OFG has invented numerous ways to mess the kitchen up. I think it might be his school holiday goal. He and TFG decided to create cups out of oranges – the result of which is a kitchen covered in sticky juice and slippy bit of pulp. Wait till I show them how to bake cakes in orange skins!
TFG has been on a mission to build a Lego tower taller than the husband (six foot four) and may even have done it, will have to check back with her.
Both begged to go to the library, which was entirely appropriate for winter school holidays. We greeted the librarian with more noise than is probably proper for a library but she doesn’t seem to mind. Both kids stagger out with piles of books and there is a silent afternoon, marked only with the roar of rain intermittently tantruming on the roof.
We all jam into the bed like the family out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and watch ‘Fixer Upper’. The upbeat quirky family makes us laugh and the ideas we get from the interior decorating are discussed for our new house.
I finish the pile of documents required for the build application and we are just waiting on the word from our builder – then off they go. It should be the first of the bigger steps in getting the building up. We have made a goal of no more winters in the shack and I am hoping, really hoping this Christmas will be in our new house.
As I look at tile samples and windows I wonder that anyone ever builds anything. Wow but it is a complicated process. Thank goodness for Pinterest and kids who aren’t afraid to tell me if something doesn’t look right. Then again, when I look at all the ideas together I’m not sure four different tile types is the go in one small bathroom!?
An enormous jacket my mum brought me back from New Zealand (there is a nation that gets the real meaning of ‘cold’) becomes my permanent home for a while. I manage to convince OFG it can convert into a sort of polar fleece igloo, and that the head hole is for the fire smoke to come out. He thinks that is brilliant and suggests it is big enough for me to share?
We were big enough to seek out advice from our GP, who referred us to a family helping type person, about how to handle the behaviour we have struggled with from the kids. OFG is particularly in a place of struggle. i am hoping she turns out to be a nice person, rather than someone who picks holes in our fragile web.
Mum got me two permaculture books for my birthday and I’ve been reading them every chance I get. It is one of those immediate click things where I feel like I’ve found my gardening style. I am in the process of designing the garden, post-build, to provide us with everything we can possibly jam into it.
I was given a telephoto lens for my camera by the husband. It is the birthday present that never ceases to fascinate me as it is almost too big for me to hold and it (like the camera itself) often seems to have a mind of its own. I laugh, growl or love the result of it actually focussing on something different from what I aimed for.
Here is some playing with it to get to know it – based on my favourite things; texture, contrast and detail. Again, apologies to actual photographers…you may feel an overwhelming urge to donk me over the head with this new lens!
Blossoms in deep winter. There is always colour splashed around the garden, if you take time to look for it.
Rosemary flowers. Not often I look at them this closely. They are actually almost snapdragonish in structure and rather beautifully speckled. These old bushes flower all year round and are always a-buzz with bees, hungry during winter.
I have been wanting to take this shot for a while now. The old walnut trees against the winter sky. I just love their textures.
Blackberry leaves are a deep red purple and have defied the direction to drop and sleep. They contrast so warmly with the cold, crisp greens around them.
I was going to take a photo of the jonquils in the foreground of the picture but the camera disagreed and fixated on the dew sitting on the leaves behind. Who am I to argue…it made a beautiful shot.
The old fencing is all texture. Rubbed by numerous seasons into soft ripples and gaps.
These noisy little fellows love to eat off of the she-oak in our garden. They hang in pendulous bunches like strange fruits of the tropical variety. They certainly seem over dressed in this muted winter landscape.
My birthday was marked with a warm, proper house – borrowed for the weekend. A wood fire, a massive RC unit and the warmth of friendship. There was simply sitting and talking, eating. My demands were not exactly partyish but I was so thankful to those dear friends and my ever lovely husband for meeting them.
The following weekend found me trembling with cold and terror as I attended a residential course to finish off my Scout Leader training. Again the blessing of good people softened a weekend away with lots of laughs and plenty of kindness. The trainer who determinedly pushed me forward with good humour and the Patrol I was in making me feel part of a team (which is not something I experience a lot in my Scouting journey as I am the only Leader in my section and always have been, being in tiny country groups) created a feeling of security. I came home with my certificate clutched in my hand, my eyes drooping with tiredness and a whole new bunch of friends.
July and August are the aching months. Their cold bleeds into your very bones, wet and icy. Even the sheep have their woolies on. Walking to school is crisp, crunchy and gnawing. It is beautiful.
I am up to the third draft of the book. I am strangely shy about asking people to proof for me, indicating the sincere lack of confidence I still have in my writing (even at my age!). I had to stop working/writing for the ten hours a week as the house chores started to pile up, showing me my skills in house keeping were more valuable. The pull of the manuscript sometimes wins over though and I find myself doing clandestine editing in my morning tea break. Writing is now measured in how long it takes to drink a cup of tea….which I have managed to blow out to thirty minutes by mini-sipping.
It is a bit wet.
It is meant to be.
Winter is our wet season down here.
But with the extreme weather we now get, they are putting money on extreme wet.
For us this impacts in a couple of ways.
No dry clothes.
A house that sinks into the mud, causing further damage to the structure.
I know, I make it sound such a downer.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a winter girl – being born in the winter means I have always had an understanding of the necessity and absoluteness of it.
It would just be so much easier to accept it in a house.
I think that if you have to wear wellies out to go to the toilet, it is a bit much.
So, as I weed the bedroom (the massively aggressive grass has grown through the walls to pop up where the skirting would be in a normal house) I decide to come up with a way to regain my sense of relative humility.
Here it is:
Where my tired old eyes start to blur
As various misfortunes occur
Their bright eyes shine in delight
Their imagination roars alight
Gumboots, bikes and mud pies
And snails of enormous size
Icy showers from cheeky trees
Hot drinks and books in bed please
Celebrating favourite clothes that dry
Cold stars clear in the frosty sky
Dragon breath and floating leaves
Roaring wind and angry seas
Warm soup and wooly hats
Frogs, dogs and delighted splats
Curled up in the library, dreaming
Hot stew and fresh bread, steaming
Empty streets and sleeping trees
Wet kisses from an icy breeze
Snotty sickness does abound
But old movies are found
Yes, despite my aching cold
My Gurus live their winter bold
It’s time I made a cup of tea
And joined them and remembered my winter me.
So, my avoidance of editing and drafting the novel has led me to seek beauty with my camera instead.
These are the results.
This morning we woke up to a frosty fog, which shifted with a slight wind to become even thicker.
The town looks beautiful wrapped in fog, everything softened.
If we had any topography at all, it would be snowing, the air is icy and chews at any exposed skin.
Lovely winter kisses on our faces as we walk to school.
Liquid ochre terra rossa bleeding through the silvered green.
Cold wires glitter, stiff with fear of shedding their sequin droplets and spun silver webs.
Melted chocolate mud clings.
Golden syrup sunshine seeps warmth.
Wet dog paws and squeaking grassy gumboots.
Air scorches abrasively in and steams out.
Rosy noses and prickling toes.
Beanies, gloves, scarves of warm porridge wool.
Newly bathed birds in rainbow pyjamas argue in screeches over breakfast in a dripping tree.
Winter solstice lanterns faded sky blue, warm windows of hugging yellow.
Little green plants emerge, stretch and yawn like sleepy babies.
Night, a silent empty of open sparkle, sprayed across depthless cold.
This is when the warm creatures move, dance without overheating
Crackling, jaunty flames celebrate their contrasting colours
Those born during these months are the glowing stars in the cold,
Shining the brighter for the darknesses.
All the scorching colours are fading to the breakfast cereal brown of winter. Shaken like coconut over a cake of squeaking, new green. Everything is drinking, wet and growing with wild abandon. I know that in some parts of the world winter is like a sleeping season. Not here, things gulp thirstily at the cold rain and dance with a sappy abandon in the violent rhythm of the wind.
The wind is a well dressed gentleman of suppressed force that steers the foamy hooped ball gowns of the rain clouds across. It partially precedes and then follows along behind scooting gently. If I open the house up the wind still has a slightly summery warmth to it and appears to regress to a bunch of children, running through the house leaving everything ruffled and untidy in its wake.
The fingerprint whorls in the deep wooden wrinkles of a nectarine stone. Many of them have fallen between the octopus arms of the aloe, sitting like little timber snails.
The pain has eased during the day, like the background annoyance of a neighbour’s bassy music. At night it wakes me, gouging at my face and hair like an angry bird.
I dislike editing and I am a harsh editor, particularly with my own work. The spaniel of procrastination sits perfectly still with his head upon my knee, waiting for a tidbit of time. I am annoyed at him but cannot chase him off as his ever pleading eyes tell me I deserve a cup of tea before the next paragraph.
I fall asleep tucked in the husband’s shoulder crevice (we renamed armpits). I am warm and his arm a pillow that doesn’t inflame my pain. The next night it is my turn and I tuck a Guru under each arm as we watch a gardening show together. We point to things in the gardens on the screen and talk about what our garden will have. Their voices chirping like little chicks from beneath my wings. When we have a real house with a lounge room and couches I think I might miss the cuddles.
We walk in the drizzle, Two Foot Guru comments that people are looking at us like we are from a crazy house. After a short pause she expresses delight at puddles, wet herbs and citrus releasing their scent and the view from a now sleeping apple tree. I wonder silently if it is so bad to be from a crazy house.
I use the little notebook TFG gave me for mother’s day to note down what to plant in the garden next month. Pouring over charts for our area I notice that gardeners all assert they know best but cannot agree. I know what will and will not work by looking at the gardens I walk past, seeing what the people who’ve lived here their whole lives are planting. OFG knows each house in town by the pets that live there, I know them by what is in their gardens. Neither of us can quite recall the details of a house though.
For the first time in a long time I find a book that I sip at slowly to make it last longer. I want to write down quotes out of it. This very rarely happens to me. Alas I had to return it to the library but I’ve written it on my list of books that have earned a space on my shelf. If you get the opportunity to read ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ by Nina George, do it slowly in the way you savour a lovely piece of cake.
Faded leaves and bruised petals float in the many large puddles we walk past. It looks like a huge wedding had been held and they float like partially soggy confetti in the reflections of the town.
The wind roughly brushes my hair, snapping tree branches and leaning against the buildings in its bustling impatience.
Pain is my master at the moment. Almost three weeks of constant, although multiple types. I don’t know what is wrong and I’m reluctant to find out. It is sapping energy and reducing meals to painkillers and water. I find it hard to concentrate, as if it were a trumpet being blown in my face constantly.
Some of the leaves remind me of the sucky toe pads on frog feet. They stick to your shoes and are round and green.
A large flock of cockatoos lead us to school in the blustery morning. Their raucous calls are enough to tempt the slower walkers into a faster speed. Like sirens out on a hen’s night they topple about in the branches of a tree when they land, thinking they are hilarious.
I have a friend who now comes and finds me, before my own children do, waiting under the plum trees. Every afternoon he comes over and stands close enough for me to know that he won’t be ignored. Our conversations are brief and I am unsure why he speaks to me. He has keen observation skills and seems very bright and has, on a number of occasions, expressed some dis-satisfaction with his classmates. Maybe it is because there is no one waiting for him he has decided to adopt me. I do not know but I hope that whatever he seeks from me, our light hearted banter provides. I know only too well what it is to be surrounded by people and feel intensely alone.
Working is an odd experience for me. Many still consider it a hobby but anyone who is involved in creative jobs will know that “and what do you do for a real job?” question. I finish a synopsis and ‘chapter by chapter’. The novel has a soundtrack, each character a theme song. Friendships also have soundtracks. This means if I have to write I can just play the music and let the words dance out.
I stare despondently at the pile of papers that represents our painful journey through the building process. Currently we are at a standstill again, unmotivated by a gut punchingly high quote on something. OFG offers to fold them all into paper aeroplanes, each page a slightly different design. I am very tempted.
As you can tell, things are challenging. Not just for us. Others struggle too. I reach a point of frustration. I want to tuck everyone away, out of the sharp slap of the wind and sting of salty tears. I want to gather everyone I love together and wrap them up protectively and growl at the bad things in the world that are troubling them. Alas, I cannot but anyone who is suffering right now, you are very much not alone.