Tag Archives: charity shop

Weekend Coffee Share November 5, 2016.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share.

The weather has well and truly witched gears and we’re definitely heading into Summer. While a max of 25º C is not considered hot by our standards, it was hot enough and the sun was out in force.

So, when it comes to beverages, I recommend something cool now you’re popping in to join me Down Under.

Unfortunately, the change of seasons also means a changing of the guard at home. The Winter gear is going up into the roof while the Summer gear’s come down. Right now, it looks like the house is falling down with crates and piles of clothes everywhere. Having kids, this changing of the guard also means checking sizing and ditching piles of clothes. This all requires thought and discernment…as much as I might feel like sticking the lot in a bag for their cousins, I need to go through the lot piece by piece. It’s painful!!

Added to the usual pain of sorting things out, I’m also trying to reduce the amount of stuff we have in the house. If you know me and have been to our place, you’ll probably think I’m lying through my teeth. You saw me bring another couple of bags of stuff home from the op shop last week. However, in my defense, they were largely presents. I love it when I find “new with tags” at the op shop, especially in the lead up to Christmas. Not only do I get great value for money, it spares me the pain of dealing with the Christmas hoards. Christmas shopping is brutal.

Anyway, obviously I’m not very good at being ruthless but I’m trying. So far, I’ve managed to fill two large garbage bags but don’t let this fool you. I’m definitely NOT a declutterer but I do need to keep an eye on the ever-rising tide or I’ll cross the line. We all know what that line is called.  It doesn’t need to be named and shamed.

How was your week? I hope things went well.

Our week was weird.

Monday night we went trick-or-treating around the block. Halloween in Australia is almost a non-event but we saw a few groups of costumed kids roaming around after school and a few knocked on the door but you’d definitely say it was a bit of a fizzer. The scariest thing we came across on our travels was actually a plover. That’s right…a bird. If you’ve never encountered a plover, these birds are seriously scary. Not only are they very agro, they also have poisonous spurs in their wing tips  and heaven help you if you approach them while they’re nesting. They’re savage. The plovers we came across had two chicks so we didn’t need to run into any skeletons or ghosts. The plovers were enough.

theme-announcement-16-may1

Anyway, that just about sums things up

Thursday morning, my daughter had a rehearsal for School Spectacular in Sydney. The Schools Spectacular is an Australian variety show featuring more than 3,000 students from across New South Wales and was performed annually at the Sydney Entertainment Centre before in moved and has now moved the the former Olympic site at Homebush Bay this year. Highlights of the Schools Spectacular are broadcast each year by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.Miss will be performing in the combined choir and we joke that being a tiny speck among the multitude is what gives school “specktacular” it’s name.

Although our daughter is only a speck in the production (this year, I’m going to make sure I take my binoculars and I might have a chance of spotting her), that doesn’t mean she misses out on all the rehearsals. At the moment, she’s rehearsing once a week in Sydney but in the week of the concert, there are two days of rehearsals followed by two days of performances. That’s a lot for a 10 year old. However, she adores singing and I think all the kids and their teachers get through on hype and Adrenalin. It really must be an incredible experience performing in such a huge choir and feeling all those voices echoing all around you. Moreover, there are solo and small group performances and the talent is incredible. So many Australian success stories had their start at “school spec”. It’s a stellar performance.

Anyway, Miss had her first Sydney performance on Thursday morning and needed to be on the train platform at 7.12 AM. Usually, Geoff drops her off for these early morning starts and I think that’s his usual train. However, he had an early start which left yours truly responsible for getting her there on time. While this is not impossible, I am not at my best early in the morning. Moreover, I know that Murphy’s Law has my number on speed dial. If something can go wrong, it will.

This is why I set the alarm on two different clocks and it was just as well. As we all know, alarm clocks can be tricky things. There are blackouts, battery fails and then there’s me. I’m enough to muck up any alarm but I did get Geoff to meticulously double check both clocks before he went to sleep. All was good on the alarm front.

Yet, somehow my alarm clock gained an hour during the night. So, when it went off at its 6.00AM, all the rest of the clocks were reading 5.00AM. While the explanation might seem obvious and that it was okay to go back to sleep for another hour, I wasn’t quite so sure. I felt like I’d ended up in a surrealist  dream somewhere in between time and I didn’t know whether I was Arthur or Martha. Meanwhile, both kids and the dogs had woken up. All back to bed. Put the alarm forward an hour and prayed we’d get up on time. Fortunately, the rest of the morning went smoothly and after dropping both kids off, I went back to bed.

Thursday night, I had my second of lyrical dance class. I really look forward to my dance classes every week but my back went out on Thursday and I was feeling crooked, twisted and stiff…not to mention in pain. Naturally, when you’re struggling to move at all, it’s only wise to consider whether you should be pushing your body or letting it rest. Since my of our dance class involves stretching, I thought it could help and decided to give it a whirl.

Well, you just try do a contract, high release and goodness knows what other steps when you feel like you’re either going to snap or get stuck like a statue in between positions as every single part of your body seizes up. Not that I was catastrophophising, but dance is new to me and I had no idea how far I could push my body without payback.

Of course, there were no dramas. My back is still tender but the dancing helped along with walking the dogs along the beach yesterday and I’m starting to limber up a bit. Phew!

To update you on the progress of the Sunflowers I am growing which are descended from seeds salvaged from the MH17 crash site in the Ukraine, I planted the first lot of seedlings in the veggie patch this week. I  must admit that I’ve been feeling rather like their mother. So I’ve found it surprisingly hard to plant them outside in the garden. After all, I’ve really been looking after them well, bringing them inside every night and watering them ever so gently with the spray bottle. They’ve been my babies and just like I wonder how my kids are going when they’re camping outside with Scouts (particularly as the weather is usually bad and there’s good cause to be concerned. Well, at least if you’re their Mum!), the seedlings seemed very vulnerable being out there in the dark. So, far so good. I planted 12 seeds. 6 sprouted and 5 are still growing well. These aren’t exactly fabulous odds but when you consider that one sunflower produces thousands of seeds and initially I’m only needing a sustainable crop. That said, I would prefer to have enough seeds to give some away and help keep the memory alive of all those who were tragically killed. I also feel the sunflowers have a secondary message, reminding all who hear their story about the importance of love, compassion and helping a stranger.

Unfortunately, writing has had to take a back seat with needing to organise my daughter’s actiuvities…school spectacular, dance concert, tutoring to prepare her for entry tests next year. I am just a parent, not an event organiser and I really struggle with all of this. I have multiple diaries running when I have so much on…the week to a page, moves into the day to a page with everything mapped out. Alarms, buzzers and being mindful of time spent online, all necessary evils. Fortunately, I love the performing arts and am happy to do it and wouldn’t be without these end of year concerts. I just wish I could click my fingers and it would all magically happen without all the steps along the way. I’m sure I’m going to forget something. Luckily, her teachers look out for me and flag me down when something’s missing…Roweeee’s personal reminder system. Well, not quite!

Well, the cool change has now arrived and thank goodness the house has cooled down before I go to bed.

How have you been? What have you been up to? I look forward to hearing from you!

This post has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share over at https://parttimemonsterblog.com/https://parttimemonsterblog.com/https://parttimemonsterblog.com/

xx Rowena

 

 

Obsessed by My Second-Hand Quest

There’s a very fine line between success and obsessed. Quite often, I miss that line completely and accelerate right over the edge and straight onto the rollercoaster ride from hell. You’d think I’d learn but the lure of the thrill gets me every time. I too weak-willed and simply can’t say “no”!

In what must trigger off some deep, primal hunter-gathering instinct, I haunt opportunity shops like a determined hunter stalking its prey. l swear sometimes I’ve even felt an itch or “the call of the wild” to drop in and my instincts were spot on. There was something with my name written all over it.

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity”

“Hippocrates

This obsessive stalking of opportunity shops waxes and wanes like the moon and like a gambler, I really have to stay right away or I’ll succumb. It’s not that we usually don’t need what I’ve bought. Indeed, today I’ve managed to score a heap of quality, striking t-shirts for the kids at $4.00 each. I also found myself a LBD (little black dress) with white polka dots and it fits me like a glove. Thanks to Summer gear being half price, it was an absolute steal.

Divine Inspiration. The Bible just fell open at this page.

Divine Inspiration. The Bible just fell open at this page.

However, a lurking danger with stalking op shops is that passion can shift to obsession and ultimately, dare I mention the word…(drum roll)…ADDICTION!!

Ouch!!! Double ouch!!! That really hurt!!

Although I’ve never heard of a support group called: “Op Shoppers Anonymous”, I probably should be on  the look out. Even though you’ve got to spend money to save money, there does come a point, as I said or had it said to me, when the bad outweighs the good and the whole shebang seriously starts to unravel.

Some of the eclectic fabrics on offer.

Some of the eclectic fabrics on offer.

After all, although it might look quite innocent on the surface, op shopping is very much like gambling. You go in there maybe even just to fill in time while you’re waiting for a script. The next thing you know, you’ve spotted some fabulous antique baby’s jacket imported from Italy and you snap it up because you can, even though your baby is almost a teenager. This trip, I’ve bought a hand-painted Aboriginal vase, a Greek demi-tasse cup and saucer, a gorgeous wooden writer’s box, which probably came from Turkey or Morocco and seems completely unique…at least, that’s when I did a Google search. I even found a foldout driver’s map of Mt Kosciusko National Park dating back to the days of miles, before metric came in. We go skiing there and my daughter is currently doing an assignment for school on it, so it was a great find…especially as the dear old Lady at the Red Cross Shop threw it in. You see, I’m a regular.

Great find for a family of avid skiers! Vintage Map of the Snowy Mountains.

Great find for a family of avid skiers! Vintage Map of the Snowy Mountains.

Humph, “regular” could be another euphemism for “addict” but I’ll overlook that.

I love the randomness of everything I find at the op shop and the eclectic smattering of treasures from all sorts of places, eras and designs. Feeling about 5 years old again, I could sneak my way through all the clothes racks and feel all those different fabric brush against my skin, while a kaleidoscope of colour dazzles my senses. I find the sheer array of fabrics alone intoxicating and so much more interesting than a contemporary boutique with it’s particular, usually very narrow, sense of style. I don’t want some supposed fashionista telling me what I can and can not wear. I’ll wear whatever I @#$% like. It’s my body…my life!!!

Sharon and I introduce Wandering Wally to op shopping. Wally has flown all the way from the UK to raise awareness of myositis, the muscle disease I live with.

Sharon and I introduce Wandering Wally to op shopping. Wally has flown all the way from the UK to raise awareness of myositis, the muscle disease I live with.

However, not only do I go to the op shops for the treasures, I also go in there for a chat and some are better in this regard that others. My absolute fave is the Lifeline Shop at Avalon, Managed by my friend, Sharon. This is one of of your more “boutique” op shops, which specialises in designer labels and exotica from all around the world. Sharon meticulously yet passionately runs the shop like an upmarket boutique with the clothes and the window displays arranged with love and finesse. What with  Weight Watchers telling people to get rid of their fat clothes and the home improvement shows promoting decluttering, it’s a treasure hunter’s dream. As they feel good getting rid of it all, I’m only too happy to assist!!

After all, for some strange reason, it seems like people only want plain, white walls with one measly ornament on the shelf. Personally, I can’t understand it. How absolutely boring!! How could you possibly live in a home that’s as sterile as a hospital all white-washed and lacking in character? As far as I’m concerned, such minimalism also looks like they can’t afford to decorate the place!

After all, what ever happened to a bit of flamboyance and exuberant self-expression?

Of course, nobody has ever accused me of being a minimalist. Occasionally the word “hoarder” gets muttered but I’m really more of a collector. I just need to be careful There’s a fine line between passion, obsession and addiction.

However, there’s just one little weaknesses I haven’t fessed up to yet.

Books!

Op Shop Treasures

Op Shop Treasures

When it comes to books, I have well and truly exceeded the limit. Okay, you mean-spirited, Kindle freaks. I know that I’ve already got far more books than one person could ever read in a life time. However, you can’t always predict what will take your fancy and when they’re so cheap, how could I possibly resist?!!

I don’t quite know what I’m searching for in all these books. The meaning of life? I don’t know. These days, I’m actually not sure that I’ll find the meaning of life in a book.  After all, life is to be lived and not simply read about. You have to get out there! You need to find your own meaning. Write your own book.

Meanwhile, my rationale for managing all my “finds” is that I just need a bigger house.

That said, I am planning a big reorganisation when I get home from holidays.

I  am !! Truly, I am!!

Do you have any obsessions you might want to confess to? I’m all ears and extremely non-judgemental!!

O is or Obsession and Opportunity Shop… my latest installment for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

By the way, here’s a good complement to this post as Conversations Around the Tree discusses the difference between “needs” and “wants”. Tree teaches people with intellectual disabilities and even reminded me of a few home truths!! Well worth checking out: https://treerabold.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/n-needs/

xx Rowena

The Unspoken Language of Love.

On Sunday, when we celebrated our son’s 11th Birthday, it was about so much more than cake, presents and even the much anticipated party. It was a golden opportunity to show our son how much we love and cherish him and for him to sparkle like a diamond in the candlelight. There’s nothing like your birthday!

If you read my last post, you’ll understand that celebrations have become quite a production and I wouldn’t be surprised if it soon finds its way to Broadway or London’s West End.

I’ve already dealt with the cake.

Now, we’re onto the presents…or THE present, in particular. You see, I gave Mister a second-hand Australian Army uniform, which I chanced upon at a local opportunity or thrift shop.

Choosing gifts is something I take pretty seriously. I really do try to slip inside someone else’s skin, walk around in their shoes, see the world through their eyes and their soul to find that “Wow thing”. That thing which makes their heart sing. Not only because they love it but also because they know I understand. I get them. This gift, therefore, somehow reflects that very special, often concealed inner self or perhaps the seeds of that very precious dream, which are just waiting to germinate, flourish and grow yet are still so tender, tentative and so very embryonic.

To put it simply, gift giving is a great way to show empathy, which is such an important component of love. It is the life-giving force which enables us to grow and reach for the stars.

After all, don’t we all know it when someone gives us something which misses the mark entirely or when our significant other gives us something so impersonal that it could’ve come from a stranger? These gifts affect us in a different way, so often stabbing a knife through the heart. Quite bluntly, they clearly don’t understand you at all!!

A happy birthday boy!

A happy birthday boy!

Although I don’t always find that perfect present which fulfills all these hopes and expectations, I did find the perfect gift for Mister and I couldn’t wait to see his response. As I mentioned, I bought Mister an Australian Army uniform I chanced upon at the op shop. Mister wants to join the army when he grows up and although I’m not keen, I pushed my own feelings aside and supported my son. Of course, the uniform is  way too big but dreams are like that at the start. We have to grow into them.

Having children is my greatest achievement. It was my saviour. It switched my focus from the outside to the inside. My children are gifts, they remind me of what’s important.

Elle Macpherson

More than just being an army uniform, this was a very special birthday present from me to him. It said I can put my values and desires aside to respect and nurture his dreams and encourage him to grow up and be himself, rather than trying to shape and mold him into who or what I think he should be and, in effect, turn him into a bonsai…a pruned and shrunk down version of who he was meant to be.

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

You see, in my youth I was pretty opposed to armies, war and battles. I even took part in protests against Australia’s involvement in the Gulf War and marched through the streets. I wouldn’t describe myself as a pacifist but I’d definitely be of the view: “Make love not war”.

Miss is dwarfed by the army pants.

Miss is dwarfed by the army pants.

I’m also a person who, at least I hope, has principles and have built up something called “character”. This means having values and standing up for what I believe in. Before the kids were born, for example, there were going to be no Barbies, no guns and definitely no signing up and joining the army. But as much as you bring up your children, they also modify you and seeing pure happiness and joy glowing on your child’s precious face does tinker with these values a bit. Or, at least, it does for me.

Hate to admit it but a persistent campaign of incessant nagging by your kids can also make an impact on all you held dear as well!

Mister was thrilled when he opened up his present. He was so happy with such an enormous smile that he was grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat. I was happy too.  Both kids held  the uniform up against themselves and it looked ridiculously big, reminding me of a comedy sketch from Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW6gj2n51sU

Watching the kids with the army pants reminded me of Wallace & Gromit in the Wrong Trousers.

Watching the kids with the army pants reminded me of Wallace & Gromit in the Wrong Trousers.

I’m sure Mister didn’t appreciate what giving him that army uniform represented. Of course, he doesn’t know just what a seismic shift it is for me to embrace his love of the army. While I love any form of history and honour our ex-service people and collect memorabilia and books from WWI and WWII, that’s very different from having your one and only beloved son go and sign up. That possibility, though still a long way off, does trouble me a bit because I was also his age once and that was when I decided to become a writer and I’ve never veered off course. Writing is like breathing and I even write in myself. Actually, truth be told, I’m often writing when I should be asleep!! I knew that’s who I was when I was 10 and it was set in stone.

However, as much as I have marched and protested going to war, I also felt it was important that I support my son in how he sees himself and in pursuing his dreams. Recognising who he is as a person and empowering him to walk in his own shoes instead of trying to impose me or my values on him like an iron on transfer. Just because someone is young, it doesn’t mean their dreams and values aren’t precious and worthy of recognition and respect, even if we would rather they pursued a different path. Our children need to know they can trust us with their dreams and aspirations. After all, they come from the very heart of the soul and are so very, very precious and need to be handled with kid gloves … certainly not ridiculed or rejected. That, would be like stomping on the precious wings of a beautiful butterfly which, having just emerged from its chrysalis and waited for its tender wings to dry, is about to take its first tenuous flight…and this is your child who is so much more worthy than that.

So I gave him the army uniform and made him happy.

So happy that he took the army uniform to school on Monday, particularly to show his teacher whose son is in the army. He was as proud of punch and he truly respects all that the uniform stands for and what it means to fight for your country. Well, as much as you can when you’re an 11 year old kid and war is on the other side of the world and it’s not in your own backyard.

So I managed to get it right.

Or did I?

After all, was it just coincidence that I strayed across that army uniform in the op shop or was it meant to be? Serendipity? God? Destiny fate?

This isn’t just an erroneous question. I am an op shop addict and I have never seen an army uniform for sale in an op shop before and yet there it was just a couple of weeks before Mister’s birthday. As much as I might have decided to stretch myself well beyond my comfort zone to encourage his dreams, I also suspect I was nudged.

Interesting!

Our mothers give us so many gifts. They give us the precious gift of life, of course, but they also leave treasured lessons that can guide us along our journeys even when they are no longer with us.

Maria Shriver

By the way, I should point out that while I was protesting, Geoff’s brother was actually in the Australian army and Mister has grown up with Uncle Terry’s slouch hat in the house. Geoff’s Great Uncle Ralph French died in France during WWI and we have been down to the Australian War Memorial as a family to honour him and we even participated in a special memorial service they hold each day and we laid down a wreath. Another Great Uncle served in Gallipolli and went on to serve in Beersheba in the Australian Light Horse. So it would seem that joining the Armed Forces are in my son’s blood.

xx Rowena

PS A week after Mister’s birthday while I’m sitting at Palm Beach, I stumbled across this song Forever Young by Rod Stewart, which I wanted to send as a post birthday present to my son: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgiLWNgpXiQ