Monday, August 6, 2012


Greetings from Brisbane, capital of the tropical state of Queensland, aka The Sunshine State.
This was our car over the weekend, totally encased in a thick layer of ice!
Yes, we are having the Winter of all Winters around here...

Here is a close-up of the grass on our normally green front garden.
White with frosty icicles!

It has been -1 deg for the last four mornings, and the same predicted tomorrow.  Not so cold if you live in, say, Canada.
But very cold in a house built for tropical heatwaves.

Thank goodness for warm sheets, doonas, and flannelette!

I suppose this grass will be all brown and dead by weeks end.

We had an unusual family gathering at the Red Cardinal nest this weekend.
Regular readers might remember that I have been involved in sorting out my parents Old Family Home.
My father, at 91, is now happily ensconced in a nursing home and considers his room to be the best one in the entire complex.  He is content to live with a few favourite books and photos, a bookcase from his old home, and the little ornaments he is adding at an alarming rate.

A few weeks back we six of his children amicably divided up the furniture in the house - a piano here, a table or china cabinet there, and it was done.
Since then large boxes of ornaments, linen, glassware, souvenirs, and family history and memorabilia have made their way to our place.

Yesterday we had a gathering to sort, discard, or find new homes for everything.  It was a mammoth task, but fulfilling at the same time.

None of us have ever seen these medals which were hidden away with many other artefacts.
They are from World War 1 and are the service medals of my grandfather (Dad's father) who served in Flanders with the AIF.

With the medals were found his diary written in the trenches in ink!
It goes on for many pages, telling of his war experiences.
There is also a large bundle of postcards from various places in Flanders, and in Paris, which he appears to have bought as souvenirs, and a few letters and cards he received at the front.
Luckily my grandfather survived the war to return to Australia with my grandmother who he met and married in London after the war.
He certainly did not return empty-handed!

We enjoyed a barbeque lunch and an afternoon of looking through all this family history.  Everyone went home with something they liked, and my car is packed with leftovers to go to charity.

It set me to wondering: Do other families do this?
We have tried very hard to be fair to all, and hopefully we have succeeded.
My parents were great travellers, involved in many community interests, great collectors, and good at documenting what they did.
But they never let anything go,
which has meant an enormous task in sorting, deciding, disposing or preserving the substance of their lives.

I would love to hear of others experiences.

Have a good week, everybody ... xx


  1. I dread that sorting!!!

    Do you live in the granite belt?? x

    1. He he - you would think so! Granite belt of Brisbane I suppose - the valley beyond Kenmore :)

  2. It seems that everyone is having extreme unusual weather nowadays ! As for sorting prized possessions of family members, my childhood memories tell me that it doesn't always go as smoothly as yours. Extraordinary you finding these medals and souvenirs ; my grandfather was in WWII and all I have left is a photo of him when he was a prisoner in Germany ; he died very young and his things got lost. Try to keep warm !xxx

    1. Extreme weather indeed SB! I am happy the sorting has gone so well - we were anxious that there might be dissention, but so far so good. Shivering a bit now - time to crawl under the doona! xxx

  3. Hi Patricia, how remarkable that you have never laid eyes on the medals before the clean out.
    My mum as you know lives in a care centre and the trail to there has involved her moving three times since dad passed away which means I've needed to help her sort through a lifetime of precious items. Plus my husband helped his mother declutter in a couple of big house moves so yes we've been through the downsizing trauma with parents.
    I must say the experiences have left us with a deep aversion to hoarding anything in our own home!
    Just this week I imagined how cold it must be out at our old digs on acreage. I've gotten a bit soft since moving off the land!

    1. Hi Annie, the only reason we can think of why the medals were never shown, is that Dad was a pacifist as a result of his father's horrific experiences. Too early in the century to be a source of pride I think the war was regarded as a terrible trauma best buried in the past and not discussed.
      Like you, we have now developed an aversion to hoarding. Three years ago we went through the same thing with my mother-in-laws possessions, and as you say, doing it a couple of times over cures you of doing that to your own children!
      I live in hope that we may become the first suburb in Brisbane to ever have snow on the ground - wouldn't that be fun :))

  4. Luckily, my mother had given away lot of her stuff during the years. Luckily we found someone, who bought about everything, sadly the photographs are still in suitcases. I only have 1-3 articles from my childhood home ( I´m the only child ).
    Sadly, the MIL was a hoarder. Her apartment is waiting to be cleared. Luckily my hb has a brother, and there are some grandchildren.
    Might it sound rude, when I say that I HATE STUFF.
    I declutter all the time.

    1. Not rude, Mette, I have found it overwhelming at times getting rid of many, many loads of STUFF from the house. Only about 3% is special, the rest just junk and rubbish, really. I declutter at every opportunity, too. It is probably a bit early days to do the MIL apartment. Better when everyone is not in the stage of early grief, I believe. xx

  5. It certainly looks nippy in Brisbane. What a fascinating time you all must have had delving into the past. My parents were not hoarders, they died when I was relatively young and my sister still lives in our family home.

    1. Still nippy in Bris, Sulky! Maybe when your sister moves on, that will be the time of interesting discoveries!

  6. So sorry to hear you are cold, but the frost shouldn't kill the grass, should it? unless of shock! Our grass gets regularly frozen, as you can imagine, and bounces back just fine.

    Those medals and the diary are an amazing treasure. Is there a university history department or museum that would be interested? I imagine diaries are like gold dust.

    My parents have been quite good at decluttering, except for a few real treasures, they are travelling light. This is good in many ways, but means there will never be any wonderful discoveries like this. xxx

    1. I'll tell the grass to be British about this!
      It occurred to me also that the diary is of museum quality and interest but for the moment we are keeping it in a special cupboard along with other articles of similar value and interest. After Dad passes we will reconsider. I wish my parents had been declutterers and only kept the nice and special things. It has been a long process but as you say, wonderful discoveries at the end when you get to the bottom of it. The medals and other bits were hidden behind 50 years of accounts and tax records from businesses!!! xxx

  7. Could you channel some cold weather my way please, if just for a day? :-) so very interesting - the finds. I would frame the medals for display and the diary and postcards are definitely of historical interest to war historical groups. It seems to me that people in the past had problems speaking of events that had been painful to them. My in-laws lived through WWII in Germany--bombings, food shortages, death all around- and never spoke of experience unless prodded, and even then with much hesitation. My 91 year old mom still lives in her home; has never parted with anything and my sis and I are already dreading the day we have to confront the task. Stay warm!!

    1. Doing best to channel the cold over to you, Sanda. Enough is enough of this frosty stuff! Great idea to frame the medals, and I'll pass that one on to the team. We think war museums or historical groups would love the collection, but while Dad is alive at least, we will hold them in our family. Your in-laws have lived through very bad times, and perhaps not surprising when people want to put it behind and not speak of it. Your Mum is the same age as my Dad, and similarly minded it appears. You will have fun with this sorting task one day! It has taken us months of preparation to get to where we are now. xx

  8. My husband is an only child and we have been through sorting out both of his late parents' things. (They were divorced before he turned 3.) Luckily we had enough space and could take our time - and it was very healing for him. I don't agree that he would have been happier if his parents had disposed of their things before they died. It might have been quicker, but the discovery of certain items made his life so much better.