Friday, 28 August 2009

Me, Myself and This Barmy Boot-Wearing Witch I've Become

News in brief:
We moved.
Six doors down the road.
Using trolleys, friends, neighbours and small children.
I am a tad too weary to go into it.
So I shall end this, frankly trying, week with a Meme, courtesy of the always fabulous Keris Stainton.

Theme: Call Yourself A Writer?

1. Which words do you use too much in your writing?
Probably and maybe creep into first drafts a lot - I take great pleasure in extracting them. Makes me feel all tough and sure of myself. Raaar! *shakes fist at no one in particular*
2. Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?
Totally, definitely, absolutely and completely. And I'm as guilty as the next. I blame Lola.
3. What's your favourite piece of writing by you?
I haven't written my favourite yet. I quite liked my very early blog post called Tuppunawareness. And I still suffer from the condition. I'm not being coy by not answering this question properly - don't get me wrong, I like my writing, otherwise I wouldn't bother. I also hate my writing, and prefer yours, yours and also hers.
4. What blog post do you wish you'd written?
Can't single out a post, but will single out Slightly South of Sanity for laughs and general bonkersness, and My Shitty Twenties for eloquence, intelligence and heart.
5. Regrets, do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn't written?
Oh, gosh, hundreds. I'm riddled with regrets. Crawling with them. Itching all over with the buggers. I would love to be one of those people who say they don't have regrets and actually mean it. But as far as writing goes, I only wish I'd written things better. Especially that sentence.
6. Name three favourite words.
Canopy, Incorrigible, Lemony, and a million more.
7. And three words you're not so keen on.
Let's Touch Base.
8. Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?
My inspiration for writing YA fiction was Jaclyn Moriarty. My mentor, though he may not know it, is my mate Dan, because he once very firmly told me to quit whining and get on with it. Very effective.
9. What's your writing ambition?
To keep going. To feel that I'm getting better and better. To receive a letter from a teen reader (preferably one that doesn't say You Suck). To be able to answer question 3.

And now for some tagging:
Being Lucy Diamond
Sophia Bennett
BookChildWorld

And, finally, a link to a fascinating set of responses to a controversial article by Katie Roiphe entitled My Newborn Is Like A Narcotic.

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Some Days

There is a mystical force that makes some days go swimmingly and others sink, even if all the circumstances are the same. Why is it that some days I have agreeable children who eat the nutritious food I lovingly prepare from scratch, while I manage to whip around the house making it shiny, achieve a dozen other miscellaneous things and then write a decent 1000 words on my novel before falling into a peaceful sleep? Admittedly that doesn't happen VERY often (no sniggering, you people who know that my house rarely shines and my son regurgitates most of my cooking, for fun) but I can't figure out what I'm doing different on those days. I mean, I've been looking after my own children for over five years now, you'd think I'd have grasped the basic rules. But no, not if today is anything to go by.

It started with a knock at the door.

Nope, hang on, let's go further back. It started when I said: "I know, let's paint your little table and chairs, children - won't that be fun?"

(Mistake Number 1: use of "let's", implying that they are invited to "help".)

So we bought the paint (undercoat + cherry red gloss) and I laid out some old reams of computer paper on the lawn and we got stuck in. An hour later and my nerves were in shreds - it was the cat trying to get involved or The Boy having a very poor understanding of the command LESS PAINT or The Girl trying to be artistic with undercoat. Mainly on her clothes. Job done (ish) we downed tools and headed out for a Mexican for dinner - and two Sols later I had almost recovered from the ordeal.

(Mistake Number 2: at this point I should have made up an intricate yet believable excuse for why I had to do the cherry red alone. I could have been creative here - or just plain mean, eg. cherry red paint is full of POISONS that will MELT children's skin, while remaining completely safe for old haggard skin like Mummy's...they'd have bought that.)

Meantime, I'd left the huge reams of computer paper outside and when Melbourne was hit with high winds a few nights ago...we woke up to quite a sight, as if a cack-handed giant had tried to gift-wrap our garden overnight.

Fortunately, it rained all week so I had the perfect excuse to put off the job. But today the sun shone - damn you, Australia, with all your damn sun all over the place! I took a deep breath and crept outside with the paint, brushes and more paper to protect the grass...

Wait, I forgot - "It started with a knock at the door" - so this guy knocks at the door and says he's selling cleaning products for a company that employs intellectually disabled people. We buy some purple disinfectant. We look at the disinfectant and say "Hm, I wonder what we'll use this for" and then we think no more of it, not really being disinfectant types.

Back to the garden. The children have by now seen that painting is About To Commence. As has the cat. I have a buzzing in my ears from the stress of seeing them brandishing cherry red brushes but I try to focus... Course that would be easier if the cat didn't keep trying to escape, meaning I had to grab him with my good arm (I have RSI in the other) about once every five minutes - return to the painting - give stern instructions to the children - grab the cat (who by now has a cherry red tum) - return to the painting - give stern instructions..and so on.

And then the doorbell rang. It's The Girl's partner in crime from next door. Next thing I know, we've got an extra "helper". The cat's escaped. I go off to look for it. When I return, the children have covered the wet paint in GRASS. Sprinkle sprinkle sprinkle, they went. Doesn't that look pretty?

OHMYGODGETOUTOFMYGARDENGETOUTGETOUT!!!

So I ban them. I pick off the bits of grass. I wipe my brow. I now have a cherry red brow. The cat continues to try to escape, I continue to retrieve him and finish off the paint job... It's okay, I'm breathing normally again, the children are playing happily somewhere else and - Oh, oh no, oh no oh no oh no...There in front of me stands The Boy. He is holding out his hands and in his eyes is something like Evil mixed with Joy mixed with My-Mother-Is-Going-To-Have-My-Guts-For-Garters. For ladies and gentlemen, while I'm out there covered in cherry red gloss, with the runaway cat and three chair-legs away from finishing, all over The Boy's hands, hair, and in many, many other places around my house, is a substance for which that bottle of purple disinfectant ended up coming in handy...

And if you got to the end of that, do join me in a very stiff gin and tonic. Cheers.

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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

For Geri

I was a Parent On Duty at the Girl's kinder/nursery (take your pick) last week. This usually involves twenty-six children climbing on me while the teachers look on with a 'you're more trouble that you're worth' look - I just don't seem to have any authority. Children see me as a climbing frame / clown / object of derision.

Now that the Ugg boots are a little too disgusting to wear outside, I have switched to a pair of desert boots I've had since the mid-90s. They were supposed to be for hiking...so they look practically brand new and I thought, why not? Since then three children have asked me WHY ON EARTH I'm wearing boots that their builder-dads wear. They have not been impressed, on the whole. So picky! It's not as if I'm wearing a red nose.

There happened to be a fire drill while I was on duty. I had to channel every ounce of my Responsible Adult energy in the space of thirty seconds. All I hoped was that I'd do a better job than Mr G...

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Saturday, 8 August 2009

Touching Cloth

I have finally grown up, and it's all thanks to that crafty lot over at Berrylicious Buttons for running a competition I couldn't resist entering (describe in 50 words or less why cloth napkins are better than paper napkins). I have never owned cloth napkins before! It's a whole new world of sophistication. Those of you who remember The Australian's big issue with wiping his hands will be thrilled to know that he'll no longer have to use a common old tea towel.

I just hope they're self-ironing.

The new mature me would like to apologise for the coarse humour at work in the title of this post. The old me would like you to watch this Mitchell & Webb clip:

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Sunday, 2 August 2009

Mother's Ruin

Since our cat arrived on the scene, both of our fish have died (RIP Sam and Jam), but unless the autopsy reveals Death By Intimidation, the cat's in the clear.

The Australian and I have a good history of keeping fish (we even accidentally bred them once, leading me to run around the flat screaming FISH BABIES FISH BABIES!) but these two have only lasted since March (The Girl's birthday present). When we noticed Jam fading, I googled Fish Euthanasia and discovered that for coldwater fish, clear alcohol is the kindest way. We had a sniff of Tanqueray left, and Jam went out in style (no ice or lemon but a swift end at least). His brother had no such luck - there was no gin left and he snuffed it while I was digging around for an alternative (Pinot Noir? Too light. Pedro Ximenez? Too sweet.)

I broke the news to The Girl. She thought about it for a while, and I stood by squirming. But then: "Oh well! At least I've got a cat!" You sure have, Pollyanna dear. There is absolutely no doubt that we Have A Cat. We have him while we're trying to work, while we're trying to sweep the floor, and while we're trying to sleep... We hear his little bell just as we're about to drift off at night and then DOOF, he leaps onto me, sets his head on the pillow - approximately 2mm from my face - and gives me a look that says: "You have allowed your children into your bed since birth, why not me?" Yes, he's got my number.

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