Hello…

Is anyone out there?

I have left for a while and now I sit here with ten minutes up my sleeve and I can’t do the thing I really want to do and I don’t want to do the thing I really should be doing?… So I am left in the middle of this and that.

I’m out of practice and so I waffle.

So peeps here is a little of Australia for you.  A piece you may find interesting and a piece that you may not believe.  

This weekend was a long weekend, meaning Monday is a non working day for most workers, except of course the poor supermarkets, petrol stations, cafes, etc.  We have the Adelaide cup on Monday, but other states still get the day off, they just call it something else! We went on a road trip to Stawell Victoria.  Stawell is about 6 hours from where we are. Over 600 kms away.  To see some friends.

We hopped in the car Saturday morning and travelled through one small deserted town after another.  We stopped for lunch, walked the dog around and ran the kids around the playground for a bit.  

We arrived in Stawell about half past two; hard to say the exact time as there is a half hour difference in time zones. Immediately our kids run off with their grandkids, jump in the pool, play in the rooms, talk minecraft.  They are not to be seen again until there is food.  The friends we are visiting are busy roasting two sides of pork, two of lamb and about six chickens.  They are helping cater for tonight’s shindig (party).  That is why we are here.  We were invited to their daughter’s thirtieth birthday.  

We have been friends with Bree and Rod for years.  Stu lived with them for a while before I met him.  They  looked after him and Stu was good fun and helped out when he could.  They had teenage children then, three from Bree’s first relationship.  Nice kids.  Rod was Stu’s best man.  So it’s nice to catch up now and then and what better excuse than a party?

So they are cooking and cutting meat to get ready to take down to the pub where they are holding the party. It is then that they remind me of my parents.  They want to help, they want to do whatever they can, but they get stressed doing it.  At the last minute before we head off to the pub Brenda has a shower and puts on her dress.  I have been ready for a while, but she has been busy with the food.  I tell her to relax, she doesn’t but smiles anyway.  We run the food down and then come back to get the rest of them.  Stu and I pile the kids into the car and head off to the pub.

The pub is the only one still running on a full time roster in the town.  Once upon a time there were over seven working pubs in the town, now it seems there is a shift as the town is decreasing in population and popularity.  There is still a community there, still an industry, but something has certainly changed, even since I lived there.  

Inside this pub I am pleasantly surprised at the state of the interior, not that I stay inside long, they have booked the beer garden.  Now what I didn’t mention is that this was to be a surprise party.  Okay.  I asked before we left whether she knew.  Apparently her kids had told her when they complained about not being invited.  Her brothers kids. Anyway, she knew, but didn’t know that we knew.  And the plot thickens…

We stand out the back and drink on the fake grass.  The weather is nice and the garden has been decorated well.  I sit and talk to their other daughter who’s husband just left her for a much younger woman.  Arse.  

It is not long before the guest of honor is announced.  The blinds are shut so she can’t see us.  Ooooh the drama. She unzips the door and flounces through in a wedding dress and flowers.  It is not a surprise party after all, but rather a surprise wedding.  The celebrant call her and her partner of ten years to the front of the garden.  He goes through the vows, rings, kisses etc.  There are cheers and smiles, kisses and “did you know?””Oh my God! That was such a surprise!””You guys” etc.

For a while I can hide in the chaos of it all.

I see Stu buzz from one guest to another.  I hover between people I don’t know at all and people I know a little.  I would like to find a corner to hide.  Instead I hover.  I smile.  I take children to the toilet and listen to grandparents and friends talk about people I don’t know and events I was never at.  I would like to just get drunk, but I have said I would drive Stu and the others home if needed.  I want a drink.  I don’t, because I want to be stuck here less.  It’s nine and time to take the children home.  The pub won’t allow them to stay any longer.  I wonder if this is the law or whether someone just wants the kids home.  Either way I don’t mind.  

I get lost on the way home and end up growling like a wounded bear as the kids sit in the darks silenced by my anxious grumbles.  In my defence it is dark and Stawell is known as the worst engineered town in Australia as it was a Gold mining town, still is, and the roads were established through the the bullock tracks. At least that’s what Stu tells me and I am just not interested enough to to check up on his story, so I believe him. It sounds plausible. 

I get back to the house and put the kids to bed.  They go to sleep like angels and I stay up drinking. A drink at last.  I make a cocktail out of their spirits and break an ice maker.  Oops.  I’m not even drunk, just stoopid.  I don’t drink anymore after that.  I have a coffee and listen to stories that I hear Stu tell every time we are with them.  He reminisces.  It’s funny.  For a bit.  He is making some of the other stayers laugh. I start to fall asleep so I leave him there… 

I sleep. The next day starts again, but this time it starts and stays at the house.  I go for a walk early.

I have been on this walk before, but I have to share with you what it was like. I also have to admit that I had forgotten how long and hard this walk is.  Bree and Rod’s place is almost in the shrub.  They have a bit of land around them and then there is park land around the corner.  I walked up the road towards the gold mine.  I took our dog with me. I didn’t take my phone with me. A couple of times I wondered whether I should have. In total I saw about seven cars in my hour walk.  I went past the mine, which was working.  Noisey with a few trucks and things churning.  Part of me is curious, part disgusted, part guilty. I look at my golden wedding ring and keep walking.  

Up the hill.  I am heading, I think, to Big Hill, the lookout of the town.  I know it’s up here somewhere but I keep walking and I feel like I am never going to get there.  Sparse thinly planted gums pepper the acres around me. It is here that I think I really need to get fit!  I keep going.  I see the radio aerial that indicates it’s just down here.  We spot a kangaroo and Ollie jumps forward.  A car hasn’t passed in a while.  Here is when I think I should have brought my phone. On my left are large dams that have been dug for the mine.  The earth looks sad.  A solitary duck swims on the surface.

I am there.  Big Hill.  There is a car parked here.  An old classic car that whirs when it starts.  The view is stunning.  I sit for a moment and breath it in.  My legs pulsate and I think I should just keep going.  The clouds sit low on the mountains. The Grampians sit in dark blue peaks.  I can almost hear them.  Teaming with wildlife and greenery.  Every year or two it goes up in flames.  Sometimes it threatens close towns.  Today it looks happy. There hasn’t been much rain and things are dry, but there is moisture in the air. 

I head down the hill.  I think this is the way I cam last time, although I can’t be too sure.  I still feel nervous as I know the closest houses wouldn’t hear me if I screamed.  I kid to myself that my shin high puppy would look after me…  I feel a little better.  I take a short cut by the back of some houses.  I immediately regret my decision as I feel more vulnerable.  Two more kangaroos.  I am somewhat reassured by their presence.  At last I see the house, but can’t walk quicker to get there.  I am panting. I think I need to do this more often, not here, but home (walk that is, not feel scared and anxious!)

Well at least I have wasted some time.  We head off down the street for some food for lunch.  The supermarket is the same chain as the one in Victor and that is comforting.  We are drinking before we eat.  We watch the kids in the pool until others arrive and do the same.  We eat and chat.  I catch up on all of the gossip of the family.  It is easy to listen.  I ask questions, do dishes, comment on the food and cake.  I drink another as the weather heats up.  I dive under the water and swim with the kids.  They play badminton and I watch my thirteen year old listen to their stories and I think that I should have a talk with him when we get home.  

I put the kids to bed and eventually everyone leaves.  We sit in the lounge and vaguely watch the end of a movie that we’ve never seen.  I excuse myself after Bree does.  We have another six hour drive tomorrow. 

And so we are home.  I slept, dreamt and drove the way home.  We barely spoke.  I am sure the other knew what they would say. The wait at the ferry meant a u-turn and back track that added an extra hour to our trip. In the last part we played games and laughed, we were back.

I should be putting on washing and emptying my suitcase.  I’m not. 

Maybe this is just a diary entry, sorry about that!

Cheers

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Judgement day…

  
She smirks with an air of uncertainty as she slips her toe into the still wintered ocean. 

The uncertainty does not arise from the water, but rather the eyes. 

The eyes that follow her heavy steps. 

The eyes that whisper her thighs 

and giggle at the wiggles that dance on her belly. 

She sighs, retreats to wrap a towel around her middle and stick her head into the pages of a book. 

A place where she is never judged.

Who’s your Superhero?

 striker-inside_grande

My kids play video games.  Not just my boys, but Annalise too.  I think it is interesting that most games are targeted for boys or girls.  I’d like to know the research that occurs for these creative decisions to take place.

Yes, some kids prefer games that allow creativity, some prefer strategy, some like the achievement of defeating the bad guy, but others can find competition too confronting…Anyway I digress.

Having brothers Anna is exposed to what might be traditionally seen as “boys” games.  Recently her and her brothers have been playing a Lego game that has super heroes in it.  Tonight we were chatting and she said she wanted a spidergirl costume.  She then described spidergirl’s attributes in detail.  She sounds very cool. Throwing firey spiderwebs and all that, but she wasn’t too keen on any of the other girl super hero characters.  She left it at that.

I then had a discussion with Ryan, 11.  Who is his favourite superhero? He doesn’t have one, he uses them all in the game, depending on the strength needed for the challenges (a strategist).  I asked how many girl heroes there were.  He said “Not many”.  I asked him why he thought that might be the case – he said that maybe people thought boys might be more “capable”.  I asked him what he thought of that.  He said “I don’t think it’s right”. No, me either.

Is it fair that males are seen as more “capable” and “stronger” even in the innocent world of imagination?  As an adult I am bombarded with images, music, advertising and stories of women that are less “capable” than men.  Selena Gomez on the radio, telling me about looking good for her man, to make him happy!

What message are we sending our girls? And our boys?

Even in this seemingly innocent game, my girl gets the message that to have the best superpowers you need to be a boy.

I was pleased with her choice of hero, (although as a sidekick to a male I have questions there too!) so I went on line to look at costumes.  Most choices revolved around tutus or skin tight latex- neither of which is fitting for my crime fighting nearly eight year old.

So now we are making our own superhero – one with the super powers of persuasion – I wonder whether she’ll use this for good or evil.  Perhaps she’ll use it to change some minds about what girls “should” like and what girls are “capable” of.

Writing Challenge… Yes you!

“I challenge you to write using only action.” This is the challenge I set for myself and for you today. That means you cannot say how a character feels or thinks, or what they say, but only what can be seen. Here is my attemp. It is difficult to do! Feel free to pull it to pieces!

GOING SOMEWHERE?

She pulls at the leather strap of her high heel, fastening the buckle. She unfolds her body and stands unsteadily for a moment. Smoothing her skirt her jaw tenses and her hands grab at the loose material around her thighs. She puffs out her chest and moves toward the full length mirror.

There she stands, eyes downcast. Her eyelids flicker open as she scans the reflection. The crease in her brow softens, her left cheek twitches in a half smile. Her clenched hands now relax, hanging loosely at her sides.

She takes a step closer to the mirror. She runs her fingers lightly over her face, over and under her eyes, slightly smudging the lines of dark makeup. Her eyes crinkle, her teeth peek out from her lips. 

Closing her eyes she ruffles the front of her hair, letting the strands fall between her fingers.

Turning abruptly from the mirror, she straightens her shoulders and struts from the room.

Who has the time?

I have been about this post for a while now, but this is the first time that I have been able to write for more than a minute at time…

Yes well I gave up writing that post too, so here is another.
Time
It is a man made phenomenon to measure time. To measure everything really, but that’s another post…
In this world we are limited by measurements, the main one seeming to be time.  
No one ever has enough time.
No one can ever fit into their days exactly what they think that they need to. And again we measure -what we need to do.
We live in a day when every hour counts, and now even more so, I feel the constraints that time limits me by.
As a mother and teacher my days are filled before I can think of them. I don’t like to be asked too often about my plans for the weekend, because then I have to think about how many hours are already used over those two measly days. How I am going to fit in everything that needs doing in the limited “time” I have?
My average day begins before seven, not too early I must admit. For the next hour I move at a heightened speed to organise myself and co. Co are not too cooperative in the morning, generally speaking. Between the three of them, at least one of them will cry, or sulk or sit sullenly in a half dressed state until grumpy Mum uses her grumpy Mum voice for the tenth time, only louder.
After drop off, making sure bus money is available, lunches slightly healthy, notes signed and kisses are blown and caught through the car window… I head to work.
Once at work I head to my office, inevitably being caught along the way for a quick chat, that steals my very limited organisational “time”.  

Once alone I open emails, close emails, check lessons, sigh and think about having a coffee, only to realise that I have given all of my change to the kids for the bus, then the bell goes.
Generally speaking the work day is quite a pleasant part of the day. Then there are meetings…

Kids catch the bus to my work and wait while the meetings finish, then I rush them to sports, scouts, dance; sometimes all at once. In between dropping one I will pick up some fruit for morning and the cakes for the class party I had forgotten about.
Getting home in time to put on dinner, but not bring in the washing as it has already gotten dark and the frost has set in, I remember that I didn’t buy potatoes. When I look in the freezer the chips are lying loose, having fallen out of their packet, mixing it up with a few stray peas. I leave them there and settle on pasta.  
Dinner is preparing, as homework is helping, as bath is filling, as dog is fed. “Can someone please take out the recycling?”
I remember I haven’t had a coffee since I’d left in the morning and half think about that, but I think too long and burn the garlic, so have to start again. Kids are arguing about some tv show, I ask again for someone to check the bath. Too late. Overflowed.

Grumpy Mum rears her head again.

Dinner cooked, kids are clean, well sort of. Stories read, time for bed. Not not for me… Not for them either they decide, as a slapstick performance of entrances and exits begins. Drinks and fruit and hot wheat bags… forgotten notes in bottom of school bags. A rotten banana too, but “I don’t like bananas” lays the blame on someone else. “Go to bed”. The mantra is said and heard with little effect.  
Eventually all is quiet. All except the cd player that has “somewhere over the rainbow” playing on repeat. It puts her to sleep…
I sit. Dishes lay dirty on sinks and tables. I sit. I catch my breath and think again of the coffee it is too late to have. I make a tea. Watch some TV.  
It is late. I get up to tidy the kitchen, put another load of washing on before bed, only to find a clean load waiting to be pegged out still in the machine… I stick it in the dryer, ignoring my environmental conscience.
I say goodnight to my dozing husband who has been up and down ladders all day, followed by coaching the junior football team, then home to eat and collapse, put on washing (that I will curse at and chuck in dryer), feed the neglected rabbit, invoice clients, tell kids to “Go to bed” alone and in unison with me…
In bed eventually. I lay awake wondering how I have let another day slip by. Wondering how I will ever have enough “time” to do it all tomorrow. My mind runs circles. I pick up my phone, check my emails and read the messages that I had ignored. “Damn!” I’d forgotten that meeting, I will have to cancel my chiro appointment. Oh well, I can wait…

Beyond Photos: Adding Other Visuals to Your Posts

Keen to use a few of these ideas in the future!

The Daily Post

Raise your hand if you don’t like seeing photos in blog posts.

[Crickets]

Didn’t think so. Adding a nice image to your written content makes sense on multiple levels — it helps break the monotony of long stretches of text, lets you show off your mad photography skills, and very often complements and even enhances your words. And you don’t even have to feature your own images — the web is full of free ones you can use.

It’s nice to mix things up every once in a while, though. Sometime you just can’t find the right image for the post you’re working on, and other times you might want to give your writing a visual boost that does more than just depict the topic in question. For your next post, why not add an infographic, a comic, or a meme?

Infographics

An inforgraphic is an umbrella term for…

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Write The Ending First

Some really interesting writing ideas here. I recommend a read 😉

Writing the End First

So, I was cruising Pinterest today, like I do when I get off work and unwind, and came across a bit of writing advice.  Which was ‘write the ending first’.  I wanted to talk about that because it’s a solid piece of advice that’s helped me finish the last few stories and bits of flash fiction I’ve churned out.

I used to be a panster, a seat-of-the-pants writer with no real structure, plot, or end goal in mind when I sat down to write.  That works for a lot of people, but it took me a while to figure out that I am not one of them.  I blame it on my stubborn nature.  Aries child, over here, I gotta find out the hard way after exhausting all resources at least ten times, so believe me when I say that, for me, writing towards a…

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