Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Under My Umbrella, Images of Peace

This is my newest altered art necklace, entitled Under My Umbrella. It features a classic UK Christmas postage stamp, a symbol of love and peace, with the two doves taking shelter beneath an umbrella of a map of the world. You might also note that there is a black dove and a white dove, in loving harmony.

As a long time peace advocate and activist, I have decided to open a new etsy Treasury to celebrate and promote images of peace, which I will call No Pipe Dream: Images of Peace. I will post a link here and on my faceboook fan page when I have compiled the first line up. I intend to keep this treasury as a perpetual gallery, so there is time for you to still take a photograph or create a piece of art suitable for display in the treasury.

May you create peace in your self, in your community, and in this cosmos, with love, Starry.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Men In Uniform, ANZAC Day Round Up

At this time of remembering our service men and women, my mother came to me and asked me to help her to access her father's military records, which I was more than happy to do. First of all, let me introduce you to my grandfather, Edward Kenneth Boyd (above) who served in the Australian Imperial Force (the Army) in World War I. You can also see him with his mates in the picture below, he is the man in the centre of the picture.

Mum's request came in response to a television promotion for the site which was advertising free access to military records in the lead up to ANZAC Day. However, I have to warn you, the search engine in that site was pathetic and frustrating, although I had indicated that my grandfather was an Australian servicemen, the result came up with hundreds of American draft cards! I then swore a little bit and said to mum it would be better to try a google search. I typed in 'australian world war one records' and the first result was for the Australian National Archives, which gave me free access to my grandfather's military jacket (or file if you prefer).

What do you get in these records? You might wonder... well, you can see an online folder, of all the paperwork that has been scanned for the archives, and how interesting the contents are depends on some factors. I have now obtained the records for both of my grandfathers so I am in a position to compare and contrast.

First thing you will see is the registration to become a serviceman, and a letter of consent from the applicants parents if they were under a certain age at the time. We have such a letter for my maternal grandfather but not my paternal grandfather who was a young adult at the time he applied.

The paperwork will tell you any significant answers you seek in terms of your relation's occupation and address at the time of enlistment, any previous military or civilian service etc.

The medical report at time of enlistment is next, detailing the height, weight, chest measurement, eye colour, complexion, and hair colour, as well as any distinguishing marks etc.

You will have a full list of all promotions, reductions, casualties, and all movements including dates of embarkation and disembarkation, all places where they trained and served, and in my peternal grandfather's file a copy of a letter sent to my great grandmother at the time he was wounded by shrapnel.

In Edward Kenneth's file we saw two disciplinary notes, one for failing to salute a senior officer, and one for arriving late to stable parade... though it would be very interesting to know the circumstances surrounding these as there may be mitigating factors. He certainly had no severe punishment for either and was never demoted.

Here are two scanned copies of postcards sent home by my grandfather from Egypt during the war, these of course came from our personal keepsakes not the national archives.

But you can choose to download a copy of the military files to your computer or print them out, and I have done both.

Wishing you comfort on ANZAC Day and I hope you will also take the time to work towards peace in this world, through prayer, mediation, education, or activism, whatever floats your boat!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Most Beautiful Monday - Daisy Symbolism

Its been a while since I have celebrated Most Beautiful Monday, but I was poking around in the garden looking for a way to exercise my camera, when I found pleasure in a simple daisy bush, also the subject of keen interest from this bee. I love the humble daisy, once called the Day's Eye as this flower turns a blind eye to the darkness of night and hence represents virtue and stoic resistence to corruption. A true token of innocence and virtue, this flower was once planted in remembrance of lost infants. My yellow daisy is the colour of hope and optimism, a great mood and energy booster, and in a small vase in the centre of your table may help boost the appetite of those recovering from illness. Bees are symbolic of selfless toil, and in Christianity they represent chastity as most bees lead a sexless life merely working diligently for the greater good.

Wishing you a happy day!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Love From Beyond... a Haunting moment

Love lives beyond,

the tomb, the earth, the flowers, and dew

I love the fond,

the faithful, young, and the true.

(John Clare)

As both a religious and spiritual person, with ample spiritual experiences, I did wonder what lay ahead of me when I traveled east upon the death of my aunt (see previous posts). From childhood I have experienced visits from my relatives who have 'passed on', however Aunty died suddenly, unexpectedly, and horribly.... how would she appear to me, and how was she coping with her journey? Also, if I had experiences with Aunty, would I tell all to my mother? These were the things that were weighing on my mind, aside from the usual things we all experience in these situations.

When I entered Auntie's house, I knew immediately that she was in Heaven, though not unobservant of our presence and activities in the house. I knew she was not in turmoil, but reaping the fruits of her faith. That helped me so much to focus on the tasks ahead.

But one night, sometime in the middle of the night, I was lying awake in bed. I was on my back, and a lock of my hair was lying on my forehead, dangling over my eye. I was very relaxed, and then the lock of hair was swept across my forehead to the side and my whole forehead was tingling. It was exactly as a parent sweeps the hair of their child as they lie sleeping, and I felt awash with complete love and acceptance by Aunty. It was such a beautiful and special moment, I lay awake afterwards just remembering every sensation, of the tingling, of the movement of the hair, of the emotional cocoon.... and I know that Aunty would have visited my mum the same night, but mum would have slept right through it as she isn't sensitive, still, I was able to tell my mum what happened and that she too would have been looked in on and visited with such love.

Now, more than ever, I will be creating special butterfly pieces, as the butterfly is symbolic of eternal life and love. And if you are familiar with my butterfly pieces, you have probably already heard my favourite quote:
Life is the childhood of our immortality

If you would like a special butterfly creation or other symbolic or altered art creation, don't forget to visit me at my etsy or madeit stores

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Love is Strength... My Inspirational Family

Meet my mother's family:

Mum in the back, next to her father;

My Aunty Jean in the front left, next to my grandmother.
This would have been taken in the early 1950's. Having written the eulogy for my Aunt, I am still basking in the love and admiration I feel towards my family, and thought I'd like to expand on my last post which included a copy of the eulogy of my Aunt. When my Aunty was born in 1934, she had only one eye and was also hearing impaired. The doctors told my grandparents that Nanna must have had Rubella while pregnant without even knowing it. Aunty did not have a true eye socket on her right side so could not be given a glass eye, she had a skin graft over the 'eye' giving her a flat face on that side. When she grew up and for the rest of her life she would be issued eye glasses with a prosthetic eye attached to the right side. With her left eye, she could not see well. I can only imagine the concerns my grandparents must have had and the difficulties getting help for aunty when they lived in the country on a dairy farm. While my grandparents worked, they also had to ensure that their daughter was safe from harm. Perhaps some people might have been persuaded to give up a child like this to an institution, but this was a loving family determined to make the best of all that came their way. My mother was born in 1937, a younger sister for Aunty but someone who would grow up more in the role of elder sister, and who went to school ahead of Aunty, who was kept out of school by the local principal. Aunty would stay home watching her younger sister go off to school, making playmates, and mastering the reading, writing, and mathematics. Not that my grandmother was happy with this arrangement! She persistently confronted the school principal demanind education for her eldest daughter, yet he adamantly maintained a negative attitude. Nanna knew that Auntie's best chance in life was to be educated, and she also wanted her to be part of the community, not an outcast or a loner. She constantly put her pride on the line to fight it out for her daughter only to have to go home with disappointment simmering in her belly, and of course, she had to behave as a Christian lady even if she was dealing with a hard hearted and uncharitable man. I recently asked my mother if children picked on Aunty for her strange looks, mum told me they didn't say anything but they always stared. The blessing was that Aunty could not see them gaping after her everywhere that she went, though mum admitted she used to feel angry and wished she could 'punch them'.
(My Aunty Jean, Nanna, and Mum)

When Aunty Jean was 10, the school got a new principal, and my grandmother once again summoned up the courage to fight for her daughter, fortunately this new principal was very willing to arrange for Aunty to be taught at home via correspondence lessons (as Aunty could not see or hear well enough to attend a regular classroom). My Nanna would take time out of her busy daily life to supervise Auntie's lessons and Aunty completed her first four years of primary education in this way.

Alas the demands of the lessons soon exceeded what my Nanna could manage, as she was not a trained teacher and also had a lot of work piling up around her... a farm life is no walk in the park! Aunty had to drop out of her lessons but would seek education and betterment all the days of her life.

Unfortunately the sight in Auntie's one eye deteriorated quite badly due to cataracts, and at first the surgeons were very reluctant to do anything, knowing if they made any mistakes she could become completely blind. A scary prospect. Meanwhile at the age of 18 Aunty was finally fitted with a hearing aid, and this greatly improved her ability to communicate. She would later get her cataracts removed as the sight got to the point where it couldn't get any worse. Aunty could now see and hear the best she ever had, a new world was opening up for her.

To help Aunty in her quest for education and to communicate, she was taken in by her paternal grandmother and aunts, who willingly escorted her on a several leg commute every time she had a hospital appointment or classes in Braille at the Institute for the Blind. I am completely in awe of all the wonderful women in both my grandmother and grandfather's side of the family!

Although Aunty never finished highschool, or attended university, she did continue to learn and was an incredibly well spoken and intelligent person. She had a very large collection of dictionaries, reference books, Australian History and English Literature books and often contributed information to radio and newspaper debates and research questions, in fact she had many thank you letters from journalists and few would have realised just how little formal education she had.

Aunty was also someone who had incredible and beautiful Christian faith and would minister to her extended list of penpals from around the world, always gently encouraging them through their personal trials and tribulations.

After my grandfather passed away, my Nanna and Aunty were offered a home in Adelaide, where the Housing Trust promised my grandmother that her rent would never be raised during her lifetime, a promise they honoured from 1975 to the year 2000 when she passed away.

Once they were living in Adelaide the horizons expanded, Aunty could become more involved in the BlindWelfare Society, and Nanna also worked tirelessly for this charity, being awarded the title Life Governor for her work. Both Nanna and Aunty knitted all the time to provide items for the Blind Welfare stalls and raffles. Aunty also submitted many award winning doll outfits to the Royal Adelaide Show and on occasion, the Melbourne Show.

I have never met two people who have never given me the tiniest inkling of self pity such as these amazing women, they just got on with living, always humble, always willing to take happiness in the small things around them, and always demonstrating that love is strength.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tribute to My Aunty Jean

As many of you know, I have just returned from Adelaide, a sad journey I made with my mother following the untimely death of my beloved Aunt, pictured with me, above. Although Aunty had just turned 77, she was expected to live a good fifteen to twenty years more as all the women in our family have aged well into their nineties, but sadly my dear Aunt was walking home from buying the Sunday paper when she was killed by a car reversing from a driveway. This is of course a most tragic and horrible end to an amazing life, but in spite of our sadness, horror, and shock, we are choosing to reflect as positively as possible on the life of this incredible lady. We have been greatly assisted in this matter by the wonderful Wayne Shepherd who delivered a beautiful service in the church aunty had attended for the last decades of her life. Wayne had also created the service for my precious grandmother who passed in the year 2000. I was not able to attend my grandmother's funeral, and I had never healed from that terrible sadness of being absent, I now feel that having met Wayne, and attended the church, that I can heal now, which is a great blessing. I would like very much, if you could take the time to read the eulogy I wrote for my Aunty, as she was such a unique and inspirational person, so, here is a copy....
Eulogy for Lillian Jean Boyd

Jean was born on January 8th 1934 at Victor Harbour. Her parents were Ken and Mary, and her younger sister Ruth was born in 1937. Jean's early childhood was spent at Goolwa on a dairy farm.

Jean has had a vision impairment since birth. Her sister Ruth started school at Goolwa and Mary was determined to have Jean educated but the school principal resisted. A new school principal was willing to assist when Jean was 10 years old. Jean's lessons came through the correspondence school in Adelaide and Mary supervised them at home.

When Jean was at a 4th grade level the work became too much for Mary who was not a trained teacher but had enabled Jean to read and write. At this point Jean dropped out of school but would resume learning later in her life. Unlike many children who dislike school and learning, Jean wanted to learn and Mary was determined for her to be educated and to have a place in the world.

During Jean and Ruth's childhood the family made a move to another farm on Hindmarsh Island. Here the girls were kept entertained by a wireless radio, card games, and imaginary games. They were also avid readers and books were popular and treasured gifts.

The family moved again to Norton Summit and at age 18 Jean was fitted with a hearing aid, and began to learn braille. To allow for this to happen, Jean stayed with her grandmother and aunts at Leabrook. The family were very generous and committed to commuting to all Jean's appointments and to the Institution For the Blind. This was really a wonderful act of devotion.

Once Jean mastered her braille course her education was further enabled.

Ours was a tight knit family and there were always many visits and travels together. Jean and Ruth were particularly close to their cousins, aunts and uncles. The family also lived through the Black Sunday bushfires which came in from Marble Hill.

The family then moved to Yundi. Jean continued reading braille and began a lifelong passion for penpal relationships with people from around the world.

Ruth bought a typewriter and remarkably Jean learned to type. She typed many of her letters to friends but as she could not read what she had written, she needed someone to tell her what she had last typed if she was interrupted.

Sadly in 1975 Jean's father became very ill and was treated at Daw's Road Repat until he died in April of that year. The Housing Trust offered Mary and Jean a home at Falcon Avenue where they both lived their lives out, making wonderful friends in the community.

Jean has enjoyed a very active social life with clubs and groups including the Blind Welfare Society, Blind Bowling, craft groups, her walking group, penpals, and of course her church.

Jean was a passionate cricket fan, always listened to games on the radio and also loved talkback radio.

Jean was also a mad keen photographer and one of the very special things about her collection of photographs is that we can see how she never took her sight for granted, she literally saw beauty all around.

Jean was an avid stamp collector and was incredibly knowledgeable about philately, an interest she passed on to her niece.

Jean was also very talented with her knitting, creating a great number of prize winning dolls dresses, scarves, rugs, and cushions at the Royal Adelaide and Melbourne Agricultural Shows.

Jean was also very charitable and a lady of great Christian faith.

It is very important that you know that we, as a family, believe that Jean has gone home to Glory, and is joyfully reunited with her parents, aunts, and uncles, and that God has blessed her greatly. We have also been beautifully blessed to have loved and been loved by her.