ten years ago

Ever since Suse did this one, I've been thinking about my life ten years ago and I'm in a memish sort of mood today, so here goes.

What was I doing 10 years ago? 
Ten years ago I was working in a cafe that I had owned with my mother and my sister for four or five years. I think we sold it in August so at about now, we would have been preparing to hand it over to the new owners, who were former employees. We had started the business as novices and the guys that bought it teached me to cook and run a commercial kitchen. In a lot of ways it was it was a great place (in others it wasn't but I'm not going to write about those) and it's a pity we never made more than a frugal living out of it. Thinking about it makes me feel more than a little nostalgic now. I'm not sure when the photo above was taken but it captures a certain light and mood I used to love, especially when having a break from the kitchen. The summer after the cafe I grew most of my food in my vegie patch (a good year for beans, basil, corn and rouge de marmande tomatoes) worked as a dishwasher and first or second cook and went to lots and lot of parties. Then early the next year, at the conclusion of my summer of love, I met Gerard at a club one night. And life took a very different course from then on.

What are 5 things on my to-do list for today
Remember to pay fees for next term at playgroup, attend to the various bits of bureaucracy that come with buying a house, go to a meeting about Friends of Coburg Olympic Pool's upcoming family funday, decide on what I am going to bake for cake stall at said fun day (I'm thinking gingerbread people from the Time Life Cooking of Germany book),cut Grace's

5 snacks I enjoy
Biscuits, dry roasted unsalted almonds, those peanuts things with the sweet crunchy sesame crackery coating on the outside that my mum buys, liquorice in any form and fresh fruit, but only when it's nice and there are no biscuits around. Only joking, I do like fruit.

5 things I would do if I were a billionaire
Apart from travelling and giving up my day job so that I could immerse myself in creative pursuits and mothering, I think I'd like to set up useful businesses. The sort that help house the homeless, give jobs to the hard to employ, produce handmade toys to replace plastic crap, manufacture nourishing food, make spaces for community connection, reduce, re-use and recycle and generally make this part of the world a better place to live. Even if as businesses they just made enough to keep going. I'm sure it would all probably be harder than it sounds but one can dream.

5 places I have lived
Ringwood, Kew, Carlton, Camberwell and Brunswick. Apart from a short stint in Richmond in a house between the railway tracks and a share house in Fitzroy, these are the only places I have lived. Although I did get to visit my parents who were living in Port Moresby while I was at school in Kew.

Consider yourself tagged.

the tooth fairy will have to come early

*note to the dentally squeamish, there's picture you might want to avoid down the page.
On Tuesday morning as I was having a cup of tea with a friend, I heard these big hurty wails from outside. Looked out the window and saw Grace was being comforted by her dad, all seemed under control, so I went back to my tea and chat. But the wails kept going. Usually it's big cry, followed by a quiet cuddle and then back to zooming around. Not today. It turned out that Grace and Gerard had been riding the scooter around the concrete paths and come a cropper. There was blood coming from her mouth. I took over cuddle duty and we got blanket and something to wipe up the blood. The front tooth looked damaged but it was hard to tell. Later Grace went frighteningly pale and listless and I ended up phoning nurse on call. We ruled out concussion but the nurse recommended getting her checked out by a dentist. I rang the community dental service but the best they could do was a week away, so I rang the dentist I go to and they said we could go up straight away. Grace started crying the minute we got there and wouldn't let the dentist examine her, even sitting in my lap. He suggested we take her to the doctor for a sedative and then come back on Thursday. Grace perked up after lunch (soft food on her back teeth), and insisted she was well enough to go to playgroup where she told Mary I falled off my stooter.

Anyway on Wednesday, the doctor wouldn't prescibe anything stronger than painstop because as he explained to Gerard, he didn't know whether the dentist was going to use an anaesthetic. So Thursday at the dentist wasn't any better.  Grace and I had talked about going and practised showing the dentist our teeth, but when it came to the crunch, I lay in the chair holding her arms and legs with mine as she screamed in terror. He still couldn't get a good enough look to suggest anything other than coming back if the tooth got infected or broke leaving a jagged edge. I went away feeling not only did we not have a plan, but that we didn't even have enough information to justify a wait and see attitude. He didn't charge us for either visit, but from what I'd seen, it was too bad to leave.

So after lunch, while Grace was napping, I rang the Children's Hospital and asked if they had a dental service we could access. I was put straight through and after talking to the nurse for a few minutes she said, I'll find a dentist for you to talk to. About five minutes later I was talking wth the lovely Amy and we went through everything and she said that she'd like us to bring Grace in for an assesment that afternoon and that if we got there before 4.30pm we wouldn't have to go through emergency. I can't tell you enough how different the approach was or just how impressed I've been with the Children's Hospital over the last two days. To examine Grace's teeth, they had her sit straddling my lap, facing me and then lean back onto the dentist's lap holding my hands. When she screamed, as they said she would, they got a really good look and it was all over very quickly. I was impressed with how they worked with the child's behaviour, there was struggle and it was still terrifying, but much less so than the regular dentist's approach.

Amy said that the tooth needed to be removed under general anaesthetic as the nerve was exposed; causing pain, bleeding into the tooth and leaving the area open to infection. Then there was a bit of waiting around with Grace alternating between saying she just wanted to go home, running up the corridors and playing happily with the books and toys. So surgery was booked for today. I didn't sleep well last night, I tried to be calm with it but all I could think of were the risks, the what if's and worry about my baby. And the dreams, I had all sorts of weird dreams in which some woman chastised me for how I bought up Grace, from what she wore, to what she ate, what she got away with and how we acted as role models. In the dream she told me you should be ashamed of yourself. Hideous. I was pretty glad to wake up.

Once the day got going, it had it's own momentum, even if a bit fraught in places. The wait was fairly long as we were last on the list. Grace didn't want to be weighed or have the hospital bracelet put on, she spat out all her pre-op panadol. And she was tired and hungry from fasting and missing her nap. But finally our turn came, the doctors were firm and friendly like before and I held her hand as she went under. Gosh it's quick. And we were there when she woke up. It's heart wrenching seeing your baby out of it on a hospital trolley with a mask on her little face, but she woke up quite quickly and after a big cuddle was walking around, choosing food from the fridge within half an hour. We were all pretty pleased to get home.

I have the tooth in a jar and Grace has been fascinated by it, but she didn't want it left by her bed for the tooth fairy. Insisting that it went back in mummy's room. I pretty sure the tooth fairy can cope with that. And I'm thinking that a gold coin might be the go for a tooth removed this way. Not that I know the going rate, this tooth fairy bizzo has come a bit early here at chez scruffnut.

nude schmude

SpcI have to admit I've found the last couple of self-portrait challenges somewhat uninspiring. Absurd, meh. And as for Fresh well, I just couldn't come up with anything at all. Numbers over at SPC were dwindling fast, but now it seems as though people might be coming back with the nude challenge*. Personally, my first thought was, oh no, no way, I have no real idea who reads this blog apart from some friends, family and the lovely people who comment (a small section of readers it would appear from the stats - normal apparently). It's not these people who worry me, I know them and they're OK. It's all the other freaks out there, especiallly people who might know me some other context. And what if someone at work said, hey Janet. I saw your website last night and you were naked. The stuff of weird and scary dreams. So, I asked myself, what might actually be OK and why is posting "nude" photos of yourself on the internet both appealing and appalling?

I think to do SPC in the first place, you have to want to show yourself physically on some level. For me, it's often about finding a way to make an image of myself that says something and that I'm happy to share. There's something odd and self obsessed about that, but I've also noticed similar themes among other particpantsone way or another, this journey of the body. Sometimes it's like playing dressups, other times it's been a bit like hey, here I am, hello. Other times it's been a way of finding an angle that's not so fat, where the double chin or some other part of my anatomy doesn't roll as much as in real life, or catch a really bad light. A significant challenge in this theme. I wish I didn't care, that I could just rock my rolls, as it were, but it doesn't always work like that. This time, a portrait that shows a roll of back fat seemsed much more perverse and risky than the back of my neck. Even though both are areas of my body that I would bare without hesitation the swimming pool. I guess it's all about context, obscuration and maybe even just that word. Nude. Nude. Nude. Nude schmude.

See more here.

* Sometimes I think it would be nice to see more antipodeans joining this. It's kind of fun in a squirmy sort of way.

heading towards the darkest night

Last week it seemed like I was out nearly every night. Lots of things happening but of course, little time to blog about any of them. Tuesday night was a Friends of Coburg Olympic Pool meeting, Wednesday night the Moreland Council meeting, followed by drinks and then a walk home in the eerie night light. Thursday night was a delightful dinner out with my old mother's group and although I didn't bring my camera at the restaurant, I sat in the car at home afterwards and looked at the lights coming through the rain and it looked like some sort of heavenly disco. And I hadn't had a drop to drink. Not one. The other big event for the week was a friend's 40th birthday party. Very sparkly and fun. I must say, in many ways, I enjoy parties much more now as an old fart than I ever did when they were a regular feature of my life.

I'm really enjoying taking pictures at night at the moment, especially with my new wide aperture high ISO approach. Which is just as well because I feel like I don't have all that much spare daylight time right at the moment. Normally at this time of the year, I start to feel winter close in on me. It's dark when I leave work, the washing's a hassle, our house is damp, dark, cold and starts to get a musty smell that I'm sure would be much improved if the landlord fixed the guttering and water didn't pool under the house. Some years the winter grimbliness has been extreme. But not this year. Instead I feel quite light inside. I'm not sure whether it's more because it hasn't really been all that cold yet or more to do with the feeling that lots of good things have been happening in my life. The knowledge that this is the last winter we'll spend in this house has helped. And that that I'll be bidding farewell to the disgusting carpet that I've tried my best to ignore for 17 or so years.

Then there's the purple pills to consider. I have to say, that after some issues at the beginning, I've grown to really, really like the purple pills and the calm they bring to my life. It's really hard to explain the difference they make, but it's a relief not to be tossed between the up and the down. I still feel like me. Even if I sometimes do miss the inner drama of the unmedicated me. Feeling better and acting better has also meant that parts of my life that felt out of control before have started to mend. There seems to be a multiplier effect about the process of getting better that kind of mirors the downward spiral I suppose. What I mean is that once a few things start to get better, there's a flow on effect and more and more starts to improve and before you know it you wake up one day and realise that you don't feel like shit anymore, but actually life is pretty fine. Not that everything is perfect, we still shout at Grace when she's naughty for the umpteeth time in an hour and I still eat too much chocolate and not enough broccoli.

random bits from a queens birthday weekend

My new Ugg boots are too tight in the toe and very sloppy in the heel, meaning that I can't walk in them but sort of scuffle along. They're not nearly as good as my last pair, which are not being made anymore. Sigh. The new possum/merino stripey socks are pretty damn fine though. Especially with my winter birks. I know, such a trendsetter.

Listening to New Order in the kitchen during a monent of domestic calm. It was the one G gave me for Christmas in 2001 (I think). The Christmas we went to Tasmania and drove along the road to nowhere in the Toyota (which probably killed the car, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat except I wouldn't camp next to blackberry bushes near rivers, too many big black snakes, shudder). I'd forgotten how much I like this CD, how rich it is.

Watching the stick structure come down and various bits of backyard junk being burned in the big burny barrel. I wouldn't let G pull it down until we found a house, just in case we were still here next summer and needed the shade. It's kind of sad and exciting all at the same time. Now our weekends clothes smell of smoke which I quite like. It reminds me of camping and barbques.

Life with Grace can be a battle at the moment. Lots of wilful throwing of things on the floor, shoe refusal, bath issues, hairwashing issues, flailing, gouging. Then there's the shouting. I'm trying to keep in my mind that parental shouting is like smacking inasmuch as it shows children that shouting is an OK way to handle things. Trying to read Buddhism for Mothers but it isn't sticking yet. Need to find a way of discipline that's gentle and not spirit crushing. Also need to get child out of the house in time for work/playgroup/whatever without needing to start an hour and a half before we go and wearing sufficient seasonally appropriate clothing that a) she doesn't catch a cold, b) she can play outside and doesn't become one of those pale inside children and c) no-one calls DHS re neglectful parenting. Clean, attractive clothes would be nice too, but I'm picking my battles. Have also been wondering if this is my karma for being just a little smug when Grace was such a good eater, sleeper etc when other children weren't.

Wondering whether I should start a house blog as a companion to my scrap book. Not that I need another blog, but I've wanted to play with a blog that would suit advertising which this doesn't. Who am I kidding? Like I'm not going to be even more busy when we start doing the house. Still it keeps rolling around in my mind.

My theory of the one good thing a day in the hated shoes and socks seems to be working. We went to a park with big old elm trees that used to have a train in it, but doesn't anymore. There was however, a good playground filled with lots of designery parents and well dressed children, a friendly french traveller with a van cooking his food on the barbque and the skate bowl.  It good until we tried to drag Grace away from the skate bowl, where she was entranced by the teenagers and older children.

Can't stop singing rock-a-bye bear. Love it.

sounds of smashing glass

Once upon a time, anger would rise up in me until it reached this awful, awful point where I wanted to smash something. Actual smashing only happened a few times, a broken glass door at my parents place, an unbreakable (hah!) glass on the concrete path outside in the backyard and once, another unbreakable glass in the hallway of the cafe we owned. None of these smashing events were anything to be proud of and looking back, I have only the faintest sense of what it was that made me feel so wronged, so powerless, so consumed with rage. Other times, when the black dog was at its very blackest, thoughts ran through my head in which I heard the sound of glass smashing and felt my teeth breaking as I crashed the car into a pole. These two feelings, although different are not entirely unconnected. Both involved a terrible, awful, fearful feeling inside, that affected those around. The smashing was a cry for help that pushed people away.  So why am I writing about this?

Well, there was an incident at work last Monday and it hasn't quite left me yet. It's not that I think about it all the time, but I'm still a little jumpy, a bit touchy. When I wrote about it in one of my paper diaries, on the tram (because I've been busy and that was the first quiet time I had that was not taken up with watching telly and knitting), I noticed that I was writing in small precise sentences, like a statement for the police, and that I was fighting back tears.  Not that I didn't have a big cry after it happened. I did. Like others around me, I was all strong and quite useful while it happened but after the police had gone and things had settled, I retreated to the sick room for a big girly sob. And then I had to call mum and tell her and hear Grace's voice on the phone. Then I had to call G who was still in tasmania at the time. I wasn't the only one. There were a few red eyes and shaky hands about. There's something quite upsetting about having someone walk into your place of work with a brand new hammer and without even talking to anyone, calmly smash several touch screens, a computer, the video survelliance unit and a big wall mounted television. Which came crashing down. All the smashing was right at the front of the office which is a fair way from where I sit and no-one was hurt. I don't even think he ever any intention to hurt anyone but you don't know that when it's all happening. The first thing I knew about it was the sound of glass smashing, followed immediately by the sight of people running and shouting for the alarm. The ten minutes it took for the police to arrive seemed like avery long time. Especially with the alarm still running and a frightened customer whisked from the front area sitting at my desk. And not knowing what was going to happen next.

On Friday, I went to the market on my own for some time out and to buy some socks. As I was sitting on the tram writing in my little emergency diary (the one I carry just in case I have to write something), I thought I'd get to the second incident this week. Yep. The second. On Thursday, just as I was getting ready to watch some late night telly (season 5 of The Sopranos) and knit, I heard the screech of tires, the smashing of glass and the grind of metal and plastic, followed by angry shouts. Right outside our house. I went out to have a look, there was kicking (of cars and the ground) and shouting and swearing, steam and glass everywhere. A crowd was gathering and seeing whether there was anyone hurt which there wasn't.  But I called 000 anyway, calm on one level, losing it on another, double checking that no-one was hurt. Again it seemed to take the police a long time to arrive. Actually, by the time the motorbike cop arrived, the young men whose cars had collided had already stopped yelling and were working together to move the cars off the road and the one who lives across the road was sweeping away the glass. Sort of.

Every thing at work was cleaned up very quickly, although the equipment is still broken. We were looked after well, extra staff arrived soon afterwards to help us out and allow plenty of time for a proper de-brief. But it makes you think twice about wanting to go to work. An extra reason to drag your feet a little, to stay under the doona for yet another five minutes. Especially when you're a simple public servant (although our bureacracy is complicated and kafkaesque at times). Sometimes though over the last week, I've thought about the man with the hammer and how he might have felt, having all that cold hard anger inside, why it might have built to that point. And then waking up and realising the aftermath. Will he feel regret, shame, be upset that he frightened people? Someone told me he'll be sent a bill. Apparently damaging commonwealth property doesn't come cheap. Even after it's all been swept away.

think I'll play too

There's been assorted posts rattling round my head all week, like the one about being quite late and lost on my way to work at an unfamiliar office. Good career move training that I was keen to do, but there I was stuck on top of a hill in a swirling cold mist with trucks screeching past in every direction. I nearly cried, but a passing jogger helped me with directions and no-one was mean to me when I got there. Actually they were really nice. Then there's the whole rave about being here on my own without G (he's away working for a week) and then the freedom slash loneliness of being at home all by myself the night Grace stayed at mums. Or I could have written about how it felt to ring a whole heap of solicitors and conveyancing services and say, hello my name's Janet and I bought a house on the weekend... That was odd. I felt so grown up. It was really quite good. Then there was the moment when I realised that the heater in the kitchen really is broken and that there's nowhere really warm at night to sit until it's fixed. I rang the real estate agents and requested emergency repairs which they weren't keen on but Grace has quite a cold (enough to be tired and cranky but not so ill that she's not getting into mischief) so I insisted.  The gas plumber showed me a trick to get one bar of it working until he can get a new tilt switch which is an improvement. I just realised that I told him I'd be home on the morning I have to go and see my new psychiatrist. The car has been fixed and cost more than I liked but less than I expected. And then there's my compulsion to be outside in the garden soaking it all up, reluctant to let it go but wanting more than anything to move to our new house as soon as possible. Perhaps it's a good thing I'm seeing my new doctor next week, everything's better than fine but wow, there is so much going on.

Anyway enough of the blathering, here's the game. I saw it over at Suse's last night when I should have been sleeping and at Leah's today when I should have been doing some housework. Now I'm going to jump into that deep hole that is flickr....

The concept:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker.

This is what I came up with...

1. Janet, 2. In the Spa, 3. Tiddeman House - MLC, 4. Green Womble House, 5. Julia Gillard, 6. Day 156: Red red wine, 7. Down Under III, 8. The Humble Pavlova, 9. Ok, I'm sorry! Go back to your novel., 10. Curves - Walking the Ramp!!, 11. A_CRW_5668_Fog_Road_jopix, 12. new banner

The Questions were:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name

You can play too