Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Historical Essay whereby Miss Jeanie discovers her lack of style...

The year was 1979. The month September. The event - a dinner at family friends for no good reason.

My grandmother, Grandma Mart, had just sent us some new clothes. She was an excessively cool grandmother and often spoilt us, her only grandchildren "just because".

Amongst the treasures she had procured was an outfit I fell in love with. It was red. It was textured. There were puffy long pants elasticised top and bottom. There was a long sleeved top with elastic at the wrists and a tie at the neck. It was stylish. It was mine - and I wore it with pride.

When we arrived at the friend's house for dinner, one of my best friends, W, took one look and asked "why are you wearing pyjamas?"

I have never forgotten the lessons.

I should always doubt my taste.

I should not try to set trends.

Lingerie is not a foreign word for stylishly beautiful.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Treasured Memories

My child - as well as being special and wonderful and gifted and creative - is very much like every other child.

She hoards.

I should not be surprised by this. Her own mother has a hard time letting go to "stuff", her father was a collector extraordinaire, her maternal grandparents bring new meaning to the word and have several generations of historical relics on hand (or in the container or sheds) and I suppose we could count the blessings of war, family dysfunctionality and refugee status that her paternal family don't take part in displaying too much that is significant to the family travails (although they are typical of their culture in that every surface does have its own variety of clutter on display).

However, there comes a time when needs must means throw out!!! Yesterday was one of those times.

I am due to upgrade my computer, and the trade off that 'Salina is looking forward to is that she will receive this one. "Yay!!!" she says. And then groans follow when it is explained that this means LESS SPACE for crap in her room. As furniture changes will also be required, yesterday was the beginning of a long project.

She needed to clear several shelves in a cupboard to make room for clothes that were evacuated from one piece of furniture that has been slated for "out of the room".

During our going through the seven boxes reduced to two this means in real terms, we came across many things that she holds close to her heart. Old toys she has not played with of late, projects that were started and never quite finished - or never yet started, presents that were put by for "later" and artwork that is fantastic (says the unbiased mother) but not worth keeping for posterity.

We had the digital on hand to capture these significant structures before they got "donated to landfill" (or recycled - after all, most of the materials for them came from the recycle bin in the first place).

So I present you her gallery...

The Dog

Artfully wrapped boxes with inked features, this 3d canine representation was the joy of an afternoon late last year.
The Cat

This milk carton and toilet paper desgin was inspired last week.

If only the digital camera videos would translate to this computer, I could show you her inspired farewell scene to the creature.
The Lion

This creation was a pre-school project at school, which culminated in a musical presentation.
The Dogwash

This installation piece has hoses for washing the dog, ramps and special pens for the customers, a shelf for holding instruments, cardboard cutout shampoos and a cloth for drying the dog with.

The Horse

This is one of many, many such creations. The saddle can be taken off, there was a bridle and the tail moves.

"But how could you allow her to part with such memories, you heartless mother," I hear you cry out.

Well, I have had to harden myself to such purges over my own life because I know the walls will eventually cave if you KEEP EVERYTHING.

And as well as the 7 shopping bags of rubbish, large collection to pass to cousins, box for a potential garage sale and 2 large boxes for recycling, a lot did get saved for her to look back on.

And we still have much, much more to go before we can declare this job FINISHED!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It didn't work

yep, you heard it right - State Pride was not enough to get the Mightly Maroons over the line often enough to stave of ignoble defeat by the cockroaches. Even though the MM's were close enough to the line often - it just makes that bitter defeat feeling more pronounced.

Sigh - it seems yesterday I should have been either more arduous in my endeavours - or just have not given a toss.

Ah well, at least the floor is clean.

Today? Today I have no goal to work towards (well, except for the one whereby more money flows INTO the house than is sent out of it) so I am doing the laundry, creating edible masterpieces (cubed veal a l'orange) and trying to find a sharp concise explanation of why people should pay me to put into a chamber of commerce newsletter.

That would explain why I am sitting here blogging feeling like this...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In which Ms Jeanie ponders strides, superstitions and the relative superiority of vacuums - all while attempting to string them together cohesively


Julie asked us to ponder our stride relative to that of "the crowd" so I did.

Unfortunately it didn't result in a post offering insight and wonder and allow you to be even more amazed at my skills in analysing the situation regarding the world and my place in it, nor will it get you rocking back on your heels saying "I hear you, sister".

Nope, I thought long and hard about how the world and I are not in synch and have never really achieved that precision.

Then I realised that it was not that world and me have problems, per se - more that no-one really has the measure of the world and marches to the beat. Its just that it is slightly harder to keep up the pretence for some more than it is for others.

Of course, I could be completely wrong - won't be the first time - and there could be a whole gaggle of people out there who have always known the rules because their parents followed them and it is innate to them and there could be another mob who got the textbook on the right day, studied hard and now have degrees in being a great conformers - but I don't think I am. Wrong I mean.

Why not? Well, because all of the people I chose to associate myself with have something, some individual way of looking at and feeling for and getting through life and it really seems to me that most of us are doing the best that we can to be ourselves in this crazy system.

And because it is a trait common to all the wonderful people I know and love, I feel it is only fair to extrapolate this to mean that its pretty much an everyone in the whole, wide world deal.

Once upon a time I prided myself on my unique ability to really steer my course and make my choices in life and my goodness, I made them (to the chorus of my family saying "anything to be different" with accompanying eye-roll).

That was, of course, pre-child, pre-separation and pre-dealing with total crap life can throw at you from every other direction bar the one you are looking. Now I am wiser. Well, more baffled really - but now I realise that it is not just choices because we wish to define ourselves to stand our but chosing not to go under and be covered by the wallpaper.

And see, that is why some people probably think my time would be better spent on other pursuits rather than philosophy, cause if it confuses me, the thinker, I can only imagine how you folk are feeling. Luckily I put lines between my thoughts so you can scroll down to the next one fast.

And luckily for me, I do have something else to focus on today other than my two-bit theories...

Yes, indeed, tonight there is a football game... And here is where I march in tune to many who have maroon pumping through my veins...


Now, some of you may not know that there is a direct relationship between sporting events and housework (in my home anyway).

Even though we have a superior side just through geographic spawning merits alone, the fact that the selectors have made court jesters out of themselves by overlooking the prince means that I may have to lend a shoulder.

(Warning - the previous sentence will make NO SENSE WHATSOEVER to anyone who doesn't follow the media reporting of Rugby League representative selection) (Oh darn - you are meant to warn before aren't you? Sorry)

Combine that with the fact that I was feeling fat, my feet were going crunch, my computer projects going nowhere - well, what better way to use my day productively than to do heaps of housework? I mean, I could have read blogs and crap, but how would that help my state pride?

Not only will it, hopefully, get the boys over the line more often tonight (although if they don't I am totally blaming the Scott Prince fiasco), but I now have muscles telling me they saw some action and feel it, I have a cat beside me perplexed at the noise and commotion and lack of his food tray on the floor and I have wet floors where they should be wet, and fluffy where they ain't!!

...the relative superiority of vacuums...

While doing this, of course I multitasked - I am a woman after all. One of my special powers is the ability to whinge in my head simultaneously to doing physical activity. Well, mainly in my head - sometimes I may say things, but as no-one else was around you will just have to take my word from it.

One of my little whinges started as a reminisce. It went along the lines of this:

Sigh. Plug. Click. Vooooom. Darn, this thing isn't sucking. Click. Silence. Pull it all apart. Blow in every tube. Reconnect. Click. Vooooom. Not much better. Pull it all apart. VOOOOOM. Okay, its not that bit. Blow in the tube. Not that bit. Blow in the head. Not that bit. Reconnect. Vooooom. Swear at it and run the cleaner over the same piece of fluff 10 times. Clean the head. Run over the same piece of fluff 10 times. Clean the head. (You can see why it is such good exercise)

Repeat this 10 times for the spare room (only used for folding and the occasional family member anyway, doesn't really get much in there). Move to the living room. Do the living room to the tune of Oprah telling us ALL that we should ALL feel alive when we are over 40. Scraped in there. I still have a year before I have to do what she says.

Vooooom. Darn, this thing isn't sucking. Click. Silence. Pull it all apart. Blow in every tube. Reconnect. Realise that the suck is more impressive at the bit where the hose joins the machinery than the end where I need the suck. Curse the machine. Curse modern machinery that sucks when it doesn't suck properly. Miss my old vacuum cleaner that didn't suck this much because it did. Pick the matted cat hair and Jeanie hair off the head.

Vooooom. Move on to 'Salina's room. Manage to suck up a thousand little bits of
project and avoid most of the moving mess that reminds me of how like me she truly is. Pull it all apart. Blow in every tube.

Voooom. Only our room to do now. The suck level is down to where I am sure a straw would do a better job. Pull it all apart. Blow in every tube. Get the motor end to try and suck the bits the other way. Doesn't work. Reconnect it. Try again. Give up and decide to blog.

Ah - housework - who said it was a mindnumbing task?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Today has been going on for soooo long

and we still have a chunk of time yet to reach 9am.

I awoke I know not when or why, but it was dark and cold and obviously very, very early. Threads of my dreams immediately coagulated into blog ideas.

As I was sifting through them in an attempt to find that elusive trail that leads back to the other side to resume dreaming, my bladder kicked in and advised me that there were better places to be.

Sure - better places to be than in my nice warm bed with my darling right beside me snoring sleeping soundly? A small battle of wills took place, but as usual, bladder won.

Now, generally I sleep like a log - crash when I go down right through to when I get up.

However, if that continuous loglike-behaviour is disturbed in any way I have a tendency to not be able to go back to sleep for ages. Like ages and ages. Like unless I don't need to get up for a few good hours, it is best that I don't even try to go down again.

Of course, given the cold snap and the warm delights my bed offered and the fact that the clock said 3.45am, I forgot this and did give it a shot.

I snuggled down and cuddled up to my sweetie - who grunted and rolled to the extremity of the bed.

I tried to think all sorts of dreamy thoughts - but blog posts kept jumping up at me and getting written in my head. Far superior posts than this one. Ones about genealogy and genetic predispositions and poetry and power dynamics in family structures and technological influences and textbooks and school teachers and torment and - just about any topic my mind skipped across became a mind blowing blog.

Of course, all this took place in my bed, not in front of the computer - the results speak for themselves really - so I moved my mind on to more logical things. Things like food and housework and work and money and budgeting and oh my, there is no cold meat for sandwiches and what do I need to buy for dinner tonight.

The minutes trudged along, and so several hours later at 4.23am I got up to do rather than lie there and ponder.

I thought I would be kind to my darling V, so rather than my habitual click on the computer as I rose I thought I would tackle housework at the other end of the house. Aren't I nice?

I cleaned the kitchen and found a recipe for corned beef fritters, as we had left-over corned beef (and vegetables - I have a habit of hiding vegetables in everything) and my daughter had loved SSB's last time we visited Granite Glen and I needed to have something to put in her school lunchbox.

I was chipper. The radio was (quietly) playing really woeful country music (not because I am a fan, but because the station I listen to for the news plays really woeful country music at ungodly hours), I was putting together a treat for my family and my to-do list was awesomely structured in my head.

And then? Well, then my darling sweet V came into the kitchen and pissed me right off managed to upset my equilibrium.

How can you do so with one so buoyant at 5.27am, you ask?

Step 1. Greet your beloved with the words "Hello alarm clock". Ensure that the tone you chose is one that indicates you have not entered the waking world happily and intend that feeling to radiate.

Step 2. Do not offer a kiss, a hug or even a meeting of eyes - instead shield them and say "F*$& its bright in here".

Step 3. And really, this is the most important step. Do the above WITHOUT CONSULTING THE CALENDAR. Or do so. Which ever. But any other week the response might be "oh I am sorry, light of my life" with a bit of understanding. This week - well, let me just say a little time out was called for before I got around to apologising for trying to be quiet and industrious while my family enjoyed their kip (oh, and subsequently also apologising for turning into a banshee and storming out of his vicinity, flicking off the light switch and swearing profusely - or something).

Hey look at that - its still before 9 - time to generate that awesome To-Do list and start ticking. Just don't be ticking me off. Its not advised. Consider this a mental health warning for all of us.

Oh, and in case you are worried - V still has all body parts intact, including his love and understanding for me, crazy hormones and all. Well, at least I think he does.

Hmm, I had best go downstairs and see if his fishing gear is still here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Because you asked...

Obviously not much (bloggable) going on in my life, so time to pander to my stalkers the masses that find me inadvertently.

"how to say aunt in croatian father's sister"

Croatians are funny critters. Funny as in "wow, how peculiar" rather than the laugh a minute variety.

Sometimes funny as in "what a great idea" - for instance, their spelling is entirely phonetic and therefore 4 year olds can read graffiti.

Sometimes funny as in "what the..." - such as the names they call each other, especially family members.

Anyhow - as I recall it depends on what branch of the tree you are as to what term of endearment you should receive.

Therefore, your aunt is "strina" if she is the wife of your father's brother, she would be "tetka" if she were the sister of your mother or father or she would be "ujna" if she were the wife of mother's brother. Uncles are "jak", "strik" or "ujak", obviously.

I had to cheat a bit to work that out, as my year of language study left me with the ability to look like I am following a conversation and nod or scowl appropriately (very handy when they are your ex-in-laws), sing one song and say "ko kokos bez glave" when I am running around in circles.

"who coined the phrase ticked off?"

I don't know.

"craotian translation mala"


"counting hours excel"

There is probably a better way, but I tend to use " = trunc (sum(range) / 60) " to get discrete hours, and " = (sum(range) - (hours * 60)" for the minutes.

"the acceptable age to get a bra"

I don't really know - I badgered Mum for a long time before she thought I was ready, but I (and several commentators at primary school) thought otherwise. That was 12 - although knowing now how darned uncomfortable, expensive and annoying they are I understand my mother's position.

"i am looking for something funny that happened in the past"

Aren't we all...

Hopefully you will ALL find it next post - in the interim, thank you for your great comments on the last post and I love yous all.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Yesterday (all my troubles...)

Yesterday, 'Salina hopped off the bus with Girl-down-the-road full of beans.

"Can I call her when I finish my homework?" she hollered asked.

"After homework." I replied.

After homework, she called. Well, I called, because she is shy on the phone and I have done her a deal that if I have to call her friends now, I get to do all the talking to her friends when she is a teenager also.

It was engaged.

Five minutes later, we called again. There was no answer.

"We have to go grocery shopping," I told her.

"But I want to play with Girl-down-the-road."

"But they are not answering, so maybe the had things to do also."

We tried the phone again before leaving, but again no answer.

We shopped. We had a great time shopping, and I managed to spend $200 without even raising a sweat.

As we finished, I said "Guess what 'Salina?"


"I love you."

"I know that Mum."

"I know, but it never hurts to have a few spare I love yous up your sleeve."

She was greatly embarrassed by her mother. "Can I call Girl-down-the-road when we get home?"

"Sure, but its late so there will be no play together today."

She pondered that on the 5 minute trip home.

When we got home, I asked her to open the garage door.

Unfortunately, sweet 'Salina had disappeared and the 'Salina monster had taken her seat - I hadn't even noticed the switch.


"Excuse me?" as in "who are you and what have you done with my daughter?"


That one moment in time multiplied 35 times over the next 35 minutes. Now, I will let you in on a little secret - I don't deal so well with a monster child, and sometimes a monster mother taps me on the shoulder and offers her style of parenting. I try my best to ignore the advice, but sometimes she just shoves the sweet Jeanie-mother off her perch of righteousness and gets down and snarls back. Not found in any parenting manual, but easily as effective as the sweet style when dealing with 'Salina in a mood.

As in it is of no help whatsoever.

The worst bit is that I know EXACTLY how 'Salina feels. I have hit that black spot when your mood just gets black and bleak and if you are going to be feeling obnoxious its good to share the feeling around. And where you KNOW you are digging yourself into a hole so you just start shovelling harder. Where life just IS NOT fair.

And the worster bit is now I know EXACTLY how my mother felt. Sorry Mum.

I did suck up all my sweet spirits and try to jolly her out of it a bit when she hadn't picked up her mess (as asked), hadn't had her bath (as asked), hadn't been a little more cheerful (as asked) and had instead CHOSEN to slam a few doors, hide under her covers and weep at the injustices of her world.

"Honey," I said sweetly, "lets look at a few ways you could make this situation a little better."


I gently took the pillow away. "Sweetheart, I know its hard, but you are only making things worse for yourself."


Sweet me got shoved aside and those covers got ripped back.

"Listen, little miss. You are really digging yourself into a hole here, and UNLESS YOU START CHOSING better behaviour, YOU HAVE ONLY YOURSELF TO BLAME for having a CRAPPY evening."

I walked out, mainly because I knew I was not going to solve anything with either personality and because I suddenly needed a stiff drink and a large distance between the devil I had spawned and the devil I was becoming.

It did all end well, by the way. She came and did a little public crying, wouldn't tell us what was wrong, got ignored and sobbed as she set the table unasked before she went and bathed. By dinner she was a tired but much pleasanter child.

When I tucked her in bed later, I had a talk to her.

"I know you were upset about something, but you won't tell us and now it doesn't matter. Because you chose to behave that way its now about your behaviour, not the underlying reason. You were upset you didn't get to play with Girl-down-the-road this afternoon, but now you won't get to play with Girl-down-the-road for a week - pretty silly hey?"

"Yes Mummy."

"So, did you get to use that spare 'I love you' that I gave you earlier?"


Now to work out my own punishment for my behaviour...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

And the winner is...

50 comments from 28 wonderful people have made my happy in the last week!!! (well, 51, but one was spam and it didn't make me happy so I am so not putting that in the hat).

They were:

alice from Down the Rabbit Hole
Alison from Three Times Kewl
Aniqa from my past and she really needs to get a blog!!!
baby-amore from My Little Drummer Boys
Bush Babe (of Granite Glen) from Bush Babe
Cathy from Arkie Mama
Christie from I Miei Pensieri
debby from Life's Funny Like That
Hilary from Hilary's Heaven
JaniceNW from Twist and Skewer
Jayne from Our Great Southern Land
Jen at Semantically Driven from Semantically Driven
Jenni from Prairie Air
Julie Pippert from Julie Pippert: Using My Words
Kelly from Magneto Bold Too!
Lin from Hold On Tired
Magic Bellybutton from Magic Bellybutton
Mama Zen from The Zen of Motherhood
Melody from Big Little Sister
mommamia from Mia's World
nomesquelife from Nomesque Life
Pencil Writer from Pencils and Post-it Notes
Queen of Shake Shake from The Queen of Shake-Shake
Rootietoot from Because it Really Is Personal
shishyboo from Shishyboo's HeyThisIsMeLikeItOrLumpIt
The Palms from Days in Paradise
tiff from Three Ring Circus
Tracey from Crazy Trace

So, print them off...
Cut them up...

Put them in a hat...
And the winner is: shishyboo from Shishyboo's HeyThisIsMeLikeItOrLumpIt!!!!

Congratulations - you win this:

I have sent you an email!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Last Chance to Win

Tonight I am putting all commenters between last week and now (well, except for those spammy ones) in the hat for a chance to win the book that has two one* of my poems published within. Wow!!!

There is, of course, a story attached.

As I may have mentioned, once upon a time I had aspirations of being poetically inclined. I still sometimes get the inclination - it is trying to get the inclination to peak when time, pen and paper coincide that is the problem.

Once upon a time I had plenty of time, reams of paper and many beautiful pens.

I actually began my "performance" career at school camp when I was six, with a recitation of "Alexander Beetle" - well, I was meant to debut there, but I have a feeling that stage fright may have curtailed the poem at its first verse.

I started performing my own stuff at boarding school as a way of winning debates and impressing the sort of boffin boys I was attracted to. I did help to win debates with it, but I am afraid that I more impressed the sort of girls who wanted to use my words inspiring laughter to impress the sort of boys they wanted to impress and the boffin boys were being well looked after by other girls and failed to notice the short fat joke-teller as the femme fatale she had designs on becoming.

When I lived in Sydney, I resumed my career after a some study and lost memories that were the early Brisbane years. I wrote prolifically, went to poetry venues at least twice a month. I was even invited to be a feature poet as part of a festival!

When I lived in Melbourne, I wrote, watched and performed often. Do you know the BEST thing about being a poet in Melbourne? They actually print in the paper a listing of the weekly poetry gatherings!!! I did a few features, fended questions about publication (if you don't send, you don't get rejected) and male poets (I even wrote a poem about it!)

When I lived in Brisbane, I still followed my desires - of course, I followed them right to the point of having a beautiful baby girl to a man I knew through poetry but hey, that's art life.

When my daughter was only still a baby, I was invited to be one of the ten feature poets at an event about 100km to the north. It was a wonderful evening - there were many great poets and patrons, a lot of laughter and for (apparently**) a good cause.

The organiser did put a few noses out of joint with recording and filming the evening without written permission, and payment promised ended up being copies of the book that resulted from the evening. That is why I still have so many!

So anyway - I will leave you with one of the best things I did get from that day so many years ago, and that was a chance to be friends with the woman in the following video.

WARNING - it does go for 10 minutes and has drug references, coarse language, sexual innuendo and possible political undertones - much more than you can pick up from your average pub, girls!! Don't watch at work or in front of your mother (oh, and Mum - don't you watch it either)

A lot has happened in all these years - some good, some great, some bad, some terrible - and she has been a mate throughout. Love ya Kate.

*Oops - the CD they made to flog has two of my poems on, just noticed only one made the book LOL. Unfortunately, you won't find any of Miss Kate's poetry in the book - but she is on the CD, of which I know of the existence of hers and mine - not sure how many were pressed!

** The cause was excellent and one of the organisers I would trust to be charitable. The other, however... lets just say that it was for a generic grouping so the money trail may have run cold.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shoe Post One - The Prequel - Or "How Jeanie is not your average woman example #67"

When I was a child, I lived a long way from town.

This meant a lot of things. It meant that if we ran out of milk, the cow had to be brought in. It meant that if Mum didn't have ingredients for a dish, we didn't get that dish or we got a Mum-ified version. It meant that if our shoes were too tight or uncomfortable, too bad.

Of course, the last statement wasn't really as painful as all that, because generally what we wore on our feet always fit. We were barefoot children, and our feet truly enjoyed freedom as much as the rest of us.

We had tough feet - we could run through a patch of wind-dried bindi-eye and didn't feel a thing. Heck, we would DELIBERATELY run through any bindi patch we could find just to prove how hardened our feet were to such hardships.

Gravel roads baked in 40 celcius summer sun (that is over 100 farenheit for foreigners) were merely there for us to test our soles.

Our mother did attempt to civilise us. You never know when the Queen might drop by (or a grandmother) and she did attempt to shoe us.

Every morning before school we would be well shod and hair tied up. Every afternoon after school we would be barefoot and hair flying in the wind. Little did she know that the miraculous transformation took place just over the hill from home on the way TO the bus in the morning.

Therefore, unless we were riding (elastic sides - a horse has harder feet and a lot of weight behind it) or river crossing (volleys required to keep out barbed wire and snakes) we were fairly unfettered children - until the moment came that Mum took us to town.

Most of the time we got out of that little chore - Dad needed us or we would make ourselves as annoying as heck so Mum would leave us with a list of jobs - but there were occasions that our presence was absolutely required.

Generally, those were the days when we needed to be PROPERLY FITTED. Very onerous moments punctuating our childhood memories.

The nearest town was your typical country town - main street with
  • several hairdressers (mum cut ours so we didn't see inside);
  • butchers (only on special occasions - again, we did our own);
  • frock salon (a place of dreams with beautiful women who actually put up with us visiting them);
  • jewellers (look from the outside and DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING);
  • theatre (we went to see Grease there - twice!);
  • cafe (the Rainbow still goes on today);
  • haberdashery;
  • chemists (Mum occasionally worked there as a locum);
  • grocery stores;
  • menswear; and
  • a shoe store.

The shoe store was a scary proposition - not just because the plate glass window featured YOU getting your shoes fitted to every pedestrian; not just because the dapper Mr B-rhymes-with-Vogue was so attentive to your mother and your feet; not just because the range of styles and colours left a choice-challenged shy girl speechless; not just because the back of the shop started very close to the front of the shop and went back in four narrow aisles of boxes of shoes that went right to the ceiling - but for all of those reasons as well as the terror that you were going to get GOOD shoes, which meant NO MORE FREEDOM and BEHAVE WITH PROPRIETY.

The only answer required of the child was where it pinched - and Mr B-rhymes-with-Vogue would do a great deal of squeezing and pinching your foot just so you could tell him exactly where.

Your opinion was not called for - Mum and Mr B-rhymes-with-Vogue would discuss the finer details of style and colour. No matter how much your heart may ache for the buckle straps or the red-corked soles - it was not up to a child to harbour footly desire. The power was with the adults.

Ah yes, another moment in Jeanie's childhood that should ultimately lead to counselling. Except that that dance card is full, and thus I found other ways to cope.

At first it was my lack of care that most of my footwear was handed down from my big sister. My big sister who apparently envies me my average foot - it took a long time to fill her shoes, and an even longer time to grow out of them (for me), therefore I had plenty of time to develop this lack of care over my wearing second-hand (or foot) shoes. At least it meant one less trip to the shoe shop.

Then it was the abdication of all involvement in choice in matters of the feet. If the facts of my life were to include quashing of desires for "the buckle straps or the red-corked soles", then I would quash all pedi-desire altogether, and that should teach the universe.

Even when my mother took Mr B-rhymes-with-Vogue out of the equation and resorted to outlines of my feet in brown paper to gather shoes on appro and attempt to gather a distinct desire of shoe out of me, I was not to be drawn. "Whatever" was the answer then, and I am afraid it continued.

To this day - I can give you the time, date and place of purchase of every pair of shoes I own - and that is because there are so few pairs, so few purchases, so much stress and so little joy from the activity for me.

I know - other children had my childhood and seem to be quite normal - but for me, the average-footed middle-child, I can conjure a mountain out of a molehill but never a foot fetish out of such memories.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bean Soup

Nearly finished the shoe post, but not to be by tonight...

So instead, a 'Salina moment.

Last night dinner was a hearty vegetable and bean soup, grilled parmesan croutons and some chops.

When asked how her soup was, 'Salina replied "Oh, not bad. I just wish we weren't having it tonight."

"Why, when did you want to have it?" I asked.

"Maybe about 100 years from now" was her reply.

But the good thing was she didn't hate it, hey?

Friday, May 09, 2008

A Poem for MB

Before I put my mind to the grindstone (ooh, that sounds painful) on Shoes - The Prequel, I promised another blogger I would put this poem up.

I wrote this when I was 27 and about to return home for a while after being a career girl sliding down the greasy pole of success in Sydney and before immersing myself into hippydom.

It was written as a response to the query that you always get when returning home - "anyone special yet?".

So here it is MB (and all women who can enjoy being single) (oh, and all those women who didn't realise you COULD enjoy being single).


Now reaching the age
When, admitting my years,
Peevish looks rise
Amidst unfounded fears,
That, If I don’t try hard,
To find a mate soon,
I shall sentence myself
To unending doom!

But this fear is not mine
And I shout out loud,
“Don’t put out the sunshine
By bringing forth clouds,”
For this is the song
Of a spinster, so proud,
This is The Spinster Song.

I have noticed the bias
Of mother’s of babe,
And of eyes of the sires,
Sense the distrust now raised,
As I am now older
With no troth in sight,
Would I to impose on
Their childish delights.

But Auntie’s a handle
That suits me just fine,
For when piccan’ starts screaming
I will gladly decline,
For although I grow older,
My time is not nigh
“Go forth”, seek my partner
And multiply,
For this is the song
Of a spinster, so spry,
This is The Spinster Song.

And do not disquiet
At thoughts of my state,
As I sail through solo
With nary a mate,
For my cohorts are with me -
I revel unchained;
My affairs are untangled;
My dreams are untamed;

Unhindered with care
And living my days,
Suck the marrow of minutes -
Let the hours make play,
For this is the song
Of a spinster, so fey,
This is The Spinster Song.

© Sophie Jean 1996

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

What in the world?

I was just checking my stats - as you do.

Had a look at the map - where are my words of wisdom being read and why?

Would you believe
However, I did notice many of you also came of your own accord without such enticements, and I thank you all!

Therefore, I shall not make you wade through my shoe posts this week just for the chance to win a poetry book with two of my poems in (woo hoo - and a yarn as to how come I have it to give away later in the week).

I shall instead make you suffer only half as much, and I ask you to comment on any post this week! That is right, any genuine punters just have to raise their hands (those still looking for plastic - just keep your hands above the table), tell me they read my ramblings (I won't even make you say you enjoy the experience) and I will put an individual piece of paper into a hat and randomly select on Tuesday, 13th May one LUCKY winner.

Of course, if you give me feedback on any of the shoe posts I might give you a pair. Of entries, that is.

Oh, but still just ahead in my search stats? Folding Fitted Sheets

Which just goes to show - housework (and age) still beats fetishes (and freshness). Good to know.

Shoe Post Two

Why oh why, you ask, are we seeing Shoe Post Two when we haven't had the first post yet?

Well, my friends, I have to blame Bettina at Dances to the Beet of Her Own Drum (because I have to blame someone for every mess in my life, and if I can't point the finger firmly it ends up being my fault - and I have to resort to the middle child retort, which does nothing for the reputation of middle children - and there are more of us than you think.). Every Tuesday she hosts "Screw Up Tuesday" and see, I like being able to do two jobs with one stroke. It makes me feel efficient.

So not only is this post the second but the first of the three you have to choose for me to enter in Scribbit's May Writing Challenge on Shoes, but it is also now part of the phenomenon

Now, I am bending the rules slightly (as in completely disregarding the time frame required) to include a screw up from long, long ago...

Those of you playing at home recall that, as teenagers, our mother and father callously threw us to the wolves had to let go of their children and sentenced us to five years in the Red Roof Jail seek educational opportunities for us far, far away.

Thus, came the day when, aged thirteen, I joined my big sister in hell at boarding school.

There were very strict guidelines. Of course, with a little experience under your belt you KNEW how to bend them to your ends, but as a new boarder, as the younger sister of one who wanted her sister to endure the same pain she went through several years before, as the daughter of a rule observer and as a keen conformist myself I packed my ports with the "list" of required items.

The "uniform list" was four white uniform blouses (so perfect for the pubescent girl), three navy six-gore skirts, two navy gym slips and matching bloomers, one white gym slip and matching bloomers, navy tie, navy and gold panama hat, navy and gold blazer, gold beret, white church uniform, six pairs brown ankle socks, one pair white ankle socks, two pairs of beige stockings, navy one-piece racing togs, white volley sandshoes and brown school shoes.

You may wonder at my memory for such a list, given that I can barely remember milk at the shops, but if you, as a twelve-year old on your last moments of freedom last school holidays of childhood were required to hand-sew name-tags on to every item, I am sure that you too could recall the mantra.

I shan't give you the rest of what was packed, but be assured in the vast array of goods for your conformity comfort, advice was you should have "two casual outfits (no strapless) and one pair of casual shoes (no thongs)". Fair enough, they only gave you room for that amount of frivolity but imagine two hundred adolescent girls being reduced to a choice of two for outfits and them only to match one pair of shoes!!

Of course, if you had Shoe Post Part One before this one, you would not wonder at the fact that I really was lucky to have one option available for casual footwear - but we will have to unveil that at the prequel.

Anyway, there was one UNBREAKABLE rule as a new boarder, and that was that you were not allowed out for the first three weeks. Probably from some paper on torture and confinement or something - going cold turkey on freedom. And as a result, many malevolent children doting parents ensured that the third weekend would be a guaranteed leave weekend.

I am unsure of what my own mandatory weekly letters home recorded in those first three weeks - mainly due to the bonfire that I held annually to wipe any memory of school, but I would also like to lay some blame on my mother. She could have kept them all tied up in ribbon for research purposes but instead returned them to me with the spelling mistakes marked in red.

They may, however, have run along the lines of:

Week One: "Dear parents, it is so interesting being at school meeting lots of new friends. I will tell you all about them when I see you next (in three weeks?). Your dutiful and obedient daughter, Jeanie"

Week Two: "Mum and Dad, can I please have some more clothes? The two sets I have are inadequate for my social pretensions. You could take me shopping when you take us out (in a fortnight?). Your loving daughter, Jeanie"

Week Three: "Mummy! Daddy! Its horrible. You must come and save me. Not only do I miss you so much, but I am a social pariah and my one pair of casual shoes are beginning to stalk me. This weekend? Please? I love you and miss you soooo much. Jeanie XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX"

Well, the third weekend crept towards us. The matron read the "leave list" on Thursday night, and our names were on it!!! Oh bliss!!! Oh parents!! Oh, even baby brother!! Oh clothes and shoe shopping (which would be even more poignantly understood if I had Post One up and running)!!!

I packed. We were to be spending the weekend at the beach. In went the (navy racing) togs and towel. In went my two sorry casual outfits, pyjamas, toiletries and books and I closed the port with a sigh of sweet anticipation. I could almost taste the freedom only one short day away.

When our family came to collect us, we were ready (in full uniform including woolen tie and top button done up) with our ports on the terrace, eager and drunk on anticipation.

Mum and Dad splashed out for us - we had Chinese for dinner. We were staying at a Motel. And that, my friends, is where my luck ran out.

To give you a historic snapshot, while my parents were not skint times were hard in the cattle industry. The term was "dirt rich", and with the double expense of daughters at private boarding school (even if one of them saved them a little with a scholarship), lashing out on an extra 700km trip, dinners out and motel stays to indulge their princesses - well, let us just say that they preferred the free entertainment option of swimming at the beach to trawling the shops with an, up until this moment, reluctant middle child looking for fripperies.

As luck (and it was luck - do not assume there was ANY forethought at all, because I was truly that clueless) would have it, the ONE THING I had failed to do in packing so eagerly was to include that skanky pair of casual shoes.

Ha - surely my parental unit would indulge me with that little fact laid on the table!

So I laid it out - and got a "here is a life lesson in remembering" (that unfortunately I still haven't quite grasped) retort.

Nothing like sand in your brown school shoes at the beach for the next two days to create understanding of the necessity of such a life skill. (Well, to and from the beach over the prickly grass).

Ever "slipped" into your brown school shoes to go for a walk through a tourist village?

Try being a thirteen year-old nerdy, dorky girl suddenly noticing all those that were not nerdy, dorky or girls all around with those clodhoppers on your feet. It can really DRIVE a point like that home.

I am okay now. I have had therapy for instances such as this in my life. But I still shudder to remember that first weekend of freedom, and the true pain involved.

For those of you who have suffered with me and got to the end of that dirge, leave a comment and this week, I will give away a poetry book (that actually includes two of my poems) to a random commenter - consider it my gift, not graft!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Busyness, broken hearts and boots

Still alive - just finished a project and sent it off.

The problem with having a public holiday is that you child is home, even if your sporadic workload cannot account for that.

Oh, and your partner is home - although that has been a constant of late, what with him having lurgy for most of last week and his own sporadic workload not reigniting until Wednesday.

Had a busy weekend: Continued wrecking the kitchen (this is not intentional, just a combination of coast living and chipboard cupboards...); groceries; markets; playdates; fishing; mowing; playing; cooking and trying to catch up with myself - didn't succeed.

Have a busy week ahead: work report due and volunteering in 'Salina's class tomorrow; tuck-shop lady Wednesday and Friday (as new regular lady is turning 40 and has all her relatives - several wheelchair-bound - in town); networking and learning furiously at Agro-Trend on Thursday and possibly Saturday; trying to finally get to a poetry event also on Saturday...

Somewhere in there I need to clean the bathroom (as in I am ashamed of it, and for it to be at that level it needs doing); wash the floors (so as to stop me from sticking in one spot); keep up with the laundry (there is no pause button) and feed the people who appreciate my cooking!

Of course, last week when I was not so flustered - I had no inspiration. Now I appear to be overloaded I have ideas for blog posts coming out of my ears. Honestly, they keep me awake at night (along with to-do lists, pitches for new business, wedding plans and the forgotten details of the day).

For those of you easily influenced by my sister baying for poems: Hidden within these posts, and all of this post actually have some of my work.

But here is another for a blogger who I read often and is going through a bit of a tough time:


I offered my heart
No strings
No regrets
On a platter to the one I found love in.

It was a good heart
Large enough to give
And give
To many, for many purposes.

You, lover one,
You took this heart
Studded it with garlic
Spiced it with chilli and other herbs
Boiled it quickly in a mixture of wine, vinegar and stock,
And, about to consume it, seemed surprised when I said

I picked up my abused organ
And vowed this would never happen again.

So, next Spring,
Along comes lover two.

I offered my heart,
In halves
For the promised returned of another.

It was still a good deal.
This heart I presented was nimble,
Yet able to be carried with apparent ease.

You, lover two,
You took this half,
And buried it in the back corner of your yard,
Covered it with leaves and twigs
So that it looked like none was there
Said some magic incantation over it to make it stay
And guarded it with a barbed wire fence.
Yet you were also surprised when, upon seeing this ritual,
I said

I dug out my tattered organ
And vowed this would never happen again.

So, August year next,
Along comes lover three.

I offered redeemable stakes in my heart,
Non-voting shares,
Little profit likely,
A denigrated deal.

You, lover three,
Spat on it.
Yet still you seemed surprised when I said

I wrapped my desecrated organ in tenderest dressings,
And vowed this would never happen again.

© Sophie Jean 1993

By the way, neither 'Salina's father NOR V are represented in the above poem - it was written when much younger and learning the ways of life - there have been a few more stanzas along the way, just not incorporated!

If I get my creative hat on, I will have three posts coming up for you, my faithful readers, to judge which is most worthy to enter into Scribbit's monthly writing competition - obviously it is open to everyone, so see if you can dust off your shoe stories for it too!

Of course, I am the opposite of the stereotypical shoe-loving diva, and so what shoe memories I have are quite distinct and bizarre - thus the inspiration for three.

Lets hope I get around to it!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Boot and Saddle

I love 'Salina's teacher this year. In fact, she is so wonderful, she even has "Love" in her name.

This term, the children are all involved in Thursday morning presentations. As they are split into two groups, every second week she will have to either Chair, tell a joke or riddle, give a newsletter report, book report, local news report, recite a poem or do the memory tray.

Today, she is to recite a poem. This thrills me, because I am the sort of dork who used to voluntarily stand in front of a roomful of strangers and recite poetry.

In fact, I am the sort of dork who has always dreamed great dreams rather than nightmares about standing up in front of people and presenting. Give me a podium and the confidence I feel is a thrill, a buzz from the adrenal rush of fear, joyous and pushing that fear down to become my "bounce bubble" that I love to launch forth with on whatever subject or speech I am offered.

I know that is weird, especially considering I am absolutely petrified of holding small talk amongst a crowd or one on one to people I don't know very well. I never said I was normal.

So anyhow, we had to look for a poem for her to recite. She only had one stipulation, which was there were to be horses involved.

After ploughing through some weird ones that didn't scan (okay for the avante garde - not the average 8 year old's delight), some pretty ones that went on and on over many a hill and plain, some dark ones (it seems that heroin and death are two favoured marriages with horses in the minds of the poets) until we finally found one very hearty and stirring one she could really get a kick out of reciting - which as a "poetry mum" was a huge bonus for me.

Here is the chosen offering:

Boot and Saddle

Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!
Rescue my Castle, before the hot day
Brightens the blue from its silvery grey,

(Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

Ride past the suburbs, asleep as you'd say;
Many's the friend there, will listen and pray
"God's luck to gallants that strike up the lay,

(Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

Forty miles off, like a roebuck at bay,
Flouts Castle Brancepeth the Roundheads array:
Who laughs, Good fellows ere this, by my fay,

(Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

Who? My wife Gertrude; that, honest and gay,
Laughs when you talk of surrendering, "Nay!
I've better counsellors; what counsel they?"

(Chorus) "Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

Robert Browning

She loved it, because you can really get the crowd - sorry, classmates - involved in the rollicking chorus!

Of course, being 'Salina, she had to create some props for it - she made a hospital tent, a stretcher complete with bearers and patient and a helicopter.

I explained to her that, unfortunately, the English Civil War in the 1600s didn't have the blessing of helicopters and we had a few teaching moments before school in what entailed going to war during those days. No automatic guns, no satellites for surveillance, no telephones or television coverage - just up close and personal guts and - well, not a great deal of glory, more gory.

"So, did they take the horses on the boats to get to the war?" asked 'Salina.

"They were fighting their own countrymen." I explained. "Sort of like if there was a fight in Bigtown and they had to saddle up and ride in and fight. Or maybe the bad guys were out at Granite Glen and they had sent a pigeon to ask for help and a group were going to gallop over."

'Salina pondered that for a bit.

We then had a re-enactment of someone telling his family he was going to fight the baddies and actually ended up cracking ourselves up with voices and silly conversations.

"But why would they go and fight, Mum?" she asked.

A long and involved discussion about politics and society of the 1600s ensued right up until bus time.

Do you know, as intense as it is, I am loving this no television punishment we have going!!