Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Team Up Thursday: Close Up

JoLyn is in Nicaragua this week and has limited computer access so she asked me to take her breathtaking photo of water splashing and do something with it.

Do you know how daunting that was????

Well, there was much tooing and froing across the room last night as Himself weighed in on the project with his designer's opinion. This combination was not his choice; in fact he disagreed with it so strongly he sent me some of his own super-duper close up shots taken with his professional fabuloso macro camera thingy, to use instead. I felt that would be taking 'assistance' too far and preferred to use one of my own. He did like one I put together using a photo of rock textures from Kangaroo Island (again) but I didn't think the close up was close enough and my camera is just not good enough to get in reeeeal close like JoLyn has done.

So here you have a more 'real' offering. My imperfect shot paired with JoLyn's sensational one (Himself was most impressed) as if she is about to bathe the Baby Angel's tired feet!

And that's Team Up Thursday for this week from me! I'm not even sure whether JoLyn will choose this combo as I gave her the option of the (designerly) better combo with rock. She can only get internet access early morning and late evening and I don't know if I missed the window when I belatedly got this together last night. Oh well! Makes for an interesting 'life on the edge' :-D You may get to see Himself's preference over at A Year of Happy.

For more dynamic duos, check over at Melody or Megan's for Team Up Thursday.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Ma Babies!!

Baby No1 wearing her new winter school uniform (thanks Auntie Middle Sis xx). I think she looks really smart and not 'alf bad eh? She was less impressed but I think she's got to admit it's better than the summer uniform. I saw her off at the airport this morning. A whole crowd of 'redcoats' caught the plane for a school trip to Canberra; our nation's capital rah rah rah. One mother said to me that she felt sorry for them having to wear their uniforms. Pfft! If that's the worst thing they ever have to do in their lives.........
Baby No 2. Still little Miss No Name kitten. Mostly I call her KitKat and Himself calls her The Feral although secretly we know he likes her because when she went missing the other day he was so cross with us!
Himself: I cannot believe you lost that cat after all the trouble we went to catch it!!!
and later
Himself: How dumb is that? To lose a cat so soon after catching her? What were you all thinking?

Hmmm. Methinks he doth protest too much :-)

Did I tell you how we 'caught' her? Well, she just wandered in and stood there looking at us. Before she knew it we had shut the door behind her and she retreated under the nearest item of furniture. After chasing her from sofa to TV cabinet for awhile, I put my ski gloves on and reached down behind the sofa. She came surprisingly meekly. She very quickly started purring and sat happily on my knee but as soon as I put her down she was OFF. Eventually we confined her to the laundry 'bathroom' as the Yanks say, with some food, a cat bed and a litter tray. The food proved very popular, the cat bed is well utilised but the litter tray....huh, what is that for??

Does anyone have any clue as to how to convince a kitten that the litter tray is the place to 'do it'?? I swear that shower recess has been scrubbed more times in the last 5 days than it has in total in 5 years!!!

Tonight, she's actually playing a bit out here in the study/lounge room. She has chased a ball and a fake mouse and at one point came out to see me but as soon as I looked around she disappeared again!

Such an exciting life I live :-)

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Major Upheaval

This title seems to apply to so much in my world at the moment; parents, home, school, pets, children....

Let me start with the sale of Mum and Dad's 'holiday' house: the reallocation of furniture, the assimilation of furniture, the selling of furniture on ebay, the sorting of trash and treasure, the garage clean out......

Ma and Pa have been coming to visit us here for the last 7 years, staying at their nicely appointed holiday house in the suburbs. For the 8 months a year that they live in the UK, the house stands empty or is looked after by family friends. It earns them nothing and costs them money. This year they decided to sell it.

Fortunately it sold quickly, conditional upon sale of the buyer's property. Due to Mum and Dad's imminent departure to the UK, the date for completion was set for the 16th of April. We had less than two months to empty the house of an accumulated 7 years of furniture and life 'trappings'.

I became ebayer extraordinaire selling chairs, beds, wall units, and the like, to clear the house. Of course, I 'bagsyed' the best of what they were giving away; a fridge, a washing machine, some outdoor furniture (we had none), a set of modern dark wood entertainment units and coffee tables (similar to left) and a double bed for the Baby Angel. Once No1 Son had been cajoled into making time to empty the garage of his accumulated junk, decisions had to be made around the placement of new furniture.

Now, when we first bought our house in 2005, we were blending two families with all the attendant baggage and sentiment which that entails. Consequently, I agreed to let Himself furnish the front room with his old, sentimental furniture; notably an extremely worn and dated cream leather 3 piece suite and a battered sideboard, built by his father, which now has broken doors and dated handles. Himself had always promised that he would renovate the sideboard and clean up and repair the lounge suite but, sadly, this has never happened and so when the opportunity to replace some of the offending articles appeared, I began to formulate my plans.

I firstly convinced No2 Son that he needed another storage unit in his bedroom to prevent all that mess on the floor (cos why else would there be mess on the floor....right? :-D). I suggested the sideboard would be an appropriate item.
I then, single handedly, pushed the sideboard out through three rooms, onto the back verandah. The room was clear for the arrival of new furniture.

Once the removalists had done the deed I sat, on the old leather sofa, and planned my next move. I had a number of options in mind by the time Himself came home from work and I had toyed with placement of various items. In my fiddling I had placed the coffee table unit on top of the entertainment unit and put together two side tables to form a coffee table. Himself surveyed the chaos and noticed the same thing I had.

"We could move the TV over here and put it onto this entertainment unit and then we would be able to connect up the surround sound speaker system which has been lying dormant for 5 years!"
"So you don't mind the coffee table on top there?"
"Nahhh. I think it gives the unit a good shape."
"I need to take the legs off, I was just looking at it up there I..."
"Naaaaah. Don't worry, I can use that little space for something useful."

Against my better judgment I decided to let him put it all together and make a decision afterwards. If anything needed to be changed, then surely it could be?

After a lot of hefting, heaving and connecting of cables I was called in for an opinion.
Me: What's that thing?
Himself: That's the sub woofer. It's the thing which makes the floor rumble when there's a car chase.
Me: It's as ugly as sin and it sticks out like dogs b****.
Himself: Ah yes, but it makes aaaaallll the difference when there's an explosion in the movie.
Me: *insert a look which would wither a significant portion of the Amazon rain forest.*
Himself: No, really, you'll see, it will be worth it.
Me; OK well, could we find somewhere less obtrusive to put it?

To his credit (he really is a good stick after all), he found a more discrete spot to tuck away the mammoth boom box and continued to merrily plug everything in.

What happened next is difficult to delineate although I do remember having just come back into the room. Out of nowhere the floor began to vibrate and massive bass feedback seemed to emenate from all around us.

Me: Himself! You can't have that on so loud at this time of night! You'll wake the neighbours!!

At this, Himself looked panicked and guilty and hastily flicked off every switch in the vicinity.
To our surprise the noise continued and then intensified! We looked at each other for several seconds before I bellowed 'What the h*** is that!?' At this point the whole house was shaking.
"I think it's an earthquake," he gasped and we raced, logically, out onto the balcony to see if we could see any other reason for the continuing vibration. At this point, everything subsided and we were left looking at each other, slightly breathless and white faced.

We were still unsure as to what had actually happened. After checking on the BA, who sleepily thought someone had rolled the wheelie bins down our driveway, Himself went to check downstairs and I ran out into the back garden to see if the retaining wall had collapsed! A few quick phone calls confirmed that we had not been alone in our experience.
"I think we've had an earthquake," said our neighbour.
"But we're in ADELAIDE, I exclaimed, we don't have earthquakes in Adelaide!"
"Well," she said, introducing an idea which I was to hear repeated over the following week,
"we are on a faultline you know......"

Team Up Thursday (er Saturday...):Green

Things have reached a new low. Not only have I posted nothing since Friday...I couldn't even get Team Up Thursday up on time....although I had it ready! There just always seems to be something else to do. So here it is, although JoLyn got it up on Thursday and did all the posting and commenting on everyone else's diptychs. She probably has something more intelligent to say about it too; my first week back at school has been neuron crunching.

I'm trying to get a post together to sum up the recent weeks...

Friday, 16 April 2010

Get ON With It

Could someone please explain to me why I am sitting at the computer looking at , admittedly beautiful, diptychs when I should be rearranging my house for the furniture arriving in three hours time?????? Why do I DO this to myself????????

This is kind of a facebook post isn't it? Perhaps I had better just click over and check facebook.....

Team Up Thursday: Breakfast

Oh! The angst this week fellow diptychers!
What made us choose 'breakfast' as a theme????

I mean, to start with, heavenly images of frying eggs, bacon and pancakes sprang to mind........ but then left. I thought of trying to capture Himself's face over breakfast first thing in the morning....but I was endangering my lens :-D. JoLyn went out to see the horses having breakfast but was still uninspired.

I had actually had a picture in my mind all week, after seeing our two cats line up for breakfast at their bowls recently; I kept waiting for the scene to repeat itself but Pippin was obviously feeling uncooperative and was nowhere to be seen. As a result I had to make do with a solo Morticia as she chowed down the other morning. I'm not sure if you can see it but she's actually looking at me out of the corner of her eye!

'What is that mad woman doing lying down on the laundry floor???'

JoLyn on the on the other hand captured a classic example of the sort of multi tasking many of us perform at breakfast!

So it is with trepidation that we give you our hard earned and dubious 'Breakfast' diptych today.

Would you like hash browns with that??

Check out what other duos have prepared for you today/night...over at Team Up Thursday!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

An Invite To Coffee and Chat

I can't believe I was lucky enough to jag the amazing JoLyn as a partner in Team Up Thursday. Not only is she an amazing photographer with an eye for beauty but she is a mover and shaker! After a cool post reminiscent of a blog carnival, she has decided to put together a weekly Blog Cafe. The idea is that a variety of bloggers will host the cafe and decide upon on the 'venue', 'food' and topic of conversation. The first post will be at 12.01 on Monday wherever the host is in the world. The attendees will call by whenever it's convenient and have their cup of coffee and chat then. :-) Hopefully people will call by more than once and the conversation will bounce back and forwards.

Check out this post to see JoLyn's much more emotive explanation and also a few basic rules of blog etiquette.

I'm hoping to host the cafe in the next few months so stay tuned and I hope a few of you will join in and perhaps meet some kindred spirits or be challenged in some (positive) way.

Cos hey, there's nothing we like better than a chat right?

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother and Himself recently.

Someone had mentioned that the women in our family are all good talkers. Whilst resembling that remark I was also quick to point out that I can sit for hours in the same room as Himself and never utter a word. I am very proud of the way I am able to let my husband 'get on with' his work and don't feel the need to talk at him constantly.

"Yes well, that's only because you're talking to the entire WORLD on your blog and facebook!!!!" Himself was quick to point out.

Hmmmmmmmmm. He may have a point there :-D

Breathing Deeply Walking Backwards

The last crazy month has seen my blogging drop to an all time low, kept on life support by the weekly challenge of Team Up Thursday. It's funny because my mother often says 'you have to stop doing so much, you have to give something up' and yet, it is those little obligations and commitments that sometimes keep you from going completely over the edge when all around threatens to overwhelm you.When I left the UK in 2002, I was selling my house, finishing up my job and directing and performing in a pantomime, all at the same time. Shortly after the commencement of rehearsals, the girl who had agreed to design and paint sets pulled out due to other commitments and I found myself, on my afternoons off, alone in the church hall painting scenery. I drew up

fantastic fantasy scenes; selected and mixed colours; experimented with textured effects and saw the blank canvases take on shape and form.

Village scene, based on the port of Mousehole in Cornwall.
Note tiny BA concentrating on her dancing 5th from right.

Jungle scene. Yours truly as Robinson Crusoe with man Friday!

The ruined temple with the sensational idol painted by a dear friend who'd 'never done anything like this before...'

Often this activity would be sandwiched between work and picking the BA up from school. There would be a rushed trip back to Grandma's and then I was back to the hall to finish up the painting. My mother, left in charge of feeding and organising the BA would say to me "You take on too much. You're running yourself ragged! You

need to take some time for yourself," and one day I replied, "Mum, this painting IS the thing I'm doing for myself". It's kind of like that with blogging, and especially the Team Up challenge. Yes, I could lose it and focus on the endless list of 'jobs to do' and perhaps I would achieve more, but at what cost? Anyway, on my second 'child free' night I find myself moved to fill you in on some of the things that have been occupying me in the last month.

The list of jobs can wait.

Let me start with the Baby Angel. This moniker is becoming less and less apt as her 15th birthday approaches

and she unfolds her glorious wings. I can't believe that two years ago I titled this photo 'Grown Up':

look at this:

But of course, with this unfolding and emerging comes the inevitable pain.

The new school has brought, as we had hoped, more academic rigour and a better atmosphere for study but this has been a difficult transition for the BA. Gone are the days of goofing off in class and 'I did my homework at

school'. There have been a few ' notes in the diary'; you know, the 'BA has not handed up her assignment' kind of notes >:-(. As well as chasing the 50% of my classes who do not believe a due date has any meaning beyond a

point at which you ask for an extension, I have to hound the BA to ensure she is up to date with work. It's not that she's lazy, no, and parents bear this in mind, it is that she has such high expectations of herself that she is afraid to start. It's like being at the bottom of a mountain and looking up at what you have to conquer. It's

daunting. Easier not to start. So imagine her excitement and pride when a recent piece of writing for English earned her this:

I'm not sure if you can see it but it is the marking rubric for narrative writing. (The BA's school does the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the Middle Years Program leading up to it. Like many senior programs

nowadays, assessment is all about rubrics.) Out of 10, she got 10. In every criterion! But the effort is on-going. I

aim to scaffold her organisation until she can take over herself and manage her workload.

In the third to last week of term reports were due. They have moved them up the calendar because people have been notoriously poor at getting them in on time. In the same week my beloved sister came for a 5 day visit and at the beginning of the week the Business Manager called to say the auditors had announced their annual visit for Wednesday of that week so could I please have all my accountability stuff ready....on the same day reports were due. I'm afraid something had to give and my sister took precedence. The reports were late.

We got through that.

In the last two weeks of term I had the financial nightmare from Hell. Taxman, Child Support Agency demands,

an car insurance claim against me from July last year (check it out July!!!!), and the classic catch 22 situation from the TAFE mob:

"Behold thy application for payment of fees by installment has been rejected because you do not have sufficient income. Thou must instead pay the whole amount up front."
Yeah right, cos I've certainly got enough income to do THAT!

We are working our way through all of that.

And then the holidays descended upon us. An enormous relief to be sure. There was time to check out the Northern Lights with A Free Family. It was a little more garish than the subtle and clever illuminations of 2008.

But still, a lovely evening with the excitement of young Boy Z an effervescent a tonic for the soul.

Yes, it all should have been relaxing except that in the first week I had both the kids at home.

To be fair, the BA on her own is fairly low maintenance, until you try and prise her off facebook, but Small Boy is an entirely different matter. He has two mates on the street and they inevitably end up at our place playing X Box. Now I have a conscientious objection to X Box and in particular the amount of time young boys today spend on the thing and even though the Small Boy and his mates are not actually mine I cannot, as a responsible adult, allow them to play for endless hours without a break. So my holiday consists of fighting with 11 years olds about whether they need to take a break from the X Box and why that break cannot involve moving to the computer and starting up a game of AdventureQuest or scooting once around the block and why it is important that they have other skills for playing in the real world; like building forts or making Lego towns and playing Cluedo or swear words Scrabble or something!!! And let me tell you, 11 year old boys do not thank you for your concern about their development and healthy lifestyle. To be equally fair, the same thing applies to trying to prise the BA off facebook lately. Especially since her dad bought her an ipodtouch!

What was he thinking???????

In the midst of all the battles there are little glimmers of joy.

This is my breakfast in bed, cooked for no reason and with no prompting by the Small Boy. Unfortunately it was delivered to us at 7.17am when we were sound asleep but hey! let's not look a gift horse in the mouth! In particular I would like to point out the smiley face made out of tomato sauce on the underside of the bread!
The Small Boy is starting to grow into his years, slowly but surely. Not having had boys myself I am a bit of a novice on the whole developmental thing for them but I can see that they mature more slowly than girls and when we compare what the BA did at the same age it is a pretty damning picture. To compound the problem, he is the youngest of five by 7 years with all the attendant baggage this brings. But lately, little gestures like the breakfast, and rudimentary attempts at room cleaning, suggest a growing maturity. And not a moment too soon. :-D

I just wish he would get a decent hair cut!

In the midst of our holidays, Mum and Dad have sold their house here in Australia. For the past 8 years they have been coming backwards and forwards to see us, spending the summer here and returning for spring and summer in the UK. Their house, with its little garden, has been left locked up or given to a variety of house-sitters to mind. This has cause my mother some anxiety over the years and she's decided that she can no longer cope with maintaining two households on opposite sides of the Earth. They got the price they wanted quite quickly and then

it was time to decide what to do with everything in the house. I put in my 'dibs', as it were, on a few items but after that they were prepared to leave things in the house or give them to charity. Having had some experience with how reluctant charities are to actually pick up furniture I suggested we put things on ebay. Thus I have spent the last week glued to ebay to see how our items were doing :-)

This has been my first experience of selling through ebay as I am usually the purchaser. It's quite addictive isn't it? We have sold four items, two did very well and two were 'bargains'. We're in the process of organising pickups and whatever now. Of course I have also had to clear and sort our place in order to make room for the new stuff coming in from mum and dad's so my mind has been pretty well occupied with furniture for the last week.

The Baby Angel flew out to Sydney on Monday. Here she is with her Grandma at the airport.

You have no idea how difficult it is to get my mother to smile for a photo.

BA: Smile Grandma
Mum: I am smiling
BA: Show your teeth
(on this command my mother, in a rather confused fashion bared her teeth somewhat like a gnarly rottweiler)
Us: hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaahahahahhaah
Me: MOTHER! What are you doing?
Mum: Well, she said...
Me: Mother, it's not as if you've never had a photo taken before!!!!!!!!!


Thanks for your patience folks.

PS: I have reposted this after some problems with formatting but this unfortunately meant I lost the lovely comments from Elisa, JoLyn and Jill. Sorry ladies. I value and appreciate your comments.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Team Up Thursday: Shadow

I feel as if I am in a bit of a shadow world at the moment. The usual routine of school and work is on hold for the holidays; I have a lounge room full of pre-teen boys talking about banshees and personality credits in some X Box game; Himself and I continue to struggle with finances and the idea of moving into a smaller place and my mum and dad are selling up their holiday house here in Australia and clearing out all its contents! Some of these will end up here which means we have to clear out contents as well.

It's not conducive to a relaxing holiday.

And so, for Team-Up Thursday, JoLyn and I give you: 'Shadow'.

Mine on the top, JoLyn's on the bottom.

I am loving the creative process that JoLyn and I have settled into. Each week one sends the other an initial photo and we work from there. Sometimes she puts them together, sometimes I do. Sometimes we re-crop and re-colour on the basis of the other's shot. Sometimes we re-crop the other person's shot to go with ours! While some pair-ups leave the choice of photos to chance, we are being quite deliberate about making ours work together.

When I started to think about the 'shadow' theme, I had all sorts of ideas about weird and wonderful shadow patterns but, as always, the 'best laid plans of mice and men' meant that it rained VERY heavily where I am and snowed in Utah!!! The grey and overcast skies meant little chance of capturing anything fresh and new; however, fortunately, JoLyn had taken a series of excellent shots of her amazing 'freerunning' son, A, the week before.

And, once I'd seen this, I knew just which shot I would grab and crop!

This is my daughter (in the red shorts), my stepson and my niece jumping for joy on Kangaroo Island last year!

I particularly like this diptych. I like its graphic quality and the way A's shadow is stretching out towards the three ink blots above him!

And just for good measure, and because JoLyn likes to know how shots came about, here are the rocks near where the above photo was taken.

They are called, appropriately, Remarkable Rocks and I think with all the weird and wonderful play of light on them, they could easily represent our 'Shadow' theme too.

What do you think?

Visit the flickrpool or Melody and Megan to see what other Teams have been up to this week. As always I recommend a trip over to AmyJo's to see how she has interpreted the letter H this week.

POST SCRIPT: I can't believe I have posted about this the very week I find out that there is a RULE about collaborating!!!!!! Seems JoLyn and I will have to rethink our strategy!!!!! JoLyn...I am so sorry....I am SUCH a BAD influence!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Port Vincent Revisited

Our annual sailing regatta holiday weekend over to Port Vincent on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula was a little shortened this year as the timbre of our lifestyle subtly adjusts to having another teenager in the house. Oh I know the Baby Angel has been a teenager for a while now (over two years) but the real implications of this new phase of her life are just starting to make themselves felt.You see she now has a JOB! Yes folks, the dark and satanic McDonald's mill has yet another slave stoking the boilers of its cholesterol kitchens. Unfortunately, her shift was on Sunday afternoon so we had to leave early on Sunday to get her back in time. Added to this, being in the older age group for netball now means that her Friday night matches are not finishing until 10.30pm! So we didn't even leave until mid Saturday morning.
Nevertheless, the short time we had there was lovely.
Our lodgings were a little more luxurious than last year when the three kids shared a bunk room and Himself and I had a fold out bed in the living area.

We did have to accommodate the lovely Lady Engineer who has been recruited to replace me as crew. This was easy to do however, as she is delightful. 505s racing.

The weather was superb and some good sailing was had by all, the State Title being retained by The Other One* with No2 Son and his skipper coming in a close second in Gunshot*.
*(not their real names!)

Here's Gunshot returning to the beach after their win on the Sunday.

And here's Himself and the Lady Engineer returning after their 5th place....out of 7. LE has previously sailed on big boats so she is just getting her head around this small boat stuff. At least she knows what 'downwind' means though. Unlike me.

Himself took one look at this shot and said "Hmmm....mast needs more rake..."
Whatever that means. However, even I can see the poor state of the old sails on our 'new' boat. Compare the beautiful, crisp, tight cut of the sails on Gunshot with the saggy, wrinkled effort on Bad Jester. That costs you in speed.

Small Boy, the Baby Angel and I had a lovely afternoon on the beachfront whilst the sailing took place. There were no funny stories this year; only a minor hissy fit from the Small Boy and a delightful evening getting to know the Lady Engineer. One could almost be forgiven for mistaking us for a normal family.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Team Up Thursday: Morning

Is morning your favourite time of the day, or, like Himself do you dread it? These two 'morning' images were taken on opposite sides of the world in opposite seasons.
Jolyn is in Utah and I suspect these mountains are just outside her house.
My picture (on the bottom) was taken at Port Vincent two weeks ago, as the rescue boat made its way out to the course.
Whether you're an early bird or a night owl, Team Up Thursday has something for everyone! Check out the hosts Megan and Melody for some really inspiring photography.