Words of Wisdom

"What's the good of knowing if you don't tell anyone?"
P.L. Travers

Saturday, 21 March 2015

This Must Be A Whole New Meaning of the Word 'Paint'...

.....of which I was previously unaware.

As part of my new, husband free life, I had promised myself that I would get back into theatre. I spent a great part of my teen years and early adult hood working in professional or semi professional theatre and I miss it badly (that's me as Rabbit in 'Winnie The Pooh', aged 17).
I know my professional (and probably onstage) days are over, but I am happy to be involved in any way so when an ex-pupil let me know that there was a local group who wanted help painting sets, I jumped at the chance.

I contacted the gentleman to offer my services and was slightly confused when he messaged to ask me if I had any 'sketches'. Now not only was this not what I was expecting,  at that point I didn't even know what the production was! Turns out it is 'The Student Prince' and through some miracle of misunderstanding, I was being asked to design and execute scenery for the whole thing!

I quickly got onto Youtube and had a look at a few clips from the movie. Then I discovered the 1929 silent, black and white version of the operetta! I sketched a few things and sent them off to Mr Director. These are ideas for the ballroom.

Apparently, the theatre they're using only has room for 'flats' at the back, no side flats on a slant, so I was looking for ways to draw the eye back into an apparently bigger space.

I really like the last one which was stolen unashamedly from 'Beauty and The Beast' so I was confused when the director fellow replied that he thought it might be too high for the space they had. I had to wait until Saturday when I saw the flats they had to work with. There were sets of 5 of them and they measured 8 ft x 20ft! The whole ratio of the drawings was wrong.

24 hours later and I had redrawn them to reflect this long narrow shape. Below is the interior of the Inn and beneath that...the Grand ball room.

Down I went with an ancient  OHP, expecting to be working in the theatre space, only to find we were in a tin shed, with skylights, in broad daylight. One set of flats had been readied, flat on the ground, in the carpark in the blazing sunlight, and half a dozen willing volunteers were looking at me with expectant eyes.

Now, as I am currently meant to be cleaning the house ready for the open inspections this afternoon, and being picked up in 90 minutes for a winery tour, I will just hint at the chaos that has followed.
  • not enough space in the shed to stand all 5 flats side by side for drawing purposes
  • obviously very little chance to use the OHP to project the designs onto the flats, due to the light
  • asking a group of volunteers to paint over a previous backdrop on one set of flats...and finding they had painted over it in sky blue.
  • the perspective confusion caused by more than one person tracing extremely faint lines from an OHP onto the flats (took two hours to work out why it didn't look right)
  • the perspective confusion caused by an off centre OHP, resulting in the whole design being sideshortened
  • the blown bulb last night which resulted in a mercy dash back to school to borrow the one remaining OHP I knew of (you should SEE the lamp bulb! It must be 50 years old!!!!)
  • being unavailable to supervise the kids who painted the block background colours onto one set of flats on the Sunday, see below.... (that is meant to be a warm, cream background...)

 This is as far as we've progressed on the inn interior, and this

is the beginning of the beer garden. Apparently only the section up to the black line is visible to the audience. I know. Don't ask me.....

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Valley Week

Yeah it's been a valley week. None of us get through these with out our 'peeps'.

Started off when I went to a Quilt Meeting to find the 'Kidzone' design I had been working on was too modern, unrepresentative of Sunday School through the ages, and would need to be re-thought. They were nice about it and it isn't the most world stopping design, but....

Then I had an email from the agent saying there'd been no enquiries so he wasn't going to do an open this weekend. And then I opened some work emails late one night to be flooded with cries of "when are you going to see me/have that meeting/take that child out of my class/ provide me with the answers to life the universe and everything...?" and suddenly I feel a little overwhelmed.

Last night I attended the 21st birthday of a young lady who has known the BA since 2003. It was a Disney party. I had to cobble together a costume.

"When did Disney do chimney sweeps?" demanded the hostess's brother.
"Mary Poppins!" said his exasperated girlfriend.
"Ohhhhh,"the light bulb flickered, "and you've made the broken umbrella and everything!"

Now given that he could not remember the chimney sweeps, I was amazed that he could remember what the bankers did to Mr Banks' umbrella! Nevertheless I informed him,"It's not an umbrella, it's a chimney sweep's broom!!!!!"
"Since when did Mary Poppins sweep chimneys?" insisted my inebriated friend....
Oh never mind, have another drink.....

Today I went into a local amateur theatre group's headquarters to start painting some sets, only to find they expected me to run the whole thing. This was fine except that I was not expecting a 20 foot by 8 foot backdrop and all my sketches were in the wrong ratio.

Cue redraw, cue OHP in a brightly lit shed at 30C+. Cue fail.
By 4.30 we had sketched up one out of three scenes and everyone had a dehydration headache.

Tomorrow I have a Kidzone (Sunday School) meeting with our new minister and the gang, during which we need to discuss the lead up to our centenary celebrations and our role in that context. Pretty sure it will be high-jacked by the new guy. Oh well! Such is life.

My Baby Angel, my work colleagues and my church friends, not to mention my Bestie and the family via Skype, have all been upholding me.

This too shall pass.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Another Week Down...

...and no progress. But we do have nice sunsets.

I am trying to focus on enjoying where I am right now rather than obsessing over the fact that I'm still stuck in this house. Recently  the deaths of two lovely people, both sudden and unexpected, has reminded me to 'live in the moment', so that's what I'm trying to do.

For example, this weekend we didn't have an open inspection (long weekend and to tell the truth, I think the agent is just a bit fed up with driving all the way down here....) so I have been getting stuck into the garden. There is nothing like pruning when you feel you have no control over anything in your life. Pruning is all about control. Not happy with this bit? Chop it off!!

Having built up quite a sweat from my efforts, I went for a swim in that bane of my life, the pool.
It is that moment, when you plunge into water at the perfect temperature, washing the sweat from your face as you surface smoothly to glide towards the warm rocks; it is at that moment that it all seems worthwhile. All the topping up; the vacuuming;  washing the filter out; emptying the skimmer box; removing the leaves, palm blossom and never ending gumnuts; all the associated bills: water, electricity, bags of salt and algaecide, all this fades from your consciousness as you scull on your back, looking up at the afternoon sky.

I will be glad when it's someone else's job though.

I'm also keeping a few promises I made to myself. I'm going to get back into amateur theatre. I've reconnected with an old friend who is a local choreographer and she has asked me to do backstage, dressing room supervision and quick changes etc for a season of 'Cats'. It's a start! Plus I might be painting sets for another group and.... it's senior school musical year (oh boy oh boy)!! After the excitement of running the Primary School musical last year, I return to the realm of costumes alone for the secondary school.

Here's a bit of last year's fun and games:

Modest costumes for 10 year old 'harem dancers'.

A Babylonian crown. Of course.

The only picture I took of the set! And this was as we were bumping out.

Ever since my SLR camera died and I was forced to replace it with a point and shoot digital (with no view finder :-(.... ), I have kind of lost my photo mojo. During the production of this show, I was so flat out I didn't even think of it until the last night. Since then I have packed the camera away along with everything else in my office but, hopefully, I will have moved house and unpacked all my boxes before the next show, ensuring a more faithful reporting of all our endeavours. The whisper right now is that we will be doing 'The Jungle Book'.

The other exciting thing in my otherwise limbo-like life, is the Church Centenary Quilt...I mean Banner.

When I was invited to be on the Centenary Committee, I was asked to think of a way to decorate one of the halls for the celebration lunch. One thing lead to another and I suggested that we see about making a banner for the chapel, to commemorate the event. I approached another two ladies whom I knew were crafty and keen and we have been plotting and planning ever since. We've now got our basic design (and guess what...it will be two banners) and we've started handing out squares for people to create upon. This is to be a community effort, with 24 squares representing the many ministries of our church surrounding two central panels, one the old church and one the new, and linked like chains. Hard to picture I know. Don't worry. I'll post progress reports.

Finally, I have hired a personal trainer and I'm trying to get my body back. As often happens in times of stress, I allowed myself to put on a lot of weight last year, and more importantly, to become very unfit. Now, with my twice weekly training, I was able to comfortably lift a 25kg bag of salt yesterday, as well as cart 6 boxes of books downstairs for the Bestie, who is in her own 'moving, selling and building a new house', hell.

So there you are. Living in the moment, doing what I love to do.

What have you done with yourselves this past week? I'd love to hear.

Monday, 2 March 2015

The Great Boulevard Sewing Bee

 So I thought I'd do a sewing post as I am sick of thinking about my house failing to sell.....

Back on Australia Day (26th Jan), Kindergarten Friend and his wife (The Divine Miss M) asked me to accompany them to the Fashion Icons Exhibition at the City Art Gallery. This was an extraordinary treat for those of us with a love of fabric and sewing. The original pieces by designers such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves St Laurent and Dolce & Gabbana were so displayed that you could walk right up to them and peer at the stitching! We marvelled at the metres of delicately folded fabrics and intricate beading.

 In the Art Gallery Shop, they were typically profiting from all items (cough:TAT) that could be remotely related to sewing or fashion. I fell for the old 'simple pattern for a skirt' trick, encouraged by a demo model on a mannequin in a striking African print. The Divine Miss M , who claimed not to be able to sew for $%#@, agreed to purchase some IKEA fabric and let me make her a skirt. I have yet to see this fabric.

BUT.... several days later I had cause to visit Local Cheap Material Superstore, let's call it Floodlight, and spotted some cheap and cheerful African print which I thought I could probably use

That's it on the left. The skirt was ludicrously simple and I quickly decided to make the skirt reversible, finding this other pleasant ethnic fabric in my stash.

Buoyed by my success, I quickly made this skirt:

(not really enhanced by my long tailed black shirt)
And this one, opting for a tie and 'wrap around' effect for the final version.
(please forgive bathers and megafat arms)

 So 3 skirts (4 if you count the reversible) from the one pattern....and I'm NOT DONE!!!!!

Meanwhile, I have been sewing plastic storage bags for the 'Kidsboxes' at church, and was rewarded by the sight of two young children playing with toys that had been in the box for ages, but never used.

Also whilst at the Exhibition, I succumbed to a 'sew your own' scarf kit which is basically a piece of fabric and a skein of thick thread for you to do a running stitch along the edge of it. Pics of that 'gem' when I've completed it :-)
The whole sewing 'simple and quick' has been very cathartic mind you, particularly in the face of my current woes.

Viva La Fashion!!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

I'm In A P****d Off State of Mind

Hellooooooooooo Bloggerworld!
Yes, it is me...I am back. Oh my goodness I love this space.

"So why aren't you here more regularly?" I hear you ask!.. A good and valid question... and one with which I have been struggling for some time.

Sometimes I am just too tired to write. Sometimes the overwhelming sadness of my current situation renders me inarticulate. No one wants to hear my whinging.

But here I am.  It's late, there is champagne involved, but my visceral need is to reach out into this place where I have found solace and wisdom in the past.

Oh and let's face it...no one else is listening :-)

So when I left you I was wallowing in my 'crap Christmas' and moving forward towards the sale of my house and the start of my post huband life. Guess what?


The agony of Open Inspections is with us every weekend. We find out the time around Thursday each week and we plan the weekend around housework, garden tidy up and hiding away the day to day paraphernalia of life. Sound system, TV, telephone and even the kettle, get swept off the kitchen benches and secreted in the pantry. Put away the sewing machine, the computer and the watering can. Buckets, mops, laundry baskets and cat food get moved up to the shed and the cats have to be tracked down and locked into The Pit for the duration of the inspection. Outside, Himself arrives, geared up for sailing, but he mows the lawn, vacuums up bark and leaves and makes a half hearted stab at sweeping the patio.

We are all over it.

For the first few inspections we filled vases with flowers, lit candles and set up glasses of wine. We removed every trace of our day to day life and presented a well manicured garden, teeming with life. Now, we sweep everything away with a lick and a promise, wave a hose over the browning lawn and pray for someone to come. We've had to reduce the price and we still had only one looker last Sunday.

We had a perfect offer back at the end of January. On the first day back at school I had the phone call saying someone had offered exactly the amount we wanted, and I cried with relief. That weekend I took Prof J and her engineer husband out to see the house I was keen on, and I made an offer.
OK it had a pool (not what I wanted) but it was so right in every other aspect. I made the offer subject to settlement and held my breath.

On the Tuesday of the following week the agent called to say the buyers had changed their minds. The reason? The wife didn't want to live on a slope. Hello, why was she looking in our area? ALL the houses are on slopes :-D

The house I had offered on accepted my offer, but once they learned I had no sale at my end, they insisted on the right to continue advertising.

As a result, the following weekend they received a better offer.

So we are back at the drawing board. The stress of having to work around the inspections is telling, although I must say The BA has been a great support and practical assistant. She is currently waiting for Uni to start up again. Having dabbled somewhat unsuccessfully last year, on her return from overseas, she has changed courses and hopefully will be more confident, resilient and successful this year. She applied for a full time job this week, thinking that she might defer her course and work first, but it didn't pan out. Oh well, she has other options. She's lucky in that respect!

Meanwhile Himself is living in rental accommodation, somewhat closer to our 'village' centre. In further confirmation of the reason why I cannot continue to hitch my (financial at least) star to his, he claimed to have been unable to have considered selling the house whilst living in it. Huh. Nice for some........
I have heard nothing from the boys. When I spoke to No 2 Son to advise of some urgent mail he asked me quite guilelessly where I was living. Despite having had Christmas Dinner together, the family had not discussed the marital situation at all. They were unaware of the plans for the house or the stage we were up to with respect to its sale. I briefly wondered whether they had noticed my absence at the dinner table.

This was so not the outcome I had expected when I made my vows 9 years ago.

Wish us luck in our wait folks!!


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Just Because they Say They Don't Love You Doesn't Mean You Haven't Done A Good Job

As I find so often nowadays, I must preface this post with the fact that I started it a long time ago.
Nevertheless, as I move to complete it, there are still issues that remain unresolved and roads to travel for both of us. And so I give you:
My Struggle With My Beautiful BA


(Quite A While Ago in 2014)

So the beautiful but temperamental Baby Angel (who would probably need a new name if she even remembered I had a blog, let alone bothered to read it) is not dealing well with my decision to strike out on my own.

I had not anticipated this.

In the past, The BA has sagely commented on the foibles of the male members of our family, summing the whole lot up with statements such as 'I wish we had a normal family'.
Well apparently, it seems, a crap family is better than none and guess what? It is all my fault!
Of course.

Because you see, I am still the adult. Even though the BA is 19 going on 105, she is still a neophyte human being with limited life experience.
And because I am still a teacher, while I am going through **** , you might as well learn from it.

So, here are her declarations and the obvious common responses.
I give you however, the Flaming Sword responses as an alternative.

1) "Mum", she cries, " You are messing up my life!"

Trap for Swordless parents: omg she is right. I am being so selfish. I should stay with him to provide a stable home for her to stay in for ....oh another 6 months before she moves out with her boyfriend.

Sword Response: This is a minor inconvenience for you now. You will still have a place to live, a roof over your head and food on your table. The negative elements of your life are being removed and with that comes pain. No one said life would be without pain. Nevertheless, the change will provide many positives which you still (because of your youth) cannot see. You will be ok. You will survive this my very loved child. The people who have been your stable childhood are all still there. You can adjust. You have the foundations.  You have the ability. You are resilient and you will be better off in a less stressed environment.

2) "Mum", she cries,"You are such a hypocrite, what can you tell me? You discouraged sex before marriage and yet we KNOW what you did!!"

Trap for Swordless parents: omg she is right, I was so totally a slapper.....

Sword response: That is like saying a person injured in a car accident cannot caution others against excessive speed.

3) "Mum", she cries,"venom venom venom "
Trap for Swordless parents: I am a terrible parent, I must get my child to love me again....

Sword Advice: when your child spews venom at you, respond with "I'm sorry you feel that way, however...." This strategy works as well at the age of 19 as it does at 4.

 You may have noticed that this last example was a trifle vague. That is because there were actually more nasty things that she said to me, but (the good news is), two months on, I can't remember what they were.... (deliriously happy face)

My happy lesson to you is that whatever I suggested....works!


It is now a long time since I started this post. There were about three weeks of awful, awful agony as she wrestled with the idea of giving up her 'childhood' home and her dysfunctional family. In that time she threw barbs at me which would pierce the toughest armour. Every flaw in my character, every mistake I had ever made in my life (all of which I have discussed freely over the years, believing that all learning is valuable) was brought back to assault me. I will not pretend the attacks did not hurt. Oh my goodness they hurt. They hurt because generally they were true but also because when I had revealed these 'life lessons' it was with the idea that she might 'learn' from them. I had not really anticipated catching them as a low blow to the stomach. Call me naive.

Since this post The BA has come around. I can almost pinpoint when it happened. She had stormed off to spend the weekend with her boyfriend and on her return she hugged me and said sorry. I don't know what had transpired on that weekend but she came back a changed girl. After weeks of resentment, obstruction, and aggression she returned resolved and cooperative.

So what are my lessons for you, young parents out there with younger kids and the vagaries of life before you?
My answer is: It is a process. It starts when they are tiny and you build, build, build upon it.

Every positive interaction you have with your child early on cements a relationship which will pay you back in spades later.

My relationship with the BA is far from storybook. It is normal and healthy, which involves a fair bit of argy bargy but when all is said and done, this is what she wrote on my Christmas card this year:

Dear Mum
I am sorry I decided to spend Christmas away this year, in hindsight I wish I hadn't. Just wanted you to know that I love you am always here for you no matter the distance. 2015 will be our year to start afresh and kick a***. I love you to the moon and back and appreciate everything you've done for me over the past years. I admire your strength, compassion and selflessness as an individual and your way of always making me feel loved. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Mum.

(I am not making this up!)

Friday, 5 December 2014

You Want My View Sucker? Pay Serious Money For It!!

Oh my goodness I am angry.

It has been a month of massive change and I am sitting (uncomfortably) in a low chair, typing with my elbows on my knees in this 'show home' of a building.

We stripped ourselves bare in order to attract a buyer and do you know what? I don't look my best bare nowadays. You wanna find my value? You gotta look a whole lot deeper than the cellulite thighs and the middle aged paunch.

This house has character. It may be a quirky character but it is not without purpose. There are distinctive areas in this house in which different groups of people can exist apart from each other and oh. my. goodness....that can be a precious thing.

This house has frontage on two streets. It has a shed with full power. It has a double garage to keep your car from rusting out. It has a pool which is a blessing on a 40C day and ..........

I am not selling it to you for peanuts!

In fact asshole, I may rent out rooms so that I can: nurture my garden, know my way home in the dark, spread out my sewing, stay in an area I love and continue to enjoy the beautiful sunsets rather than give my beloved home away to you for a song.

I hope I have made myself clear.