Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Butter and sugar


We made sure to take advantage of a lovely day today. We spent quite a bit of the morning in the garden. We did some satisfying hard sweaty work trimming the shrubs each side of the driveway, weeding, and generally tidying up the front. Then had ice cream! Then there were a couple of wooden toilet roll holders that I bought online and which unexpectedly arrived as raw pine, so I bought some wood stain and the kids sat outside and painted one each, which they seemed to enjoy a lot. They also created wands with sticks, glue and wood stain.

When tidying up I got some stain on my hands and washing with soap left a tacky residue. I remembered an old trick of my grandmother's and used butter and sugar. Worked a treat, leaving smooth clean hands. Of course you have to then wash off the greasy butter. Sugar is an excellent abrasive. Salt would probably work too, or even sand. But I like butter and sugar.

Aiden bites his fingernails and always seems to have his hands in his mouth. Today we bought some of that nasty stuff you put on your nails. Oh how he hates the taste! He has to go spit in the sink and rinse his mouth. So hopefully it will work.

We went up to the library for my book group, which was nice, the kids sat in the kids' area (surrounded by books, but playing their tablets, growl) while I chatted to the other ladies for an hour about this month's novel. They are all of my mother's generation or older, it becomes more obvious when they talk about training for nursing in the 70s, or how they need an audio reader because they can no longer read print. I guess they are the only ones who regularly have a weekday afternoon free. It doesn't matter anyway, I enjoy talking to them.

Two companies sent people out to give us quotes on removing trees in our backyard. Most of the plants are ugly (in my opinion, their parents probably think they are lovely) but I will try to keep some of the nicer ones like this which is small enough to move:

Jasmine made cookies. Nice day.

Of course I paid for the gardening later. Aching muscles and creaky joints!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Good news and bad news


It was another day of sun in the morning then cloudy and grey in the afternoon. The kids and I did the grocery shopping in the morning (yes we did get a treat from the patisserie but we also bought a lot of fresh fruit and made a lovely fruit salad in the afternoon) but by the time we got around to wanting to get out in the sunshine, it was gone. We'll have to make sure we snatch the sunshine tomorrow, if there is any.

Two kookaburras are now visiting several times a day hoping to be fed. And I saw three little skink lizards basking in the sun outside near our bathroom, and have decided to believe one of them is Skinky with his new girlfriend.

The good news today is that we have word we are allowed to remove the problem tree that would otherwise block our pool, so that is moving forward. Yay! We'll still have plenty of native plants around the house.

The bad news is that when my father died last year he left a bit of money to my children. Since they are not yet 18, the executor is in charge of what happens to it until then. There are ongoing issues of organising that which I find very frustrating. Endless emails back and forth. There is goodwill on all sides, it is just normal bureaucracy I guess. I've hated the whole process of dealing with both my parents' estates.

It was nice having the kids home today. House full of giggles.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Professional ethics


Tim was exhausted by the week away and I'm always pretty tired, so Saturday was just hanging around the house relaxing. Lovely!

Today we babysat my three-year-old niece Emma for about six hours so her parents could go to the theatre in the city to see Aladdin. She was happy and well behaved all day, Jasmine did most of the minding with help from Aiden and Tim. Tim is so good with kids! We managed to head off a couple of "where is mummy?" moments. It's funny how bad a three-year-old is at Hide and Seek! She would say "I'm going to hide under Jasmine's bed!" then run off. Um, that is not how this game works. And when she was supposed to seek, she counted to ten beautifully then stood still and looked in a vague circle and said to me "I can't see them". I had to take her around the house and say "let's look behind this door" etc. A bit young I guess but she enjoyed it.

Tim's dad and his partner came for lunch and stayed most of the afternoon too. He has recently self-published the second volume of his trilogy and wants me to read it (I have read an earlier version a couple of years ago) and put a review online. I said yes but I find the thought a bit stressful. He is so excited about his books and basically thinks they are perfect. I think they are quite good. Me giving them anything but a stellar review will be upsetting, disappointing and confusing for him. It's going to be a fine line to walk. I am not willing to outright lie to please him, I have been a professional editor and book reviewer and fiction judge in competitions. This is my conscience and my reputation! Obviously I'll emphasise the good and minimise the bad, but I think anything less than "best book I've ever read" might be a problem...

We have a kookaburra visiting every day again, so maybe they will come every spring when they are nesting and like having that easy source of fresh food. They are very picky and only seem to like raw meat. But they are so nice to look at I indulge them. I haven't seen our resident lizard Skinky for a few weeks now so maybe he has moved on or died. :( He made it through the winter so I'm choosing to believe he's gone off in search of a mate now that the weather has warmed up and he no longer needs the bathroom heat lamp. In spring a young lizard's thoughts turn to love.

Friday, September 23, 2016

End of term


Today was the last day of school term for the kids (three out of four terms), we head into two weeks holiday. Tim doesn't have any time off so it will be the three of us finding things to do. If we get some nice spring weather we'll definitely head over to the beach a few times.

I completed my goal of finishing this round of editing by the end of term, scribbling on the hard copy print out which Tim had also made suggestions on, and I'm part way through typing up the changes. I can finish that with the kids home, no problem. The thinking part is done. I hesitate to say my novel is completely finished because I keep thinking of new things. This is version nine of the manuscript and there have been some pretty big changes since the first draft!

It's so nice to have Tim back home. And now it's the weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2016



Tim is coming home today, yay! I didn't mention my husband was away all week because I don't advertise stuff like that on the internet "defenceless female home alone" or "home vacant for a week while family on holidays", just in case someone tracks down my location. I only talk about it after the event. But he has been away on a business thing since Monday morning and gets home tonight.

Of course I have missed him a lot, but the worst thing has been trying to sleep. You'd think lack of asthmatic snuffles beside me would help! But I get nervous without him here. It's weird because I lived alone for years before we married, and liked it, and didn't get scared at night. I guess I'm not used to it now, or maybe it is having children to protect. The last three nights I've been on high alert, unable to relax to sleep properly. Couldn't shower late at night because I felt too vulnerable. I had to get up earlier, which is fine because I was awake anyway. So after three nights of this I am so tired! My face feels all droopy. But Tim will be home tonight and I'll be safe.

Nigella Lawson seems to be able to feed sixteen people on one roast chicken, with leftovers. I cooked one last night for the three of us, there is one tiny piece of breast left. Aiden ate daddy's share. He is nine and ate half a chicken all by himself! He scrounges for food after dinner too. Growing boy. He is so little (with us as parents he is never going to be tall) with no body fat, but active. Luckily he likes real food and it's easy to direct him to have an apple, or some (homemade) yoghurt. Salad is one of his favourite foods. When he was little enough to fit in a shopping trolley seat I use to give him a whole capsicum (red pepper) to eat as we went around the supermarket and strangers would often comment about it. He doesn't like cheese or potato (except chips) and only recently started liking chocolate. Unusual taste buds.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016



I seem to be affected by the weather much more than I ever remember being - although maybe I just didn't notice before. On sunny days I am happy, on grey cloudy days I feel sad, lonely, and trapped. Perhaps because this is a particularly dark house with inadequate lighting, it is very gloomy on rainy days like today. Come on spring, get your act together! And I need an electrician.

I also feel a bit unsettled because I just found out something, by accident, about a close family member that I really feel they should have told me about. Because we are family, and because it is not about me but it does affect me. I'm going to need to bring up the subject with them. A bit awkward. I won't talk about it here because if they don't think it's my business, they certainly wouldn't think it was your business! I do respect their privacy, but as I say it does affect me and I need to talk to them about it.

... well I spoke to them and they thought they had already told me, were sure of it, so there you go.

I'm still going back and forth with the council and the pool builders about the big tree. Waiting for a final decision.

I just checked the weather report and it's clouds and rain for days. Blah. Maybe I need some kind of sun lamp.

Another Tuesday


I meant to get out to the park, I really did. But the weather turned a bit gloomy in the afternoon so I knuckled down and worked at home in my comfy armchair and got some really good editing done. My goal is to get that finished by the end of this week, which coincides with the kids' end of school term. I'm scribbling changes on a hard copy print-out, so I'll still need to type them up, but that is easier than the thinking creative work I've been doing. It's nearly done, and polished, and a reasonable approximation of as good as it's going to get! It's been a long process, even not counting 40 years of practice. Over a year of writing, then a long break due to life happening, then about a year of rewriting and editing and polishing.

Then the scary bit, looking for a publisher.

I spent some time this morning dealing with issues about our planned swimming pool. It's those damn trees. The council decided one big tree right in the middle of the backyard has to stay, there is also a protected zone around it so that is most of the backyard blocked. They sent a suggested revised plan with the pool squashed down one side. The rest of the yard would remain wild scrub, I guess; full of lizards (nice) and spiders (not nice), under the tree constantly dropping leaves and branches (Australian gum trees like to drop branches with no warning, and although they are evergreen (ever-grey more like) they drop leaves all year round), not great for a pool. Or a pretty garden or lawn or seating around a bird bath. We had to get a big gum tree lopped at our old place in Canberra because it dropped a big branch on our neighbour's roof and broke some tiles. It is not a particularly nice tree either, it's not the one I thought we were going to have to keep. So I've been in conversation with our pool people, I told them about the bushfire protection rule which seems to allow us to remove the tree anyway because it is close to the house and we are in a bushfire-prone area. They haven't confirmed yet. It's a bit of a worry, but I guess we'll work with whatever we have, even if it ends up being a little plunge-pool in one corner. That would be sad though. I feel like we have a completely unusable back yard at the moment. None of us have been out there for ten months except to plan the pool! The kids need a backyard they can play in.