Pinching Myself On The First Of The Month

We have a saying in Australia on the first of each month – A pinch and a punch for the first of the month. I don’t know the origin of the saying but I remember being covered in bruises whenever the first of the month fell on a school day. Allison Halloran, a normally quiet girl whose father was a butcher, took great delight in pinching everyone on the first day of the month. To pieces.

I mention that her father was a butcher because her fingers looked like sausages – chunky pork sausages. And if you think that sausagey-looking fingers would be incapable of pinching you would be wrong. Those fingers were deadlier than Louise Ferguson’s who had skinny little mean-looking fingers. Her fingers were so nasty and so adept at pinching that she was renamed Fingers Ferguson. Sausages Halloran gave her a run for her money, however. Between the two of them and the random people who threw a punch or two there was nowhere to hide.

I was pinching myself in a different way today; that way when you are trying to determine if something good is actually real.

I went up to the shops today with my friend, Gina. I was hobbling along on my crutches and you won’t believe it but all these people offered their help. My shopping was carried to the car. I was given a seat in the bank.

The newsagent picked me out some cards and newspapers and put them in a cloth bag so I could easily carry them. I was blown away by the acts of kindness. Sometimes people can be so curt, so dismissive that it almost doesn’t seem real when all you can see is kindness. But it’s there. It’s still there.

The highlight of the day was meeting Ruby. She was 101 years old. One hundred and one. She didn’t look it – I thought she was in her seventies. She was sprightly, full of verve and life and wearing a full face of make-up.

She was very interested in my crutches, telling me her doctor was always on at her to get a pair or a walking stick due to her bad hip; but she refused, saying a walking stick would make her look old. She was a true character.

The photo above is of a bottlebrush tree. Ruby told me when she was a kid they couldn’t afford tinsel at Christmas so she and her sister used to decorate the house with bits of bottlebrush instead. They even put it through the Christmas tree. What she and her sister didn’t realise was that the rainbow lorikeets who frequented her garden loved munching on the bottlebrush. She and her sister went to school, leaving the window to the living room full of bottlebrush open. When they got home the living room was not just full of bottlebrush – it was also full of a family of rainbow lorikeets munching away. It took them hours to get the lorikeets out into the garden and even then one of them refused to budge and sat on top of the Christmas tree for three days.

It was a charming, funny tale, just like its teller. I could have listened to Ruby for hours. It is always a gift to meet people like her so unexpectedly. It is always a joy. I am still pinching myself thinking about the acts of kindness I encountered today. And there isn’t a bruise in sight.

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42 thoughts on “Pinching Myself On The First Of The Month

  1. I want to meet Ruby, she sounds like a doll. Here’s hoping I can be just like her some day, over a hundred and sharp as a tack.

    Thanks for sharing her with us. 🙂

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  2. Hi Selma,
    It’s nice to know that there are still kind people in the world that will lend a hand to someone that needs it.
    Ruby does sound like a character, 101 that is just so great, and I loved her story, you could just picture that happening. 😀

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    1. It is nice to know, isn’t it Mags? You don’t see kind acts as much as you used to. I try and encourage my son to do it. The other day he was late coming home from school and I was getting a bit worried. Turns out he had been helping a lady down the road carry her shopping into the house because she has a very large flight of stairs. She didn’t know him but her neighbour did and I got a call later thanking me for his kindness. I was very pleased. It was just a small thing but it made a huge difference to her.

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  3. Glad that we don’t have the pinching tradition here or I would have been battered as a kiddo.

    Sounds like fun talking with Ruby. Everyone has interesting memories to share–that is if I am smart enough to listen.

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    1. That pinching thing was a nightmare, Slamdunk. I felt like wearing a suit of armor to school. Haha.

      You are so right – everyone has interesting memories. I love hearing people’s stories!

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    1. Isn’t it cute about the rainbow lorikeets, slpmartin? I can see them doing that – they are very cheeky. It must have been very tricky trying to get them outside again!

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  4. What a lovely image of the room full of rainbow lorikeets! Those types of meetings really are a gift.
    I’m feeling bad for you and your crutches though. I once had to use crutches and with my fluffy (not fat) body and weak useless arms I nearly died.

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    1. They truly are a gift, Lauri.

      The crutches aren’t too bad. I’m just using one at the moment when my leg gets tired but I can now walk normally again – a little slower than I used to – but apparently the speed will pick up in the next week or so. I am so pleased I haven’t lost any mobility. I have been incredibly fortunate!

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    1. Some of the native Aussie flora really is lovely, Tumblewords. We tend to get a lot of reds, oranges and yellows. However I saw a native tree with beautiful deep pink flowers the other day. I’ll try and get a photo of it. It was gorgeous.

      What a lovely thing to say. If I even draw out a smidgeon of the good in others then i feel life is worth living. You have made me smile by saying that!

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  5. That pinching and punching on the first of the month is a new one on me! Closest thing to that I remember was the good old American tradition of spanking one on his or her birthday. Seems we will use any excuse to get away with poking, prodding, or putting our hands on someone in some fashion. Such quaint traditions must have been installed as a “free” day when we can all give our aggressive or base instincts their head.

    And that bird provided a new twist on “a partridge in a pear tree!”

    Sorry to hear about the crutches…here’s hoping you are back to your normal rambunctious self soon!

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    1. I haven’t heard of the spanking one, Timoteo. Thank goodness the Aussies don’t know about that – we’d all be bruised from head to toe 😯

      Oh absolutely – a lorikeet in a fir tree. Hahaha.

      The crutches aren’t too bad. You can get a bit of speed up once you master the technique. What an honour to be called ‘rambunctious’ – it is one of my favourite words. It sounds very grand, doesn’t it ?

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  6. Doesn’t want to look old – hahahaha – what a great attitude 🙂 I love the story of the rainbow lorikeets, and it doesn’t surprise me that one wanted to stay for three days (when they know they are on a good thing!). There is not much prettier than a bottlebrush bloom – they would make a great Chrissy deco.

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    1. I loved that bit too, Gabe. She didn’t want to look old and she was 101. She was such a darling. I would have loved to talk to her for longer. I think I saw something on TV about people who’d decorated their houses with Aussie flora. They looked really good. Those deep reds are very Christmassy!

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  7. love the Rubys of this world – they make up for the Allison Hallorans (there’s always one, isn’t there? We had one who loved standing on the back of people’s heels as they were walking in front of her – utterly infuriating!)

    A thoroughly enjoyable read to start my day – thanks, Selma! I

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    1. I hated that standing on the back of people’s heels thing, Bluebee. Why do people do that? I often wonder what kinds of adults those kids became. Are they the person in the office who always borrows your pen and stapler and then loses it? Or are they the neighbour who puts plastic bags in your paper recycling bin so the Council won’t pick it up? It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were…..

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  8. i try to remember to practice a “1st 3 days of the month’ routine i learned once long ago when i was living in a zendo, it was this thing where you ‘set the tone’ for the coming days by redoubling your efforts to be at peace. it was speaking in hushed tones, not getting into arguments, not complaining, etc. it was actually hard to do for three days haha! but i dont think you would have any trouble selma, because to me you are in the ‘1st three days’ state of mind all the time! loved this story, it reminds me how magical things really are, thank you! glad you are not letting the injury keep you from getting around.

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    1. I love the idea of the first 3 days of the month, Tipota. And you are very kind to think that of me although I must admit I fail dismally at it most of the time. However, I do think that things like complaining become habitual and it is possible to employ techniques to stop doing it. I am going to try your method because I want to be more proactive in my life instead of reactive. Thanks, Tipota. You’ve given me a lot to think about!

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  9. I like Tipota’s ‘first three days routine’. I have been alone here for a few days, so no pinches or punches, but had I been with family I would have been pummelled! Rainbow lorikeets are aggressive little buggers and I am not surprised to read that one would not leave!

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    1. I like Tipota’s routine too, Stafford. It’s such a good idea. Glad you avoided all that pinching and punching. It’s too much sometimes. Hahaha.

      Rainbow lorikeets are fearless. I’ve seen them take on crows and magpies. I think it’s cause they can fly so fast – as if they’ve got the speediest getaway car in the world!

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  10. Like the note on the walking stick … it’s now become a sign of infirmity, although it’s not all that long ago, everyone carried them. In fact, according to an old RAF Officers’ Handbook I have (dated 1928) it used to be part of our uniform.

    (The sole remnant being the Station Warrant Officer’s cane)

    When hiking in the hills, I’ve found the going much easier with a walking stick … but, they had to re-invent them as ‘trekking poles’ before they really caught on!

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    1. I can definitely see the benefits of a walking stick, Travelrat, especially with hills. I really like them. Some of them are very elegant. I’d like a vintage one with a mother of pearl handle. Then I can pretend to be posh!

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  11. April 1 here in the U.S. is known as April Fool’s Day. Do you celebrate that as well? If so, it must be quite the day in Australia, what with all the punching and pinching plus practical jokes and outright lies thrown in.

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    1. Snowbrush, you have no idea what April 1 was like at school. Nightmare. Some of used to jig the day in order to avoid it. I would rather have got in trouble with Sister Benedicta for missing school than put up with all that pinching, punching and practical joking. It was such a relief when it fell on a weekend.

      So nice of you to stop by. I really like your name!

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  12. Pinching yourself. That’s right, we should do it all the time. To wake up and see what’s actually happening, like wonderful kindness all around. Greetings to you from Mexico.

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    1. You are right, Klaus. Pinching ourselves to acknowledge the good in the day is the way to go. How lovely to be in Mexico. A stunning part of the world. I am already looking forward to your photos!

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  13. Think of all the wonderful things shes seen in the past 100 years! Power to her for keeping her independence and not wanting to appear old lol

    You attract these kind of kindred souls because they sense your inner kindness and it makes you very approachable.

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    1. You are so lovely to say that, Cathy. I do try and be kind most of the time (except when I’m grizzling or grumbling. hahaha)

      I would love to have spoken to Ruby for longer. She woud have seen so many pivotal moments in history. It would have been amazing to get her perspective!

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  14. Hey Selma, so glad you were out and about and came across kind, interesting people. I will be keeping Miss Ruby in my thoughts as I deal with a troubling hip ~ I already have a cool looking walking stick but now I think I’ll just put on a bit more make up and see if that helps! Oh, and I’ll try to maintain a good attitude, also … thanks so this, my friend.

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