Saturday, October 31, 2009

Grandma Ruby

My father spent his life as an only child. His mum, my Grandma (and Ellanor Ruby's part namesake) had a very tough life. To cut a long story short, she spent time in an orphanage after her mum died (pregnant with her TENTH child, but only the 4th one that Grandma ever knew about) and her father couldn't look after the children. She and her younger sister, Joan, raised themselves into young women and had a grand time around wartime London.

When they were evacuated from Folkestone up to Chester, fate created my father (with her boss). Grandma raised Dad on her own for a few years, until she met and married my gorgeous Granddad, who adopted Dad and created a new life with them, for them. Their attempts to conceive were dashed, several times, resulting in awful losses (that we never knew about, as a family, in any great detail until the day when Grandma told me over the phone - I had called to tell her I lost our first baby in 2000 and it all just came spilling out of her).

After that conversation with Grandma, I felt kindred with her. She wasn't an exceptionally loving woman, not demonstrative with it, anyway. Hers was a gruff affection. She was gorgeous with it but it was also really confronting and didn't feel like love - not the love I wanted from her, anyway, as a kid.

Grandma died about 5 months after our phone chat. She died of a heartattack, right in front of me (and Steve). Utterly profound experience, especially given my new connection with her.

Then Dad began to really get into genealogy and researching his Mum's family. He spent his life believing there must be more cousins out there for him to meet (he had one that he knew of, a boy who was, allegedly, killed by a gunman at university/college in the US.... but there is a slight suspicion it may have been suicide). And lo and behold, with the world getting smaller as it is these days, Dad has uncovered countless family. Cousins (the children of his mother's long lost siblings, people she herself didn't know about, some of them half brothers/sisters but a couple of full blood relations).

Grandma's younger brother's name was Frank. He died a relatively young man - if I remember correctly, he returned from the war a very changed man and ended up stumbling, drunk, into the path of a bus in London. A goner, instantly.

This brother, Frank, had children. One of these children, a girl (I can't remember her name!), is one of these long lost cousins of my father's. She sent a few photos recently, from her father's collection. Photos of a young girl they didn't really know anything about, but were told it was someone called Ruby.

We've grown up only ever seeing one photo of Grandma before the age of about 20. No other baby or early childhood photos of her, because she herself didn't have any. Imagine only having one photo of yourself, your whole life, and not even having anybody who knew and raised you around that time to fill in your missing blanks. Anyway, when Dad's cousin sent these photos through, it was unmistakable, undeniable, to us, who it was.

Little Ruby.

I touched up the photo for Dad and the result brought the old picture, taken in the early 20's, to life. I plan to have it and another enlarged for hanging on the wall. There is something so incredibly poignant about seeing this photo, which Grandma may never have seen herself (she and the two brothers she knew of became estranged as they had to fend for themselves, so it was just her and Joan, really). My heart swells with love and sadness and connection when I look at it. She looks so much like "one of us". It is so much easier to see our place - my siblings' places - in the family likeness when I look at this.

And I feel pangs for that little girl in the photo, who had already lost her mum and was about to have the most horrendous sexual abuse inflicted upon her in a foster house where she was supposed to be safe and cared for (it could actually have been going on during the period this photo was taken).

She was a cracking spirit. I never realised just how much until after she died. Ruby is a major part of the book I am writing, for I feel a kinship with her over our losses (albeit for different reasons) and am so very relieved I was able to be that release valve for her to tell at least someone in her family before she died.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Original Secret Keeper

My high school best friend. My girl.

I haven't seen Jayne for over 12 years. We were in different places when we last spoke. My method of dealing with things at that time (aged 22 and about to get married) was to just run away. There was no fight, no falling out. But... one of those inexplicable "things" happened and we parted ways. Perhaps it was that we were at different points of our lives then. Don't know.

For all the years since, Jayne has remained in my heart the "one that I let get away". And with my growing awakenings and the natural maturity that comes with age, I have become more and more adamant that I must, before it's too late, contact her again. But how? I couldn't find her! (She's not on Facebook either)

I tried a number of times, a number of ways, but I had really fallen away from all the crowd of my high school days. I was friends with mostly boys, although had some girl friends. And then there was Jayne. My constant companion from the second year. She, more than anyone, nurtured my healthy respect of The Jackson Five, T-Rex, fed and matched my admiration of Chevy Chase movies, Weird Science, Robert Downey Junior and, of course, was half to blame for the reason why I can recite soooooooooooooo many movie lines (omg... SO many.... none of you really have any idea.... Steve does. And Jayne does, cos she can match me, hands down).

After school, we hit the nightclubs together. I remember falling up her stairs, more than once, at dawn. Her family was mine and I was treated like a sister and daughter there. When my mother kicked me out for no apparent reason when I was 17, it was to Jayne I begged, "Please, can I move in with you guys... I'll pay my way." But it wasn't a feasible arrangement, not on any permanent, formal basis. I practically lived there anyway, but things changed for me during that second last year because of my home life. And then, in our final year, although Jayne and I were tight as we had ever been, along came Steve. She shuffled over to give him room. He fit well. Her parents loved him (everyone did) and we carried on.

I never thought our fun and laughter and deep, deep friendship could ever come undone. But it did. For no real reason.

So when Steve attended his reunion two weeks ago, he sounded out her brother because, while not friends themselves, they had been in the same year (four years ahead of us).

"Ohhhhh, she'd LOVE to hear from her, I'm sure!" Ben had said. "She and Jayne were so close!"

Well. That's all I needed. I had to try. I was desperately worried the response would be less than savoury and I didn't want to really know that Jayne didn't want to speak to me. Not, mind you, that I had any firm reason why she wouldn't want to. But still.... various attempts via the one mutual source had failed to turn up any email address or other way to contact her. So I didn't push and assumed that person had been asked not to pass any details on.

Turns out, a brother is a handy thing for a girl to have sometimes. Ben came up with the goods and gave me Jayne's mobile number. I sent as short an sms as I could (ok, it was 4x longer than your average single text message... but this is me we're talking about here) and threw in a suitably random couple of quotes from movies. Which she got. And replied back to immediately. And wouldn't you know, the same fear (that I wouldn't want to hear from her, after all this time) was in her too. I am even more glad I tried to find her. And strangely, or perhaps not, the same mutual acquaintance seemed to stall her as well - not replying to her request for my contact details.... Curious. But not important anymore.

The relief I have felt today, since hearing from my dearest, dearest friend when we chatted on the phone for two short hours, has been immense. Uplifting. So exciting! She knew nothing about my last 12 years so, of course, there were a few catches of breath and a number of "My poor darling"s from her. She has two daughters herself, a bubba and one little girl about a year younger than the LGBB with a strikingly similar name.

Possibly the best part is, she is this very weekend about to return to this area (to rent) and will only be a mere 20 minutes or so away! They plan to settle not too far from here.

I am full tonight. Full of joy and hope and happiness. Bring on the end of this decade. I have made my goodbyes to it and am ready to move forward. You did all realise that the number 10 (reduced to 1, numerologically) is the begin-again number of Magenta. Didn't you?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A word about watchers of weight

I'll have you know, I do try to watch my carbs and fat intake. Sure, I don't have the derriere yet to prove it (working on that), but I do.

Take this morning - I was in the fridge section at the supermarket, checking the specials on cream cheese. The usual Philly CC wasn't on special but next to it, a known diet/weight loss company brand was on special. Ooooh, goody, 45c off! thought I. A saving is a saving, my mother of Scottish ilk always taught me.

So I checked the label to compare its fat/carb per 100g as I have been long programmed to do (it may be a girl thang, I don't know). And I discovered a most shocking thing.

Not only did the weight loss brand alternative have .1g more carbs per 100g (not huge, granted, and I would've given them that if it had only been the one tiny smidge more than the Philly), it had over 15g of fat to the 100g!! 15! The Philly cream cheese, in comparison, has just 4.7g per 100g (the light version of it, of course).

Now, call me nitpicky, but I just don't think that's cosher. You would expect this other company to have meals and options that are low in fat and/or carbs and to be the better option on the shelves. In many instances, I am sure they are. But I couldn't believe it! And what's more, I had to reeeeally squint to see it. The values label was black (faint and a very small, thin font) against a nice royal blue. Hmmmm. Bit tricky of them for starters. And the label also only highlighted the total sugars, not the fat content at all.

I've learned that if you get something low fat, the carbs (total - not just the saturated fats or sugars making up the carbs) usually skyrocket. If you get something that is low in carbs and reasonable in fat, then you're on a winner. For instance, that Philly CC: 8.4g carbs and 4.7g fat. Ok, so not ideal. But also not outside the realms of consumption if you're trying to watch what you eat.

But 15.3g fat and 8.5g carbs? That's just dubious.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In a beautiful pea green park

We had a special day on Sunday. Steve, the LGBB and I went to celebrate the fourth birthday of one gorgeous Big Miss - a super special friend to Lolly, who includes her name in many requests or guesses of "what we're going to do today."

We headed off to the park for a day of miniature train and pony rides. Lolly headed straight for the swing and wanted to go "higher.... HIGHERRR". Steve hasn't pushed her on the swing since she met Mr Bungy Trampoline and doesn't realise that his daughter has turned into a little daredevil who likes to be pushed so high she can see over the top bar of the swing.

We were treated to a most magnificent cake, one of Alliecat's best creations, surely, and I saw the glint in Steve's little piggy eyes, hankering for more (of the CHILDREN's birthday cake, mind you.... and he scoffed more than one icing covered biscuit AND some fairy bread... he's a bloody little kid still himself... ok, yes, it is kinda cute - if not embarrassing). It was a very delicious cake. A recipe handed down from generation to generation ;P.

The LGBB did what any typical little one does when you ask them to "hold it up for the camera" and presented her very special treat for the morning (IT HAS BUTTERFLIES ON IIIIT!!) and soberly posed with her honeyjoy. Mmmmm, crunchy cornflakey buttery sugar.

The lighting of the candles proved a tricky feat, with blustery winds picking up (wouldn't you know) right when lighter hit wick. It was a moment of pause and holding of breath, until Allie did what any self-respecting, good mummy would do: let the kid "blow out" the candle (which was really just the ignitor flame being held over the candle and releasing the finger that was sparking the flame when the candle was "blown out").

This cake can't show its face on camera.
No, it's really a gallant husband and father trying to shield the wind so that candles may be lit DAMNIT, LIGHT, WHY WON'T YOU LIGHT...

When it came our turn to hop on the train, we were ushered towards the front. Only thing is, our daughter was two carriages back with her little party friends - nothing wrong with that at all, in itself, but it left Steve and I with a romantic carriage for two, sans child, up the front. I felt ridiculous enough, but Steve, all 6'5" of him squished into this tiny train, looked positively hysterical from where I was sitting.

We were ribbed right the way round (it was a 15 minute ride, mind you) by both of the Big Miss' parents, who called us freaks for taking up the spots of poor, sad little kiddies and asked if we were enjoying our little holiday alone. I was almost convulsing I was laughing so hard.

Our little girl came away with a full belly [not really, she's actually due just after Christmas...] and an even fuller heart at the end of the day. She had spent good time with good people. There are, really, so very many good, decent, funny, kind, warm and generous people in the world. I used to think they were hard to find. And perhaps they still are and we have just been "lucky" to be graced with such lovely friends so late in to our adulthood.

I'm so glad we have these sorts of people to influence our little girl. A kinder friend she couldn't hope to find than this special girl who celebrated her 4th birthday today.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

If dogs look like their owners...

... does that mean I have a big long snout?

Me and my Old Lady, taken by Steve during a hugfest yesterday.

Peppy always smiles like this when you give her a big old bear hug. She is the most affectionate dog and used to put her paw inside my hand or on my leg every time she'd come sit by me for a hug. In recent months, her dodderiness is so profound now that she hasn't the balance to take any of those paws off the ground and use it as a show of endearment. So what she does now is put her head down and rest it on whatever part of my body it reaches first, usually my lap or my arm.

I'm getting ready to find her, slipped away peacefully somewhere. I look at her sometimes and she looks at me, we lock gazes for ages and ages and I'm always left thinking, "Damn, is that the last time I'll see your misty brown eyes, you big old softy?"

I never really stepped back and looked at just how much of a comfort this old girl has been to me, until I wrote her in to my book. And now, those moments I've shared are some of my favourite parts of the book.

She has taught me much, which reminds me .... I still haven't written up the Dog totem here!! Promises, promises...

Love her to pieces. I think she's going to take a while to "get over".

And always, every day, there was Pepper. My trusted and dependable dog. She brought me joy. When I sat in our garden, which was often, she would lay beside me in a very regal pose. A true and valiant protector. In fact, she rarely left my side. I wouldn’t have minded so much, if only she didn’t moult on anything she brushed against. Still, it was a minor annoyance I overlooked to receive her lovely affection. Somehow, she could even make the pain of a miscarriage more bearable. When the familiar premenstrual twinges and contracting rose in my belly and the muscles in my thighs and low back ached as the waves came on stronger, I would always be able to wander out and find her. Sit by her and give her a huge hug around her body or just stroke her ears, her head resting on my knee. It gave me a chance to focus, this time-out. I would always be able to work my mind back around to the people and things around me that I could be thankful for and by no means least of all on that list was Pep. With her silent, doggy-love brand of guidance, I was always able to reach again to my inner happiness and joy, pause with her and refill my mind and outward personality with it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The post without a title in your RSS

I have this friend at the moment who is presenting a lesson for me. It got me thinking yesterday, as I mopped the floors (oooh don't I sound all domesticated), about how people present themselves in my life in order for me to gather information - not so much about them, for that happens as a matter of course and friendship, but for me in learning about who I am and how I act and react, how I "hold up" I guess. And how centred I am. This learning is synoymous with the colour Red.

It's an interesting thing I have come to recognise. Where once I never realised how many similar friends I had in my circle, whom I would allow to sap, push, pull and mould me, I can now see a definite course through my (at least adult) life; that there are those who have been a familiar "type" and these are the ones who always used to undo me at 10 paces.

In my learning at Peace Space (in both the 13 Human Perceptional Levels/colour rays and the Masters Colours, which go even deeper into learning), I've come to see that we get tested. We are given tests of agility, stamina, how sound is our will.... and sometimes, the test feels endless: "Have you got that yet? Have you got that yet?" That is, mostly, the colour Magenta supporting you through this (also the colour of mother love, unconditional universal love), the one that will be recognisable within these lessons and be that 'cruel to be kind' teacher. Hey, it's no coincidence my username (elsewhere) is what it is. It is a constant reminder, to me, that my journey to parenthood was a "Got it yet??" series of agonising months and years stringed together. And that it wasn't merely about how well I held up while we waited and lost, waited and lost, over and over. No. There was untold learning in my lesson/s during that stage of my life. Hence, my online moniker in certain communities. How many of you'se just thought it was cutesy? Eh *taps nose* ;)

So I have this friend here. And I am keen to rush in and do and say what I normally would. Take the current crisis on as partially my own to carry with that friend, I suppose. But I have seen a pattern in the crises, as well, and I can't ignore that. I'm left pondering the ebbs and flows of people reaching out (and whether they are really asking for help or simply needing to be heard) and what my duty to not only them, but to myself, I have in my role as friend.

It's an interesting thing, sitting still. OOH, gosh, I just realised something about that previous post and the card the LGBB gave me. Hmmmmm, maybe there was something not so random in that after all! Because I spent much of the afternoon yesterday, while I was cleaning, thinking about not necessarily this friend but how my inaction may be perceived and that I just let it be as it will be this time, without rushing in to smooth things over or defend myself for not giving more and all the rest of it.

Preservation of the Self first. It's the most important thing, more important than giving, to me (for giving comes so naturally that I have had to recognise it)* - I have come to see that, since Ellanor came along. One of the biggest lessons for me out of losing her. Me, looking out for me. I never really did it before knowing her. And if she had stayed, I still wouldn't have done it. Not that it's a good enough reason, on its own, to lose my child. Of course! But it's definitely in that suitcase of gifts that I rummage around in. I've tried so many things on from that suitcase and almost everything fits so far. What a lucky girl am I, to have it.

Have you ever found yourself waking up and realising you have unwittingly become a rescuer? What did/do you do? What's your pattern? (You can email me if you like, if you want to share but not online - I'm always ears... er, eyes...)

* not that I've quite got that lesson, for I still don't always recognise what I give and when, although I do now notice the sapping/draining/leeching of energy feeling and, I regret to say, sometimes that happens with my posts here which is why I often don't post what I was going to, when I really need to conserve my energy is when you see a barrage of funny posts here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What you don't want to hear

Me: I can't find these pants I've got to send! Someone's expecting me to mail them today.
He: What pants?
Me: Lolly's old jeans. I sold them on Ebay. This girl's paid and she's waiting for me to post them.
He: Mmmmm...I dunno. Where did you last see them?
Me: Here *gesticulates to immediate, mid-renovation-cramped vicinity* I had everything that sold piled right here to send.
He: Ah.
Me: What?
He: Well...
Me: Wait, where did you get Lolly's pants from this morning when I asked you to dress her?
He: Eh... here *gesticulating in the same area*
Me: I THOUGHT they looked ridiculously short on her! LENNY!!

And with that, I went over and took off the LGBB's Harry high-pants, now soiled from the day and requiring washing. Again.

Ohgodohgodohgod, I hope the girl who bought them has a good sense of humour, considering I had to send her an email just now that began, "Dear Toni. I'm utterly mortified, but see, it's like this...."


The images sort of speak for themselves. I don't know what I thought when I saw this, other than letting out a very heartfelt, "Oh, darlin'" looking at that one of Lindsay on the right. She just looks like she needs a big, safe old hug and a lie down.

I mean... yikes. It looks like it's become quite a hard life....

Lindsay Lohan has changed a lot in 3 years.

dugg from here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Be still, keep quiet

I have a little bowl of prayer cards [encouragement cards, upliftment cards... I can't remember what they're called - a little visitor of ours, who was staying here once, took the instruction sheet from the bowl and I never found it again] in our entrance foyer. The LGBB likes to poke around in them and occasionally, she'll bring one to me and tell me, "This one's yours, Mummy."

Today, she pulled out the purple one for me on the top. And the blue one for herself. Given her stellar efforts of late, I believe it ought to have been the other way around. Lord knows she needs a bit more of the purple card and a little less of the blue *eyes turning skyward to the Heavens*

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gabbin' with Lol

In our continuing foray into the daily 40-minute hair-tear that is Dressing the Independent Toddler, I ensured I was ready this morning. Ready and had nothing else to do, so that I didn't grow impatient while the LGBB procrastinated to her heart's content while "dressing" herself.

I tossed her undies over to her and said, "Okay, put your undies on please."

Without hesitating, you know what my 3 year-old did? Bent down, picked them up (never taking her stare off me and with an impish glint in her eyes).... and put them on her head. How can I argue with that? They're on, aren't they? Literal Lolly then fell about laughing at herself. Hey, if no one else can appreciate your humour, it's healthy to at least enjoy it yourself, right? It was hysterical and we both had a good belly laugh. It was, honestly, one of the funniest things I've seen in a while. Sorry, Rove...

Reminds me of the story Steve's mother loves to tell about the time when he was about 5 and was asked to blow his nose. So he jutted his bottom lip out and blew air up to his nose.

See what I have to put up with?? Now there's TWO of them!!

Oh, aren't they so funny. Blah, blah, blah.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

At the risk of my life (and this post may disappear...)

(when he finds out I posted this, that is)

I give you just about the nicest thing ANYONE has EVER said to me.

It comes off the back of Steve's 20 year high school reunion, a get together of nearly his entire year (including some of the earlier drop outs) and the turnout was strong. He was able to piece together some of the good times he'd had but has forgotten - a trait of an uber-genius, I think, is sometimes that tendency to do away with "inefficient" information from the brain to make room for more current, short term memory stuff. Just the way he's wired, I guess.

So. To today. And the email I received, after quite ashamedly spending the last couple of days sort of mulling over my own not-so-great-times with Steve and wondering if he had any regrets, now that he'd caught up with lost buddies, old flames, brief flings and so forth.

The confirmation that, yes of course, we are a team. He and me.

Hi Girl,

Been looking at lots of photos and talking to people from High School over the last few days.

Had several conversations on Saturday night about sliding doors and how peoples lives ended up where they did.

Anyway I said it to them and need to say to you how happy I am that I took the doors I did and I have You, Ella and Lauryn in my life.

If I do not email you now I will forget to tell you between dishes and sleep.

Love Lenny

And so I just need to say, when he reads this entry, a big hug and a thank you are awaiting you. Y'know. Just in case I forget. Or snap at you as soon as you walk through the door. It's not you I'm snapping at. I'm snapping at me, being snappy, when I know you've lost a little bit of that girl you used to call Girl more often. We've both changed. Sometimes, on the surface, it doesn't feel like it's "for the better".

But in the long run, with you I know I have been enriched in my life.

And you'd better be serious about doing the dishes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Banking on her logic

Last week, the LGBB received her first bank deposit book. I explained to her how she could count the money in her piggy bank, then take her coins to the bank and give the bank teller a deposit slip with the amount in her piggy bank written on it. The teller would keep her money at the bank for her so that she could keep filling it.

The LGBB listened earnestly to my explanation. She was suitably impressed at the suggestion.

Then the conversation turned to what she might like to save up for.

Me: What do you think you might like to buy when you save up all your money from your piggy bank?

LGBB: *without much pause, saying decidedly* A car. And a bigger piggy bank.


My very most favourite one of all

It's a little known song (and only the short 1:50 version is on the album, Thriller) but I looooooove this and cannot ever get it out of my head when I hear it. Which, thanks to the LGBB's ongoing obsession with the one-gloved wonder, is daily these days....

The man was a supreme talent. Straight up.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The ungrateful wench

I'm just feeling like the worst person in the universe today. I am so resentful of my head being invaded hour upon hour upon minute upon second of every damn day - what isn't filled with work of one kind or another is taken up by this little person who never, ever seems to spend any time on her own. Why can't we just be here, existing, for just a few minutes without having to talk to each other??

We've certainly hit another "stage". Just curious: is there one that is recognisable by the incessant "No"s to anything you suggest? Or anything that doesn't involve your input, I should clarify. And whining like the sky is falling down at every little thing? The only distraction is TV and that is too much of a trap for me to fall into on a long term basis. Sometimes, a day will pass and I'll think, 'Gee, she didn't watch anything today' and that is far too rare these days for my liking.

I feel so awful for wishing she would go away - to another room... hell, I'd be happy for 3 metres - but I need space. I have other things to think about (all directly or indirectly related to her health and wellbeing, like washing, shopping, cleaning, cooking) and I have just HAD THE HELL ENOUGH today.

I can't do it today. I'd create a sibling, I think, if I could. Just to satisfy my nagging curiosity that she and I would be better off with another person in the house. I think I would opt for siblings fighting than having her hanging off me every day for the past 3+ years. I wouldn't mind so much if she moved away and entertained herself every so often. And I guess I should be flattered - heck, I've got to be the ONLY toy she's never grown tired of - but aaaaaaaaaaargh, god, I cannot play one more game or wait while she slowwwwwwwly takes her sweet time doing *whatever* and knowing I am the captive audience of one.

Help me! Fecking drowning today and not liking it one iota.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


"One day, my pretties... One day. MOO-ha ha ha haaaa"

The LGBB ponders her next move with the pawns below, on a trip to Eureka Skydeck in Melbourne, the highest residential building in the world (unless you count the tower on that pesky Q1 building on the Gold Coast, apparently...).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Throwing in the towel

Actually, I prefer to look on this as reaching a realisation.

I've decided to stop the editing work that has insidiously crept into every nook and cranny and spare moment of my waking life.

After finding that I was using up my most productive, precious early morning creative time with just trying to get a little bit more of these reports out of the way before anyone else in the house wakes, then noticing that I was putting the LGBB into occasional care more often than not during the week in order to rush to finish the work each day, I have been pulled up straight.

Last Thursday, very calmly, I made the decision to quit.

I could have gone out in a grand fanfare of "and what's more"s with my superior, but instead, I kept to what was truly important to me - and that was, simply stating the work was not fitting in with the other, frankly more worthwhile, commitments around me.

My book writing hasn't really suffered through this. If anything, the daily grind has given me back my sense of work ethic. Now just to fill some of the space I've made, to allow this editing work, with writing. I feel I've now established my new discipline and I did need to be answerable to a job like this on a permanent basis to find it. I would not have stumbled myself into line even if I tried for the next ten years. Ad hoc work (and working for yourself) is one glorious thing, but it is quite another to be diligent about working consistently, on your own, with nobody really setting any deadlines or checking up on you.

Home life, too, is suffering too much for me not to notice or care. I don't like that my wee one will suggest something we could do together on any given day and, invariably, my response has had to be, "Ohhh, darlin', we can't because you're going to the kids and Mummy has to work." Forget the fact that she adores her friends, The Kids (collectively, apparently, as this is what she calls the centre) - I don't want that sense of other carers and other people's children influencing my child in these important early years more than me on an almost daily basis. Nope. Just doesn't sit well with me.

And let's not even MENTION the state the house is in because I no longer have any free-wheelin' time at all to clean it properly, as I value time with Lolly when she's home more importantly than cleaning - although at some point, a messy or dirty house gets on my nerves and I fall in a heap about it piling up around me. I want my orderly house back too!

So I have until the end of October and then I am free. Free with my abilities again. I've had quite some time to think about all the things I could be doing if it weren't for editing. And I have decided I need to volunteer some of my time to a worthy cause. I have a couple of ideas and know someone in particular who is struggling with her volunteer-run organisation, in a field that is right in line with my life experience.

There's also that other little (big) monkey on my back - the book. The universe unto itself. It is going really well. I'm excited! Currently waiting on a call back from my editor, to discuss the change in title I have made and a few other concepts that have come to me recently. So there's lots of time to be spent there. I just want it finished now. Am itching to say I've finished it, really keen to submit it to publishers. I know that's still a way off yet. Am also toying with the idea of allowing my father, himself a well established editor (he's actually a Doctor of Engineering, the smartbum), a squizz at it but not sure if I'm comfortable enough yet. I think I will be, eventually, and really would appreciate his input.

So there you have it. Just a tiny update from a day in the life of me. Being Me.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sunny Side Up: Poaching a good idea

I never thought I would get the hang of poaching eggs by dropping them into simmering water. It sounded disgusting and I bet that it looked worse.

However, here I find myself having perfected the art after some months of practice. About twice a week, I make the LGBB and I good, hearty breakfast of poached eggs on toast. I am always reminded by her not to forget the butter (she is not allowed butter on anything at any other time, with avocado being the usual substitue).

If you have ever thought about trying it but have not yet given it a go (or have done it but weren't altogether impressed with the results), here are a few tips of my own that I always try to remember because it seems to make for a better outcome.

More to the point, if you love poached eggs but have never known (or been game to try) how they get them looking so fluffy and natural in the cafés, you've got to give this a go! Be game, even though it looks rather disgusting and messy...

1. To begin with, start with room temperature eggs. This is the key secret to success, I believe! Crack your eggs into separate containers (I use little ramekin dishes because they're easy to hold and - shhhh - I can cheat if I have forgotten or haven't had time to get the eggs to room temperature, by sitting the little dishes right against the side of the stove while I'm heating their waterbed)
2. Bring a large, deep frypan of water to a simmer. Wait until the bubbles are just forming and rising to the surface.
3. Put your toast in before you put in the eggs. The timing of this will depend on how you like your yolks - really runny, through to hard boiled inside - and will also depend on your toaster and how many slices you put in. As a general rule, I know that if I want to do 3 slices of toast, I need to put them in just as the water begins to bubble so that the toast has popped just as I'm putting in the last egg, which leaves time for buttering.

4. Add a dash (about 1Tbs) of white vinegar to the water.
5. Now for the fun part.... Make a whirlpool in the water so that it is spinning.
6. Then, lower the egg container to the water (I like to submerse the bottom of it briefly before tipping the egg in, I think it helps bind the egg white that little bit more once it's in the water).
7. Gently slide the egg into the stirred water. Sometimes you might need to give an extra little whoosh of the water to keep it going.

The sign of a good outcome is usually that you can visibly see the outer edges of the egg as it blobs there on the bottom of the pan - if it breaks apart instantly and goes to trails of whispy whites, then I know something in the process hasn't been quite ideal (and usually, it's been because I have not let the egg get to room temperature - we keep our eggs in the fridge).

7. Repeat the above process until all eggs are in. I wouldn't do more than 4 at a time, depending on the size of your pan.
8. Let the eggs simmer in the water. How long will depend on taste. As a general rule, I've found that 1.5-2 minutes gives quite a runny egg - I don't like them too runny, I prefer to see the yolk cooked around the outside and runny on the inside. For me, I know this takes about 2.5-3 minutes. Experiment with this.

9. Turn the eggs out onto your bread with a slotted spoon, to remove the excess water.

And there you have it! Scrummy!! The biggest letdown of the meal in the case of this photo was the sad, sorry sandwich sliced bread. It's all I had. But the eggs were perfect :)

So go forth, give it a try. If you like poached eggs, you owe it to yourself to give it a go! Tell me how you get on, if you do - I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The fortune teller

What we did today blew the LGBB's mind.

It took me back to sitting at my little wooden primary school desk and having the girl in front turn around with one of these and saying "Pick a colour!" or "Pick a boy's name!" and I'd never pick the name of the boy I reeeeally liked. 'Cos, like, that would've been just so, like, obvious.

Remember these?

Lolly helped me number it and write the words, then I stuck little stickers under each flap (instead of writing her "fortune" or prediction, like "Cameron is going to give you a wet willy sometime today").

She is besotted with it and keeps demanding that I "pick a cullah!" And the gasp I heard when I showed her how her fingers could open up the other way to reveal a whole new lot of numbers was just priceless.

Origami Fortune Teller

Did you ever want to see into the future? Make an origami fortune teller, and you can find out what the future holds for you and your friends! Here's how to do it:

1. Start with an 8 1/2 X 11 piece of paper. To make it perfectly square, fold one short edge up to one long edge and make a crease. Cut off excess and unfold.

2. Fold the opposite corners together to make a second crease and unfold. You will now have a square piece of paper with diagonal creases going from corner to corner.

3. Fold each corner to the center and turn over.

4. Fold the new corners to the center. Do not turn over.

5. Fold the square in half from edge to edge in both directions.

6. Turn square over and put thumbs and forefingers under each flap and bring fingers together toward middle.

7. Now write a color on each outside flap, and a number on each inside triangle. You will have four colors and eight numbers. Finally, write a fortune behind each number on each innermost triangle. Voila! Your origami fortune teller is complete!

How to Play the Game:
  1. Hold the fortune teller and ask a friend to choose one of the colors shown.
  2. Spell out the chosen color by opening and closing the fortune teller, and stop.
  3. Have your friend choose one of the numbers that is shown. Count out that number by opening and closing the fortune teller, and stop.
  4. Again, have your friend choose a number, and repeat step 3.
  5. Have your friend choose one last number. Then open the flap beneath that number and read your friend's fortune!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I think you mean.... WONDERLAND

Quoting what has to be one of the best lines from the best animated movies EVER. Monsters Inc. The scene where the Abominable Snowman greets them and then gets offended when Mike calls it a wasteland - "I think you mean.... Wonderland!" Bloody. Cracks. Me. UP.

Our little baby ditched the "horsies" for the "tampoline" today when we went to the Melbourne Docklands version of the Himalayas - it's called Wonderland and, really, it ain't no Wonder and it's not anywhere big enough to be a Land. So Steve was walking around saying, "I think you mean... Wasteland" for the afternoon.

But Lolly, she loved it. They had a bubble machine and some kids running around squealing. It equals dizzy-heights fun, dontcha know?

We thought it looked poxy but there was a carousel, so Steve bought some coupons for it and we began to head over.

"Nooooo! Not hortheth! I want the tampoline!" our young charge demanded, pointing at the bungee trampoline set up next to the dodgy dodgem car track. Yeah, right, good one, Lolly. There was no way she'd be game. We've been past these things before and she's always shied away as soon as we've taken her up on her claims and begun to walk towards it.

Pah! What did WE know? Today was the day she was ready, apparently.

It appears the LGBB has a certain level of dastardly daredevil in her, one which we're pretty sure comes from moi, seeing as Steve won't even consider going on rides. Not even the spinning teacups.

What a pussy.

She climbed up with the help of her Dad and stood patiently, being strapped in. Her mother was standing with legs like jelly, thinking, "Oh holy crap, she's really gonna do it today. I don't think I'm ready for her to be made into a human slingshot..."

And seriously, she went so bloody high I thought I was going to be sick. My stomach hurt when she was up there! And she looked just the right amount of green a couple of times for me to realise she was feeling it a bit too. But the wide-mouthed grin on her face for the entire time proved to us she had a blast.

Stratospheric from Lolly Lovers on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Silly one for the kids on a lazy Saturday morning

If you don't get a giggle out of this, it's a sign you might be having a bad day today....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Seeing the light vs desperation to get out

Every time I am away from my blog, my mind is heavy with things I have to say. Then I get back here and *vooop* they all just vanish.

So. With that in mind, I guess this is going to be one of those dogs' dinners of thoughts all piled in together. The Bubble and Squeak post, if you will.

This past fortnight or so, I have been holding the energy (or rather, assisting my teacher to hold it) of etheric transfusion. In a nutshell, so far it seems to be a very, very positive experience that involves simply placing yourself in a space of 'wait' and trust, in order for transposition of old gnarled thoughts and learned processes to evolve into something more close to your true soul purpose (as opposed to beating the drum that has been how you were raised/taught/"wired" from external influences). It's much more than this, but I am rushing and paraphrasing like a madwoman. I am busier than I've ever been before, am juggling so much right now in my personal, work, family and social lives, and yet I am taking it all on, one bite at a time.

I remember times past when such converging would have sent me under in a hurry. But at the moment, I feel enveloped somewhat by the knowledge of whomever it is Upstairs that arranges these passages is keeping me steady. I often have the image of the sport, curling, in my head to imagine what could be going on.

With my own set of sweepers, then, I'm inching forward in my life at the moment. I'm having clarity about my maternal line, I'm seeing things there quite clearly and also watching with interest how these unlockings are happening in my own brain. My wiring, if you will. It is opening things up like Spring sunshine and air in a dusty, closed up room.

I recall times over the years when I would say to Steve, in sheer desperation, that I had to "get out". This meant different things at different times. Sometimes it meant "out" of our relationship, once we were married it sometimes meant "out" of the marriage. Often it meant "out" of the prison-like walls of our house (because, like so many modern homes, it was a home that filled the block it was on and I felt thoroughly stifled, not being able to see anything on the horizon - literally - and only able to look at neighbours' roofs or up to the sky). I wanted to move, for years. The first opportunity that presented itself was a 1/3 acre block of land on a huge hillside with 180º + views. Change much? Mmm hmm, I thought it was. I was 28 weeks' pregnant with Ella when we began talks with the builder, both Steve and I very excited that we would be moving not long after the long-awaited arrival of our Ella-bubble.

The profit we made on the sale of that block (for neither of us could even contemplate moving there without her after she died) was more than double. We used that money in two parts: the obvious plan to us was to use it to adopt a child. Sooooooo much red tape there that it was then that I succumbed to trying IVF. PGD to be exact. Much of what we earned on the block went into just the first cycle, nearly $20,000 in fact. What a lot to, literally, lose down the drain, huh? But it was a choice we made. And it kept our sanity intact for 2005 through an incredibly trying and gruelling succession of personal grievances and realisations, as a couple and as individuals, until our saving grace came along.

We also decided at this time to renovate our existing kitchen - "it's the heart of any home, you're giving your home a heart transplant!" my dear, sweet SIL said to me before looking at me, horrified, at what she thought was a blunder.... my breath had caught in my throat when she said it, but not because I was offended. It was a realisation. It was something we - Steve and I - needed to do for ourselves, for our ongoing survival, if we were to stay in that same home that had, now, so very many boggy memories of pregnancies lost. The concept of a house's kitchen being the "heart" of the family, and the fact we were facelifting ours, was more poignant to us because of Ella's heart defect.

Where am I going? I don't know.... Ummmm! I feel pressed for time but urged to tell you more.

Might just let this sit and see what happens, eh?

Just by a bees' d!ck... as they say

You may need to click on this to read it.

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