Saturday, January 29, 2011

The great 2011 clean out continues

We started to clean out the attic in earnest today. For the last 8 years or so, half of it has been used as an office, and the other half has had a sofa bed and all our equipment (spare and test gear) in it. The other half now has to become a bedroom, so the transformation required is fairly substantial, and it is definitely not completed yet.

I started with the paper. All the manuals, training documents, catalogues, magazines and empty boxes got sorted and tossed. I have often claimed that my house breeds paper and cardboard. I dunno, what do you reckon?

Paper purge 1

Paper purge 2

Nearly all of that came out of the attic, and it all came out of our house.

Obligatory BDO post 2011

I came home greasy, sweaty, smelly and dirty, so I must have been to the Big Day Out. Musically, it wasn't the most amazing of BDOs, but it was well worth it just for Grinderman.

Mostly, it was hot. Really hot. BOM promised us storms, but they never made it to Olympic Park. I spent a good proportion of the day hiding from the sun, but I still managed to enjoy The Naked and Famous, Children Collide, The Jim Jones Revue, Birds of Tokyo, John Butler Trio and Grinderman. The only serious disappointment for me was Bliss n Esso, who were crap, really. Washington didn't excite me as much as I expected, but she was battling the elements so I'd give her another shot.

Grinderman though - wow. Nick Cave back to screaming insanity. I loved it. So did the crowd.
I chose not to take the new iPhone, so the photos are crap, but if you get a chance to see them, do it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What makes housework menial?

I hate housework. I spend a lot of time saying that I'd love not to have to do paid work, but then I interrupt myself and point out that this would necessitate more housework and day to day child care, and I'd go slightly peculiar if that was my main occupation.

But why? Why is housework less rewarding than the stuff I do for money? In truth, the routine work of both bore me to tears. In my paid work, it's the planning, problem solving, interacting with clients and suppliers and the basking in the glory of a successful job that I enjoy. But housework has none of that does it?

Well, yeah, it does. There are questions of organisation to minimise the requirement for mundane work. Problems of physical design to make spaces work sensibly - a constantly moving target as people's needs and possessions change. Questions of energy efficiency and evolving into a household with a smaller environmental impact. Management issues - encouraging children to do their jobs to the best of their ability along with training them to do so.

When I talk about paid work, I talk about the rewarding bits, but when I talk about household stuff, I mostly complain about the mundane stuff. While I might have good friends with whom I can boast about a particularly inventive solution to the Toy Storage Problem, I never feel self conscious discussing how I designed a portion of the infrastructure for commercial digital radio in this country. Or how I help bankers talk to one another reliably and cheaply. Why do the latter two give me kudos, while the former results the social equivalent of a pat on the head?

I don't know, I haven't done the studies, but I can't help having this niggling feeling that it just might have something to do with the fact that housework is women's work, and therefore mundane and uninteresting by definition. In my own little anecdata gathering exercise, I'll be looking more at housework as a job with, admittedly, a fairly high ratio of mundane work, but also with all the high order, glory-worthy responsibilities of a paid job. That counts for other people doing housework too, including my husband's.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blog for Choice - even outside the USA.

It's Blog for Choice day, and given that I have never done it before, and that it has a totally USA-focussed theme: Given the anti-choice gains in the states and Congress, are you concerned about choice in 2011? - it's a little odd that I'm giving it a shot. But the universe throws up odd coincidences and this is one of them.

We watch a fair bit of Boston Legal around here, and we watched one last night which was about abortion. The whole episode was pretty ordinary, actually, but the story about abortion was particularly ridiculous.

Short synopsis: 15 year old girl asks Alan Shore to represent her to be permitted to terminate her pregnancy because her mother won't let her. There is much agonising by Alan and Shirley Schmidt about how much an abortion stays with you forever. The mother claims the 15 year old is too young to know herself and will grow up to be pro-life. [Necessary interjection - the girl is Asian, and up until this point I'm thinking "makes a change, characters who are Asian with no particular plot reason for them to be Asian". Sadly, no.] Then it's revealed that she's only terminating the pregnancy because she's carrying a girl and Chinese people don't want girl children. Shirley tells the judge all this, and judge points out that interrogating teenagers for their reasons for termination rather defeats the purpose of giving them access to it and grants it anyway.

So, in the interests of the theme, I'll leave the race issues to the reader, along with the scientific ones (girl who is showing no signs of pregnancy at all, looking for routine abortion, and knows the gender of the baby?), and stick with the various issues of choice that came up.

One of the major themes was that pro-choice ideology hangs on Roe v Wade. Apparently this legal precedent is necessary for us to be able to believe that abortion is ok. Really? What about the vast majority of pro-choice people who don't live in the USA? I grew up pro-choice, all the while having some vague notion that Roe v Wade was about divorce settlements (I may have had it confused with Kramer vs Kramer). I also have no doubt that many, many pro-choice people within the USA feel that the moral position makes Roe v Wade necessary, not that Roe v Wade is necessary for the moral position.

Then we come to "But this decision will stay with her for the rest of her life!". Yes, that old chestnut. She's 15. She's pregnant. Whatever happens next, it will stay with her for the rest of her life. It was asserted over and again that women who have abortions "never get over it". I have no idea of actual numbers (has anyone ever done a real study?), but there definitely exist women who do get over it - who barely ever think of it again after the initial recovery period - as well as women who don't, indeed ever get over it. She has two other options - raising the child, or giving it up for adoption. Particularly in Australia we hear a great deal about how traumatic adoption is for both birth mother and child (not that I buy into that as a general truth, but the stories are there, and clearly it can be), and it's hard to consider a decision that's more likely to "stay with her for the rest of her life" than choosing to raise the child. Of course, raising the child doesn't have to be a bad thing, but for 15 year olds in countries with minimal welfare and little or no public health (like the USA), the odds are against her having an even tolerable parenting experience.

They also trotted out the "life begins at conception" thing. Yes, it does. Life begins at conception. But "life" is a pretty broad category. There is far more non-human life within my skin that there is human life. There is non-human life inside every one of my cells. We wipe out life on a monumental scale every time we take antibiotics (for example) - and not just the "evil" life that's making us sick, we're also wiping out a whole heap of our allies, the other life that keeps us humming along. So this isn't about "life", it's about "human life". At what point does a bundle of cells become a human life? The fact that these cells are reproducing themselves and growing doesn't make them a whole human being, my liver can do that, and it can do it in someone else's body. They may be capable of growing into a whole human being, unlike my liver, but they can't do it without my help - not until some point around 22 - 25 weeks, depending on available technology. I don't think biology can give us the answer to when the bundle of cells becomes "human life". I think it's a complex question, and I don't believe it's a "line in the sand" thing - it's a gradual progression from cells, to foetus, to baby and so on, and each stage brings more personhood. I don't think birth is where it ends either - I think personhood is still developing for a long time after birth, although in ever diminishing amounts.

The really sticky issue was the one of gender selection. I think this is an interesting question. We have 3 kids: boy, boy, girl. We did rather want a girl when we had the third. We did some of the things suggested to increase the odds of conceiving a girl. When we were told, by (faulty) genetic testing, that we were having a boy, we didn't consider termination. But if I believe that an individual has the right to choose whether or not they continue a pregnancy, I have to believe they have that right when they're doing it for gender. What's the difference, in terms of gender selection, between me nudging the odds, and them terminating? On the other hand, when you have a society-wide situation in which one gender is preferred over the other (and it isn't always a preference for boys, I've been told that the cost of educating boys in Japan makes people select for girls), you have a problem. I'd argue that the right solution is to address the reasons why there is a wholesale gender preference in the first place, rather than place restrictions on having the babies themselves, but sometimes that just isn't practical. In Japan, at least at one point in time, you couldn't be told the gender of the baby until 8 months, even though it was still discovered at 18 weeks. That's one way of dealing with it, I suppose.

In the end though, it all comes down to that progression from cells to a separate individual with a personality. At what point on that journey does the life become equivalent to the mother that created it? This has to be a philosophical question, and therefore will never have a definitive answer. For that reason alone, we need choice, because none of us has the right to impose our answer on someone else.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tatted Necklace

Yesterday I decided to get this tatting thing right, and did and redid it until I worked out exactly what I was supposed to be doing between each chain or ring. I stuck a few beads on it (since they were already threaded onto the cotton I was using anyway), and stuck it on a leather strap.

Tatted Necklace

I'm pretty happy with it. Now I'm working on the same design, but with lots and lots more beads. (I learned how to do it from here.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Small measures

Growing up in a world of consumerism, it's a major shift of consciousness to try to think in terms of using and wasting less. It's a slow and steady re-wiring, but each little step changes the way I look at things in my house. I have a dryer, but I hate having to use it. On the other hand, when it's raining, or in winter when the clothes line is next to useless, I have 5 people's washing to get through, and I can't spend 6 months with wet clothes all over the house constantly and maintain my sanity.

A year ago I bought a Victorian style clothes airer which attaches to the ceiling and is raised and lowered on pulleys. We finally put it up last weekend (resulting in the injury to Crash I mentioned in this post), and I've used it this week. Behold the fully laden airer!

Drying rack

It takes a small load of washing, and it dried in a day. I'm hoping to be able to dry most of my washing on it in winter, and all of the rain affected washing in summer. It's a little thing, but it makes me smile. 

An even littler thing shows more a shift in attitude than any actual positive impact on the planet. Crash got a deep fryer for his birthday, and we just had a batch of oil reach the end of its useful life. Throwing it out seemed such a waste, but it was unlikely anyone would want to come pick up 4 litres of biodiesel. A moment with Google and 10mins in the garage produced this. 

oil tealight

The wick needs some work, as do the aesthetics, but I like the idea of used oil tealights - especially when it's vaguely frangranced with Chinese five spice. I know the practical implications of an air dryer and recycling vegetable oil are terribly small, but it's indicative of a change in thought patterns that is slowly reducing our consumption all round.   

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


My sister and I went to a masterclass with Tetsuya yesterday. He demonstrated 4 dishes for a room full of people:
  • Bonito Salad
  • Lobster & Olive Oil Mousse
  • Seared Tuna with Apple and Olive
  • Warm salad of Kingfish
Tetsuya on lobsters

I learned lots of great stuff, some of which applies to the fancy pants food that Tetsuya cooks, like how to kill and prepare lobsters, and some of which is pretty mundane - like the best way to store fish. While I completely accept that brain death with a sharp knife is almost certainly the most humane to kill a lobster, I'm probably too much of a wuss to do it myself - way too worried that I'd do it wrong and fail utterly in the "humane" department.

On the other hand, wrapping fish in paper towel and then glad wrap to store in the fridge I can manage! White sesame oil to cook it in I can probably pull off too. Lots of handy ideas to remember.

The last dish, the warm salad of kingfish was a real standout.

Warm kingfish salad

It was built on the plate, and then smoking grapeseed oil was poured over the top. The smell was utterly amazing.

Sadly we didn't get to try the lobster mousse, but Tetsuya continued to cook after the presentation to provide a few nibbles for us all.

Tetsuya in action

This is Tetsuya cooking the Tartare of Tuna with Goat's Cheese, which I've actually made before!

He's such a likable person too - I'd love to have him at my dinner party, as well as cooking it. 

I'm only sorry that the food he chose to demonstrate was so very Japanese - his restaurant is more of a fusion style which would have suited my sister far better - it was a gift to her and I fear it was a bit of a dud.

Also, this thing wasn't cheap - over $100 per ticket and it felt like a school production. Tetsuya's masterclass was the last of six, and still the audio-visual set up failed in almost every possible way. The TVs to provide a view for everyone were too low to begin with and needed to be boosted up with the camera gear boxes and the second TV didn't work for the first 15 minutes. Tetsuya's microphone didn't work at all, so the host kept sticking a microphone in front of him. He's well known for being softly spoken, and English isn't his first language, so it was regularly hard to hear and understand him.

This is the second year that Tony Bilson has run Cuisine Now in the Radisson Hotel, and I think there needs to be more polish if they want to charge a lot of money. If it was as polished as it could be, it would be absolutely worth the money, and a fabulous experience. As it was, I loved it, but was just a bit put off by the lack of professionalism.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When child care goes right (so far)

We've sampled a wide range of child care over the years. When Ben was born, child care around here was virtually impossible to get. By the time I had to go back to work, I had no child care, so my lovely sister stepped into the breach and became our daytime paid nanny. This was unquestionably fabulous, and we were really lucky to have such an amazing circumstance. She soldiered on for five years before looking after my children threatened to make her childless for life, and was possibly starting to induce cackling.

We then moved to family day care, both because Elissa was only 6 months old, and because I really couldn't afford the larger day care centres. That worked out really well too. Our first carer stopped when she got married and her sister took over. It was flexible and worked well for our family. Then the second carer had her second child, and she stopped too. We couldn't find another carer that met our criteria (could take both kids and wasn't a 30min drive away), so we switched to a group day care.

That's mostly been pretty good too. Charlie didn't like it, but he was also going to preschool 3 days a week, which he much preferred and was where he had made his friends. (Preschool is another form of child care we are very happy with. I love our preschool.) He only went one day a week, so it wasn't so bad. Elissa loves it. She's made lots of friends and clearly has heaps of fun.

However, by the end of last year, distinct behaviour issues were starting arise with Elissa. Not a huge surprise - she had just turned 3, after all. Still, she was becoming more and more impossible whenever she didn't get her way, and "her way" was becoming more and more ridiculous. By the time we started the three week break from day care over Christmas, she was infuriating to be around. We've spent those three weeks re-establishing boundaries, being as consistent as is humanly possible and slowly working towards the point that I don't want to strangle her the moment she gets out of bed.

Day care started back yesterday, so today I had a meeting with the director. I'm always nervous when I have to criticise someone on the way they do their job, and I was not looking forward to this. However, we had a very sensible conversation about Elissa's behaviour and how I felt their current approach to her was Not Helping. The director was .... I think relieved is the best description. I gather many parents at the centre get a little stroppy if the carers are firm with their kids. She seemed very happy indeed that I was asking for boundaries and was more than prepared to back them up at home.

So now we see what happens next. I suspect if my requests are acted upon, Elissa will suddenly really NOT want to go to day care. That's ok, we can work through that - should only take a couple of weeks based on the last three weeks' experience. I'm a little cautious in my optimism though - we're running against the nature of one of the carers, who, in the words of the director "likes to baby her babies".

But still, how nice to be supported and met with appreciation rather than defensiveness! I know child care is a business, but it still needs to be carried out in partnership with parents. It certainly appears they are trying hard to do just that.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Not quite an OOTD post

I was going to post an OOTD post, showing the top I bought from ASOS. Unfortunately none of the photos showed anything but an amorphous black blob, so here is Elissa's OOTD she wore to the drinks & nibbles at our neighbour's place (whose eldest son is Ben's best mate).

Elissa OOTD

Dress: Grandma's op shopping
Shoes: Rivers
Hairstyle: Elissa's request

Friday, January 14, 2011

Obligation and health

Lots of people have written good stuff in response to fat acceptance (or fat advocacy, or "for gods' sakes stop vilifying fat people" - whatever you want to call it) concern trolls - those people who respond with "But OMG you're GOING TO DIE". Fat Heffalump is the one that springs to mind right now, but you'll find it popping up all over FA stuff. I'm not going to repeat it, just pull out one aspect that runs through most of it - that you have no obligation to be healthy.

Concern trolls pull out "Your lifestyle isn't healthy" as though it's a lay down misere. Aside from the fact that it may not be true, even if it is, who says I have to be healthy? I may not even have a choice. For whatever reasons, living the troll's sanctioned "healthy lifestyle" may be entirely beyond my reach. Or living it might not, in fact, make me healthy. Or, I may have all the choice in the world, and decide that I value my current lifestyle more than health. Trolly McTrollpants has no right to decide that I should.

I've read this argument again and again, and I agree with it. But. You knew there was a "but" coming didn't you? There has always been something niggling in the back of my brain, a little "but" bouncing up and down behind the logic. When I finally paid it some attention, I realised it's not really so much a "but", rather it's more of an "also", or an "even so".

Before I even address the niggle, I need to point out I'm thinking in terms of "as healthy as one can be" not healthy by some arbitrary standard. I'm also including emotional and psychological health in this picture. Blood pressure is neither more important than, nor independent of, emotional and psychological well-being. Using a complete picture of health pretty much rules out fat shaming all by itself (nobody is healthy when they are made to hate their own body).

There are two aspects to this niggle, a personal and a public. The personal is straightforward - I think we do owe optimised health to those we care about. I don't think this negates the "no obligation to be healthy" as such, because I certainly owe nothing to Trolly, and because this is about balancing what you have, not meeting an arbitrary standard. My "optimised health" looks nothing like yours, and so making sweeping statements about how people should live isn't helpful. But I do think I owe my kids, my partner, and everyone I love the best health I can offer them, within the power that I have. That doesn't make ill-health a Bad Thing. It just means I should control what I can, and deal with what I can't.

The public is much messier. I proceed here with caution, but I don't think I can ignore it as an issue. In a country like Australia where health care is largely publicly funded, my decision not to be healthy has impacts beyond my immediate circle. Of course, if I choose to be fatally unhealthy in a swift fashion, it doesn't cost the country much (see personal obligations), but it is possible that lower grade unhealthy living costs the country money (although I'm not sure it's entirely clear whether health costs are going up because of healthy or unhealthy lifestyles - living longer can also cost more in the long run, and I've never really seen convincing arguments on either side). Assuming it does cost, what exactly does that mean for personal obligation to health?

I'll consider first the individual obligation (under the assumption that it does cost money). I'm struggling a bit with this, so I'm more than open to feed back and outright disagreement - I think it counts as one aspect of my membership in society. One thing I can do to contribute to society is to optimise my health. This does not include health issues over which I have no control, that is contribution neutral. On the other hand, there are many other ways in which I can contribute to society, and I think choosing to be something of a burden on society healthwise can be compensated for by my many other contributions. I have been a burden on society in myriad ways all my life, starting with my childhood and education and carrying on through my use of roads and other public facilities. I give back to compensate for that. This is true for everyone, and no-one gets to look from afar and judge a person's overall contributions.

That's the theoretical. From a practical perspective, we have no problems at all accepting and even celebrating other people damaging their health - elite athletes, mountaineers and other extreme adventurers, for example. It is outright hypocrisy to condemn people for, for example, sedentary related ill-health while celebrating sport related ill-health. I think all people have the same, vague and flexible obligation to be as healthy as they can, and all people have the same right to prioritise that obligation as they wish against other obligations and contributions.

When talking about costs to the public, the government's role obviously also needs to be considered. Still under the assumption that less-than-optimised health costs money, the government has an obligation to encourage people to optimise their health, as responsible custodians of the public purse. Note that their obligation is limited to encouragement, not requirement. People within a society make a million decisions every day that affect the people around them. On the whole we need to minimise the number of things which are enforced by law, and encourage voluntary, cooperative behaviour. So I support government initiatives that encourage health. Things which inform, things which make healthy options (food, activity, medication etc) more accessible, things which discourage behaviour that impacts negatively on other people's health (for example unhealthy work places, polluting industries and so on).

I do not support things which shame anyone for their health, whether they have control over that health or not. For starters, it's self-defeating. Shaming people damages their emotional and psychological health, and makes them less likely to participate - either in healthy activities or in alternative ways to contribute. Shaming makes them less healthy and less likely to contribute. It's also putting a moral rub on something that in fact only has a financial motive. The government has an obligation to be a good steward of our cash, it does not have the right to add moral overtones to that stewardship.

In the end, I have no strict obligation to be healthy, but I count optimising my health among the worthy goals that I can consider and that the government can encourage. There may be other worthy goals that I may choose to pursue instead, and that doesn't make me a bad person.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Avoiding "too hard"

Today was one of those days that just never got started. I slept in, and the hour or two of work I was planning to do ended up stretching out to 2:30pm. I'd told the kids I would take them to DFO to buy shoes (not one of them had sneakers that both fit and were still in one piece) and then we'd go up to the Blue Mountains, with no particular intent. They were Unimpressed when I revised the plan down to shopping plus a visit to Bicentennial Park. Really Unimpressed.

So I figured, what the hell, we'd go anyway, and have dinner in the mountains. Crash was out drinking at work, so it was just me and the kids, reducing the inertia somewhat.

Shoe shopping was relatively painless and successful - 3 pairs of shoes: Skechers for Charlie @ $33, Rivers for Ben & Elissa @ $7 & $10 respectively. Given that Ben's had to be black (for school uniform reasons) I was chuffed.

We got to Wentworth Falls just after 5pm, just as it started raining. But such a ridiculous expedition wasn't going to be affected by some rain, and we wandered the grueling 300m up the footpath to the lookout. Wentworth Falls looks like this, at the moment.

Wentworth Falls

And proof that I didn't pull this out of "Standard Library of Blue Mountains Photos", the kids were really there with me.


Ben really wanted to go proper bushwalking. If you look closely at the photo, you can see he was wearing thongs (flip flops for non-Australians), Elissa & Charlie were both wearing sandals, and you can see Elissa was clearly dressed for the bush. So we took a short detour along a track, and then walked along a more dodgy track for 5 minutes or so, and then turned around. By the time we got back Elissa had been bitten by nasty little black bugs and Ben had discovered exactly why one doesn't go bushwalking in thongs, but they're all keen to come back another time, in more appropriate attire, and no-one fell off a cliff. 

Ben was still dictating terms, and was calling for fish & chips for dinner. I was happy enough with the suggestion, but spotted a Chinese restaurant before I saw the Take-away, and conned them into spring rolls instead. While we watched the rain bucket out of the sky, I reminded them of my superiority - Ben's fish & chips in the park may not have been a rollicking success. Food was good, kids were so nicely behaved that an elderly man came over to congratulate them on their efforts on his way out and I barely had an anxious moment. We came out of the restaurant into cloud, literally. The kids were predictably impressed by the idea that they were in the middle of a cloud and we came home a happy bunch. 

It's a fairly big shift for me to decide that this kind of thing isn't just "too hard". Part of it is Elissa growing up - a year ago this afternoon really would have been implausible. But part of it, probably a bigger part, is that I never really came out of pregnancy malaise after Elissa. Everything has felt like a chore for a long time. I'm not pregnant anymore, I have no reason to put so much into the too hard basket and I need to remember that life's more fun when I don't.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Things I've been doing instead of blogging

It's been awfully quiet around here. I wonder if this "energy" thing might be the death of the blog?

Things I've been doing instead of blogging:

Crash & I went to Singapore for a wedding. It was a lovely ad-hoc hybrid of Western & Chinese tradition. They read this poem:

‘I’ll be there’ – Louise Cuddon
I’ll be there, my darling,
Through thick and through thin
When your mind is a mess
When your head’s in a spin
When your plane’s been delayed
When you’ve missed the last train
When life is just threatening
To drive you insane
When your thrilling whodunit
Has lost its last page
When somebody tells you
You’re looking your age
When your coffee’s too cool
And your wine too warm
When the forecast said ‘Fine’
But you’re out in a storm
When you ordered the Korma
But got the Madras
When you wake in the night
And are sure you smell gas
When your quick-break hotel
Is more like a slum
And your holiday photos
Show only your thumb
When you park for five minutes
In a resident’s bay
And return to discover
You’ve been towed away
When the jeans that you bought
In hope or in haste
Stick on your hips
And won’t reach around your waist
When the dentist looks into
Your mouth and just sighs
When your heroes turn out
To be wimps in disguise
When the food that you most like
Brings you out in red rashes
When as soon as you boot up
The bloody thing crashes
When you’re in extra time
And the other team scores
When someone informs you
There’s no Santa Claus
When you gaze at the stars
And step on a nail
When you know you’ll succeed
But, somehow, you fail
When your horoscope tells you
You’ll have a good day
So you ask for a rise
And your boss says ‘No way’
So my darling, my sweetheart, my dear….
When you spill your beer
When you shed a tear
When you burn the toast
When you miss the post
When you lose the plot
When I’m all you’ve got
When you break a rule
When you act the fool
When you’ve got the flu
When you’re in a stew
When you’re last in the queue
Don’t feel blue
‘Cause I’m telling you
I’ll be there
I’ll be there
I’ll be there for you.

It made me giggle, but not as much as the woman sitting next to me when the 80yr old celebrant started lecturing us on the Singaporean "Women's Charter". She moved to Singapore as a de-facto mother and was regarded as a scourge on society who needed to be expelled until she relented and married her partner, at which point she became an upstanding, valuable member of society. Marriage changes people, I guess.

But the night was excellent, 9 courses (although I declined the shark fin soup), great wine and a fab band. We bailed somewhere between 2 and 3am. We were pikers.

BTW, the dress I wore looked like this:


We bought an upright freezer, because one upside down fridge for a family of five is just inadequate (#firstworldproblems, in Twitter parlance). I really want to be able to cook more efficiently - less waste, more bulk cooking, more bulk buying. And I'd really just like to be able to keep a few loaves of bread in the freezer and still have room for frozen peas. Unfortunately, the house was never designed for a second refrigeration device, so the only possible option was the laundry. Further, there was nowhere in the laundry to put it, so the laundry cupboard had to go, and the laundry tub needed to be moved, the shelves needed to be shortened. A fun job all round. But today it arrived! I played filled the freezer this afternoon and it looks so empty! I'm irrationally pleased with this acquisition. (We bought a one of these, in case you are incurably curious)


Elissa reminded me how irregular English is, when she explained that she "wiped [her] hands on my clo" - "clo" clearly being the singular of "clothes".


The air conditioner broke, and when we called the maintenance company (after they got back from 2 weeks' holiday) they were terribly indignant that we wanted a service appointment - it's their busiest time of year, doncha know? We found an independent guy who came the same day. He hasn't fixed it because he needs to order a part, but at least we're getting somewhere.


The boiler and chiller in the kitchen ceased chilling. I mention this only to explain the feeling I have of the house falling down around me.


The house fell down on Crash today. Well, at the least the little bit of it he had put up about 15mins earlier. He was sure he'd managed to hit at least one stud. The cut isn't too big, and his pupils are the same size, so I'm pretty sure he'll be ok.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The year so far

Four days in is an appropriate time for a review, yes? This energy thing may actually succeed, if it doesn't kill me first. The New Year got off to a less than energetic start, with a sleep in until 10:30am (made possible by my superhero friend, Cate, who kid wrangled while we slept). However, once I was up, I looked at the Christmas tree, and figured now was the time. It took the entire afternoon to pull the tree down and pack up the decorations, but it's done.

On the 2nd, I made myself an underskirt to turn my cocktail frock into a formal frock for a wedding we're going to on Thursday (in Singapore!). This is particularly energetic given that a) I can't sew, b) I had no pattern and c) I completely ignored all the advice my mother had given me (she can sew, very well in fact). It came out exactly as I wanted, which is a massive surprise to me. I'm pretty sure it's exactly what my mother wasn't envisioning, which is why I ignored her advice. If someone could invent an imagination projector, I'd be most grateful.

On the 3rd, I got up at 6:30am and went for a walk. I've agreed with Crash that we'll take it in turns to get up in the mornings and walk, so neither of us feels obliged every day. I thoroughly enjoyed the early morning air and the music in my headphones. Later, I shopped for swimwear, with only marginal success, but even trying is a triumph for my "energy" theme.

Today I got up at 7:30am without a specific requirement to do so, and we took the kids to the swimming pool. Instead of floating in the water, I climbed all over the play equipment and went down the waterslides with Elissa about 20 gazillion times. I had so much fun it was disgusting. I also discovered exactly why the boardies I'd bought weren't quite worth the $5 I'd paid for them - the slightest pressure makes the button pop undone - and if the things were any looser at standing, they'd fall down. Very dodgy design. I'll keep looking for some elasticised ones to replace them.

I kept up the pace and went shoe shopping (which I hate almost as much as swimwear shopping) and bought myself a new pair of work suitable Skechers for $55. Very tidy.

I've had fun, I've surprised myself, I've achieved a lot - so far so good. Well, except for the fact that I've pulled muscles in my shoulders from pulling the tree apart, my back's dodgy from most of a day sat at a sewing machine and my eyes hurt from the chlorine. If it doesn't kill me, this could be a fabulously improved way to live my life.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Hello 2011

I had some trouble coming up with a word for 2011. It's going to be a big year - I'm doing a Dip Ed Bachelor of Teaching this year, on campus at UTS Kuring-gai. Charlie starts school, and Ben starts at a new school with a whole host of extra-curricular activities.

One of my focuses recently has been food - eating a better variety and only eating food I actually want to eat, rather than whatever's in front of me.  I had considered "mindfulness" or some such, but it feels a little proscriptive - something I can fail at, rather than something to improve my life.

Then I was writing a comment on Samantha's post about New Year's resolutions, and "energy" popped into my head. That feels right. "Energy" will be my word for 2011. Mostly it's about an attitude shift - trying hard to work on the assumption that I do have the energy to get through the day, rather than assuming I'm too tired, and I need to get some more sleep, or eat better or whatever else before I can really tackle the housework/get myself moving more/study full time. It's also about doing the things I know help with my energy levels. Good breakfasts, belly dancing, listening to music, varied diet with lots of fresh stuff. "Energy" will sit comfortably with my efforts to approach food in a more sensible way, and will also hopefully improve my overall mood and if I'm really lucky, might even increase my patience! (Or perhaps that should be if my family is really lucky...)

So what's 2011 going to be for you? Do you have resolutions? General or specific goals? Are you just glad to see the back of 2010, or are you hoping for more of the same?