Sunday, October 31, 2010

A not so subtle illustration

I have been asked so many times over the past six years (gosh, can it be almost 7 since Ellanor left us?!), what "should" people do or say around their loved one whose baby has died. It's a tricky question to answer, because it's not as simple as any finite hard and fast rule. Commonsense, I would like to think, plays a decent part in anyone's approach as to how best they can work their way through with their friend/loved one.

But I will give an example (below), which - oh what a surprise! - is an excerpt from my book, and hopefully illustrates just one of the ideal ways that I was shown the space with grace (as I put it) to simply *be* in any given moment. Only a very few special people are able to do this, unfortunately, from all accounts I've come across in my time, listening to others' stories of loss and a desire to not have their situation waved or hugged or talked away. I'd like to think that by sharing this, there might blossom even more of those graceful angels amongst us:

     One of my oldest, dearest friends was having her 30th birthday celebrations at a restaurant in the city. I had been looking forward to the outing ever since we had received the invitation. Stacey and I had lost touch for a few years – different schools and then different neighbours and work commitments had caused us to drift apart – but we had reconnected just days after Ella died, when Stacey called me out of the blue. It was a moment of pure uplifting joy for my soul as she entrusted to me the secret that she was in the early stages of her own precarious, uncertain pregnancy after already suffering two miscarriages. I could hear in Stacey’s voice the hesitant mixture of hope and anticipation with fear and nervousness about the baby’s survival and I identified with it instantly.
     Stacey went on to deliver a healthy, strong boy into the world. I finally mustered the nerve to meet up with them when the little bloke was about thirteen weeks old. I cried with joy for my friend but felt a tugging at my heart that I assumed would always happen now when I met any friends’ children for the first time. I was not wrong, as it turns out.
     Stacey was so lovely the day I met her son. While I was taking all this in, her pace and conversation slowed to match mine. Nothing was said in an attempt to gloss over my obvious pain. There was no rush to comfort me, no outstretched arms that made me feel awkward and obliged to accept a hug I didn’t want, no gestures that led me to believe I was being inappropriate. I quietly wept as I held her son and Stacey just sat with me, very focused and still. It felt so good. Gradually, we began to talk and I thanked her profusely for being so, well, normal towards my reaction! This was how I had hoped it could be and if one person, just one decent person in my life, could deliver me this space with her graceful presence, then I considered myself extremely fortunate.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

She's onto the lot of you

This poor poorly poppet of ours, she is still working the lurgy through. I have been up since 5am listening to her cough to the point of the awful noise that heralds the necessity of a bucket beside the bed, just in case whatever you hear coming up actually... well, comes out. Poor darlin.

While I was lying next to her in an attempt to settle her so she wasn't alarmed by all the kerfuffle from her lungs, she asked me, still in a haze of delirium (for I don't think she was fully awake), "How will I know whose boots are mine?"

"What's that, sweetpea?"

"If someone else has the same boots as me with the flowers all on them.... how do we know which ones are my ones?"

Don't ask me how, but she knows you're all asking about the boots. She's onto the lot of you. But it's okay, we've got it all worked out. We're going to check the size. Because it's hardly likely that if anyone else has her boots, they're going to also have the same size. Sorted.

I wish she would get better, this is the extended cough that just won't simmer down. We're meant to be going to a 5th birthday party this afternoon. There is no WAY I am subjecting her friend, The Birthday Girl, or anyone else to this. So the news broke earlier. Party plan-dashing was declared at 6:16am EST. There was a moment of silence and we bowed our heads over the body. And then the LGBB's face crumpled as what she just heard actually registered in her brain. There would be no fairy dress-ups for her today, no cake, no present for The Birthday Girl.

But perhaps the hardest part of the "punishment" to swallow - ewwwww - is the fact that she caught this cold off another child who should have stayed home. It starts young. How many workplaces have you been in where people come in sick and don't go home and you spend the rest of your day avoiding them and then, when you start to feel that rasp in the back of your throat and your breath feels suddenly hotter in your mouth and then congestion begins, you curse them, don't you?
(Mind you, I think I've encountered more people who stay home at the slightest sniffle when they're hardly ill at all...)

I certainly feel UTTERLY wretched for doing this to my LGBB! It's the first party she's had to miss due to illness. But I'm certain The Birthday Girl's mother, plus the other party goers' parents, will thank me. Even if my child doesn't. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

What to expect when you're expecting a Cocktail At Naptime

In the year 2000, I was expecting my first child. By month two of the gestation, I was eagerly poring over a copy of the seemingly staple and somewhat stuffy (personal opinion only) self-proclaimed "iconic" pregnant woman's bible: What To Expect When You're Expecting. I have to say, it took itself very seriously.

By the time my little Bliss-Bomb arrived in 2006 - that's her there, nawwwww - I felt like I had a handle on what to expect. After all, I was now expecting for the 10th time. I was done with the expecting part, certainly the reading of what I was going through and what I could expect. I wanted to get to the euphoric huggies-commercial baby-gooey-lovin' part!

It didn't happen. Of course it didn't happen. I mean, it did, but it also SO didn't live up to my expectations that I had built upon over the intervening six years as I waited to bring home my first child.

Then, when I got my Bliss Bomb home, I scoured the "modern-day" new mother's bible, Baby Love, but still.... STILL I did not feel one bit normal. I hardly felt placated. I mean, this book told me what to do with my baby and it was good for that. But, being a girl who gets by without a mother or sisters or any influences like that, I needed.... well, I needed a bloody cocktail at naptime friend. Who knew?

I know what happened now.  What I didn't have was the real take on the gig. The bit about the episotomy I'd get. And the bladder weakness I'd be subjected to. And a random leaky alpha boob that could squirt a sales clerk at ten paces. What if I had been forewarned? Prepared? Chortle-chortle...... I would have scoffed in this book's face if it had tried to convince me before my sweet cherub had arrived that I would be faced with any such quandry.

And this is where the book - Cocktails At Naptime - comes in. If you've been under a rock in the mummy blogosphere, not only will you not have heard of its existence (and shame on you), but you also won't know that Gillian Martin and Emma Kaufmann co-authored the book and have never actually met. It's now the stuff of folk legend, I'm sure, for it remains a mystery to me how anything so well crafted has been put together by more than one person who don't even live in the same country. As a wannabe published author myself, I find that a remarkable feat on its own.

But as it stands, I've devoured Cocktails At Naptime cover to cover and I have to say, this book is such a delightfully refreshing, funny - frankly - pisstake on the entire debacle oh sorry, miracle that is bringing home a new baby. You can't help but laugh out loud, even if you're the hardest nut to crack. Hmmmm... like me, when it comes to babies and taking them at comedic value (I mean, come on, just look at my history).

This is the sort of book that can span the years. It will be equally as comfortable in the hands of someone who is in their babymoon, in the throes of those first delirious months, and in the first, second or third year (and beyond) as a retrospective. The biggest appeal about Cocktails At Naptime is that it's like that friend who not only encourages you to be led astray to the 'dark side' of succumbing to that want/need/desperation to see yourself as still normal even though you're a mother now and still haven't gone back to being your previously knowable self, it's also there to educate and even guide (in the most frank and real and "They didn't write that, I didn't actually just read that?!" kind of way).

I began reading this book after being approached by the authors to host a review as part of their bloggy tour - a request I could not turn down, as I was frankly very chuffed at simply being asked - and thought it would take me the usual aaaaages to read. I am an awful reader, I'm bad at it. It takes me months to finish anything, even books I adore.

So I was delighted that this was a read that was, obviously, so captivating that even little old slow-poke me devoured it in a couple of afternoons. AND I retained information. AND I had a bloody good time reading it.

In no particular order, I give you some of my stand-out favourite bits sorry, sections is a more comfortable word, considering the subject matter (and without giving too much away, a-course, because then what would be the point of my blog's very first ever GIVE AWAY at the end!?!?!):

Say hello to your new vagina (authors' words, not mine) - I told more than one friend in the first few months that I was certain I was being applauded every time I used the toilet because.... LOOK AWAY NOW, GENTLEMEN AND LADIES....... I could hear clapping. Full on clapping when I *aherm* shook the drips. Turns out, it was the Labia Sisters still not snapped back to their original form. Now, there, right there, is sommit they do NOT explain in any preparation class I've ever graced (my words, not authors').

• Did the person doing the needle-work have glasses that looked like the bottom of a Coke bottle? - For serious, that question made me draw in my thighs to protectively cover The Girls. I mean, HOW did Gillian and Emma know the description of my Obstetrician? Were they there?? Uncanny.

Your boobs and you - made me feel so, so, so normal about my previously decent and generous cup-size expanding to something of gargantuan proportions, five times larger in terms of cup size, in fact (never to go down, by the way, and don't be thinking that's fun... there's nothing FUN about carrying around a craptonne of weight in one area of your body - think scoliosis and permanent back strain, people, as well as not fitting into anything anymore because of that localised area alone)

Your stretch marks - and their marbling design. Oh, Lordy-maird, yes. Sob. Yes. I could show you photos but honestly, we shan't go there. I still want readers tomorrow.

"He said/She said" - very informative, a must-have for those times where the new mother is feeling so low and thinks she's reacting normally to everything her partner does or says (in Twitter terms, the hashtag would be a resounding, #newsforyouhoney)

This book, simply, has a little bit of everything. I don't think anything was left out, or if it was, it's so full of great stuff to dip into that you won't notice. There are too many things to list as my fave because really, it all was. A really spiffy read! And without trying to sound trite, I have to say... Awesome job, Gillian and Emma. Truly.

There's only one slightly negative thing I'd like to say:   Where were you four years ago?!?! I so could have used this then (even though, strangely, it's so validating even now to read your book and realise, owh migod, I was normal back then!)

You know possibly the best bit?  You can WIN yourself a copy - I have two here, thanks to the remarkable posting efforts of Joanna at Finch Publishing to get them to me quick-sticks last minute - to either covet for yourself or give away (they are so speccy, honestly, what a fantastic present) to a mum in your life who could use the giggle and confirmation.

So.... I know it's been done already, by Holly to name just one, but I want cocktails, people. And not just a name. I want details, I want recipes.

Your favourite cocktail: Hit me with it in a comment below! The best sounding two, with ingredients, score themselves a free copy of the book, Cocktails At Naptime.

Yes, it's all about the alcohol.

And here's the fineprint: 
Sorry, only open to Australian residents.
Don't worry so much about the quantities, I can make that up as I go along - muahahahahaaa
Competition closes 8pm Sunday, so get your comments in quick!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Everybody loves a fart joke, come on

This is a repost of an entry I made last year. It just surfaced and I giggled, despite myself, so thought you might get a larf or two as well...

There are few things that don't eventually end up amusing the LGBB. She'll usually find the 'yumour in anything. But I really love watching the facial journey as performers/entertainers/TV shows/relatives all get put through their paces if she's in one of *those* temperaments.

Take, for instance, this photo essay that I shall call "Funny Mister Man" - what Lolly called him - the clown who was entertaining today in the open library at the festival we visited in our district.

You'll see here the expression I like to refer to as the Prove Your Worth - characterised by the triple chin-esque pursed-lipped grimace. The angle of the head is a give-away - this look says to me I hereby reserve my judgement of your entertainment value and I shan't give away anything of my ruling until I am assured of your hilarity.

The poor dancing fool in front of her will then get the lift of the chin, an almost imperceptible grimace of uncertainty. This look says... you'll have to try much harder than that to impress me, but you're getting there. Keep up the good work.

Then, surely, the LGBB will begin to lose herself in the entertainment. A very faint yet brief smirk crosses her face. You're almost in... but don't stop trying your best, Funnyman.

So the poor sod tries balloon animal joke after twirling umbrella-hat joke....

...which all fell flat. Apparently. Although in her eyes, I see the slightest encouragement, with the lifted brows.

And then. The Master does it. A farty-noise....

.... Oh, NOW you're talkin' toddler language. Or... bottom burping it, anyway.

One more "prrrrfppppbbbbt" complete with poking out tongue and googly eyes and she was putty in his hands.

It's such an awesome day, this community festival. We went last year for the first time.*

So we've vowed now to go each year and so far, the first two years haven't disappointed! Today we had a picnic on the grass, like last time. We've come home for a rest (OMG OMG OMG she is asleep!!!!) before heading out tonight for the fireworks display. Last year it was great. Here are some shots. Check out how little the LGBB was! Awwww. She wasn't even walking yet.

* Er, despite living in this area for eleven years... it was one of those things we used to see each year, if ever we happened to drive through, you can't miss it for the traffic and the balloons and carnival rides - but was never something we would have enjoyed just the two of us. It's a family-oriented festival for the community, one which we felt so, so, so separate from, year after year the feeling got worse.

What does your kids' lunchbox say about you?

Psssst..... Join me here tomorrow for a Cocktail give away!

This is something that I've always genuinely wondered but I am also always too nervous to ask because of the fear of backlash. Seriously! There is a certain defensive contingent of the Motherhood that bands together and takes down anyone seen to be having fun being a mother. Come on... you and I both know it's out there. You hear it in the play centres and playgrounds. I don't know about you, but when I come across it, I can sometimes (depending how strong I'm feeling that day) feel like hiding my efforts for fear of being picked on by fellow mothers for being a "try-hard" when, really, it's a usual and normal thing for me. Let me explain.

Ever since the LGBB has been going to occasional care, I have really enjoyed packing her a lunch (for the most part, you know, except those mornings where I just can't get going... rare for me as I'm an early rising morning person). Call it my hark back to Enid Blyton books - although there will NEVER be any tongue sandwiches served in this house, the LGBB has a no-tongue sanga guarantee - where the characters always sounded so excited to have their bottles of pop, cold chicken drumsticks and ooble-ooble biscuits, but I just get into the whole segmented, pieces of sandwich, little smattering of something sweet, healthy medley of snacks, lunch thing.

Lately, I have been experimenting with the Japanese bento box style of lunch. Think of it as scrapbooking but with food. With this, it can be as simple as taking a cookie cutter to a cheese sandwich and bingo! You have something that looks so special that it is devoured, no matter what action is going on around them.

A while back, Lolly also used to enjoy eating healthy things like cherry tomatoes, grapes and salmon sandwiches (if I took the crusts off, flatten with a rolling pin, then spread with cream cheese and thin sliced salmon before rolling up and cutting like sushi, it was even more exciting than triangles!). But then I started to notice that more often than not, particularly when she was at 3 year-old kindy two mornings a week, her lunchbox would come back with just the sandwich eaten. Lots of wasted, good, fresh, healthy food. And THEN.... she let slip one day that "Chelsea shared her yummy biscuit with me."

"Oh, really?" I asked, eyebrows so raised I thought they might lift off my face. I would have thought that was against some sort of policy. "What kind of biscuit?"

They were Oreo cookies, as it turned out. And it hadn't been the first time little Chelsea had shared her Superstar Mega-Tastebud Eye-Popping lunch box treats with her bestie, my daughter. Apparently, from the sounds of it, Chelsea is a child you want to be friends with - she has all sorts in that box, from the cookies to crisps. Adding insult to injury, the LGBB began to make statements that I knew she had heard from someone else, such as, "My lunch is yuck." You only have to know my kid and her love of not just plain old "cheese n budder" sandwiches but pretty much most foods to know that eating is on her list of Most Fun Things To Do - she is the only child you will find still sitting at the party table, finishing her plate.... and sometimes other people's before she grew out of it, oh dear.... long after the other children have run off again to play. She is a good eater. And I know her well enough to know that I keep her lunch food simple if I want it eaten - none of it had ever before been branded "yuck". Mushroom casserole, that was "yuck" and I could handle that, it was to be expected. Vegetable stirfry, that too was "yuck". But not a plain sandwich. So I knew I had to nip this in the bud quickly.

As it turns out, the biscuits were being sneaked to the LGBB - and I could tell, because she hasn't yet learned to fib, so the cheeky giggle and hand over the mouth as she told me kind of gave her away. I explained to her the importance of letting Chelsea eat her own lunch even if she was being nice by sharing. She kind of understood but, come on, what kid wouldn't pass up their salad lunch for a bikkie!? I know I would!

Far be it from me to decide for another's child what goes into their lunchbox, but I was not supremely pleased that my child's lunch was beginning to continually go uneaten in favour of these other delicacies. So I did my first "real" mum thing. I went to the teacher. She was gorgeous about it. No, they didn't allow children to share and, yes, she was going to encourage the girls to sit away from one another at lunch time (or go in different groups) because there were other issues of exclusivity beginning to form around Chelsea's desire to absorb every bit of the LGBB to the exclusion of all others - something I am deeply diligent about discouraging, but that's another post for another Mother Heart Linky day!

I now skewer those cherry tomatoes with little animal head shaped tooth picks (purpose made) and every cherry tomato is once again devoured. I make flowers with cucumber and 'stalks', I stick 'feet' under apple portions and make umbrellas out of other healthy little bits and pieces. It takes as long as cutting and then sticking them in the bottom.... and it guarantees they get eaten. She gets a cheese slice cut with little cookie cutters as well and, with some of the stamps and cutters my sister in-law sent me (she's Japanese, and lives in Japan... handy for my growing obsession because that is the home of food-in-cute-shapes!), I make penguins, bears, cars, boats.... And the LGBB is delighted. She's back to eating everything.

And now, to my question (and the reason why I ask it):
I have mentioned this food preparation fetish practice of mine to various friends with children of a similar age and their responses - these are friends, mind you! - range from "Oh GOD, I don't have time for any of that in the morning" to "Why would you want to make more work for yourself? Just shove some shit in a sandwich, cut it and bung it in a lunchbox. Seriously." I've also had a couple of "Awwww, I wish I had the patience but I don't" sort of backhanded compliments as well. And it has left me to wonder: With these sorts of attitudes from my friends, what am I setting my daughter up for at 4 year-old kindy next year or school the following year?

To me, when my young child is away in the care of someone else and surrounded by the different energies of upbringings represented by a whole swag of kids, I want her to open her lunchbox and remember that Mummy did something special for her and that she belongs. I don't want to "shove some shit" haphazardly in there and be done with it. I'm also not saying that I do the cutesy cookie cutter sandwich thing every single day either. But by and large, there will be something unique in her lunchbox and I am disappointed that there might (will) come a day that it causes her anguish because of being teased. For if the mothers who are my friends are willing enough to roll their eyes at the care I take, then I can bet there will be worse out there ready to let Junior know, when s/he comes home and says there's this girl who has shapes in her lunchbox (I admit, it probably looks uber-posh but come on! It's just a cookie cutter, I'm not whittling sandwiches into art with a sharp knife for hours!), I can guarantee there will be some whose responses to their children that will not be measured or respectful of the LGBB. And I know it can happen that way. And the only way I see avoiding it is to stop doing it.

From my friends' responses alone, I realise it may be intimidating to some mothers who see other mothers doing something that appears over the top for their children. I know I have done it. Judged, in fact, for if I am honest that is what I am doing. Without a second thought, I can wipe off my own feelings of inadequacy about not doing it "this way" like I have seen someone else do for their child and it sometimes, on a low day, makes me feel better if I tell myself how tedious it must be for that person to be constantly making sure their child is dressed perfectly or has a hair style that looks like an hour was spent on it. That's all MY stuff, though! That's a reflection of my feelings of shortcoming. I grew up with a mum who, now I am a mother I can see, was very self-conscious and used to put down the efforts of my friends' mothers to me. It is deeply sad to me, looking back now, that my mother was in such an intimidated place and, more so, that she found it acceptable to expose me to it.

Hmmmm! This post has ended up in quite a different place to where I thought it would when I began. However, my question still remains.... and I don't expect anyone to answer this publicly, unless you want to! Self-reflection is a personal thing.

What do you put more effort into over other things for your child? Is there any one thing in particular? And how do you really feel, as a person and fellow mother, when you see where an obvious effort has been made by another mother (or father)? Does it affect you in any way, or only on certain days?

 This post is part of Seven Cherubs' Mother Heart Linky, Thursday. 

Addendum: Considering Alliecat's really insightful comment, I think it's probably pertinent for me to point out that I realise the effort I put in to my child's lunch could possibly viewed as over the top ;)  But it is something I get a sense of satisfaction out of doing - it fulfils something creative in me as well as gives enjoyment and an element of surprise to her. Win-win in my books! Although I go to a certain amount of effort here, at least one area of my house or another is always a mess, I never iron, I'm lucky to brush my teeth and have a shower by 12pm some days (yes, still! yes, I know she's four) because I procrastinate about loads of stuff as a mother. So please don't be thinking I'm spinning all plates all the time just because I consider her lunchbox a chance for me to create a work of art. Cheeeeeers!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This is a job for..... Eddie Teddy

It's Eddie Teddy's turn to stay at the LGBB's place this week. This little kindy bear has been everywhere, by the looks of things.

Lolly has been waiting all year to get him to come and play with her and today, she was bursting with glee when she showed him to me when I went to pick her up. Only thing is, whatever began last night (along with the screaming, clawing at the wall while still asleep, bed-wetting nightmare she was having) and appeared to be dormant this morning, had surfaced again. And by 5.30, Eddie was called to arms - literally - and ended up spending his first early night with our poor poorly sausage. I think she's brewing an infection (of the "my wee's hurt" variety...) along with a head that feels like it's been in an oven and yet she's complaining of the cold.

Tough gig, but somebeary's gotta do it

And just as a side note, I am really loving what the kindergarten have done with this bear and encouraging the gathering of stories. How unique must every kindy bear be! So special. I can see, with the adornments on the pages of some of the parents who already have kids at school, that they know how it's done. The presentations are gorgeous - cute decorations, simple, very sweetly worded stories about where Eddie has been while staying at their house for the week, and such a precious memory for the class.

I forgot all the filled-with-wonder things that happen to young kids. I hope the innocence stays in all of them for as long as they feel safe to hold onto it and I wish for each of those sacred hearts a way for them to remain true to their inner self, regardless of all the fads and fashions they'll no doubt get bombarded with as they grow older.

Monday, October 25, 2010

There are satellites of lurve in our vegie patch!

We made a no-dig raised vegie bed yesterday. A little something for the LGBB to tend. She's really loving watching her tomatoes grow and diligently waters them. They're very healthy and robust, with heaps of sweet little yellow star flowers on them. Oh, how I hope it fruits! They will be our very first if they do.

Quiet! Concentrating. Soil carrying is tricky when your spade is only the size of your hand.

Just checking Daddy's doing it right...

Here is Nanna, tending her vegies' home. Very serious business.

That greenery against the fence is a tall weed. D'oh. Forgot to remove that one. But it looks healthy, non?

Today, I took Lolly down to the local nursery and we bought a couple more punnets of seedlings to add to our growing little salad bowl. Now we have leeks and rocket. The cucumbers didn't work. Some good for nothing slug (or possibly Jazz.... same diff, really) ate them AND the basil I was trying to grow. I never have any luck with basil. But parsley? You need a nice big bunch of flat leaf parsley and, apparently, I'm your supplier. I cannot kill the stuff, it is just loving its spot in the middle of our garden. Rather inconvenient but it was there before we dismantled the buildings around it.

Doesn't this just make you want to make a big pot of parsley soup? Ahhh, I love ingesting Green.

When I got busy planting the punnets in their new home, I could not for the life of me get that Def Leppard song out of my head.

So now, I shall implant the song in your head. Because I'm evil sharing like that. See if you can go a meal where rocket is one of the ingredients and not sing it. Ever again. Or are you a bit mad like us and do that already? Steve loves Def Leppard. They're his favourite band. They sort of came with the package back in 1993 - "Love me, love the Lep" - oooooooooh-kay. So I did.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Have you ever had something so monumentally life-course changing that you look at everything differently? How long has it taken you to swallow back up the farce that goes with being 'in community' with others? Or did you quit the commercial/consumerism way of life for good? (in which case.... how are you reading this because shouldn't you not have a computer or internet?) Or are you a little like me and oscillate between being blinded by it, back to realising it's all an illusion of who we really are?

Recently (as in.... last week), a personal event blind sided me. Absolutely knocked me and my energy for a six. Before I could get my breath back, and while I was at the bottom of the pit waiting to see a way forward out of this, I found myself looking at everything the way I did right after Ellanor died. Without my Blind Human Nature goggles on.

It struck me first as I was driving along to my class at Peace Space the other day - I am currently studying the Esoteric Spiritual Tarot and finding it awesome as a complementary divining tool for my work and daily life (anyone wanna line me up with a question? for real? I need practice, email me! but serious questions only, from regular followers, please ;) - and anyway, I was zooming past the back of a large estate as I made my way further into the countryside.... And all of a sudden, it dawned on me. In light of my current situation on that day, I saw as if for the first time that those houses were all adorned with things to beautify them. There were gargantuan cars parked in manicured driveways. Huge pillars adjacent to big front doors. Really big houses. Really big representations of just what we have the potential to fill our lives up with.

And it's all, really, at the end of the day, nothing. I thought about it and got it in a split instant, which only happened so fast because I was definitely in a very pained, fragile and vulnerable state - something I never take for granted if I feel that way because of the blinding light it sheds on my "reality" and where I can make adjustments to my current way of living if I've gone so far off track from what's truly important in my life... and it's not pillars at my front door or an immaculate, enormous house.

None of this means anything if I am not loved and cannot love in return. Nothing means a damn thing. At the end of the day, I am one big soul full of love. But I bury all that purity and fill myself to capacity with daily grind, fear and loathing, burden and begrudging tolerance.... I just begin to lose track of all the goodness in my life when I begin to slide back into that pit. Why? Well, I think it's a number of things, but mostly I believe (for me personally) it has everything to do with being seen to have a thick skin, to be keeping up with the Jones's (dang, I never know the proper plural for that bloody family! Jonses just looks WRONG), to be able to keep up with the cynical, witty, cutting banter that I see more and more around not just the life in front of me but on blogs around the globe.

I don't know. Shrug. I know what I need to do to keep myself close to that light (and lightness) in myself. What about you? Do you ever have these feelings? I know, I know... another D&M from me. But come on, if you've been following for more than a week, you should be used to this by now here!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A letter of complaint

It has come to my attention that our 'young' dog, Jazz - aka all the names under the sun - is most displeased at the slinky black creature who now resides in our laundry.

For almost two months, we kept Tabitha a secret from the dogs. Pepper was easy. She's as deaf as a post. But Jazz? Razor sharp of tail and senses? She knew something was afoot. She'd hear the bell on Tabby's collar and you could actually see, at those moments, something in her brain zero in on the noise to try and identify it. Jazz had never come across a cat before Tabby. She doesn't know what to do with them. But she tried and tried to understand that tinkly noise. And she'd hear it, inside or on the other side of the garage door, freeze and then look absolutely crestfallen as she realised she didn't know what it was. She'd come and bounce off us (yes.... literally... the dog ricochet's off people, verandah posts, fences, she's not fussed, and given that she is around 26kg of muscle, it's no wonder we call her The Horse) as if to say, "Did you HEAR that?? I hear bells! Oh pleeeease, tell me you hear bells!" It's quite delicious fun to know it was tormenting her. About time something did.

So now, the cat has met the dogs. She doesn't care to meet them again, but she isn't above letting them know she lives here. In fact, she taunts them about it. Little biatch. And Jazz isn't going to go down about it quietly.

Look what I found tucked in to her collar this morning:

Dear Doggy Tribunal,

My name is Jazz The Horse Shithead Mrs Whippy Clydesdale The Bloody Dog. Yuh. I think that's it.

Listen, I don't complain much. I mean, I know I bark if I don't get my way. Oh, and I always get a last bark in if I'm told off and I'm not in agreeance. But apart from that.... and barging my way inside when I'm not allowed, and whipping my kangaroo-power tail into people's legs and into Peppy's eyes that makes her squint and wince and sometimes fall over, and ok maybe I steal Peppy's food when she's not looking - she's so easy these days - and I'm generally a, a... what was it? "Good for nothing layabout", yeh, that was it. And ok, if I get distracted while I'm drinking, sometimes I slobber water all over people (because I just can't help putting my face on their legs, it's just a thing I do), and my favourite game is getting a toy or a ball and pretending I can't find it under the bushes and digging a hole the size of a car to get it out when it's right on top the whole time (oh BOY that is such a fun game)..... But apart from all that as well, I would like to think I deserve better treatment than I am receiving.

See, my life was pretty carefree. I could assume the top dog position as long as Peppy was distracted. The older she gets the better I have it. But then... that thing. That black slinking, tinkling, green-eyed thing arrived. SHE gets to sleep inside. SHE gets to go on their beds. SHE sits at the window narrowing her eyes at me. And frankly.... I do-woh-woh-woh-WON'T like it. She treats me like I'm beneath her. I know! Me! Jazz The Horse Shithead Mrs Whippy Clydesdale The Bloody Dog!

I want it to go back to how it used to be. I want to know that there's only one other creature in this house getting any food, any possible left overs, any attention. I can't handle another pretty young thing coming in and stealing my self-imagined thunder.

If you can just make her vanish, so that I don't have to fight the urge to charge at her or sit and bark belligerently at the window (that always gets me in trouble and I always forget I'm not allowed and then it takes even longer for me to be allowed inside again), I would really wag you to death.

Waggily yours,

Jazz The Horse Shithead Mrs Whippy Clydesdale The Bloody Dog

 And wouldn't you know, Pepper had one all drafted up too! Hers was a bit scrunched up and I'm pretty sure she's finished but doesn't know it.

Deeyah... Uh.... Dear..... (note to self: check what that bloody dog had on hers)

I'm writing to complain about the ..... oooooh! Butterfly!
Where was I? Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof.

What? Oh. Was I barking? Oh. What?

Where's the water bowl? Ow, my face hurts, ow, my face hurts, ow, why does my face..... oh that's better, she's moved away and stopped wagging.

Belch. I'm tired.


I hate to break it to them, but not only is the cat staying, we appear to have acquired another look-alike Tabby. Identical to her, this is a sort of more muttley-looking fella. He just started turning up about three weeks ago. Yesterday, I almost let him inside. Not on purpose, mind. I just honestly almost mistook him for her. I thought it was odd that I couldn't see "Tabby's" collar or tags. And when I walked to the door in front of him - he'd full-on lined himself up at the security screen and was peering in - I said to him, "You're not Tabby!" I think my fists on hips stance scared him. His eyes widened and he darted off the porch in a puff of dust like a cartoon cat. I think I even heard him say "SCRAM!" as he fled.

I think he's a stray, unfortunately (for the local wildlife). But he seems to think this is a lovely place to take a kip and he loves to sun himself on the top of our water tank and take long cool drinks from our frog pond. Er.... help yourself, buddy!?

Now to break it to the dogs.....

It's Flog Yo Blog Friday! Where all the cool kids list their blogs:

Monday, October 18, 2010

If I could, I would

...wear a dress like this. But the largest they had was a size 7.  D'oh.

I didn't have to say "Your friend's having a party" twice to the LGBB. She'd sprinted to her cupboard and pulled out Her Party Dress before I could finish the sentence. And tell her it was at a play centre. But for a girl who loooooooves dresses and has a keen eye for fashion, apparently - I was told this morning in no uncertain terms, "Uh, mum, I really don't like that top you're wearing".... kid you not, and it was in no way mean, just very honest - there was no better time like the present to don her new party clothes. Play centre appropriate or no.

So, anyone, if you were there today and saw a kid dressed like a hoity-toity princess and thought her mother must either be a snob or have rocks in her head for letting her wear such a pretty thing to a grimy play centre, just know that in my defense it was better than the alternative:  a white all-in-one leotard/tutu number.


It's an age of continued newfound wonders. An age where the first, perhaps the second, year of school is well underway. An age of growing awareness of the importance of firm friendships, and of the pain we can cause our little friends if we don't include them. It's an age of really loving the family unit, of drawings blossoming into full-blown works of art, of gazing with wonder at the page as our hand - our own hand! - makes words that others can read.

Alliecat from In A Pea Green Boat holds a little girl closer to her heart today more than all the other now countless days. For today, her firstborn daughter Kristen would have been turning six. If you have a moment, pop over to her blog and leave a message.

Remembering her brief existence that has cast an enduring light on your family today, Allie, and wishing you peace and love now that the lead-up is 'gotten through' for yet another year.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Parity purchases

While economists are spreading mixed doom and gloom/boon messages about the Aussie dollar reaching parity with the USD, I decided to have a bit of a USD spend spree online. You know, to commemorate this historical occasion.

I bought some more goodies for my pursuit of the ideal bento box. Today, the shopping list was:  vegie shape cutters (floral, mostly); bento sticks (think short, blunt skewers in the shape of flower stalks, umbrella handles and the likes) which you stick into your cut vegies - awwwww steamed carrot flowers! - two kinds of bento separators (to wedge between your chosen bits of meal, very handy to keep flavours from mixing which is all important for the kiddies who don't like to merge anything with ANYTHING) in the shape of grassy hedges and a family of bears; a triangle shape sandwich cutter (this thing doesn't waste anything of your sanga but chops off the crusts AND seals your bread sandwich on all three sides as if you'd stitched it.... amazing!); another sandwich cutter that, again, doesn't waste anything of your sandwich and cuts off the crusts but has four very cleverly configured shapes - I think it's a bus, teddy, car and something else - into four dainty-bite sandwiches. There were a couple of other things as well and I got it all including shipping for $40.

Special mention to nellbe - who came across to my blog following a link I put in my comment on Lucy's recent competition post to view my first effort at the sandwich sushi - for reigniting my passion! And with the Aust. dollar in its current state, what better time? Eh? What? Oh, don't pay any attention to Steve, he always looks at me like that....

Since I first began, I have received a care package from my Japanese sister in-law, who is most excited to be able to share this new love of mine with me. She sent us over some Hello Kitty merchandise, including a gorgeous little double storey snack box that clips tightly in place, some silicone moulds in really pretty pastel colours, food stamps (not the kind from the Great War, but more your scrapbooking-with-food types... literally, hole punches of various shapes to make noses, whiskers, eyes, mouths of little characters out of cheese and nori sheets and stick them on rice balls). And the ultimate:  a Hello Kitty sandwich cutter.

Now, you'll have to forgive me the lack of pictures. But once I receive my latest shipment - damn and blast the infernal lack of bento accessorising outlets here in Melbourne (if not Australia), for I am yet to find one, even though I scour every thrift shop I walk past in the hopes of finding something really cool to use - I will show you some creations.

Lolly is really enjoying them, not that I do it every day, and I have to say... I too get a really big kick out of creating something she so loves. And it's special, different, something the other kids don't have - even if at the end of the day all I'm doing is making a healthy sandwich and vegie packed lunch look like a carnival.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Thank you for last night, blogosphere. I could not have put my chin up without you. Surely you've all at some point in your lives snuck away when you've had guests to check your emails? (if you are saying no, I don't believe you!)

It was a truly gorgeous night. I did not mention to our guests the reason for all the candles I had lit around the house, for never one to do things by halves, I had lighted them all and was thinking about the vast number of people around the world who would be lighting their own throughout the night. And when I looked at the flicker of the flames, I felt the shift in my heart.

It's a great relief to notice joy, you know, when your life at times feels cloaked by depression. You have to remember to grab it, for it can tend to seem as though it is fleeting.

There was a joint tie for the best part of the evening for me. Perhaps you could help me decide, because I think they're equally EEEEEK-AWWW!-worthy:

Exhibit A:
The 'Welcome For Tea' poster Lolly drew for our guests... very AWWWW!
I love that "David" looks like he's recovering from a lobotomy and "Mum" is the only one, suitably, who doesn't have filled-in eyes, giving her that dazed-crazed 'I've been really busy today' look. The little feet, the detail of "Dad's" beard (he wears a perpetual 5 o'clock shadow) that was drawn along with the narrative that "Daddy's looking that way".... it's very special, the most detailed drawing she has ever drawn. Our Keep Artwork box is filled to the brim already but this one, too, is a keeper.

Exhibit B:

An sms came in while I was making the salad, talking with my sister in-law. It was from an old friend, who had given me the name of someone he knew at a major, well-known Australian publishing house. And I was shaking as I read, "Well congrats, Kiddo, X and Y were impressed. Sounds like 'Mind, Body & Spirit' might get back to you. Keep me posted!"  Very EEEEK! I actually let out a sob then an expletive, to the excited amusement of my dear SIL. At around 9pm, another not completely unrelated email landed in my inbox - sometimes my emails go the long way around cyberspace, it had been sent almost five hours earlier - and it was from a potential agent I was put in contact with and had sent my work to the previous day (expecting to be passed along to someone else, not taken up by him per se), and in the email, the agent said he was keen to look further into my work but if I could just give him six weeks..... Er.... Okay! Sure! Can do *that sound was me dropping to the floor again to do a shrieky-kick-dance*

Swings and round-abouts. Swings and round-abouts.

Thank you again for being there to carry me through. Your comments boosted me greatly
*grabbing collective blogosphere in a head-lock, giving it a knuckle-rub.... cue embarrassed shifting of feet*

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear Ella

And away we go.

I got my first proper rejection from a publisher today. I knew it would come, I know they will continue. Over and over, like endless, unrepentant waves on a shore... Much the same as my realisation of the way the grief of losing you was going to work as I started to wake up in my new life seven years ago, a few months after you left.

You should be here tonight. I miss you tonight. Why? Why tonight out of all the other nights that have passed this year since your sixth birth day? Well, it's as random and unpredictable as what I expect your behaviour would be (as a child of this age). I was lighting a candle just before for today's Remembrance and it hit me. The candle was next to a photo of your sister as a baby. The shelf above has a photo of you, older than her in your photo. How is it? You passed each other by. She mentioned you again yesterday. It happens a lot and then peters out again, as her little mind comprehends that bit more. "Ella's my sister and she's in our family but we'll never see her again," her forlorn little voice trails off from the back seat of the car. Keep it together, you've got mascara on, I say to myself in the front.

So the night will wear on. We have a house full of family expected. I can't get motivated to clean the house and get the dinner on. I have to. My cheeks are flushed. My mind is on you. On the relentless rejections I am going to brace myself for in the lead-up to Christmas. Hey.... as I said, I knew it would happen.

It's time for me to release myself from this project a little, so that I can cope with it. It's not a matter of toughening up. I've lost you. I'm tough. I'm as resilient as stone.

But now, to find a way for my head and my heart to work separately, for I am not ever severing myself from my journey with you. But now, the book becomes a part of the world. Just as when you came and left again, you very clearly showed me you were not ever mine alone to own.

I love you, baby girl. And along with those 12 other little lost beginnings of life of mine, as well as the countless more around the globe, I remember you today. As always.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Time for a change

Things are going to be different around here. I'm sick of the smooching, the idle laziness of your ways, the incessant fawning for my attention.

Tabitha. I'm talking to YOU, you lazy-arse moggy. Listen up. And get off our bed, while you're at it.

This morning, when you went darting over to the wall, you had my attention. You had me at 'pounce'. I thought you had spied a mouse - for that is your sole purpose in my life... to keep the mice out of sight, if not out of the house completely - because you went flying over there like a leaf on the wind. You even, you little ratbag, darted your paws under the adjacent cabinet for good measure. I wonder, were you thinking, "She thinks I'm useful, I've got her riiiiight where I want her" while you were doing that?

It was all a ruse, wasn't it? There was nothing there. Surely, a mouse would have been seen scurrying from under that cabinet, no mouse is that dumb that he wouldn't try to make a run for it somewhere else. So, as you had me hooked into your little web of intrigue, I moved the cabinet (lucky for you it's on wheels) and let you get in further. And you lurched again. And then you grabbed whatever it was you'd been hunting - obscuring it with your fat boof head - and did the death-shake when you had it in your mouth.

I applaud you, o Tabitha. You reeeeally had me going.

When I stepped around to face your front, what did you have in your mouth? I knew it wasn't a mouse. I heard no bones crunching, saw no tail, identified no squeaks. An insect perhaps, I thought. Oh goody. She's saved us from an earwig.

Nope. Not even an insect. This prey didn't even have legs.

I ask you, Tabby, are you THAT starved that you are now chasing tumble weeds of dust and dog hair around the house? Granted, it shouldn't have been there and I fail to see how an entire hay-bail sized ball of hair and junk can still be freeballing around my kitchen, given that my chosen partner in life swears blind he vacuumed on the weekend (I even saw him doing it, but I didn't see any furniture being moved..... oh yes, that's right, apparently dust doesn't form under couches). But I digress.

You had a honking great matt of dust in your gob. I admit it, I felt a pang of guilt. Apparently, when you meowed at me, at me, at me, at me, AT ME, for the previous fifteen minutes and I ignored you and shooed you away, I thought you were joking around. I thought you were telling me about your dream. Or the errands you have to run today. I never once thought you could possibly be asking for food.

So. I caved. Got the can out of the fridge and spooned you a morsel. RRREEEEOWWEEEEOWEEE! you said appreciatively. Thanks for that. At least I get some acknowledgement.

NEXT time, though, go catch your own dinner. Earn your keep, fatty Tabby. Things are set to change round 'ere. No more Mrs Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner In A Can. (yeah, right, who am I kidding? Don't hold your breath, anyone... this is an I'll-do-as-I-please cat we're talking about here)

Happy blog-flogging Friday, all!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Still Real

Today, I am clinging to this song. "Still Real" by the Australian group, George, and fronted by the unbelievable Katie Noonan.

The weekend was amazing. In one of those planets-aligning moments (actually Venus is in retrograde, as of Saturday I think...... hmmmmm perhaps something is stirring out in the heavens for all of us? Is anyone else experiencing a slight easing of pressure in their lives, ever so slight? Like letting out the top button of your jeans after Christmas lunch??), I found myself swanning around in "free" time. I know!! I was overjoyed. I spent the weekend very close to my book and was able to speed through a very trying section. I even had Sunday dinner cooked for me by the two dearest chefs in the house - Steve and the LGBB whipped up chicken schnitzels, broccoli, peas, carrots and just about the best mash potato I've ever tasted. And in true fashion, Steve now refuses to tell me how he did it. Addaboy. Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen.

Anywho. Back to the song. It just seems to perfectly fit with what I'm facing this week.... I am at the final couple of chapters of the book. I cannot believe it. I'm euphoric, scared, elated, feeling very bittersweet about it. And like an undercurrent that incessantly nips at my heels, I have an awareness that there are a couple of entities that are just waiting, hoping, willing me to finish and put myself out there with my neck on the chopping block, as if presenting myself for their beheading.

So I'm also wondering, then, how it is for others.... I ask you:
What is truth and what is a lie? If someone tells you something and you have a different recollection or perspective of the same event they are talking about, does that make the other person a liar? Or do you see that they simply speaking their truth and it just doesn't match yours? Do you tend to have one rule or do you change how you feel about what are lies and what is truth, depending on who you are judging or what they are talking about?

This song, to me, speaks to that. And I find it a great comfort.

Still Real
I wonder how long I can sustain this mystery
I wonder how we thought we'd get here without strife
I try to recall the beauty that brought us here
And I cling to that, I cling to that, I cling to that for my life

They say they understand the turmoil that unsettles you
And I say you just fulfill your end of the deal and I'll fulfill mine
Once we reveal ourselves we're so quick, so quick to analyse
I just want you to be free and enjoy this ride
So go on I'll tell you it's alright
Go on, please tell me you're fine
Don't ever let them get you down
'cause everything that really, really matters
is still real
I'd love to see you shine with every possible radiance
And ignore any thoughts that weren't planted by good
And let intention motivate and stimulate, that is all
And let the cloud that hangs above drift off into the sunset night
So go on I'll tell you it's alright
Go on, please tell me you're fine
Don't ever let them get you down
'cause everything that really, really matters
is still real

george - Still Real from SeanieG on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Career change

Whaaat? You haven't seen an obedient dog with a dog on its head before?

I'm currently in the process of getting police checks done.

It appears Jazz is about to embark on the next stage of her 'career', from backyard marauder and general lay-about to aged care petting dog. Very respectable.

I'm not quite sure if I'm meant to be doing the police checks for me or her, come to think of it.

But the managers of the local residential aged care facility took one look at her today, covered in sludge from nose to haunches (she fell into a blind puddle en route to her thrown ball at the park across the way), and still wanted her to come back. She sat, dropped and looked dutifully doleful in a "please pat me, I'm starved of love" kind of way. They warned me that the elderly - specifically, the residents in the dementia wing - have a habit of asking the same questions repetitively and was I okay with that. I assured them I would leave my bat for smacking over the back of the head at home.

Jazz already has experience working with the elderly
"The Elderly" has warmed to her since these early days

Sort of...

Is it possible for The Elderly to look any more disdainful?

No, really, I volunteered at an aged care residence when I was a teenager. I adored it. I adored all the people. There was one woman I particularly remember, she was 98 years old and I never saw her without a full face of makeup. She was gorgeous, inside and out. So refined. She would invite me to her room for cups of tea. Somehow she had wrangled a double room for herself (she had been a resident there for a number of years, I was told, and used to share the room with her husband who had passed away some years before) and it was kitted out like a beautiful bedsit. All her ornate furniture surrounded her, there were pictures on the wall, she had a beautiful dresser and a little tea-for-two setup, complete with fine china, in the window. It was magical. From what I could ascertain, she did not really mingle with the other residents, who used to congregate in the depressing lounge and dining rooms on stiff-back chairs, not talking to each other but just ... together. They would invariably light up when I walked in the door once a week.

I gave up my Saturdays for six months as a 13 year-old and I would get there under my own steam. I rode my bike (which had no gears, I'll add) there and back every week - it was a good 5-10km's (Wonga Park to North Croydon, if you know the area anyone reading... no paved footpaths and no flat bits either, I might point out too!). I'm not entirely sure what lured me there each weekend. Perhaps the honour of listening to their stories and respecting them as individuals who had had to give up their possessions and their lives as they knew them, basically. I found it really heart-rending, even as a youngster, seeing my grandparents in a parallel existence - they were still alive and (not necessarily well, but fending for themselves) in a relatively palatial home that they ran on their own. I never wanted to imagine their end to be as lonely and bleak as this.

As fate would have it, my grandfather would die less than seven years after my stint in volunteer work - he spent a week unconscious in hospital after suffering a major stroke at home. And my grandmother, who would end up a major character in my book even though we were not close when she was alive, would die (five years after that) of a cardiac arrest very suddenly right before my eyes, also while still living at home and looking after herself.

The nursing home around the corner here has been calling me for the past three years. On a whim today, on our way home from the park, tired, wet, thirsty (and that was just me, let alone the LGBB and Jazz) and not at all looking like we'd impress anyone, I ventured in. And was warmly welcomed.

Will keep you posted how this goes! Who knows, Jazz could whack some poor sweetheart off her rocker on the first day. Her career as petting pet might be extremely short-lived. But I have a feeling that I, if not Lolly along with me, will become a regular visitor there, if for nothing else than wandering through for a couple of hours a week to give a wave and share a yarn... quite possibly the same yarn each week. Gorgeous.

 This is a blog hop!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sometimes it's good to be bad

Whenever I make a cake (it's rare.... condolences to my husband can be made via the comments section....), everyone always comments on the icing.

If we hand pieces out, or send them along for kindy teachers and the likes, invariably nobody wants to mention the cake. It's all about the icing. After all, it is

All. About. The icing.

In fact, that shall be my new motto. "Why can't I get ahead in life?" "Where has my happiness gone?" "What makes a good cake?" See? Each can be replied with one simple sentence: it's all about the icing.

So, I am going to let you in on my little icing secret. I have formulated a few good variations from this very simple base. You wanna know the secret to my icing?


I feel a little like Homer when he goes mad and blurts out that the secret ingredient to his and Flaming Moe's magical drink is...... "cough syrup! Ordinary, everyday, over-the-counter cough syrup! Tee hee!" For that is how simple it is in this case too.

Be warned, this makes a CRAP-TONNE of icing so either be prepared to use it or freeze it, or reduce quantities - I can halve this and it fits perfectly over your average-sized cake.

Try this out on your next batch of muffins or cake! You will soooooooooo thank me.

Butter Cream Icing

225g/8oz unsalted butter, softened
500g/1lb 2oz icing sugar, twice sifted
2-3 Tbsp milk
1 Tsp vanilla

Beat butter with electric mixer til light and fluffy. Add icing sugar with milk and vanilla, fold it all in carefully. Beat til pale and creamy (mmmmmm, creamy). Add more milk if necessary but do it in tiny amounts carefully, it wants to be fairly firm in consistency.

If you want to make a choc icing, reduce qty of icing sugar to 325g/11 1/2 oz, and add 55-85g/2-3 oz cocoa powder plus an extra 1-2 Tbsp milk.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The face of my manuscript

Well, here it is. On the surface, it looks worse for wear. But on the inside, it is becoming meatier and more meaningful than ever. This here is the final page of the recently re-posted 'woman in the supermarket' story. Now, while I thought it was "pretty orright" and so did other commenters here... it hadn't received the fine tooth-comb from my Editor. Let me just say, it is already vastly different, even from the re-post I did last week. Eeek! This is going to be a long and winding road, this 'ere editing stage.

Thanks to Dad's - my Editor ;) - gentle and frank guidance, I am teasing out the many concepts that I have managed to capture from my head and plonk on paper. Now, I am being challenged to really confront what I have really been writing. They are no longer anonymous and enormously suggestive concepts... they are turning into compelling personal insights. Just when I thought I had explained myself fully and completely, I discovered I had barely scratched the surface of what I had really meant.


–noun, plural -gies. 1. needless repetition of an idea, esp. in words other than those of the immediate context, without imparting additional force or clearness.

I am being challenged with my apparent love of tautologies and sentence fragments that hiccup throughout the reader's train of thought. I am being pulled up left, right and centre on my technical structure. But most heartening, at the end of just about every chapter, I am receiving a "Wow. Powerful chapter." This is no easy feat to achieve with my wordy, worldly, well-read and learned Papa! So I am buoyed greatly to continue with renewed confidence about the whole project.

And although it is a hard slog - facing these words and these chapters yet again - I am loving every moment of the process.

Added to this, I received last night a most prized email address passed on to me by a mutual acquaintance (the best kind to have!). So I now have the contact details of the Marketing Director of a prominent Australian publishing house with an internationally recognised name, who is waiting for me to send an extract.

Excuse me while I go and vomit and then faint a little bit  try to maintain my composure but fail miserably  keep working hard so I don't keep her waiting too long.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The filling day

I have just come back from the most astounding, enriching family day at the beach.

If you can imagine, my family is spread pretty wide. Cousins flung from either side of the country - my mother's relatives settled predominantly in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne - so we are separated by distance and always have been. Add various inter-generational rifts (what appear to be genetic methods of coping with situations too difficult to express in words) and this has further contributed to separation and estrangement. Let's just say, it's rather commonplace at least on one side of my line.

My oldest cousin turns 50 this year. She is 15 years older than me. I remember her as the coolest, most lovely and nurturing girl - the one who willingly had me over to stay, as a spritely 6 year-old, at her home when she had her baby (and I was so besotted by her little girl during a trip to WA that I had taken with my mother). She was the one who got married the same year as Charles and Diana. I thought she was living a fairytale and I was always a bit starstruck by her.

I haven't seen my cousin since I was eleven. But I would know her in any crowd.

In recent years, I have heard from various members of the family that my cousin has taken an interest in the genealogical lineage of my mother's family. When my great aunt died earlier this year, my ensuing trip to the family home in remote outback Australia ignited a drive in me to remember my roots. This ties in very neatly also to my energenetics studies - the energy locked up in our genetics, basically - which have, these past 12-18 months, turned to unravelling the intricate webbing of genetic patterning (the stuff that isn't locked up in physiological DNA, but that which is energetic - passed on down the line, in much the same way as the physical characteristics).

Imagine my utter surprise today to discover that my cousin has been "hoping to learn more about healing the energetic side to a family's history." My ears pricked up when she said this. She referred to it as "healing the family tree". And imagine her keen interest when I told her, rather awestruck, that I had been learning how to recognise and decode family genetic patterns - the outmoded "ways" that carry down our genetic lines as patterns, overlaying our natural original self.

There was a bit of a grin and a slow head-nod of recognition for us both then, as we looked at each other, suddenly realising we were both striving to learn and uncover - from different ends of the same spectrum - this same thing. It's not very common, one has to admit, to hear about anyone studying their family pattern (not the tree and who was in it and who was born/married/connected to whom, but more the patterns of their ancestry and what they passed on). And as they go, let's just say our family has a few DOOZIES of recurring patterns!

I feel honoured that this chance catch-up (for they have been to Melbourne before on fleeting visits but we've not caught up before today) has given me a connection, or reconnection, to this beloved cousin. And now I have another family member in the know about our specific family dynamic - the strange, delicate, dysfunctional, unique and beautiful ways - to bounce theories and ideas off.

I have heard of courses such as Cutting The Ties That Bind and so forth. These aim, basically speaking, to safely and respectfully allow the individual to recognise and remove themselves from family patterns (or societal ones, for that matter) that do not fit for them. What we're doing seems to be something slightly different to that. At any rate, I know what I am seeking is a real understanding of where each member of my ancestry was 'coming from' as much as I can, in order that I might wholly accept that individual and their monumental role in shaping the generations that followed, right down to li'l ol' me... And Lolly, for that matter.

For, once again, that is what I am doing all this for. It's for her. My LGBB. For my further training, yes (and what better way to learn how to guide others than to first go through the tough trials yourself - heal the healer, etc etc...), but ultimately it really is to safeguard the way for her.

There may be more I'd like to share about this, but anything more specific might be best left for the private blog sometime in the near future.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Today, I....

Am packing away the polar fleece. It's going to be 24ºC! Hello, old friend The Sun.

Am going to Bunnings to look for baby spinach and rocket (rocquet?? I can never tell, the spelling changes everywhere) seedlings to plant in the vegie patch.

Start Pepper on her dementia medication. The old girl has started to call me Roberta and is smelling oranges for no reason. She's losing it. She barks, as regular as a metronome ticking, and it's because she wakes and forgets where she is and what she was doing. And then I go and shush her with various semaphore arm movements (she's deaf) and the look on her sweet face tells me.... she knows who I am and she's sheepish, like "Oh. It's you. Was I making a noise again? I can't tell."

Rescued two lonely, wisened, dried up Bangalow palms from Woolies. They were getting chucked out for $10 each - they were double that price last week. Score, me and them! I love potted palms.

Will attempt to make the chocolate cake I was planning on making since last Saturday, but I reckon the weather will entice me outdoors all day. So, fat chance of cooking.

Am looking forward immensely to the rematch of the AFL grand final. Last Saturday, Steve was sick and spent the day in bed. Lolly and I had a blast watching it and eating pies, but it's more fun with Daddy to explain the rules 'cause we haven't a clue what's going on. We just cheer everybody on.

May just finish weeding the front garden. Heh. I said 'may'.

Will stand in my backyard with my face to the sun and be thankful.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Shine your shoes, brush your hair, scrub your windows!

The sun! The blessed sun is going to be out for two days in a row!!!!  Time to.....

Wash windows.

There comes a time in a domesticated adult's life when they must wash their windows. Properly. Thoroughly. And not just the main one or two (namely, that one at the front door, the one you look out of most - the kitchen - and the one the parents in-law are likely to notice straight away is covered in bits of dog fur and slobber). I mean, all of them.

Dust and grime and grease off the rod is likely to have rendered most winter-battered windows barely see-through. Well, it has around here, anyway. So I thought I would pass on some ever-so-easy failsafe tips that were offered to me by a kindly gentleman at a cleaning shop, when I went in to buy an industrial sized window squeegie-thingy.

What you will need to clean your windows:
Good squeegie is a must. Dog optional.
• Dish washing detergent - average, everyday liquid - nothing fancy required.
• A bucket with about 1L of warm water in it.
• A soft broom - I use my kitchen broom, it dries easily after I do this and it gets cleaned by the water at the end.
• A good quality squeegie - this is key. I forked out $20 for mine but I have not regretted it yet.
• A microfibre cloth - for cleaning down the rubber in between scrapes of the window and finishing off around the edges of the window if your squeegie doesn't quite grab in some places.

What to do:
Soap that baby up
1. Use the broom, dipped into the bucket so it's all nice and soaking, to soap up the window. Really get in there and make it soapy.
TIP #1: Do not hit the top of the window with the broom! Stay away from the top, so that it doesn't drip or dribble down your nice clean window.
TIP #2: Remember, you're not cleaning the window with the broom - the cleaning is actually done by the squeegie (hence the importance of a really good one), the broom is merely going to loosen up the gunk.
Don't hit the top of the window with the broom.

2. Starting from the top, scrape across the window with the squeegie, turning at the point where the end of it is going to hit the side of the window (so you're sort of doing a twirling motion with it, not straight across).
TIP #1: Just like not wanting to hit the top with your broom, you don't want to hit the sides with your squeegie if you can help it - this will only cause all the soapy water to dribble onto your window sides, which sort of makes the cleanup a bit more tedious. Not to worry if this happens, though, because you have your microfibre cloth and can give the window surrounds a bit of a rub-down.
TIP #2: Clean the rubber edge of your squeegie regularly, don't let it get too gooped up with the crap off your window or it won't work as effectively.

Cleaning inside windows:
Bit of water (and a drop of methylated spirits, but not necessary) in a spray bottle. Spray it on, clean the window off with a clean microfibre cloth. 

Violé! That's it, you're done. Now go grab a cuppa.

And there you have it. I tell you, I have enjoyed - yes, actually enjoyed - cleaning windows since learning these couple of easy tips. I owe that bloke a drink. He's made looking out my windows again thoroughly enjoyable, not plagued with angst-ridden thoughts of "Sheeeeet, is that dribble stain on the inside or the outside? Oh, WHY do I always miss bits and get scrape marks? I may as well have not done them."

Enjoy hopping the blogs today and have a great weekend, everyone.

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