norflands, norflands, norflands, norflands

Grace has been asking and asking me to take her on the bus to norflands over the school holidays. She has pretty set ideas about what we will do when we get there and they revolve around nori rolls for lunch and a haircut from a hairdresser. I on the other hand view it as an opportunity to torture her with chainstore after chainstore, trying things on and buying shoes - there are many many things I'd rather do than a trip to norflands so normally they do coincide with her shoes being too small. Mind you she grows whenever your back is turned so maybe we get to go more often than you think.
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The bus trip was lovely - excited, well behaved child - mother as yet unsullied by the shopping mall malaise. Grace decides that she wants to get her hair cut first off - a short bob with a very short fringe. We take a seat at the hairdresser and I do wonder if this is wise but they have cut Grace's hair before. Anyway Grace is sitting in the chair having her hair spritzed and combed out and the hairdresser calls me over and says she can't do Grace's hair and shows me a huge granddaddy louse. She tells me not to come back for at least two weeks after they have been treated and I mumble and feel embarrassed. But then I remember the suspicion I once had that we may have caught nits there the first time around. Sigh, that one has slipped through to the keeper. Anyway, I am now sitting here typing with the the green shower cap on. Tried combing them out but I  appear to have generations of lice living on my head too. Ick. Total bad mother moment.

So we head towards Kmart via Lincraft and I decide that it's too early for lunch but that morning tea is in order. I'm hoping to spot somewhere that sells steamed dumplings but in a moment of weakness decide on spanish donuts. Grace isn't sure but I cajole her with the promise of a babycino. And it turn s out to be a good idea. My coffee is pretty good for a shopping mall coffee, the babycino has flowers on top and is served with a smile. And while I've had better churros, these ones are made to order and pretty dam tasty. Nearly makes up for the nits at the hairdresser moment. Kmart has no summer school dresses and no size 8 clothes suitable for a six year old. Sigh. Target is better and we buy a nice dress, some t-shirts including Grace's first black one which she talks me into. Is six too young to be wearing black? Again, most clothes that come in size 8 are not suitable for a six year old in my view. Actually I don't think I'd buy them for an eight year old either. Sigh. Still, I explained to Grace that I would only buy her clothes that she could play in and that were for kids. And that she was too young to wear clothes for "ladies". She got the idea.
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Next stop, shoes. Sandals and runners. I do love a kids shoe shop where the staff measures their feet and offers suitable choices. We were in and out within half and hour. By this time Grace is well and truly moaning and groaning and I am turning into meanie mum. Norflands has sucked the lifeforce from me and I just want to be somewhere else but have promised Grace nori rolls for lunch. We slink past the hairdressers with our lousy hair and sit down to eat nori rolls for lunch. Afterwards the bus seems takes ages to come but eventually we are home again. We pull out everything we have bought and it seems reasonable enough. I have a little nana nap and Grace slips off to watch some school holiday tv.

yesterday, today and tomorrow

yesterday - I pulled out my sewing machine and the big pile of mending that has been blocking the light and sewed and patched and turned favourite size 6 sun dresses into (hopefully) favourite size 8 skirts. Mum came over before lunch and sat and chatted as I mended. It was pleasant, kind of like what we used to do when we lived in Brunswick and Grace was little and before I worked 3 days a week. After a slacker lunch of corn chips, dips, chopped up vegetable and home-made lemon delicious ice cream , Grace dragged her Nana back home for a two night sleepover. Left to my own devices the pace slowed a little, but I did manage to patch a flower over an accounting firm logo on the polar fleece I bought at Savers a while ago. Perfect for camping.
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today - work, not too taxing really. It wasn't very busy. I'm feeling much better, although despite my doctor suggesting that I starting weaning off the anti psychotic, I feel better taking them. I sleep all thorough the night and what a difference that makes. My thoughts stay where I put them and there is hardly an anxious moment at all. Still. I suppose I will have to wean off them. Work has at my request drafted a return to work plan and while it means we have talked about my issues, a good thing I suppose, it hasn't really got to the heart of why work has been one of the triggers when I have been unwell. They think I should change my working days so that I work two days, have a day off and then work Friday. Haven't had a chance yet to formally say, I don't think so. I can't see that it would help, my issues are much more around me not meeting a perceived and somewhat moveable performance standard. Anyway it would be inconvenient for G and work he has arranged. And bugger it, I like my long weekends.
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tomorrow - Grace comes home. It's kind of nice to have a little break from the routine but the house feels all quiet and empty without her. We've talked on the phone but we both miss her being here. Need to start planning a mini camping trip and some holiday activities. Including the much pleaded for Norfland trip.Why does she love going to Norfland so much?

leaving

Just looked at airfares online. Hoping that I would find something cheap enough to justify swapping a weekend's camping for a long weekend in Queensland with the cousins. Um, no - even if it was just me and Grace - far too expensive to do at the last minute. Sometimes I wish I was rich. Anyway tonight I was going to write about leaving but what is there to say? We packed up the car, said our goodbyes and drove down the drive and up the road. We stopped at the mushroom farm for a kilo of mushrooms* and then found the freeway and started heading south.
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I took a few photos before we left - crazily dashing around trying to preserve memories. I like the posed ones of the cousins - the one above and this one. There's something about the set shot that has a particular poignancy to it. I can also see how tall they are in relation to each other. Shown together they don't really look as tall as the do against other kids their ages. That's another way of saying they are all tall for their age but it doesn't stand out when they're together. Even though little Maeve looks a bit sad, I also like this photo which I must have taken from the car or as I was strapping Grace in.
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It was easier driving down the freeway than the way we came through the mountains. The car sort of felt like home and I picked up my interminable (and ripped out and restarted but still not finished) hat knitting. We were full of the experiences of the road trip and time with family. It was sort of exciting being back on the road and I can't remember whether I missed them all just after we left but I certainly do miss them now.
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*G doesn't think a meal is a meal without mushrooms so we can go through a kilo just like that.

Grace's socks

Queensland in winter, what can I say? It was freezing cold in the morning and in the evening and pretty much most of the time except for between 10.00am and 3.00pm when if you sit in the sun, it is too warm to wear shoes or a long sleeved top. Other times the woolens and thermals received a good work out. Just as well I finished my stripey noro socks! I was worried they would be a bit scratchy but after a wash the wool is soft enough.* So I made a pair for Grace too, in a bright rainbowy sort of colour.She has worn them quite a bit and shows a delightful appreciation of the handmade item. Mine are a low calf length and hers are not quite knee length. Interestingly there was a dropped stitch on the front of the ankle on one of her socks and one of mine. I decided to fix it rather than unravel them.
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I'm pretty pleased with the pattern. I definitely prefer knitting toe up socks. Give me an absurdly easy turkish cast on over a kitchener stitch toe any day. I much prefer the short row heel too. The one I used doesn't require wraps and once I figured out that I needed to use stitch markers (I like the small elastic bands that I can slip on my thumb) and that the placement of the extra stitch determined whether or not there would be holes in the heels, it was really easy. Much easier than a turned heel. Didn't bother with jogless stripes, I can't for the life of me get it right and it doesn't show that much in the noro, so I decided to go with the imperfection. I also discovered on this trip that I can knit in the car as long as it's not to complicated. Knitting is also perfect for those times on holiday when you just want to sit around and knit. Really, is there anywhere you can't take knitting?
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*note from the future they are my absolute favourite socks and I will definitely be wearing them on chilly summer evenings with my birks.

golden memories

Apart from the main aim of spending time with Betty, Cam and the girls, we all had a few things we wanted to do while we were in Queensland. G wanted to visit a friend who lives sort of nearby and I wanted to go to a market with Betty, on my own. Grace wanted to go swimming and to the beach and spend lots of time with her cousins. We bargained back and forth and came up with something that pleased everyone. Grace's trip to the beach ended up being an afternoon by the Noosa river with fish and chips for dinner.
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It possibly wasn't as carefree as it looks. There was child wrangling and I got shat on by a bird. But there was water and sand and sun and that beautiful golden light.There was lots of scootering on the paths because there's no concrete where Ruby-Lee and Maeve live and even though they get to scooter and play with their ride on toys inside on the hardwood floors, it's not the same as a big long path. Something about the dynamic has changed between the children, they're all a little bit older (with exactly two years between each of them). Grace is also a lot more assertive and sure of herself and much more able to tell me what she needs - as in, mum, I just need some time to myself.  When your sociable introvert only child says that, it's good for every one to take note. All in all though, the children played really well together and the grownups were nice to each other and drank beer with their chips. Even me. Just half a stubby, because it tasted so damned good.
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Another thing I just remembered is how I was struck by the cousin's sureness of their relationship with each other and it's importance. I'm not the best at between visit skypes and phone conversations but Grace and Ruby-Lee especially looked forward to the visit and regarded it as pretty important. Once we had been there a little while, Maeve also seemed quite sure that we were family.  Writing these posts just makes me want to go back. To have a barbeque by the river this weekend. To drink beer and catch up on the gossip. It would probably even be warm enough to swim now.

arriving

We got lost in Toowoomba after a detour from the main route in search of opshops. Once off the main route, it seemed impossible to find it again. But several service stations and convenience stores later we did and after some flood related detours, we made to Esk for a late lunch. I bought ham, avocado and tomato from the supermarket to make sandwiches for lunch which we ate to the sound of two somewhat disturbed youngsters breaking up in the park. Ahem. Not pretty.
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Absolutely no time to look for opshops now and we headed towards our destination. I don't know why we decided to go the back way, but we did. At some point I started ringing Betty for directions and we conversed and texted as we went in and out of range. We weren't going to get there as early as we hoped. It was very exciting nonetheless.
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By the time we got to Montville, we were well and truly ready to be there and out of the car. But we couldn't find the road and then we did, it was closed because of the floods. More phone calls and we found out that there was another road, a secret hunchy road, not marked on the map. Luckily once we arrived in town, I remembered how to get to their house and as we drove up the drive, it felt great and strange all at the same time. We'd never arrived at Betty's place in our own car before. It was so great to get there. To take up where we left off. Grace and her cousins Maeve and Ruby-Lee seemed to take up where they left of too. All the way up as Gerard and I made arrangements for our own little side trips Grace was most concerned that she got to spend as much time with the girls* as possible. I'm sort of homesick and nostalgic and missing them all over again just thinking about it.
* Mum refers to Ruby-Lee and Maeve as the "girls" quite a lot.

time passes

About a month from now, nine years ago, I sat weeping in front of my computer trying to fill out my jobseeker diary. A couple of weeks before that I had attended a seminar and gone to a new claim interview and people had said that they would look after me. They didn't. A little bit before that I had steeped out of the lift and into the hushed upstairs part of that office and lodged a claim for family tax benefit. A bereavement claim. I felt a little wrong doing that but I finished my call centre contract early and couldn't possibly imagine working again. The nurses at the hospital had given me the claim and told me to lodge it. The families people were kind and offered me social work services but I said no.  It would have been helpful to me if they had communicated with the people downstairs and someone had completed what I now know as the NMIS screen with the birth date of my baby. I would have been granted an automatic six week exemption from looking for work. I didn't know it then but that would have given me enough breathing space to figure out what to do next.Actually it would have been reasonable to expect the people downstairs to have looked for the information that was there and coded the exemption on their own initiative. After all I had sat through the new claim interview crying quietly and when they asked me about my previous circumstance I said, I had a baby and he died.
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Sad day this year was last Tuesday and really, it passed much like any other day. I wasn't really sad at all. After nine years, most of the time I'm not sad any more but every now and then there will be an intense moment. There's a new family at school and I really like them but their youngest has the same name as our son. It's an old fashioned and uncommon name at the moment and he's a feisty and totally cute looking three year old and when I hear his mum call his name, there's a part of me that just want to curl up and cry. I told her a little of my story, just in case I seem odd, but really I'm just going to have get used to it. And I will.
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It's hard to tell whether I went nutty this time because of the sad day anniversary stuff and the way the spring weather with the wind and the sun just reminded me of certain feelings. Can the remembrance of a feeling rather than the feeling itself have an effect? Or whether it was work stress and not enough sleep. Or just the increase in the amount of light. Or the way that I pretend everything is OK, even to myself but it really isn't and I just burst. Kind of like a nasty pimple. Or maybe it's just me and my own particular kind of special. So anyway, this sad day I find myself drugged to the eyeballs and back at work explaining myself to the team leader who surprises me by being pretty decent about it all. She listened. I found myself explaining how my workplace had once treated me quite insensitively as a customer in the past She looks at me and I realise that this feeling of working for an organisation that has treated me pretty badly somehow really matters. I don't know what I'm going to do with this feeling but I see the same sort of thing happening to other customers now. All sorts of different circumstances but the same sort lack of empathy or understanding. And it pisses me off. It's not unique to my workplace, or organisation and I don't know how to change it. But I'd like to have a stab. That's what I'm going to try and take from sad day this year. That and a big breath out. Because now it's downhill all the way to Christmas with a couple of birthdays on the way.

felton

OK so I still have some posts to do from the July school holidays. Which I would like to get done by the next holidays which are fast approaching. So please excuse the rambling and non sequential timeline happening here.  The new drugs while making me a bit drowsy seem to have improved my ability to focus get things done. Who'd have thought? Anyway, best take advantage of that while it lasts.
roadside protest
One of the good things about our new Camps 6 book is that it can lead you to places just a little way off the highway that mightn't otherwise. After camping at Yarramalong Weir, we drove to Toowoomba via a place called Felton. G stopped the car and asked me to take some photos of the signs by the road opposing the so called "clean coal" proposal for the area. Back home I googled the area and found the Friends of Felton site.
road trip humour
food not fumes
That was a good morning. We were all full of excitement about seeing Betty, Cam and the girls. There were poo jokes and hilarity galore. Our desination seemed near. We thought we'd get there early in the day but we hadn't counted on driving and getting lost in Toowoomba. Next post will be about being in Queensland and seeing the cousins and the rest of the family.

we could call it cream camp

Or perhaps The Lancfield Sanitorum for weary mothers who work delivering government services. On Friday I  woke up all groggy, my face stuck in the pattern of the pillow and impossible to move. Packing seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. However with some encouragement from G, who seemed rather keen for me to go, I got through it and made some frozen yoghurt and then Sue arrived to chaffeur me there (I am on too many drugs to drive once again which also meant I couldn't do the airport run ). And pretty much as soon as we were on the freeway, my mood started to settle and look forward to being at Sewjourn. On the way, we stopped at some opshops, as you do and bumped into Gill in one of the Romsey opshops. As you do. Then we arrived at Sewjourn and were greeted by Jenny, Kate and EleanorTania, Suse, Kate, Stomper joined us as the day and weekend wore on. As each person arrived there was much joyousness. As Gill says, this is my/our tribe. Once upon a dance floor I may have sort of belonged to a different tribe, and I have my mob at home in the 'hood but I was always destined to truly belong here as well. It's kind of funny to think that it is the internet that has bought this group of crafty and mostly middle aged (although some of us are not middle aged at all - we are a bit diverse that way) women together.
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Anyhow, what made it good for me this time? The pleasant convivial company of these beautiful women. As always. Beautiful food cooked and presented with love and care. Yummy desserts - toffee pecan pie and lemon tart. Chestnut cheesecake for afternoon tea. All with lashings of cream! Yum. The savoury components of the meals were just as good and really, I have to say it was a particularly outstanding craft camp foodwise. Making, and seeing making all around me. I made a cotton top for work and a skirt out of linen I bought for pants. Didn't realise I'd cut into the wrong piece of fabric until I'd nearly finished making the skirt. Oh well, probably can't have too many black linen skirts in Melbourne. Cast on a jumper and didn't get it quite right, but figured out the stitch so not a waste of time. Made some project bags for the fete that will no doubt happen one day. Also another aspect that was really good was the absence of the day to day, being away from the 'hood, away from my life. Overall I like my life and where I live but there is much to be said for being away from it for a short while. Perspective and all that.
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Also, and I think it deserves a paragraph all to itself, the feeling of being nurtured, of being held by the group was very important for me this weekend. This is the second weekend this year when a perilous mental state has coincided with craft weekend. I've asked myself the question and I don't think I become unwell because craft weekend is coming up but, the confluence is interesting to me. Eleanor insisted we swap beds so that I could retreat into a bedroom by myself. And she did it in such a kind and thoughtful way that I felt OK accepting. All round people were kind and generous and lovely and well, I just hope I've bought some of that home with me. To last until next time.

And yes, there were lashings of cream. Indeed I think I returned with more cream than I took with me.

interlude number two

So this last episode has made me think about a lot of things. About the fights I nearly got into with my doctor, Gerard (OK actually some of those fights were actually played out), people at school and around the neighbourhood, with the woman in the bakery who gave me a pastie when I asked for a pie (I think). Somehow I managed to avoid any conflict too damaging and I think that's because I still had one rational part of my brain watching what was going on. My precious insight (insert eyerolling and sarcastic tone). I went to see my doctor today and she thinks I am much better. That the drugs have worked and that I can start thinking about tapering off the anti psychotics over the next fortnight. Which is good news because they reduce my metabolism, increase my appetite and give me a ferocious dry mouth and make me sleep alot (fat zombie). What follows are my bits from the last couple of weeks (time has gone all weird on me - a bit like my hands which find typing difficult).
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Tuesday two weeks ago
I feel like I'm speed and have been for days. But it's not a party, I go to bed at the appointed hour and the thoughts rush around my head until the sleeper knocks me out until and hour or so before the alarm. G is washing the mud from his brickworks off the car with the Karcher and there is a bag of organic couscous sitting in the  lounge room. The other day I offered to make a website for our neighbourhood house because it bugs me that they don't have one. As if I don't already have enough to do. Don't dare go shopping, who knows what I would come home for. I did my ironing last night but didn't go to work today, hoping that's a sensible decision. Judgement, or at least having confidence in my judgment, is slipping away. I just told G that I feel like I'm on speed and he said "lucky you" - not unkindly, but really I just want it stop now.

Friday before last
Have been off work all week. My doctor has been funny about the medical certificate even though it is clear I am not coping. I think it is because I am still contemplating going to craft weekend. G is keen for me to go, maybe he needs a break but he would come and get me if I went and it wasn't OK. It will probably be very restful. Not sure if I will get a whole lot of craft done but I don't really care. I would have preferred that if this was going to happen, that if happened after craft weekend and I don't think my doctor gets that. Today I saw her for a whole hour (yikes that's about $275, at least the medicare safety net has kicked in and I can claim most of that back) and she reflected that I seem angry about my work. Indeed. But I don't think that's the whole story and I have pretty much cried most of today. And had a lot of disturbing thoughts. I told her about them. She didn't have much to say but I know they are a big sign that all is not well. It surprises me that I have these kinds of thoughts when I am "up" as well as "down" but I guess I don't really tend to have happy "ups" at this point in time. Maybe I will one day. Anyway with all the crying, sunglasses are my friend. I am seriously considering leaving my job and looking for something a bit less anxious making. But not until I feel a bit better.
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This week
Craft weekend, as usual was lovely. I woke up after the first night on the new anti psychotic (zyprexa) feeling like my face was made of crusty and unmoveable dough. The thought of packing was overwhelming and I didn't think I could do the transition from home to there. For the first time ever, I thought about not going. I wonder if my doctor thinking that maybe I shouldn't had an effect. But G was very much in favour of me going. A mix of thinking it would be good for me and good for him I think. Anyway it was a serene oasis. Regular meals, amazing company, doing things at a measured pace and sleep. The lovely Eleanor insisted on swapping beds so that I could have the princess room. I felt a bit guilty saying yes, but the sleep and space to retreat was much appreciated and I didn't worry about my zyprexa snoring. I would have been fine in another bed but the sweet thoughtfulness of this gesture made me feel very taken care of and nurtured.

I went to work on Tuesday and it was bloody hard. I sort of slunk in but ended up having a long discussion with the team leader. She was quite nice about all and more understanding than I expected and I probably said more than I should have. But as my doctor says, that might be a good thing. Have asked for a return to work plan which will mean that I can have my fitness for duty assessed and hopefully can negotiate "reasonable accomodation" for my condition. I'm thinking of things that might make a difference, perhaps being able to schedule leave for tricky times of the year. Maybe using some purchased leave to work out a better schedule for me. We have great conditions, it's just a matter of finding a way to use them.Work by the end of the week was OK. But it is disheartening to notice that I am not the only one running off the rails. Really, we are all delicate flowers and that can be pretty hard to have played out in the workplace.