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.

Monday, April 8, 2013

My Secret River - Wisemans Ferry

My Dad, Mum, dog Cindy and me.  I LOVE this picture - taken on my river abt. 1968

Sometimes, a book comes into your life that opens up a vein and lets you bleed your past and hidden memories for a while. Such a book has come into my life, and yet, I resisted reading it for a long time as I had a preconceived idea that it was a book that would preach at me.  Funny how our minds work.  I  'eased' into reading The Secret River by Kate Grenville by first reading the book she wrote about writing it.  Called Searching for the Secret River, Grenville created an inspiring book for writers - the how and why and where - of writing a novel.

Standing in a book shop, reading the first paragraph of Searching for the Secret River I caught my breathe at the last two words...

In the puritan Australia of my childhood, you could only get a drink on a Sunday if you were a 'bona fide traveller',  That meant you had to have travelled fifty miles or more. Around Sydney a ring of townships at exactly the fifty-mile mark filled with cheerful people every Sunday. One of them was a little place called Wiseman's Ferry. 
(Grenville, Kate. Searching for the Secret River. Melbourne (2006)

Will become one of my top 5 books for sure.

Wiseman's Ferry is the place I have always called home. Its a strange notion, as I only spent about three years of my life there, yet it holds the strongest memories and yearnings in me.  Helen Garner wrote about this notion too, in her short story Writing Home in the book, The Feel of Steel, ... "Whats home supposed to be, anyway?"  Only one other time did I feel like I was coming home, and that's when I flew over the checkered fields of England for the first time and wept with an emotion I did not understand - I truly felt like I was now home, yet I have never lived there and was born in Australia.

I have lived in Western Australia for 86% of my life, yet it still, does not feel like my home. In my heart, I am still a Sydney-Sider. All the significant things in my life have happened to me in WA - meeting my best friend, my husband, owning a horse, having my children. Just shows how powerful our early memories are.

I devoured Searching for the Secret River in a day, and I could not get to its big sister quick enough.  Now three quarters the way through The Secret River, I have slowed down and am savoring it slowly, like a good drop of port on a cool night.  I don't want to leave the place, its my childhood place,   where all my memories come from, its my home. When Grenville wrote of the tides and colour of the river, I am taken to times when we crossed the ferry and I stood on the edge and watched this majestic river. When she talks of the flats and the cliffs and ridges, I am taken back to long walks, exploring the bush behind our house, playing on those flats, swimming in the river, my dad crossing all the way to the other side to steal a watermelon and the wonder that such a heavy thing can float. I recall my Mum milking a cow in a field and the sight of my river one side and the cliffs the other, the thick grass and flat cow-pats, the old farmhouse that I still yearn for. I am not at all religious but there is a derelict church on the side of a hill that I always said I wanted to get married in. I have so many warm and golden memories of this place - my grandfather and boats, my catholic friend and her many brothers and sisters, the smell of rain in summer, the thrill of playing in a cave, moss on rocks, getting purple while sitting in the mulberry tree on  the river, crabs in the mud, dead animals floating during a flood, the whip birds, poplar trees, winding roads, my baby brother, my happy parents, my tiny school of 17 kids.

The Ferry that takes you to Settlers Road and my home.  I can still hear the chug, chug and the sound when the ramp scrapes up the bank.

The house my Dad (and Mum) built as it looks today - note the rock wall.

My Brother, Cindy and I with Dads rock wall in progress behind us.  The mountains all around still feel familiar to me.

I have a lot more to say and show about this place, some good writing fodder.  

Is there a place you call 'home'?  Why?

Searching For The Secret River

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A confession - I need ANOTHER bookcase

Sorting just some of my books on the dining table

A small sample of bookshelves in my reading room

My books (mostly) in Mr K's study

I already have eight.  But I need another one.  Does this constitute an addiction?  

I have been trying hard to buy books electronically (last count was 56 books on my kindle) but there are just some books that have to be real. And I really did try and cull the books, I took about 10 boxes to the book exchange.

Since we renovated last July, I have collected another 4 shelves of books, and as they have no home at the moment, they are stacked beside my bed, beside my reading chair, in a basket beside my reading chair, on the coffee table in the lounge-room, on my desk, on the floor beside my desk.

I am not sure where this new book case will go.

Maybe challenging myself to read 100 books in 2013 was not helping this addiction?  I see a trip to IKEA in my immediate future.

Billy Bookcase - I want one with doors this time. I will have to rearrange my office.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Good Reads

Found this fabulous website yesterday, which has probably been around ages and I am the very last to cotton on, but I just love it.

Good Reads

You can link it to your Facebook and track all the books you read, want to read, what your friends are reading and you can set yourself a challenge to read a number of books in a year.

I set the bar high at 100 books to read this year.

Which will mean less blogging and more reading.  Ciao :-)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Too much to do, I want to retire now please.

Ok.  Can I hand in my resignation and start retirement?  There are so many things I want to do and work is just getting in the way.  I think I am ready to be a kept women.

Here is my to do list (for this year alone)

  • Write my novel
  • Research the next one
  • Sort out and data entry all my family history research
  • Continue the research, preferably in the UK
  • Build an organic vegetable garden, with chook house
  • Go back to my home town of Wisemans Ferry and just be for a while
My Aunt called me a few months ago, telling me she was going to the UK and could I give her what I knew about a branch of the family that came from Devon.  I knew I had a lot more data in my files than I had got around to entering in the computer.  I wanted to present her with a very detailed family tree (she is after all an (ex) school teacher so the goody two shoes was coming out in me).  I knew I had a few months, and the sticky note with all the info got moved along in my diary as each week passed.  

Yesterday morning I get a phone call.

Jodie, it's your Aunty J here.  

Oh Hi.  I guess you are off to the UK soon.  Sorry I haven't got that info for you yet.  When do you leave?


Oh crap.  Ok, well can I email it to you today?  

I am up at your cousins place, can you drop it around to me?

6pm and I had it all printed out for her.  My other Aunt, who I haven't seen for about 15 years (at least) and lives in NSW was over too as she is going with Aunty J to the UK.  Bonus.  I get to see both the old favourite Aunties at once.

My cousin lives less than 2 km from me.  I rarely see her, we bump into each other at the shops sometimes.  So I popped around and it was wonderful, that family connection, it felt so natural.

How did I get so removed from my family that I love?  This is what our modern lives do to us.  We get too busy for the things that really matter.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

An Easter Escape

I will write more about our weekend away, but for now, these pictures will tell 1000 stories.

Our rig - Navara, Trailer Camper, Motorbike and Kayak. Cunderdin WA  

Outside the (closed for Good Friday) No3 Pumping Station Museum at Cunderdin

What you do on camping trips

What we go out here for!

Camp - and boys getting a lesson in wood chopping

More Trees 

Even more trees

Minty - even she likes camping - its the camera she hates!

...and more trees ...

We actually wore Tommy out - ever so briefly
Having fun at the dam.

Having fun on the motorbike - view from the dam

Over 100 year old aquaduct

Karalee Dam

For a 14 year old, blind dog, she still has fun - she went swimming too! Tommy follows her about and looks after her.

Sun setting on a fun day - these boys will sleep well tonight

Slow cooked lamb on a real open fire - we had this for Saturday night - with a bottle of red, under a full moon and a trillion stars.  Beats any 5 star hotel!