Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vinyl, Lino, Carpet Squares ... a whole new frontier

I thought I knew a fair bit about building, building terms, finishes. materials. I know at a glance what a four by four looks like, I know what rio bar is, I know the different between cement and concrete, I even know the correct mix of sand, cement and aggregate to make a good mix.  I don't get caught out when a tradie asks me to go down the hardware store for a long weight, or even a 3 inch hole.

This is possibly the vinyl we will go for in the Kitchen & Bathrooms

But yesterday I went on a whole new builders journey - into the commercial world of fit-outs. I learnt what coving means, (and I like it), I got over my fear and loathing of carpet tiles (and I like them), I learnt about how soft close door hinges work (and I like them too) and I learnt that stone bench tops come in 3m lengths but laminex is 1200mm.  We also confirmed to ourselves what makes a good salesman, and what makes a bad one.

Mr K and I spent a very exhausting day going out to the industrial area of Perth and visiting Kitchen/Cabinet makers, tile showrooms, carpet showrooms, vinyl warehouses. I think we have come away with a better idea of what we want, at least I hope we have as time is running out.

So, what is coving? When you lay vinyl floors (and yes, I know you are asking vinyl floor?  Are you mad?) you can lay them loose or glued down. As we are using vinyl in the kitchen, the shower room and toilets, it has to be stuck down and completely water tight. To do this they cove the corners, and run the vinyl up the wall as a skirting. Think hospital floors.  Its a very effective way to make wet areas sealed, although not very cheap.  From a cleaning perspective, I love it.

Cross section of the coving process

What it looks like

Carpet Tiles were a new frontier too. We all have memories of those ill fitting, curling at the edges, scratchy, blue or pink carpet tiles. But they too have come a long way, and you can get all manner of designs, colours and qualities. I like the idea that we can replace any damaged or stained tiles, I like that we can put them down last after we have painted and made a huge mess, I like that they actually look pretty smart. They cost no more than a fitted carpet. Mr K is still not very convinced.

Wish our office view was this good!  But the floors could be

We are leaning towards a charcoal grey.
Finally, the Kitchen. We have one quote and waiting on another to get a kitchen company in to build and fit instead of us doing a flat-pack kitchen. We want it to look really nice, so worth spending a little more more on it, plus if we get it supplied and fitted then its one less job for us to do. Of course it costs a (lot) more, about double the price, but I think it will be well worth saving the money in other areas. We are getting towards the pointy end of this project!

Kitchen will be kinda like this, but with a yellow splash-back. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

I'm just a suburban hen...

... I know the heading is a bit corny and probably the young ones won't know what it means at all. It's a play on words of a song from 1978, a Perth boy called Dave Warner who had a mild hit - "I'm just a suburban boy".  Nothing at all to do with chooks and everything to do with my strange mind.

Anyway, here are my much coveted, long anticipated girls - Daisy and Mabel. They are Australorps, bred by my 10 year old nephew. Tommy (the Border Collie) is self appointed minder. He takes his job very seriously. I get two eggs most days and the girls are very chatty and friendly. If you call me, and I don't answer, you can be pretty sure I am sitting down with the girls.

Tom thinks working hens with the 'eye' works like it does on sheep - it doesn't!

They love their greens

They are trying to find a way to get to all that green stuff!

Daisy in the front

My first egg in the egg basket my Dad made me (after I showed it to him on Pinterest!)

Mabel, in front and Daisy behind. I had just turned over some soil and they loved it.

My daily gift from the girls .. their yolks are so big and dark yellow - makes perfect poached eggs.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A New Office - Part Three - The fun bit

The new office and how we planned it. 

This is the fun part, well it's the fun bit until we start having to consult the budget anyway. Being creative is so expensive!  So how do you start this great big lumbering project? I use Microsoft Project (thanks David for putting it onto my PC :-) and start by creating the big categories first:

  • Lease
  • Preliminary Research
  • Preparation to Move
  • Final Plans and Budget
  • Quotes and Bookings 
  • Business Services
  • Enable Services
  • Demolition
  • Rebuild
  • Decorate
  • Purchases
  • Move
  • Set-up New Office space
  • Clean up and finalise lease at old office
Ideas for the wall panels behind reception desk

Then I go back to each category and fill in every single step that needs to be done. I ended up with five pages of individual tasks - and that's just the draft. As we go along there are always extra steps to add, something we have forgotten, an extra bit to add, an unforeseen problem that needs a solution.

After this list is sketched out, the managers all got together and went over it, adding their two cents worth and fleshing out a time schedule so that it all gets done on time. We have a little time on our side this move, certainly more than we had last time we did this.

Ideas for the staff kitchen

We are up to the final plans and budget stage, with a lot of the quotes and bookings being done this week as well. It's a constant juggling game, the budget has been up and down like a whore's drawers, we lose a bit, gain a bit, lose a lot, gain a bit. I think we are over our original budget but not by a lot (yet)!

It's an expensive business this office fit-out caper - we have a very limited budget of $70,000 which is chicken feed in the world of fit-outs. Some things may have to take a number and sit down for a while, but they are things that we can live without for now and do when money permits. We won't compromise on the customer facing areas, or the comfort for staff areas - got to keep both happy - so they will be done first.

Sofas for the reception area

So, we have a 95% complete plan, a schedule that is (so far) on track, a budget that looks pretty reasonable, funds in the bank and ready to go. Its been a week of Mr K meeting tradies onsite, handing out plans and instructions, getting back quotes and tweaking. More homework on wall finishes, carpets, paint choices, kitchen fit-out (good ole Ikea), cabling options, signs.

We officially take over in a little over a week (1st September) so want it all systems go for then. 

Its about to get LOUD!

Boardroom idea

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A New Office - Part Two - How?

So, in the words of a old school friend of mine who was shipwrecked and lived to write a book about it - How do you eat an elephant?

What it looks like now

Well the answer is obvious ... you don't ... elephants would taste horrible and besides they are such wonderful animals how could you kill one to eat? I guess the rhetorical question might apply if you were a lion, in which case the lion would answer (after he had finished a mouthful, lions are very polite you know) - "one bite at a time".

A Before Photo - to go - pink carpets!, beige walls, vertical blinds - yuck!

Is this how we tackle the move to our new office? One bite at a time? Sure feels like we are moving an elephant! Before we can actually move, we need to do the fit-out of the new place. If we were a mining company or had unlimited cash flow, we would get a fit-out company to come do it for us for about 10 times the cost. We don't have unlimited funds, we have a small loan (small in terms of business, not small in terms of retired people) from my wonderful parents, and that's it so - we can do it ourselves!

Therefore we get smart, work hard and chew like crazy. The plans are almost finished - that was a task and a half on its own. There was only a very rough plan of the office, with no measurements and not entirely accurate. So Mr K and I had to measure every wall, window, partition, pillar, doorway and enter it into a plan making program (Good old Google and Sketchup). Now we had an accurate plan, it was time to get creative and move stuff around on paper.

One thing it has is LOTS of good storage and shelving

Easily done on a piece of paper, but the reality is every wall we moved has to be pulled down and removed in real life. Every line we drew back in, is a wall that has to be built. Mindful of this, yet needing to change the spaces we currently have, Mr K and I worked on a plan that will do both.  I am pretty happy with it so far, but experience has taught me that what works on a plan, does not always work on the ground.

That's OK, we have talented and experienced builders on the job - my Dad and Mr K.

Still in the planning phase, we don't get official possession to start work until the 1st September, we are using this week to get all the trades - plumbers, electricians, data cable, glass partitions guys, sign-writers etc to meet us on site and get quotes and ideas and schedule the works.

View out the front door

Come the 1st, we are into demolishing and clearing out what we don't need. 

Then the next phase begins.  It is a lot of work ahead, but I am just a bit excited!  The next post will be the new plans, the finishes we have selected and the scope of works.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Big Growly, Grey Cat

Back in December, I wrote about a carrot and a stick. A Shaguar - oh Behave!  Seems the carrot got caught and is now sitting in our carport!

Yes. Mr K got his much coveted Jaguar. Its so cute how a (almost) 50 year old man, reverts to a small excited boy who got a bike for his 6th birthday. That smile, the one in the picture, is reserved for the grey cat - I have caught him a few times now, out in the carport with his hand lovingly stroking her, with that grin on his face!

Now, anyone who knows Mr K in the flesh, will know that he is not a car-washing-every-Saturday-then-blowervac- the driveway-and-clean-the-pool kinda guy. He does 'man chores' if and only when they really, really need it. BUT, this Jaguar, that we have had for 2 weeks now, has been washed 3 times, polished once, vacuumed twice and had the leather inside all wiped over. (I know, my Mum will have gasped at this abomination). This is a man who can walk over cat sick for weeks, uses the same coffee cup for days without washing it, decides if a pair of worn undies are clean enough by sniffing them!

So, it must be love. For Mr K to take such care of her, it has to be the real thing.

The nice part - he is sharing his new love affair with me. I got to drive her down the shops the other night. I was terrified. It took me a full 15 minutes to back out of our driveway - I was so nervous I would scratch it. It tells you how to reverse, to watch out for things on your left, right, back front - even peeped loudly when I was about to back over the dog! It turns on the lights automatically, the windscreen wipers when 1 tiny drop of moisture falls.

Then when I got to the shops, I parked right down the back of the carpark, despite it being night and a dodgy area, just so no-one in their common old Ford would dent the door. I packed the shopping carefully in the boot, terrified the milk would tip over and spill. I drove home like a 100 year old Kalamunda granddad on his way to bowls. 

Secretly, I love it too. The walnut burr finish, the black leather, the way it thinks of your every comfort.

Oh and another proof of Mr K's starry eyed passion - he has not smoked in it at all, and said he never will!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A new Office - Part One - Why we are moving

With so much to tell you all, I barely know where to start!  So I will pick the most pressing story, one that will go on for many months to come, so best to make the introductions now.  Part One, is why we are moving in the first place. It was not an easy decision - its not an easy task moving your whole business to a new location.

The tech help desk area

(I have to interject here however, just to say, that since I have been doing Uni writing instead of blog writing, there is this nagging little voice on my shoulder that says this writing should be accurate, researched, peer reviewed, edited, proof read and presented with a cover sheet and crossed fingers. I am trying hard to ignore this little voice, otherwise I simply wont get anything written.)

OK, back to the story. Our business is currently run from a basement in an old lane-way in the heart of Perth. On the surface, the lane-way looks a bit trendy; there is an Irish Pub, a Brewery, Japanese and Thai restaurants, a hipster coffee shop, model agencies, boutiques. You get the picture. But lurking beneath this facade is an old building, in desperate need of some love, not just some cursory patch ups when the tenants scream loudly (and we do, often).

The flood after the water main burst

Drying up after the flood

In a word, our landlord is a dick, without the capital D! He just doesn't care about his tenants at all, certainly has no respect for heritage and old architecture. I actually suspect that his long term plans are to push it all down and put up a office block and car parking. We have been in this basement office for six years now, and boy, did we put a LOT of work into this place. The day we got the key there was a poor old homeless man sleeping in our doorway. Going down some dark grotty stairs we were greeted with a damp, musty smell - the place had been vacant for years.

There were half-assed partition walls, 12 different types of carpet, no air-conditioning, or even any fresh air! We took it on as at the time Perth was in the full flight of a mining boom and there was NOTHING to lease in the city at all. With the help of my wonderful Dad, staff, kids, friends and bank overdraft, we turned the basement into a rather industrial and groovy office space and showroom. We paid well over $120,000 for the privilege, with no concessions on rent - and when we leave we have to leave behind all that we did - a huge aircon unit plus 2 split systems, a fresh air system, cabling, glass and timber partitions, fully painted, carpeted, storage shelves and cupboards, a sink and water (there was none at all when we moved there)

But all that work was ok, we were happy to make the basement a bright light place to work and for our customers to come to. We knew we would never get any assistance from the landlord, but we did not expect him to be so difficult to deal with when we had issues that were out of our control. Like when the tenants next door, a food preparation business, had an industrial size dishwasher that leaked into our boardroom everytime it was run. Dirty, greasy, smelly water that seeped under the walls, into our carpet and furniture, day after day. We complained for months to get it fixed. It took them 6 months, after I threatened to call in the health inspectors (that the food place next door did NOT want) to get any action to fix the problem. We still have a boardroom table that is damaged from this, and no compensation.

The leaking dishwasher into our boardroom

On another occasion our power kept tripping out. Annoying for most business's but when you are an IT business, any power outage is disastrous  It went on for weeks and weeks. We reported it to our landlord .... we heard crickets.  We got our electrician out, he said it was a fault with the main power board - which belongs to the landlord and we don't have access to. We reported it again. The landlord, in his usual fashion, took his own sweet time to even reply to us, meanwhile our power is cutting out almost daily - all our servers dropping off, phones gone, not to mention we are in a basement so when there is no power it is pitch black! OH&S anyone?  In desperation we got our electrician back, and found the maintenance guy who had a key to the powerbox. It was a faulty fuse, took 5 minutes to replace but being 3 phase power cost $850. We sent the bill to the landlord - he refused to pay it as he had not authorised it. Told us we should have reported it and he would have got his electrician to fix it. Arrrrggg.

So, now that our lease is about to be renewed, we go to the landlord, to ask what the new lease will be (expecting that it will be pretty much the same thing, with the yearly 5% increase). In his usual punctual fashion, he got back to us a month later saying he was putting the rent up 25%, wanting a bank guarantee of $55,000 (despite the fact we have paid our rent on the 1st of every month for the last 6 years without exception) plus increase our insurance. 

We counter offered - no rent increase, no bank guarantee, we will increase insurance but we want the landlord to fix the wobbly tiles in the foyer. He refused.
Front reception - Dad built all the timber paneled walls and we put in all glass partitions

So we walk. While we were waiting for the landlord to get back to us, we did our homework and had a good look at what was for lease in Perth. A LOT! The mining boom is waning, and there are so many vacant commercial tenancies that we could bargain hard and get a far better place for a much better deal and with a landlord that will actually talk to you.

As a side note, we are not the only tenants to leave this place. And as we do a lot of the IT support for these business's that are leaving, we get the inside story of why they are leaving. For all the same reasons we are. Its the ones who stay I feel sorry for - as when a tenant leaves, all the outgoings get divided amongst the remaining tenants. At the moment, we are paying one of the highest outgoings in Perth, with no amenities to show for it.

Next episodes will be the planning of the new office, fitting it out, moving, and finally the big opening party!

Monday, August 12, 2013

..... (waving very sheepishly) ... Hello :-)

One of the images we had to discuss ... interesting huh!

Remember me? My dear little blog. Not sure you are going to forgive my absence, but I had good reasons. Really I did. Still do, but I missed you so much that I have found a way to make time for you. Plus, a very special lady and fellow blogger inspired me today with her latest post - thank you Rae.  And a few weeks ago a lovely lady and follower (Hi Judy!) said she had missed you too - isn't it nice to be wanted!

We can put the blame squarely on Uni, that big old brute just demands all my time and energy. But you know, I don't have nearly as much fun there, and I certainly don't get to be creative like I do here. True, I am learning a lot and its interesting stuff I am learning, but it really does take all the fun out of writing. At least this unit has - Engaging the Humanities 100.  

There is one major essay to go, due in 2 weeks and then onto the next unit.  This is why time has been robbed from me little blog. Instead of having semesters or as we called them terms, we have study periods. Four a year, consisting of 13 weeks. They run consecutively with no break from one to the next. So this current unit ends on 25 August and the new one starts 26th August. No break at all, even at Christmas time! So really I am doing the equivalent of 2 units per semester. 

And with this last unit having 6 assignments to submit, plus 2 tests to study for, its a very heavy workload. In between the assignment work, we have a weekly lecture, with discussions we have to attend online afterwards, a reading list - usually 3 or 4 chapters, or articles, and a power-point presentation that wraps it all together and then asks a whole lot of questions that we have to answer and discuss in a discussion board. (Oh that's fun! Discussing all manner of things with doey eyed young feminists :-))

Uni has been great for my mind, saved me from getting too upset about not being able to live on my little farm, kept me 'up' when sometimes I want to drop 'down' and taught me a lot about things I never knew I needed to know!  Its a discipline that I both love and hate in equal measures.

So, I am back here for some creative outlet - perhaps not everyday, but at least a few times a week. And it feels great to be back. I wont leave you again little buddy, promise :-) Besides, I have SO MUCH to tell you ...

  • Mum and Dad's 50th Wedding Anniversary
  • A new car
  • Moving our business
  • I got chooks!!
  • Dad's 75th Birthday
  • What the boys are up to
  • New recipes
  • Oh, soooo many new books to read/have read
  • Interesting assignments 
  • How the garden grows
  • The chooks are laying
  • A weekend away in Denmark
  • A weekend away in Dunsborough
  • An intern from Austria
  • And many more photo's and fun
Most of the family on a log ... Mr K and Boo missing.

Monday, May 6, 2013

When Neighbours are NOT good friends

We have our very own soap opera going on in our neighbourhood. About 6 months ago we got new neighbours. They are right next door to us, but its not us directly they are having the feud with.

The mud map above shows the approximate layout (I am no town planner or artist). The black wavy lines is the river, the parallel lines on the left is a major road. We are in a little cul-de-sac that was just a dead-end when the old house subdivided its land and 5 blocks of land were created. The people who bought the 5 blocks, us included, all built within a year of each other. The only one who didn't was Noisy Kids, they were about 5 years later. 

Hippy Neighbour has lived in her house across the road for over 25 years, she is a very sweet, kind lady, who keeps to herself, and has 2 dogs. You have to have dogs where we live, there are a lot of undesirables wandering about, and the houses without dogs get broken into. We have been broken into 3 times, once while we were in the house and asleep. It happened when we didn't have an outside dog.

It has been a happy place to live. Most of us get along, we have parties in the street, know each other, have helped out when needed, rescued dogs when they got out etc. There are a few characters (the latecomers with squeely girls) who are a little prickly, but on the whole its amicable.

Then the new people arrived. Not very friendly as in, we stop to say hello and we get a brush off, or their little puppy gets out and we take it back and there is barely a thanks but a whole lot of yelling at the dog and kids. Little things that tell you they are just not friendly neighbours and that's fine, Mr K and I have got used to living in suburbia now. This is what you get. We get along fine with Hippy Lady, she is warm and chatty, and the Old House people are the same. The Noisy Kids family are luke-warm too, bit weird (that's a whole new story there) but they generally keep to themselves.

About 3 months ago, Mr K gets a phone call from a very distraught Hippy Lady. She has had a visit from the rangers saying there is a complaint about her dogs barking. Its never happened before. Her dogs do bark a bit, but only because she lives on the main road and opposite is a service station that is frequented by some people who think its their local pub. There are often fights and police and of course the dogs are going to bark - that's why we have them.

Hippy Lady confronted the New people, and said that we have been a nice little neighbourhood and we normally just talk to each other if there is an issue instead of rushing off to the Ranger. She was upset, she is a very touchy feely type, but sensible. New Man just was rude and said to keep her dogs quiet.  A few weeks after this, Mr K gets another, more distraught phone call from Hippy Lady. She has had an argument with the New people and a letter from the council. Mr K advises her to just do the best she can about the dogs, and to ignore the New people. She has also found out that the New people have gone to all the houses in the street (except us) and asked them to sign a petition against Hippy lady. None of them did, but she is now furious at New people.

Mr K talks to her for a while, trying to get her to see a lighter side, to not take it as her problem but theirs. Hippy lady lives alone so her dogs are her protectors and company. Mr K suggests she write them a note telling she is doing what she can (she bought a bark buster collar and locks them up when she goes out) and jokingly, to lighten the mood, he said "give them some earplugs."

So she does!!  She writes a long letter (she gave us a copy) and includes some earplugs for the family. You can guess what happened next! Mr K comes home from work and there is an all out fight going on, not physical but verbal, between Hippy lady and New man. Mr K, ever the negotiator steps in and calms them both down, when New Lady gets home, sees the letter and the earplugs and comes ranting and raving out her house to confront Hippy Lady. 

Its calmed down a bit since then, but there are flare ups and these New people are quickly running out of friends. They don't realise that they make as much noise and disturb people too. Their kids are very noisy, he starts up his truck at 6am, he is a compulsive blower-vac user, and we have heard rows that get loud.  They have an alarm that goes off regularly and guess what?  All of us ignore it. That's all part of living in a close neighbourhood. You just have to mutter under your breath (or blog about it like I do) and get on with your life. We can't go about complaining and whining about every little thing that bothers us. 

If New people wanted quiet, they should not have picked a house that was so close to a main road, a train line, a B&B and other houses. I work from home. Yes it can be noisy, but you know what? I either close my window or play music or put in earplugs. If I want perfect quiet I will move to the country! 

I can't see it being a very friendly Christmas party this year, but it will sure be interesting. Stay tuned for further episodes.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Feng Shui and Home Office Layout

Never one to really believe in unicorn ideas, I need science to explain to me the unexplained and proof that there is a tangible reason behind it. So Feng Shui at first glance for me falls into the positive thinking will get you everywhere, praying, The Secret, Lucky Bamboo category. Until we bought a house many years ago and when Mr K and I were viewing it, we both felt the same thing and commented how good it made us feel. A year or so living in this house, I received a book on Feng Shui and for giggles, I overlaid the principles on this house.

And you guessed it - this house followed all the basic rules of good Feng Shui. So whether it was just luck, or designed this way, or coincidence, the house certainly felt nice to live in and made for a happy house. It never made us wealthy however! We sold this house as we needed to look after my MIL, but when we designed the house we were to build (the one we still live in) we subconsciously applied some Feng Shui rules. Within reason anyway, the block is a battleaxe and the house is huge with a granny flat so we had space constraints.

So what about my home office? As you may remember, last July we renovated the house, including turning the old guest room into my office. It was the last room done and as I had to be up and working very quickly, it was all put together in a rush and that'll do for now. Over the months, it has been feeling all wrong, but I just ignored this as I am so busy and need to work, not re-arrange furniture. The worse thing was having my back to the door, don't know why but it felt all wrong. (Probably because I am a born sticky beak and I like to know who is walking past my door.)

On Thursday, I had a major assignment due, some work deadlines and yet I had this loud and determined voice shouting at me "You have to move your desk, its bad energy to have your back to the door". I tried to just get on with my work, but I kept drifting off and thinking of a better configuration. Friday I knew how it would be. I would move my desk to the commanding position, so I had a view of the opposite wall (and all my books) a view of the door and a view out the two windows outside to my front porch and garden beyond. I would have a solid wall behind me, for strength. 

With the aid of Son#1 and Mr K, I moved it all around and it does feel better. I feel more creative. Lets see if my grades at Uni reflect this!

Now, according to the experts, I have to get an indoor plant (please not bamboo), an inspirational poster to look at, and pack away all my books, except for ones with uplifting titles......

.... WHAT???  Hang on.  Lost me right there. Pack away my BOOKS? Apparently the edges are poison arrows and harmful. I can keep them only if there are a few, there is some softening of them like an ivy draped over, or some crystals scattered in the book shelves. This is not going to happen, so I guess I have just lost any hope of this being my wealth centre and becoming a millionaire.

Oh well.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pumpkins and Apples and a Garden Show

Pumpkins and Apples mean winter is on its way. My favourite season, the time when I feel most like myself.  I found a shapely butternut pumpkin at the markets. She was the Marilyn Monroe of butternuts, shapely and curvaceous and alluring.  I had to take her home with me. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin pie. (ooh just found a recipe for a pumpkin quiche, now that sounds nice)

Old Granny Smith, green and so shinny and firm, it was like the old girl had had a face lift. A bag was purchased - they now lie in the bread making bowl, waiting to be peeled and cored and sliced up, to be laid in a pastry bed with sugar sprinkled over. Did I ever tell you the connection I have with THE Granny Smith of the Apple fame?  No?  Well stay tuned for a blog post right there.

On the weekend we went to the Garden Week at Perry Lakes. Highlight for me? Not all those amazing plant displays, the water features, the 'birdcage' (although they were amazing and inspiring) - nope it was a stand where they were selling apples - from the Perth Hills - just picked yesterday. It was like finding the gold at the end of the rainbow.  I was so busy buying and eating apples I forgot to take a picture!

Funny, the little things are the ones that mean the most.

Here are a few non-apple pictures of the Garden Week.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Writer's (or wannabe writer's) Lament

The problems with trying to become a writer -

  • The writers lament - no words at all and a white page in front of you.
  • Self doubt cleverly disguised as general doubt.
  • Not being able to put anything more sophisticated on the page other than - Here is Dick. Here is Dora. See Dora run. (No. No. Even that's not right!)
  • Drinking way too much (bad) coffee and Vegemite sandwiches.
  • Having great ideas in the shower/toilet/just dozing off and by the time you get a hand to paper, the ideas have vaporised, never to return. 
  • You just know those vaporised words were the start of a best seller.

I have done a number of writing classes now. They have all had a recurring message - Good writing is not because of a muse or natural talent, but sheer hard work, daily discipline to sit at the computer (or over a notebook) and perseverance.  Well, there are days when I have to disagree with this notion. Today is one of them. No matter what I try and write, its utter and complete crap. I start a sentence and its pathetic. Cliched, flowery and just boring. The question is - is it that my writing is always like this and its just that some days I am in a hedonistic cloud and don't see it? Or, other days, like today, I have clarity and see it for how it really is?

Gawd, I hope not!

I submitted a short story to the Country Style magazines Short Story Competition today. I wasn't completely happy with it, but the time had come the walrus said. C'est la vie. The theme was Chance. Thought that was a bit funny - fat chance I have!! 

At least, for the moment, I can hide in the shadows of being a student. It's ok, this phase will pass, it always does. 

I googled "writers doubt" and had a trillion hits. Good to know I am not alone. On the plus side, a found a few great writing blogs. I am off to read them and leave the writing for another day Tara.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Overcoming Perfectionism

I got my first assignment back on Saturday. I had been waiting, dreading, waiting, dreading it. I was disappointed with the result - 13/20 - but can honestly say I deserved it and with hindsight, it's more than I should have got. It's still a credit, but that damn little perfectionist voice in my head wanted no less than 20/20. Which is nearly impossible at Uni, especially in the arts.

A battle has raged in my head since that day, but now we have a truce. My first knee-jerk reaction was to give all this up, declare myself a loser, berate my stupidity, tell myself who was I kidding to ever think I could do this. It was a blow for sure, but realism has to be allowed to play the game too. 

So, this is what I learnt (after a good talking to myself):

  • It was my first assignment attempted for over 10 years. I am bound to be rusty
  • I am here to learn - no point getting a perfect score - means I know it all
  • There is plenty of margin to improve
  • I have learnt where my weakness's are, and where I need to put energy to improve
  • 13/20 is not a failure
  • Analytical essays are tricky at the best of times.
  • I need to work hard at my technical side of writing - that's what let me down, my ideas and argument where well received.
  • I need to use less comma's (my lecturers comment!)
I have a new assessment due on 3rd May. I have done a lot of the research and notes, ready to write a draft today. Then the hard work of editing - this is where writers really earn their keep.

I feel good about this - I overcame my natural tendency to give up when things are not perfect. Maybe I am growing up at last!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Can women have it all and more important, do they want it?

It has been a recurring theme I seem to keep bumping into, one way or another.  I have tried to stay out of it, or at least tried to keep my opinion to myself, but each time I read more or see more, I get more and more distressed. The issue is - can women really have it all? Or maybe, do we WANT it all?

My generation, and downwards, has certainly been told we can and should.  And its almost a travesty if we don't take it and run, after all, our mothers and grandmothers worked long and hard for our so called equality. A lot of it I am very grateful for, being able to work in any job/career I so choose, being financially independent and not reliant on a husband, the pill, having an opinion I can voice.  The list goes on.

But there is a growing concern, both by myself and others, that telling women they can have it all, and then expecting them to do so, is having a detrimental effect. On their health, mental and physical, their happiness, their future.

I worry for these young women, I really do.  I worry that the choices they have been expected to make are not fair.  They put aside the one thing they can't change, and that's their biological clock.  So many are going to uni, getting a great job, building a career, finding a husband (or not) and then, after this checklist is ticked off, they look to a family.  A child.  But by this time, they are well into their 30's and 40's and time is against them. It's not so easy to fall pregnant, or stay pregnant.  Their body is winding down its fertile phase. A lot miss the boat.  Will they, as old women, resent this?  Will they feel betrayed by women singing the virtues of having it all? 

Our bodies are designed to have children in our 20's.  That's biology. How can we argue with that? I have a lot more to say, and will need to corral these thoughts into a coherent argument. It will make a good essay subject, but for now, I thought it may be a good thought provoker for my bloggers.

What are your thoughts?

A story about a 38 yr old women wanting a child.

I watched Q&A this week - I normally have to walk away from the TV Monday nights as I yell at it (the TV, not Monday) too much.

But this was worth watching and very interesting - women talking about this very subject.

ABC IView - Q&A

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Men, Women and New Shoes

So we all know that women cope better with childbirth and a cold.  Men don't cope with either.  But did you know that there is a third thing we do more stoically than those big, tough, brave brutes?

New Shoes.

Women will bear the pain of a new shoe, soldier on and grimace smile the whole day with one glorious thought overriding the pain - I LOVE these new shoes. She will tell her friends, her work mates - even convince herself - how much she loves them.  A little (or a lot) of pain is a small price to pay.

Men, however, will avoid any shoe pain, at any cost (although I do wonder how Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley got on).  

Take Mr K. (please)

He wanted a new pair of shoes.  He only wears RM Williams boots. The same pair last him years. He has a brown pair and a black pair.  The black pair were looking a little agricultural for work, so he retired them to work boots and we went on the hunt for a new black pair. Easy hunting. 

We went to the RM Williams shop, he said he wanted black boots - they have a whole shelf full, and of course 1/2 sizes.  There are his exact size.  He tries them on, just to keep the assistant happy, and said 'yep, they'll do". 

That's it.  Shoe shopping for a man over.

Now the enigma. Where as us women would rush home, try them on again, totter about, plot when we can go out so we can wear them, men just take them home and leave them in the box/bag they came in, until they decide they are ready for the normal rotation.

Mr K's new boots sat (well still sit) in their bag, on the bench near the front door.  Not touched since Saturday when he bought them. There have been no loving glances, no second try ons, no proud displaying in the shoe wardrobe, introductions to all the other shoes. 

Today he has an all day meeting that he attends once a month with fellow CEO's. The PERFECT day to show off a new pair of shoes if ever there was one. I asked him if he was wearing his new boots today? 

"Nah, I want to be comfortable today, I will wear the brown ones."

Huh?  Comfortable?  You don't get more comfortable than RM Williams boots, I am sure part of the hefty prize tag is to pay a cowboy to wear them in for you.

I tell you, men are such wooses.