Sunday, January 24, 2010


I have one day left before I go back to work. Well officially I have 3 days left but my new position is beckoning and my new office looks like a tornedo has willied its way through - so I need to return a little sooner. I wonder what I have done with all my time off. I could write a list to justify it all but that would be ......justifying it all.

Anyway what should I do on my last day?? Now I could really write a list. Just a bit of everything.

(Think of a 1940s  film, probably starring Grace Kelly, and Gary Cooper has left her for another (much uglier) woman and she is waiting for a ,taxi to take her to the airport to fly off to some unknown destination, she wistfully walks through the apartment, momentarilarily and delicately removing one glove to touch  a momento fleetingly, longingly).

My momentos will be the garden, the washing machine and the vaccuum cleaner but the Gary Cooper fantasy will definitely help. And the gloved hand of Grace Kelly... a diferent era.  It reminds me... when I was 'cleaning for my cleaner' I came across a hoard of handkerchiefs I forgot I owned.  They were under the table that  the phone sits on. The table is covered with a red lace tablecloth to hide the phone books, a gaggle of scrabble boxes and a tin of photographs and this collection of handkerchiefs.

I remember when I got them.  Years ago we bought a chest of drawers at a clearance sale in Bega. Louis was about 3 or 4 at the time... so about 15 years ago. After we got the drawers home and started cleaning them to put in the boys room, one of the drawers revealed this hidden treasure....boxes of ladies handkerchiefs. Beautiful lace work and embroidery on linen and cotton and delicately folded and pinned to form patterns in their boxes.  Two on them still had their cards, showing they were gifts, which I suspect they all were, to be so kept and unused. As you can see from the photos the boxes are just as beautiful as the handdkerchiefs themselves.  I particularly love the dogs even though the box is worn and nibbled away.

I wondered what I should do with them. Using them in my BookArtObject piece was a definite option but I've already found some green curtain material for the book bags I want to make.  And I just can't bring myself to unpin them and take them from their boxes. They seem so pretty and perfect and, girlie (the feminists are now rolling their eyes and muttering thing like 'symbols of passivity' and 'feminine submissiveness') and hark back to a time when I used hankies.

Remember never ever going to school without you hankie neatly ironed and folded into triangles.  and on tuckshop days having your 15 cents tied into the corner for safe keeping.  Remember that embarrassing father at the sports carnival with the handkerchief hat. What about the the kid in 3rd grade who constantly had a blood stained one tied around his knee.

I am remembering another hankie.

........I had to go and look long and hard for this one.  On my 8th birthday I remember skipping into my dads office after work. 

Dad was an auctioneer in Bega from the age of 14 until he died at 75.  He loved being an auctioneer (he always referred to his business as 'stock and station agent' ) because he loved farmers.  He was a bit of a character himself and told typical yarns about cockies but not as wild or funny as the stories that some of the men told. One of my big regrets in life is not writing down his stories before he died although most of them were not for my or my sister's ears as he considered anything crude to be inappropriate for his daugters to hear.  He was also fiercely loyal to his clients and would  not like us to see him laughing at them even if it was in good spirit.  But, of course, we would often overhear stories and antecdotes.

Anyway back to the hankie.  One of the real larikins who was quiet often on the seats at the front of my fathers offices was a man called Garnie Healy (affectionately know as Garn by most).  Garn was always an old man to me but I can vaguely remembering him marrying a women called Dorrie.  She managed to catch him quite late in life for both of them.   Garnie was often a character in the stories we overheard.  I think Dorrie used to get very upset about his excessive drinking and was a bith of a shrew when it came to dishing out the retributions.

Back to the hankie. This afternoon, of my 8th birthday, I popped into the office on my way home from school and Garn was there talking to dad about cattle stuff - prices and rain no doubt.  We didn't usually hang around to talk to the men but vanished 'out the back' to play on ancient typewriters and adding machines and stamp pads but this day dad stopped me and told Garn it was my birthday.  I don't remember it being particularly important at the time because Garn was just someone we knew from the office. I'm sure he wished me a happy birthday and I said thankyou and went on my way.  But the next evening when dad came home from work he had a card from Garn for me.  Inside the card was  crisp white linen and lace handkerchief. Never before had Garn bought us kids gift and at the time I think my father was more touched by the gesture than i was.   But I do remember thinking the handkerchief was very beautiful.

I don't remember know how I came across the photo of Garn that is now part of the hankie/card memorabilia but a one pound note was sent from my Auntie in England for the same birthday.  Both real treasures.

So that is my hankie story.  Will have do something with them to save them from the moths.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I haven't actually done it yet but I am very, very close

I have been a bit of a slack poster lately and I have no excuses - still on holidays so should be able to manage a bit more.  I think I'm just in that cotton wool state where everything seems soft and fuzzy and and a little bit uninspiring-.the Summer Heat Blues.  But with less than two weeks left I am determined to put in a big effort on everything.  So here is the list - finish BOA books (get more paper, cut out prints, stitch etc), prepare texts for school (Wilfred Owen poetry, the Old Man and the Sea, Holes - a novel for year 8, and a unit on Celebrities), clean the house.

Surely that will do! Notice I listed quite specifically -  what I need to do for school and for BOA but cleaning house is a vague, generalized 'clean house'. Probably because if you saw my house you would understand why I don't want to go into specifics. I like to blame B and the two YAMs (young adult males)  who reside with me but in all honesty that is not very fair. I just hate housework!!! (and I don't use the 'hate' word loosely).

 I know I am not alone but there is this huge inconsitency between, one, my absolute hatred of all things housework and two, my desire to have a tidy house. It would be ok if I was one of those wonderfully liberated people who can invite people into their chaos with cool, confidence but I'm not even close.
Instead I feel I have spent my life since having children (22 years) trying to reconcile these two irreconcilable positions. 

So things are going to change.  I have decided to get a cleaner

What was that?

I have decided to get a cleaner.

Yes I am actually confessing publically to the petite bourgeoise practice of inviting a complete stranger into your house and inflicting on them the disposal and organisation of your decadent, capitalist lifestyle. (Notice I am using the pronoun 'your' here).  I haven't actually done it yet but I am very close.  I actually said to B last night (and I quote) "We need to get the house in order this weekend so I can ring a cleaner on Monday" and he agreed. I don't know what was more disturbing that we have already started cleaning for the cleaner and we haven't even got one!! or that we have actually succumbed to needing a cleaner at all. 

I know I said earlier that it is unfair of me to blame the YAMS for the state of the house but this is different.  I am definitely blaming them for the moral degradation of me and their father. A cleaner!!-yikes?? such a long way from my commie, Marx studying days of Uni, and my Dr Spock mentality of child rearing. A cleaner!!

There is still hope- I haven't actually done it yet but I am very,very close!!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Resolutions-Who needs them?

New years resolutions! What are they? Some sort of 'hair shirt' punisment for enjoying yourself during the year - squeezing in a few vices (and I use that term very loosely and in a non-religious context) amid the hectic schedules we all keep just to survive in our jobs and private lives. 

Deprevation at its most extreme and severe. My religious friends (and I do love and respect their beliefs) talk about Lent, Ramadan and Passover.  We heathens have New Year's Resolutions.

 I can understand the resolution to stop smoking, (that will kill you) but most of the other common resolutions are designed to take away what we enjoy most - eating, drinking, reading, shopping, partying, dancing, talking, breathing etc etc.

So, it seems, the only sensible  resolutions to embark on are ones that give you something. But even then you have to be careful. (I definitely do not want illness, grandchildren or more housework).

But even worse then the taking and giving mindset they provoke, I don't know about you, but New Year's Resolutions ALWAYS leave me with an overwhelming sense of failure. It is almost like saying do the opposite of what you resolve - don't each sugar, becomes a daily trip to the bakery; exercise more becomes lay on the couch all day and defrost chicken kievs for dinner; garden more becomes yes those weeds are a new trend in permaculture. etc 

By now(round about mid February if you're lucky) you are engulfed by feelings of guilt and self loathing so overwhelming that they manifest themselves in 5 extra kilos and a backyard that makes Mao's parched earth policy look like an oasis.

So for 2010 my New Year's Resolution is to never, ever, ever to have another New Year's resolution ever again. 

Now that I've got that off my chest I can get back to the eating, drinking, gardening and generally being merry.