Posts from — February 2013

Sweet Little Something 0

February 15, 2013

An end of week ritual – a wordless post, a personal photograph that captures a moment to be savoured, relished and preserved for looking back on. One photograph from Hannah, in the Southern Hemisphere and one from Ria, in the Northern Hemisphere. Feel free to post your questions, thoughts and comments. Have a great weekend!

From Hannah:

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From Ria:

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In: From Hannah, From Ria, Sweet Little Something

Stillness 5

February 13, 2013

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It’s been a while since I got out of town. We, because I don’t travel alone anymore. And I don’t mean to another town or the big city, because we’ve done that plenty in recent months. I mean out of town.

This past weekend was the first long weekend in February for us around these parts–Family Day–definitely reason enough to celebrate. Except we weren’t together. DH took the opportunity to go back-country skiing with some other dads (their chances are few; we mums totally get it) and Little e and I were invited to Powell River to visit a friend’s relatives. I’d never been, but I did know it’s a smaller place than our town and has rain forest magic galore. It didn’t disappoint.

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But the thing that struck me about slowing down and being somewhere small, somewhere quiet, was the stillness. Not just around me (and there were several whirl-winds-come-toddlers keeping things energetic) but inside me. I found myself awake at night in the cabin, the fire almost down to embers, the blackness total, a half-dreaming, mumbling little girl pushing her face into my neck, and my thoughts went in all directions. Which, I know, is the opposite of stillness, but it felt like the stillness of everything else was making me restless. Like my mind was in withdrawal from the usual loud, distracting hum of life and didn’t know what to do.

The next morning, thinking back to the travels my mind made in the night, it seemed almost farcical. I hope I’m not the only one whose mind goes to near-schizophrenic places in the wee hours. But I was still unsettled. Still, and unsettled. What was I doing with my writing life? Was it enough? Where did we really, really want to live? And how?

As surreal and uncomfortable as that experience was, it has been incredibly useful. Thank Powell River. It will be meat (tofu?) to chew on for the next weeks and months as DH and I discuss (some of) these important problems. Isn’t it always a balance that’s not quite right? I don’t know anyone who has it all perfectly balanced.

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In any case, the winter beauty of the Sunshine Coast (ironic, yes: no sun all weekend) helped to bring some poetry to the visit, and I found myself inspired despite all the mental turmoil. I’m being challenged by my current WIP, my confidence is sagging, my identity as a writer is a big question in my mind. But it’s all okay. By necessity, it has to be.

(Especially because before we left for home, I found a bakery that makes the most amazing butter tarts. Chocolate ones, nutty ones, plain old buttery, caramelly perfect ones. Sorry there’s no photo, but rest assured, I will be pilgrimaging there again.)

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So I guess what I mean to say is that while it’s been a while since I got out of town, it’s been even longer since I got out of mind. And clearly, doing that is a healthy, if disconcerting, habit.

XO

Ria

In: Food, From Ria, Writing

It’s all in the detail 3

February 11, 2013

I don’t know about you but I am a total snoop. I love learning the inside details of people’s lives. All the little fears and triumphs, the bits n’ bobs that make up a person. I guess that’s why I still like facebook (I know, apparently that puts me in the “old” generation. Sigh.) and why I love reading blogs. We’re all after a bit of something real, aren’t we? And woven into those inside facts about a person’s life there is so much story. I guess, being a writer, that’s what I really love.

So today that’s what I am going to offer you – the details of one day. One very ordinary day. It’s about as far from glamorous as you can get but it’s real. The life of a writer-mama-food lover.

Are you buckled in? Here we go…

Pack babes into the car and head to the doctors. B2 has croup. Again. She barks like a seal and is generating more snot than you would imagine possible. She hates having her nose wiped, reacting like a small tortured animal each time I come close with a tissue. Drive home. Put B2 down for a nap and watch Miniscule with B1. Read books. Paint butterflies on B1’s tummy with face paint. Field toddler tantrums. Skype friends in Macau. Wish them Happy Chinese New Year. Skype Matt. Wish him home. Have lunch.

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Make crabs and bunnies and octopus from playdough. Pick playdough out of carpet. Spy soft, spotty bananas in fruit bowl. Bake healthy flour / sugar / dairy free cookies. Sorry, not bake, grill. Not even embarassed they’re blackened, ’cause they taste pretty good. B1 agrees – yum. Feel chuffed.

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Have a picnic on the floor with toys and cookies. Read books. Play busythings on the Mac. Play on the balcony. Wipe B2 down from filthy balcony. Remind myself to clean it when I have time and inclination. Pah ha ha! Surrender to never cleaning it and instead cleaning children when they come off it. Bemoan more toddler tantrums. Make babes dinner.

Play crocodiles. Crocodiles involves leaping from crib (boat) to mattress (island) without touching the floor (ocean) and getting snapped by crocodiles (imaginary crocodiles). Build towers with wooden blocks. Delight at B2’s new skill = clapping. Ask B1 not to sit on B2’s head. Do some drawing. Sniff the new scented pens we bought. Wipe pen off B1’s nose. Suffer more toddler tantrums. Do some shouting. Put on Desert Island Discs. Go to cloudland (magical, imaginary land found underneath a white, fluffy blankie) with the babes. Bath the babes.

Put babes to bed. Put B1 back into bed. Put B1 back into bed. Put B1 back into bed. Tidy the lounge. Think about folding laundry. Watch some American Idol instead. Make my own dinner. Pasta Gallery Duck + ginger ravioli from Concord farmer’s market with a splash of sesame oil. Delicious. Resolve to buy again. Check out some blogs. Check out facebook. Realise I am procrastinating. Feel guilty. Start working on manuscript (YES!). Receive accidental skype from brother and sister in law. Talk for too long. Laugh a lot. Give up on manuscript. Have a shower. Go to bed. Sleep.

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That is my world. Uneventful but busy. Boring and tiring. Full of lovely moments and challenging ones. There was television watching. There was shouting. But there was some reading and playing and fun too. Sometimes I think I am going mad because I can so quickly go from thinking “Arrrggghhhhh!! Get me out of here!” to “Oh, this is rather nice.” Highs and lows the whole day through, a bit like surfing in a storm. Do you sometimes feel a nuts for loving and loathing your day in equal measure? Oscillating between guilt and gratitude, fun and frustration? Or is it just me?

Personally, I have to have a few sanity measures to get me through this day job of mine. Sometimes they work, sometimes they fail, but I give them a go all the same. One is to get out of the house as regularly as possible. Even if it’s just down to the letterbox or the nearest playground. Another is to try and get some adult conversation. I’m not fussy – anywhere, anyhow. But my favourite of all has to be Desert Island Discs. I am OBSESSED with Desert Island discs. B1 has been listening to Desert Island discs since she was tiny; it feels like tuning in to the wireless in ye olde days. The show has been broadcast since 1942! I talk about it often, trying to infect other people with my virulent, rampant obsession but my enthusiasm can get a little scary. In essence it’s just an interview with someone successful and / or famous, but it’s an interview woven around a selection of music the interviewee would take with them if sent to a desert island. The music deepens the revelations about their past and personal lives and the conversation is frank and reflective. At the end of the show they also get to pick a book and one “luxury” to add to their music. Perhaps it doesn’t sound it, but it is so bloody interesting! It’s like a potted version of someone’s life…with a soundtrack! (I am holding myself back now from adding more sentences that end in exclamation marks. It. is. very. difficult.)

The latest interview I listened to was with Julia Donaldson, who wrote this, ahem, rather famous book. I read it a lot. B1 loves the “wart on the end of his nose”. It’s a real and revealing glimpse into her life; as a writer and a Mum and a wife. I have to say I got a little teary in parts. It’s both sad and sweet; as all well-lived lives are. From the story about how she came to love her husband, to how she lost her son and what made her finish writing The Gruffalo when she was tempted to give up. Because it’s learning about all the behind the scenes stuff that makes a person and their work so much richer, don’t you agree?

As for me, tomorrow will be another day much like the one before. And the one before that. I will read some books. I will listen to Desert Island discs. I will try to write. Plain but true. My day. My details. The life that writers get up to when they’re not making up stories. Living a story of their own.

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In: From Hannah, Writing

Sweet Little Something 0

February 8, 2013

An end of week ritual – a wordless post, a personal photograph that captures a moment to be savoured, relished and preserved for looking back on. One photograph from Hannah, in the Southern Hemisphere and one from Ria, in the Northern Hemisphere. Feel free to post your questions, thoughts and comments. Have a great weekend!

From Hannah:

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From Ria:

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In: From Hannah, From Ria, Sweet Little Something

Love It 1

February 6, 2013

So, this is about the time of year when things get…sloggish. You know–the holidays are in the distant past, spring is never, ever going to happen, the world is grey and very often sodden and no matter how hard you try to keep it clean, the floor is just always dirty. And I hate a dirty floor.

You know who loves a dirty floor?

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So, needless to say, I feel your recent frustration about getting things to happen your way. It’s just not a reality we live with right now, is it? But I don’t want to wallow or have, as you say, a pity party (though I am prone to those, oh yes). So I thought I’d make a Love-It list, because it’s been a while since I did and they always give me a dose of reality–the oh-yeah-I-do-live-a-charmed-life kind.

1. The mirrors our kids are. Right now Little e likes to drop things on the floor (see above) and say “uh-oh”. Guess where she got that from? DH reminded me the other day how annoyed he gets when he hears me say “uh-oh” in the next room and then no explanation for it. It drives him nuts not to know the small calamity that’s befallen me. Well, now I get to hear it twenty times a day, from all over the house, and I know exactly what’s happened. Egg + floor = Uh-oh.

2. Snowdrops.

3. Milk chocolate. I was such a good girl for almost all of January and did NOT touch the huge bar of Lindt chocolate in the cupboard, even though I thought of it every day. But now it’s February and the bar is half-gone. Oh god, and we’re not even a week in. So: love the chocolate, loathe my lack of self-control.

4. These amazing covers of Dr. Seuss Books.

5. Looking in the freezer for some dinner ideas and instead finding a tub of last year’s garden raspberries and a huge forgotten slice of homemade ice cream cake.

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Which isn’t to say that the cake became dinner–DH wouldn’t let me–though it disappeared very quickly at its appointed time. Now, what to do with the raspberries? Any ideas, since you’re in summer mode?

XO

Ria

In: Food, From Ria, Kids and Parenting