Photo A Day May – The Results

My first attempt at Photo A Day, I didn’t manage to keep up on Instagram but I did get a lot of the photos taken, too many to not use, so I’m afraid you are going to have sit through the photo album of my month … in all it’s distorted, poorly  lit, out-of-focus glory.

PEACE  is anywhere by the water in my books. The SKYLINE at dusk on a cool autumn day. The SOMETHING I WORE TODAY ended up being my Ugg boots because as the days get chillier I start every morning with feet encased in their woollen warmth, like a true bogan tragic. FUN is present every time you see a balloon, they immediately represent a party. I should have got a shot of the pesky magpie that keeps invading the house but I was too busy screeching and flailing my arms about in a vain attempt to get him out, instead for BIRD I capture the friendly lorikeets in the backyard tree. The agony of the self portrait for YOU this is the best I could do. I cheated a bit with SOMEONE THAT INSPIRES YOU and included both my daughters because they do inspire (and amaze) me every day. You can tell by the almost empty bottle this perfume is A SMELL I ADORE. Then drinking coffee makes an appearance for SOMETHING I DO EVERY DAY, homemade instant or store bought cappucino it’s become a daily habit.

MY FAVOURITE WORD this month is courage. I show you a picture of my KITCHEN – and yes much cleaning went on before the photo was taken. SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME HAPPY is the fact by the end of the month this slate was on the wall, the wood fire was in the house (not actually installed, but in the house) so we are one step closer to having some warmth! We spent Mother’s Day with MUM. This is the GRASS of the school oval where we got to watch our last athletics carnival for primary school. LOVE is being stupid together. Thanks to the Book Club on ABC Mid North Coast this is WHAT I’M READING. I was going to photograph a piece of fruit for a SNACK but people I know in real life read the blog and they would have left comments. SOMETHING I MADE is the world’s greatest chicken pie.

A FAVOURITE PLACE is Town Green, love being on the river in a green space ringed by pubs and restaurants to eat at, or there is always a fish and chips picnic. My magazines are THE SOMETHING I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT, well ok I could, but I don’t want to! WHERE YOU STAND is the as yet unfinished floorboards of Shambles Manor wearing my quick, drying trousers. On the PINK day I celebrated with my favourite flowers, the tulip.  In TECHNOLOGY I pay homage to my I-pad which means I can now watch television and surf the net simultaneously. The 12 O’CLOCK turned out to be one of the many late nights in a deadline driven week.  My food memories inspired by Love & Hunger  I  remembered Pat the Tea Lady delivering me a coffee and a slice of madeira cake every day (see I’m so old I worked in offices that had tea ladies) I brought one at Coles, but the family attacked it while I wasn’t looking and all I managed to scrounge was a small end piece but it makes the grade for SOMETHING SWEET. After some beautifully warm days the rain returned and overcast and raining fitted THE WEATHER TODAY. Finally for A NUMBER I give you 21 my lucky number for no other reason than I like it.

What did I miss? SOMETHING NEW (can’t remember the last time I bought something new for myself), UNUSUAL, YOUR PERSONALITY AND SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL.

What did I learn? Photos take a lot more time than bunging a few words together. Phew. Done. Heading for a drink.


Reading This Week – Love & Hunger – Thoughts on the Gift Of Food – Charlotte Wood

Every month I take part in the Book Club on ABC Mid North Coast, which means I have books selected for me to read. It’s like a literary lottery, you never know what you are going to get. You often find yourself reading books you wouldn’t normally choose for yourself.

This month we discussed Love and Hunger by Charlotte Wood. Given I’m not much of a foodie it probably isn’t one I would have ventured into without encouragement.

At first I was a little confused by the work, it combines essays on food,  recipes and tips for cooking. (Did you know you could freeze nuts? This could change my life, do you know how many packets of expensive nuts I have thrown out having only used a quarter of the packet?) I wasn’t sure whether I was reading a memoir or a cookbook. Flicking to the back jacket I read that along with being a celebrated author of fiction, (Animal People, The Children, The Submerged Cathedral) Charlotte is also a blogger, writing about her passion for food at How To Shuck An Oyster and I realised the book was reading to me like a blog. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, it was just moving between topics (all food related) in the way a blog morphs and merges with consistent themes appearing and disappearing. I began to enjoy the book more when I stopped trying to classify it in a traditional format and imagined it as a blog on the page.

The essays which resonated with me the most were Charlotte’s recollections of growing up in the 70’s and 80’s – devils on horseback anyone? The linking of food to the ebb and flow of life was also an emotive theme. A chapter on supplying meals to friends undergoing chemotherapy and the food at wakes reminded me of how food was once a means for showing care and love to friends and neighbours. Charlotte writes movingly of Jim, the bloke next door, who prepared a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings for her family while they were visiting her ill Father in hospital. Or the chest freezer delivered to their home full of casseroles, soups, pies and desserts all of which were restocked each week by the country town community during her Dad’s final illness.

I wondered if we still use food in this way? Funerals of my childhood were held at people’s homes, everyone came bearing a plate of food. Recent departures have usually been followed by a gathering at a club or function room, catering provided. In our busy lives have we lost the ability to give practical support to those around us with home-made food?

The link of food determining a particular time and place in our memory is one which this book had me thinking about. Particular food is forever linked in my mind with certain jobs and places – the cheesy ham pasta made by the little Italian lady at the food court under the AMP Centre where I was studying for my “Advanced Secretarial Diploma” – the country kid in the big city devouring this
Grandma’s comfort food, my introduction to Yum Cha in Sussex Street all grown up in my first radio job but “don’t give me any of the yucky stuff”, the paella from a café at Blues Point Road, the chicken pie from yet another café, this time in Port Macquarie (perhaps another comfort food for a woman returning to the work force after a ten-year hiatus).

Charlotte’s  essays are though provoking –  a distaste for offal signifying a fear of death – our inability to recognise hunger for we never allow our bodies to experience it juxtaposes with people dying on the other side of the world from lack of food.

A love of food is evident in every word of Love & Hunger and Charlotte encourages the reader to simplify and enjoy the art of cooking and the pleasure of sharing it with friends. Suzie, one of my fellow book clubbers, described the book as “warm and engaging”. Emma, the younger of the book clubbers spoke of how her Mum’s cooking has improved recently – as someone smack, bang in the middle of the endless “what’s for dinner” cycle I can imagine when children  are grown it might be easier to take the time to savour the experience of creating a meal. In the meantime, perhaps I can take some lessons from Charlotte’s philosophy and try to occasionally make a little more effort at the evening table – there’s a four-hour spaghetti bolognese that has me intrigued – I might give that a go on Sunday.

Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree

Birds are causing a problem in my life at the moment. A baby magpie has discovered how to fly into our house. He’s making it a daily activity swooping through the open sliding doors, pooing on the clean washing and departing. Trying to remember to close the doors, but need one open for the dog. Magpie even worked out there was access via this second door and starting flying across an inner deck to make his grand entrance.

It’s like living in a Hitchcock thriller as we all screech and duck  while maggie swoops and weaves through the house.

Luckily the kookaburras haven’t yet learnt the trick.

Kookaburra photo by David Fitzpatrick

A bit peckish? Photo by David Fitzpatrick

Mother of Daughters

I am the mother of daughters. I don’t know how you raise sons. I remember watching friend’s sons leaping over lounges, wrestling on the floor and kamikaze body slamming each other and I would wonder “can’t they just sit down and do some drawing? I have some pretty glitter pens here”.

Instead we have lived in the world of Bratz and Barbie.We’ve drowned in fairies and sparkles. A world of cuteness and light … and then they grew up.

Our house is a seething mass of hormones “why are you crying?” “I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M CRYING”. My husband hides in the kitchen. “I’m cooking dinner, a very important task, everybody needs to eat, see I’m helping here, please let me stay in the kitchen, don’t make me go out there, DON’T MAKE ME TALK TO THEM”.

The dog hides under the table too afraid to venture out.

Unfortunately, I too am a girl. So I bring to the party my own ovarial complications. Just ask my husband, “I’m just mad alright, you are an idiot. I wouldn’t get this angry if you weren’t an idiot. MENTION MENOPAUSE AND YOU WILL DIE … DO YOU HEAR ME DIE”. (BTW I know ovarial isn’t a word, I made it up, it’s my blog and I can do that … don’t even think about pointing it out. Right just Googled ovarial it might be a word sorry I overreacted).

Right today’s a new day. Moving on…all is good. It wasn’t that bad. Then I catch husband marking the calendar, he’s planning fishing trips for the next 12 months but only on particular weeks. He’s going to be away a lot.


Life Before Children

Last week somewhere between finding lost socks and transporting children to endless activities I was struck by a thought (just one, my crowded mind can’t cope with more than that at the moment).

I realised I’ve got no memory of life before children.

Is it some sort of parental dementia designed to help your fragile brain cope with the post-traumatic onslaught of raising children?

I simply cannot remember what I DID with all that time I had on my hands.

When every waking hour wasn’t devoted to the care and needs of others how did I fill those endless hours of “me” space?

In a second between arguing about who was going to feed the dog and creating a meal out of left-overs (I’m turning the spag bol  into chilli con carne just adding a can of beans and a sprinkle of curry powder – see it’s a completely different meal) I wondered what life will look like when it’s just me and Mr Shambles rattling around in this big unfinished house.

What will the conversations be when they no longer revolve around finding money for braces, who’s responsible for the soccer pick-up and why we’ve run out of toilet paper AGAIN?

I have a vision of the children heading out into the big, wide world to lead highly successful lives … leaving behind a shell-of-a-woman, clutching a wine bottle and yelling “oh yes they are great NOW, you have no idea what it took to get them there”.

Life after children, what does that space look like? Perhaps endless, uninterrupted blogging accompanied by chocolate?

Imagine you have one child-free day to yourself, how would you spend the time?

Weekly Photo Challenge – Summer

While I sit here rugged up in my winter woolies, the Weekly Photo Challenge asks me to cast my mind back to the summer. It was a soggy season, lots of rain and not nearly enough hot sun. However during one warm day Princess Child got out into the front yard and proved you can never be too old for a bit of fun with the garden hose and sprinkler. She even managed to convince her sister to join her at one point, well she squirted her with the water and she had to retaliate.

When was your last water fight?

Hope you are keeping warm wherever you are.