Monday, September 24, 2012

When goats fly

Always one for the big questions, Mr5 unleashed another tonight... adding another special challenge to my parenting pantheon. We had managed to make it unscathed through 'World's Most Dangerous' animals, where the sole subject tonight seemed to be about male elephants looking for female elephants and how they got very aggressive when 'must' came over them.

He turned to me, questions filling his eyes, and came out with "What's a male, Mum?" Given that I was standing by with hurried explanations about 'mating' and 'must' at the ready, I was thrilled with this one, eagerly explaining that it simply meant you were a boy.

No further questions at that time.

He waited until later to really test my game. When I was distracted by the washing up. After an intense discussion about Christmas lists.

"Can goats really fly, Mum?"

It took me a moment, but I was proud of myself for grasping the gist of this relatively quickly.

"You mean reindeer?"

"Yes," he said. "Those. Goats. The ones that take Santa around."

"Well," I said, thinking on my feet and in the suds. "Reindeer would have to fly to get him all over the world, right?"


"I guess. But I can't see how they can really fly. Planes and gliders can fly. Not goats."

"Reindeer," I corrected again, brain churning wildly. Was this going to be the big Santa talk? Already? I was hoping to get one more Christmas in with Mr8 who, being the eldest and the most earnest, still clings to the belief that his parents tell the truth at all times. I hadn't even considered the idea that I'd be dealing with Mr5 first. But then, I shouldn't be surprised. Mr5 is an altogether different cup of tea.

"Well, lots of people believe they can fly," I prevaricated, rattling dishes.

He thought about it a moment. "I can't see it Mum," he said. "People can't fly without planes and gliders, why should goats?"

Why indeed. I forestalled further conversation by hurriedly switching the subject to Power Rangers, but I can see the writing on the wall for Santa and the gang. If not this year, then maybe next.

It's a funny thing, this whole business. I think I get as much out of Santa as the kids do - maybe even more, now that I think about it. There's a magic in it that sums up childhood for me. But there are times when I wonder why we do it - to them and to ourselves. Because at some stage, for all of us, the reindeer become goats and we realise who's really drinking Santa's Christmas beer.

In the meantime, however, Mr5 and I will spend Christmas Eve this year scanning the skies for Santa and his flying goats.

It should be quite a moment.

Does Santa still visit your house?

[Image from here]

Thursday, September 20, 2012

10 things I learnt this week

As the end of the week approaches and I prepare to take myself to the Big Smoke for lunch tomorrow, I thought it a good time to reflect on the lessons learnt this week. It's been a busy week in The Old Girl, with lots of decisions to be made - decisions about paint colours, decisions about shoes, decisions about the 13 pages of edits on my novel.


So here's what I learnt this week:

1. I am terrible at making decisions. When there are too many decisions to be made, I make the decision to go to bed. Unfortunately, this decision cannot be followed by the appropriate action most of the time, so I am left dangling about the place.

2. My children delight me more than I ever expected. They are also a greater source of anxiety than I ever imagined. There's a balance in there somewhere, and sometimes we actually find it. This week the wins were big, and losses niggling and troublesome. But the school holidays are upon us and we're all more than ready for a break.

3.  It is possible to love a pair of red sneakers.

4. The days of the week are named after Norse gods. Thursday, for instance, is Thor's Day. I could also take you through the finer points of the Runic alphabet, but I suspect it takes a great deal of love to weather that particular storm and I will not subject you to it. Suffice to say that Mr8 can write his name in Runic. Which is bound to come in handy one day.

5. Reading the end of a book first is not always a good idea.

6. It is difficult to know exactly when to pull the flannelette sheets off the bed. I nearly peaked last week after one sultry night of 12 degrees Celsius, only to be very happy that I'd been feeling lazy that day when the temp topped out at 3 degrees Celsius the following night. Seriously. Is there a handy guide for this kind of stuff?

7. There are very few rooms that cannot be brightened significantly by the addition of a little bunting.

8. There is a very good chance that I do not need every single one of the 4444 items currently languishing in my email inbox.

9. I tend to overuse the word 'very'. I will take Mark Twain's advice and insert the word 'damn' instead. So point 7 now reads 'There are damn few rooms...' and point 8 reads 'There is a damn good chance...'. I think it makes me sound racier. What do you think?

10. Clearing space in one's head often comes down to clearing space in one's schedule. By saying no to several things this week I was able to stave off the whelm and make some good inroads into my novel edits. I am feeling much relieved. Thank you all for the good advice and support.

I have just one more thing to learn this week, and it's this:

Do you still have flannelette sheets on your bed?

[image: from here]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

50 Shades of Beige

The living room walls of The Old Girl look like a patchwork quilt. Crazed squares of grey, white with a hint of green, yellow, grey-green, dark beige, light beige, antique white, half white... Yes, The Builder and I are redecorating. Again.

I'm pretty sure that the last time we went through this, I decided, somewhere between choosing the kitchen benchtop and choosing the laundry wall colour, that we were never doing this again. Ever. And yet, here we are, not 12 months later, doing it all again.

This is our third house together and, somehow, the most difficult. The Old Girl is just so terribly old. She's sorted. She knows her style. She's restored to her former glory and it's pretty glorious in a simple, old-school kind of way. There's only one room that needs our help for now. And the pressure of getting it right is getting to me.

The Fibro needed a complete overhaul. Head to toe, top to bottom. When you're changing everything, you just get in there and go for it. It needed bringing into the 21st century and into the 21st century it came, albeit kicking and screaming.

The Old Girl is more your 19th century kind of girl. Genteel. Hitting the right note between that and 'I don't want to live in a museum' is not easy. I wanted to paint the room white. But the white paint chart was more daunting than the coloured paint charts. Who knew there could be so many? And, yes, we considered Hog Bristle, like every other household in the country. But we can't go there. The Fibro was Hog Bristle (half) on the walls and Hog Bristle (quarter) on the timberwork. We can't press repeat.

We'll get there. Of that I have no doubt. In the meantime, the man at the paint shop and I are becoming very friendly. "Are you sick of the sight of me yet?" I asked the other day, popping in for our 11th sample pot.

"Oh, you're not my best customer yet," he said, popping a splodge of yellow into the Haynes Beige (half) he was mixing up for me.

"I'm not?" I said, somewhat put out by this. I thought we had something special.

"Nope," he said, dolloping in some black. "That spot is reserved for the lady who took 25 sample pots to decide on a colour."

We were both silent a moment, me contemplating the horror, him no doubt dreaming of another customer who'd spend over $100 in sample colours (at least I'm only halfway there...).

"What colour did she end up choosing?" I asked.

He laughed. "The second one she took home."

Tonight I sit here and contemplate my patchwork walls as I write this.

We're pretty sure we've chosen a colour.

The first one we considered, only knocked back to half strength.

There's a lesson in here somewhere.

What colour are your living room walls?

[image: from here]

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday drives and new shoes

The Builder and I have decided to resurrect the Sunday drive. Remember when you were a kid and your mum and dad would throw you all in the back of the Mitsubishi Express on a perfectly fine day when you would have been quite happy to hole up in your bedroom and read a book?

You would drive in circles, looking at gardens and wharves and antique shops and all manner of other boring adult things, being told to 'look at the scenery' and 'enjoy the view' when you complained you were getting carsick or your sister/s/brother insisted on playing 'corners' with you when, really, who ever enjoyed that game?

When you finally got home, after hours spent listening to Neil Diamond or, gasp, Phil Collins on the tapedeck, you would all fall out of the car and your parents would swear you'd never do that again because, really, who needed to listen to kids to bicker for hours on end?

Or maybe that was just us.

Anyhoo, today we packed a picnic and drove ourselves down the coast into the endless blue of a beautiful spring sky. We told the boys we would be looking at antiques, but they were mollified by the fact that we also packed their bikes and balls of various shapes and sizes.

When we arrived at our first stop, Mr5 made it clear that for everything 'Mum and Dad' that occurred (eg, looking at antiques), there would need to be a Mr8/Mr5 equivalent. When our first two purchases were a chocolate milk and a second-hand book for each of them, he thought he was on to a winner. Until I pointed out that he now had a glut of 'Mum and Dad' moments to overcome. He dealt with the antiques shopping by standing out the front of the shop, on one leg, rapping about how boring life was when your Mum and Dad looked at antiques. Yo.

When I stopped laughing, I sort of had to agree. I'd have rapped the same thing had rapping been invented when I was five.

Part two of the day was pretty much wall-to-wall Mr8/Mr5 stuff - bikes, balls, beach, icecreams, rockpools, park. Seriously, I need to work harder at the 'Mum and Dad' stuff. Not even a wharf in the mix. Mr5 picked up some little snails from the rockpools for his 'shell collection'. When I pointed out that there were still residents in the shells, he was horrified. "Is that why they were hard to pick up?" he said. "They were holding on."

They were.

We tenderly rehoused them in another little pool, with him fussing over whether they would like their new home. I watched them burrow back into the sand. "I think they're much happier in there than they would have been drying out in your hand," I told him. Perspective.

Later as we walked up the beach, I could feel the sand between my toes. Which would have been lovely and summery, bar the fact that I was wearing shoes at the time. "I think I have holes in the bottom of my Connies," I said to The Builder.

"What a shame," he said. "You'll need to buy new shoes. I bet you're disappointed..."

New sneakers. Now there's a 'Mum' thing. All I have to do now is decide on the colour.

Two questions today: Does your family do Sunday drives? Do you wear Converse sneakers - and if so, which colour?

I'm thrilled to be this week's Decorating Forum featured blogger. If you have any questions about colour (sneakers or otherwise) or any other decorating issues, you should pop in to see Julie-Ann and her lovely community. They really helped me out with my pillow problems.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fighting the whelm

If someone were to ask me 'RUOK?' today, my answer would probably be 'not really'. I am paralysed by whelm today. My revisions mountain seems too high to climb. Writing is too hard. I am worried about my tired, over-the-school-term-completely children. And my house is a mess.

But I take a deep breath and hang out the washing. Because it's just today.

Tomorrow is Saturday. In Spring. And my crabapple tree is blooming.

I know that RUOK Day was officially yesterday. But I think it should be an everyday kind of thing. So I hope that you are feeling okay. If not, I hope that for you it's just today, too.

We'll start again tomorrow.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The holy trinity of publishing

Today I found myself within the holy trinity of writing/publishing. I was proofreading one book (for my good friend Allison Dobell), working through edits/revisions on a second, and thinking about the writing of another (a corporate project, which finds me bamboozled at times by some quite technical details).

An ending. A middle. A beginning. In reverse order, and requiring some serious head-hopping as I changed my various hats and tacks.

The writing process does not begin and end with the writing. If you're hoping that you can write your beautiful words and then let an editor 'sort the rest', it's probably time to pick up the nearest grammar book.

Writers write. They edit, pruning their sentences, killing their darlings, trying to remember whether that character had green eyes on page 53 or blue. They proofread their own work.... very, very carefully, knowing how distracting it is as a reader to find a typo in a published book.

There are, of course, specialists in all these areas to help along the way, but the book goes out with your name on it. If you're like me, you want to be proud of every word, sentence and, gasp, semi-colon.

When I write, I don't edit. I just bash it out, throwing xxxxx in where I can't think of the words. When I edit, I try to keep track of every stream and string within the story, knowing that if I pull a frayed thread out in chapter three, I'm going to need to see it through in chapter 14 - and every mention along the way.

When I proofread, I look at every word. Every. Single. Word. When I learnt to do this, back in my days as a cadet journalist, I was given a printed version and told to read it from the bottom up, backwards. That way you see the actual words, not the words that you think are there. And I always, always check the large type extra carefully after my Molloy incident.

Three manuscripts. Three approaches.

As Mondays go, it was a pretty good one.

Are you in the process of writing, editing or proofing? How's it going for you?

[Image: Hilda Grahnat]

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why we read blogs... and a winner

I've just spent a good hour going through the 65 entries to the $100 books giveaway. "Tell me why you read blogs," said I, off the top of my head, needing to make the giveaway a game of skill.

I got more than I bargained for.

Here is a small selection of the reasons that people read blogs. I found them illuminating, and hope you do too.

•"I read book blogs because I am a book nerd, I read mummy blogs so I don't feel quite so bad about my own parenting decisions and I read cooking blogs because I have 5 fussy eaters and meal inspiration died sometime ago." - ShelleyRae

•"To laugh and to learn, To peek and to ponder, To read and to writhe, To listen and wonder." - Kelly

•" find crafty crap I can make to fill my house with, because there's nothing on tv, because I should be doing the housework, because they make me laugh or because they make me cry!" - Kel

•"It's the voyerism. The chance to have a 'micro' holiday and live in France, Italy, by the beach, back in London, own a chateau,go hiking in Nepal, travel first class overseas etc, etc, etc." - LissaJane

•"I read blogs to try to figure out why people read blogs. It's truly fascinating to see the interaction on blogs. Some blogs are so specific (eg gardening) and I love to read the Q&As between blogger and bloggee and the exchange of information as well as plants and seedlings. I sometimes wonder why people read my blog too..." - Ambadambra

•"I read some blogs for the brain food. I read some blogs for the 'YES! That has happened to me too!' moments. I read some blogs for the 'YIKES! I hope that never happens to me' moments. I read some blogs to learn about things I don't know about. I read some blogs to learn about things I thought I knew about." - Emily

•"Choosing to read blogs is like creating your own perfect dinner party. I seek out the ones I like the most, where I can feel a connection to the author (even though they don't know me and probably never will!). I love to hear what they have to say, I love to see things from their perspective" - Becthewordsmith

•"I hope it's not that I'm nosey, but I do know I have an absolute fascination for reading about people's lives. I like to know how people think, what they think and why they think that way. My favourite blogs are ones where people just chat about their everyday lives honestly and openly. Though, sometimes it's hard to know whether they're being honest or telling a good yarn!" - NaturallyCarol

•"The blogs I tend to read are unmitigated, written from the heart and bypass any agendas. They are fresh, fast and may at times be furious however when it comes from the heart you can feel that energy." - Pixelrites

•"Each time I read a blog I feel like Alice must have when she fell down the the rabbit hole, immersed in new, unfamiliar worlds and absolutely curious." - Sharni Montgomery

•"I'm JUST starting to read blogs! I'm overawed that I've sat around reading novels for years, whilst there's a whole underworld of blog writing going on that I never even knew existed, until now. I feel like that archaic-behind-the-times-mum that still launders cloth handkerchiefs, makes her children say "Thank-you for having me" after playdates and has no idea of the names of the boys in 'One Direction!'" - colisf

And so on... seriously, thank you all so much for responding from the heart. You have given me so much to think about and reminded me of all I love about blogging. The beauty, the rawness, the people, the connections - the stickybeak factor!

Unfortunately, there can be just one winner and that winner is... drum roll please...

Anecdotal Anna for this lovely little piece of wordcraft:

"oh the possibilities of what you'll see
of what they know
how they say it so.

The connection
the laughs
the traversing of life's different paths.

It is for these reasons
I concede
many blogs I like to read"

Please email me at taitallison7 [at] gmail [dot] com Anna and I'll organise your Booktopia voucher!

Thank you all for joining in my little comp and for visiting the Fibro. I'm always so happy to see you.

[image from here]

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The School For Fully Functioning Adults

It occurred to me today that I have reached my 40s (let's not talk about how far down that road I am) without becoming a fully functioning adult. I mean, there are just things that I don't know how to do yet. To whit:

Buy pillows. I need a new pillow. Really badly. To the point where I wake up with a sore neck and an unhappy disposition. And yet I have not managed to buy myself a new pillow. I realised when I went to the shops that I had never bought a pillow for myself. All my pillows come from my long-suffering mother. She went through a phase where she was looking for a new pillow and I pretty much just inherited all the pillows that didn't work for her. So I had pillows by default and that worked well.

Now, however, she is happy with her pillow. And I am in need of one. So I must get my own.

How do you work out which one is right for you when you can't lie down on them for 12 hours to give them a test run? Am I a medium person? Firm? High? Duck feather? Latex? Oh. My. God. Talk about Option Paralysis.

A friend told me that Ikea has a pillow wall. Or bar. Or something. I forget. You can test the pillows. But on a wall, or a bar, or something. Not on a bed. This doesn't seem to be a solution for me.

Advice please. How the hell does a person buy a pillow?

Sew. Anything. Buttons. Hems. Anything. I did sewing in year 8 at school. I should be able to do this. But I am also saddled with what is generally known as a Distinct Lack Of Interest and I have no idea how to overcome that.

Advice please. How does one foster an interest in mending?

Cook fish. Here's a confession: we rarely eat fish in this household, let alone three times a week. Oh, we love quality tinned tuna (Sirena only), fish fingers, and takeaway fish and chips on occasion, but I am categorically useless at cooking fish. I am of the cook-the-crap-out-of-it school of fish chef, and my last attempt, at barbecuing some fillets, has gone done in the annals of Fam Fibro history as Mum's Worst Meal EVER.

I'm never sure what to buy and then never sure what to do with it once I get it home. I even went to a course once at the Seafood School and yet, here I am. I suspect there is no hope for me, but even so, any advice?

I am sure that real adults do not suffer from these deficiencies. They do everything well, competently and with assurance. They have lovely pillows, no loose buttons floating around the house, and eat perfect fish three times a week.

Or not.

Are there things that you don't know how to do yet? What courses would you set for a School For Fully Functioning Adults?

[Image from here]

Monday, September 3, 2012

Instagram: A year in my garden

The Builder and I are preparing for a hard weekend of mulching. Literally truckloads (okay, one truck) are arriving on Friday, to be dispatched, by hand, into The Old Girl's waiting beds. The weeding is finally done (or as done as it can be - I'm sure they're out there, popping up as I type this).

With spring upon us, though, I am out in the garden every day, having a look. There's so much activity and so many gorgeous bits and bobs to discover. Like the blossom bursting from the crab apple's bare branches. And the last rose of winter (or is it the first rose of spring?). And the tiny little grevillea flowers tucked down in the back corner, Mecca for the tiny little birds that swoop in and out to drink its nectar all day.

Seriously, this garden is blowing my mind (and my back, now that I mention it).

One thing The Builder and I discussed was keeping a diary, so that we'd know what popped up where and when. I've been taking happy snaps... and then I had a sudden thought. Remember this post about Instagram? Where I was all up on my serious case of envy and complete inability to take pictures? I've decided to change that.

I've started my own hashtag on Instagram - #ayearinmygarden. Every Monday I will post an image from my garden, with a date and plant name where I can, and just a hashtag (as per today) where I have no idea what I've photographed. So far, I am a party of one. I'd love it if you joined me. You only need a pot plant to play - it will look different every week for sure.

Anyway, would love to share garden goodness with you if you're keen - I'm AllisonTaitWriter if you're looking for me. And, for everyone else, it should be noted that I'm pretty sure my obsession with pictures right now is down to the fact that re-drafting my novel is taking up SO many words. When it gets too hard, I can go outside and look at the blossom, snap a pic and it all feels so much better.

I'm sure normal transmission (and terrible images of graffiti cockroaches) will resume any minute now.

Oh, and before I forget, don't forget my giveaway - $100 worth of books from Booktopia. Just leave a comment, as per this post, to enter. You have until midnight on Thursday!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...