Sunday, July 31, 2011

What do you dream about?

Last night, I had an incredibly vibrant dream. In this dream, I walked out my front door one morning to discover that the cottage garden at the front of the Fibro had been transformed. The two graceful birches that rustle in the breeze and shield our front verandah from much of the street had been chopped down and lay, felled, across the footpath. The garden beds, full of lavender, camellias, salvia and roses, had been cleared. No flowers grew in my new garden. A new, dazzlingly white picket fence had been installed. The entire area had been carpeted in faux green grass. Two pink, concrete flamingoes had taken up residence in the very centre of the astroturf. A stout little garden gnome stood sentinel by the front gate.

I woke up in a lather. Then woke The Builder up to tell him about it. He managed a laugh.

We didn't need to look far to find a 'meaning' for my dream. I went to Sydney on Friday for Coffee with some of my editorial contacts. After many meetings, many Coffees, and dinner with friends, we all came to one conclusion: it's a time of flux for freelance writers. The old ways are gone. New ways are coming - though nobody is entirely sure yet what they will be. When you write for magazines and other publications, you are a freelancer. When you write for the internet, you are a 'content provider'. The value of the written word is yet to be decided in the shake down. There's a lot to think about, a lot of planning to do. (And, apparently, concrete flamingos to buy.)

Either that, or I simply had one too many red wines at the School Music Trivia Night.

Do you think dreams are the window to our subconscious mind, or the product of indigestion? What do you dream about? 

[image: I'll be buying my flock from]

Friday, July 29, 2011

What did you talk about this week?

It's back again. Your favourite part of the week. A time to look back, consider it all, and take a long hard look at the topics that came up at your house. This is what we were dissecting at the Fibro this week...

Tiles, toilets, walls, showers, splashbacks, benchtops, colours (is anyone sensing a theme yet?), Norway, birds, dancing, piano, trivia, music, The Renovators, movies, The Wire, moisturisers, drawings, writing club, descriptions, challenges, centimetres, kilograms, hearty winter meals, comments, clean sheets, bird food, the Wondering Wall, visitors, visits, work, banks, finances, Amy Winehouse, The Hobbit, traffic, donating to Care Australia for the Africa appeal, Boystown Lotteries, mentors, edits, social media, book titles, Lego (specifically how it manages to creep its way all over the house), blogging, Coffee, and how a rainbow is made.

What did you talk about?

And don't forget to join the Weekend Rewind at And Then There Were Four. Link up an old post for new comment love! See you there. 

[image: xcarloseduardox]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Anatomy of a dud blog post: What makes you comment?

Remember when you were dating and you were waiting for Him to call. Picking up the phone 20 times a day to just, you know, check that there was a dial tone. Hanging around the general area of the telephone just, you know, on the off chance it might ring. Staring intently at the telephone, willing it to ring. Wondering where it all went wrong. Wondering why He just. didn't. call.

That was me today. Only it wasn't a phone call I was awaiting. It was a comment. Or two. I'd written my post, pushed published and then woken up this morning to read my comments. Only there weren't any. Crickets. Actually, that's a lie. There was Gill from InkPaperPen (who now has my fervent devotion for life).

I admit that I actually checked to make sure Blogger was working. The desperation. I am laughing at myself in a way that I could never have laughed at myself while waiting for Him to call.

I've written before about the fact that one of the wonderful thing about blogging is that you know exactly when a post works - and precisely when it does not.

I've read over the post in question. It's a perfectly serviceable post. Which is probably the problem. I've said my piece, I've filled a post. But I've left no room for anyone to add their two cents worth. No question. No space. Just a 'here is what I think'. Which works well in a newspaper, but not so well in the blogosphere. And it means that I miss out on half the equation of blogging - the interaction.

Writing across different media is not easy. Finding the right approach is half the battle. As is realising that the blogosphere is a place of reciprocity, and that I have, perhaps, been keeping to myself lately. There are many reasons for it, most of them valid, but nonetheless I can't sit here and expect comment love if I'm not giving comment love. (The modern equivalent of 'why the hell don't YOU call HIM?')

Fortunately for me, I have Maxabella in my life. Who left not one, not two, but four comments on said post in an attempt to bolster my spirits. The blogging equivalent of 'of course he's into you'. Ya gotta love family. And thanks to Jennifer Smart, who responded to one of my sadder Tweets about my lack of love. See, I can name them all.

So now, in the spirit of education, I really want to know something. What makes you comment? What is it about a post that makes you put finger to keyboard and get involved?

[image: baileyology.tumblr]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The letter of the day is M (for mystery)

If there's one thing I love about a magazine subscription, it's that little fizz of excitement that I get when my treat arrives in the mail. I'm very selective about what I subscribe to these days. A few years ago, I was anyone's, seduced by any 'offer', happy to receive whatever they were willing to send out. When The Builder questioned the sheer volume of pages arriving every month, I'd wave him off with a 'it's tax deductible darling'.

Not anymore. I mean, it's still tax deductible - one of the few bonuses of writing freelance - but I'm not as willing to wade through a million pages to get what I want. Call it time management.

At the moment, there are just a few valid subscriptions in the Fibro (if you don't count the Lego magazine... which I don't). I've spoken before of my love for O magazine, and take great pleasure in sitting on our back deck, flicking through its pages. There are some Australian magazines, which I both love and work for (no names, no pack drill). And there is the one that arrived today.

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine is one of my biggest treats. It arrives sporadically and, seemingly, randomly, due to surface mail, from the US. There is no colour, beyond the cover. The paper is cheap newsprint, the concept old-fashioned. But I love it. Packed cover-to-cover with detective stories, it features some of the biggest names in crime writing - and lots of people whose names you've never heard. Perfect, bite-sized crime fiction in a perfect, bath-sized package. My copies are passed around the family and enjoyed by many. Mr7 is beginning to line up for his turn.

This year is the 70th anniversary of EQMM. Long may it reign. Or long enough for me to get around to writing a story that might be good enough to grace its pages.

Visit (source of my image) for more information and to check out an array of past EQMM covers. Fun!

In other news, I'm guest posting with Scribbling Mum today, all about being the only pink in a house full of blues. Come and say hello!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Renovators (Fibro edition)

Sunday night in the Fibro has become all about houses. The Block, Grand Designs, The Renovators. It's a TV transformation fest. The only show we haven't taken to is Top Design - too many hipsters, too little information.

We've always been fans of home shows. Hence our addiction to Escape to the Country during the drought of the last year or so. But now renovating is back in fashion and back on the box. Which is all very good timing, as we are about to renovate our bathroom and kitchen.

Yep, the Fibro is getting a makeover.

It's not the first time we've renovated. We totally 'did over' our cottage in the Big Smoke, down to replacing the rotting floors, putting in the missing windows and knocking down the termite-ridden lean-to kitchen at the back. It was a big job, but we did it pre-kids and we had fun - mostly. I will always contend that you never really know your partner until you renovate a house with them. Only then will you truly understand the difference between 'bluey-green' and 'greeny-blue' as a paint colour. Not to mention the importance of finding the exact, right 'profile' for your toilet.

The Builder is, as you'd imagine, a great man to renovate with. When I was dating I had but two main criteria for the man I would love: he must read books and put up shelves. In The Builder, I found both. And how. Not only can he put up shelves, he can build the whole house around them. Love that.

He has quite specific ideas about our renovations. Which is a good thing because, really, the profile of the toilet is neither here nor there to me. But his exacting eye for detail means a much better finish in the end. At least, that's what I tell myself when he shows me the 750th potential toilet/basin/tile. But we have the same aesthetic so coming to an agreement is not generally that difficult. Most of the time.

Renovating a fibro house brings with it an added edge of excitement. Disturbing asbestos is not for the faint-hearted or the amateur. It should only be done with the help of an expert. Fortunately, I have one at home - he may look like a Teletubbie in his asbestos safety gear but at least he's a safe Teletubbie. And we'll all be moving out for the duration to my parents' place to enjoy the fruits of their own recent bathroom renovation as they travel north for the winter.

We are at the enjoyable phase of renovating. The planning and deciding. Before the not-so-enjoyable dusty, expensive bit begins. I think that's half the joy of renovating shows - you get to watch the transformation, without the discomfort, and with the added frisson of being able to say 'why would you do that? I'd never do it that way!'.

Wish us luck!

Have you renovated? Got any tips?

[image: What will the Fibro look like after the reno? Hopefully as cute as this one from In My House]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting ready for Big School is for the birds

Mr4 came home from preschool with one thing on his mind. "We need to be bird spies this afternoon, Mum," he said. "I'll get the binoculars."

Given that last weekend he was trying to 'shoot' all the birds in the neighbourhood with a stick, there'd obviously been an epiphany.

Binoculars in hand, we went to sit on the front steps to await our feathered visitors. And we waited. And waited. "Why aren't there any birds today, Mum?" he asked.

Let's see. In the 15 minutes that we were on the steps, he'd recounted a story about The Kings, his friends from preschool, in his (very loud) Outside voice. Sung me a new song that he'd made up about birds. Jumped down onto the paving to show me how 'jumpy' his new gumboots were. Waved the binoculars around to show our neighbour across the street.

You get the picture...

"The birds won't come unless we're very very quiet and don't move," I whispered.

"Oh," he said, dropping back down to sit next to me. A heartbeat of silence.

"Mum, how do birds fly? What do they eat?"

Hmmm. "Why don't you put those questions on the Wondering Wall at preschool? You can ask K, your teacher."

"Good idea." Pause. "Mum, I really like K. She teaches us really good things."

Like what?

"Like stuff we need to know to go to high school next year."

Oh, big school stuff. Like what?

"Like how to sit really quietly on the mat and listen and be patient."

Good to see those lessons are sinking in.

[image: I love this little bird print from barkingbirdart/etsy]

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Au revoir le Tour de France

A short post tonight. I have a date. With Cadel Evans. He's kept me up late for the past three nights and now our relationship is coming to a climax. He has a fashionable new shirt to wear. I'm going for comfort over style - I don't want to misrepresent myself - and will be featuring my spotted pyjamas. Similar to the King of the Mountain cycling shirt, only pink spots, not red. And flannel. There is that.

Tonight Cadel Evans will arrive in Paris wearing the yellow jersey (I was going to say 'enter Paris' there, but figured that particular videotape had already been done). I'm so excited for him. He has been the Little Red Engine of this year's Tour de France ("I think I can, I think I can"), the unrelenting tortoise to Andy Schleck's flighty hare. I'll be there (well, here) to watch him step up on that podium. I'm sure he'll shed a tear. If there's footage of his proud mum and dad shedding tears, I'll definitely shed a tear.

And the Tour de France is over for another long year. No more will the dulcet tones of Phil Liggett soothe me to sleep under my slanket take me through every spin of every wheel ("He's working a massive gear there"). I might have to do something radical to relive the magic.

Like getting my own bike out of the mothballs in the garage and taking it for a spin.


Friday, July 22, 2011

What did you talk about this week?

I haven't done this for a while, but I've decided to resurrect it. It's the closest I'll get to Friday night at the pub, so I'm going to give it a whirl.

This week at the Fibro, subjects on the agenda included:

Le Peloton, Frandy Schleck, bathroom tiles, kitchen benchtops, Reconciliation, spelling, piano, how high the moon is, where do sharks go to sleep, Nintendo Wii, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, slow cookers, stainless steel, why little boys are physically incapable of weeing IN the toilet, Blundstone boots, Alphabets, blogging, books, edits, social media, whether aliens would really be green, who invented school, soccer, Tai kwon do. the documentary Inside Job, music trivia, The Vapours, Seeker Lover Keeper, and whether there should be an S in the word mathathon.

What did you talk about this week?


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Which song do you wish you'd written?

I've been thinking a lot about songs lately. I am obsessed with the Seeker Lover Keeper song Even Though I'm A Woman (with any luck I'll be able to work out how to embed it at the bottom of this post so you'll know what I'm on about...). There are two particular lines in the song that are just so, so clever.

"I love you more when I'm missing you."
"I love the danger in distance."

I wish I'd written them. I wish I'd written the song. It will resonate with anyone who's ever had a failed long-distance relationship.

I had a boyfriend once who wanted to write songs with me. I fobbed him off. I am not a poet and I believe that the best songs are accessible poetry. You hum along, you get it, but the best lines, the mysterious lines, stay with you.

Paul Kelly has a song called Don't Explain. In three verses, he outlines the end of a relationship between an older woman and a younger man.

"You sure know
How to use your hands
But you don't have
A great attention span"

The simplicity and sparsity of the language is matched by the melody. It adds up to pragmatic heartbreak.

Rod Stewart wrote the same relationship from the other perspective in Maggie May.

"The morning sun
When it's in your face
Really shows your age"

I understand those lines (and see my own lines) more and more as I get older.

On her blog today, Lady Estrogen featured another of those lines, this time from The Whitlams song Melbourne.

"If I had three lives, I'd marry her in two"

I asked The Builder for one of his favourite lines. His is from Forever Young (originally by Alphaville, covered by Youth Group in 2005)

"Youth is like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever"

There are lines that make you ache with wonder and envy. And then there are lines like my personal nomination for Worst Line In A Song Ever, courtesy of Patrick Swayze.

"She's like the wind
Through my tree"

From the song, She's Like The Wind.

But the beauty of songs is that they're so subjective. One woman's fabulous is another woman's farcical.

This is my idea of fabulous.

Which song do you wish you'd written?

[image: vinyl music decal from pedped/etsy]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's your favourite stage of childhood?

It was a day for babies today. Two bloggy friends, one at the start of her baby journey, one lamenting the end. Over at Tales of a Tai Tai, Bridget received the first (of no doubt hundreds) Bonds Wondersuit for her baby (due January 2012). So soft, so white, so pure. So unembellished by the various stains of actual babyhood. Sigh.

At Ah, The Possibilities, Sarah was talking about the changing face of motherhood, and how time flies (whether you're having fun or not). Baby days, days with little kids of any age, are hard, she rightly pointed out, but you still miss them when they're gone.

I'm not a newborn girl. I know some women go goo-goo over those tiny little babies, with their floppy heads and their sweet, intoxicating scent. Not me. I like return on my investment and I just don't think you get enough of that in the early days. I think my favourite stage of babyhood is about five to seven months, when they're fat, smiling gummy smiles, squealing and babbling (but crying less frequently), sleeping with some regularity, and, with any luck unable to move too far.

My favourite stage of childhood is whichever one my children are up to at the time. It's true that seven-year-old boys can be... challenging. That four-year-olds talk incessantly and ask waaaay too many hard questions. That two-year-olds can whinge, whine and tantrum for Australia. But each age has its redeeming features. Mr4 is the cuddliest kid I've ever met and I am soaking up each and every one of them. Mr7 is developing his wit, finding his sense of humour, and still able to be beaten at Chess.

I just love watching them turn into actual people.

Though I do miss those Bonds feet suits. You could put a 15-year-old boy in one of those and he'd still look angelic. Strange, it's true, but angelic.

What's your favourite stage of childhood? Any age in particular so far?

[image:] And, sigh, disclaimer. This is not a sponsored post. All mention of Bonds Wondersuits, for babies or 15 year old boys, is all about me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Writing: the long and the short of it

Tonight, I am wrestling with words again. I'm working on a grant application for the primary school. One of those never-ending forms that requires pages of repetition and the use of 'keywords'. It is the kind of writing that does my head in, mostly because it needs to be so precise.

Describe your project in 50 words.
In 150 words, tell us everything you can about your school, your town, your region, your state and your country. Make them count.
Outline in 75 words every single detail about how this five-year program will be managed.

Writing 'short' is seriously hard work. When you write 'long', words must be managed, planned, projected, plotted and massaged. When you write 'short', there is no substitute for precision. Why use four words when one word will do? Is that the best possible arrangement for that sentence? Is it still a sentence now that you've removed all the good stuff?

The key to writing short is, strangely, a plan. To me, it's even more important here than it is when wrangling 90,000 words into a novel. Dot points are your best friend. Write down everything that needs to go into your 50 words, even if you start with 500, and then cut, condense and carve them down, down, down. Like reducing a stock. All the ingredients, nuances and flavours must still be there, but in the most concentrated form.

Twitter, that much-berated water cooler of our time, is a fantastic place to hone short-form copy skills. If you can say it in 140 characters and still manage to insert personality and voice, you're well on the way.

Which is why I'm heading there right now (@altait if you want to say hi). I'm not procrastinating, you understand... just practising.

[image: cute ring from beautyspot/etsy]

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter, Enid Blyton, Captain Underpants: One night at the book fair

If there's one thing that bonds my family together it's a second hand book fair. There is not a member of my clan who can pass up the chance to rummage around in piles of yellowing pages, searching for... who knows what? Which is how Sister B and I found ourselves speeding off into the night last week during my visit, leaving our combined offspring in the tender care of LOML (visit Maxabella if you haven't met him, he's a peach), en route to meet Sister C at the local charity book fair.

It was 8pm. The book fair was open until 9pm. Plenty of time, given it was but ten minutes up the road. Only it wasn't. By the time we'd missed the turn-off twice, squinting in the dark, and driven up the highway until we could find another right-hand turn (raise your hand if you've never been in that position in Sydney...), shrieking at each other between hysterical laughter because the whole thing was just so, so funny, it was 8.30pm before we screeched into a park near the hall in which the fair was held.

Or, sort of near. By the time we'd puffed up the hill, beside building site, around the corner and down a dark stretch of highway, it was 8.35pm. "I bet Sister C is inside, blithely browsing, not even thinking of us," muttered Sister B. I could almost hear the classical music playing as I pictured Sister C's serene joy. As opposed to the heavy metal thunder that would accompany our frantic run to the starting line.

"Good God, we've only got 25 minutes," shouted Sister B, throwing coins into the Donation bottle as she made a beeline for Children: Classics. I was right behind, emptying the silver from my over-burdened wallet. I was already loaded down by The Secret Garden, The Call of the Wild, a random Famous Five novel, and the Postman Pat Story Treasury (a classic??) by the time Sister C wandered over a few minutes later. "Did you even look to see if I was here?" she asked. Er, no, we had to admit.

Systematically, we made our way up and down the children's book tables. "Captain Underpants?" I asked, holding it aloft. "Mine!" said Sister C, taking it for Nugget. "Anyone seen any Zac Power?" asked a frazzled looking woman. "Not a one," said Sister B, sadly.

The organisers announced the 'last books' warning. Ten minutes to go. "I need a fire engine book," I said, muttering it under my breath, over and over. "I've got Inventors for Mr7," said Sister B. "Find me some Ladybird readers." Sister C pounced on a copy of the first Harry Potter for $1, touting it as the bargain of the day. Then she found me a different copy of The Secret Garden - "less girly cover and $1 cheaper," she said, handing it over. "Win/win."

By the time the organisers generously helped us out the door just after 9pm, we'd managed to collect a box of books each. Piles and piles of reading pleasure. Adding up to a princely donation from each of us to the charity in question. And we had not even made it out of the children's area. Sister B glanced longingly at the gardening books. "I saw a Paul Bangay over there, I'm sure," she said.

Then she looked at me. "Probably a good thing we only had 25 minutes," she said, hefting her foam box of books under her arm for the long walk back to the car.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Riding on trains with boys

There's nothing like a long train ride to finetune your eavesdropping skills (as a writer, I like to call this 'research'). Catching the Fibrotown Express back from Sydney with the Misters, I was privy to four different conversations involving the males of our species. They went something like this.

Conversation #1
The participants: An elderly man and a younger woman, possibly late forties.
The duration: Two hours.
What began as a desultory conversation about the weather, somewhere around Redfern, ranged across a huge diversity of subject matter. She is at university, caring for an elderly father, and passionate about camellias. She leaves home at the crack of dawn to see a dentist in Sydney because she can't imagine going to anyone else. He is an immigrant, from Europe, after World War II, interested in politics. They have a lively and engaged debate about everything from the Carbon Tax to manners to her university degree. The subject of what happens to us when we get older came up a lot. The importance of having a hobby or interest. I suspect their trip went very quickly.

Conversation #2
The participants: Three older teenagers, around 17 years old
The duration: Twenty minutes
These three got on in a clatter of skateboards and a flicking of fringes about halfway through the journey. There was a lot of discussion about hair. Specifically about how girls wouldn't look at you unless you had 'the full mop'. One young man outlined his attempts to get back into school - life in the 'outside world' wasn't really working out. The conversation turned to girls, specifically to one young lady who was 'tuning' the guy with the biggest hair but whom he was resisting. "Why?" asked his friend. "She's pretty hot." "She has her V-plates on," was the response. "I don't want to be responsible for her losing those." Everybody nodded in a serious, understanding kind of manner. "I've passed her on to [another boy]. I'm hoping he'll sort it out."

Conversation #3
The participants: Two younger teens, around 14 or so
The duration: Ten minutes
As the older teens vacated the seat behind me, these two could be seen to be saying goodbye to some girls in short shorts on the platform. One received a goodbye kiss, the other a tiny wave. Both boys are at that puppy fat-plus-pimples stage that is pictured next to 'awkward' in the dictionary. They slump into their seats just as the train takes off. There is much sighing. "I really like her," says one to the other. "You should totally tell her," says the other to the one. There is much back and forth, and attempts to use a mobile phone that has little prepaid credit on it. "I won't tell her," says the one to the other. "Yeah, right, better to keep her guessing," says the other to the one.

Conversation #4
The participants: Mr4 and Mr7
The duration: About 476 hours
Put two small boys on a long train ride and you have to imagine that at some point the conversation will run out. But it does not. In between building Lego and intermittent wrestling bouts, Mr4 has many questions and Mr7, to his credit, does his best to answer them (because clearly his mother is far too busy listening to other people's conversations to listen to theirs) before handing over the hard ones to me. So I got: "Why do we need to scratch, Mum?" along with "What makes a bruise, Mum?", "What is coal, Mum?", "How come there are no more steam trains, Mum?" "What's the fastest shark in the world, Mum?", "Why are turtles yellow on their tummies, Mum?" and so on and so forth.

Little boys, little questions, big boys, big questions.

Are you a chronic eavesdropper?

[image: via]

Friday, July 15, 2011

I'm Rewinding with Multiple Mum

I'm back from Maxabella Land in time to link up to the Weekend Rewind at And Then There Were Four. I spent some time last night, in front of a fire, in hysterics, with both my sisters - definitely on my Top Ten List of ways to spend an evening. Which brings me neatly to the topic of this week's Rewind - Lists. Any post you have with a list, a number, a top X anything. Go say hello to Multiple Mum and join in!

Rewinding is the most fun you can have on a weekend. Well, Top Five, at least.

Here's my list post: What's on your lifetime To Do list?

Catch you on the Rewind!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A small break in transmission

The little boys and I are off to Maxabella Land for a few days' bonding with the cousins to round off the school holidays. We are leaving the Builder at home with a good supply of spaghetti sauce and enough baskets of washing to fold to keep him off the streets for the forseeable future.

I did sit down to do some batch writing in an attempt to pretend that I'd never left the Fibro, but we all know now that batch writing doesn't really work for me. Better to be honest than to leave you with a series of What I Had For Lunch posts.

See you in a few days.

[image: Maxabella loves cake pops. We may get them for dinner.]

Monday, July 11, 2011

Are you brave enough to break free?

Self-reflection sometimes arrives in strange packages. I was flicking through the copy of Australian Geographic (which arrives mysteriously and unsolicited in our mailbox every month or so) when I came across a story about a family who live on a boat off the coast of WA. The parents had set sail with a baby girl around 13 or 14 years ago, to track humpback whales or somesuch, and now lived on board with a younger daughter while that baby was off at boarding school. There was a picture of them, all tall and tanned and lovely (though not, I suspect, from Ipanema).

It got me thinking. Could I do something like that? Not even especially on a boat, but could I pack up my family and dive completely off the mothership and into our own lifestyle? No schools. No 9-5 job of any kind. No routine that I could imagine.

My friend S is off travelling around the top end of Australia with her husband and three kids in a mustard-coloured Kombi. Five of them. They've gone for three months or so, with a sheaf of homework papers for the older two kids to complete and a couple of meet-ups planned with friends. Beyond that, nothing. Every once in a while, we get a Facebook update along these lines: 'We are so in our bikinis, hot, hot, hot... missing my shower.' Not easy reading when it's freezing and blowing a gale in Fibrotown.

The Builder and I have a longheld dream to take our boys to the land of his forefathers to live for a year or so - or at least for a long holiday. Being the planners that we are, we spend a lot of time trying to figure out how it will all work. When would be the best time in the boys' school lives? How will the boys manage? How will we tie up things here at home? How the heck will we finance the whole operation? How will we feel when we come back (I kid you not)? We are very practical people, to the point of overplanning, overscheduling and generally overthinking most things.

When I see that family on their boat off WA, or read about my friends' adventures in their Kombi, I can't help but wonder if we will ever get through the red tape that we create for ourselves. Is it in us to simply get in a Kombi and drive off? Or hop on a plane and go? Probably not without ticking all the boxes, dotting all the Is and crossing all the Ts before we go. Which is counterintuitive.

We both travelled widely when we were young. We know how liberating it can be to cut ties, dump possessions and take off. But somewhere between then and now, we obtained anchors and roots. Not to mention two dependents.

Still, it's good to dream. If we can dream it, we can do it, and other such positive mantras. At least we're aware of the fact that the biggest obstacle to getting there is probably ourselves.

Have you ever pulled up stumps and taken the family off on an extended adventure? Do you dream of doing it? What's the biggest obstacle you face?

[image: VW Camper fabric from Classicreflections1/etsy]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What's your passion?

Last night, The Builder and I watched a documentary he'd recorded some time ago. He'd suggested watching it a few times, but there always seem to be something better on. Partly due to the subject matter of said doco - people who jump rope. For sport.

The last time I had anything to do with a skipping rope was my ill-fated attempt to rejoin a boxing class after the birth of my second child. Let's just say that certain muscles proved ill-equipped for the challenge of skipping in 60 second bursts. Pelvic floor muscles can be temperamental beasts, to say the least.

Prior to that, skipping was confined to the playground. Mrs M, Mrs I, Mrs S, S, I, Mrs S, S, I, Mrs P, P, I. Etcetera. I remember watching Sesame Street and seeing the kids do Double Dutch skipping and thinking it was the coolest thing ever.

But a sport?

Anyway, pickings were lean in TV land last night, so we put on Jump! (a documentary by Helen Hood Scheer with Scott B. Morgan). It followed a group of jump rope competitors through practice to national championships and then to world championships. We learned about speed jumping, single freestyle, double dutch single, double dutch pairs... We met Tori, a 12-year-old asthmatic whose intense drive allows her to nearly burst a gasket and still win a world championship. We met Marcus, super-talented but playing it too safe to take the big prizes. And we met Nick and Jeff, who make their routines so insanely difficult that it's almost impossible to get through them without mistakes - and that's the way they like it.

These people do things with skipping ropes that I can only lie back on the sofa and dream about as I watch. But the documentary was so well done that I wanted to have a go. You could see the passion that these kids had for their sport. A sport that most people have never heard of.

That's the thing with passion. It can take you into all sorts of weird and wonderful areas. It can make you into a crafter or a collector. It can see you running around a football field in the middle of winter or swimming lap after lap of a pool all year round. It can have you jumping off cliffs attached only to a thin rope or climbing mountains just because they're there. Or it can have you reciting every line from Star Wars and dressing in full Storm Trooper costumes.

I think the closest thing I have to a passion is writing. I say the closest because I don't agree with the person who said 'find what you love the most and you'll never work another day in your life'. I love writing and can't imagine doing anything else, but there are days when the saying 'familiarity breeds contempt' is closer to summing up how I feel about it. I recently wrote a letter to Mr7 (long story) about a year after he wrote one to me (long story). It said in part: 'Sorry it has taken me so long to write back. Mummy writes so much for work these days that she's forgotten that writing can be fun'.

But I have been doing my 500 words a day (well, five days out of seven this week for a total of 2539), and I'm rediscovering the joy of noodling about with words. With any luck, I'll be back to a fullblown love affair within a few weeks.

In the meantime, what's your passion? And if you're playing along with my 500 words a day challenge, how did you fare this week?


Friday, July 8, 2011

The Weekend Rewind... has moved!

The Weekend Rewind, world famous archive linky, has moved to its bright, shiny new home over with Sister C, aka Multiple Mum, at And Then There Were Four.

The drill remains the same : link up an old post for some new comment love. Only the neighbours will be different.

This week the theme is 'your first post'. Here's mine: Leftovers are the new takeaway. I don't mind admitting that I'm not fond of it...

Look forward to seeing you (and yours) there.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

When taking a break means breakfast

There is one major advantage to school holidays - beyond the whole 'no school run so I can stay in my pyjamas til midday' aspect, that is - and it's breakfast. During school term, I'm so busy getting everyone organised that my breakfast plans can go out the window. I read with amazement blog posts by women who boil or poach eggs for their offspring on school days. How do they do it? Clearly they're getting up way earlier than we are in the Fibro. But we're up at 7am. It's not like we roll out at 8.30am and race out the door. Not really. Though I do have that whole 'Ten Minutes From Everywhere' mentality to deal with. My whole 'Ten Minutes From Everywhere' mentality, I must stress.

I'm lucky to get a piece of toast into myself in the school term.

In the holidays, however, it's a whole different story. I'll have cereal. And toast. And fruit. And even yoghurt. A real breakfast.

No wonder I look forward to the school holidays so much.

Are you a breakfast eater? Do you manage it all year round or only once every three months, like I do?

[image: tiny tea cup bead from BeadPassion/etsy]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Creature of habit: when do you blog?

It is 2.23pm in the afternoon and I am trying to write a blog post. Nothing is going right. The light is wrong. The house is noisy. The television is on. The sun is shining... All of my difficulties stem from one basic problem: it's not 10.15pm.

I am a creature of habit. I write my blog posts at the same time each day (see above). When my day has happened and I have plethora of tiny details to mull over. At 2.24pm, I feel... unfinished. The day is only half done. Who knows what might happen between now and posting time? Some fabulous event may occur and a blog post would appear, fully formed, in my mind. Instead, I must eke one out while the sun hurts my eyes.

It is for this reason that I cannot write my posts in batches. I know people who do this. They do it very well. But it simply doesn't work for me. It's like I need 24 hours of rumination to come up with one blog idea. I'm not sure what this says about me. Mostly that I'm not very organised and am always writing my posts at the last minute.

It is 2.26pm. Did you see how I did that? A whole blog post about nothing. Call me Jerry Seinfeld.

Do you write at the same time every day? Are you a clever clogs batch writer? How do you manage this blogging business?

[image: rubber stamp from stampthing/etsy]

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

When the wind blows

The wind is howling around the Fibro tonight. So much so that we have moved Mr7 from his room beneath the large, overhanging branch of next door's Liquid Amber tree and he is camped out in Mr4's room. The only person who really benefits from this is me. It just means I won't be waking up with every gust of wind wondering if this is the one that finally brings that branch crashing down.

It's funny how much I worry about that branch. Forget the hunormous (Mr4's latest word) Camphor Laurel tree in the other neighbour's yard. The one that would take out the entire Fibro should it decide to give it up and keel over. Yep, forget that...

We didn't have this trouble in the Big Smoke. No large trees to speak of in the area, and the only one of any majesty was tucked up in the neighbour's yard against the sandstone cliff that ran the length of our block. That tree had support.

The Liquid Amber has no such back-up. It stands straight and very tall right next to the fence, which is right next to Mr7's room. Straight but for this one, large, overhanging branch. We didn't notice this branch so much last year. There was another even larger, even more overhanging branch that used to scrape the roof above Mr7's bed. That one kind of took our attention. But it was removed by a man with a chainsaw, a rope and devil-may-care attitude.

Drawing our attention to the current large, overhanging branch.

Sigh. I'd complain, but then all my troubles with the Liquid Amber would be over and my mind would have no alternative but to start thinking about that hunormous Camphor Laurel.

So let's forget that.

How are you faring with the winds? Is your house surrounded by trees? Does the mere hint of a spring breeze cause your garden to sway and quiver?

[image: hmmm, if that branch ever does go, perhaps I'll put one of these decals from ccnever/etsy in Mr7's room to take my mind away from the Camphor Laurel]

Monday, July 4, 2011

A blog post about a giveaway

Maxabella Loves is having a giveaway. She has raised a village to support her blog and is giving everyone in the village a chance to win a fabulous party outfit, including a Leona Emiston dress, new custom-styled shoes and some earrings from Elk Accessories. This entire blog post is merely a gratuitous plug. Because I have been out to dinner with friends and had several glasses of wine and I am smart enough to understand the repercussions of blogging under the influence. Or perhaps, simply too tired to write anymore.

Anyhoo, if you haven't entered, you totally should. I'm not entering, even though she says that sisters are completely eligible for entry. I just wouldn't feel right swanning about in your dress if my number came up. So if you win, you totes owe me a borrow of that frock - maybe we could choose something like the Trudy Tie Dress on the left. Click the button to find out more.

div align="center">Party Giveaway at Maxabella loves...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Can you do 500 words a day?

My fiction writing has been drifting lately. There are good reasons for this, but nonetheless I've noticed and have been looking for a way to get back on track. Fortunately, the good ladies of the RWA have come to my rescue. An email landed in my inbox today - an invitation to join the RWA 500 Club. Not the card game (which may be a good thing as I've been told that I'm an unsettling partner to say the least).

Instead, it's an undertaking to write 500 words six days a week. No end date. You reconfirm your commitment and your goals each week, so you can fall off the wagon if you need to. But otherwise, they'll be expecting you.

Which is exactly what I need right now. Accountability, as they say in corporate-speak. A way to create a daily fiction writing habit amongst all those other words I churn out. And 500 sounds do-able right? It's not as scary as NaNoWriMo, with its 50,000 words in a month shenanigans. Rather, it'll take you around three months to reach that mark. Practically a lifetime.

Check the RWA website for more details, or feel free to join me in an unofficial way. I'll post my weekly tallies in my Sunday night/Monday posts for the next four weeks - let me know how you're going in the comments.

Let's do this thing. Who's in?

[image: vintage book journals from TheFancyLamb/etsy]

Friday, July 1, 2011

Weekend Rewind (still here)

Despite all that announcing I did last week, the Weekend Rewind remains in the Fibro for one more week. Sister C/Multiple Mum insists she has more cleaning/decorating/... actually, she's not feeling well and we wish her a speedy recovery!

So, onwards and upwards. I was a bit tardy in getting round to all the links last week, due to that writing project, but I will do much better this week, I promise. As, I'm sure, will all the other commenters just waiting to visit your link. The drill is the same as always: follow the Fibro if we're not already friendly, link up an old post and then comment, comment, comment on as many other posts as possible. As we all know, comments make the Weekend Rewind go round.

Endings turned out to be heart-wrenching read last week - some beautiful, beautiful posts - so I think we'll liven things up a bit this week. The theme, therefore, is humour. Give me what you think is your funniest post. Or one of them, because I know a lot of you are hilarious all the time.

My post is not so much about me being funny, but about how being funny can sometimes not be very funny. It's not easy being funny.

Okay, hit me with hilarity! Ready, set... Rewind!

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