Monthly Archives: June 2007

History (I love the internet)

Thanks to everyone for your responses to my last post. People were so very frank about their life experiences. I appreciate that.

 I love history. I studied it at university and I think that if life (my Pete) hadn’t drawn me away, I probably would have taken my studies a lot further. Lately I have been reflecting on the fact that historical events – conflicts, conquests, discoveries and inventions, tell the stories of men, particularly white men. I have watched historical documentaries on TV and consider this fact a lot, and more and more this worries me. One voice should not be louder than all other voices. I believe that women hold a vital place in the development of societal attitues. Each of us holds influence over the next generation and their expectations of life. The study of generational attitudes may well be a reflection of the previous generation of women.

Recently a publication was included in our local paper. This was called ‘The Pioneers’ and told the stories of families who had lived here in Townsville’s infancy. The Petersen family was one that was included. My husband’s family has been here for a very long time. His father was born here into a large extended family. He has photos and stories and momentos of this time. He has given us a family tree which traces the family history to Denmark. This man is my husband’s great-great-grandfather. He was born in Hoptrup in Denamrk, married in New Zealand, lived in Brisbane, Charters Towers and in Townsville. He is buried at the Townsville cemetry along with his wife who was born in Haderslev, Denmark.  

Out of interest we went to google earth and looked at Hoptrup and Haderslev. We then followed a series of links to discover that this area of the world had been claimed by both Germany and Denmark throughout history. At the time of my Pete’s g-g-g grandfather’s / mother’sbirths the area was involved in the second Schleswig War. I don’t know why they chose to leave this area and make their way to Australia via New Zealand. But I can’t help but wonder whether the unsettled political landscape was a contributing factor.

It took us just two hours to discover all of this, and more, over the internet. I love that we were able to look at Hoptrup and Haderslev as they stand now using google earth. People are able to add their own photos to show the sights and vistas. Although there were none at Holtrup there were others nearby and it gave us a real sense for the area. My Pete would like to go there. I’d like to go there too.

I love the internet.

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Three generations of Petersen men. L to R My son, his grandfather, his father. Taken at Mission Beach 2005

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Generation X

Last weekend I watched an investigative report about Generation X.  I have been pondering it ever since.

According to this report, those born into generation X (that is me and, no doubt, lots of you too) have married later or married and divorced quickly or never married and lots of them have remained childless. The idea behind the report was that there were lots of people who are now desperate to find partners and have children because they have almost missed their chance. They interviewed men and women of this generation. Overwhelmingly they said things like – I’ve got a great life and I haven’t had time for a significant other or family OR if I found a partner or had children they would have to be willing to fit around my lifestyle.

This is the very factor which has separated me from many of my peers. I married at 20, had my first child at 24, my second at 28. At the time that we married many of our friends wondered why we were doing it. We were the first to be married and had children long before any of our friends. At a time when our children are at the end of their school life and we are beginning to see a life post children many of our contemporaries have pre-schoolers who are just beginning their school lives.

There were people I knew who were not going to have children until they had travelled or paid off their mortgages or made their fortunes. I have found myself wondering is this self-fulfilling or self-centred. I do not intend to cast judgement. I just wonder what it was about our generation that urged the notion of waiting to have family, that a life needed to be lived before it could become part of a partnership. Were we trying to find ourselves and enrich our lives before making that commitment or did we want to have it all and do it all before settling? Why did we think that we could not have a life if we had a family, that the two concepts were mutually exclusive.

I very often felt that I was out of synch with the zeitgeist of my own generation because of my choice to have a family at a younger age, but I never let it make me feel diminished as a person. I am well educated, I have a career and I could have followed this to high levels if I had the desire. I have had the oppotunity to follow my own course within the partnership of my marriage. My husband has had the same opportunities. We have raise two bright, articulate and interesting children. Their love and our love of them has sustained us as a family and allowed us the opportunity to enrich the lives of our children along with ours. My life has made me very happy and I really don’t want for more than that.

I know that every life experience is different and I can’t tell you what compelled us to marry and have a family. It just seemed like the right thing for us. I’m glad that we did.

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I think that I would have had a lonely life without these two! (aged four and six months)

I am so interested to hear how generation X has impacted your life. I’ll leave you with a song for every member of our generation.

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I am Miss June

The month is nearly over and I almost missed my chance to let you know that this is my month. I am Miss June in the Down Under Quilts 2007 calendar. This Australian quilting magazine has been running a calendar competition for the past few years. Each year they provide a theme and call for entries. Last year was the first year that I entered and it was the first time that I ever achieved competition success with my quilt-making.

I really enjoy interpreting a theme. The theme for the 2007 calendar was Crossraods – very open and lots of scope for interpretation. I love that I have 100 words to write an artist’s statement. I use the whole hundred, because I can never say anything in just a few words!

This is my winning entry and my interpretation of the theme.

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It is called Finding the Balance.  I have used the grey, straight downward stripes to represent our work life, the controlled and responsible areas of our lives. The bright, organic stripes coming from the side represent our creative lives. They are not so organised and don’t follow rules of conformity. The bright flowers show that time when you manage to find the balance – those are the days when you actually have the washing all finished and you get to sew as well. I originally drew the flowers as outlines with a star shape inside. When I cut out the first one I realised that a second flower was left in the negative space, so I appliqued those too. This wasn’t planned, it was just a serendipidous discovery – I love that.

There is a lot of detail in the quilting.

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I did it on my domestic machine. Now I would use my longarm, but my skills weren’t so well developed then. As soon as I had finished this quilt I told my Pete that I had made a winner. I felt really good about the way it turned out and the way that I had been able to interpret the theme. This little quilt has represented me at several exhibitions, including at International Quilt week in Yokohama and Osaka in Japan.

The day that Erica Spinks rang me to let me know that I had won was the same day that my sister found out that a baby was waiting for her in Taiwan to be adopted into our family. It was a very emotional day! I am certain that Erica thought I was a babbling fool when she rang me. Lots of joyful tears were shed and my Pete took me out to dinner.

The theme for the 2008 calendar is My Secret Garden. My entry for this competition was a winner too – see my name on this list of winners. I can’t show you that quilt – you will need to buy the calendar when it is released. I wonder which will be my month next year!

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Entertainment

Entertainment is the theme for this post of random occurances.

 On the weekend I took my daughter and her best friend to see their school friends play in their band.

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There is a really nice ampitheatre beside the river with rain trees overarching it. It is a lovely spot to listen to LOUD music.

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My Pete flew to Canberra yesterday for work. He is only away for a couple of nights, but I do not like to be alone. It doesn’t feel right to go to bed by myself, so I end up roaming the house at one o’clock in the morning, feeling all lonely and never getting tired. I have been entertaining myself (nicely linked back to theme) by doing lots of quilting. I’m lonely, but highly productive. I am pretty happy with this quilting, done in lime green on a quilt that I have made as a wedding gift for my cousin. The fabric is called chocolate lollipop – I bought it for its name as much as its design!

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Lastly, it is still freezing cold here. In this weather my children like to entertain themselves with a good book.

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We do have other couches, but apparently this is the only blanket they could find.

Now I have to go quickly, because Sussanah is coming to get me so that we can go and see Ross Noble – a very funny man, performing at our Civic Theatre and that should be highly entertaining!

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This Beautiful Boy

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is my nephew. He spends lots of time here with us. On a Thursday afternoon he comes home from school with me. We were having a conversation (he LOVES a chat) and I made a cheeky comment about being the eldest is the best.

He said, “Idon’t think that is a very fair thing to say, Tracey.”

“But you’re the eldest too, that makes you the best. ” I defended myself.

“I am not the eldest!” he cried. “Your kids are much older than me.”

“No, no. I mean the eldest in your family.”

“Your kids are in my family.”

Again I try to defend myself. “I mean the family that lives in your house with you.”

“That’s not a family. That is just my mum, my dad and my sister. What about my cousins, don’t you remember that cousins are in your family.” By this point in the conversation he was speaking to me as though I was quite simple.

I conceded defeat, “Yes I see your point. How silly of me to forget that cousins are in your family.”

We really ought to just give up and move to a kibbutz. It should be communal living for these cousins. They just love each other!

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The Top Ten

My sisters and  I are in the habit of ranking things into our own personal top ten. You may think that I mean music – yes we do that a lot, but we will rank anything. We have top ten vegetables – roasted zucchini has just edged its way into my top ten, favourite episodes of Buffy – the singing one is in there; we will truly rank anything.

When one of us says, “You know, this is in my top ten.” It brings a hush to the group as we all nod sagely. It is a very big statement to make and is given its due respect. This does not mean that you will not be mocked for a top ten selection – who put choko in their top ten vegetables? In truth our top tens probably contain twenty to thirty items. We never ever nominate the whole list, we just say when something is in the top ten. The highest accolade of all is to be nominated as being in the top five. This is our ultimate tribute and is taken very seriously.

We never suggest a number one for any list. We are much too egalitarian for that. We don’t want to hurt the feelings of the other thirty items on the top ten list. We don’t want to make that commitment. Our lists are very fluid, items pop in and out all the time depending on mood, whim or even weather.

Recently both of my sisters made top five nominations for their song list. I think that both songs are ipod worthy, but they don’t appear in my top ten.

I however, after some serious reflection, feel that I am able to nominate a number one on my song list. This has never been done before. In true Morrison fashion there are two songs which take the number one position, but both come from the same album, so that is just fine. The number one position is gained because both of these songs have been in my life for a very long time (they were released in the year of my birth). I am never disappointed to hear these songs, but I don’t have to listen to them constantly either, they are not a fad. They make me cry when I am sad, they make me smile when I am happy. They are unique in the world of music and untouchable. (Despite sacrilegious uses of one song by an advertising campaign!) Sussanah, who loves a cover, sent me looking for this version by Ben Kweller – who happens to be in my top five male singers not in a band. A nice blend of two lists.

What is in your top ten? Or even top five? DO you dare to nominate a number one?

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Let it Never Be Said That Romance is Dead

On the weekend I found this beautiful expression of love in our local paper.

 

He loves her with his heart and his foot. How romantic? unnecessary? dirty?

My Pete thinks that it might be an acronym something, maybe sending our love eternally or single ostriches love elephants or shaved orangutans like eggs (my son’s contribution) or silly old loser entymologist (a whole family effort; it’s fun, fun,fun here).

In other romantic news….Sussanah put my wedding photo on her blog today. Her blog entry spoke about her glory in the eighties and yet she chose to illustrate her point with my photo. Admittedly she did say I was pretty, but she neglected to show her own photo. I shall now rectify this for those commenters who were howling at the injustice of her photo selection. Note: I have naturally curly hair, she however, has a PERM.

I notice, in this photo of her dancing with our paternal grandfather, that she has let her enormous puffy sleeve get a little crushed. This is not good. We spent a good deal of time at my wedding ensuring that our sleeves had just the correct amount of puff. She, it seems, has let us down and this moment has been captured for posterity.

The title of this post comes from the first line of this song.

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