Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Is Christine Bongers dead?

Lordy me, I hope not. As my dear cousin pointed out, you wouldn’t want to find out you’d carked it from the internet.

I can always tell when some teacher, somewhere, forces her kids to do an assignment on one of my books.

My blog stats start showing an upsurge of interest in the darnedest of things.

Like my age…my date of birth…what hospital I was born in…(I know, I know, why would anyone want to know that??)

But just for the record, it was Biloela Hospital, OK?

I clocked in at seven-and-a-half pounds with a lovely thatch of dark hair on a hot night in late February, and spent the 1960s proving that Biloela was no backwater when it came to fashion.

And for all those students incessantly googling my date of birth, allow me to put you out of your misery.

I am exactly the same age as my protagonist Cecilia Maria in Dust.

If you read the book, you should be able to figure it out. ๐Ÿ˜‰


I thought I was alone. The only person who still punctuates text messages.

But no, according to the Urban Dictionary, I am a fully classified species: a Grammar Nazi.

It started innocently enough.

Winning the Jambin State School spelling bee…Earning those five easy marks in every assignment for correct spelling and grammar in high school…

Learning the hard way as a journalist that errors in sentence construction and tense would be circled in shameful red and flung back at me with re-write scrawled across the offending copy.

I finally realised that I had graduated from being a fully paid-up member of the Spelling Police to a complete Grammar Nazi when I found myself googling the correct use of the hyphen with compound verbs and adverbs.

My only saving grace is that I don’t correct others….unless, of course, they ask for it. And then I do try to be nice, always saying softly, ‘There, their, they’re.’

Boo me now – but I have never been a dog person.

I know they’re cute, they’re loyal and they love unconditionally. But they also stink, they’re needy, they have fleas.

They have some seriously distasteful licking and eating habits, and lordy lordy, don’t get me started on their by-products. The very thought of picking up a hot steaming pile of doggy-do has always left me cold. Sweaty, clammy, full-body-shuddery, cold.

For years I resisted our children’s pleas for a dog. My excuse was always the same: my dance card was full.

I didn’t have a spare hour in my day to walk/worm/wash/wipe up after a dog. Besides, the older two already had a dog at their mum’s; the younger two would just have to make do with the cat.

I held firm until the night our eleven year old woke to find a prowler standing over her bed. The next day, I started the search for a dog.

What we needed was obvious. Something that would defend our children with its life. Something that would strike fear into the heart of a would-be home invader. Something that would bark like a slavering hound from hell the moment any evil doer set foot on our property.

What we got was this…

Something so fearsome we named him Huggy.

Something so intelligent that friends and family started referring to him as the Derek Zoolander of beagles – really, really, really good looking….but not very bright.

Something so brave he lives in fear of the cat.

Something that likes to roll in dead cockroaches.

Something that smells so bad (even for a dog), that I eventually asked the vet if there was something wrong with him. (Delicacy prevents me from going into his anal gland problem, but considering that his Daddy is a gastroenterologist, he is one faulty unit).

Despite his flaws, I have succumbed. He sleeps on the front verandah and his ballsy baritone bark can be heard in Biloela if anyone dares to open the front gate.

To thank him for his night time vigilance, I pick up his poos without complaint and let him sleep on my bed during the day (but only on Daddy’s side, because they both tend to shed).

I am now a dog tragic. My conversion is complete. I feel sorry for my former dogless self.

I used to hate needy; now I am needy.

I need someone in my life who greets each and every day with unbridled enthusiasm. Who eats any old crap I care to dish up – and loves it. Who pushes me out of the way to clean up the cat vomit. Who loves my kids just as much I do.

Happy birthday Huggy.

We love you. You’re a good dog, a very good dog, oh yes you are!

It’s been a crazy summer. Jam-packed with more than some koalas could bear.

Rain. Snow. Heat wave. More rain.

Thirty-eight Bonger-Dongers for a Beach Christmas, dwindling to a mere eleven for New Year.ย  Followed by ten days in Japan, then home again, home again, jiggety-jig, for some quality time in bed with a nasty airline-induced flu.

There are still nine of us bunking together this week. Trying to figure out if the newest member of the clan will recognise us on skype when he goes home to the Can (my brother’s pithy codename for our national capital).

Builders are in my back yard, digging potholes in the rain. Builders are up the coast, waiting for a break in the weather to replace a leaking roof and water-damaged ceilings.

Our baby has started high school. Our almost-twenty-year-old has moved back in. Our fourteen-year-old is sleeping on whatever floor she can find.

It’s chaos, but I find myself oddly happy. Fortified and refreshed. Ready for the new year and all of its challenges.

I’m lucky, my family keeps me grounded. (But sending them all back to work and school gives me wings.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

There have been a few changes over the past seventeen years.

Someone (not him) has gained a few kilos. Someone (not me) has lost a bit of hair.

He still goes on his surf trips. Because old surfers never die, they just stand up and paddle.

I still don’t understand why people wonder at me letting him go. Why it should be up to me to “let” him do what he loves.

He still tucks me in when he sneaks out at sparrow fart. So quiet he doesn’t even wake the beagle.

He still holds my hand when we walk on the beach.

He still tells me I’m beautiful when I have morning breath and chook’s nest hair.

I’m still grateful we found each other, ten years after we first met…

Seventeen years married, and still counting.

Sam Stosur’s win in the US Open has prompted my own review of great sporting moments in history.

2005: The cartwheeling blonde goalie in Under Six soccer who caught her ankle in the goal net and hung upside down like a fly in a web while the opposition scored. Parents rushed in from sidelines,ย  unhooked her and popped her back onto her feet – just in time for child to calmly re-braid hair while the mop-headed opposition scored for the second time in two minutes.

2007: The relief, oh lordy, lordy. the relief, after an agonising season of three children losing every single game, every single weekend, in three separate sports, for what seemed an eternity…Season finally redeemed when our youngest’s team scored their first goal EVER in the penultimate game of the season.

2009: Youngest redefines “fun” after being peppered in the goal by scary Under 10 team rumoured to train twice a week (in the off season). Valiantly stopped twenty goals, but couldn’t stop that 18-nil loss. Ran off after game shouting ‘Man, that was FUN!’

2011: Newmarket Soccer Club Fourth Division U13 team – undefeated for the season, grand final winners. Our child is the one with the second biggest grin (the biggest belonged to the dodgy mum with the camera.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

What is it about the power of three?

ABC

123

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub
Hewie, Dewie and Louie
The three little pigs
The Three Musketeers

And now, Henry Hoey Hobson.

Three ordinary little words that, slung together, have somehow made a whole, greater than the sum of its parts.

Twelve months after being launched into the world, Henry Hoey Hobson hasย  made his third literary shortlist.

I will be forever grateful to the good folk in at the Children’s Book Council of Australia and the WA Premier’s Book Awards, but it was today’s announcement by the Queensland Premierโ€™s Literary Awards that made me cry.

Queensland is my home state. As an unpublished author, I have sent unpublishable manuscripts into the Qld Premier’s Literary Awards and dreamed impossible dreams – one of which, today, actually came true.

In the spirit of Henry Hoey Hobson and the Rule of Three (whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it positive or negative, will be returned three-fold), I’d like to celebrate all writers who face the blank page and aren’t cowed by it with this wonderful post by the author of Six Impossible Things, Fiona Wood.

Please click here – and Congratulations for turning up at the page.

The first time I googled myself (oh, go on, we all do it, just admit it and move on), I discovered Chris Bongers, the drummer (and seriously, how good is that name for a drummer?)

I also discovered a nineteen year old wannabe model from California, but unfortunately she wasn’t me either.

Even more unfortunately, the real me rated only two entries: a seminar paper on dispute resolution dating back to the nineties, and a current tuckshop roster for my kids’ primary school.

Hoo boy.

I had my first novel Dust coming out in a matter of months, and I was a non-event, nonpareil, in the blogosphere. Fortunately, the all-knowing, all-wise Queensland Writers Centre came to my rescue with a handy little workshop on developing an online presence.

Two-and-a-half years later, I have cluttered the blogosphere so efficiently that I can’t even find that damn tuckshop roster.

So, sorry about that no-show last term, ladies. Just letting you know that I’m good for the 16th. But wait, isn’t that the day of the sports carnival? Guess tuckshop’s been cancelled, huh? Might schedule some special time with my poor neglected blog instead (heh heh). ๐Ÿ˜‰

Libraries

1. have more cardholders than Visa

2. more outlets than McDonalds and

3. move more items than FedEx.

4. In 48 BC, Julius Ceasar accidentally burnt down the greatest library in the ancient world, the Royal Library of Alexandria, when he set fire to his own ships in a battle. The resultant firestorm swept from the docks to the Royal Library destroying its priceless 400,000 scrolls. Cleopatra by all accounts, was not amused.

5. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the largest library in the world is the US Library of Congress with an estimated 30 million books.

6. The National Library of Australia holds over 2.7 million books including the largest collection of Australian printed material in the world.

7. Giacomo Casanova, legendary lover and author, spent the latter part of his life as a librarian. Employed to catalogue Count Waldstein of Bohemia’s collection, he apparently did nothing but write books and attend to his own correspondence (bad librarian, very bad librarian).

8. The Guinness Book of Records holds the record for the book most often stolen from public libraries.

9. The names of the two stone lions in front of the New York Public library are Patience and Fortitude.

10. It’s Library Week (in Australia at any rate), so get thee to a bibliotheca to celebrate. ๐Ÿ™‚

When life comes full circle, it does love to bite you on the bum.

Once I was the naughty girl up the back of the bus, now for my sins, I’m the bus driver.

I recently spent six days ferrying a busload of excited thirteen year old girls around Canberra for Waterpolo Club Nationals.

My daughter says it was the best week of her life. I say it’s great material for a novel.

I couldn’t swim 50m without a winch and a cable, and my only trophy in high school was for debating, but even I couldn’t help being drawn into the high drama that played itself out, in and out of the water.

Ghastly coaches channeling Damir Dokic, losing to inspirational coaches (like ours) who carried their charges’ best interests in their hearts.

Parents who couldn’t bear to watch pacing the walkways, while others screamed themselves hoarse from the bleachers.

Boys teams boot-stomping the metal grandstands, cheering the girls on to victory. Bubbly teenagers thrilled to be competing at their first Nationals, cartwheeling past calm and confident Olympians-in-waiting.

And then there was the biggest cliche of them all – the worst sport of the comp.

She of the long, blonde hair, and the speed and ruthlessness of a shark. Good enough to be noticed in the preliminary games, bad enough to be excluded from her final game in the play-offs after fouling one time too many.

Well team, what goes round, comes round.

She glowered from the sidelines as a five-all draw went to extra-time, then lost it big time when the golden goal went to Queensland…

I consider myself a wordsmith, but I can’t remember the last time I heard vocabulary like that from a fourteen year old.

She refused to shake hands with the winning team as they filed past the pool, and stormed off, trailing invective in her wake.

It was so out of keeping with the spirit of the week that our girls are still talking about it.

For five nights they had slept like puppies, piled on top of each other, then bounded through each day, leap-frogging every pole at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Best week of their lives, they say.

I say true character is revealed under pressure – in fiction, as in life.

A new story is bubbling its way to the surface – watch this space. ๐Ÿ˜‰