her pleasure.

Mr Pernickety kept his gaze on the newsprint although the content had lost all comprehension from the time he watched the cloth leave her fingers before making contact with the intended victim.

He knew better than to comment or he would be next to feel her displeasure, however he could not help but think of the soft night calls of the swift footed lizard as it darted about the ceiling, snatching up flies and mosquitoes brave enough to enter the lair of the dragon, he called wife.

With a swish and a mop, she hurried about the small, sparklingly clean kitchen/lounge area, never hesitating in her bustle for a soft word or a caress of the small, defeated man with the receding hairline and tired blue eyes, shielded from the dazzle by his rimless spectacles.

Finally, with a last approving glance of the order she expected in her home, Mrs Pernickety disposed of the cleaning equipment in a hall cupboard, before taking a leisurely shower.

Mr Pernickety’s stomach grumbled hungrily as he dared to dream of the forbidden sizzle of bacon with sunny side up eggs, washed down with steaming hot, black coffee, liberally laced with real sugar and door stopper slabs of fresh white bread spread thickly with butter.

It was but a dream. His wife would never allow such chaos in her kitchen. He sighed wistfully as Mrs Pernickety flounced into the room, wearing a figure flattering green dress, that accentuated the emerald green of her eyes. A touch of pink lip gloss shone on her plump, curved lips and her blonde curls bounced about her face as she moved toward him. She smiled happily at him now, “I’m a bit hungry, Gerald! Please take me out for breakfast.”

He jumped to his feet with alacrity, enjoying the transformation while it lasted, knowing many would envy him – if only they knew! His lips were sealed. His She-dragon was an unforgiving wife.

Copyright, Glenda Colling.

I Believe…

Some mornings, I look around at my organised (mostly😆) clutter and I wonder why I can not toss it all out and enjoy the orderliness and more time it would allow.

I recycle: bins for this and bins for that and as it is used left overs go to the appropriate receptacle- compost bin, recycling bin (or dogs/ chickens).

Sounds simple but it’s not; I wash my cans, ensuring lids are removed safely; convenience food containers are washed; paper and cardboard boxes are recycled (some directly to my garden where it serves two purposes 😁much enjoyment for my hens and retards weed growth while retaining moisture; bottles/jars are washed and used or placed in recycling bin.

I recycle the girls waste products into the garden where the effect is almost immediate. 😊

I recycle my aviary birds leftover seed to the wild birds – aviary birds are not called seed wasters without reason. Needless to say there is quite a regular following of wild birds waiting on their seed each morning. 😊❤️🙏

I hoard things I don’t use anymore because you never can tell when you might need it again despite the overflow. 😆That’s a habit inherited and I’m still trying to minimise my hoarding. 🤣😂😆

Why do I do all of this? There are no easy answers however it is a similar reason for why I rarely cut my flowers to bring inside despite their beauty.

I guess it could be started with ‘I believe…’.

Have a wonderful morning! 🤗

These lovely orange flowers had fallen and needed to be rescued.

Blog: Cooking for Enjoyment

I enjoy cooking – for one! Once upon a time, it seems a lifetime away, I enjoyed cooking for my family; husband and children. At that time I laboured in the kitchen for many hours to produce delicious meals for the family to feast on. It was a labour of love.

I avidly read recipes to find appropriate choices for our slender budget, with a large family of four children. Recipes with too many expensive and hard to source ingredients were quickly discarded.

I collected appropriate recipes and glued them into a scrapbook to refer to again. I also built up a collection of recipe books. It was an enjoyable pastime just reading through the different recipes that I might cook.

The downside of cooking creatively was that there were mounds of dishes for me, whilst tending to the needs of the children, supervising homework and disagreements; and after the meal was consumed there were many dishes again.

Still, at the time, I did not complain. It was reward enough if the meal was enjoyed by all; the children were easy to please, the husband not so.

At the time of marriage, both of my in-laws had passed on a little gem of information to help the marriage go smoothly, my husband was a difficult man to please with his food preferences. They said it with a smile as their first-born was a much favoured son.

Having had an early experience of his displeasure at my creativity with scrambled eggs and a dash of garlic, I was not brave enough to be too creative again. The dear man had a way of turning an experience like that into a personal hurt intended for him alone and he never let me forget about my error.

I learned to cook at the shoulder of my mother as a young woman, prior to marriage. My mother was a wonderful cook, skilled at producing tasty meals for a large family of eight. She taught me the basics of cooking and allowed me to practice on our family, with her guidance, whilst she retrieved her treadle sewing machine from its retirement and sewed many garments for my infant son.

I have never seriously developed that skill, unlike my sisters who are adept at such things. I have much admiration for those who sew their own clothes, and absolute admiration for my mother with her many skills.

Thus, prepared I felt competent to cook for my husband. It took some tears, but he trained me in preparing food as he preferred it. I had always been partial to a variety of vegetables and meat, but with a growing family, it became too difficult to prepare individual meals and so, we followed his preference.

Imagine my surprise much later in life, when he reminded me of how long it had been since I had cooked dishes unmentioned that took hours to prepare. I had been unaware how much he enjoyed these at the time.

I had grown some by then and I quickly reminded him that was a time when I was not employed elsewhere and perhaps with some help with the many chores I now had, additional to my paid employment, these special meals would still be possible.

Perhaps the meal was not special enough as assistance was not forthcoming.

A working mother has a busy lifestyle juggling many roles and convenience foods very quickly replace the meals that take longer to prepare. As children grow older, they are not always there for meals and they were not alone with that.

Still, I persevered and continued to have a meal prepared for those who were there for it though none of these meals were culinary masterpieces, nor did I gain much enjoyment in the process.

To my absolute joy, I hung up my apron and left behind the dishwashing and wiping when I gained employment overseas once my children had grown up and I was alone.

This was a wonderful time of learning about other cultures and their culinary practices; often simple and very tasty meals that were readily available for an affordable price. Why would I cook when I could buy so easily?

I learned much from my experience of culinary practices elsewhere and nowadays, I rarely cook an elaborate meal unless dining with family. I am more likely to cook a simple, tasty meal that meets my needs.

I still enjoy learning about other cultures and their food, however these days I ‘travel the world’ whilst watching cooking programs that are of interest to me.

Copyright © Glenda Colling

Teapot

Kara held the old blue teapot lovingly in her hands; chipped and stained, it had once held pride of place in her mother’s kitchen beside the stove, ready to pour a soothing cup of tea for those in need.

An image of her mother flashed into her mind, always welcoming, big, comfortable and a willing ear for those in need. Confidences never left her mother’s kitchen. Many a tear had been shed in Mum’s arms, woes poured out and somehow, without saying anything much, it was alright again.

She had that calming effect. All the family had their turn; the boys and the girls and following them, their cousins and friends. She was Mum to Kara and her siblings, Auntie Marg to her nieces and nephews and all the friends, but Grannie Brown to their children.

Grannie Brown’s lap was wide; she could hold two or three squirming bodies comfortably while they quizzed her about what life used to be like in the old days. It was a popular topic and they never seemed to get bored with hearing about how their Mum or Dad never had a television or a computer when they were children.

“But what did they do, Grannie?” her grandchildren would ask, wide-eyed in their amazement. It was inconceivable to them. Everywhere they went, they would take their Ipads, except to Grannie’s. Grannie didn’t have an internet connection.

Grannie Brown would laugh uproariously as was her way, “What do you do when you come here?” she would reply, when her belly had stopped heaving with mirth.

That always got the grandchildren thinking. It was a busy life at Grannie’s. There were the three dogs; Bo, Moe and Slow, each with their own personalities but all equally loved and they in turn loved Grannie, faithfully sleeping near at hand with ears cocked, on guard of their precious person.

Then the two fat cats; Mouser and Miaow, purring lap companions for many a teary faced visitor, almost as though Grannie had asked them to, for they came in from sunning themselves in the garden whenever the kettle was on the boil and climbed up into the nearest accommodating lap.

Big Ted would never allow them to sit on Grannie’s lap. He would shriek up a storm of cat calls if they protested.  Big Ted, Grannie’s precious Corella was cage-free and roamed in and out of the house, but often sat on his perch in the kitchen near to Grannie, a perfect mimic of her favourite expressions;  so much so, that sometimes it was hard to tell which one was speaking .

“ Wanna cup of tea?” was his most popular and not without reason as Grannie’s kettle was always on the boil for the steady stream of visitors who came to chat and confide and most of all, to take away a piece of the magic that was Grannie.

No one really remembered Grandpa Ted. Their six children had a vague memory of him in the early days, flitting in and out of their life as it suited him, demanding all of Grannie’s attention. Then one day he didn’t return.

For a while it was as though the sun went out of Grannie’s days but she picked herself up and got on with caring for her children. That was what mattered.

Her life went on and the years passed as Grannie Brown devoted herself to raising her children and sometimes others in need, whilst the steady stream of visitors to her kitchen continued, with the blue teapot in constant use.

At first, it wasn’t apparent that Grannie was ill. She wasn’t one to complain. It wasn’t until she stopped doing the things that mattered most to her, that her extended family realized that all was not well with Grannie Brown. By then, her big body had become gaunt and she was hollow-eyed.

 It was cancer and it struck aggressively, taking the life from Grannie in mere months. They had not been prepared for her loss but Grannie being Grannie, had expected this and left them a letter telling them not to grieve as she would always be with them, and to take care of her beloved pets.

They had done this willingly but no one was prepared then to sort out Grannie’s possessions; too many memories.

Now Kara had started and the blue teapot was the first of Grannie’s most loved possessions that she had picked up. Grannie wasn’t wealthy in a traditional sense but she was rich with her love of the people and animals so dear to her. She would be remembered.

Copyright © Glenda Colling 2019

Refuge in a Storm – a letter to a dear friend.

Content Warning: Violence

Though we are now far apart, geographically and otherwise, we will always share that moment in time when you gave me back my strength to go forward.


Looking back over the years, it is as clear as if it were yesterday. I came to you, battered, broken, with my young children in tow and you were there for us, as he had not been.

You may have wondered at the time, though few words needed to be said.

I was running, broken-hearted and disillusioned from a narcissistic and violent husband; calling myself all kinds of stupid for being taken in by his charm and lies, time and time again.

I shudder to think of how easily he deceived me, lied to me and manipulated me until I began to wonder if I was going insane.

I could not see events as he described them and somehow, despite his fault, I was ridiculed and made to feel as though it were me.

I pinned a smile on my face, hiding my tears and bruises from his adoring audience, for he had the ability to sound so very sincere when minutes before he had been battering me with a barrage of hurtful abuse, hair pulled painfully back and his other big hand cruelly squeezing the breath from my throat, as he shoved me about.


I was so very young and naive; believing wives endure and stay strong but lost the inclination when my children were hurt.


Through the maelstrom of my emotions, you held me strong with your gentle, caring, kindness and good humour; and like a shipwrecked survivor, I clung to your strength, with both hands.


It was never meant to be more than a deep friendship, but in the middle of a storm, it seemed as though it were meant to be.


Lightning cracked and thunder rumbled above, rain lashing about us as we sheltered in the old house, ignoring the maniacal ranting of the other, crazy occupant, secure in his room.


I revelled in the powerful elements raging that cold Winter’s night, for I was warm and safe in your arms, as you would stay in my heart forever; and whenever I needed to be strong, I took out my memories of that time.

Thank you, my friend.

Glenda Colling © 2021

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