Thursday, January 03, 2008
I collect stuff. I also have attachment to many inert objects. Sentimental to say the least.
The trouble is, the older you get, the more room you need to store the stuff that you collect. This is not a problem if you live in a huge house. You can just find a spot to put it.
It is just as well that I do not live in a huge house. Three bedrooms, dining room, lounge room, kitchen, office, laundry and two bathrooms. That is a good size and we have managed to fill almost every spot there is available to fill. Furniture on each and every wall. Cupboards full with stuff. Drawers with things in them. Pictures on walls.
It would not matter how big my house was, I would have to fill it with lots and lots of old things.
Now and then I have a half hearted effort at a purge. But the only things I manage to throw out are clothing that is past it's use by date and other similar items. As good as I may feel about that purge, deep down I know it is a bit pathetic. I even have the t-towels given to me when we got married 17 years ago. Admittedly they were of the highest quality French fabric and have at least another twenty years in them.
Before my mother moved to another state, I used to visit her quite a lot. With each visit she would pass on some of her stuff to me and I would bring it home and shove it somewhere. When she moved, despite my sadness at her being so far away, there was a bit of relief on the home front as I stopped bringing home things from her house to mine.
Early in 2007 after my father in law had a stroke and moved to a nursing home, K had to empty out the unit they lived in. More stuff. He had to make tough decisions on what to keep and what to throw out. Things like thirty years of Christmas cards had to go. A very, very large amount of stuff came over to our house. I asked him just how he imagined we would fit all the extra items into our house when already we were bursting at the seams.
His theory was this. Imagine getting a truckload of mulch delivered to the home to spread over the garden beds. It may seem like too much, but once you just spread it out it is not much at all. So, we spread the stuff out and about in cupboards and drawers throughout the house. Well, what a crock that was. Every time I open a cupboard I am confronted with things, things and more things.
I had a discussion about it the other day. I said to him that we need to sort things out, decide what we really, really want to keep, box it and label the box clearly. We would then store it up on the mezzanine floor that we have in his garage. He agreed.
Firstly though, we have to sort out what is currently stored up there before we can store more, if you know what I mean.
I have boxes of books, books and more books which have been packed away for a few years. And they were packed after a book purge so they really are my favorites. Then I have my son's special toys from baby years, his books, lovely baby clothes, blankets and other extremely sentimental things that I have to keep. My Bayko building sets are in two huge crates. Some other boxes of weird toys and other collectibles that had to be squirreled away due to space issues.
Some things I have started taking out and bringing into the studio and now in here is beginning to fill up rather quickly. But I like the feeling of all my things around me. My own little cave.
So, tomorrow I am off to buy some more boxes to begin the process of sorting things out.
Trouble is, knowing myself the way I do, once a some room is made in the house, I will be out looking for something quirky to fill it up. That urge to collect is constant.
Just cannot help myself.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
My brother loves to collect timber. Long lengths of beautiful timber saved from old houses that have been demolished. The exterior of the timber often looks grey, but once sandpaper has run across it a few times, the lovely grain comes to life. He has piles of this type of timber lying around, waiting to be brought back to life.
So many lovely pieces of furniture have been made in his workshop. Long and heavy tables made of recycled mahogany or huon pine. There is a gorgeous mellow quality to old timber. Felled over 100 years ago, the trees from which they came from would have been old, fully grown, the grain tight and the colour rich. After being milled the timber would have been part of a house and continued to age even after life was essentially over. Once again the timber is revived, only this time not hidden within roof space as a form of support, but as a table to be admired and enjoyed for many years.
Sometimes my brother goes down to his workshop at the end of the day to just wind down and relax. He has some old wicker chairs to sit on and a small black and white television to watch. He sits with a cup of tea and reads the paper. Life can be stressful at times for him. He and I share a similar nature. We like to be alone quite often.
I know he would love to have shown dad the things he has done, his workshop, his children. So much time has passed now that, like myself, my brother no longer wishes to entertain the thought of our father suddenly deciding to reconnect with us again. There is a limit to how much a wound can be opened and reopened before the pain becomes too difficult to even contemplate.
We actually no longer talk about the whole thing anymore. There really is no more to talk about and we have lives to live right now that are far more important than talking about past issues.
He and his wife often visit with their two boys. They have ups and downs in the marriage like most people do. As far as personalities go they are at extreme opposites and argue. When things get too hard for them they come over to have a cup of tea. During the course of the visit, a discussion will entail about their argument. I don’t take sides but will talk it over with them. When they leave they always say to me that I am like their marriage counselor which makes me laugh.
At least I am free, I always say.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
I like reading old books about medicine. There is a lot of what seems like outright quackery woven in amongst the very pompous paragraphs of some of the volumes I have gazed upon. And, some of the remedies are frightening, to say the least. Especially if you should be so unlucky as to have ended up in an institute for the insane.
But I have one favorite book which I read over and over again, each time picking up some fascinating piece of information.
The book is called "The Lady's Manual of Homoeopathic Treatment in the Various Derangements Incident to Her Sex" and is written by E. H. Ruddock MD. The edition I have is the tenth edition and is dated 1892.
Firstly, I would like to briefly mention how amusing I find that the word "derangement" is used in the title. It does give a fair idea of how women were perhaps viewed by the medical world all those years ago.
The book basically goes through the process of the female development starting with puberty, menstruation, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
There are some great little paragraphs here and there. In one section they talk about the early onset of menses and state that activities such as hot baths, eating stimulating food and drinks, excessive dancing, excitement from novel reading, too much sitting and late nights will bring it on far too soon. These days they blame early puberty on eating hormone laced chicken and beef.
They also mention that the education and general habits of the present social conditions produce too much pressure on young girls and boys and throw them into adulthood too soon. One comment written is that the "precociousness which the habits and fashions of the present generation engender". Now, this was written in 1892 and the same sort of worries are present. We worry about society forcing children to grow up too soon, as did they.
Throughout the book there is a lot of encouragement for young women to be thoughtful with their diet, to get out and exercise in the fresh air and to have good sociable interests. After a woman gives birth, the instructions are for nurturing the mother, ensuring her diet is good and she gets plenty of rest. Demand feeding is encouraged to build milk supply etc. Even mention is made to watch out for post natal depression which is referred to as melancholy-mania.
Of course there is so much more detail in the book, which would fill pages and pages. Along with each symptom is a tonic of sorts to alleviate the condition. Some of these seem a bit outdated but a lot of them are still used today.
I love books like this. Books that give a great insight into how people lived all those years ago. This book is now over 100 years old and each time I pick it up and read it I think of all the people who held it before me. There is a stamp on the inside cover with the name of the chemist it was purchased from on 10th October, 1900. The chemist is Martin and Pleasance and they are still functioning out there in homeopathic land.
What is shows to me also is that people really never change over decades. The same concerns abound. Our desire for children being children for as long as possible, tackling new (and not so new) health issues and seeking out cures for them all, diet and the constant battle to get it right.
Human beings are just a product of the era they are born in.
Books from all the eras show us that we are so normal even if the world seems so very different to how it used to be.
Drink less, eat less, smoke less and exercise more are the four most common resolutions that people are continuously making and breaking. They are big ones that are mostly broken within a week or two.
In fact, everything about a resolution indicates that, deep down, people are never too happy with themselves. Does not seem to matter much the good things that an overweight, lazy, smoking and drinking person may have achieved during the year. The fact that he or she still is perceived to be indulging wipes all the good stuff out.
Wanting to better myself is always a goal. But I never want that to be a resolution. It is too complex to make a grand statement about on the 1st of January. So much to be worked on and chipped away at to make any foray into so I just make it a daily fact of life.
So, the big annoying things about myself are like a lifelong project. The big picture is too big for me to see the edges of so I have to zero in on the little, tiny and pesky things to feel I have some success. Otherwise I would be totally disheartened and stay in bed.
Here is a small list of the things I hope to tackle in 2008 as they really annoyed me in 2007:
- Consistently go to bed early. Notice the word consistently. Does not seem to assert itself often enough.
- Get out of bed early. Hard to do if I am not successful with number 1.
- Be patient and kind with myself. Now I am in the studio and getting back into drawing and other fiddly things, I am faced constantly with the fact I have the attention span of a pea and am incredibly self critical which then is followed by complete despondency at my total lack of success. My success is measured by the size of the urge of have to rip up what I have done. The greater the urge is the more dissatisfied I am with what I am doing. The urge seems to be on a constant and grand scale.
- Keep the interior of my car clean. Speaks for itself.
- Stop wiping my hands on jeans if they are sticky, wet, grubby etc.
- Resist the urge to throw clean clothes into the laundry basket just because I am too lazy to hang them up.
- Make full use of my diary which means fill it in every day AND carry it with me in my bag AND read it each day.
- Write in my journal when I feel the urge and not when I have time as the ideas come and go like the wind and not when I always want them to.
- Try to reduce the contents in my handbag as it now weighs about 12kg and that means I cannot put it on my passenger seat in the car or it beeps to put the seatbelt on my handbag. Also may help with the chronic ache in my right shoulder....
- Try to be a little bit spontaneous now and then, even if it bothers my routine to the point where I feel my whole week is ruined because I missed my Monday walk (or something similar).
Okay, that is ten changes - not resolutions - I shall be working on over the next few months.
As for things like housework, ironing and other domestic activities. Well, I sorted those out a couple of years ago. I just do them when I feel like it and if any other members of the household object to that mantra, hey, they know where the vacuum cleaner is..
Happy New Year to everyone.
So, goodbye 2007
Sweet year you were to me
You gave to me peace
And then I was free.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Yesterday we went down to the beach to have an ice cream. Whilst the boys love to eat the the creamy ice cream you get from the van, I always get the gelato. The bright colours reflect the shimmer of a hot day. A gelato from the van parked down at the beach is usually the cheapest version of one that you could get, but still it is my favorite. They are usually too big for me to finish and most times I hand it over to K or S to eat when I am half way through.
I had a perfect birthday yesterday. My brother and his family dropped over in the morning with a gift voucher from an art supply shop. They stayed and chatted for a while before heading off.
Then my work colleague dropped over for lunch with her teenage daughter. J has just bought a brand new car and we spent some time peering through all the nooks and crannies, admiring the smooth plastic interior and the new car smell. She had also bought a GPS and, being a complete troglodyte with map reading of any sort, I was duly impressed. My husband, who is my online GPS when I get lost, rolled his eyes and muttered something about precious skills being lost with all these gadgets. I said that I never had the skills of map reading so it was no loss if I got a GPS.
After she had left I went immediately down to the art supply shop where I spent more than the voucher (as happens) and came home with a brown paper bag full of lovely things.
In the evening we went down to the beach. It was full of people, the wind was quick and whipped around us. By the time we got back into the car my skin was salty from the air. The weather had cooled down when we had arrived, but there were still people in the water. Lots of people bring down chairs, food and families and spend the day down here.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Although a lot of people are wanting to get out and fill the shopping centres, the atmosphere is one of relaxation and low key excitement. As though anything that matters is put on hold until the New Year brings about the routine once again.
Today is hot. One of those hot summer days that take your breath away when you step out into the open air. A blast of heat that dries any moisture from your skin, making lips dry. On days like today I always threaten to cut my hair short as it is hot and heavy against my neck. I end up wearing it up around the house.
I had to go out to the shops today. Picking up fresh fruit and vegetables and something for dinner. There is a strip shop about twenty minutes drive from my house. It is my favorite. I spent many teenage years walking down there.
It has changed greatly now. The suburb, once a not particularly popular one, has become one of affluence. Houses that were cheap now cost too much for the average person. So, the nature of the shops change to suit the available income of the local person.
Often I browse through the clothes shops, many of which are full of interesting designer items. Skirts with strange patterns and colours, shirts of fine cotton with odd pieces of silk ribbon attached on the collar or cuff for added interest and dresses with floral patterns that one never sees in a department store. These are clothes made for people who want to spend a lot of money to make a statement. Individual and yet at the same time common to those who can afford it.
Sometimes when I look at the shirts I am tempted. The fabrics are usually of a quality you no longer can get easily. Soft white muslin, white cotton and pale silk. Fabrics that make no noise when you wear them. Fabrics that make your skin shiver when you slide your bare arm into the sleeve. Fabrics to handwash carefully and hang away from the harsh sunlight to dry naturally. Fabrics that look insolently expensive, even if you have worn the shirt all day.
There have been odd occasions that one of these shirts has been reduced enough in cost that I make a decision to buy it. Perhaps the price drops from $320 down to $120 which, even though it is still what I consider to be expensive, it is low enough to make me want it. Generally the ones I love most are white, fairly plain and have a boyish yet feminine look about them. A small piece of lace, an imprint of a flower in the fabric or the sleeves are so long that the cuff finishes at the finger tips. These small touches give it an individual look that I am so drawn to.
When I have one of the shirts, I treasure it. I wear it with great thought and take care of it. Not because of the purchase cost, but because of the beauty of it. The relationship I have with it can be personal and full of tenderness. When I open the wardrobe I look at it hanging separately from my everyday clothes. I touch the sleeve, or the front of it and may be half tempted to wear it to work.
But, these shirts only get worn on weekends. When I decide to go out for a cup of coffee or perhaps just for a walk down the street I will wear it. I do not want to sully it's beauty with the tedium of work. I want to feel it against me, see a reflection of it in a shop window. The shirt knows it is special. It has it's own life. A spoilt, but love article of clothing.
Eventually the life of a sweet shirt such as this comes to an end. Perhaps the fine fabric wears thin in places or a small tear may appear in the fragile silk. At that point in time I will decide to wear it to work. Get the most out of it. After that I may keep it for years only wear it less. A new one will replace it but the old ones stay as a reminder to the bond we have.
I am due for a new shirt. I saw a few today, hanging like white ghosts waiting for a wardrobe to haunt. Touched the fabric, stroked the cuffs and collars and held the shirt up against my body. One of them had a little bell attached to the washing instructions to lead you easily to the information. Although they were close to what I wanted, they were not quite right, not calling to me like a Siren to a passing ship of sailors. When I get the tempting song in my head then the shirt has chosen me, not I the shirt.
I still have a few more places to find one, and when I do I cannot wait to put it on.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Now, I need to tell you a bit of history about S and his bedtime.
I was a very anxious mother from the moment I brought my son home from hospital.
When he cried, I picked him up. All the time. No controlled crying in our house. In fact, I thought how fantastic it was that he would fall asleep so quickly and easily in my arms. I could move him out of the car and into his cot without any problems.
Crying babies make me very anxious. Even now, if I hear a baby cry I think it should be picked up and held until it stops crying.
One day the local mother craft nurse came around and saw that S was asleep in my arms. She warned me that if he did not learn to sleep on his own there would be problems years down the track.
I just thought "well, I don't give a fuck, it makes me happy to pick him up, makes him happy and I am prepared to do it".
Another time I took him to the doctor with an earache and some mention was made that S had been in our bed at night. The doctor asked me if this was common and I said it was. He then said to me that he was not concerned about my son's earache, but more about the fact that he was in our bed so much still at the age of eight.
And I was prepared to do all the other things to help him sleep like let him sleep in our bed if he woke up. Which until early this year he did for about five nights each week.
For years one of us would lay with him in bed until he went to sleep (and us). Then do a very, very careful movement to get out of bed without him waking up, then more careful movements to get out of the room and avoid the creaking floor board or he would wake up. This stopped at just past age nine when I had to take a hard line and force him to go to sleep on his own. It was a traumatic week for us all. But he managed.
Nothing is to be moved in his room or he cannot go to sleep. He actually does not shut his eyes to go to sleep, he just keeps them wide open until they drop shut. Once I moved a picture on his wall and he could not go to sleep as he liked to stare at it to sleep. He tells me that if he shuts his eyes he sees monsters.
He still sleeps with the light on. Not just a small light, but the entire room is lit. We have recently started turning it off once he goes to sleep as he requested us to do it.
He also has had a cd playing audio books and he has listened to hundreds of hours of great novels as he goes to sleep.
But a few weeks ago K let him watch a Tintin dvd on the portable player whilst he would go to sleep.
I was a bit annoyed about this as I have a rule about televisions or dvd's in a bedroom, especially a child's.
Watching a dvd does not help a child get to sleep, it keeps them awake. I walk in to his bedroom and he is lying there like a zombie with his eyes fixed on the action. And it is ten o'clock at night!
So I have said to K that since he allowed it, he has to disallow it.
That was weeks ago. S is still watching dvd's to go to sleep. He knows every Tintin dvd in such great detail that he has started noticing little faults with the background scenery. As he also reads the books, he is able to tell me any mistakes being made in the dialogue.
Looks like I might have to be miss bossy boots again.
Recently he has been visiting London and the photos are so gorgeous. I started thinking about my upcoming trip in March 2008.
Then I thought of all the things that need doing before we go.
Get a warm coat for each of us.
Think about what to pack.
Get another suitcase for S.
Work out what to see and do whilst we are over there for that short time.
Then, as I was allowing my mind to meander along I realised that I had forgotten on rather important item.
Renew my passport.
My passport expired in 2004. I feel a bit sad that I am unable to use that particular one as, apart from a few nice stamps inside, it also has an autograph from Michael Palin. I went to a book signing of his years ago and got him to sign the passport. He was doing a lot of travel series and books which were great entertainment at the time.
The process to renew a passport is a drag. Get photos (ugly ones at that) of myself not smiling. Get neighbour to sign something that the photo is actually me. Then get some policeman or equivalent to witness something. Have to go to the post office to be interviewed and to show all my id. Post it in and wait.
It actually dawned on me that I had better do something about it or I may be in a little bit of a rush in a couple of months.
Can't someone do it for me?
It's too hard.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
It is the big "ka-ching" of a shop store till!
Yes, it was that time of year where all the rubbish that was available to buy before Christmas was reduced heavily in price. Which means instead of the stores making 500% mark up, they only made 200% mark up.
For most of my adult life I have gone to the Boxing Day sales. Only illness has prevented me from not being there.
I only ever go on my own.
Prior to Boxing Day I mumble something about not going as I have enough stuff and don't need anything and am so over it. Then, at about 7.00pm on Christmas Day, the first advertisement appears on television I am overwhelmed with the most intense excitement that I have been known to jump up and do a silly little jig around the room. This is usually accompanied by a high pitched squeal of excitement.
I go to bed and set my alarm nice and early as the best shops open at 7.00 am and I want to be there.
The earliest I have ever managed to get to the shopping centre is 8.30 am and just made a bee line for the coffee shop.
On the morning of going, I check my bank balance, my wallet balance and the coin bowl. I want to make sure I don't spend money that I don't have.
As I walk out the door I feel an absolute rush of excitement and this lasts until I drive up the ramp of the shopping centre and get a parking spot. You have to be there before 9.30 am to get a good parking spot. After that you end up trawling the rows between cars like some sort of gutter crawler.
Once I reach the store and those doors open magically for me, letting loose that perfumey pong that only a department store has, I breeze through, feeling a thrill of pleasure. People milling around looking through the piles of discounted Christmas cards, browsing through reduced cd's and dvd's, loading their arms with mounds of towels or picking their way through mounds of cheap knickers and bras.
Now, I am a big shopper but my actual purchasing does not match that. Meaning that I am happy to meander through a shop and look at things, but generally not buy them. If I am after something I do a great deal of thinking about it prior to the event. I know the prices of everything. I am so into the cost of things that if you were to ask me the prices of each item I bought when I went food shopping, I can tell you.
So, I know what a genuine store mark down is. I know what value for money is. And I know the difference between a need and a want.
Each year, prior to the sales, I agonise over what I think we need. This year it was a new set of saucepans, a new dinner set and a baking dish (for some reason I don't have one).
The trouble is, as much as I love shopping, I hate crowds. No matter how early I get there to avoid the crowds, it is not long before the centre is packed to the gills with people. Children crying in prams, women overloaded with bags pushing their way past me, gaggles of giggly girls with long legs and shrill voices barging their bodies into everyone and the hum of voices is loud and intense. The noise, the smell, the having to wait to be served all really, really piss me off.
It is not long after entering the store that any decision making I planned has been put on hold. A certain logic enters my head. The logic of a practical person. The moment I start to look at something I might vaguely entertain the thought of buying, a little voice in my head says things like:
1. Do you really need it?
2. How many hours do you have to work for this? Do you really want to work ten hours for this?
3. How much do you really need a new set of saucepans? The metal handles on the ones at home aren't so bad are they?
4. You have done without it this long. Don't waste your money.
5. Are you really going to wear it more than once?
6. Go for a walk, if you are still thinking about it in half an hour, then buy it. (I have only once ever gone back to buy something)
I sit down, have a coffee and read a newspaper before making the decision to just meander.
I came home with two t-shirts and a pair of shorts for S, some drawing pencils for me, a couple of books and perfume from the Body Shop. I was at the shopping centre from 9.00 am until 1.30 pm. Only what I bought for S was reduced.
As I jumped into the car to go home, it was at that point I realised that, once again, the anticipation was so much better than the actual event.
Sometimes you just have to be there.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
For me, Christmas day is what other people do as I celebrate the event on the eve of the 24th. As we no longer have people coming over for Christmas lunch, we go out. This year we dropped in to a couple of places for a quick hello, but we had lunch at the nursing home where K's dad lives.
I have a confession to make. I don't visit my father in law that much. He was not my favorite guy when he lived next door to us, but that is not the reason. The reason being, I don't want to. The decision to not visit him that much is made easier by the fact that at 5.00 pm in the afternoon he cannot remember who visited him at 2.00 pm that day.
He is always happy to see people and, in fact, he is happier in there than he ever has been for most of his life. My husband visits him most days but is no longer stressed if he misses a day or two. Anyway, we went there today and had lunch with him. He had quite a major stroke in November 2006 and is bedridden, cannot communicate well and has to be fed his meals (which are mashed) as his motor skills were affected. But, as I said, he is happy, always smiling and laughing.
When we got there S was mumbling about being bored and not hungry. I leant over and whispered in my very scary mummy voice "sometimes we do things we don't want to, so eat it" and he ate most of it. Whilst we were eating there was a lot of really, really awful throat clearing noises from another inmate. At that point in time both S and I had to force ourselves to continue the meal. Later on we talked about it and my husband said that he did not hear it as he has been going there for that long that those sorts of noises go over his head.
I have uploaded a photo of S and his two cousins watching him play a game on his Nintendo DS. I love the look of interest on their faces. A modern day expression.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Before I get into the nitty gritty of it I want to say that I love my sister in law dearly, but (there is always a but) she does do some nutty things.
A couple of weeks ago we got an invitation to my nephew's seventh birthday party. It was to be a "wisdom night". A collection of people in his life helping him make the transition from age 6 to 7 perhaps?
Prior to the event we were to come up with a personal letter to him in which we would outline an event that happened in our life and how we dealt with it. The idea of this is to enforce the reality of consequences within his little seven year old brain. That seemed a bit deep and meaningful for my pre-christmas and pmt addled brain so I just made a list of do's and don'ts with the full knowledge he may well never read it again.
Okay, so even though I think this is all a bit of a dreary party for a seven year old boy, I go along to it with an open mind. On the way there S asks me why his cousin always has strange parties. I just said that what may seem strange to him may be perfectly normal to his cousin. He did not buy that one and just rolled his eyes. Conveniently K has a music job to play at and cannot attend the party.
Upon arrival I notice a circle of chairs in the dining room. In the middle of the chair circle is a table laden with unlit candles. The nephew in question is sitting on one of the chairs. Things get settled and all the invitees have to sit upon a chair. The candles are lit and the lights are turned off. There are fourteen adults and three children all up.
Firstly a "sage stick" is passed around to each person and we have to rotate it in a circle above our head. It looks and smells like a giant joint and it took all my self control not to laugh.
We then have to sit with our feet flat on the floor and hands upon our laps with upturned palms. My sister in law asks that we close our eyes as she says a prayer. Which we do.
Now, this was not your run of mill prayer that you may hear in Church, which I don't mind now and then. This had overtones of something that was influenced by "The Wicker Man". Or perhaps if someone went to a white witch tupperware party.
There was mention of spiritual guides and guardian angels but not in the sense that it was in any way connected to Christianity as I know she is agnostic.
Whilst she is saying the prayer he son is sitting on the chair opposite her and occassionally twisting his head around to look longingly at the pile of birthday presents waiting to be opened.
We then had to read our "story" to him. Upon finishing each story, the person had to place it at the bottom of my nephew's chair along with a momento for him to put in a keepsake box. We also had to choose a gemstone from a velour bag.
After about three stories being read out loud, my nephew would say "and soon I will open my presents". He also kept saying "your turn for the lucky dip" when an adult had to get their gemstone.
Eventually it all came to a close, but not before an extra four letters had to be read out on behalf of people who could not make it.
The entire time my nephew wriggled around on his chair and put up with being constantly told to either look at the person reading the story or to keep still.
Finally the readings were done and he was able to open his gifts.
Later that night I was woken up when K came home from his music job and he asked me how it went at the party. I gave a half groan and then did a run down of the event.
"Oh, poor A. Worse than that, I bet in the morning he is going to be asked what he got out of each story and how he felt about the "wisdom" night", K said.
I may be old fashioned, but shouldn't a party just be friends, party food, some little gifts and lots of running around?
Still, each to their own.
Even though I have lots of things to do before we have our Christmas Eve dinner I feel so relieved to have gotten through the last three hectic weeks of work. Not only that, it is just nice to know I have at least two weeks of pottering around and getting into my studio.
This is only a quick post as S and I are off to face the crowds and get a picture of him with Santa.
Then home again to clean up and just get on top of things. Then I am going to sit and do some posts. I have all these things in my head that need offloading.
The weather is soaking wet and I have a load of washing hanging on the clothes line getting a triple rinse once again.
By the way, since I complain on a regular basis about this, I have PMT.
In fact, I was so bad this morning that I put all my clothes in the wash basket rather than face the overwhelming task of hanging them back up in the wardrobe. I then felt that was the pinnacle of laziness so I took them back out again and "draped" them across the bed where they are still sitting. I have enough unclean washing to get through without washing "clean but creased" items.
The reason for the clean clothes lying around the bedroom on any upright piece of furniture was because I changed my clothes at least three times every single morning this week and then had to rush around like a twit because of that.
And, I have bought myself an early Christmas present. It has not arrived yet, but I expect it in the New Year.
An iron. Not just any old iron but a whizz bang Swiss one (G2 - came with an ironing board etc) Now, I know it seems tragic to get oneself an iron for Christmas, but I really need a good one. I realise that I shall never, ever change my habits of ironing every single thing that gets washed, so it is better to go with that aspect of my persona than change it.
I hate to admit it, but I am a bit excited about using it. I suppose it is like a guy getting a Router or Belt Sander. A new tool to make life easier.
By the way, it is okay for me to get myself an iron for Christmas. It will never, ever be okay for my husband to get me one.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Recently my brother contracted an unfortunate case of ringworm from someones child who got if from kindergarten.
He freaked. Which is silly really as tinea is just a toe version of it. All of those things just confirm how the body can just catch all sorts of things no matter how clean we are.
Anyway, after self diagnosing himself with ringworm he decided to go to the chemist and pick up some cream or something to get rid of it.
When he got to the chemist he asked the pharmacist what cream he should use for ringworm. The pharmacist was of Indian/Pakistani background with an extremely strong accent and my brother was really having to listen carefully to what he was being told.
The conversation went like this:
"Do you have any cream for ringworm" asks my brother as quietly as he can not wanting to draw attention to the fact he has a fungal affliction.
"Are you sure it is ringworm?" says the pharmacist.
"Yes, I am sure", replies my brother.
"How do you know you are sure?" says man in white coat.
"I know I am sure because I have what looks like the rings of a tree on my back. Okay, so can I have some cream", my brother says firmly.
"Okay, okay, he says he has ringworm then he must have ringworm", the pharmacist says it loudly to the shop assistant.
My brother follows the guy down and aisle and the pharmacist hands him a tin of "Mr Watson's Anti Fungal Cream". It looks like a prop from a pre 1900 movie. My brother studies it. It is very, very cheap.
"You sure this will work?" he asks
"Of course it will. Why would I be giving you this tin if I did not know it would work", the guy looks at my brother like he is an idiot.
"Well, how does it compare with those other brands", my brother points to some well known brands like Daktarin and Lamasil.
"Sure, you want to pay me more money for those ones in their nice packets I don't mind. But why waste money when this one works", is the answer.
"Okay, so, how long has this "Mr Watson's" company been around for?, my brother asks out of curiosity.
"How long have they been around? Dickhead", the pharmacist says.
My brother looks at him in borderline shock. He cannot believe that this guy has just called him a dickhead.
"Look, I may be an annoying customer, but just because I ask how long a company has been around for does not mean I am a dickhead", he says to the guy.
"No, no, no. Not dickhead. Decades, they have been around for decades", the pharmacist starts laughing.
"Mr Watson's Anti Fungal Cream" did the trick. In fact, my brother has been espousing its virtues since.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I can understand that, but he joined in playing bowls and we had a great time. He was pretty good at it. I remember thinking that lawn bowls looked terribly boring and something only old people did. But it has had a resurgence here on a big scale and many young people are getting involved.
The game was fun, my bowling improved with each go and I left there thinking that it might be fun to go again.
The next morning we were up early to go for a tank ride that I had organised in October as a birthday present for K.
When we got there we were able to include S as well. I mean, it is something pretty exciting for a ten year old kid to do (and an older one as well).
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The fact is, our house is too small for me to have a spare room to mess up. It is easier to just build something in the backyard.
But, there is something very nice about the thought of taking myself physical self away from the house and those in it to be in my own space.
I think after Christmas I will start to spend relevant time in it.
Friday, December 14, 2007
And, when she tags the "nothing" with an explanation that you and her do things for each other through the year so presents are not needed for her under the tree (the one that took four hours for her to decorate) - well, once again, just ignore that.
Plus, if she agrees with you that Christmas is just for kids - you might want to ignore that one as well.
And, you may notice that even though you said you wanted nothing (and meant it), she still got you something special. Just take a little lesson from that gesture.
Just want to make sure you knew all this because it took my husband about seven years to twig on that one.
However, the other day my work colleague asked K what he was getting me for Christmas (I was not around at the time) and he said:
"She says she does not want anything"
Er, I think I need to remind him that what I said and what I meant were not the same.
Sheesh, them men persons take ages to train.....
Thursday, December 13, 2007
A lot of it has to do with my relationship with food, my lack of interest in following a recipe and my inability to understand the concept of absorbency and how it affects the overall size of the end product. I really would have done well in the Army as a cook. Huge quantities are my speciality.
At least one wheelbarrow full of my “inventions” has ended up down the toilet.
This year was not so bad as I finally managed to harness my mind and follow recipes with a bit more care. What a difference that makes. People are more inclined to eat what you prepare.
Anyway, I was throwing out a giant pan of rice I had cooked the other day and it made me think about some of the stuff I have thrown out over the years.
Last year I purchased a slow cooker with a five litre capacity (more than one gallon) and embarked on the great concept of making huge quantities of soups and casseroles which could be frozen. This would mean that I only had to cook, say, once a week and just dish up a variety of predetermined frozen creations for five nights of the week.
The first week I had the slow cooker was great. I used it every night trying to build up a stock of frozen dinners. I used the freshest ingredients, organic produce and all that stuff so I felt very good about it all. Pasta sauces and soups featured very strongly.
One night I decided to make a pea and ham soup. Now, I have a really major problem with appreciating that food items that are small and hard in packets will subsequently expand 100 times in size when you add water. I don’t actually believe it. Each time I cook rice I just cannot stop myself adding an extra cup - just in case it does not expand enough.
So instead of following the instructions which said to use half a cup of dried, green peas I tipped the whole bag in and topped it up with extra vegetable stock. I then pushed in the ham hocks and turned it on and went to bed.
When I got up the next morning, the peas had absorbed all the liquid stock and expanded so much that the soup had become a giant, oval shaped block rising from the slow cooker so that it lifted the lid just over two inches up and it was sitting on the top of this solid, olive green semi firm substance.
Not wanting it to go to waste I sliced the hard slab of pea and ham soup in half and dropped that in my biggest saucepan and added water to soften it up. I then added more water to the other half which was still sitting in the slow cooker.
I had to keep adding water to enable the soup to have some sort of liquid form and by the time K got home from a bike ride I had just over 12 litres of soup divided between the cooker and the saucepan.
He looked at the simmering, swampy green liquid with curiosity. Now and then the ham bones would rise to the surface like a body part. There was a degree of silence between us as we both studied it.
“What is that?” he finally asked.
“Pea and ham soup. I thought you may like it. I made a lot so I could freeze it”, I said very brightly.
“Firstly, I don’t like pea and ham soup and secondly I am not too fond of the prospect of having to go through what looks like 100 litres of it over the next three months” he said kindly.
“Right, okay, I can see what you mean. Toilet tip?” I said.
“Apparently so”, he replied.
I had to pick out the ham bones and throw them out. Then K had the task of flushing down the s-bend and it took at least half a dozen flushes to complete the task.
I have since replaced the 5 litre slow cooker with a smaller 3 litre one and now follow instructions very, very carefully.
Otherwise I am sure the toilet will one day block.
I cannot even tell you the polenta story other than to say I had to tip some caustic soda down after it to unblock the s-bend.
For the sake of the environment, I am being very careful these days.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I have a confession to make.
I like to buy Christmas cards. Lovely scenes of Christmas on the front of a quality card appeal to my nostalgic senses.
But I hate sending them out.
I hate writing in them, I hate doing the address, sticking the stamp on and posting them. It gives me a headache and increases my anxiety. There is no logical reason behind it.
In the early days of marriage I did all of them. Then I told K to do his lot as I had never heard of Auntie Poo Poo from Scotland and I am sure she never had a clue who I was. That was fine, he was happy to.
I used to write a passage in each card that gave a brief run down of what was happening in the twelve months since I sent the last card with a similar passage.
Now I just write Ho Ho Ho in each one.
I never actually let on to K and S that it shits me doing them. It would just add to my anti social reputation which I do not need to do.
The other day I said to S that he might want to do some Christmas cards for his friends in class. I had purchased some lovely ones for him to use.
"No, I don't want to give people cards just because I am in class with them. That is a waste of paper and besides I only like a few in my class, the rest of them are just there to fill the room", he told me.
Now, I am not sure if I need to seriously step back and look at my behaviour in general, because I thought he was pretty rude making that comment. It was not remotely amusing or acceptable to me even if he was in a grumpy mood when he said it. I don't recall talking about anyone in that dismissive way - not in front of him anyway.
So I explained to him about how we all live together in a society and it is nice to acknowledge each other's presence in our lives no matter how small the contribution they may actually make. Furthermore, I added that whilst he may not be best buddies with all the people he spends each school day with, they have just as much to offer this world as anyone else, including him. It was important to remember that fact, especially when he gets out in the big world and starts having serious relationships.
I explained how the giving of a Christmas card at this time of year is a small gesture of kindness that would just be a nice thing to do. It helps keep a connection with those that we cannot always see when we would like. Whilst understanding that he may not feel like giving a card to all the children he has shared the year with, it would not be too much of an effort to include them all in his card giving to ensure that no-one's feelings are hurt.
He agreed and is now sitting and doing the cards as I type this.
I have to say that after talking to him about it I did remember why I do send the cards out each year. It is just nice to connect with people who I have had in my life for many years.
Also realised that children really do need to be taught good manners ALL THE TIME.
Oh, and I lied before - I did find it a bit amusing what he said, but kept my face very "cross mummy" style.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
In fact, it started last evening.
My lovely boss treated key staff members and partners to a night at a place called The Mansion Hotel. It included dinner, overnight stay, breakfast, massage at the day spa and lunch. It was delightful.
The photo below is me at the top of the stairs in the historical home itself.
I took a few pictures of the place, however was unable to take a picture of the historical Werribee Mansion as they were erecting a giant stage in front of the building.
Elton John is playing there this weekend to hundreds of people willing to pay $300 per ticket, sit on a blanket under the stars and quaff wine. Hopefully it will not rain!
Below is a picture of the billiard room in the mansion. As you can see it is in the process of restoration. I do feel a bit sorry for the hippo!
I am unsure what to make of the one below. But I did feel it warranted a photo.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Not far from where I live is a shopping centre called Chadstone. It is touted as "The Fashion Capital".
It should be "Car Parking Hell".
Even during the "non commercial" times of year, it is almost impossible to find a parking spot at Chadstone. You have to go first thing in the morning or one hour prior to closing time. During the Christmas season you have get there at about 8.30 am to get yourself a spot that does not require a day pack to walk from your car to the first entrance.
As I left the house this morning I noticed that a vague headache was starting. The closer I got to the hallowed shopping precinct the more pressure built up in my skull. This was soon joined by a bout of anxiety as I saw, at least 500 metres before I even sighted the big ugly building that is Chadstone, a line of cars waiting to get in.
No fucking way am I spending one second trawling the car park at Chadstone looking for a place to park my car. I did a u-turn and drove thirty minutes to another shopping centre (Southland) where I got a car parking spot without any effort.
When I got into the centre I suddenly had an attack of "what am I doing here" syndrome. I wondered around aimlessly stopping only once for a cup of coffee. Well, I may have stopped more than once to buy some bits and pieces. But prior to that I was very aimless.
Whilst Chadstone may have the most "fashion shops", Southland has the longest distance from on main department store to the other. I am sure that I walked approximately 5kms just getting around.
I am not sure how other people go with Christmas shopping, but I am hopeless. I write a list, bring it with me and then forget I have it. I look at everything and in the end find myself so overwhelmed by what is on offer that I end up doing what a lot of people must surely do....
I end up buying something for myself.
This is a problem because it means I have to go back again and get the presents, then once again come home with perhaps one present and something for me.
Generally I am able to exhibit a level of self control, but at this time of year I just seem to cave in and indulge myself.
Today it was a pair of lovely chocolate brown, wide legged trousers, three of the most gorgeous beach towels with lovely stripes and rope ends (three for the price of two) and a couple of presents. The other day it was a pair of jeans. Plus a t-shirt. Some underwear. Hmmmm, oh, and some books.
All on special, with significantly reduced prices.
You do have to spend money to save it.
I am thinking of shopping online....
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Life was pretty much about school and getting out of the house as much as possible.
On the weekends I would do what I had to do at home and jump on my bike to visit friends. Riding the streets until just before the sun set. I had a dragstar, similar to my son's one in this photo. Mine was a boy's bike, purple paintwork with a glittery purple seat that had white trim on the sides. My dad gave it to me as a brithday present. I rode it around until one day I forgot to pump up the tyres and my father took the bike off me to teach me a lesson. He was all for the "teaching of lessons".
Once a few friends and I had collected together we would ride down to Landcox Park. A little gang of girls and boys on their dragstar bikes with the long sissy bar at the back. I remember that my mum had bought me a pair of denim flares and an orange t-shirt. My hair was cut in what was then called the "dolly haircut". It was a nice feeling to be groovy and out on my bike.
Today he has been watching television and playing on the computer.
He did not want to get dressed saying that he was too tired.
This morning I opened his case and could not believe the stink that sprung from the confines of it.
How can my lovely boy produce such a smell after two days even though he had two showers whilst away?
I cannot explain exactly what sort of smell it is. But it is what I think is known as a "locker room" odour. Perhaps a sign of worse to come?
Friday, December 07, 2007
My sister is always busy with things, friends and has been like that all her life.
One of her friends was this older guy called Terry.
Terry was a most unassuming man to look at. Middle aged, slightly plump, big halo of grey hair and he wore glasses.
He taught calligraphy from a small studio. His talents were very well known and he was (and still is) commissioned to restore old books. The type of books that have very elaborate and decorative writings at the beginning of each chapter. Books you have to wear white gloves whilst reading to protect them.
His studio was lined with lovely old books, strange writing implements and shelves of beautiful, thick parchment type paper, edges rough and the surface porous when the tip of a calligraphy pen touched it. It was always crowded in the room, which was situated on the top of a 1930's shop. The windows had crossbar leadlight in them and there was a feeling of being somewhere sweet and romantic when you were in the studio - and not on the corner of a busy intersection.
I thought he was a nice old guy. He thought I was crude because I liked Spike Milligan and could also recite dirty ditties by the dozen. My older sister was much more feminine than me.
Anyway, one day my sister showed me copies of poetry that he had written. The poetry was not for her, it was for a woman that he had fallen in love with. He had started an affair with her and wrote her these most amazing pages of adoring love and ardour.
They were not of the "roses are red" kind. They were so incredibly passionate and so beautifully written I was floored.
For years I kept copies of them and would read them because the beauty of them moved me. They got lost in a house move and I was so upset when I could not find them.
I recall a couple of lines in one that mentioned hips and legs entwined and kisses on the neck and all sorts of fascination with the soft skin of the woman who was his love.
He had even written a series of verses that described how the tip of his fountain pen touching the paper filled him with longing for his lips to touch hers.
He had married at a very young age, had five children and been a good and dutiful husband. His wife was a good mother but after the fifth child was born had decided that sex was no longer on the agenda as they had enough children. The marriage was practical.
So I guess it was natural for him to eventually seek emotional and physical intimacy elsewhere.
The affair progressed and he gathered the courage to leave his wife to live with the woman he was now in love with.
His children and his wife hounded him to go back. The children said it was disgusting that an old man would embark on such a thing. His wife was upset that he left her when she had been such a good wife and mother. His sons told him to go back to their mother and not to be silly about this woman and that he was just going through a mid life crisis.
Eventually he caved in under the pressure and emotional guilt and went back home to his wife. It was a most heartbreaking loss for him which he never got over. Shortly after he went back to his wife he closed down his studio and worked from home.
Years later I contacted him as I needed some calligraphy writing done in the front of a bible I was giving to my God daughter.
Whilst the rest of the house was frighteningly spotless and very austere in appearance, his small room was as beautifully crowded and dusty as the studio had been. We chatted for a while, he asked how my sister was as they had lost contact over the years. He showed me some of the commissions he was doing along with some books he had acquired over the years.
As I left I wanted to tell him how much I loved his poetry but was unsure if I should. Perhaps he had given copies to my sister not thinking she would show anyone.
Instead I asked him a question, which in hindsight was astonishingly rude.
"Are you happy Terry?" I said just as I was about to go to my car.
"Not really, no", he looked directly at me and we both knew what each were thinking at that moment.
We said our goodbye's.
When I think of love, I think of the poetry that Terry wrote.
It said it all.
Most of them originate from India. I appreciate that people need to make money and I am always polite to them. It is tough out there.
I have a very effective way of getting them to terminate the phone call without being rude to them at all.
When they call and ask me how I am today (as they always do) I say the following:
"I am not too well, I got my period today and feel really awful as it is so heavy. I had to use a tampon and a pad. You know how it is being a woman".
I can tell you, it works everytime. They hang up usually before I get to the word tampon.
My co worker's kill themselves laughing.
Not sure if a guy could use this line.
It is not like your normal hot day that may occur in Spring or the early days of Autumn. A hot Summer day has a distinctive feel about it. The sunshine bites when it hits bare skin.
Yesterday morning I hung out some washing before leaving to go to work. I could feel the promise of a hot day around me. The intermittent warm gusts of wind moving around. The sound of the leaves on the weeping Chinese Elm tree, rustling as the breeze ran through them.
These sorts of hot days beckon me to go down to the beach. There is a silence in the air which expands once I get onto the sand near the edge of the water. It almost drowns out the sound of people's voices. I love just lying there reading a book until I get a thumping, great headache and shuffle back up the the car. I am always slathered in sunscreen having spent too many teenage years dipping my entire body in Reef Coconut oil to sizzle like a sausage on the sandy edge.
I am now pale and freckly. Or, should I say, pale and interesting.
Despite the lure of the beach, I was compelled to go to work where I stared out of the window at a two story brick factory opposite our office. They bake croissants and other buttery pastries there on a big scale. Recently I walked past and looked into the factory. There, sitting on a pallet, was the biggest block of solid, yellow butter I have ever seen. It was taller than me and looked like a block of cheese. They were cutting into it, great big slabs were slice off and carried to some place further inside.
It was very off putting to see butter on such a large scale. To me, butter should be in a little curl shape perched on a sweet dish at the breakfast table to spread on some crusty white bread.
The smell, whilst they are baking, fills the air and is quite yummy in the cooler months. On a hot day it is disgusting. Perhaps because when it is warm weather you are not so inclined to eat. Or do the molecules in hot air kind of stick together and carry the butter pong slowly around.
It is this time of year that suppliers come around and deliver thank you presents to us for doing business for them. Last year I scored a large number of really, really ugly long sleeved t-shirts size XXXL which I wear when I go jogging as the sleeves hang way past my fingertips and keep me warm. I am expecting replacements. They also give bottles of wine and boxes of chocolate but as I partake in neither it is completely wasted on me.
I do appreciate they drop in, but I hate that I have to make forced chit chat. Ten minutes is my limit. I am able to get into some social banter before I say "oh dear, I must get those wages done". Then I can slink off and get back to my desk and fiddle around while they talk to someone else.
Well, I am guessing it is time to change my chit chat repertoire as one of the reps said to me "you were doing the wages the last two years I came here. I think you are using that as an excuse to get rid of me".
"Yes, you are right", I said deciding it was pointless to lie.
Then I went back to work and left him to the Project Manager. My boss tells me I have improved my social skills hugely since I started with him seven years ago.
He told me he does not mind letting me out in public places now. He feels safe I shall not offend anyone these days.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
During the day there is paper spread from one side of the desk to the other. At the end of the day I put everything into a big pile ready to be spread out again the next day.
My boss is worse than me. His desk is frighteningly untidy and sometimes it smells. Even if he had a bigger desk it would make no difference as he would merely extend his mess further.
J, who does my filing and data entry is the complete and absolute opposite.
Not only is her desk spotless, her filing is extraordinary with it's neatness. Beautiful handwriting marks the edge of each tab divider in folders. Pages are neatly stapled, edges perfectly aligned and holes punched in the side of paper are even and centred perfectly.
Whilst my filing is alphabetically perfect, as is hers, it is inclined to be rather shabbily put together.
I never staple things together that I want J to file as I know she will glare at me as she unpicks my stapled paperwork, tidy the edges together and re staple it.
Any untidiness frustrates her and she watches my desk like a hawk. However, my recall of suppliers, customers, invoice amounts, payments made, money owing and product knowledge astounds her.
If the Project Manager wants to know where we bought some obscure product for a project we did three years ago, I can tell him where it came from, how much it was and where to find the invoice.
If you want to know what day it is or what time it is - don't ask me as I often have no idea. My week is broken up into days 1, 2, 3 and 4. They have no names.
Personally I do not see my desk as being untidy.
It is merely creative neglect.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
This is the second time he has been away on camp, the first being twelve months ago.
I did not handle it very well last year. It was stressful, I was not organised and I fretted that I had perhaps not packed enough warm clothing. Of course he was fine and had a great time.
Last year at one point I was telling one of the tradesmen at work about S being away and I started to cry. He looked at me kindly and said "You need to let him go love, he needs you to do it, you need to do it".
Well, this year is so different. We packed the bag together, made sure he had plenty of clothes and he would be warm and dry if it rained.
I dropped him off at school this morning along with all his other excited friends and he kissed me goodbye.
Until about 2.00pm this afternoon when I realised that neither K nor I had to pick him up from school until Friday.
Then I felt that teary feeling that only a mother seems to get.
When I got home and told K about how I felt he could not believe it. He reminded me that it was only for two nights and I should enjoy the peace and quiet.
But really, when your son is as nerdy as mine is in the picture below, well, how could you not miss him....