When I grow up (and some regulation trivia).

Responding to Emily’s Writers Reveal prompt, ‘When I grow up’, my piece is told from the perspective of a teenage girl, Summer Black, a fictitious yet real narrator. Unfortunately there are too many Summers in our classrooms and playgrounds. And the world isn’t always kind to them.

When I grow up

Our theme this term is ‘growing up’. Miss asked us to write an essay on what Scout learned in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, as well as a story beginning with the words, “When I grow up”. It’s an easy topic for me because I’ve already thought about it. A lot. It’s the only thing stopping me giving up. It’s my dream…I hope it will happen.

My new room has a view, a vista of the railway track. It’s bleak (trains aren’t pretty and they’re noisy, cutting the quiet with their dull clatter), but at night my window’s view transforms. When I lie in bed and look up, I see the opaque sky is remote and its vastness dwarfs me. On the sky’s black velvet carpet, silver gems are spread and sometimes they smile at me. When I stare long enough, I seep into the blackness – the dense infinity. The night sky makes me wonder, gives me hope.

When I grow up I’m going to be happy, I’m going to be skinny, I’m going to be happy. When I grow up I’m going to be happy and I’m not going to be me.

Miss Martinello gapes, “Summer, can I talk to you about your story…are you okay?” I meet her gaze with a perky shrug. “Perfectly, Miss. It’s fiction, right?

“Right.” She hesitates, touches my hand, a bird-like caress revealing her feather kindness – like a bird’s wing. I like Miss.

When I grow up I’m going to be happy. I’m going to shed the layers of fat, eviscerate the lard to the hard muscle and bone below. No one ever sees my muscle and bone. Not yet.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

It’s Recess and I eat my apple, nibble at the carrot. Rabbit-like. My teeth are large – straight and white but they’re swamped, diminished, in my fat cheeks. No one sees my perfect teeth.

Mum wants to pack treats for school, choc-chip cookies, doughy rolls with cheese, but I won’t let her. I can’t eat at school. Fat people can’t eat in public, it’s a universal truth. Not unless they want to be vilified. Miss said ‘vilified’ was a good word – “expressive” – but it’s an ugly word for an ugly past-time.  So while my stick friends pile in chips, sausage rolls and pasta – hot and tempting from the canteen – they judge me.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

“If they’re your friends, Summer, what the hell’s going on?” She doesn’t swear, my mother.  ‘Hell’ is about as bad as she gets. She believes one needs to lead by example. But she’s tall and slim while I’m my father’s daughter. Ex-father. So WTF?

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

I shielded Mum so long but not forever. All through my fat days, I tricked her. But when I started to purge, when the weight dropped and I resembled one of the wraiths from my favourite zombie movie, she gleaned something.

“Sweetie I’m worried about you, you don’t look…yourself.”

She means I look ill, crap. It’s the black arcs below my eyes, my pasty skin.

She clutches at straws, my dearest mother. “You’re not staying up all night on Facebook?” She has a vague but prevalent unease about social media. It’s a valid point. The schoolyard taunts were nothing to the trolling…

“I’m fine, Mum, and by the way, goths pay good money for this look!”

She laughs but it doesn’t reach her eyes.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

I never should have let Jed touch me. But he was popular and I thought I’d be popular by association. Stupid girl! Stupid girl! Too clueless to know he was Claudia’s. Well not yet, but she had her eye on him…she’d baggsed him. I should’ve known he’d post it – thinly-veiled, no names – but they knew it was me. He even used alliteration, probs thought he was clever. “Fingering fat-girl totes not fun!!” Oh the irony, I didn’t even like him. I would blame the vodka shots but that’d be the coward’s way. It was me, Summer Black following Jed into the dark, enticing room.

All my problems coalesced after that. My group, of which Claudia is the leader – Queen Bee of the second coolest group in the Year 10 playground – led the pack. And deer-in-the-headlights-me was such an easy target.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

It’s why we left, Mum and I. Left the neighbourhood. New school. At this school no one knows about my dark days, my fat days, my slut days. Except Miss, now. But I can trust her, even though she’s alarmed by my story. I’ve said it’s fiction but she knows. Some say going to a new school is just shelving your problems as you take them with you. But I see it as a fresh start. Everyone thinks I’m weird though, coz I hang in the library most lunch times. If the truth’s known, I’m scared. The steely bluffness is all front.

I still purge, but not as often and I hope one day I’ll stop. I closed my Facebook account but maybe I’ll open again soon. You miss out on a lot of stuff without FB. I’ve kept my Instagram but I only ever post skies. I like skies, they give me hope. They let me see that the world is beautiful, underneath.

 

Now for something less heavy – some regulation trivia:

I’m having a little break from blogging because I want to finish editing my manuscript. Even if it’s never a book, I want to finish. I’m halfway through but keep getting side-tracked into work and other frivolous things such as social media, coffee with friends, painting my nails. Oh and eating cake. Marie Antoinette has a lot to answer for.

But before I say my temporary adieu, I’ll post some pics. First a food-selfie. Love this self-indulgent genre. As if the world cares what I (or anyone for that matter) eats! In this case, it wasn’t even me. It was a random stranger’s breakfast trifle…and it looked so pretty.

Stranger's breakfast trifle.

Stranger’s breakfast trifle.

Blossom update. It’s official, I hate Blossom. She ate my berry muffin. Losing shoes I can cope with, losing triple-berry muffins I can’t. 😦

Contrary to appearances, I'm bad.

Contrary to appearances, I’m bad.

Note from Blossom: Please don’t tell my Queensland boyfriend Pablo but Freddy proposed and he’s already organised the cake… As well as ho-bagness, polygamy possibly runs in my family. 😉

Artist's rendition of Blossom and Freddy's wedding cake.

Artist’s rendition of Blossom and Freddy’s wedding cake.

And speaking of ho-bagness, this photo is from a new flirtless dog park. It was a bit boring.

No dogs to flirt with here...

No dogs to flirt with here…

Teaching Stuff:

One of the advantages of teaching is the longer you’re in the profession, the more you’re beyond embarrassment. As a new teacher I stepped terrified into my delinquent difficult Year 7 and 8 classrooms, with only a strong coffee and flailing courage to fortify me, as I plastered my steely ‘Sergeant Major’ face on. Over the years, I’ve made quite a few errors on the black/white board, (pointed out gleefully by stuents), worn non-matching earrings, different coloured shoes (it was dark when I got dressed), walked into class with my zipper undone halfway down my back and on another occasion with my dress caught up at the back – Jennifer-Hawkins-style (but without the fetching view).  I don’t think it’s possible to shock or humiliate a teacher after a while. You have lots of things said to you – a couple rude or mean – but mostly nice, weird, endearing and funny…or hilair.  The big perk of teaching is, it is always entertaining (Pinky’s latest post on Hector’s ear is a case in point!) Working with kids isn’t ever boring. When naughty challenging Year 10 student Jay said, “Hey Miss, does my neck look buff?” I, naturally, replied, “Yes, Jay, very buff.” The class cracked up but Jay looked quite pleased to have a buff neck. They didn’t get back to work for a while but it broke up the boredom of deconstructing a poem. 🙂

These moments mightn’t be as good as as expense accounts, free lunches or fancy company cars, they’re better. 

And as far as reprimands go, I pick my battles, carefully. I’ll never say to a gum-chewing student as one teacher did once: “If you don’t stop masticating, Thomas, I’ll castigate you!” (Kids aren’t aren’t great with sarcasm or malapropisms). 🙂

Finally, a sunrise. No photo-shopping, au naturel.

View from my room.

View from my room.

So enough about me, what about you? Did you ever embarrass your teacher?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT and joining Grace and FYBF. 🙂

 

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My Friendly Stalker.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

I may lose a few followers over this post but in the interests of candour and bearing my guilty conscience, it’s a sacrifice I’m prepared to make. Besides, I have such lovely followers I’m hoping they’ll humour me or judge me too harshly for my lack of moral fibre. (They may just think I’m being flippant, as I’m inclined to be). 🙂

I am single, something I don’t often mention in my posts as I’m a bit private – online at least. But since starting this blog and reading many blogs, I’ve realised that the ones I warm to most are those in which bloggers reveal things about themselves, sharing their lives and exposing their vulnerabilities.

We’re not all perfect “except for you and me and I’m a bit worried about you” (as someone once said), therefore it’s heartening to occasionally see each other’s weaknesses and vanities.

Back to me, myself and I. I am of an age which Oscar Wilde said was sure to elicit pity and certain defeat…or something equally crushing. (They were so ageist in the nineteenth century). Anyway, I’ve had two husbands (husband one I divorced and husband two I lost to cancer) and while I’m not knocking husbands in general, you get quite picky the more husbands you’ve had. I won’t deny it’s been difficult being widowed relatively young, but there’s no point in wallowing. Basically after two husbands, I’m in no hurry to acquire a third hubs. So, apart from the episode with my hot Italian lover, (fact or flippant?) I am alone.

Enough lead in, onto My-Friendly-Stalker. Everyone knows I have two dogs, one Kelpie and therefore hyperactive maniac, the other, Baby Blossom (hyperactive maniac puppy). In order to prevent said dogs from:  a) harassing me day and night and b) destroying the house and garden, I run every morning at the dog park. This works for us by giving me the illusion of health and fitness, and them the reality of fun.

Heading down bush track to dog-park.

Bad blurry pic…heading down bush track to dog-park.

I’m getting to the stalker bit. Lately at the dog-park I’ve encountered a sleaze man who flirts with me. I wouldn’t normally write about someone flirting, I’d just abandon myself to the experience. HOWEVER this man Lothario is not just married but married to a lovely dog-walking woman.

Trajectory of flirty events:

  • Flirty comment 1: I’ve forgotten the details because I was running and puffing and obviously it’s very difficult to talk and run at the same time. Besides, Who is this man interrupting my important exercise schedule?
  • Flirty comment 2: Impertinent Man: “Hi, you again!” (accompanying grin). Me: “Excuse me?” (accompanying giggle).
  • Flirty comment 3Flirt: “Stop stalking me!” Me: thinking, “As if?” Pausing and digesting comment, scrutinising incorrigible flirt from beneath lashes – nondescript man…replying: “You’re stalking me!” 
  • Flirty comment 4: Libertine: “You’re making a big habit of this.” Me: Stopping and regarding Don Juan man with some interest. His talent in flirtiness is so impressive it halts said exercise regime. Simpering grin.
  • Flirty comment 5: After laziness and cooler weather caused momentarily running hiatus: Romeo: “Hi, where have you been? I’ve missed you!”                     Me: Swivelling mid-step (almost endangering ankle). This seriously flirty comment warranted careful consideration, as it has gone beyond what is reasonable on flirt spectrum. Flushed face due – if honest – to heat and pleasure combo. Examine flirt closely, noting that nondescript has grown into something like handsome (purely through skilful flirtiness). Me: “I’ve been very busy.” Experience epiphany as I recall in recesses of mind, nice wife. Despite epiphany, grin guiltily at gentleman evil flirt.
  • Flirty comment 6 or 7: Rake on a Monday: “I’ve spent all weekend practising my jogging so I can keep up with you!” Me: Flirty giggling escapes wanton lips.
  • Next encounter: After making a resolution to dump My-Friendly-Stalker by direct allusion to wifey: Me: “I saw your wife the other day!” Casanova: Nakedly flirty smirk.
  • Recent encounter: Wolf: “I’ve been scouring the park looking for you.” Me: Big smirk twists my lips. Again. Vapid giggle. Again.
  • Most recent flirty comment:  As I emerged from a grove of trees hanging over the running path, Philanderer: “That’s it, lurking in the bushes, waiting to ambush me! I’m getting an A.V.O. out on you!” Me: I won’t describe my exact words but suffice to say it involved a lot of high-pitched giggling.
Photo credit: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

The art of flirting is an old one. A hang-over from bygone days before one night stands, hook-ups and sexting allowed everyone to indulge in a no-holes-barred kind of courtship. It’s all about the hint of attraction  – nothing stated or expected, yet everything implied. It’s a study in understatement, in the allure of temptation.

Very boring shot of dog-park.

Very boring shot of dog-park.

Oscar Wilde said on flirting: “A woman will flirt with anybody in the world as long as other people are looking on.”  I realise I am obsessed with that man but he is gay and dead – so it’s a lost cause 😦

Oscar’s observations may have prevailed in London society in the late nineteenth century, but this is not the case in Sydney dog parks in the twenty first century, where unfettered flirting is taking place discreetly, as well in open spaces.

I have since dumped my friendly stalker twice, although he is oblivious it. I’ve varied my times and entered the park from a different spot to avoid him, encountering the wife and chatting amicably to her! Yet when I run into My-Friendly-Stalker he continues to flirt shamelessly, undaunted by references to wifey.

Very recent flirty comment: Man-whore:Flirt:“Hey, you’re playing mind games with me!”  Me: Vacuous giggling.

I tried and failed. Nothing inappropriate has occurred: No leering (under different circumstances, I’m not averse to a little leering), no impertinent questions or comments. No suggestions for coffee, drinks or detours onto the bush track (and there is a well-camouflaged bush track).

So, dear readers, what do you think? Should I surrender to these very innocent tete-a-tetes at the dog park, with impunity? Surely it’s a mild form of entertainment hurting no one (though I’m well aware of mind cheating). If I’m truly honest, I would not like my husband/partner/lover to engage in said flirting with anyone other than me.

Shall I find another dog park? Bear in mind this one is very convenient and time is a factor…must rush back to prepare for work. Of course, I can be rude or curt to My-friendly-stalker – avert my head, blank him, jog straight past him…

What do you say, condemn or condom condone?

Postscript: My second last foray to dog park involved light banter with Friendly-Stalker’s dog-walking bestie. Not prime flirting per se, but enjoyable banter (a slippery slope perhaps?) And yesterday’s visit to the dog-park involved a pleasant convo with a random dog-walker whose dog was a replica of my own. I’ve concluded that I am very promiscuous flirty by nature. Basically if it wears trousers and doesn’t have two heads (sorry to anyone out there with two heads but I must draw the line), I will morph into a femme fatale flirt. Unfortunately, as I alluded to in my last post about Blossom, ho-bagness does run in our family.

Heading to new gym equipment to work out now (dogs, not me).

Heading to new gym equipment to work out now (dogs, not me).

BTW there’s a lot of wit going down at the dog park. Today a dog-walker compared his alpha male dog to Vladimir Putin. It reminded me of Ed’s recent post with Rocky Tones and Putin in the ring. I feel the dog-park is the new hook up rendezvous  – a previously untapped dating site source of diverting entertainment (and not just for the dogs).

Source: Pinterest.

WHERE’S WALLY? Can you see the dog-stalker?            Source: Pinterest.

So, a philosophical observation and to quote Alanis Morisset, Isn’t it ironic that the flirty encounters occur in the dog park, wearing parka and leggings rather than tarted  glammed up with heels and eye-liner in a night club?!

Addendum: Just back from the dog park with some hot gossip. While all dog-walkers agree, “Whatever goes down at the dog-park, stays at the dog-park”, I had to share this: A dog-walker, let’s call her Belinda (real name rhymes with this), just revealed a shocking case of flirting sexual harassment at the dog-park. Under normal circumstances, I’d never make light of this behaviour but flirting is one thing, molestation quite another. Apparently, a dog-walker, let’s call him Ranko (real name rhymes with this), grabbed Belinda around the waist and rubbed against her – laughing and making strange noises (which my sense of propriety prevents me from divulging).

I now realise I’ve had a lucky escape. For better or worse, no one has grabbed me at the dog-park, let alone the rest. But then I am running and they’d have to be very hot cleverly flirty to make me stop! 😉

Tell me, have you flirted lately? Please explain…

Joining Emily’s Monday Laugh Link up and adding my linky to Jess’s IBOT (if it’s not impertinent to link twice!) 🙂

A little story (and some regulation trivia).

Continuing on with my short piece, The Appointment, because I am too lazy to think of another blog topic and also because I like stories and wanted to see where this writing prompt would go.

Image credit.

All credit to: Urban Circus.

The Appointment – Part 2

Although feeling a little adolescent, Miranda silently chanted her mantra as she stepped onto the train: ‘You’re okay’. She’d had a few mantras over the past three years since “that awful business”, as her mother had put it. Kathleen O’Sullivan had only censured her daughter once but her bewildered expression stung more than any curt retort. Her father hadn’t said a word, but the look on his face spoke volumes – tomes. He’d already had his piece when she’d moved out and in with Jimmy: “’Shacked up’ with more like! You’re a fool, my girl, if you can’t see the real Jimmy…the man beneath that smooth front.”  Patrick O’Sullivan was proud of his only child. She was the first, the only, member of his family to go to university, but somehow that made the shock of her decision to live with Jimmy worse. It was 1963 and not yet commonplace to live in sin, at least not for good Irish Catholic families newly arrived on these vagabond shores.

Jimmy was everything that her father wasn’t. At times (not often, for she’d tried to expel him from her mind during the past two years), she’d wondered if that had been the attraction. Where Patrick O’Sullivan was dour and economic with his words – joking rarely and only in a grim, scathing fashion – James Nelson was warm and loquacious. Charming. There was no avoiding the fact that Jimmy was charismatic, despite the pain it cost Miranda to acknowledge it. He laughed a lot and had a way of looking into her face with a peering intensity that made her feel as though she were fascinating. No one before or since had ever made her feel that special.

Her mother was less critical and inclined to hope that Jimmy would do the right thing. She hinted about an engagement and Miranda’s heart ached that she couldn’t produce one just to satisfy her mother’s dogged sense of convention. She herself didn’t mind, so heady was her adulation of Jimmy. “Mum, I don’t care about the ring…it isn’t important. He loves me!”

Miranda blushed to think of it now. Enough! She swept the rogue thoughts from her head and opened her briefcase, withdrawing the contract and smoothing it over her knees. Is this skirt too short? She’d been a bit daring but then it was an informal kind of affair. Affair…what a faux par – a Freudian slip! It was an interview, an appointment, that was all. Miranda couldn’t work out which was the more daunting word for her meeting. She felt a bit like a schoolgirl, not a junior partner at Bradley, Stein and Parker.

Her heart began to pump at an eager staccato pace and to deflect her nerves, she at once began scanning the document. She knew just how much reading she could accomplish on the forty minute commute.

….to be continued.

Image Credit

All credit to: My Darling Darlinghurst.

Regulation Trivia.

On writing.  Apparently adverbs are the enemy. Experts of a high calibre have warned writers and would-be writers (who are writers anyway as they write), to avoid using adverbs because they’re clumsy and bad writing. My friend Pinky is working on a novel and she’s been advised not to go down the adverb-path-of-ruination, however, I am sceptical. J.K. Rowling got away with an abundance (but then she was J.K. Rowling) yet Stephen King hates them. Jane Austen rarely used them but ‘Adverb’ was Charles Dickens’ middle name. That probably gives us modern wordsmiths scribblers carte-blanche. 🙂

I’ve only included ONE adverb in the above little piece and feel very virtuous. But before I become overly pompous, I’ve used twenty four adjectives! 😦

Food Selfie. I frequent a lot of cafes because I am a decadent and self-confessed cafe whore. Also, it’s easier to meet friends in cafes rather than subject them to my inferior coffee and cake. I recently blamed Poppet for taking ‘food selfies’ and posting them on Instagram but if I’m honest, snapping pics of nice food is a teensy bit addictive.

I simply had to take a photo of this when I caught up with some friends in the school holidays (that was 2 weeks ago, but we all know I’m a bit slow with posts). This gastronomical experience was a first for me – a Scone in a Pot. BizarreA purist would be appalled as I don’t think it’s etiquette to dig scones out of earthenware pots. 🙂

Scone in a Pot (bizarre)

All credit to: ME!!

Enough about me, what do you think? 🙂

  • Do you to prefer to have friends over instead of going to cafes? It’s certainly easier when you have young children. But then you miss out on all the gossip when you’re stuck in the kitchen frothing milk and opening packets serving freshly baked muffins.
  • What’s the rule on adverbs and adjectives? Do you like your prose richly descriptive or spare and economic? Seriously, life is too short to stress about parts of speech – even in the interests of your epic masterpiece!

I’ll leave you with a meme my Pinterest addict expert sent me. It highlights the perils of online dating superbly (another adverb – why oh why are they so bad?)

pinterest - pitbull

 

Next time, I am moving out of my comfort zone with a post entitled ‘My Friendly Stalker’, on flirting – a true story. However, on reflection, I may not as it shows my character in a very poor light…

Linking up today with Jess and IBOT because, well, it’s Tuesday. Joining Grace’s FYBF  for her bevy of blogging brilliancy. 🙂

Average is the new black.

Photo courtesy of imgquotes.

Photo courtesy of imgquotes.

I have a weakness for dog quotes/pics and Andrew Rooney’s little message made me reflect on the whole concept of average. It made me realise some sobering facts:

  1. I’m okay at some things but don’t really excel in any.
  2. I’m a pretty average blogger who probably hasn’t found her niche, if one exists. And do we need a niche at all?

I know you will stampeed might reassure me and say, “Nonsense, you’re great, you’re special.” (BTW this blog post is not a fishing for compliments exercise – though who doesn’t like compliments?) Anyway, my average epiphany got me thinking… Is average okay? Is it alright to be quite good  at a few thing but genius at nothing?

LOOK AT ME!!

LOOK AT ME!!

Look at this amazing pic I saw on Pinterest about refusing to be average and soaring to dizzying heights. Soaring. I’d try it but it just looks like so much EFFORT. Plus those muscles are seriously scary and I don’t want to scare people.

Perhaps we were more content when we were allowed to be average. We were more relaxed certainly, before all the reaching our potential pressure to rise above everyone and excel – to achieve our dreams, become rich and famous or the very best. Maybe just doing something quite well is okay, yet it doesn’t seem to be valued in our aspirational times. Maybe putting in a modest day’s work, caring for loved ones and languishing on the sofa watching Q and A  Offspring is okay, after all.

British/French writer and philosopher Alain de Botton proposed an interesting theory in his book Status Anxiety. Status AnxietyEssentially, de Botton says that life was happier back in feudal times when we were locked into serfdom and didn’t expect to rise above our stations. We weren’t aspirational, we didn’t hanker to be lord and lady of the manor because there was just NO CHANCE it’d happen. No matter how hard you worked as a serf, you could never own any land. It was an austere life and we mightn’t have been consciously happy – working hard for the squire, getting old and bent at 25 and dying of old age at 35. Yet we weren’t consciously feeling inadequate or striving to be well above average. We might have been content. We didn’t covet celebrity because we didn’t have celebrity.

That said, Elizabeth Woodville was something of a fashion icon. She looks hot comely in that elegant ensemble…I might have coveted that, serf or no serf.

Flippancy aside, our raison d’etre in feudal times was average. It was probably average until the Industrial Revolution created the middle class and allowed some movement between the classes.

As I was contemplating what to write about for this post – preferably something illuminating and insightful – I came to the conclusion that I have no real expertise. I’ve NEVER received a trophy for anything in my entire life, even though I did sports, music and dancing as a child (I got a ribbon once but the memory is hazy). What does this reveal about me, that I am mediocre? Why do we fear mediocrity so much? It’s such an awful word – mediocre – it’s average in a bad way, but what is average in a good way…normal, typical, unexceptional?

Dusting off my average-ego I faced the fact that there is no topic on which I can eloquently waffle knowing that I am shedding light and wisdom.

Book reviews: I’d like to write these because I am the suppository of wisdom averagely clued up on books, but it occurs to me that I’m not well organised enough to read and review books with any kind of regular discipline. And there are some bloggers who do this very well – definitely not averagely.

Politics: I’d like nothing more than to weigh into political debate, lampooning our reigning politicians and government with zeal and acid wit…But over at Crikey, The Hoopla, The New Matilda – among others – they cover this very unaveragely. I’m content to read their articles, giggle and shake my head at  human folly.

Nature: I’m a HUGE fan of the natural world. As I’ve said before (probably very inappropriately), “Who needs cocaine when you can gaze at Nature and get high?” But can I translate this passion for Nature into brilliant photography? No, though I do participate in Wordless Wednesday and the Weekly Photo Challenge to try to show off showcase my talent averageness.

Urban Farming: I’ve alluded to my genius attempts in the vegie patch in Transgender Hen. I’ll leave you today with proof of my teetering on the brink of below-averageness with these before and after pics of my amazing deficient ability. I took a photo of a recently purchased hydrangea last Spring as it sat resplendently in a pot on our deck: potted beauty This is that same hydrangea recently, after I released it into nature and dirt and soil….so it would die flourish. But before you dis me completely, grab a microscope and examine the photo carefully. Do you see a minute green shoot? Not HOPELESS after all – just the wrong side of average!IMG_1326Maybe I’ve come at this from the wrong angle.  Maybe it’s the trying, the effort that counts…perhaps that’s good for us. The trying. We like to rise above average and shine a little even if the end result is a bit averagey.

Over to you. Are you a bit, very or below average? And are you cool with your this? (Or maybe you’re a little bit genius?)

Linking today with Essentially Jess and IBOT. Joining Grace for FYBF

Chicks, cafes and other important trivia…

Linking up today with Essentially Jess and IBOT.

Poppet with Lacey.

Poppet with Lacey.


We bought chicks this week. It’s been eighteen months since ‘the massacre’, when we lost all seven of our hens to a fox attack in suburban Sydney. I don’t blame the fox – it was Spring, prime breeding time and no doubt it was a hungry vixen with a den of cubs waiting for a tasty chicken breakfast. But I won’t deny it was traumatising to go into the chook pen in the morning and face an eerie silence and corpses strewn around, bloodied and headless. We lost more than egg-laying birds, we lost pets – hand-reared, all with names and individual personalities. We couldn’t replace them immediately and when we did – six weeks later after a massive fox-proofing operation – it was with generic Isa Browns from an intensive chicken farm, still laying but in bad shape – debeaked, scrawny, missing chunks of feathers. They’d spent their short lives standing on wire in a small cage and when we first put them into the pen, they stood motionless for an hour, shocked to feel earth beneath their claws. They’d never walked about on soil before, never dug for worms. Very slowly they began to scratch (important piece of chook trivia: hens live to scratch). Those five generic ex-battery hens had entered Chez Chooky Heaven. They are now fat and fluffy…wish I’d taken before and after pics – you’d be very impressed. 🙂

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When you cheat on your local cafe…

Have your ever offended your local cafe owners? Bizarre as this sounds, it’s precisely what I did. We have eight cafes in our suburb, three of which make decent coffee, so naturally we only visit these three. But I’d been lax, I’d neglected one cafe. I didn’t give it a moment’s thought when I picked up a takeaway over the Easter break but I was met with a distinctly frosty reception. No smile or How are you? and a muttered, What coffee was it again? (been drinking skim lattes there for years). I found myself gushing and grinning in a fawning, demented way as I recalled that Wait, I haven’t been to this cafe for ages! I’d been unfaithful, I’d cheated…in short, I am a cafe whore. Guilt washed over me as I acknowledged how thoughtless and cruel I’d been in going to my other two lovers baristas for at least three weeks, behind their back. The cool demeanour was payback. 

cafe pic

Note to self: Cafe proprietors have feelings – very delicate sensibilities, in fact. Don’t spread yourself around too thinly. Do not be promiscuous in your coffee/tea drinking. Or if you do two-time or three-time, do it with more panache than I.

Are you or have you ever been, a cafe whore? Or are you loyal and faithful, eschewing beverage infidelity?

What makes you happy?

                     

A few weeks ago I took some photos of flowers for a Weekly Photo Challenge or was it Wordless Wednesday? (I can never do WW – I waffle too much). Anyway, I got busy and didn’t post them. Then on the weekend I was reading an article about the eternal human quest for happiness and contentment, Happiness is a but a series of good-hair moments. What I found clever about this piece was that it broke this whole human endeavour into, quite simply, “moments of joy”.

Sometimes you can forget to smile when times are stressful or sad. I’m not talking about pleasure – obviously sex and food and alcohol philanthropic works and cuddling small children and animals help here. I’m referring to instant, fleeting happiness – a moment of joy.

What makes you smile? Corny and cliched as it sounds, flowers do it for me…I’m a bit obsessed with them. 

I like dandelion because they begin as tiny, insignificant, yellow flowers then morph phoenix-like into fluffy pom-poms that beckon you to bend and pick one, blowing gently as you make your wish.

A dandelion by any other name would be as humble.

Flowers are important  things. And liking them isn’t confined to the female gender either. William S thought the rose was so special he wrote the words: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” while Juliet anguished over the feuding Montagues and Capulets, deciding that a name was nothing after all…that even with a different name, Romeo would still be the same Romeo. (It works in theory William, but somehow I don’t think a rose would smell as sweet if it were called cabbage or cumquat).

Do flowers make you smile? Perhaps one that springs from a boring bulb every year – a jonquil or freesia? Or a daffodil – it has no perfume yet Wordsworth (another William) wrote an entire poem devoted to its beauty.

Handwritten manuscript of 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' - 1802.

Handwritten manuscript of ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ – 1802.

It’s hard to fault the flawless grace of Holland’s tulip.

IMG_0374Our Australian floral emblem must rate a mention – it has a day named after it. These canary yellow bunches make you sneeze but in their hundreds of variations, they bejewell their drab hosts all over the countryside in September. 

IMG_0295Then there’s gerbera, it’s suffered from bad press, mocked for being too mundane, yet there’s something very dependable about these plastic looking flowers (plus they’re cheap – $6 a bunch from my green grocer) 🙂

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I can’t ramble about flowers without alluding to Dame Edna Everidge. This grande dame wrecked the perfectly respectable gladioli by wearing scary glasses on stage and waving bunches of them around her head (but seriously, the gladioli never was an elegant flower).

Dame Edna

Finishing with Oscar Wilde, who had witty and wise words to say on most subjects:

“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” .Oscar Wilde

Sadly Wilde didn’t have freedom (though some might say nothing can shackle the imagination).

Do flowers make you smile? What would your floral choice be if you could have a basket delivered to your door right now? It is difficult to narrow down a favourite, if pressed I’d find it hard to name any one flower…

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Linking up today with Essentially Jess and IBOT. 

Blocked, defriended, unfollowed…

Flippancy is my middle name so I’ll begin with a photo my son sent me:

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This funny pic got me thinking about blocking and being blocked. I thought about a recent experience on Twitter, where someone I follow – a strong, intelligent, articulate woman who happens to be a feminist – was being trolled. She blocked the perpetrator but others – anonymous or using fake gravatars – popped up and joined in the trashing of this woman…not just her views, but her appearance, her sexuality. This led me to think about rudeness, ugly rudeness. My grandmother used to say: “Manners cost nothing” and called people “ill-mannered” but that phrase doesn’t really cover the viciousness of an online troll. A troll used to be a hairy monster who lived under the billy-goats’ bridge. Now it’s a not-so-hairy monster who lives on the internet…

Image from: oakthorpesc. files

Image from:
oakthorpesc. files

This woman’s trolling reminded me of when Poppet was bullied in Year 9. She was fourteen and had just dumped (her first) boyfriend. It was amicable, they were still friends, yet this didn’t stop some of his friends from posting revolting things on Facebook. There were anonymous bullies on Formspring (a site active two years ago), but somehow the Facebook ones were worse because they had names and therefore profiles…faces. They were real. Poppet didn’t tell me about this bullying at first. Like many teenagers, she internalised it, blamed herself. After all, she’d dumped a very popular boy, a boy with loyal, vocal friends. I can’t repeat what was said – it’s too graphic to type here, but think of one of the worse things you could say to a young girl, think sexual, and you’ll be close to the truth.

I found out accidentally, glancing over her shoulder one day, eyes zeroing in on her screen, so appalled I wanted to seek out this boy and tell him off; ring the school; ring the police; ring his mother.

But world weary Poppet, just fourteen and already apprised of the online world and its dark corners, said: “Don’t! It will get worse.”

“What’s worse than that?” I shrieked.

She blocked him – this ill-mannered but quite normal boy. Interestingly, he’s apologised to Poppet recently. Two years older, now at the same school and lately acquiring some manners, he told her he was sorry that he “…said some stuff. I was a total d**k.”

But I’m not sure if an apology, even a sincere one, can really appease the victim (or her mother). An apology shows character – not many people can apologise, least of all a teenage boy – but an apology can’t negate the immediate and ongoing effect of those brutal words on a fourteen year old girl (and her mother).

Before this post becomes not nearly flippant enough too grim,  I’ll mention my own experience on Facebook. I freely admit I’m eccentric weird with social media. I pick and choose. I don’t have Facebook – nothing against it, I just find I must limit social media, as it is a heady drug that keeps me from the offline world, the real world. But I did once have a Facebook account, which I opened on the advice of EVERYONE. And in the three hours my account was alive, I’d acquired quite a few ‘friends’. People popped out of the woodwork from all over the place and my head spun with giddiness. I was so popular! But I was suddenly privy to an array of family snaps from people I barely knew; news and status updates from relative strangers filled my feed. This I could deal with, but then suddenly I gazed with stunned horror at my own face – tagged in a photo that week when out to lunch – grinning with Cheshire Cat brilliance (that photo would not have survived my delete button!)

Traumatised reflecting quietly on my new public life, I closed said account and spent the next twenty four hours fielding offended ex-friends and contacts, apologising profusely to them. They’d all thought I’d blocked and defriended them…as if? A sense of the ridiculous is mandatory with social media, I feel. 🙂

According to my in-house online expert, Poppet, Facebook is practically obsolete, at least for teenagers: People only use it for invites and arrangements now, no one posts statuses anymore… *insert eye-roll*…it’s all Instagram and Snapchat! 

The online world is a diverting place. Poppet sent me this:

Image credit: Redditpics.

Image credit: Redditpics.

What are your own experiences with being blocked, defriended or unfollowed? Or is your world full of ‘sweetness and light’? 🙂

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Window.

Window, Nielsen Park Kiosk. 2013

Window, Nielsen Park Kiosk. 2013

It was a cool, spring day when I was having lunch mid-week with a favourite aunt at Nielsen Park, on Shark Beach. The park on Sydney Harbour is magic, with draping, picture-book trees and a tiny sandy beach. There were few customers that day, and at that moment, no one playing on the sand. Looking out from the cafe, I could almost imagine I was far from the city’s hurly-burly.

Linking up with Weekly Photo Challenge and Essentially Jess for IBOT.

A new year kind of thing.

Photo credit: Pinterest.

Photo credit: Pinterest.

Many bloggers at this time are writing uplifting posts full of self-betterment and resolutions. On this topic I will only say that I’ve resolved to be more tolerant and gossip less. Whether I will stick to this is a moot point because when I boasted my virtuous resolution to a friend, she said: “Don’t do it, you’ll become bland!”

Now to random and pictorial waffling…

When I was trying to escape a pool party on the weekend, a friend sent me this:

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Do you ever have parties that you’re obliged to attend because you ought to be neighbourly? But where you only know the hosts and you can’t exactly latch onto them as they’ll be very busy hosting, and you have no desire to meet their hordes of friends, especially not cavorting around the new pool?

Do you mix with your neighbours socially or are happy with a quick smile and wave, over the fence or in the stairwell of your apartment?

I’m not sure I have the hang of this blogging caper. I may have mentioned before that I am laconic verbose by nature, but the trouble is, when I am writing for public consumption, I over-analyse and over-draft…OVER-THINK.

I have a horror of being boring. I should be desensitised because I’m a teacher…I am paid to bore people. But only teenagers, not unsuspecting adults. I don’t take it personally when I notice 30 pairs of eyes glazing over…closing. English is the ONLY compulsory subject in Year 12, no one can drop my subject, which is good as it gives me power – leverage to encourage study – but bad because I bore a lot more teenagers than other teachers. Not everyone likes analysing poems.

Despite my fear not to be, as Poppet calls it “cringing”, I am going on with my blog into 2014. She is a severe critic is Poppet, with the casual brutality of youth. She regularly tells me, “Old people are cringing on social media.” (By ‘old people’, she means anyone over 32).

A few initiatives have helped me to blog: Kerri Sackville’s #MyFirst blogging challenge and Essentially Jess ‘s IBOT, as well as the sheer eclectic range and quality of the few blogs I follow.

Why do you blog? Is a compulsion or just fun?

Hen News: The new ex-battery cage chickens have settled in, finally. They’re getting fat and fluffy, they’ve started laying and are being pecked less by the older hens – the Mean Girls. A chook house is a tough place – a microcosm of the school yard.

Check out my booty!

Check out my booty!

Dog News: Small is ageing and she’s turned into a mini-tyrant who requires her own personal lady-in-waiting. Every moment I am at home, I wait on her – carrying her upstairs and downstairs, tempting her with tasty morsels – enslaved. If I don’t, she whimpers CONSTANTLY and – if her medieval serf doesn’t immediately spring into action – this whimpering rises to a crescendo of yelping. She looks adorable…don’t be fooled.

I'm resting at present but be on high alert.

I’m resting at present but be on high alert.

Big is the opposite of Small – undemanding, laid-back. It sounds a bit creepy and inappropriate but if he were human, I’d date him 🙂

I'm cool.

I’m cool.

Do you have a demanding pet (or human) in your family?

I saw a film yesterday and it was a little contrived, a touch pretentious, but there was a good line or two in it. This one made me think about perspective and our individual view of reality.

“Life is not what we live; it is what we imagine we are living.”
― Pascal MercierNight Train to Lisbon

Is your life close to the one you imagined?

Photo credit: tikkido

Photo credit: tikkido