Monday, February 28, 2011

P365 - Day 59 i'm tired

In an attempt to juggle child care, school drop-offs and pickups and have the most possible time with Juniordwarf, while still working the same number of hours as I used to when I worked three days a week, Monday has become my ‘long day’ at work, at least temporarily.

This means that I am lucky enough to get up at 5.20 am, catch the 6.30 am bus and get into work a bit before 8.00 am. I still haven’t mastered the art of going to bed early, and if I get woken in the middle of the night, which I did last night, I find it very difficult to get back to sleep.

So this morning I felt pretty ordinary. 

You can imagine my delight then, this morning, when I arrived at work to see the building in darkness, people standing around the front door and murmuring ‘no power’.

Thoughts of having been able to stay in bed a bit longer swept through my mind as I sat on the front step clutching my coffee (in my funky red cup), willing the caffeine to energise my still-stupefied-with-tiredness brain. (I’d had a snooze on the bus, but as it got closer to town, had to force myself to stay awake, as I was worried I was going to sleep past my stop and end up who knows where. Maybe back home again, with a bit of luck.)

After a few minutes, power to the building had been restored and we were allowed in. Not convinced that the lift wouldn’t lose power on the way up, and put off a bit by the large number of people waiting, I took the plunge and decided to walk up the more than several flights of stairs to my floor. I figured that death by over-exertion would be preferable to death in a confined space.

When I made it up to the office, it became apparent that while the lights were on, the computers weren’t, so even having arrived, there wasn’t a lot I could actually do.

My next concern was whether the hot water was on. I was going to need more than one coffee this morning. Notwithstanding the fact that the office hadn’t actually started to function at this point, you could say that the public service would, er, grind to a halt without coffee.

Fortunately it was only the computers that were down, so more coffee was to be had.

While I was waiting – and what better time to organise my work for the coming week and catch up on some reading – the thought occurred to me that maybe a quick snooze under the desk might not be out of the question. But it really doesn’t look that comfortable. And even if I could sleep under there without being seen, the actual act of crawling under the desk would be sure to attract attention. In an open plan office, nothing is secret.

So I continue to consume vast quantities of coffee, while telling myself that next week will be different. I will go to bed early and I won’t be a tired mess. 

P365 - Day 58 - return to the Farm Bar (27/2/2011)

Today Two Metre Tall (remember them?) had their second Sunday Farm Bar.

It was a beautiful late summer day, perfect weather for a picnic, a BBQ featuring Two Metre Tall’s finest beer-fed beef and, of course, real ale and cider.

Unfortunately my favourite ale, Forester, seems to be everyone else’s as well, and there wasn’t any of it available today. (You know, it’s like when you go to the shoe sales and because your feet are the most common size, there are no nice ones in your size left. I’m used to it.)

At least that gave me an opportunity to sample the Huon Dark Ale and the Derwent Clear Ale, both of which, I must say, I would try again.  Oh and some ‘Poire’ cider. A trip to the Farm Bar wouldn’t be complete without that.

There was a bigger crowd this time, and lots of kids, who had a ball exploring the farm and checking out the cow pen.

Like last time, we met up with some Twitter friends and had a great time just hanging out, drinking ale and listening to Andrew Marshall, who is a regular performer at the Farm Bar.

Juniordwarf and the other boys really enjoyed the music and provided their own entertainment.

It was another fun afternoon. Roll on 20 March for the next one!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

P365 - Day 57 - glitterati

Let me start this post by saying that every photo for my Project 365 is taken on my phone. My phone tends to lag somewhat between the time I press the button and the picture actually being taken. So the quality is sometimes a bit dodgy, especially in low light situations where the subject refuses to hold still for a photo.

Like in this photo:

Late in the day, just before it's time to cook dinner, Juniordwarf has taken to getting out his craft box (on Play School they call it the 'Useful Box') and doing some crafty activities. This can include pasting icy pole sticks onto a piece of paper, doing play dough . . . and playing with this stuff, which can only be described as glittery goop.

It's fabulous stuff. It's cold, clammy, slimy and glittery. It stretches, it clumps, it rolls. It gets on everything and is impossible to get off clothing.

No wonder he loves it.

It reminds me of that green 'Slime' in a garbage can that I used to have when I was a kid, which I loved and my mother hated.

And now I know why.

So this is what parenting is actually all about - finding out why your parents said what they said and did what they did. I can see my mother chuckling away now as I try to clean this stuff up.

find me friday no.4

Finally, the solution to find me friday no.3, which was correctly identified by @samedog as the Tool Shed in the Parliament Lawns. 

There was some suggestion made that the sign on the shed should be shifted to the building in the background, but I'll leave that for you to decide if that would be appropriate.

This week's find me friday photo is below. Yes I know it's Saturday, but I did actually take the photo yesterday, and I did intend to post it last night . . .

find me friday no 4
Do you know where this is? The answer will be revealed in find me friday no.5.

Friday, February 25, 2011

P365 - Day 56 - Project life progress

I've been a bit behind with my Project Life album this year.

Specifically the journalling. I've done pretty well to keep up with the photos so far, but I always find it hard to get my act together and write about the photos, even though I've written at length about many of the photos on my blog. The hard part is often distilling it down to something that will fit on the journalling cards.

So last night I sat down with the album, my pen, the cards and the photos and started to write. I made good inroads into the January backlog, and I continued the good work tonight.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

P365 - Day 54 - these shoes aren't made for walking

Anyone who knows me will know I’m not much into shoes.

Actually, I’m not much into 'fashion' either, which is demonstrated by the rather, ahem, casual, attire in which I usually turn up to work.

I’m definitely not into heels. The only heels I have are the shoes I wore at my wedding, and a pair of funky low cut boots that I wear at work. I wear them if I’m wearing jeans on any day other than ‘casual Friday’ for the more formal look.

They have a 7 cm heel. While not huge in the heel stakes, this is about as high as I can handle.

Obviously these are not shoes to walk to work in. So now that I walk to work after dropping Juniordwarf off at school, I’ve adopted what I call the ‘walking commuter’ look for the days I want to wear the boots at work. Well my old runners are definitely looking like they’ve seen better days, so I thought I’d treat myself to a new pair.

I saw some really cool pink walking shoes in an outdoor store on sale, and went back to get them yesterday, but they didn't have my size left. Of course. 
In another store I saw these red shoes.

Were they super-impressive walking shoes? No.

Did they offer any support at all? No.

Were they padded in all the right places? No.

Were they what I was looking for? No.

Did I want a pair of red shoes, and buy them anyway? Yes.

It probably wasn’t the best use of $20, but I do like my new red shoes. Next time I promise I’ll buy some sensible walking shoes that will last me five years!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

P365 - Day 53 - bake-a-rama

Now that Juniordwarf goes to school, I only have one day a week at home with him.

What this means is that all the home/mum ‘stuff’ I used to do on two days I now only get one day to do. Last year we had organised activities on both days, so with getting ready, going to whatever it was, doing errands on the way home and whatever else we did, those activities ended up taking at least half of each day. By the time we got home from those activities, neither of us really ever felt like doing much for the rest of the day.

It also meant that I felt a lot less inclined to do any meal planning or cooking in preparation for lunches and morning teas, so basically I never did any of that.

Well this year it turns out that there is no organised activity anywhere that I'm aware of on our 'home' day, which is great. You know why? Because we don’t ‘have’ to be anywhere at all. We have the whole day to do whatever we want. If we have to do errands, we can finish them in an hour or so, and be back home before we know it, rather than have to extend the time we’re away from home when we go out to do something structured.

So I’ve decided that Tuesday is going to be our ‘preparation for the week’ day. We’ll do the shopping, bake some treats for morning tea, make anything we need for meals during the week, do the washing . . . and we’ll hang around, build forts, read books, tell stories, listen to music, go out into the garden . . . whatever we want to do. And we'll have time to do, if not all of it, then most of it.

Today was the first day of this, and it was fantastic.

I may have overestimated what I thought I could get done and it's true, I ended up still in the kitchen at 9pm cleaning everything up, but today Juniordwarf and I baked some ANZACs and some banana bread, we made savory toast for lunch, I made chicken stock, dinner and did the time-consuming stuff for tomorrow night’s dinner. We did the shopping, we went to the library, we had coffee (he had a babycino), we did two loads of washing and we played with the dog.


And you know what? Even doing all that stuff, I didn’t feel stressed, or tense or overwhelmed at all (except for the one time where everything had to come together at once at dinner time), and I had one of the best day’s I’ve had with Juniordwarf for ages. I didn’t waste time on the computer, and when I did go on it, I did what I had to do and got off, and I didn’t feel guilty.

It makes such a difference when we have no obligations whatsoever. Much as I’m glad we had the organised activities over the past four years, it’s nice right now for both of us to have a rest.

So in the spirit of the best cooking blogs, here are our recipes:

(Courtesy of the Central Cookery Book, by A.C. Irvine, 17th Edition, Published 1992 – the Tasmanian classic.)

130g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 cup flour (we use plain wholemeal)
pinch of salt
1 cup coconut
1 cup sugar (we use dark brown sugar)
1 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons bicarb soda
2 tbsp boiling water
6 drops vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2. Grease 3 oven slides. (We use baking paper and we only need 2.)
3. Gently melt butter and golden syrup (do not boil or burn).
4. Sift flour and salt (I skip this step. Wholemeal flour doesn’t sift well.)
5. Add sugar, cocout, rolled oats and vanilla to flour and salt.
6. Dissolve bicarb soda in water.
7. Mix all ingredients together well.
8. Put out in small balls on oven tray, allowing room for biscuits to flatten and spread out during cooking. (Or in Juniordwarf’s case, squoosh some dough together and throw onto the oven tray.)
9. Bake in oven 10-15 minutes (I recommend watching them very closely after 10 minutes.)
10. Allow to rest on tray for ½ minute before lifting off with a spatula to cool on cake cooler.

Banana bread
(Courtesy of Superorganisermum. Except her recipe has blueberries and I didn’t include them.)

150g butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 ripe bananas, peeled, mashed (see notes)
2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2  cup milk
butter, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. 
2. Grease base and sides of a 7cm deep, 11cm x 21cm (base) loaf pan. Line with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang at both long ends
3. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale. 
4. Add egg, in 2 batches, beating well after each addition.
5. Stir in banana. 
6. Sift flour and baking powder over banana mixture. 
7. Add milk. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
8. Spoon mixture into loaf pan. Smooth surface. 
9. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. (Ours needed over an hour.)
10. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Lift onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 10 even slices.

Monday, February 21, 2011

P365 - Day 52 - it's cold!

This time last week we had the air conditioner on.

Last night I had my electric blanket on.

This morning we woke to news of snow on Mt Wellington and saw snow on the hills around us.

This photo is what you might expect Mt Wellington to look like on a lovely winter’s day. There's snow under that cloud! 

Today alternated between this, and being overcast and rainy. Tassie weather!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

P365 - Day 51 - it's been one of those days

One of those days when I wish I’d never got out of bed and can’t wait to be over.

It probably didn’t help that I didn’t really get up. I did that thing where I stay in my PJs, laze around, do a few incidental things, have too many coffees and a late breakfast, and generally act like a sloth.

Eventually I decided to tackle a project that has been sitting on my lounge room floor for several weeks. All my old photos are either sitting in those bad self-adhesive albums that we all know are a no-no for photos or stashed in shoe boxes.

I had decided to buy some archival negative sleeves and photo boxes so that I could keep them, if not in perfect condition, at least in better condition than under the spare bed. So they arrived a few weeks ago and I made a start on pulling the photos out of the albums, putting them with the rest of the photos from that film and matching up the relevant negative strips.

Fun, not.

Doing this was one part of the larger project to completely declutter the junk room study and make it a useable space. However, the study/spare room/library/however you describe it is somewhat overgrown (a bit like the back yard) and so there wasn’t enough room to do this in there, so out to the lounge room it all came.

And as I was hunched over all these photos and negatives on the floor, trying to work out which photos went where, and which negatives belonged to which photos it all became too much.

I should be doing this stuff on a decent sized table where I can actually spread stuff out and see what I’m doing. How am I supposed to ever get this done? It’s just too hard.

And I went into the study and had a look around at the mess in there and all the stuff we didn’t get rid of in the garage sale and wondered how the hell am I ever going to do this. I need to clean up to make space, but I need space to be able to clean and organise.

My logical mind knows that I just have to keep plugging away even if it’s only one shelf, one drawer or one piece of the floor. (Incidentally, as I was writing this, I was browsing some of my favourite sites and, by happy coincidence, what should be the topic of the day on the Happiness Project but fighting clutter one shelf at a time.)

But even if I do this, the trick, and the hard thing for me, is once a space has been cleared to keep it that way. And if other stuff doesn’t have a proper home, it will make its way back to my nice clear area.

So the problem really never goes away! I have to stay on top of it all the time or everything will go back to the way it was before.

And after my little meltdown, I didn’t really feel like doing anything else for the rest of the day. I’m sure it was compounded by the horrible weather, which has just arrived out of nowhere, especially the wind, which was really grating on me today. The noise was really getting to me and it seemed to amplify everything else that upset me today.

So I spent time with Juniordwarf, tried not to feel guilty about the lack of progress today and put it down to being one of those days. Tomorrow will be better.

sunday selections - fence posts

Some photos for Sunday Selections over at Frogpondsrock's blog.

I recently blogged about how I like to get where I’m going as quickly as possible and not get held up on the way.

This isn’t always true. Sometimes I think it’s fun to take a different road just to see where it goes and what’s there along the way.

Like the day my former boss and I, on the way back from a meeting in another town, saw a turnoff and wondered if it would end up somewhere near my house – which it would have if we’d stuck on that road and made a right turn instead of a left turn, which took us right back to the highway.

But it was fun seeing a place we’d never seen before, and Slabs and I went back a couple of weeks later to explore the way that former boss and I should have gone.

When Slabs and I lived in NSW, we were surrounded by miles and miles of countryside, lined by fences of all varieties.
Inspired by the panoramic photographs (especially this one) of Michael Scott Lees , who had a gallery nearby, I embarked on a mission to photograph fence posts in our area. 
Of necessity, this involved taking journeys for the sake of the journey, not the destination. I really enjoyed it. I got up close and personal with fence posts that, before I started getting interested in fences, I’d barely glanced at as we drove past.

On one occasion I was heartened as someone stopped to check that I was OK. Broken down cars were often seen on the side of our road, indeed it happened to me once, and as most of the road was out of mobile range, getting help was difficult until someone stopped. I appreciated his concern, but noticed his expression of bewilderment as I explained I was just taking photos. Obviously taking photos of fence posts doesn’t appeal to everyone.

I loved the texture of the old wood on the posts and the rusty wire. I loved the earthy colours and the contrast with the blue sky (I didn’t always get that). I loved the fences emerging out of the mists and the long dry grass that grew along them. It was a fence photographer’s paradise.

Some of the photos were terrible. Some were passable. None aspired to the heights of Michael Scott Lees. I have a lot to learn about composition and lighting, but as a first attempt, I was happy.

These two are from the same session. They aren't fence posts, but I really like them.

Living in regional Tasmania, there are LOTS of fence posts to photograph not too far from where I am. All I have to do is get out there and take a picture or two

Saturday, February 19, 2011

P365 - Day 50 - photo competition

The Bushy Park Show was on today. Earlier in the week I got an entry form for the photography competition, so I decided to enter some of my favourite shots.

We go to the show every year, but today it was wet, cold and miserable and we didn’t fancy wandering around in the rain for a couple of hours, so we decided not to go.

In the end we went up just as the show was packing up. We had to pick up my photos, and as the rain had eased off, we thought there might be something for Juniordwarf to do so he didn’t miss out completely.

There was.

He won a red bull (a soft toy, not the drink!) on the clowns’ mouth ball game. And he patted a sheep.

I didn’t win any prizes for my photos, so Juniordwarf had a more profitable day than I did. Never mind, there's always next year!

P365 - Day 49 dinner and ale (18/02/2011)

Tonight Juniordwarf’s grandmother stayed at our house to babysit while we went out for dinner with a group of friends. We had a great time.

I especially enjoyed partaking in a couple of Two Metre Tall’s fine ales. Forester is my favourite.

I’m really looking forward to the next Sunday Farm Bar.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

P365 - Day 48 day 2, take 2

I don’t want to fill my blog with the misery of Day 2 after my long-winded report on the adventures of Day 1.

I wrote another rather long post about school drop off today, but I’m not going to publish it. If you really want to read it, you know how to contact me!

So all I’ll say is if someone ever tells you that daycare kids never have any trouble starting school because they’re used to being dropped off for the day at daycare, take it from me, this is not necessarily so.

That is all.

And so to today’s picture.

It feels completely wrong to be leaving work at 2.30 to pick up Juniordwarf from school. It feels like there’s still half a day left.

I suppose I’ll get used to it. Just like he’ll get used to being dropped off at school.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

P365 - Day 47 the first day of school

Juniordwarf got up early and put his school uniform on straight away. Usually he lounges in bed with us for as long as he can get away with, especially on daycare days, but by the time I was out of the shower he was up and dressed.

I guess he was more excited than he let on! Up until this morning he’d been fairly blasé about the whole starting school thing, so this was a surprise.

I tried to take some photos, but he wasn’t interested. He said I could take photos when we got to school.
Other than that, it was a pretty normal start to the day. He poured way too much cereal into his bowl and said he was going to eat it all, and then left half of it.

I got him to help me pack his school bag. We’d made some biscuits on Monday for school snacks, and I spent yesterday explaining that he’d have a biscuit and some sultanas for morning tea (yes I forgot the fresh fruit . . . oops) and his sandwiches and the other biscuit for lunch. I was very careful to explain that his sandwiches were for lunch, and if he ate them at morning tea he wouldn’t have any lunch. (Sometimes our morning teas at home end up being sandwiches and that ends up being lunch. See, it’s complicated! This is what happens when you don’t live by a routine, apparently.)

Now we’re ready to go out to the car.

He’s half way out the door, having struggled to put his backpack on, when he turns around and heads back inside. He’s forgotten something.

He wants to take his bag of rocks with him. I’m about to say no, but stop myself just in time. That wouldn’t be helpful. OK, sure. They can go in the car, but you can’t take them to school. He’s happy with that.

I want to take a photo of him out the front of the house in his uniform before he gets in the car. Just one. I have a photo of me on my first day in our front yard. I’d like one of him too. You know – the ‘stand still and smile’ ones that I see in all those beautiful first day of school scrapbook layouts that the magazines publish at this time of the year.

But it’s not going to happen.

Into the car. He’s perfectly happy. Mummy is feeling a little sick. I don’t know why. Please someone explain why I’m so anxious, when it’s his first day, and he’s perfectly cool about it.

I really have to stop thinking so much and get on with things.

In the car we talk about what he might do at school today. We wonder if he’ll tell us what he did, or if he’ll say ‘nothing’ like he does when he comes home from daycare. He says he’ll tell us.

We arrive at his grandmother’s house. We can see the school from there. I think I might get a chance at the first day of school photo there, before we go. 

I’m dreaming. I want something to remember the day by. I desperately want that photo, but it isn’t happening. Out of desperation I say, ‘well if I can’t take a photo of you, I’m going to take one of your bag’. Under my breath, ‘at least it will stay still’. I take a photo of his school bag. It tells a story too.

He starts to misbehave. Is he excited? Is he just letting off steam? Why won’t he sit down and talk to me? We’re trying to work out arrangements for what time we need to be at various places and who’s driving in on what days. He continues to be a noisy kid, roaring and squealing. Now he’s upset because I told him not to get onto his grandmother’s bed and shut the door to her bedroom because he said no. He’s banging on the door to be let back into her room.

I can’t concentrate. I start to feel tense and anxious again. I start to get teary. Until this point I’d been holding it together just fine.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were supposed to have a few quiet minutes to compose ourselves and take a couple of photos, then set off to school, Mum, Dad and the boy.

I’m at the point where I just want to get him there and go. This is too much.

So we go. I get what will possibly be the only decent picture of him on his first day, walking up the street towards the school almost hidden by his new backpack. It’s not what I wanted, but it’s a powerful shot.

We’re at the school gate. You can tell it’s the first day. Entire families are there to drop their little kids off. Tiny kids are swallowed up by huge backpacks and giant hats. Some of them look too small to be at school. My boy is one of them. (The official school uniform starts at size 4. His pants are size 2. We had to improvise.)

Two older girls are watching the new kids come in the gate, saying ‘kindy . . . kindy . . . kindy’, checking off each kid as they walk past, looking for faces they know.

There is a buzz in the classroom as we approach, the same classroom we went to once a week for playgroup last year. It’s filled with parents, kids, most I don’t know, a couple of familiar faces in amongst the throng.

Mrs L, his teacher, isn’t there. We know Mrs L. She took playgroup last year. She’s a familiar face, someone I am relying on to provide some sort of stability in this new environment. And she’s not there. The rules of the game have changed.

Mrs K comes over to us and introduces herself. She explains that Mrs L is off sick and won’t be here for the first two weeks. We met Mrs K once last year. She seems nice too. I’m hoping Juniordwarf won’t be disturbed by the change in personnel, especially since we’d built him up to seeing Mrs L today. He doesn’t seem to care at all. Maybe not having been there for two months has dimmed the memories of Mrs L a bit. I’m relieved.

Mrs K takes Juniordwarf over to find the peg for his bag. It’s got his name on it. He’s officially a school kid now. We hang up his bag and he takes off his hat to hang it up too.

‘I don’t need my hat on inside,’ he says.

No sweetie you don’t. But, mummy voice cautions, you’ll need it when you go outside.

Mrs K is onto that. We’re trying to keep them inside now that they’re here, she says. Understood. Getting a kinder class under control on the first day, with parents and family all over the place must be one of Life’s Great Challenges.

Parents are crowding the room. Some are taking photos. Everyone’s talking all at once. It’s chaos, only I seem to be the only one feeling it. Juniordwarf heads to a familiar place, the play dough table. I take one last shot at getting a photo of him on his first day. Please look at Mummy. That’s it, now smile. If only the little girl sitting next to him didn’t have her huge hat on and didn’t keep leaning in front of him . . .
The photo just isn’t going to happen. The beautiful layout I pictured is not going to be made.

I put the camera away.

Slabs asks if we should go.

I’m ready. Juniordwarf is quite happy doing his thing. We aren’t needed any more. We’ve done our bit. We’ve delivered him to school and into a new phase of his life. He knows this place and is about to get to know it a whole lot better. He’ll be here for the next seven years.

It’s time to go.

So I kiss him goodbye and tell him we’ll be there to pick him up at 3 o’clock (we are under strict instructions from Mrs K not to come inside).

He doesn’t even look up.

We walk away, out of the school, off to start our normal days.

It’s all happened so fast I don’t know how I feel.

I think I can hold it together for now. No, I don’t need a hug. That will tip me over the edge. Focus on practical things. Where am I going to get a coffee? What time do I need to be at work? What time do I need to leave work to pick him up?


The day has arrived, and I have survived.

[P.S. A big thank you to my Twitter friends for all your kind words and support throughout this morning, especially @sleeplessnights whose daughter also started Kinder today.]

[P.P.S. When we went to pick Juniordwarf up this afternoon we joined the throng of parents waiting outside the classroom. At 3:00 they opened the doors and there was a sea of children rushing out and parents rushing towards them.

Juniordwarf had abandoned his bag where he was sitting on the mat and Slabs had to fight his way into the classroom to retrieve it. We asked him what he did today and he replied, ‘I don’t know.’

Which is different to ‘nothing’, I guess.

In the car on the way home (before he fell asleep), we discovered that they’d read Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and we found out at home a little bit more about his day, including the fact that a little boy had cried. He liked Mrs K, and he seems to like some of the other kids. It sounds like he had a good day and is looking forward to going back tomorrow.]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

P365 - Day 46 - climbing

I thought today’s post was going to be about how I was feeling on the very last day before Juniordwarf entered the formal education system. I started to write the post as a letter to him. I wrote about how everything was going to change, I wrote about my hopes, my fears and my sadness at beginning the process of letting go.

And I realised I could never publish it.

This is a letter from me, for his eyes only. He may never read it. 

I don’t know if I even want him to.

The same goes for the other pages and pages of writing I’ve done since I started this journey of motherhood and, before that, my journals dating back to when I was about ten years old. Part of me wants him to read it when he’s older so that he will be able to understand me better, and part of me thinks he probably wouldn’t be the slightest bit interested about my life. I don’t know if I want anyone to read them, or if I want them to be wiped off the face of the earth once I go.

So the day before the first day of school is not the subject of today’s photo of the day.

Instead, I have a picture of Juniordwarf demonstrating one of his new skills – climbing up to the slide in a rather unconventional way. He’s never been much of a climber, but just recently, he’s got much more adventurous, and when he did this for the first time the other day, I was blown away.

I’m so proud of him.

Monday, February 14, 2011

P365 - Day 45 - lemon tree

We planted our lemon tree in December 2009. Slabs, Juniordwarf and I spent the best part of an afternoon transferring soil into a huge planter box from the ute in the driveway.

Today while Juniordwarf and I were out in the garden, I noticed some tiny green fruit on the tree!

It was the first fruit it had ever grown, so that was pretty exciting.

Only I remembered that I’d seen Peter Cundall say many years ago that it was best to remove all the fruit from a lemon tree for the first couple of years, so that it could put its energy into growing a strong root system and a strong structure. He said something along the lines of however much it breaks your heart (he probably actually said ‘bloomin’ heart’) to cut off the fruit you’re actually trying to grow, it’s best for the long term health of the tree and for future crops.

A tiny lemon

Lemon flower
So with some regret, that’s just what I did. I felt terrible, but I kept reminding myself it would be worth it in a couple of years when we have a magnificent lemon tree.

And in other gardening news . . .

This morning Juniordwarf and I went outside to do some gardening, which to me means pulling out weeds and so on, and to him means putting his little gardening tools into the back of his Tonka dump truck and parking it somewhere in the backyard.

Then he found another snail, which absolutely thrilled him. He spent the best past of half an hour walking around with his snail, showing me, showing the dog, putting it down in various places to see what it did. He was very taken with it.

It's a snail, Mum!
I’m quite pleased with his new-found interest in all things buggy. It seems like something all little kids should be into.

In the mean time, I decided to take another step towards getting the garden organised. This time I ventured into my shed and pulled out the mouse-eaten box of seeds that had been sitting round for far too long.

From this . . .
I had this grand idea for a kind of seed filing system, where there would be a divider card for each month that listed on it all the seeds I could sow that month, whether to sow them direct or in punnets, when to plant out and when a harvest might be expected (if the snails hadn’t got them). This could all be added to my calendar/diary as each type of seed was sown.

Organised huh!

Well I didn’t quite get that far. I tossed out all the obviously out of date seeds and the ones that the mice had got to. The rest I sorted by vegetable type and then put them either into the ‘sow now or in the next four months’ container or the ‘sow in spring or thereabouts’ container. (These containers are great – they are from those terrible recipe card series that I always sign up to for the free/cheap two or three months and the free card holder and then cancel.)

So basically the seeds are stored behind the February, June, September or October dividers. Now, the theory goes, when I’m looking for something to plant, I can just go to the current month’s divider and grab something. Once I’ve planted something for that month, it goes into the next month that it can be sown in – either the next month, or sometime later in the year.

. . . to this
The other thing I did was set up a potting station and a sort of greenhouse thing for seed punnets. I’m not sure it’s in the best position, because it gets some of that really hot late afternoon sun, so I might have to restructure a bit.

This is on a stand that holds 8 trays & is all covered by a plastic cover.
But because it’s close to the back door, I’m hoping it will make seed sowing a more accessible activity for Juniordwarf and me.

Time will tell if it will make the garden more productive.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

P365 - Day 44 home again - sunday selections

Nothing as interesting as yesterday’s trip to the rockfields.

Picture of the day is the place we stayed, the Dover Hotel Motel. 

According to Pubs of Tasmania, it was built in 1925 and has a number of modern additions. I rather thinkg the brick bit might be one of those. The white section on the right is a large dining room, where we had a very nice lunch yesterday. 

We stayed in the motel rooms out the back, which were self-contained and very quiet.

Oh and, if you remember my post last week that mentioned my love of fence posts, you can imagine how excited I was when I looked out the window of our room and saw this fence.

So for today’s Sunday Selections over at frogpondsrock's blog, I present some moss on a fence.

And if you want to go and have a look at what I saw yesterday, a caterpillar.

P365 - Day 43 fossicking and other stories (12/2/2011)

We thought it would be nice to have a weekend away before Juniordwarf starts school and swimming lessons next week. 

We decided on Dover, south of Huonville this time, because neither Slabs nor I had been there, and there were public fossicking areas near Lune River, a few km south of Dover.

Juniordwarf is quite interested in rocks at the moment, so we though picking up rocks would be something he’d enjoy. He has a large bag full of rocks that he collected over the Xmas break and every time we go into the local rock shop, he usually comes out with a new tumbled stone to add to his collection.

After having lunch in Dover, we travelled down to Lune River, which is the furthest south I’ve ever been, to start our rock adventure at Lunaris Gemstones, which has a showroom of rocks, fossils, crystals and tumbled stones. Some of the crystals were quite stunning and I suspect Lil Sis and Mr Tall would have had a lovely, (and expensive) time there.

We were pointed in the right direction to the public fossicking areas, and drove around a bit looking for a good place to stop. We had absolutely no idea what to look for – other than rocks that we liked the look of – apparently the main finds in the area are agate and petrified wood. We hadn’t even thought to take any tools with us, so we were restricted to what was lying around.

Juniordwarf loved it. He was on a special mission to find a pretty rock for his favourite coffee shop lady, so that was his first task. But once he’d found a rock for Coffee Lady, he wanted to take every rock home that he picked up. We had to call a halt when the bag started to get too heavy.

I ended up being more interested in this little chap than in the rocks . . .

After our rock excursion, we headed back to Dover and had coffee. Juniordwarf was very impressed with the size of his babycino.

But I don’t think Coffee Lady has anything to fear about this type of competition. She’s still his favourite, because she ties her hair up.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

P365 - Day 42 new additions to my stash (11/2/2011)

My lovely family gave me some gift vouchers for our local scrapbooking shop for Xmas. I think I've been very restrained in still having some left six weeks later.

Tonight at scrapbooking, I decided to use my voucher to buy a few things I probably wouldn't otherwise have got.

An EK Success edger punch.

Rock-a-blocks, which are supposed to make stamping with unmounted acrylic stamps easier and less prone to smudging.

Glimmermist (Chalkboard), a product I've heard a lot about, but never used before.

Lots of experimenting coming up!

P365 - Day 41 Paul Kelly (10/2/2011)

Take a look at my profile on the right hand side.

See where it says ‘I like my Macbook Pro, Paul Kelly and Dr Who’. Well in case you were wondering, the Paul Kelly I refer to is not the former Sydney Swans player nor is it the political journalist.

I am, of course, referring to The Paul Kelly, or PK as he is affectionately known to many of his fans.

Several years ago, he created a new type of show, which ran over four nights, in which he played 100 of his songs, old and new, in alphabetical order, A-Z. Twenty five songs a night, all reworked to suit an acoustic format. You could attend one night, two, three, or all of them.

The concept took off and he found himself doing more of these shows.

He generously made recordings of these tracks available for free from his website, one letter per month, over a two year period. Then the songs became the soundtrack for his memoir, prompted by the stories he told between the songs.  The book, How To Make Gravy, is a 576 page epic, accompanied by an eight CD box set of the A-Z songs re-recorded especially to accompany the book. I was lucky enough to get a copy of this wonderful package for my birthday last year.

Then last year PK announced he was going to do another series of the A-Z shows and this time he was coming to Tassie. Yippee!

Well true to form, I was extremely unorganised and didn’t book any tickets. I was trying to decide whether or not to go to. Budgetary constraints would have restricted me to one show anyway, and I was thinking about it, decided not to go, wished I was going, wasn't sure if I should, then Slabs got sick and with a small child at home, thought it would be a bit unfair on him in the end. Add to this logistics of living out of town and it all seemed like too much.

Then last night (night 3 of the series), I thought I'd just look and see if there were any tickets for Night 4 (tonight). I asked Slabs if he was feeling better enough to give me a night off, rang a thoughtful relative to beg for a bed for the night and booked what could possibly be the worst seat in the house. The very back row, on the very edge of the row, with ‘restricted viewing’. That didn’t inspire confidence, but hey I had a ticket and I was going to see my favourite performer.

I was very excited! The very first time I saw Paul Kelly live was back in my student days, when he regularly toured with his band (then known as ‘The Messengers’), at the Tas University Bar. I used to baulk at the cost of the tickets back then, because $16 on a student budget was a fair bit of money in those days.

How things have changed! PK doesn’t play uni bars any more – at least not that I know of. Now he plays in theatres and at A Day on the Green. Tickets are more than $16. He’s older, wiser and has developed into one of Australia’s most iconic singer-songwriters.

And I am still a huge fan.

So to the show . . . it was fantastic! The Theatre Royal is a wonderful venue, a perfect size for a show like this. Even with my ‘restricted viewing’ seat I got a pretty good view of the stage and the action.

My view from HHH 16
Onstage was a grand piano and an easel displaying a large letter ‘S’. So that’s where we were going to start.

Here’s a very brief rundown of the set list, intermingled with some comments that I jotted down tonight.

PK came out to massive applause and I have to admit I got a little teary seeing the man in person after so long. Luckily it was dark, so I didn’t have to feel awkward about that . . .

He started with Stories of me, followed by Stupid song. Then his nephew, the wonderful Dan Kelly, emerged to accompany his uncle on the journey we’d just embarked on.

I must add I’m a big fan of Dan too, and must be sure to catch his show next time he’s touring, having missed him last time.

They played Standing on the street of early sorrows, which is a great song and Dan’s guitar was amazing. Then Stolen apples, a newer song, and Stumbling block, which is one of the tracks from PK’s Stormwater Boys bluegrass album. Dan played the ukulele, which PK informed us, he had only just purchased in Hobart, so it was his ‘Hobart ukelele’.

Of course an S set needed Sydney from a 747, which is one of my favourite tracks, and then Dan left the stage.

The next song was Sweet guy, which PK wrote from a woman’s perspective, and he shared a story about writing from different perspectives. He mentioned Hunters and Collectors and their song Say goodbye, and how great it had been at one of their gigs to hear 1200 men singing the line ‘You don’t make me feel like I’m a woman any more’.

Sweet guy is such a moving song.

Taught by experts. Another favourite, this time from the Uncle Bill bluegrass recording.

They thought I was asleep.

Thoughts in the middle of the night. I’m not familiar with this song, but was thinking Dan’s guitar in this had a real Twin Peaks feel about it.

To be good takes a long time. A really catchy little number. One of my favourites of recent years. (OK it’s actually from 2004, so if you consider that recent . . .)

He stops for a moment to tell us about his taxi ride in from the airport. The taxi driver says to PK that he looks familiar and asks if he was on TV. PK replies that yes, he has been on TV. Finally the taxi driver recognises him and says ‘oh you sang that song . . . they got married early . . . that was a good song’. PK acknowledges that yes, that was his song. A few minutes pass by and the taxi driver says, ‘oh you sang that other song, the one about the door. That was a good song too.’

To her door. Perennial crowd favourite.


Coming back into the theatre I decided not to return to my seat and I stood right up the very back. I wasn’t any further back than I had been, but I was in a more central position. It had felt kind of weird to be sitting down watching an artist I’d always stood up to hear in various bar environments. (To recreate this environment as best as I could, I also had a beer in my hand – in a stubby though, not a plastic cup, so it wasn’t quite the same!) I had a clear view down the aisle to the stage and I didn’t miss having to shuffle around in my seat every time the guy in front of me moved.

It was a better view. It was also a more moving experience for me.

It was a joy to watch the old master at his craft (yes, I probably need to be careful with using the term old), and to continue the analogy, his younger apprentice (although that’s a discredit to Dan, since he’s an accomplished artist in his own right) alongside him, enhancing his uncle’s performance and taking the performance to a more polished level than it would have been if it was just the master on his own. (Not that it would have been a bad show if Dan hadn’t been there, not at all.) He enriched the sound, made it feel somehow fuller, if that makes sense. And it struck me that some of the material would have been written, if not before Dan was born, then not that much after, and what a treat was to see these two performers of different generations and with different influences take that material and give it new life in such a cohesive way.

At the same time watching them together was a little bit sad, a reminder of how we all get older (a theme of one of the songs we heard a bit later in the night).  While our songs might live forever, we won’t.

But on with the show . . .

Until death do them part
One U song. Until death do them part. Apparently PK has been asked to play this at weddings.

We were up to V. PK has no songs starting with V, so he said that the Very Good Dan Kelly is Very Versatile, so he would be doing the next song. What followed would have delighted Juniordwarf completely. Dan told the story of his song Bindi Irwin apocalypse jam – one of Juniordwarf's favourites. Then he taught the crowd the chorus so that we could sing along, and launched into it. I’m not sure how many of the older fans had heard it before – judging by the laughter it seemed to be new to many people there (but maybe I didn’t laugh just because I’ve heard it soooo often!) Nevertheless it was an unexpected treat to hear Dan play it live (and I loved how he changed the lyrics ever so slightly).

When I first met your ma, love like a bird flies away. Another oldie.

Wintercoat. Before he played this song PK recounted how he and Dan had paddled to Bruny Island in kayaks with a mate who had picked them up after last night’s show. They’d seen seals in the river and eaten steak at 3 am on the beach. The perfect way to follow up a show, he said. This has never been one of my favourite songs. In fact it’s one of my lesser liked songs, but tonight it was just fine.

PK has no X songs either. He said he had a few options, but was going to play an x-rated song, the first line of which was ‘I’m gonna fuck her right outta my head’. Everyone laughed. The song’s called Right outta my head.

Finally, after 17 songs, the piano was put into use with You can put your shoes under my bed. Then he was back to one of his guitars (he had many guitar changes over the course of the show) for You can’t take it with you.

Dan returned to the stage for You broke a beautiful thing, which PK had written for Renee Geyer. She originally didn’t want to sing it because she said it sounded like a country song, and she doesn’t sing country. I’m glad PK talked her into it. She does a wonderful version. As does its composer.
Your little sister, in which Dan rocked out.

A song which PK originally wrote for Tex, Don and Charlie. I couldn’t work out which song it was as he was telling the story about how it came about. I was trying to think of more Y songs, but they all escaped me.  PK told how Tex, Don and Charlie had wanted a song from him, but not a cast-off, they wanted ‘top shelf’ material, and how he hadn’t heard from them so assumed it wasn’t going to be on their album, then months later found it had made the cut. Then he described the trouble he’d had in getting his version just right. You’re 39, you’re beautiful and you’re mine. Of course it was. A very touching song.

(I didn’t know he’d written it for Tex, Don & Charlie and haven’t heard their version, but will be looking out for it.)

Your loving is on my mind.

Zoe, a track from his Stardust 5 project.

And that was it. S to Z.

I wondered if there would be an encore, because what else is there after Z?

But he didn’t disappoint. We were treated to Young lovers (the audience loved the line about the old man having to sit down to take a piss), You’re so fine and Summer rain (which a lady in the audience had been calling out for).

A second, and final, encore of Would you be my friend solo and then Dan returned, and to my absolute delight, they sang Under the sun.

I love this song! It’s the title track of the first PK album I ever heard (a couple of years after its release, mind you, I was a bit behind the times musically), and that song and the song I see as its companion, Forty miles to Saturday night, take me right back to the end of Year 12, leaving school, leavers parties, summer, fun . . . It was an almost perfect conclusion to the show (40 miles would have been perfect), that took me right back to my earliest memories of this wonderful artist, who has been part of my life for over 20 years.

What more could I ask for?

What a great night. I loved it and I feel on top of the world right now!