Tag Archives: clutter

No Room At the Inn…A Tale of Christmas Angst.

What type of Christmas are you having this year?  Perhaps, you haven’t thought about it like that before, but as your life stage changes, so does your take on Christmas. For those of you with a new baby, there’s the Baby in the Manger Christmas. Or, if your kids or grandkids are a little older, there’s the Shepherd and Angel Christmas. I’m sure somebody out there must’ve had the Three Wise Men Christmas, while the Three Wise Monkeys always seem to turn up here. I wonder if they also found gold, frankinscence and myrrhr under their tree instead of socks and undies? It’s Not that I’m ungrateful, but who wouldn’t like to hit the jackpot?!!

Well, this year, our Christmas story is…”No Room At the Inn”.

Firstly, we had to find room for the Christmas Tree. We buy a real one every year, and we put it up originally to keep it safe from the kids, but this Christmas we have puppies in the house. Indeed, we have four puppies in the house and I don’t know if pups can climb Christmas trees quite as deftly as a cat, but I don’t want to find out. Our tree is behind bars.

Speaking of pups, there’s no room left in the kennels anymore. We currently have five dogs…our original dog, Lady, our Border Collie x pups Isaac and Rosie and the micro pups, Dobby and Yoda.

Next, I’ve had to clear the shelves of clutterolly to make room for the Christmas decorations. I don’t know where all this stuff came from, and much of it is related to my research project on the Irish Famine Orphans and I’m concerned that if I put it away, I’ll forget all about my project and move onto something else simply because “out of sight, is out of mind”.

The other thing experiencing “No room at the inn” is my blog. Beyond the Flow is full and I need to upgrade my package, which I’ll do after Christmas. I just need to balance the pennies, and unlike the inn, the bank account is closer to empty.  Of course, I swear it was a hacker and not a certain person wanting to spread Christmas cheer a little too far, too enthusiastically and might have got just a little carried away with all that Christmas sparkle. Happiness doesn’t have a price tag, and yet I know I’m not the only one who weaken, crumble and fall into a rising tide of debt just to make everyone and their dog’s dog happy around me. I just can’t help myself. I know each of us

So, the challenge continues…trying to make room for Christmas in a full house.

Are you having any struggles making room for Christmas in your house? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Welcome Back Desk.

After writing on my laptop in the loungeroom for goodness knows how long, yesterday I finally migrated back to my desk. It’s been such a good move, and I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Almost as soon as I pressed the power button, I could feel my thoughts sharpening and my entire being was ready for action in a way I haven’t experienced for such a long time. Could it be that this small step for Rowena, could be the impetus to finally get the book project done? Right now, I think it could, and I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner. At the same time, we have reverse cycle air-conditioning in the loungeroom and the office is a freezer in Winter and a furnace in Summer.  So, I usually retreat there from the elements, as well as trying to be more social with the family. The desk is much quieter, but it’s also solitary and I am not an island.

The other reason that I wasn’t writing at my desk was also pretty straightforward. Like so many desks and flat surfaces, my desk had become a dumping ground for just about anything and a breeding ground for paperwork. Indeed, it was something like a farm barn overrun by cats with people constantly driving by and dumping more. I needed to erect a large sign:  KEEP OUT. TRESSPASSERS WILL BE EXTERMINATED. However, knowing the folk around here, it wouldn’t make a difference. Mummy’s Desk is not a sacred site. The dumping would continue regardless.

This whole very simple experience at home, has cast a different light on that whole philosophy of: “life is not a journey. It’s a destination.”

As someone who frequently doesn’t make it to their destination, I love this point of view.  It’s also a great philosophy for a creative, because so often what you find along the way, could well transcend your original plans. I particularly love heading to Sydney’s Surry Hills, and wandering through the streets, staring through the lens and finding such treasure! However, these spontaneous discoveries are very different from being unable to use my much faster desktop computer and desk space, because it’s bogged down in stuff. That’s not a destination. More of a catastrophic mess…a disaster zone. Hazmat required.

However, there are times you need to reach your destination, and some of those times, you even need to get there as quickly as possible

So, my whole experience with my desk challenges that philosophy, showing how it can be used as a cop out, as a justification for one of a writer’s greatest sins…procrastination and its twin…distraction.

Indeed, even research, which is ostensibly a means of reaching the destination, can become an end in itself, preventing the completion of the original project. Moreover, much of my research just remains a pile of rubble in my head, aside from telling the odd story at the family Christmas party. It never comes out in any usable form.

This brings me back to my desk.

I don’t know about you, but working from my desk feels a lot more like WORK. I immediately felt more organized and “on the job”. Although I can and do write anywhere, I am starting to wonder whether I’m paying too big a price for not writing at my desk, and that it is the best place for me to rev up the writing several notches, and finally get these big writing projects knocked off. There’s quite a swag of them.

At the moment, I’m researching and writing the story of my 4th Great Grandmother, Bridget Donovan, who migrated from famine-torn Ireland, out to Australia under the Earl Grey Scheme. She was among a group of young women known collectively as “Irish famine orphans”, who were sent out here in part of relieve the financial burden back in Ireland, but also to redress the gender imbalance in the Australian colonies. I first found out about Bridget from her daughter’s birth certificate, which had been sitting in the safe at the family business for over a hundred years. I found the rest out, when a random Google search found Bridget on the  Irish Famine Orphans Database and the facts matched up.

For the past few years, I’ve pictured Bridget as a woman without a face, framed by a white bonnet. Yet, I’ve also wondered whether she looked like her daughter, Charlotte as I do have a handful of photos of her as a young woman. That’s something. More than something perhaps. Although I knew Bridget had married George Merrit and they’d had six kids, that’s about all I knew about Bridget Donovan. Despite my most dogged efforts to fill in even just a bit of her face, she didn’t want to be found.

However, recently I was contacted by a researcher who told me 2-3  of Bridget’s sons married Aboriginal women. This look me back into the online newspapers, and found an actual mention of George and Bridget running a store at Avisford on the Meroo Goldfields, near Mudgee. This was gold.  I’m now going to be chipping away at that, starting with a time line and a photo board. Hopefully, some sort of scaffold or framework will help give this project legs and the kind of solid foundations required for it to take off.

Meanwhile, I’m back on the laptop in the loungeroom. Microsoft Word needed updating and my trust Systems Administrator’s at work. I also just caught a puppy running out of my bedroom with my pink Ug boot. Seems no matter when or where I write, I’m fraught with interruptions, but I’d rather that than being an island.

Where do you do your best writing?

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

Slaying the Dreaded Pantry Beast

Although you might think I’m paranoid, for quite some time now a wild beast or monster has taken up residence in our kitchen pantry. The doors won’t shut and last week, a glass jar suddenly fell on my foot. The monster’s getting angry and quite frankly, I fear for my life!!

Moreover, I’m pretty sure this isn’t some cute, fluffy harmless monster of the cookie monster variety. Rather, it’s dark, sinister and very, very mean! The sort of monster that keeps you tossing and turning at night…all night!

I think there could even be drop bears inside. You see, the glass jar isn’t the only thing that’s fallen out of there and I often hear the sound of falling cans or jars. I’d always thought that drop bears lived deep in the Australian bush but I’d swear there’s an entire tribe of them living in my pantry and they’re all having a party….Boom! Crash! Bang!

There’s a lot of activity going on behind those almost closed doors!

Well, I’m no Shrinking Violet so I’ve decided to reclaim my pantry and get rid of that monster and its friends once and for all. Unlike David Attenborough who would quietly study the monster in its native habitat, I’m going to kill it. Exterminate! This is a time for decisive action!

It’s my pantry and I want it back! It’s mine! Mine! All mine!

Well, although it’s generally a good idea to prepare for battle and at least do a few push ups, I actually slept through most of last week. I’ve barely been able to get out of bed and actually enlisted help getting the kids to and from school. I came to an absolute grinding stop due to some kind of stomach bug or extreme stress. Either way, my stomach ached. I couldn’t really eat and then I ran out of ergs. I was like a ghost wafting through the house.

Not exactly the time to tackle pantry monsters perhaps but I needed to clear my head. I have way too many things on my to do list and they’re all swimming round inside my head. I need to clear my head…or have I mentioned that already?!!

I’ll say it again. I need to clear my head.

Anyway, I was feeling recharged today and was ready to slay the beast once and for all. It was going to die. Meet its maker. Moreover, it was going to happen today too! No more “tomorrows”!!

The monster inside my pantry is the familiar “clutterbeast”.  Perhaps, you know it well. It doesn’t just settle with one of something but always goes for multiples. For example,  I found three separate bags of polenta stashed in different parts of my pantry. There were also two packets of sponge finger biscuits. You see, I’ve been intending to make a decadent family dessert called Chocolate In-Betweens but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. We also won the school’s Christmas hamper and there are a few delicacies left from that as well. It’s quite an assortment really and everything tells a story.

As chaotic as it sounds, my pantry hasn’t been total anarchy. Rather than a place for everything and everything in its place, there are general areas or shelves dedicated to particular categories. All, or at least most, of the breakfast cereals are together for example. I have got something right!

It’s just that over time, things get shoved in gaps and any breathing space at all fills up and the whole place begins to suffocate (for some strange reason Cluttermonsters defy science and can still breathe in these difficult conditions and moths continue to breed as well).

Traditionally, I am not an ordered or structured type but I’ve come to appreciate that being able to find things quickly can save me a lot of time and stress.

I also hate waste with a passion…particularly food waste. We have a worm farm and I’ve also made a commitment not to use plastic packaging for the kids’ school lunches anymore. They do have plastic containers but that’s it. So while I could be doing more to save the planet, I am trying.

Throwing out unused food stuffs from the pantry, wastes both food and packaging. These are my two pet hates so it’s really something I want to avoid. Having a more organised pantry where I can see what’s actually there, will hopefully prevent such waste in future.

So my reasons for cleaning the pantry were as follows:

  • Being more efficient. I want to find things straight away.
  • Clearing my head. Get another task off my to-do list.
  • Saving my feet from future glass jar attacks
  • Keeping a better inventory of what’s in my pantry
  • Preventing waste
  • Saving money
  • Having a happier family life. Peoples have been grumbling about the drop bears in particular.

I’m certainly not cleaning my pantry to win some Housewife of the Year Award! I absolutely detest the term “housewife”. Moreover, if I was a domestic goddess of any variety, my pantry wouldn’t be in such a mess. I’m just your garden variety dreamer. That’s all.

Anyway, I probably could have looked up a zillion web sites and blogs to find out how to clean out my pantry without reinventing the wheel. However, I just wanted to get on with it. I’d put it off for long enough!

So here’s a dreamer’s guide to sorting out your pantry, which I believe could be used to sort out just about any kind of mess in your life. It is surprisingly methodical and structured, probably because I find it so difficult to organise stuff.  However, I’m starting to suspect this is somehow related to my lousy sense of direction and difficulties parking my car and isn’t some dreadful character flaw after all!

This is what I did:

1)      Emptied the pantry.

I took everything  out. That means everything. This process is not for the faint-hearted. You need to see this space with fresh eyes and not simply put everything back where it came from. Be extremely critical!

2)      Stacked everything on the kitchen table.

You will obviously need a clear, flat surface.  At this point, I felt completely overwhelmed. There was just a huge, amorphous blob…a veritable haystack… packets, jars, cans, bottles and quite a few moths flapping around. The monster had now materialised and boy was I scared!!

3)      Wiped down pantry shelves.

4)      Threw out things that were out-of-date.

This sort of felt good because I was getting rid of stuff and creating space but at the same time, I felt guilty about the waste. I threw out two bin bags worth of stuff. That was a lot of needless waste! That waste also cost money.

5)      Merged things together.

I topped up containers and generally added like with like.

My labeling machine

My labeling machine

6)      Labelled everything.

I used my Dymo labelling machine to do the labelling. This may seem a bit anal but I am so naturally disorganised that I need to be super-organised (if that makes any sense). Some of the containers had been labelled on a previous cleanup.

My Pantry Mind Map

My Pantry Mind Map

7)      Made categories.

Everything needs to be grouped or classified before being put back in the cupboard. By putting like with like, it makes it easier to find things.  At this point, I drew up a quick mind map to get some kind of structure in place. Again, this may seem a bit over the top but with that great big blob on my kitchen table, I needed to impose some external order. It was my way of trying to establish some boundaries and control…and subdue the beast!

8)      A place for everything and everything in its place.

This was easier said than done. How do you find a place for everything and as all of us know, there’s always a handful of homeless stuff left over after every big clean up. Where does it all go? How do you work out where to put everything? I’m still working on this one. Most of this superfluous clutter usually sneaks its way back in there somehow.

A common rule of thumb with these declutter projects is to put the things you use most at the front where you can access them easily. That might work in some households. However, in my last stop-gap pantry clean-up, I put all my chocolate in one plastic container and I had my Tim Tams and other chocolate biscuits in another. I labelled the containers and stuck them at the top of the pantry. Before I knew it, the kids had spotted my stash and it was gone. It had all been a sitting duck just like the US fleet in Pearl Harbor.

I have put all the sweet contraband type stuff on the top shelf, which while it’s not out of reach of the kids, they’ll at least have to work harder to get it down. If I’m really lucky, they might also realise that the stuff on the top shelf isn’t for kids but somehow I doubt it!

DSC_6946

Next I drew up a little diagram of the cupboard and wrote on the things that were easy to place first and slowly tackled the rest. Breaking down the space into more manageable blocks helped me feel less overwhelmed and that I could tackle the pantry one step at a time.

9)      Give away food I won’t use.

I accidently bought a huge jar of olives with pips and I’m going to drop them down to a local food charity. I won’t need to feel guilty anymore. I’ll be generous instead.

10)   Use what’s in the pantry.

It looks like we’ll be eating a lot of polenta!

11)   Buy what we need in future.

Don’t be lured in by specials and supposed savings in future like buying two for less when we’ll only use one anyway. Maintain a shopping list.

My storage tubs.

My storage tubs.

Rowena’s top pantry storage tip:

I have some medium-sized lidded crates where I store like things such as packets of biscuits, dried fruit and baking “bits” (bicarb, patty papers etc). These all stack up almost neatly on each other. They manage all those really annoying bits and pieces and make it so much easier to find things.

The finished product. It isn't perfect but at least the doors finally shut!

The finished product. It isn’t perfect but at least the doors finally shut!

Well done Ro! I’d say that it probably took me almost five hours to clean out the pantry. I threw out two garbage bags worth of food and I’ll be taking that jar of olives down to our local food charity. I found quite a lot of what I would call “exotica” in the pantry. Ingredients I’d bought to make some kind of fancy or different meal which I’d never made. That felt a bit disappointing because there have been so many nights when I haven’t known what to cook and we’ve had the same old same old when we could have been eating polenta (all three bags of it) instead.

But now there are no more excuses. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday…we’ll all be having polenta! Ha!

Do you have any funny pantry or clutter stories? I’d love to read them!

xx Rowena

My Light Bulb Moment

A few days ago a large, glass Moccona jar fell out of my kitchen pantry and landed on my foot. It made this awful loud thump as it hit and the pain was excruciating…a definite twenty out of ten. I was pretty convinced something was broken but these jars are tough. They might not bounce but they don’t shatter. I guess it’s a good thing we don’t have tiles!

My foot was sort of fine too eventually …after two Panadols and an ice pack!

Well you might ask why that jar fell out of the pantry but I’m sure you already know. After all, I’m only human! I was simply doing what most of us mere mortals do…struggling to squeeze just one more tiny little thing into an already over-stocked pantry. Hence I was doing some kind of juggling act holding back a row of Moccona jars while trying to quickly and very deftly slam the door shut before the avalanche hit.While using those big Moccona jars seemed like a great idea for storage, they don’t stack and they’re not square and they certainly don’t breathe in and squeeze into tight places. Instead, they jump out and do nasty, nasty things to your feet. Believe me! I would just love it if our pantry was all stacked and ordered like something out of a Tupperware catalogue but who am I kidding? I’m just not some domestic goddess. I’m somehow beyond the flow. That’s all. Sorting out the pantry just doesn’t seem to make it to the top of my to-do list. It’s one of those killer jobs I keep putting off.

A row of Moccona jars removed from the pantry for photographic purposes!

A row of Moccona jars. They have understandably removed from the pantry for photographic purposes!

Well, you would think that after that jar fell on my foot that I would suddenly find the motivation to get on with it. See it as a sign or perhaps an act of God? After all, what am I waiting for? A jar to land on my other foot or perhaps for all of those jars to jump off in unison like 10 green bottles standing on the wall? That would definitely be a trip to Emergency if not a ride in an ambulance.

As I said, I would dearly love my pantry to be neatly stacked and organised just like something out of a Tupperware catalogue so why don’t I just do it?

What will it take for me to act?

We all know this goes way beyond just sorting out my pantry.

That the pantry is a metaphor… a symbol. Or in my case, perhaps it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

For some reason most of us are creatures of chronic inertia…even when it involves changing something which really matters.

You could quite possibly call it “Tomorrowitis”.  It’s a serious almost incurable disease and you can be assured that if you do actually manage to cross a few things off your “Gunnado List” (this lingo might be Australian but let me assure you it’s a universal disease!!!), you’ll never get to the end. That’s just the way it is.

Such light bulb moments have changed the world even if they haven’t changed me.

Archimedes who was a Greek mathematician, engineer, inventor, and astronomer had a legendary “Eureka!” moment some 2,200 years ago when he realised the principle of buoyancy while taking a bath. He was reportedly so excited that he immediately jumped out of the bath and ran onto the streets naked shouting ‘Eureka!’ ‘Eureka!’ (You can read the whole story here. It’s an awesome story http://www.itsnotmagicitsscience.com/science.asp?newsid=381)

Perhaps, you’ll be thankful I haven’t seen the light after all. The sight of me running through the streets naked isn’t what it used to be!

An apple fell on Isaac Newton’s head and he came up with the Principle of Universal Gravitation.

Meanwhile, a jar hits yours truly on the foot and what do I do?

Absolutely nothing. Nothing at all!

Well, I did do something. I wrote about it instead.

However, after writing about this all day, I have finally reached that elusive state of acceptance. You see, everybody has their own set of priorities and we can’t possibly get everything done. I went for my swim this morning… all 10 laps and it was a small pool but you can only do what you can do. That’s all. It’s taken me a long hard day slogging away on this post to reach this state of acceptance but I’m finally there and it feels like such a release.

I have finally accepted that I don’t have to conform to what someone else considers important or be able to do what they can do. I just need to be me. That is good enough.

Now, I finally “get” the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

What happens when all your light bulbs go on at once?

What happens when all your light bulbs go on at once?

PS: After I reached this lovely point of acceptance, I was flicking through Lao Tzu’s  Tao Te Ching and found this advice, which just turned all my acceptance on it’s head:

Keep filling your bowl

and it will spill over.

Keep sharpening your knife,

and it will blunt.

Keep hoarding gold in your house,

and you will be robbed.

Keep seeking approval

and you will be chained.

The great integrity leads to actualization

never overfulfillment.

I will get to the pantry. I will….

How have some of your light bulb moments turned out?

My son has an all systems light bulb moment. He received this lamp for his birthday today.

My son has an all systems light bulb moment. He received this lamp for his birthday today.

xx Rowena

A Blank Canvas…

I don’t know whether I would call it procrastination, avoidance, hyperactivity or just too much prednisone because today I actually managed to clean the fridge.

There has to be some psychological term to explain my latest cleaning frenzy…a category all of its own in DSM IV or whatever the good book is called. I am quite ideologically opposed to cleaning and I only do it when I really have to. That said, I have also realised that now I’m a grown up, I can’t just throw all my crap in my cupboard, force the door shut and believe it’s all just going to magically self-sort. These days, it turns out, I have become the proverbial fairy, wielding my not so magic wand…clunk!

I think I might just blame the prednisone. I’m blaming it for everything right now! It’s a bit like being pregnant!

Anyway, before you get all excited about what rotten remains I’ve “discovered” in the fridge, I haven’t reached the inside of the fridge yet. I’m just talking about the fridge door.

So I’ll get you to sit down with your cup of tea and just think about fridge doors for a few minutes…

The more I think about it, the fridge door is actually something of a canvas. It’s blank. It’s white. You can let your imagination run totally wild.  Sure, like any canvas, of course there are boundaries…limits…a frame. Yet within that space, anything is possible although I would just advise against a completely literal interpretation of my “fridge door as canvas” concept. I strongly advise against painting on the fridge door itself. My daughter has written on our fridge door in permanent marker which at this point of time, is looking way too permanent. After all, the whole point is to be ephemeral. Your canvas is constantly changing, evolving…a melting pot of things past, present and maybe even future.

However, this “fridge door as canvas” concept is a long way from where I started out this morning. This morning my fridge door was looking something in between a dog’s breakfast and a very chaotic whirlwind. As I looked at everything stuck on top of it, I’m sure I could even detect whirly patterns. It was rather disconcerting as I wondered what the state of the fridge door actually said about me? Was this my reflection?

Then I got a bit stuck. I didn’t quite know how you are supposed to arrange all those fridge magnet thingys. It seems a bit anal having them all lined up in neat little rows like Monopoly houses but my ephemera was looking like it had been in a whirlwind. You know how it is. The magnets fall off and you just put them back anywhere before they get stamped on by the hoardes.

In an act which could only be described as desperation, I pulled absolutely everything off the fridge until it was completely and utterly naked…bare. It was actually quite a strange sight and all that white actually looked pretty glary. I needed my snow goggles on to deal with such vast expanse of white. I was in very unfamiliar territory. I, as you will come to know, am the Clutter Queen!

I re-discovered this message from a friend who had helped declutter my kitchen a few years ago.

As much as my fridge door might be messy, it is also glamorously eclectic and bursting with meaning, history…just like me! My entire life story is on that fridge door much of it preserved in the actual fridge magnets themselves. Not that I officially collect fridge magnets but maybe I do after all.

After

Perhaps, the oldest fridge magnet I have, is a hand-painted ceramic painting of a border collie. I bought that at Glebe Markets about 15 years ago when I was living in a converted warehouse apartment just off Broadway and I thought anywhere beyond the inner city was the outback and to avoided at all costs. We are now onto our second real Border Collie.

There is another series of fridge magnets, also from Glebe Markets by artist Liza Paizis. They are heavenly inspired. I love, love, love her work. She has subsequently moved back to South Africa but she is online. I was seriously distracted looking her up!! You can check her work out at http://www.zhibit.org/lizapaizis

Last year, I discovered the Flower Fairies by Cicely May Barker. You can see that I live in my imagination but her illustrations of local village children as flowers as so beautiful…more superlatives! See: http://www.flowerfairies.com/ I have a series of flower fairy fridge magnets which I picked up in Sandford, Brisbane when visiting my cousins.

I also have not one but three Kombi magnets. I have very fond memories of my first visit to Byron Bay back in 1995 and seeing rows of Kombis parked beside the beach. I had sold my artistic soul out to the corporate sector back then and had found visiting Byron so liberating!! Byron was still fairly  hippy.

I have been dreaming of running away in a Kombi ever since. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the ultimate midlife crisis vehicle. I mean if you’re really going to run away from it all, you can’t fit everything into a teeny red convertible. Moreover, a sports car towing a trailer just isn’t a good look! You could literally fit the kitchen sink in the back of a Kombi. It’s my kind of vehicle!

Back when I was still breastfeeding and an active member of the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), we made our own fridge magnets as a fundraiser. We brought in photos, which were turned into fridge magnets in much the same way you’d make badges. That was about 8 years ago and I thought they were so cool. There’s one with my son and aunty posing in front of the laughing clowns at the Marburg Show when he was only weeks old.

Just like getting married, there’s something old and something new…

It seems I have added quite substantially to the fridge magnet collection this year. You know that fabulous feeling when you’re on holidays and buying a fridge magnet has been my way of letting that moment extend… or even last forever.

In January, on our way to Byron Bay, we visited the Pet Porpoise Pool at Coffs Harbour. I just had to buy a couple of magnets there so I could look at the seals and dolphins when I got home. We’d been so up close and personal that we could almost smell their fishy breath from the stands. We all enjoyed seal and dolphin kisses as well although I can assure you, we all washed our faces thoroughly afterwards.

There are also some postcards from Nelson Bay. I went there on an adventure camp with Muscular Dystrophy NSW and went parasailing, quad-bike riding, dolphin watching and chatted and chatted with an inspirational group of people.

Lastly, just a few weeks ago, I bought a couple of fridge magnets from the National Gallery in Canberra, on our way back from the snow. There’s The Rose 1958 by Salvador Dali. I really liked this painting with a huge reddish rose hovering in the sky. I have always been a fan of Keats whose Ode to Melancholy suggests:

“But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud…
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose…”

I particularly liked Dali’s less conventional take on the classic rose. I stuck that on the fridge as a reminder to bounce back when the going gets tough (which it inevitably does for everyone eventually).

I also couldn’t resist Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly 1946. This painting shows a rear-view of Ned riding a horse and there’s a “window” cut into his helmet and you see the clouds in his head. This surrealist image has always appealed to me, as my own head is often in the clouds. We took the kids to see the Ned Kelly Series while we were at the gallery and our son tripped over the protective gutter and literally crashed into Constable Fitzpatrick and Kate Kelly. Fortunately, no alarms bells went off but a copy of painting is also plastered on the side of the fridge. I’m a bad mother!

There is also a magnet from Questacon. We all loved Questacon!!

I also have a few magnets with motivational sayings. There’s the Footprints poem. “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well. – Joe Ancis and a photo of an elephant’s foot about to step on a mouse with the caption: “It could always get worse!”

I did throw a few magnets out today but even though our son is 8 and Thomas the Tank Engine isn’t quite so cool anymore, I couldn’t throw poor Thomas out. He stays.

I also added a photo of our family taken down at the snow as few weeks ago.

Our daughter’s artwork

But no fridge door is complete without artwork…especially when you have young kids. Our daughter loves drawing rainbows and they really are very good at turning your mood around. How could you ever look at a rainbow and feel sad? I have a self-portrait by our son up as well as something he calls the never-starting never-ending picture. He ended up putting a bloodshot eyeball in it. He’s rubbed dirt in his eye that day and ended up off at the doctor and returning looking like Pirate Pete.

Our son’s drawing: The Never-starting, Never-ending Picture”

As much as I’ve been steadily collecting these fridge magnets over the years, I’ve never thought about them like this before. Done an inventory and joined all the dots. It’s quite amazing really when you consider what a simple fridge door can say about who you really are.

Well, just one last word about what isn’t on my fridge door.

I have a magnetic whiteboard beside the fridge and it is the organiser albeit with a huge paper sunflower made by our daughter stuck to one side. I just can’t seem to stick to the straight and narrow!

What do you have stuck on your fridge door? I’d love to hear your stories too!