Save Coburg Olympic pool

Twice in the last two weeks, I've walked around Coburg Olympic Pool with my camera. After the first time, I sat in my car close to tears, almost insensible with rage. The second time Grace pressed up against the fence, demanding to go to the pool. How come something this good, so close to home hasn't been better known to me? The Coburg Olympic pool has been closed since 1st of December 2006 but I only realised the danger of this closure being long term when I read an article in the local paper earlier this month. I always meant to go swimming here with Grace, because as you can see, it would be a beautiful place for a toddler.

A friend of mine is campaigning to have the pool re-opened and it's more than likely that once we move, this would be our local pool. So, I offered to make a site to document the process. Like everything new, there's been a learning curve and it's still a bit (quite) rough around the edges.... but here 'tis

Save Coburg Olympic Pool

This will be a group blog, so if there are any local bloggers interested, please let me know. There's a flickr site to match, which hopefully will be used to collect images for the group and from non-flickrite sources. I'll also set up a pool (ha, ha) for people with flickr accounts. We'd love some flickr mates too.

There's a Moreland City Council meeting tomorrow night. On the agenda is Coburg Olympic Pool. I'm intending to go and lend my support. Maybe even ask a question or two.

it's the magic word!

Often sitting at the kitchen table after dinner Grace says, all done, I want a book, I want a book, I want a book... We ask her which one?

Then follows a long process of working out whether it's Hippos Go Berserk, Rupert or Elmo or something else on rotation on the shelf above the table. I want Rupert, she says.

And the the word we use when we want something is...?  I say.
It's the magic word! she says
And it is...

In a sentence, adds Gerard.

I want Rupert, puhleeease!

On a good day one of us passes her the book and she reads and chats until I've finished my dinner and then it's stories and bed. Stories punctuate the day now. Mum reads to her, I read to her, Gerard reads to her and she reads to herself. And now the latest thing is that in the morning, she'll get in bed next to me and read mummy a story. And I thought Grace would never want me to read to her.

At the moment we're reading several varieties of Pooh Bear (and watching the Tigger movie), an excellent book by Mem Fox called Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild, referred to by Grace as the sorry book because it features a little girl who does naughty things and says she's sorry. Her mother doesn't like to yell but snaps after a long, hard day. Grace finds the whole idea of being naughty and being in trouble just absolutely fascinating at the moment. We're also reading a book about a little boy going to the toilet all by himself. One can hope. Whenever I talk to Grace about doing poos on the potty or toilet she laughs maniacally and says, oh no, no, no, no...

The reading is excellent though. One of the best parts of the day.

back to busy

Back to work last week. Just two short days. It was OK, but enough. Two full days coming up this week which I think will be OK too. It's kind of weird leaving in the middle of the afternoon, so it will be good to work normal days with proper rhythms. With an hour for lunch (instead of half). Being at home for four weeks has made me realise anew what a difference it makes to have an hour to myself in the middle of the day. Especially important when I come home from another kind of intense day and have to go straight into the bath, dinner and bed routine. Complete with tantrums.

Some of my colleagues thought that I had been on holidays (leadership not being specific about why I was absent due to privacy reasons, which I appreciate) but for some reason, that really bothered me. So, I've started to tell people that I was ill, and if they've asked, I've said that I had a manic attack, that it was pretty serious and that I'm getting better. There have some interesting reactions, one being that I seemed alright at the Christmas party and you wouldn't have known. Which may well be true. I guess my actor continued to present the calm/normal facade for short periods, although she did get a bit tired and haggard there for a while. I really, really need my actor, but sometimes she needs a rest.

Some have said they think being honest is really brave but I doubt I'm ever going to buy the whole bipolar / mood affective disorder / mania / depression / whatever it is I have / as just another health issue that can be managed just like diabetes thing until it's not shrouded in shame and secrecy. I'm sure blogging about it and the supportive response I've had is a big factor in why I feel more or less OK about being upfront. Sure, I do worry about my career (such that it is) and about being labelled and about having a return to work program, but less than I would have thought. Blogging means I'm used to expressing my thoughts, used to making a narrative about what's happened to me. That's given me a confidence I might not have had otherwise. So, once again, thank you all for being here. And for reading.

Last week I also had two(!!) by myself outings at night. Firstly a mother's group dinner at a local place, which was great. Although I felt a little sun worn and sweaty, as I chose not to go home after my doctor's appointment, but to walk by the river with my camera instead, and then catch a tram to the restaurant. Then the next night, drinks (sadly softies for me) with a woman friend at a nearby pub. It was interesting to walk into a hotel by myself for the first time in about eight or nine years and scan the room for my friend. I noticed a number of men of roughly my age group look back. Not that I would dream of anything untoward, but you know, it's a funny/interesting feeling when you're a forty something, somewhat shrewish mother with a partner and all the responsibilities that go with that life to have a man make eye contact with you. Indeed. And then later walking back to my car (on a main road not far from where I met my friend), I was harassed by hoons driving past yelling take our photo. When I refused, because I was only interested in the lovely soft rain (oh yes!) and the lights, and because I'm fairly arrogant that way, they said, hey look, she's not a man! Hah. All in all though, it was really great to be out and about. I'm going to do it again. For sure.


SpcThe theme for January self-portrait challenge is celebration and and I think I'm stretching it a little to say that I'm celebrating recovery. Nonetheless, what with being unwell and everything, I feel a bit as though the usual celebration passed me by a little this Christmas. I was there, but there was also too much anxiety, tension and well, mania for it to be fun on the inside. Indeed, I feel quite proud of getting through it all without crumpling in a total heap until afterwards. And proud of being there for the first Christmas that Grace will remember (just hope she remembers the good bits, like the dancing, the presents and lunch at Dad's). So celebrating recovery it is.

I've started back at work this week. Just two short days to begin with. And I'm starting to feel like I'm actually in the recovery phase now. Not totally out of the woods, but ready to begin doing the things I need to do to become well again.  There's a fine line here. Too much too soon and I'll go backwards, but I have to push myself to get better. Today I continued with last weeks goal of starting an excercise programme. To get the endorphins going and to counter some of the effects of the medication I'll be taking for the next six months or so. I walked for an hour or so with Grace in the stroller, finishing at the pool. Grace happily went to hang with the childare ladies (actually I think the cool toys are the big draw card here) while I went and did laps. It feels good to be in the water, and swimming is exactly the right excercise for me at the moment because really, it's all about breathing. And the blue of the water. If nothing else, I find that extraordinarily calming. My fitness is returning faster than I thought it would and I think I'll be able to do 20 fastish laps of a 50 metre pool by the end of the month (if I keep it up).

Also celebrating, with much joy, my new little camera which is bright orange and which I can use in water. It still freaks me out to do this.  Although I love being in the water, it was seemingly impossible to smile and blow bubbles at the same time. Taking pictures under water is harder than I thought... but it's fun learning. Grace and I had a swim together afterwards and I think she's going to love the water too.

See more celebration here.

a visit to the ephemera dealer

Need something lighter after that last whingerama. So. We went to the Coburg market this morning and it was great. Excellent. Although I did get a little carried away. Books for Grace, including a delightful Noddy at the Beach board book. Another camera for me, an old olympus mju 1 film camera, the same model as my first point and shoot camera, which I truly loved.  I had two of them actually, both stolen in burglaries. I missed both. Just love that design, so beautiful to hold. Saw it, had to have it and haggled down the ridiculous price the lady was asking.  Some cheap and pretty plates. And then Grace begged to go to the playgound and I watched as the market started to wind down and tried to feel big about it. Because I hadn't been to my favourite stall yet. The ephemera dealer. Gerard came back and I made a beeline. And boy, did he have the goods today!

An exercise book full of baby cards. Two babies, a boy and a girl. And, from the same family, an old photo album of snapshots. How anyone would let this fall into the hands of an ephemera dealer is beyond me. That makes me feel sad really. Nonetheless, and I feel it's a bit weird or somehow at odds with my sentimental reaction, but I love looking at these photos of someone else's family, imagining their stories. Seeing how life has changed. Although the back of one photo was extra sad.

Also thrown in, some old jam covers and a picture frame. Should have gone for some buttons as well, because the ephmera dealer will always throw in extra little stuff if you spend more than five dollars and ask nicely. I really like it that he bothers with paper stuff, which is really my favourite and he's good natured and generous with it. Which is proabbly why he has such a good stall. Grace had wanted a new baby dolly, but there weren't any. Until we were leaving and I saw a doll abandoned in the carpark. We stopped the car and I jumped out to get her. Doll came home with us and after having her hard battery bit in the middle removed and a good scrub, is now hanging with the dolly clan (in the middle, they all had a bath together after lunch, being grubby sorts of dolls). We'll have to make her (or him) some clothes later in the week. 

25 things that shit me to tears

From Suse and Kim. Can't resist.

  1. That all the cameras in the house use a different cord to upload images to the computer (3 cameras now, Grace's, my big one and the little one. And Gerard's phone). Surely, if camera cords were standard, you could be asked in the shop if you needed another one. This would mean less stuff in the world when you said no thank you, I already have one.

  2. There is too much stuff in the world. Just way too much stuff.

  3. Badly written instructions. The ones from the new telly (justification, the old TV was from the eighties) are astonishingly bad. Fantastic TV, just took me several days to figure out how to set it all up. I know instructions can be good because, once upon a time, I used to write instructions.

  4. That the house doesn't clean itself.

  5. And that no-one has invented little dirt eating robots or similar.

  6. Buying a dress on sale that I liked when it was full price, thinking yes, it's a simple little alteration and then three days later it's still making me swear (finished now, but not as good as I thought it would be and now I am intimate with how badly it was made in the first place which also shits me).

  7. The crick in my neck because my computer screen is a little high and I haven't got around to getting a proper office chair and asking G to cut down my wooden stand for the computer. He's happy to do it, being good like that. I just keep forgetting to ask (already done now, thanks G it's so much better).

  8. The heat. Of course.

  9. When people leave the back door open on 42 degree days allowing hot wind to blow into the house.

  10. Or don't open it all up when the cool change arrives and I'm not here.

  11. That I can't seem to explain how to manage this house the in heat. I know how because I've lived here for a very long time (nearly twenty years).

  12. Certain aspects of the division of labour pertaining to childcare when we're both home, especially following the afternoon sleep. Best not go into detail here (grits teeth, there's been a discussion, and it's somewhat better).

  13. That I allowed myself to become as manic as I did. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm not supposed to blame myself and all that. But still.

  14. Having to take pills that make me feel I've had part of my brain removed and and want to throw up. It could be worse, I suppose. And they do make feel chilled (without the need for weed, because I haven't medicated that way since when I started wanting to become a mother and because drugs are bad mnnn).

  15. That drugs from your doctor are OK but the fun ones aren't. When I'm in my seventies I'm going to do some serious partying.

  16. Not ever being able to go to the toilet by myself at home (except when she's sleeping) or without someone little howling outside the closed door.

  17. Having to go back to work to be able to go to the toilet by myself.

  18. Having to go back to work (although I'd be really stuffed if I were a casual worker, more on that later).

  19. The rainbow lorikeets in next doors almond tree that screech in every afternoon and every morning at five. Causing me to retreat to the couch in the loungeroom for another couple of hours sleep. Often referred to as those bloody parrots. I love the wattle birds, yellow honeyeaters, pigeons, crows and the fruit bats that visit but seriously, I want to throw rocks at those lorikeets.

  20. Not being able to eat as much chocolate weetbix slice as I really want. Because I shouldn't and because I feel nauseous from the pills.

  21. But still doing it anyway. The pills, despite everything, enhancing the craving for sweet carbs.

  22. Being fat in the first place. Not getting the thin genes. Hoping Grace has the thin genes.

  23. Trying to let go of some of my issues around food and fat (I've been reading Shapely Prose since blue milk linked there, and is it ever challenging, even when you think you've been a fat accepting feminist for a long time).

  24. That to feel better physically, especially with the medication, I really am going to have to excerise (some swimming last week, it was great once I started) and go with the Healthy at Every Size thingo.

  25. The way the lock on the passenger side of the car needs a special touch to be opened. Quite a feat when it's hot, you have a two and three quarter year old, a big bag of stuff and you're on a main road or in a carpark.

Well, there you go. Do I feel better? Yes. Thank-you.

getting organised blogwise

As I've had a little bit of spare time and the domestic paragon routine is starting to wear a bit thin (unlike the rest of me sad to say. Damn, I wish there was a mood stabiliser that made you lose weight, as a side effect without effort, hmph), I've been doing a few little blog and flickr jobs.

First Flickr, have moved all my 2007 sets into collections, which won't be obvious but I'm going to start new sets for the new year. Just feels new yearish. I wish I could have my old photos in collections and display my current ones in sets. It's not the best archiving system is Flickr. Oh well. What I really meant to document though, was how to put a picture on your profile page, because I think it's a nice thing to do and it isn't really that obvious. I forgot from last time and spent a good part of an afternoon faffing and swearing. First you write your profile blurb in the describe yourself box on your edit profile page. Then find a photo that you like and go to the individual page for the photo. But wait, the URL in the browser, that's not what you use, eventhough it will link to photos in blog posts. On the right hand side, click where you can view different sizes. Number 2 is called "grab the photo's URL" and the code ends in jpg. Copy and paste this code into the profile thingy blurb and use this html <img src="URL"> to surround it. Well, that will possibly make sense to me next time.
(Lemons picked from the tree before ripe to allow space for others to grow and to stop the young branches from being too heavy. Grace has been making them into soups for about three weeks now.)

I've also chosen a new avatar (I love that word and how it came from from Hindu philosophy and always have to go and look it up again). The crochet square was starting to feel scratchy and woollen in the heat.The orange doily is cotton and I bought it at Savers when Grace was a tiny baby. I used to sit my favourite greeny blue vase filled with pink geranium branches on it in the loungeroom, to look at while she was breastfeeding. Of course, back then she was not a moving, grooving and chaos causing toddler. The doily has been languishing in the back of the teatowel cupboard (which is now neatly folded) for quite some time.  Still, I think this year we'll be able to have more flowers in vases again. Another domestic pleasantry to add to the the resolution pile.

What else? Updating my blog profile behind the avatar. So much easier now that I've set up a "page" because typepad about pages and associated designs are a right royal pain in the arse. Some minor tweaking of the banner, although do you think I could get the colours to match? It's meant to be all a light cream background with a darker cream at the sides. And seamless, no edges showing between the banner and the page. Photoshop and Typepad read colour numbers differently, so it would seem. Or maybe it's my computer screen playing tricks on me. Not to worry. I'll go with the (slight) imperfection. It's OK.

So all ready for summer. I have all manner of serious things to write about but I just can't be faffed. Yet.

far away in time

I'm cooking lunch (it's cool enough to use the stove today), listening to the radio. It's rather good, they're playing a lot of eighties and early nineties music. Stuff I knew and loved. Like Man Overboard by Do-Re-Mi, some Funboy Three and Joey by Concrete Blonde. I'm digging it and grooving along gently. Then she plays Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins and instantly I'm twenty again, sitting on the floor of my boyfriend's bedroom as he plays me music. He's a bit older than me and has been out in the world longer. He has lots of records. We're a bit high, no actually we're quite stoned and giggly. He plays me Echo Beach. I've never heard it before and I make him play it again and again. Later when we break up, I buy the record for myself.

So now I'm forty-four. For a moment I forgot how sensible I've become and turned up the music up and danced and sang out loud. Smiling. I still remember all the words. And what's more, it has survived the various vinyl purges (you mean I gave the Triffids record with the green, red and white cover to the opshop! yep) and I still have it on vinyl.

I know it's out of fashion
And a trifle uncool
But I can't help it
I'm a romantic fool
It's a habit of mine
To watch the sun go down
On Echo beach, I watch the sun go down

From nine till five I have to spend my time at work
The job is very boring, I'm an office clerk
The only thing that helps pass the time away
Is knowing I'll be back at Echo Beach some day

On a silent summer evening
The sky's alive with light
Building in the distance
Surrealistic sight
On Echo Beach
Waves make the only sound
On Echo Beach
There's not a soul around

From nine till five I have to spend my time at work
The job is very boring, I'm an office clerk
The only thing that helps pass the time away
Is knowing I'll be back at Echo Beach some day

Echo Beach
Far away in time
Echo Beach
Far away in time<br</br

Mark Gane, from Metro Music by Martha and the Muffins 1980.

And now I've just learnt how to embed youtube so we can listen to it live.

Oh wow, now Martha and the Muffins have done children's music amongst other things. Must investigate further.

the light hits the mirror

Some time around 8.00pm, for a few weeks in midsummer, some of the last of the light streams into the study which faces south west. It hits the rear view mirror on G's desk (for keeping an eye on Grace when she's playing on mummy's computer).

The light then bounces across the room in a big wide circle, like a giant projector. We're often in here at this time because it's just after Grace goes to bed.The effect is quite magical and only lasts for ten minutes or so.

In other news I drove for the fisrst time in several weeks today. Just down to the supermarket and later to the pool with Grace. Starting to feel much better but having one more week off work. Just to make sure I've caught up on all my sleep. Hooray.

It's fecking hot. Will correct spelling mistakes tommorrow after the cool change.

reviewed and resolved; and a bit about jam and the weather

It's been stinkin' hot here. Yesterday it was 43C (that's 109F) and emerging from the comfort of mum's car was like walking into a fan-forced oven (at the temperature for merringue?). Yes, we went shopping, Victoria Gardens. Fewer shops, much less crowded than Highpoint, but with Ikea.  I love Ikea and it's so very seductive. At the end I had to sort through the trolley and decide whether I really needed another cutlery drainer. Spent an appalling (for me) amount of money on baskets, kid room storage, tin bowls and other faffery. Useful faffery, which makes it OK on occasion and last time I was pregnant with Grace. So it's all good.

Last night it only got down to 37C (99F),and as the Bureau of Meterology said, it was an oppressive night. So not much sleep for me. Luckily I made apricot jam the other day, when it was just hot, not ridiculously hot. I used a new method and am absurdly pleased with how it turned out.

There are now twenty jars of jam in the cupboard, which was my freaky jam making goal for this summer. If I make some yellow plum jelly, I'll exceed my own expectations, which would be quite nice at present. So anyway, for the reviewed and resolved, new year type stuff, I'm only going to talk about the good stuff. The other stuff, that's too dour a way to start a new year.

Looking back at 2007, I'm pleased about:

  • Learning to use DSLR camera my Dad gave me. There's a life time of learning to be had there, but I've made a good start.

  • Putting my photos on Flickr. Eventhough I don't have time to comment and browse much, uploading a couple of times a week has gotten me in the habit of working through all the photos I take as I go. My filing and archiving systems are also better now. The thought of thousands of unedited photos clogging my hardrive gives me the shudders.

  • Getting through most of the year at work, some of it nearly full time and mostly being genuine and compassionate with customers. Improving my skills and knowlege, including developing expertise in a particular field. All the time working within the legislative framework. Obviously I can't go into too much detail, but I'm giving myself a rather big pat on the back here.

  • Changing our routine at home so we always eat dinner at the table together. This bowls me over, we didn't do this all the time when I was a child. I remember wanting to and my instincts were right. Sometimes it's hard eating with a two (and three quarters) year old but mostly it's great. It forces us to stick to a sensible dinner time and we groove out to music and chat. Our cooking has improved too.

  • Blogging. Somewhere to offload, debrief, be shallow, think about things in more detail. I've truly come to love this form of writing. It's bought me back to words and enriched my inner life in a way I never expected. It's also been a great community for me. And I've met lots of lovely ladies in person. Who'd a thunk it? Details; here, here and here. So to everyone who's been a reader, commenter or casual lurker, thank you.

In 2008 I'd like to:

  • Do another photography course. One specially aimed at DSLRs, including a photoshoot. If anything, doing a course sets aside dedicated time for learning about my camera. The last one was such a buzz.

  • Make another calender for Christmas.

  • Buy a house. Not just any house but one that can become our home and not split us asunder in the process.

  • Start working towards another form of income for the future. Something more freelance. I'm thinking about writing books (ideas for children's fiction and adult non fiction), small business commercial websites, a way for G to sell his woodwork maybe. Not starting a new business. Realistically, that's going to be too hard alongside working, buying a house and making said house livable, but just sampling some ideas here and there. Trying things on, seeing how they fit.

  • More waterplay. Perhaps swimming as excercise for me during summer. Start Grace with swimming lessons (maybe in about six months). Make sure we go to the beach, the pool, the river and maybe a dam. Grace loves the water and so do I. Learn to take pictures underwater, because my new little carry everywhere camera can.

  • Try and keep some space in my life for art with Grace, art for me (ideas for wrapping paper and cards) and sewing. Learn to make a quilt. Make some more sewn knitwear, because I really enjoy that.

  • Clean the windows. Let the floors, the dusting and the bathroom go, but clean windows, they lift your spirits. Well, they do mine.

  • Learn the art of the short blog post. Ha!

Happy 2008 everyone!

And it's now a comfortable 24C (75F). Time for some sleep.