It’s Friday!

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Hello!  Happy Friday!  How has your week been? I have been a bit housebound. This was the week when I had tradesmen filing in and out completing the renovations to our new kitchen.  On the downside this meant I missed the morning tea I had booked into with Melinda Harper at Heide (bit sad about that) but on the upside I now have a sink, stove and oven for the first time in three weeks! Phew! I was really struggling to come up with more electric frypan meals! And I have a pantry door that closes for the first time in fifteen years!

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It’s always a bit weird having tradies in the house, isn’t it? I feel a bit awkward sitting there reading a book or crocheting.  But what else can you do when they’re toiling away in your workspace? I imagine them going home to their partners saying ‘ Should’ve seen this chick today.  All she did was fluff around reading, crocheting and flicking through the iPad!’

But I did manage to pop out for some dog walking and to do some Good Looking as Annette suggests.  Not that it’s too hard to see the Good at the moment.  Our streets are still rather bereft of leaves but the gardens are populated with purple, pink, red and white. So beautiful to see the magnolia blooms sitting on bare branches, and the camellias and rhododendrons splashing colour amongst their green leaves. It warms my heart, which is just as well, because it is still cold, cold cold!

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Have you been indoors this week or been an out and about kinda person? I hope it’s been pleasurable either way.  What about your weekend? Any plans? I’m going to a Blog with Pip catch up on Sunday. Excited!

Have you read…? Dark Roots by Cate Kennedy

In my younger years, I was a  bit dismissive of the short story. Why would you choose to read little lit rather than diving into a glorious novel?  But once I had kids and my reading hours dwindled, both due to kiddie demands on my time and the inability to keep my eyes open once I snuggled under the doona, I decided to explore short stories.  I didn’t have time to finish a novel in an ‘I can hold my head high’ amount of time but I could digest a mini book.  And now I am an all embracing reader – novel, novella, short story, I’ll give anything a go!

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The seventeen stories in Cate Kennedy’s collection Dark Roots are on the shorter short story side – maybe a dozen pages at most. And yet within these few pages, she manages to create tales of poignancy and humour.  A number of the stories explore the idea of loss – loss of life, both that of those close to us but also our own mortality, and loss of our sense of self. I found the first story ‘What thou and I did, Till we loved’, which spoke of the loss of a life partner, achingly beautiful. How could it not be with such a title?   And ‘A pitch too high for the human ear’ filled me with pathos in its exploration of the dynamics of a marriage over time. ‘Resize’ covers similar territory, but perhaps a little more heavy handedly, and for this reason, didn’t provoke quite the same response in me.

Side by side with these touching stories are the darkly Dahl-seque ‘The Testosterone Club’ involving lecherous men, revenge and dill cucumbers, and the retributory tales ‘Sea Burial’ and ‘Cold Snap’.which all left me with a smirk upon my face.

Whilst I enjoyed all the stories, perhaps ‘Habit’ is a little too cute in its denouement (won’t expand further for fear of a spoiler!), the title story ‘Dark Roots’ a little cliched in its ‘older woman’ insecurities and ‘Angel’ a little dramatic in its irony.

But these are small quibbles. As an easy and varied read, this is an enjoyable collection. On the Iris and Edie scale, I’ll give it a 4 out of 5.

Are short stories your thing?

How was your weekend?

Hello lovely blog friends! I had some homework to do for my Blog with Pip course over Saturday and Sunday – take five (or more) photos of my weekend and write a post (or not) about it.  So here are my five photos and my little post!

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How was your weekend?  Mine was pretty chipper!

Did you know that Saturday was ‘Granny Square Day’? I did not know this until I was scrolling through Instagram.  As luck would have it, I had been happily ‘granny squaring’ away during the day so I felt like I was part of a woolly gang! I’ve started on a new blanket for kogo.  I’ve written about kogo before here. It has been SO cold in Melbourne this year that supplies of winter woollies for the disadvantaged in our community have run very low. So armed with plenty of yarn and a lonely crochet hook, I started hooking away! Maybe you want to help out too? I’m making a solid granny square blanket inspired by the beautiful work of Bec at handmade and home.

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I love Saturdays for the extra reading time they provide!  I picked up the latest issue of Dumbo Feather when I popped down the street to buy lunches and coffees.  (Our kitchen is still under construction so I have been resorting to bought meals WAY more than I normally would!)  I really enjoy Dumbo Feather for the long form interviews it publishes with people who are doing inspiring things in their communities and wider society.  Do you read it too?  Maybe you have other magazines you find inspiring?  I think that there’s heaps of good stuff being published now but the purse strings only stretch so far so I try to rotate my reading material around a bit!

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But not all weekend can be spent happily crocheting away or with my head in a magazine or book. Domestic duties do call, so whilst I plugged away at ironing the work clothes and school uniform for the week, I popped on Serial (I know, I’m playing serious catch up!) just to make the time go that little bit faster. Did you listen to it at the time it came out? I’m finding it really intriguing. Does this work as an attractive ironing photo? I’m not sure one has ever been done before!

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Sunday saw the chill in the air that has dogged us Melbourne peeps for just a little too long, lift and there were blue skies above! Lovely!

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The man and boy headed off to the football and the  girl and I headed into the Melbourne Uni open day. Who should we bump into on the South Lawn but the lovely Emily of squiggle and swirl! Very happy to have an unplanned catch up! The girl came away enthused by what she had seen and put her head down in her homework for the afternoon. And we squeezed in some driving lesson time too!

With the skies still shining, I ventured into the garden to cut a bunch of hellebores to add some soft, dreamy colour to our bedroom. Aren’t they gorgeous?

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How about you? Did you do anything interesting? Or was it just about getting ready for the coming week?

Take a breath, my little introvert!

I loved reading this post by Dani of eat my street.  Her seven point plan for making friends as an introvert really resonated with me. Being an introvert can make finding friends a bit tricky sometimes, not because of shyness – although that may be in there – but because the prospect of falling into a gregarious, group environment can be intimidating and make us a little fearful. The introvert may hold back and not venture out into friend making territory (gosh, sounded a bit David Attenborough there!). This is a bit sad because then we can end up a little lonely. An introvert still needs friends! It’s just that we need time away from them to recharge and stay our friendly, sparkly selves! And so, in the spirit of introvert camaraderie,  I thought I’d share a piece I wrote last weekend for Pip Lincolne‘s fabulous online storytelling course.

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‘Do you think they’ll come?’ I asked my husband.

‘Of course! Why wouldn’t they?’

I had agonised over the invitation for way too long. Somehow this reserved, wallflower, non-party girl had volunteered to be on the kindergarten social committee and I felt way outside my comfort zone! So why did I do it?

When you are at school and work, social contact is like a smorgasbord. Every day you head to the same place, the same people show up and you pick and choose who you want to spend time with. You don’t have to make the effort to find friends, they’re just laid out for you. The world of the stay-at-home mum is different. There’s no one but you and the baby or toddler. Whilst I might be an introvert and love to have the space of my own time in my own home, I also like having some buddies. I’m not a recluse! So I had to take steps to create social contact by myself. Scary! When the call came out that a volunteer for Blue Group was needed, my reserve collided with my conscience and sense of responsibility. I took a breath and made the call to the ‘President of the Social Committee’!   Now, here I was, organising my very own social function!

Well, they did come! It was lovely and friendly and everyone was very grateful that I had been so kind to invite them to my home so we could all have a cuppa and get to know each other. Wow! They thought I was the bees knees! With everyone gone and my house mine once more, a little swell of pride fluttered in my heart. I had done it! I had stepped outside my comfort zone and created something people liked! Pat on the back, me! (Added bonus, one of the mums was a dentist and I was on the search for a new one. She has provided us with stellar care for the last 15 years!)

So with that little bit of confidence, I started to put my hand up for a few more things. I tackled enrolment officer (that’s a great way to get to know people!), parent committees, class reps, ball committees (how did THAT happen??) and then spread my wings a bit further into community volunteer programs, all the while gathering more people into my circle. I found babysitters, fellow taxi drivers, friends to laugh with, friends to cry with. Then the circles started overlapping and it seemed wherever I went the six degrees (or less!) of separation kicked in. It made making conversation and more buddies so much easier! My deep breath had delivered me the oxygen of friendship.

A few years ago, when I was doing a yoga course, our teacher told us that when you are ice-skating, it feels really safe skating around holding on to the edge of the rink. But the rink is large, with lots to explore. If you want to experience that, you have to let go of the safety of the rail. That’s something I try to keep in mind. I’m so pleased I let go of the rail. It has enabled me to write this today and has made my life so much richer. If you’re thinking about doing something, don’t let your introvert fears hold you back. Take a breath and go for it. The worst thing that will happen is you’ll fall and get a wet bum but everyone else is so busy skating they won’t even notice!

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How about you?  Have you had to step out of your comfort zone to break the confines of introversion?

Taking stock

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Sometimes it’s a good idea to pop the kettle on, make yourself a cuppa, curl up on the couch and reflect upon what’s happening in your life just at that moment. We can get so caught up in rushing through the day to day, week to week, that we don’t actually notice what we are experiencing. And that’s a shame.  So, inspired by Pip Lincolne, this is my ‘taking stock’ moment.

Making : a solid granny square blanket
Cooking : toasties
Drinking : green tea
Reading: Dark Roots by Cate Kennedy
Wanting: my new kitchen to be installed
Looking: at the pantry contents strewn over my kitchen table
Playing: that we are camping out!
Deciding: what takeaway to have for dinner
Enjoying: not cooking!
Waiting: for the girl to start her homework
Liking: that the girl now has her laptop open
Wondering: why I’m the only one who changes toilet rolls
Loving: having the opportunity to do some writing
Pondering: which extra colour wool I should use in my blanket
Considering: whether to buy indoor plants for my kitchen
Watching: The Bachelor
Hoping: the boy will get a part time job soon
Marvelling: at the friendliness of the online community
Needing: my kitchen
Smelling: nothing – which is good!
Wearing: jeans, jumper, scarf, boots
Following: lots of new blogs
Noticing: I need a hair appointment
Knowing: my brain is getting a workout
Thinking: I’m glad I signed up for Blog with Pip!
Feeling: enriched
Admiring: the beauty of others’ writing
Sorting: the kitchen contents
Buying: kitchen tiles
Getting: to bed too late
Bookmarking: lots of creative types
Disliking: the mess
Opening: my laptop
Giggling: at the girl’s turn of phrase
Feeling: like I need another cup of tea
Snacking: on praline almonds from the European Night Market
Coveting:  West German pottery on Etsy
Wishing: I didn’t have to iron school uniform
Helping: friends

What about you?  Do you need to take a breath and take stock?

Collage Club: Black and White

Well this is exciting!  As a member of the Collage Club for only a few months, and a VERY new blogger, this is my first collage post!

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Black and white. When I saw this month’s theme, lots of images sprang to mind… Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, the beautiful photography of Man Ray and John French, Matisse line drawings…I envisaged a collage that was quite glamorous with maybe a graphic element added in.  And then as I thought more about black and white images, I started to think about black and white THINKING, how people can be black and white in their views.  Now this is not necessarily bad. If we are talking about good manners – there’s nothing arguable about being polite and respectful to others – this standard should, in my opinion, be rigidly adhered to.  If we did so, I think we could create a pretty cohesive community. But there is a lot of black and white thinking that seems to be present in society which is not for the best.  I don’t really want to get political, so I’ll keep my comments to generalities.  Black and white thinking often leads to snap judgements, prejudice, a refusal to engage in discussion, to find compromise, or to become more progressive.  So my collage became one of viewing the world in black and white. I flicked through my pile of magazines to try to find a variety of images – the film strips and Vivian Maier showing the act of seeing, beautiful ones (the good black and white stuff!), some reflecting those which feed prejudice and then the image of Casey Legler to represent the opportunity to see the world beyond rigid black and white categories.  I hope you like it and that my thought process makes sense! I’d love to hear what you think.