As you might be aware I play the violin. Well, I played the violin right up to the start of covid. It is a relatively lonely instrument unless you belong to an orchestra or ensemble of sorts while guitar is much more social at least where we live.
BTW I mixed up the photo prompts this week and responded to last week’s by mistake and it’s too late to add it to the link but perhaps you’d still like to check it out, especially if you have views on minimalism versus hoarding.
An evangelical minimalist, Sylvia Nolan is known as “KCD” – a brutal clutter-busting force preaching “keep, chuck, donate” to millions on TV. Meanwhile, her nemesis Junkyard Jenny draws crowds of hoarders on a rival network.
No one knew Junkyard Jenny was her Mom.
As much as Sylvia had tried to convert her mother through subtlety or force, Jenny was unrepentant:
“Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure and my trip to Tahiti.”
Last week, Mom had a heart attack and died in the shop leaving Sylvia with a million decisions to make…keep, chuck, donate.
What are your thoughts on the great minimalist-hoarder divide? I must confess that I’m more down the hoarder end of the spectrum but I do like my mother’s view on this that you just need a bigger house. Meanwhile, my dad says staying put in the one house for 20 years in our case and 40 years in theirs is also fatal. I used to be able to fit all my stuff into one or two car loads back in the day. Hard to believe now!
Last night the prodigal son flew through the front door and in a miraculous flash, he was transformed into Vector from Despicable Me. His friend was having a villain theme for her 18th birthday. Although we’d almost busted a gut, I was thrilled. He looked amazing and was grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat.
In case you haven’t heard of Vector, he’s the son of bank president Mr. Perkins and an aspiring supervillain voiced by Jason Segal. He’s decked out in an orange track suit and flies around in a wing suit, which could be described as a modern incantation of the traditional superhero cape. He also wears a white helmet with an orange stripe down the centre, black rimmed glasses and has a rather nerdy bowl haircut.
While Mr 18’s villainous ambitions initially didn’t seem too lofty, complications soon escalated and there was no chance of pulling a rabbit out of a hat or a seamless transition like Clark Kent into Superman.
Trouble began when we couldn’t buy a Vector costume and had to make it ourselves!! Panic stations!! While there are those parents who seemingly whip up book week costumes out of thin air year after year, that’s not us. Moreover, despite over ten years as an active dance mum, I’ve never had to sew a costume and have only ever been asked to sew ribbons on shoes. That’s been hard enough. Making this Vector costume posed an extremely steep learning curve.
Of course he could’ve gone for an orange tracksuit and made do. Not on your life! He had a grand vision of being Vector with all the bells and whistles and almost being able to take flight in that wing suit. What’s more he had absolutely no doubt that Geoff and I could just pluck this suit out of thin air and not only make it for him, but do a decent job. Not have the wings sewn on backwards or have it fall apart as soon as he arrived at the party. Yet with only three days to go his expectations were even more unrealistic. Indeed in hindsight a classic quote from The Castle comes to mind: “Tell ‘im he’s dreamin'”. Added to this mix, was the fact he was totally unavailable to assist. He was volunteering on sound for three days at the church conference. So, all of this takes us back to plucking a rabbit out of a hat when we’re not magicians. We’re mere mortals…Mum and Dad. Yet as we’re found on previous occasions, we somehow rise to the occasion and exceed our meagre expectations in leaps and bounds.
The first step was to source an orange track suit. Understandably this was a challenge in itself. After all most of us wouldn’t be seen dead in an orange tracksuit and doing the rounds of the charity shops confirmed that. Orange was never the new black despite what the fashionistas preached a few years ago. Moreover the cheapest orange tracksuit I could find online was $43.00. Who wants to spend that on a one-off orange tracksuit? Besides, by now it was too late for anything to be posted in time. Then, just when I was close to conceding defeat, Google came to the rescue. There was an orange prison jumpsuit for around $21.00 at our local Spotlight store. You beauty! They stopped off there on the way to conference and Geoff returned home with white and orange fabric for the wing suit and white ribbon for the stripe.
By now, you’re probably thinking we were on the homeward straight and we could just whiz the whole thing up on the machine in no time.
There was another hitch which I’ve already alluded to… me!! I have very limited dressmaking experience along with zero spatial awareness. Indeed, I even have a doctor’s certificate to prove it along with multiple scrapes on the car. Indeed, if it wasn’t for Mr 18’s wavering tone when he said he didn’t have a costume or a present and couldn’t go to the party, I’d never have been sewing any kind of costume!
This is what the hero’s journey is all about, isn’t it?! Along with the role of a parent! There are times you just have to front up and have a Nike moment. Fortunately, there was also Plan B. Getting help from Geoff or a friend. Whatever! This was not about ego and doing it all myself. Come hell or high water he was going to have his Vector suit!
That was all very noble-minded, but I hadn’t factored in an outright rebellion by the sewing machine. While it’s been mean, nasty and cantankerous for me before, like all machines, it’s always been good for Geoff. He has a real knack with machines which he calls “mechanical empathy” . Indeed, on my last encounter with the sewing machine, Geoff accused me of having “no mechanical empathy”. However, this time the machine wasn’t even working for Geoff, and a whole new pressure cooker was threatening to explode. Recalcitrant, rebellious and cantankerous…the darn thing kept unthreading and we’re not sure whether the machine, the thread or the fabric, but the machine is lucky it hasn’t been put out for council cleanup or worse!
Eventually the wings were attached. As Vector started to emerge, we were now feeling chuffed although we still had a way to go and time was running out. By now, it was late afternoon and I’d only managed to get in a piece of toast motoring along as fast as I could. Mr 18 had such grand visions of this costume and I wasn’t going to let him down. I wanted him to make that big entrance at the party. Be Vector and add to the fun and festivity. I didn’t want him to be disappointed. No, I wasn’t about to break his heart. Anything to avoid that – even self-destruction!
The next step was the collar. Vector’s collar stands straight up and in a rare moment of resourceful creativity, I nabbed the almost empty Rice Bubbles’ box and cut out a strip of cardboard, unstitched the side of the collar and stuffed it in. Wow. I was proud of my uncharacteristic resourcefulness. I pinned on some white cotton fabric on the inside and tried to machine it together. Possibly overwhelmed by the number of layers, the sewing machine spat the dummy AGAIN. Grr! I was back to hand-stitching but thrilled to be moving surprisingly fast. Indeed, I’d become a machine myself!
With the wings attached, the stripes down the side and the collar done, the suit was really coming together. Meanwhile Geoff painted an old cricket helmet white for his head gear. Wow. We even had enough time to add a white stripe to the wings.
Again the sewing machine played up and I gave up and handed it over to Geoff. By now, we’d renamed it: “The Beast” and even Geoff who can make any machine work well, was asking how much an industrial strength machine would cost!!
Finally, I’m catching my breath and able to text Mr 18 for an ETA without having a heart attack. He was getting close but I had just enough time to steam the packaging creases out of the suit and then perfection.
It was done.
Geoff and I as well.
We forced him to stand still just long enough to get a photo and then we were off to drive him to the party.
I’m sure it won’t surprise you that we picked up a pizza for dinner on the way home. We were beat.
Now, I’ll leave you with a thought I’m going to come back to. So often we stridently defend our right to be ourselves. Refuse to conform or blend in. Or, we go looking for ourselves. Yet on the other hand, we do whatever it takes to be someone else. Sure, in this instance Mr 18 was just dressing up for a party. When you’re going in character, you want to be authentic and you’re also just playing a role. However, how often do we do whatever it takes to hide who we are behind makeup, fashion and or being seen or photographed at the right places? How many of us are leading a fake life especially on social media? You have to be pretty strong to resist the temptation. Yet, it’s something to consider…
Anyway, I’d be very interested to hear from you and any of your efforts making costumes. How did it go? Do you think being yourself is over-rated and you’re better off at least appearing to be someone else? I’d love to hear from you.
Yesterday, was Father’s Day here in Australia. Unfortunately, my parents have colds so we couldn’t go round to see them. However, we were able to focus on Geoff and went to Church as a family for the first time in about 18 months (due to covid) and out for dinner to a fabulous local Indian restaurant. We couldn’t finish it off, and brought the leftovers home so the east will continue tonight albeit more of a nibble. Indeed, I’m about to head out to buy some more chicken to cook up with my leftover sauce.
Did you celebrate Father’s Day where you are? I also understand that it’s a day of reflection and grief for many so if that’s you, I send you a hug and my thoughts.
As you may recall, Geoff and I went to Bathurst what is like three weeks ago now, and I’m still in the very early stages of writing up about our trip here on the blog. I’m also wanting to write some freelance articles as well, but decided to write these posts for the blog first and use them as a launching pad.
However, my third post about a trio of marble sculptures in Machattie Park has become very complicated taking me down numerous deep and meandering research burrows without really feeling confident about the basic facts like who made the sculptures, and how they came to reside in a fernery in a park in Bathurst 200 km WNW of Sydney. My quest has taken me back to the Sydney International Exhibition of 1879 where a swag of nations set up camp and showed of their national achievements. In addition to the main exhibition hall in the Garden Palace a separate art gallery was built and two out of three of these sculptures were displayed there and bought by the Art Gallery of NSW who went on to loan them to the city of Bathurst to put in their you beaut park with the band rotunda and massive fountain. By the way, the sculptor was Giovanni Fontana who was a well-known Italian sculptor at the time, who was commissioned to produce a number of public sculptures in Sydney. So far, I’ve been able to trace back the providence of two out of three of the statues but the third one is eluding me and I’ve lost myself down so many rabbit burrows as I said just trying to put the basics together, that I’ve ended up terribly lost and confused to the point of losing what I actually know. Have you ever experienced that?
Meanwhile, the other big news around here, is that Miss sprained her ankle last Friday night at dance. When it happened, they all heard a loud snap and they were really concerned she’d broken it. I missed a call from an unknown number just as I was meeting up with friends, and that turned out to be her dance teacher. They rang Geoff instead who was at home and so he drew the short straw of taking her to Gosford Hospital for hours on end while we waited and prayed for a verdict and I was going through all her dance commitments in my head and wondering how bad this was going to be and the implications of it all. I was also rather concerned about how she was responding to all of this psychologically. For a mere mortal, a sprained ankle is a painful inconvenience but for a ballerina, it can so easily feel like the end of the world. However, fortunately the timing is fairly good and she doesn’t have anything big right away. Her dance teacher has also referred her to special physio, which is probably going hurt us more in terms of the bank account, but you do what you’ve got to do.
“Why did you do it?” The judge asked Jane Sutton, a 16 year old student from Queen’s College. Academic, popular, beautiful, rich and from an impeccable family… why did she go on a staggering shoplifting spree totalling over $20,000 on a fake credit card? “You didn’t need any of this stuff! You had it all.”
Jane didn’t want to speak or acknowledge her crimes in any way. Indeed, she was on suicide watch, and no one would’ve blamed her for taking her life. They would’ve done it too if they’re been this stupid and brought such unfathomable shame and disgrace, not only on her own name, but also her family. Her mother was the Australian CEO of the Red Cross and her father was the Bishop of Sydney, although they were both feeling pressured to resign. After causing so much trauma to those she loved and loved her more than life itself, she couldn’t bear to admit why she did it.
She was bored.
Geoff and I were in Carcoar, near Bathurst last week and marvelled at this gorgeously quaint village time forgot. Such a shame the courthouse wasn’t open while we were there. It really is a step back in time.
This has been a contribution to Stream of Consciousness Saturday hosted by Linda G. Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “board/bored.” Use one, or use them both for bonus points. Enjoy!
How are you? I hope you are well and not freezing or burning to death whatever your particular situation might be. It’s Winter here and we’ve had a chilly day here just when we were starting to dream of Spring and cutting back on all the layers.
How was your week? Good, I hope.
in terms of what I’ve been up to, I finished my Freelance Writing Course with the Australian Writers’ Centre a few weeks ago. Although I’ve paid for two more courses, I put them on hold so I could just let that one sink in. I’m also needing to reorganise the house and create some decent work and storage place for me to freelance. Being organised and on the ball will be very important and isn’t something which comes naturally.
Indeed, trying to set up a work area at home is almost as challenging as pitching to an editor(which I’m sure I don’t need to explain is rather scary!!) For the last two years, I’ve been set up with my computer etc in the loungeroom where I enjoy the comfort of reverse-cycle air-conditioning and a cosy leather recliner with a dog on my lap who doesn’t seem to mind the keyboard perched across his back. However, my desk is actually parked at the other end of the house looking out onto the garden. It’s quite a lovely room with plenty of natural sunlight. However, in Summer it turns into a furnace and you need sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen at the peak of Summer. The reverse applies in Winter and it turns into an icebox. (Well, at least, by Sydney standards). As you might’ve gathered, it doesn’t have air-conditioning or heating. In fact, at the moment, my desk doesn’t even have power. When we had the solar panels installed on the roof, somehow the installers managed to disconnect the back room from power.
As if my workspace wasn’t already seriously challenged enough, it was also buried alive under layer up on layer of detritus (that sounds like a much better word than crap and clutter is too refined.)
Please don’t fall over and die from shock. For a few hours today, the desk was completely clear. I could even admire the woodgrain, which is very rare indeed. However, my triumph didn’t last. Unfortunately, all the stuff I’d piled up on the kitchen table had to move. Fortunately, not all of it went back and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get it clear tomorrow. Of course, I’ll need to get the power sorted out. However, in the meantime, I’ll be able to read, plan and do some old school writing i.e.as in using pen and paper.
So, getting my office situation set up is going to keep me busy for awhile but I am on my way.
Last week, as some of you would’ve already found out, we had an intriguing visitor at our place -Tallulah who was one of the baby simulation dolls which are often used as part of sex-ed. However, in this instance, Miss is doing child studies and every student had the “baby” for two days where they were supposed to respond to their cries and either change the nappy or feed them and they also needed to change their outfit. All of these tasks were monitored by its inbuilt computer system with particular attention to supporting the head properly at all times and, of course, reporting any harm. Miss had really been looking forward to the doll coming home. However, after 24 hours she changed her tune and abandoned ship. She’s had a cold and is really busy with dance, working at McDonald’s and school and was quite rational about it all in the end. She needed the sleep. Meanwhile, I wrote a post about my experience: Becoming An Instant Grandmother.
This week, I also took part in the Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS for the first time. I really enjoyed it and was very pleased with the results. Here’s a link to my story: The Network Guy. In case you’re wondering, it’s about an IT Network Engineer like my husband, but this story is fictional.
Lastly, I couldn’t write about my week without mentioning two Aussie singing greats who passed away this week. Firstly, we lost the great Judith Durham from The Seekers. You might want to join me is singing along to Georgie Girl.
Then, there came heartbreak. Judith Durham was more from my parents’ era. However, the death of Olivia Newton-John was something else altogether. She’s been fighting cancer for a long time. So, it didn’t come as a surprise, but I was sad. However, instead of feeling devastated, I reflected on many happy memories and the joie de vivre she carried with her everywhere she went with her “love and light”. Personally, I can’t go past Olivia in Grease. I had a slumber party for my 13th birthday and we watched Grease on the VCR which was new tech back in 1982. One of the girls had been living in America and she’d already seen Grease 13 times and I was so impressed. Of course, that launched my own Grease marathon rewinding the tape and starting over. I have to include two songs from Grease in my ONJ tribute: You’re The One That I Want and at a slower pace: Hopelessly Devoted To You.
Anyway, that’s enough from me for this week. Now, it’s over to you.
Malcolm wasn’t going to let being broke and homeless come between him and his daily brew. Oozing charisma and charm, albeit in rugged, unshaven way, Malcolm flirted outrageously with Roberto the Barista at Mecca Cafe for free coffee, while shagging Angel over at Nicko’s Pizzeria. After all, a man has to eat. Playing a game of pass-the-parcel, Malcolm also couch-surfed through the rank and file of St Thomas’s Anglican Church. While they were hell-bent on saving his soul, he was happy praying along and raiding the fridge. Anything to survive. Everyone was only too happy to help the homeless.
Well, today I can actually offer you some balmy, invigorating sunshine after months, and months of miserable, very heavy rain accompanied by serious flooding in many places around NSW. Indeed, I was almost in shock when Geoff told it it was 22 degrees Celsius today, although I must confess that I was still wearing a light jumper which sounds a bit odd. Although we probably should’ve spent the day outdoors especially as the rain is seemingly returning on Tuesday for another cold and miserable five day stint. However, we did get down to the beach, which was still covered in debris from the floods and there were also a few impressive structures which had been made out of sticks along the beach. The creek doing it’s best to impersonate rapids although it didn’t come close. It’s also gained a few handmade bridges which intrepid children were happy to cross and they didn’t care if they fell in.
Last Thursday was Bastille Day. Did you do anything to celebrate? Well, my friend, Lisa, and I celebrated in style at Sous le Soleil French Restaurant in Sydney’s Roseville. We were marking 30 years since we were in Paris together for Bastille Day. It’s hard to believe now that we were ever actually there: watching the military parade along the Champs Elysee and by night sitting in the shadows of la Tour Eiffel marvelling as it glowed in the dark. Of course, there was the piece de resistence…the incredibly fire works display. I watched it on YouTube and it was magnificent, and you can see it here. One day, I will return!
Meanwhile, I’ve temporarily returned to life as a student. I’ve just completed week four of Freelance Journalism – Part One with the Australian Writers’ Centre. This week, we had to develop a story concept focusing on research and who we’re going to interview. We had a session on interviewing techniques which was rather helpful. However, I really enjoyed writing the profiles last week and it was interesting to read everyone’s efforts more from a point of view of getting to know the people in the course better and I found I had a few things in common. There was even someone doing adult jazz and ballet classes. I was doing an adult ballet class about a year before covid hit and absolutely loved it, but the studio doesn’t run them regularly.
Doing the course has been exciting, interesting, challenging and terrifying. I’ve been writing seriously for about 35 years and after ten years of regular writing on my blog, I thought I’d have it covered. However, writing feature articles is quite different to blogging. It’s in the third person and your opinion doesn’t matter at all. Indeed, unless you’re writing something like a travel story or you’re very famous or interesting, your opinion counts for naught. Humbling. So, instead of writing about what I know, I’m looking for other people who know stuff and statistics and it’s how I weave all of that together which makes a good feature article. I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be to make a living out of it, but at least I’m not short of ideas.
It’s been school holidays here, which for Miss involves dance and more competitions, exams and photographs. However, there were also challenges off stage. I have mentioned the rain many times over. Well, she was performing her Jazz solo at around 8.00pm and a massive deluge hit while we were there and our poor car was parked on the grass a good walk away and it was not an unrealistic concern that the car might get bogged. Indeed, the wheels were spinning and I tried to think like Geoff to get out of there and we got out. Saw the spot the next day and it was a mud bath. Oh golly. The things we contend with as parents for our little darlings! I felt like quite the survivor!!
it comes to this last competition, I also have a confession. For the first time ever, I didn’t stay for the duration and I left her behind to head off to my Bastille Day lunch. I admit I felt guilty and wondered whether I should reschedule the lunch and go the next day. Did it really matter if it wasn’t quite Bastille Day? Not really, although the restaurant and some of the diners did make it special. However, with Miss’s dance commitments being so intense, I’ve just had to accept I can’t be there all the time and she’ll need to accept that too. I can’t keep up.
Anyway, this brings me to the end of another weekend. School goes back on Tuesday and a friend of mine from Sydney is catching the ferry from Palm Beach to Wagstaff and I’ll drive round and meet her there. So, that’ll be good.
Yet, Jane couldn’t take her foot off the accelerator. She’d said nothing to anyone, but lately she’d been considering driving over The Gap.
“What do you do for self-care?” Her therapist asked, knowing she was on the brink.
“Self-care?” Jane exploded. “@#$%!! I don’t even exist. I’m squished in between Stuart, the kids, work, Mum’s stroke, Dad’s cancer. I’m driving to appointments, soccer, ballet and then there’s church. Busy, busy, busy!”
“I’m prescribing you a week’s holiday. Before you say you can’t go, please consider what will happen if you don’t. You matter too!”
For so many of us, it’s impossible to stop and get off the treadmill, but there can come a point where too much activity and no rest reaches breaking point. It’s important to consider things the rests which are inserted into music, full stops and commas inserted into sentences and if you think back to when you were first learning to write, putting that all important finger space in between the words.
I hope my story this week isn’t too triggering for anyone. If case you haven’t heard about The Gap in Sydney, it’s an ocean cliff at Watson’s Bay which is infamous for suicides. So much so, that if someone’s going through a rough time or having a particularly bad day, they might say: “I feel like jumping off The Gap”. However, it’s generally used to let off steam, and not as an expression of intent.
The flipside of this story, is that much has been done to try to reach or help those wanting to take there life. In particular, there was Don Ritchie, who was known as the Angel of the Gap. I encourage you to read his story and it’s interesting how far a smile can go towards saving someone’s life. It’s really something to keep in mind!
Personally, I see this as a good news story, because Jane is very overstretched but she is seeing a therapist which is a help and she is releasing much of the inner tension she’s been holding back.
About a month ago, I actually did a two day course in suicide intervention run by Lifeline who run a telephone crisis line here in Australia. I have been a first responder and I was surprised at how well I actually handled the situation. However, I wanted to skill myself up. Be prepared.