Looking for the things in life that make us happy



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Letterboxes- every household has one – but have you noticed the variety of letterboxes – there are basic ones, sometimes just a rough wooden box or a tin can with perhaps a lid, or fancy ones with all manner of designs.  Sometimes they reflect the type of house they belong to and can be very posh looking – but after all they are just a receptacle for postal items; sometimes not an adequate size to keep the mail tidy.  Now and then a careless Postie won’t put them in the letterbox correctly and often mail can end up in the wrong box or on the ground.  However, large or small, they are an integral part of our daily lives but usually don’t warrant much more than a cursory glance, especially if found to be empty.  Some people can be quite disappointed if on opening their letterbox they find nothing inside – and for some people even a window envelope would be a welcome distraction to an otherwise lonely person.

In times past, children could be seen waiting by their letterbox, no matter how grand or ordinary, waiting for the Postman to deliver some expected or hoped for parcel or a card with perhaps a gift of money inside for a birthday or Christmas.  Sometimes it could be a present coming from grandparents from a long way away or maybe from just around the corner.  On the other hand, it could be a young teenager waiting for a letter or a Valentine’s card from a special boyfriend or girlfriend or during wartime it could be a long awaited letter from a loved one serving in the Forces overseas.

Letterboxes are a part of our lives that we don’t take a lot of notice of especially these days with emails and text messages.  If letterboxes could talk I’m sure they would be unhappy with the boring mail that arrives these days, sometimes infrequently, with mostly only window envelopes that usually signify unwelcome bills or perhaps brightly coloured junk mail.  I’m sure letterboxes would look forward to having coloured catalogues being stuffed into them but what if their owners had a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign on the front of them?  How sad and depressed the letterboxes would be but how excited if a greeting card or a ‘snail mail’ letter was slipped into them.

Some letterboxes have led a more exciting existence; many years ago in the good old days (some would say bad old days) before fire-crackers were banned, my in-laws lived in the main street of their country town and every year their letterbox was blown up!  So the cheapest letterbox available was purchased in readiness for the next cracker night.  At one time, most likely these same young hooligans would turn on the garden tap full bore which was situated next to the letterbox at the front fence.  My father-in-law covered the tap with grease and that problem never happened again.

Quite a few years ago, we were having a family dinner outside at the back of our house in Brisbane when I heard a bang.  No-one else appeared to have noticed and continued eating and talking.  After a short time I thought I’d check it out as we lived in a cul-de- sac and didn’t get much traffic or traffic noise.  To my surprise I found our daughter’s boyfriend’s nice shiny red Alfa Romeo had slipped its handbrake and rolled down our relatively steep driveway and had run into our substantial brick letterbox.  We thought it was substantial but obviously was hollow in the middle – it was quite a smart looking letterbox with a flower box built on one side.  Bricks were strewn across the lawn and our letterbox was just a jumble of bricks.  It took some time to find someone who would rebuild it for us but this time it really was substantial and I think anything that ran into it would come off second best.

I’ve kept the best letterbox story till last.  I’m sure there are many more letterbox stories out there but really, such stories could be placed in the rather mundane box of stories to be told.  This story, I think, is wonderful.  Another family living on a main road in that same country town where my in-laws lived was suffering a lot of damage to their letterbox by vandals or it was stolen and constantly needed to be replaced.  Eventually the owner decided the only course of action apart from continually replacing it was to unbolt the letterbox in the evening and then re-attach it the next morning.  Apparently it was allowed to be left in place at weekends, most likely because there were more people passing by.  After continuing with this unusual situation for about 5 years, he has decided to build a substantial and indestructible letterbox.  His sister has named it the ‘Taj Mahal’.

I love the story of bringing the letterbox inside each night and can imagine it being put in a special place, perhaps in the living room with the family and listening to their conversations which no doubt would be much more interesting than having boring envelopes put inside ‘him’.  In the cold weather, perhaps he is tucked up in a blanket next to the fire instead of being outside in the cold and rain and waiting to be kidnapped or worse.  Perhaps a bedtime story about the glory days of interesting mail and letters being delivered and being commiserated with about the not so interesting mail being left for ‘him’ to care for until being relieved of his delivery.

Letterboxes scarcely warrant more than a cursory glance unless the Postie has deposited an article inside but is then quickly forgotten until the next delivery is due.  Large or small, basic or attractive, perhaps we should spare a thought now and then to this lonely box waiting expectantly at the front gate for someone to come along and pay it some attention.



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“Something Nothing” and/or musings about why people blog.

“SOMETHING NOTHING”  and/or musings about why people blog.

What is a Blog?  I used to wonder what it was but didn’t explore the meaning of this strange word until I gradually came to realize it is a vehicle one can use to write about anything and everything that takes a writer’s interest.  Something similar to a “Dear Diary” or Journal.  It seems that this is so for some but it is also used, obviously, for people to write about their opinions on current events and/or giving vent to their innermost thoughts on a range of topics.  Having only fairly recently begun writing, I have only written about things I know: stories I have written for my grandchildren, stories about my childhood and also events that have occurred in the area in which I live and obviously my life events.

It came to me that perhaps I may have exhausted some of those avenues and that it was time to write about other things besides my life experiences but when it comes to it, the big question is what to write about?  I only know best what is happening in my own and my family’s lives although unless I am physically there, how can I write about others, family or not?  I guess that is where fiction comes into play, imagining what may have happened in any given circumstance and thereby weaving an imaginary story about actual events.  I haven’t explored that avenue thus far apart from my children’s stories.

For instance; I have 3 children who are married and have their own children and there has to be interesting events in their lives about which I could weave stories.  My eldest child and her husband have a 7 day Convenience Store, have 3 children of their own and lead very busy lives, ensuring the children don’t miss out on opportunities such as sport in which both boys excel.  There must be stories there that I could weave a story around and come to think of it, I have, with my children’s stories for instance and an article that was actually published.  My son and his second wife have 3 children between them and again when think about it, I have written a story or two about them (children).  They have just sold their home, moved into a rental and have bought another home.  Fodder there for a story – perhaps.

My younger son and his daughter visited us today for lunch – his wife was at a conference and couldn’t come.  Imagine my surprise to find that my granddaughter – 17 and about to finish Year 12 – can draw and paint and sew.  I knew that she was interested in sewing and that she had bought herself a sewing machine which stays at her mother’s place.  I gave her my sewing machine today which will stay at her dad’s home – I can’t use it anymore for one reason or another.  She likes to buy clothes from Op shops that she re-models for herself and her friends.  I gave her some of my old clothes and it will be interesting to see what she does with them.  One of my brothers is an extremely talented artist/craftsman and another brother’s daughter is an Artist (she writes too) and is soon to have an Exhibition of her art in Canberra – not her first exhibition I might add.

I like to think that the art/craft talent we share (some are better than others) comes from the McMillan clan- and who is to say it does not?  No doubt there are others in our extended family that also has artistic talents.  I haven’t heard of anyone but that doesn’t mean it isn’t so just because I don’t know about it.  No doubt there are many things I don’t know about members of my extended family and I’m thinking about the younger members of my family in particular.  I would love to know more about them but the tyranny of distance has always been my enemy and it’s very easy to become immersed in your own family and what they are involved in to the exclusion of other family members.  On the other hand it’s possible that some of the McKenzie’s also have artistic talents but unfortunately Doug has no contact with his extended family – another example of the tyranny of distance and perhaps being content with the lack of contact on our part.

I think my siblings and I are closer now than we ever were in earlier years but I have few memories of being close with our cousins when we were growing up in Melbourne.  When our family moved from Melbourne to Portland in Western Victoria when I was aged 16, any contact we had with aunts, uncles and cousins was minimal and in most cases non-existent.   This is such a shame but this situation has continued to be the case in the following generations as far as we are concerned.  Our children have missed out on a lot by not having a relationship with their cousins, aunts, uncles etc.  Too late for us now but hopefully our children will not allow too much distance to develop between their kids and their cousins.

Social media has allowed some contact recently with some of my younger relatives albeit in a small way but nevertheless, any contact is better than none, and it gives me a good feeling. 

When I have the urge to write something, I find it interesting to have a starting point and to just let the words flow and see where you end up.  So, with that not so attractive word – Blog – I ended with nearly 1,000 words of ‘something nothing’ – a Pidgin English expression that has carried over from the short time we spent in PNG in the 70’s.

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