A Year of Wisdom

The Sibyls

A Sibyls' SalonWe do not know if, around the world, 2016 will blessed with outbreaks of wisdom. But we the Sibyls, can only live in hope.

We can also, in many small ways, apply what we have learned in life. Here are just a few thoughts that have bubbled out of the Sibyls’ Salons:

*  I was thinking about fear and overcoming fear. Fear comes with possibility. Not knowing. I find that attractive. Leap into the unknown.

*  To find yourself you have to become unmoored.

*  The hardest thing for me to learn to do is ‘keep quiet.’

*  You can have theories or children.

*  Learn from other people’s mistakes because you do not have time to make them all yourself.

When we take time to think and feel and talk in a safe, non-judgemental forum, wisdom gets a chance to bloom.

Artwork: By talented Sibyl Elizabeth D.

In Praise Of Clutter

By Rita Erlich

sibylesque Rita Erlich Quote

So what’s clutter, exactly, that we should be decluttering? As if it were stress, and we need to de-stress. There seems to be a theory that stress and clutter are somehow linked. Get rid of them both so you can start afresh, clean, pure, and untroubled.

It’s a dangerous path. I heard years ago that there was a de-clutter at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the early 20s. ‘All these papers!’ someone must have said, clucking a bit. Why, who needs all these old letters! And out went decades of great scientific correspondence, all the letters of Ferdinand von Mueller, the government botanist, who had corresponded with botanists all over the world.

Sibylesque food and memoriesHerald Sun

That wasn’t clutter, those were archives. I’ve always hung on to papers and documents. Just in case they come in handy. And they do: I have a copy of a book of recipes that was produced by (and for) the creches of Paris about thirty years ago. It’s a record of French nutrition for children and eating habits that I think has great value and potential application here.

And I had decades of menus from decades of reviewing restaurants before the internet meant all menus were on line. They were donated to the State Library of Victoria – and became the basis of a book, Melbourne by Menu. It made the 7.30 report on the ABC. That made me laugh: I tidy up my study and it becomes a television item.

But supposed clutter is about more than papers. The rule (so I’m told) is that if you haven’t used it or worn it (whatever it is), you should ditch it. But there’s that platter that sits on the dresser. I don’t use it, because there’s a hairline crack in it. I won’t throw it out. It’s the last piece of the dinner service my mother bought when she arrived in Melbourne in the 1920s. Every so many years I point it out to my adult sons, who look a bit misty-eyed at the tangible memory of the grandmother who loved them and whom they loved. We’re a family for whom food matters. When I look at the platter, when her grandchildren look at it, we’re thinking about all the meals that were served from it and all the people, now gone, who sat around the table.

platterThat’s not clutter. It’s the start of a story that begins when my mother arrived in Melbourne as a teenager. There are stories everywhere in my house. The little tapestry made by a cousin of my father’s, the drawings given to me by friends now gone, my late mother-in-law’s embroidered napkins. Who made these? Let me tell you her story.

Clutter is the stuff that has no use at all. I can recognise rubbish when I see it. I’ve just thrown out a dozen glass jars that have no lids. A jar without a lid is no use for those of us who re-use endlessly for home-made preserves. I’ve just ditched three little bottles of nail polish that I bought years ago, thinking that they were good colours and that one day I might apply them to my nails. No story there, they can go.

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Rita ErlichRita Erlich is a passionate food writer and consultant, who pioneered many areas of food writing and criticism. She writes about food in its many forms and meanings – restaurants, recipes, nutrition, history, culture, agricluture, wine – in newspapers, magazines and websites. Her latest book will be co-written with chef Scott Pickett, of Estelle and Saint Crispin.

Photo Source: Herald Sun

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A Sibyl Watches Over the Myanmar Elections 2015

by Sue Lees

Myanmar election quote

Myanmar Historic General Election November 8 2105

Travels with a Sybil: We don’t stay home and knit when we retire!!!

Democracy is such an ordinary concept to us. We argue about how well it functions in aspects of our politics but ultimately we expect a democratic society to operate. Myanmar (Burma) has had no such belief. Democracy in Myanmar has been a cherished but fragile idea.

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I was privileged to have the opportunity to be in Myanmar for the November 8 2015 election as an accredited international election observer under the auspices of APHEDA (Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad also called Union Aid Abroad, which is the overseas aid agency of the ACTU) and under the leadership of Professor Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University.

Our purpose was to observe the election process – pre-polling, Election Day, counting and report any inconsistencies and problems. Particularly any opportunities that became apparent for influencing the voting. As observers we were to be highly visible, non-partisan and not allowed to interfere.

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The most positive outcome available from the electoral process that had been instigated would be (and now is) ‘Guided Democracy’ with the military constitutionally maintaining 25% of parliament and three key ministries – interior, defence and border security. The NLD must now govern with some of the military influence intact, but in can be argued that, at this stage, a full democracy with a party that has no governing experience could be unwise.

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I say that I was privileged because I had the opportunity not only to participate in the election process but also to meet and hear the Burmese. To find out what was important to them:

“Our vote is our chance to fight back”.

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Voiceless politically for so long, they were determined to be heard.

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Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, 56, is a retired teacher and apprentice Sibyl. Despite traveling from Australia to work as a volunteer in schols in Nepal and Timor and now observing electiona in Myanmar, she says she is quiet and quite insignificant!

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Mindfulness, Laundry and the Meaning of Life

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque laundry quote

Well…while you were sleeping, or tossing and turning, depending on how you do the night, I was washing in a laundromat in New York. It’s a first world problem I know but bear with me. You never really think about washing when you live in a house with a washing machine so let me describe living in a house without a washing machine…(and a dishwasher and microwave, neither of which I mind being without).

Sibylesque washinginstructions

Throwing on a load of washing is such a non-thought about domestic action, which we take for granted but if we break it down, there is an awful lot more to it than meets the eye. Firstly, if the washing machine is not in the house, your initial consideration is getting dressed. How often do we ‘put on a load’ straight from sleep and in pjs, often as the opener to ‘getting through the list of chores.’ Not so now. Getting dressed is a must as, although there are some strange sights in New York, I don’t want to be one of them. So fully dressed I gather the dirty clothes and shove them in 1, 2, 3 or 4 bags, grab the TIDE and the BOUNCE sheets and head on down the stairs, out the door and along the street. A long 2 blocks where I’m very consciou of the hidden curriculum and social structures. Are you carting your laundry in a trolley or in bags? How much do you have? How dirty are you and how often do you wash? (Only saw your sheets 4 weeks ago); what…no fabric softener? Remind me not to put my clothes in the machine you used! Hmmm…will your tea towels go in with your whites in a big $4 dollar machine or will you go the extra dollar to separate your laundry in 2 x $2.50 washers? This is the subculture … people don’t actually say but … washing is no longer a domestic habit. It’s a scary chore.

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Travel TalesPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. She is currently consulting as an Early Childhood specialist in New York. She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!! Other posts by Penny Cook include From Here to God-Help-Us: XS Baggage and Travel Tales.

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Image source: Unkown

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Playing 3D Sudoku on the New York subway

by Penny Cook

Sibylesquw Ray Bradbury travel quote

I had a 12.00 appointment in Ozone Park to meet a principal. So I HOPSTOPPED the directions and set out very early because I would rather get there than be late. Well, on the platform at Cortelyou, waiting for the Q to get me to DeKalb where I was going to change to the A, some convoluted announcement comes over the loud speaker and of course, it couldn’t be understood. I worked out it was about the D train so I figured the Q was still coming. It wasn’t.

Above ground I found no A train. Nor did I find anyone who knew where one was. So I headed underground again and got on a train to where I knew there would be an A train – 42nd Street (totally wrong direction). When I got off there I walked for miles to the A but at least I was on it.

I had plenty of time, but I was a bit concerned when the train didn’t stop at 80th (where I was meant to get out). Of course an announcement had been made but I couldn’t understand a word of it. Turns out the platform was being repaired. I still had time but I got out at the next stop and the subway attendant gave me a card to call a taxi … on my phone with the rapidly depleting battery. I’m right in gangster type territory so I was pleased when the car turned up and drove me 2 blocks for a fee of $7 (ended up giving him $10 with the tip). When I found my way in to the building with10 minutes to spare, I’d been travelling for 2 hours 20 minutes I produced my photo ID and I was directed to the 4th floor, which turned out to be wrong and when I eventually arrived in what I thought was the right place with 5 minutes up my sleeve, I was told the person I was seeing wasn’t there.

A few phone calls and it turns out the principal thought we were meeting at another school. I didn’t have that information. The person attending to me kindly called me a car, which was going to cost $16 to get to the school. So the car turns up and the young Arabic driver (I’m mentioning race because he had music on and I asked what language it was in and he told me and we got chatting about his life and future) didn’t quite know where to go so we went the long way through Ozone Park to Jamaica – $20 later I arrive. So I finally meet with the principal I’m only 30 minutes late but had been ‘travelling’ for 3 hours.

A good meeting and now I needed to find my way home. I caught a bus to Jamaica Centre where there are a couple of subways, the Long Island Railway and the air train to JFK. A helpful lady next to me directed me to the E train and said stand right there and when the train comes you aks (yes, no typo there) the conductor and he gonna tell yooo. Yooo better off aksing him than looken at the mayap (map). Well … I took a look at the map (thank goodness) because she was going to get me to somewhere on Manhattan that was nowhere near a connection for me to get home.

Sibylesque Subway New York

So up above ground I go and head for the Long Island Railway where I eventually find the right track … but I don’t have a ticket and the train is coming. The lovely guard who was dressed just like the conductor in POLAR EXPRESS said ‘Yoo waait rut thar ma’am, I gunna git yooo awn dat traaiin.’ So when the train pulled in he had a word to the conductor and I was on the train!! I shook his hand and thanked him profusely and sat quietly and comfortably for the next 15 minutes to Atlantic Station Brooklyn. When I arrived I made my way to the Q (on familiar ground now). Hopped on the train and with the remainder of the phone’s low battery, proceeded to play WORDBRAIN. I am on penguin level with no hints left and I just can’t get one word. Next thing I know I’m at Newkirk station, not Cortelyou. Had I been so absorbed that I’d missed Cortelyou … I thought we just passed Church Avenue. Q…B…easy mistake to make….big yellow Q, big orange B. Oh well, it was better than ending up at Coney Island and it was a nice day for another walk!!

So what should have taken 3 hours and 4 trains took 6 hours, 5 trains, 2 cars about 2km of walking, a hundred odd stairs and $30!!!!

 

Travel TalesPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. She is currently consulting as an Early Childhood specialist in New York. She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!! Other posts by Penny Cook include From Here to God-Help-Us: XS Baggage and Travel Tales.

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Image source: New York Subway Website

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Sibyls’ Salon

the Sibyls

Sibylesque Go sibyls Cake

The Sibyls’ Salon was, once again, an exciting mix of extraordinary insights, wise words and frivolity. The opening question brought about an hilarious range of responses.

You are lost on a Desert Island with no IT or means of communication. But, thank goodness, you have one treasured item with you. What is it?

The answers include:

the noble – the complete works of Shakespeare,

the sweet – my teddy bear,

the practical – a pillow,

the entertaining – a book of crossword puzzles,

the devoted – my cat.

But all of the above seemed a little modest compared to Sibyl Doris’s choice of Stephen Sondheim and a Grand Piano!!!!!!! Sibyls desert Island disks Thanks to Sibyls Elizabeth, Rita, Viv I, Rosemary, Viv II, Denis, Celia (See Sibyl Cake above) and Carol plus Host Sibyls Doris and Kerry.

Can you guess which generation is Generation Smug?

Sibylesque George Orwell quote When it comes to food we always think we’re smarter than our parents and, as George Orwell noted, wiser than out kids. So which generation is Generation Smug? Yours!!! Sibylesque Milk Carton nutrition 2 photo source: pinterest unattributed

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From here to God-Help-Us ……. XS BAGGAGE

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque airline 2 quote

I met the One. She was at Barcelona Airport and was (was not) checking me in at Iberia Airlines. As I approached the counter early on Sunday afternoon, she took my printed flight details and scoffed ‘ Oh ha…you are way too early. Go away and come back later … and besides, you will be needing to pay 90 euro extra for that second bag.’ After picking myself up off the floor I begged to differ. ‘No, I was told 30 euro extra for the second bag … and that’s what it says on the website.’ ‘No! This is not the website and it is 90 euro. Now go!’

Sibylesque Airline Humour 2 When I returned two hours later, the other One was on check in. He took both bags, processed them through, gave me an aisle seat and said ‘have a good flight.’ I am still wondering – what would have happened to that 90 euro had I handed it over to ‘the One.’  Dare I say she would have been having a night out on the town in Barcelona, courtesy of my second bag.

I met the One. She was at Barcelona Airport and was (was not) checking me in at Iberia Airlines. As I approached the counter early on Sunday afternoon, she took my printed flight details and scoffed ‘ Oh ha…you are way too early. Go away and come back later … and besides, you will be needing to pay 90 euro extra for that second bag.’ After picking myself up off the floor I begged to differ. ‘No, I was told 30 euro extra for the second bag … and that’s what it says on the website.’ ‘No! This is not the website and it is 90 euro. Now go!’ When I returned two hours later, the other One was on check in. He took both bags, processed them through, gave me an aisle seat and said ‘have a good flight.’ I am still wondering – what would have happened to that 90 euro had I handed it over to ‘the One.’  Dare I say she would have been having a night out on the town in Barcelona, courtesy of my second bag.

Travel Tales Penny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. She is currently consulting as an Early Childhood specialist in New York. She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!

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Image source: airline ruleofthree Tumblr

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Erica Jong: Fear of Landing

 

by Renata Singer

Quote Erica Jong

Erica Jong has made it a trifecta.

There was Fear of Flying in 1973. Remember the zipless fuck, a phrase that liberated many young women from the idea that sex had to be tied to a meaningful RELATIONSHIP. Everyone I knew read Fear of Flying.   It was well written, laugh out loud funny and HOT. What’s not to like?

Sibylesque Strong Wind

Fear of Fifty, a memoir, came out in 1994. I didn’t read it because of the lukewarm reviews and not being that interested in Erica Jong’s life. I remember interviews where Jong talked about turning 50 and no longer “feeling a babe” and how men’s eyes didn’t swivel her way any more when she entered the room. The mean-spirited Renata thought, “well darls, join the club.”

Hot off the press is Jong’s Fear of Dying – a novel about an aging actress – she’s 60 – Vanessa Wonderman, with dying parents, a husband who can’t get an erection and a daughter about to have her first baby. Vanessa goes to the website zipless.com looking for sexual partners.

In an interview with Linda Wertheimer on NPR, Jong says she wanted to write about sex and old age. “I thought it was essential to do it, because sex follows us throughout our lives. The need for touch, the need for connection, that never goes away. But the forms of it change. As people age, touch is more important, erections are less important. And I think somebody needs to write about that.”

Jong has not lost her sense of mission and that’s a good thing. But what’s the next title going to be: Fear of Purgatory?

……………………………………………………………………………………. Renata SingerRenata Singer is a writer, community activist and educator who divides her time between Melbourne and New York. She co-founded Fitted for Work after working with Bottomless Closet in New York. Among Renata’s publications are The Front of the Family, True Stories from the Land of Divorce and Goodbye and Hello. Her most recent book “Older and Bolder” is reviewed on this blog here.

Photo Source: pinterest, MUP Website.

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Travel Tales: From Here to God-Help-Us

by Penny Cook

Travel Tales

I’m Barcelona bound and after 24 hour very long hours on planes, here are some observations. I wonder why they give you so much food so often? In that 24 hours I was served 4 main meals (3 course) and 2 snacks. I was very impressed with the gay boys next to me who managed to eat everything and keep their trays in tact with all the little containers lined up and with their matching lids. I could barely cope, as I had to explore each one before deciding where to start. They knew what to do … scan, open one, eat it all, close it, and proceed with precision. The flight attendant could barely remove my tray as it was in such disarray. Glad there was no turbulence at that point.

So…here I am in lovely Barcelona. Jet lagged and a little lost. It is a part of the human condition that when giving directions, we all use the universal non specific language of ‘over there’, ‘turn here’, ‘not far’ ,’can’t miss it’, ‘it’s on your left’, ‘it’s on my right’, ‘just a bit’…..fascinating and fairly unhelpful in a foreign city.

Nevertheless, I found a local tapas bar. No little packages. No cold, soggy sandwiches. No gluggy pasta in a non-descript sauce. Bliss. I’ve arrived.

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Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. She is currently consulting as an Early Childhood specialist in New York. She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!

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Image source: pinterest

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