Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Searching, searching...

I read a lot of magazines and newspapers. It would be fair to say I devour them. It's pretty lucky they're tax deductible for me as the annual cost can get pretty steep. I think being able to claim them is totally justifiable, because there's a process like osmosis that helps writers to hone their craft. The more, more, more you read, the more your style can evolve and improve.
Occasionally I read something that stops me in my tracks. I like to cut out and keep articles like this (I have a fabric-covered box in which these precious pieces reside). The one I am hunting around for now is one I read on the web, so I hope Mr Google will help me retrieve it. It's an article from the Boston Globe (about the experience of becoming a grandmother) that warmed my heart when I read it. I had to send it to my mother, who agreed that the writer was spot on. And me? I figured that with such joy to look forward to, the pay off of a few wrinkles may not be too bad at all!
(10 mins later - still searching on Fairfax)
(another 10 mins later - and here's a first: Ewan's in his cot crying "I want to go to sleep". Um OK, off you nod then. It is a bit hot and he's already tried the "I want water" trick. It's only 7.59pm)
(another 10 minutes later ... nope, can't find the article!)
Well. If this is not the biggest dud in blogland, I don't know what is! Damn. I was sure I'd be able to find it. I will keep hunting but for now, there's washing up to be done. I doubt anyone's actually reading this, but if you are, I apologise profusely for wasting, ooh, two minutes of your life.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A lotta stuff

Do you ever feel like there's too much ... of everything? I get waves of sheer repulsion for the 'stuff' we seem to accumulate in our daily lives. I also feel a sinking sensation when I push my trolley around the supermarket and see. so. much. Who needs this much choice? Where does it all go when it's 'no good' any more? And why, oh why, do we all get sucked into this spiral of wanting and spending?
Having a kid has probably played some part in this fretting about our collective overconsumption. For a couple of reasons: a) I only work in the office three days a week, which means I don't have the 'disposable' cash (see, even that term grates on me) I once had; b) the stuff that comes with kids ... sheesh ... especially primary-coloured plastic stuff (my house is drowning in it) screams overconsumption; and c) becoming a parent has instilled me in a new, even greater reason to worry about the future of the planet ... why should we keep on messing it up for the generations to come?
And so I try to cut back. But it's not easy. Sometimes I achieve the goal of avoiding the supermarket all weekend - a good effort, I think. Other times we come away with our trolley brimming and my heart sinking just a little. I could go on about the packaging (the endless plastic!) and my annoyance that the cryovac trays supermarket meat comes on aren't recyclable (why not?), but I won't. Instead, I am making a pact here to continue buying my meat from the local butcher, fruit and veg from the greengrocer etc. I do try to do this when I can, but I have to admit that when you have a whingy two-year-old in tow it's sometimes easier to strap him in the trolley and get in and out of the damn supermarket ASAP than have him touch all the mangoes in the fruit shop, smash a bottle of pasta sauce in the deli and climb up the counter at the butcher.
See, ease. Perhaps that's what's driving our economy? Anyhow, why am I all het up about overconsumption right now? It's because I've realised it's not long till Christmas.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I should be working

... but I am not. Because I am having one of those days. A day when I am being obstinate - defying myself to procrastinate. I'm not good at procrastination; I am far too conscientious and far too much like my mother, who is one of the most organised and efficient people I have ever met.
Today, though, I want to do nothing (not write the feature that is currently torturing me) and I guess I did give myself permission to do a little less this morning by putting on the Wiggles for E. Even then, I didn't sit down and read a book or something. No, I tidied up, hung out washing, did some cooking ... and became even more grumpy at the lack of any quality personal time I have.
I sometimes wonder if I take on too much with the extra freelance work. In most cases the answer is no. It's just that I am working on a very difficult to research piece right now that has stretched out forever ... or that's how it feels anyway. And, really, I feel better already for having written this and spent the 10 minutes procrastinating that I craved. Okay, back to work for me...

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Since I have been appallingly hopeless at keeping my proper (paper) diary up to date, perhaps I should note here some of the sweet/funny/cheeky things Mr Two has said or is saying right now:
* Kiwi - in our house this means penguin. We don't know why, but somehow, somewhere he has got the small brown flightless bird mixed up with its waddling cousin.
* Dor-doy - yes, we wondered what the heck that meant too, until Rose, his Brazilian daycare lady explained that 'dor-doy' (goodness only knows how you spell it) is Portuguese baby-talk for little bruise or sore. OK.
* Seeky-findy - you know how Aussies like to shorten everything? Well, even short Aussies like to shorten things. This is how E pronounces 'See if you can find it'.
* The general bossiness is quite incredible. He's getting a nice little vocab and he sure as heck is going to use it to try to get his way! These words are frequently spoken in our house: "Dadda, Dadda. Dadda! DADDA! You sit here!" This leaves poor Daddy with no choice but to ... sit there.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Mummy did a big bang"

It had to happen - I've had my first car accident. And I have two very good things to report: a) Ewan and I (and the other driver) were all absolutely fine, not an injury among us and b) the accident wasn't my fault in any way, which somehow makes it better. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here's how the damage looks:

Thank goodness the Camry is a tough ol' car or we may have had a worse outcome.
What happened?
Well, I was driving E to daycare; the road was wet and slippery. There is a tight 'S' bend near where we live and I've slid a little there before, so I always take that corner very slow. A woman was coming the other way in a little Toyota Echo. I saw her slide about, her wheel kind of bending in like when you twist an ankle. Then I saw her hit the kerb and her bumper detach a little.
She says she saw a pole coming at her and swerved back onto the road. Unfortunately, she swerved into our car. Oh God, I cannot get out of my mind the split-second vision of her coming at us. The front of her car slammed into the rear of the driver's side - where Ewie sits (luckily we insist on putting his seat in the middle). The impact caused us to spin 180 degrees, so we were facing back the way we'd come and with the rear of the car up on the pavement.
It happened so, so fast that I cannot recall what I did. I suppose I braked, but I can't be sure. I don't know if I screamed or swore. Probably. Interestingly, in my sheer panic I didn't turn around to see if E was OK but I got out of the vehicle and then ran around and got him out the passenger side (the driver's side door was way too smashed in to open). He was fine and happily reported: "Mummy did a big bang." Oh yes, indeed.
The other woman was very kind and nice about it all and after we swapped details, called the cops (who were so disinterested!) I then had to drive the poor, broken Camry home, its metal crunching on the road as we turned the corner.
I'd say the Camry is to be in action no more. It'd be unlikely that any insurer would pay to fix up this kind of mess when the car is only worth about $2000.

The chassis is bent, the back wheel is smashed and even the knob thing that allows you to adjust the driver's seat came off in the impact. I am amazed I didn't get a little whiplash or something. Had a slight headache later in the day, but I think that's probably just from the stress of the day.
This incident has rattled me. I am more nervy than ever behind the wheel now and probably will be for a while. However, I am eternally thankful that my boy and I are OK. Now, must go purchase that lottery ticket...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh Tassie, why so wet?

I'm just back from Tasmania. The experience of holidaying in the Apple Isle was, well, memorable to say the least. Now, this is Australia and you'd reckon you'd strike decent weather anywhere in this fine, sunny land by the time it's the end of October. But not Tassie. Oh no, no, no.
We're talking gale-force winds, horizontal rain and snow... for six days of the seven we were away. None of this is to say we didn't have a nice time. It's just that we would have had a nicer time had the sun actually come out for more than a couple of hours at a time. Our trip went a bit like this:

Catch the "Big Red Plane" (thank you, Wiggles; thank you, Virgin Blue) with little fuss. Am armed with coloured crayons, pirate colouring-in book, six (little!) packets of rice crackers, four boxes of juice and a couple of headache tablets (for me). Boy does good on the flight; big tick there.
Pick up hire car, strap kid in and decide not to make for the famous Salamanca Markets in Hobart, as was the original plan, as Ewan has fallen asleep. Instead grab fish and chips and eat them in the car while heading out of the city. We drive. And drive. And drive. Suddenly I don't feel too good. Feel really, really like I am going to puke. This is bad as the sign tells us there is 60km to Lake Pedder, where we're headed. We stop several times and I heave several times. At certain points I feel like I may die. When we arrive I can see the relief on Shaun's face as he finds out that a) there is actually somewhere to stay at Lake Pedder (this had been doubtful) and b) there is a room available. I can read his facial expression. It says: "money no object" ... because he knew if he had to tell me we had to turn around and drive 60 horrific kilometres back to Hobart or somewhere I. would. have. killed. him.
The chalet (sounds fancy, more like giant motel) is actually lovely. This is the view from our room (told you it was rainy).

Poor Ewie. He wanted to go outside but it was too wet even for the ducks. I'm serious.

Bye-bye rainy (yet lovely) Lake Pedder. I get behind the wheel in the hope of avoiding the puke factor again. Make it to some fabulous little beaches and Ewan has a ball fiddling around in the sand. We drive and drive some more (roads less winding ... thank goodness) until we reach a sweet little place called Swansea on the Freycinet Peninsula. I fall in love with the landscape. It is truly gorgeous. Reminds me of Scotland on a good day. It was pretty windy and wild but the sun shone some of the time, which was nice.

Shaun looked after Ewan while I had a morning walk along the beach. This may have been the highlight of the whole holiday for me, so nice was it. I adored this place; mountains rising out of the sea have to be one of my most favourite things. I don't think we shared the beach with anyone else the whole time we were there.

We drive to Ross, this pretty little heritage town in the middle of the state. Setting suitably bucolic, lots of Georgian buildings, the oldest (convict built) bridge in Australia ... and yet what I will remember it for is the unbelievable winds. This may have been the day when Ewan looked up at me and said: "Mummy, I walk backwards." And indeed he was just about blown off his feet.

Poatina. It's a beautiful word. I even like it for a girl's name (don't worry, I'm not serious). However, this town is the freakiest, oddest place I have ever set foot in. It's in the mountains. You drive up these desolate twisty roads (note: had purchased packet of Dramamine travel sickness tablets days back and happily popped them at every opportunity) to this funny little village. Empty little village. It is pretty well maintained, in a Eighties kind of a way, and there is a cafe, youth centre, motel, op-shop (?), radio station (??), TV production studio (??!!) all in the one spot. And a kids' Thomas the Tank Engine train thingy (very popular, as you can imagine) and a huge chalet thingy with a great (empty) restaurant.

All this ... and yet no people. It is deserted. Weird, spooky even. I Google it later and find out it is a purpose-built hydro town. Ahh, I see. Still weird though.
We drive on (and on) to Lake St Clair, at which point Shaun has a bit of a "doh" moment, because he thought we'd be able to see Cradle Mountain from there. Turns out it is hours and hours away. We go to drive on but it starts snowing so we turn back to near the national park, where there is a pub. Had a nice time here. Put Ewan to bed and did the naughty parent thing of sneaking to the bar for a few drinks after he fell asleep. Bar tab the next morning: $120. Oops. (In our defence, that did include three meals, okay.)

We wake to snow! Ewan's first snow! Just a little, but enough to be fun for him. He implores Daddy to make "snowman ball" after "snowman ball". He's having fun so we go back to the national park to attempt a walk in the snow. Nice idea, as it had been too rainy the previous day to actually see anything.
Trouble is, the snow is cold and wet and the sun is too bright. At least that's how a two-year-old sees it. We try to take him for a walk in the stroller along the path. He howls. I swear the rangers must have been so close to calling DOCS, such wailing was emanating from the little chap. Who'd have thought a holiday could be so traumatic?

After we've had our eardrums pierced by the crying we get in the car again and head over to Strahan. This was the bit of the trip I've been most looking forward to, as it always looks so pretty in the pictures. Pretty it was, there's no doubt. But weird too - almost as weird as Poatina. Now get this, it's a fishing villlage ... with no fish and chip shop. And no place to buy fish to cook at any one of the millions of tourist cottages every local seems to have shoved in their backyards. Go figure, because I sure can't. I think I spot a niche.
Anyhow, it was nice ... when it wasn't blowing a chill wind straight from Antarctica.

Stay put in Strahan for a bit. We take Ewan to the wild and woolly beach, which is quite spectacular but another horrific experience for him. Again he cries and says, "Mummy, I want to go home". Gulp. Gets me, that one. I forgot to mention that we also walked along the Franklin River, a definite highlight for me. What a special place that is. Made even more special when a little pink wren danced on a branch near me.

We head to Salamanca Markets - groovy and interesting and just a little too crowded for me. Bought the hottest coffee I have ever sipped (my mouth is still burnt) then have to carry it in one hand while pushing stroller with the other through a busy market. The sun is shining - this is the one day of the entire trip it stayed out all day. Then we drive off to Port Arthur, where Ewie gets maximum brownie points for falling asleep in the car and then staying asleep after we carefully lift him into the stroller. Good work!
This is a pic of one of our better stroller moments - was on a lovely rainforest walk in Strahan.

Well, it was an interesting week. Challenging, you might say, what with recalcitrant weather and (sometimes) recalcitrant toddler but, hey, we survived!