blue and green

SpcThe other day I made a new skirt from an old one I bought from Savers last year. I rather liked the eighties material and had planned on just easing out the waist a bit. Trouble is, circular skirts with gathered waists make larger ladies look even more like sacks of potatoes. My first remake, which involved fitting a new waist band and redoing the pleats, didn't work. Then I remembered a pattern my sister Betty uses alot. It's basically a bias cut at the back which comes to the side front then has a straight panel centre front. Sits a bit like an a-line skirt. So I took a deep breath, channelled Molly Ringwald (the scene in Pretty in Pink where she remakes the prom dress -  although I think she wrecks it) and got out the scissors. The pop buttons down the front went, as did the pleats and the original hem. I had to join a piece for the front panel and then just went crazy with squares wrong way and right way up. Enjoying the way the light fell on them.  I attached a loop of ribbon (saved from t-shirts that always have this useless bit of ribbon in the shoulder seam) to the waist from which to hang my ID tag in case I wear it to work. Which I think I will, perhaps with something blue. Because I love blue and green together. Especially in summer.

It's a bit hard to see, but Grace is wearing sandals. We've finally found some shoes she'll wear and it makes such a difference. I'm wearing my stinky birks, which I'm going to wash before I go back to work and some comfy trousers my sister Betty made for me year before last. With a chainstore t-shirt which I think is a bit low cut in the neck. The scarf to hold back my hair is in favour again, especially when sewing or cooking. I'm on a bit of a wardrobe improvement binge at the moment, sewing, shopping, fixing and sorting out. The last bit of hot weather saw me scraping for acceptable work outfits, but given my current state of mind, I'm aware that I could be being a bit neurotic about it all. Especially given the slack dress standard at work. Ah well. Nonetheless, I am pretty pleased with how this skirt turned out.

Peek through other wardrobes here.

p.s. I did change the photo this morning. Just matched the words better I think. Old one here

what happens when you forget how to breathe

You know how I said on Friday that I was a tad anxious but getting better. Well I wasn't (but think I am now). When I went to see my doctor and she asked me how I felt, the first word that came to mind was, messy. Then as I began to tell her why, she halted me momentarily and reached for her notepad. Always a bad sign. So I'm off work for the rest of the week. I'm not depressed, just really quite anxious, with some signs that I could become a little manic. So I'll probably get some sewing and shopping done.

It feels very strange to be allowed to take some leave from work for my head to clear. Sometimes I feel as though I'm shirking, like you mean that the cure for my illness/condition/way I feel now is to relax and do some things I enjoy? Like sleep alot, sew and go to the beach? Huh? It's so logical yet so at odds with the way our culture functions. When I called work, I was fairly up front. The euphemism we use is that I think I'm becoming unwell. I guess when you've been in hospital for a psychosis and are under a psychiatrist's treatment then you have a certain permission that way. But I've been thinking quite a bit about how the work I do affects me and my colleagues. There's a  lot of talk about resilience and of course I wonder whether I've been slotted into the not very resilient slot. Then again, I always get points for being up front and managing my condition.

Don't get me wrong, I like what my work brings; money, independence and that feeling of being out in the bigger world. I enjoy talking to people (workmates and customers), making decisions, having morning tea and getting things done. But it is also true that in a day I'm likely to see a lot of people who are ill, mad (quite unwell even), needy, cranky, pissed off or just down on their luck. Or have never been very lucky to begin with. And my job might be to ask them some intrusive questions or tell them that they have to do something or that they can't have what they feel they are entitled to. Most of the time though, I'm happy enough about going to work. But I just can't face it at the moment. I don't trust myself to remain anywhere near level, my brain has moments where it feels all tingly, like fairy floss with edge, or it just stops working and I'm a total blank. I teeter between feeling too much sympathy for others and not caring at all. Simple things fluster me. And if something doesn't go to plan or if one of my family members isn't contactable by phone or someone or something is running late, I panic. Most of the time I look like I'm doing OK, but underneath it's all quite frightening.

Anyway, back to this idea of resilience. If I make a list, there's been a lot happening around here over the last month or so. Two of Gerard's friends died, first Steve after a long illness, then Julie, quite unexpectedly in her sleep. Sad and intense. We've both had major dental issues, I had two weeks of higher duties at work, which was pretty awful and has left me wondering whether I should be looking at something else to do after we find a house and move into it. G has started a new part-time job and although him working is a good thing, my life was easier when he wasn't.  And it's a new routine. Again.

We just missed out on a house at auction and although a better one is looking likely, looking through dead people's houses (deceased estates) takes up a good part of each weekend. It's been tiring. Especially with a child who would not wear her new shoes, so had to be carried or left in the car with the other parent. So really, a lot has been going on. I think anyone might get a bit stressed and I actually think that G's had it harder than I have. My doctor thought that was a reasonable enough thing to say but then she said, you have a genetic disposition to... I forget exactly what, but the gist of it was that I am in some special category, meaning I have to take extra special care. Which I don't necessarily think is true. Don't we all have to take care? Does being resilient mean that when life gets tough (as everybody's does every now and then) you just go through it with a stiff upper lip and an extra glass of wine at night? Or that you stop caring and become a teflon person? Or that you simply choose not to be stressed? There are times when you can reframe your thinking but it's not always that simple. Not for me, not for most people. Perhaps part of being resilient is knowing when you need to pause for a little while.

I'm wondering how I make the work I do more sustainable in the medium term. More balanced. More exercise would help, but it's hard to take the extra time in the morning or after work because it cuts into the part of the day I have with Grace. It might have to be after she goes to bed. Definitely focusing on some more fun activities as a family would help too. I loved going to the beach yesterday. Swimming in the ocean was a glorious feeling, as was the rough sand on my feet. Grace has been telling me about it all day; beach, have cake (date scones), take clothes off, water, see fish, mummy go swimming, boats hold on (as in tied to the pier), chips for lunch, go home, sleep in nana's car. Oh gosh, we're going to have to do that again. It was pretty nice. Maybe it's still just a matter of letting some time pass.

last night I nearly cried (in a good way)

We voted early, at the local primary school. Grace found the whole process fascinating; waited patiently in line with us and then sat up on the cardboard booth as I filled out my Senate ticket, the long way. Then she helped me put my ballot papers in the box. Election, in box, she told me later. The day went on and I was busy and didn't give it much thought until about six thirty, as I started making dinner. We started listening to the election early. And come to think of it, I had been a bit tense about it. The thought of another Howard term being far too much to bear. I think it would have me loose faith in this country completely. Anyway, the first news was tentatively positive and I cracked open a cruiser from the other night. As the news from the tally room got better and better, you could hear mini celebrations across the suburb.

At one point after dinner I was on the internet and listening to the radio, ready to dash into the loungroom should anything good happen... Oooh the excitement, especially when it started to look as though Bennelong might fall (and now it looks like it has, go Maxine McKew! even the postal votes aren't going to change anything now). How good is that? Not only have the liberals lost government, but the toxic dwarf has been toppled from his seat. Heh, heh. I must admit I felt grimly satisfied as I watched John Howard concede defeat. Listening to Kevin Rudd's victory speech I felt optimistic yet a tad bored. He does go on a bit. Still. It's not everyday you become Prime Minister. Let's hope he doesn't stuff it up. That they don't stuff it up, that we don't stuff it up.

But for me, I think the really big joy of the night, apart from the ALP victory, was listening to Julia Gillard. She's smart, she's articulate, she doesn't um and err. She comes across as tough, and as G says she plays the ball and not the man. She'll be able to run with the bully boys in the party room. As a woman, I find her enormously appealing; a woman's woman. And she's now up there at the top, maybe with a shot at being Prime Minister one day. Hopefully she'll be able to unleash the pinko within. It also occurs to me that there may be lots of new women entering parliament. Some I may not have heard about yet. Oh gosh I hope there are some more good, smart ones.

So here's to a new chapter in our country's history, hopefully one characterised by more care and kindness. A moment of optimism, if you will.  It has to be better than the last decade. Doesn't it?


At the beginning of the week all I felt was anxiety. Thrown by the sudden hot weather, dealing with dental issues (mine and Gs), toddler tantrums and shoe issues, work, life, the universe. All at once it seemed just too much and I thought I was teetering on the edge. So I asked for some time off work. They said that holidays at this time were unlikely but that I should take personal leave if necessary. I decided to just let time pass and much to my surprise by the end of the week, things were much better. Despite an infection in my tooth, the one having the root canal treatment. Which would make anyone grumpy.

Last night as I was getting ready to go home and just enjoying that pause at the end of the work day, one of the team leaders called me over for a little chat about what I'd be doing over the next month or so. My current project has been suspended during the holiday peak. As I helped plan this, I knew this would happen but hadn't given it much thought recently. There always being something to do at work. Anyway we had the chat and then she asked how I was feeling and I said fine, crisis averted, and then she said, you've got lots of leave, and we've been thinking you could have Monday and Tuesday off. As rec leave. It's not the whole week but you've been working hard and could probably do with a break. Yes! I said. Oh yes.

I am very pleased! And suddenly the world seems a whole lot more rosy. I saw the dentist last night and he gave me a prescription for drugs, so the infection will be all gone by the time he does the next painful and expensive bit. Already my tooth doesn't hurt so much. And I'll have a couple of extra days at home to spend with Grace, maybe plan an outing with her and nana. There'll be time to move files onto my new computer and enjoy the super beautiful new screen (everyone's photos look so super gorgeous). Time to organise some work clothes for summer, think about the garden and maybe get a haircut and paint my toenails. Must dash though, it's shrink day and I have some childfree time to go shopping. Yes, life is good.

Just call me Dipsy

I had planned to write about feminist motherhood this week, but with one thing and another, my head isn't quite up to it. It's been warm, almost hot, with some rain; the sort of weather that makes vodka cruisers slip down all too easily. So, after being tagged by Marjorie and Mary Beth, I'm going to try and think of seven random things. And maybe go back and fix some of my appalling spelling mistakes on posts past.

1. Every now and then I get a hankering for those sweet pre-mixed drinks. The sort that are so nice that I'm never ever going to let Grace taste them. Much nicer and cheaper than the UDLs of my teenage years. And so deadly.

2. The other day as I was in the dentist's chair having my root canals filed (hence the current prediliction for alcohol to wash down the panadol) looking up at the tatty poster of an Australian rural homestead surrounded by lots of junk affixed to the ceiling and trying not to ask for a third anasthetic shot, the dentist stopped working and said to me, you have quite a small mouth don't you... aga, ya, I replied. Next time you come in, he said, I'll get a block so it doesn't hurt so much to hold your mouth open. After that he was very gentle, holding my jaw in a particularly nice way, explaining what was happening next and giving me lots of breaks in the treatment. I think I quite like this dentist. He's older than me and reminds me the kind and also reasonably priced dentist I saw all through my childhood and early adult years.

3. I love watching the teletubbies on video with Grace when I get the chance. The toddlers and pre-schoolers are natural and charming, portrayed as the real kids they are. A far cry from the irritating dancing girls on the Wiggles. Although we're more into the book and the computer game at the moment. At the beginning of the book (currently on very high rotation at bedtime) Grace names each of the tubbies, Tinky Winky, Mummy (Dipsy), Laa-Laa and Po. I've been the green teletubby for quite some time. Is it a shape thing or a colour thing? Who knows, who cares. The teletubbies all live together in an earth dome, they're kind to rabbits and butterflies, they have a magic windmill, are technologically advanced, not stuck in rigid gender roles and they all love each other. And then there's that fabulous nineties raver aesthetic...

4. Today I made a lemon tart and I think I've worked out why the crust was soggy. But I'll have to make another tart to test my theory.... mmm tart.

5. When I get tense and stressed, not only do I need to bake, but I need to live in a clean house. Today I knocked down months worth of spider webs and cleaned out the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. There were lotions and potions that had expired in 2004. I have a feeling there may also be some window cleaning coming up.

6. The election is really pissing me off. If I hear the phrase working families one more time, I think I might throw rocks at the TV. The only sensible thing I've heard so far was in the dentist chair. An academic on the radio was talking about how government needs to start spending big on social infrastructure (like health and education) for the long term instead of making short term promises to attract small pockets of swinging voters. Personally, I think there needs to be a shift in thinking. Away from a consumer fuelled growth economy towards a service based ecconomy of care and kindness. Where shopping centres are all like the new look Greensbourough Plaza.

7. Although I'm shallow enough that I might vote for a party that promises super fast broadband for everyone (as opposed to a party that promises, not only a job for all those who want one, but also the job and career you want, huh??? as if that's something that's deliverable?) We only have super slow broadband around here and apparently Telstra already has the infrastructure to provide faster broadband but hasn't switched it on. I don't quite understand the mechanics of it, but apparently it's not that difficult.

Gosh, I meant to be all light hearted. At least I've moved a bit on from the big moan and groan session I had planned on Thursday night. It must be the effect of a quiet weekend at home. And the cruisers and breezers. Feminist motherhood next week. Absolutely.

in pink

SpcI have this idea that I wear black all the time, and it's true I do wear a lot of black. Last year I tried to go a whole year without purchasing or making a black item of clothing. And it was hard. Women in inner city Melbourne often wear a lot of black or other dark colours, particularly those that came of age in the eighties. I remember my mother taking me clothes shopping and trying in vain to get me to wear another colour. It's funny, but these days I sometimes wear quite a bit of pink.

In this photo I'm wearing an old t-shirt from Best and Less. Nothing special, just super comfy. And very pink. It kind of fits in with the decor of this room which was an extraordinary mix of cutsie pictures, weird bedspreads and gruesome Mary Leunig cartoons. In a house full of very umm, quirky decor. I packed in a hurry on Saturday morning after the house auctions (we didn't get either of the houses but I'm OK with that, our house will turn up at the right time). My destination, a house in the country for a craft weekend with some very special ladybloggers and crafty women. During which I made half a pin cushion and took over 200 photos. But as others have said, the real prize and delight was the company of fabulous women. It was a shame not to be able to go for the whole weekend, but going on Saturday meant I was able to attend another bloggy gathering of another lot of fabulous women on the Thursday night. Hugely fun!  I feel so lucky to be part of this wonderful bloggy community. Tickled pink, you might say!

See what others are wearing here.

we love it

Last Thursday when I got home from work and before we headed off to Hobart, there was a a parcel waiting for me. It was very exciting, a welcome break in a trying and busy day. Grace helped me with unwrapping and the first thing she said was, we loove it. I'm trying to catch her particular intonation here, because it's very serious, yet also funny and cute. The next two things she said were; it's Grace and then it's Grace's? And I said no, it's for mummy, from one of her friends on the computer.

Grace was OK with that because what's mine is generally hers too, and we put it up on the shelf in the kitchen for everyone to enjoy, next to the yellow rabbit eggcup and blue tea cannister. In the longer term, it's a toss up whether to put this painting above my desk or in the back room near my sewing shelf and where the light falls in particularly pleasing ways. It's a present from Sue at fiveandtwo. A while ago, Sue asked for a photo, and to be honest, I was quite chuffed to be asked. And it prompted me to start learning how to print my pictures. Something that ended up taking quite a few weeks but that I've been meaning to do for ages.

So thank you Sue, we love it!

so is it art and do I care?*

Yesterday morning, as I was drinking my second coffee and checking my email, all relaxed by the public holiday in the middle of the week, I noticed a new commenter. Hmm interesting, I thought. I opened the blog, because I like to read my comments in context, and there it was, the first deliberately unkind comment I've received here.  At the end of the post I wrote about our friend Steve. So I shot off an email;  Yomamma. I'm curious. Why would you go out of your way to comment that someone's photos are crap? Especially on a post where they're writing about a friend dying, and especially after you would have read that another friend just died. It seems like a cruel context in which to make such a comment. To be honest I don't care what you think of my photos. But really, I'm curious why you would write something like that. Please enlighten me. Of course I haven't had a reply (and I realise that there would be nothing to stop a troll using someone elses site name in the comments box) but nonetheless, I am curious.

As I scrolled though the last five posts, I realised that maybe these aren't the best lot of photos I've taken, but I'm more than OK with that. It's a blog, which being diary like in nature, repsonds to life and time and is therefore kind of fleeting and imperfect by it's very nature. Not a coffee table book where every word and image has been laboured over endlessly. Then I started to think about something I read recently about some photos being art and some being just pretty pictures and that if you're churning out the latter, you really shouldn't be representing yourself as an artist. That might be true I suppose, but where do we draw the line? And who gets to draw it? It's very easy when when faced with a great and recognised artwork to say, oh yes that's art. But what about the works the artist made on the way to the great artwork? What about art that is yet to be recognised as great? Is it art if the artist is prolific? And what about art that I don't like, is it art if it's the work of someone reconised as an artist but not if it's from someone unknown? Is blogging an art? Do I really care? I know on some level I do, but I'm a lot less hurt by the comment than I would have expected. It appears that the act of the blogging has made me reform the thick skin I grew in the hurly burly of writing workshops more than a decade ago.That's a good thing.

I love taking photos. Anyone who reads this blog would know that, but what I've come to realise is that I'm a lot more attached to the process of making the picture than I am to the finished result. I like some of the finished results, but once they're done, I just want to go out and take more photos. There's something I really enjoy about looking for the picture. Finding something new to see. Reframing my world. The pictures in this post were taken on the hill around Hobart airport, waiting for a delayed plane. Shan said that the light was all wrong but I dragged him up the hill, saying there's always something. In the end, he thought the tree was the photo and went and collected rubbish and discussed framing and other technical matters. But I liked the ones of the hill without the tree better in the end. He's strictly a film type photographer, but I love the immediacy of digital. And that once you have the camera, it's cheap. But no matter what the process, hanging out with and taking pictures together, that was great. It really was. And I like these pictures, even if I look at them and see some ISO and manual camera issues. Because apart from any minor quibble about technical learning issues, they remind me of the weekend just gone in a sweeter and more sorrowful way than words alone.

If I'm ranting, I guess I'm still in angry mode, not from the comment so much, but from life and loss. It seems to be that every time something sad happens, I travel down that road again; re-visiting old griefs and being mad at myself for feeling like that. It didn't help that work today was extra, extra busy, two days worth of customers and I was keeping all that anger locked inside of me in a tight little ball. Being pleasant and helpful. I suppose that's why people make comments like that, because they have anger inside that has festered. Funnily though, it kind of makes me feel as though I've come of age as a blogger. The trolls are visiting. Pfft.

Anyway, there's two really nice things to look forward to on the weekend. Like really nice, involving fellow bloggers, who I imagine will be really lovely. Actually, I know they will be really lovely. And there will be relaxation and craft. I can't wait. Just one more day at work.

* Yes and Yes/No. If that makes sense.

Updated to add, I've deleted the nasty comment. Meant to before, but have just got around to it. I think the gist of what was said is contained in my response. Which is enough to hold onto.

come sail your ships around me

It's good to be home, but I'm glad we went. Time seemed to pass very slowly and quickly, all at once, distorted by an intensity of emotion, by holding in and letting go. A reminder that grief is not a linear state but a country all of it's own. Julie's funeral was surreal as funerals are, but as G said, it's not the having of a funeral that makes people so sad but the reason for it. Which is obvious really, but I found this one particularly hard. Perhaps because we'd been going about normal life all week in our little world here in Melbourne; being sad (and stressed and anxious too) of course but more or less going about our usual business. Then suddenly, after being in a rush to get packed after work, Shan arriving and G taking Grace to Nana's (she wasn't at all unhappy about that) and after a quick drive through the rain to the airport, we're on the plane. We sat in a row, a quiet three amongst people mostly happy to be going away for the weekend. An hour later we were in Hobart, a town that's quite familiar, especially to Shan and Gerard who grew up there, but where nothing is as it was before.

On Friday afternoon, the chapel at the Cornelian Bay Cemetary was packed to overflowing and there were lots of red eyes and muffled crying. Some laughs too, as Julie's friends and family talked about Jules and her life. There was live music, of course, from some of the Mooks. And then at the end, as Julie's white coffin sank from the podium, the wail of her mother. Oh God.

Afterwards, people milled in the sunshine and hugged and smoked and greeted and talked. And then repaired to the pub for a drink and more hugging and greeting and talking and drinking and smoking. As you do. And although Julie's passing makes no sense at all, indeed there has been no cause of death found; no heart attack, no embolism, no aneurism, no identifiable cause, it feels right to come together, to all feel sad all at the same time. What else can you do? I don't imagine any of those closest to her are going to feel anywhere normal for some time, but that's not the point. It's a big thing when someone dies and I guess I'm saying here that I'm a believer in proper funerals. Steve didn't have one and I wish he had. Of course we don't want people around us to die, but when they do, it's better to honour them properly. We don't want to go but are drawn nonetheless. Once you're an adult, funerals are one of those times when you really just have to turn up. And be present as best you can. Well, that's what I think anyway.

My heart is heavy again. And although I feel more committed than ever to this life and those in it, I find myself thinking some dark thoughts. What about those who don't have anyone to mourn their passing? Or those who lose family member after family member in war? And how might it feel to be in a strange land, struggling with a new language, new ways and still in sorrow. Where people don't always see your grief because you have different coloured skin. Sigh. It's been a long week. I'm quite glad tomorrow's a holiday. Even if it is for a bloody horse race. I plan to spend some of it pruning the daisies, some of it sewing and good bit of it playing run run with Grace under the clothes line. And maybe some time for quiet reflection.

It wasn't an out and about type trip, but I did find myself with quite a bit of time just hanging around with the camera. Five beers and I can't hold the camera steady, although I was very careful not to drop it. You can see pictures here. Probably only of interest to people who were there.


Our friend Julie died in her sleep on Sunday morning. No-one had any warning or premonition that this might happen, so it's been deeply shocking. And heartbreakingly sad. Her husband Kim woke up to find his wife and love gone from this world. If I even try to imagine how this might feel, tears well up in my eyes. And the background fear I feel of losing those nearest returns as a feeling of panic and anxiety. Love always carries such a potential for loss and grief and Julie's passing has bought this back to me in a big way.  Kim and all of Julie's family and friends have been uppermost in our thoughts this week. You wish there was something that you could do, but there isn't.

Julie didn't really like having her picture taken and I sneaked this one last April, when she and some other Mooks were in Melbourne for the Wilco concert. It's blurry and a bit dark, but in it I can hear her distinct voice talking about this and that. Enjoying the ambience of the Palais, rattling on, having a good natter. It was a rather good weekend that one. Anyway, as you can see, she's still young and full of life. Just a couple of years older than me. As well as being rather stylish (which I admired more than I ever said), Julie had a really kind heart. She also loved a party, being out and about with friends. Their home was more often than not the centre for gatherings and parties; full of warmth and hospitailty. And she loved her cats.

We'll be going to Hobart for the funeral this Friday. Sigh.