Spring is in the Air

So there I was, after 9 days camping in the forest, 4 of them fasting and on a wilderness solo, the rest surrounded by some of the most emotionally courageous women I know, and I felt tired and radiant. I walked through the front door after being wowed by the greenery on the previously bare trees in the street. And there was my cat, the ninja Ginger Annie, glad to see me and complaining of being hungry (a perennial condition it seems). Then there was my mail to open, the threads of my life to get back to, and we had a new housemate.

I sat in the small lounge room, aware of how stinky and feral I was, but not feeling bad about it. Most of my camping gear I had unloaded from my car, and took up the two flights of stairs into my study. Then I had the longest shower I could, washing out 9 days worth of dust, sweat, and oil off my body and out of my hair.

Then I sat downstairs in our small lounge room while exhausted, chatting with my housemates, trying to find out what had happened while I had been away. Things had changed. I had changed, and the household had as well. There was now a dog, Zoe, negotiating the rules of conduct with Ginger Annie, and this rather shy middle-aged man, an outdoorsy type, trying to gauge where he fit in. And I was weirdly still landing from an extraordinary but ordinary experience of being in a bush-land setting, the only human but not alone.

Chatting and asking everyone what had gone on, I found myself curious about this new member of the household. And he was similarly curious about me.

Now, I consider that first day and night a bit of a sniffing around each other.

Now, it is 4 weeks since and I have been oscillating between having this reasonably distracting interest in him, wanting to chat with him every chance I get, and there I see in him, that sad little boy, the gangly awkward teenager, the young man who was cut adrift from family, venting frustrations and grief.

And then there’s last night….chatting and kind of venting with him, sharing some of the fun of teaching yesterday, the stress of Mum’s operation and all the expectations, then sitting out under the stars, and him reminding me that the stars are enough, that I don’t need the app to know them, just to witness them and observe them. He is both ordinary and extraordinary. And I find he is trying to find similarities between some of his friends and some of my experiences. He asked me last night what I’m reading, and I realised I wasn’t reading anything. We talked and I mentioned I’ve been reading some poetry. He said he likes Paul Kelly and his book, Lyrics, which of course I have. I told him I had a couple of books I thought he might like.

This morning I left them in a bag outside his room…..

white petal flower in macro photography

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Strange 24 hours

So far in the last 24 hours I have left my mother recovering from serious surgery, gone home for the first time in days, leaned in closer to one of my housemates on whom I have a crush, lost my self a little in the latter, watched the new Dr Who and been a little disappointed by it, worked with some really interest students, felt closer to said housemate last night and this morning, had a really interrupted sleep, to wake to see housemate and totally flat-line energetically.

I’ve noticed he is a bit grumpy in the mornings, and this morning he was particularly distracted by his phone. Asked him about this big work deadline he’s been working towards, and he kind of grumped it off. So my little fantasy of asking him to the cinema tonight to see a film he mentioned, A Star Is Born, has kind of been dampened. Perhaps I’ll ask him tonight after work. Or not. I’ll gauge the vibe your honor.

There’s still the household dinner I’ll cook to thank everyone for looking after Ginger, and the possibility of things in the future. We’ll see. Meanwhile there’s the homework for my course to do, Nanowrimo to get ready for, the Gunnas writing weekend to prepare for, and getting a new job 3-4 days per week. I’ll contact ANZUK and see what’s going.  I’ll also contact the English language schools for work over Summer.

Update: I did ask him and we went to see the film, and chatted about it afterwards. But the crush has dissolved into a mutual respect, a month down the track.

scenic view of forest during night time

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Can’t believe I get Paid For This!

Okay so at the moment I do relief teaching for a living. And sometimes it is really difficult, and students don’t want to work with a different teacher etc. But there are mostly days where I love my job. Today is one of those days.

So far I’ve discussed poetry with Yr 12 students and the merits of studying female poets and the lack of range when forced to study stale pale males. Then on to studying a visual text Mediterranean, about refugees and discussing circular narratives, and the metaphors in lines in the pictures. Then on to a form of Pastoral care, and right now, to being in a reptile class where the students run the lesson, teaching other students how to handle the reptiles, held a couple of snakes and got bitten by 3 turtles!

nature water animals turtle

Photo by Salo Al on Pexels.com

All in a day’s work.

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Between planting and seeing shoots

They say there is nothing like a brush with death to make you feel fully alive.

Yesterday was one of those crazy days where I finally got work after a very quiet time over the school holidays. And of course it was the day that my mother had surgery. And didn’t I just leave my phone at home, got to work and realised so had to fang it back to my place, collect my phone and get back to work, before anyone noticed! Stressed or what???

But it turns out I had a great day, working with some pretty fabulous students, looking at TV comedies for English, Healthy Burgers for Food Tech, then later some technical drawings for Furniture-making. So I was waiting for a call from the surgeon to say all was good, keeping my phone on while asking students to put theirs away (moral high ground completely lost). On the end of day bell, I headed off, getting home in record time, snipping a stem of orchids and heading off to the hospital, getting a park outside then hitting a few really helpful people for directions. The woman at the desk at Emergency saw the stem of orchids and “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed while looking Mum up on the computer so I broke off one orchid for her and heading in the direction she indicated.

Getting into the lift and of course there were some older women who appreciated the orchids too, complimenting me on my gardening expertise. I had to admit how I neglected the plants but they thrived despite me. They both laughed.

The nursed on Mum’s ward “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed too, one running off to get a vase. I looked in on Mum, sleeping off the anesthetic, looking perhaps the most vulnerable I had seen her since her partner’s death. Her hair was flat, her mouth open, her skin seemed papery, pale and blotchy, and her bottom lip was swollen, most likely from the intubation from surgery. The realisation that she needs more help and perhaps that I need to be more hands on hit me. Along the left side of her neck was a 10cm-long bandage with an eye-shaped blood stain along it, and a few tubes ran from her nose, and under the bandage, as well as from her right arm. She was sleeping peacefully but at an awkward angle, seemingly avoiding the wound on her neck.

This felt like a practice run, like we were all so lucky she pulled through. As she awoke, I held her hand and we talked. I explained the orchids were from Curly’s orchids, via Mum and my friend, Donna. She seemed buoyed by them, and couldn’t quite believe that she’d made it through the surgery. She couldn’t stop saying how amazing it was that they could do such a surgery and she didn’t seem to have any problems.

I hope she stays well for a long time yet, though I know it won’t be forever.  Just a little more time with her would be great. I don’t think she’s ready to depart and I’m certainly not ready to lose her either.

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Ostara – Hello Southern Hemisphere Easter / Spring

Wow, so much is happening atm. Spring in all it’s chaotic colours, blossoms, greens, and scents. And the days are lengthening. Hello Spring Equinox (today or tomorrow), and that Spring threshold of planting seeds, of weeding out detritus, of potential in the air (and, let’s face it, a little love too). I can hardly believe this happens every year and yet I have been only half awake to it. Two weeks ago I spent 9 days camping in the wilderness of the Otways, slowing down, unplugging from the cacophony of modern life, to really listen to Nature, to myself and any really quiet whispers or desires I have had but haven’t stopped to hear.

What I felt, heard, and understood has had me in tears at first, then determined to realign myself with myself (if that makes any sense at all). And the trip back into modern life has been exhausting, but completely transformational. I’m trying to eat better, listen more, slow down, and enjoy nature around me. It’s a real shift, a daily struggle, but those moments where I notice a sunrise, or some birds flying, or see a child smiling, or a cat or dog jumping, seriously make me laugh. And I’m laughing more.

So this is a huge hug, and a tearful thank-you to Spring, for reminding me that Persephone does actually return from the dark depths of Hades. And she does so with the best array of colours and scents ever!!!

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20130602_140510For those who think they want to write.

Ever felt like you’re the premier Mr Bean character in a library?

Then you’ll understand when I explain what happens to me every Saturday at about 1pm in the Gayaam Room of the Bargoonga Nganjan North Fitzroy Library. It’s a large modern room, with good heating / air con, with one grey felted wall and the rest Ivory white plastic walls, black plastic chairs and those fold-away Ikea-ish tables with plug-ins to recharge your laptop / devices. Flouro-lit (but stylish, embedded flouros, 70s ironic, hipster woke even), it looked boardroom clinical, but then I come in, bumbling like Bridget Jones, all flops and excuse me’s and trying so very hard to be quiet but failing abysmally.

Instead I manage to trip over someone’s computer chord, launching forward and dragging his plugged-in laptop with me as I go. I avoid (narrowly) a face-plant, but his laptop doesn’t look  too good. It still works though and he scowls at me as I continue to apologise, handing him back the device, and proceeding to a place at the boardroom table type desk. Unzipping my backpack I managed to unpack each item loudly and separately: diary, cartridge pen, ball point pen, phone, sunglasses, laptop, charger, orange juice bottle, lined paper in a plastic sleeve. Then I proceed noisily to take off my jacket, place it on the chair behind me, plug in my laptop and put my hair up (because who can possibly type anything worthy with their hair down?).

All this takes me a good 20 minutes. So I am “in the space” of writing, feeling like I am “really just about ready to find some sentences” and “capture the great ideas “floating around in my head” somewhere. Then my friend walks in, starts doing much the same thing, noisily, and clearly pissing off laptop man, as well as latte-sipping serious woman, and fedora hat older man. They clearly want a completely silent working space (so don’t go dropping those pins). Alas, they really should have seen us coming, up-tight jerks. We have to catch up on the latest week’s worth of stuff, despite their heavy sighing and tsking, and we can’t care less about the eye-rolling. In fact, that is the one thing that makes me laugh. Out loud. With orange juice tears pouring from my nose, which of course sends my friend into hysterics. And she falls backwards on her chair, onto serious latte woman, who shrieks back in horror at having to touch another human being. Fedora man yells out “OH FER FUCKS’ SAKE!!!”, grabs his stuff and storms out of the room.

Which, of course, elicits more guttural snorting laughter from us. Laptop man turns to us saying “Libraries are supposed to be quiet.”

“Yes, but then so are laptops and they’re not really, especially when you use them to trip up unsuspecting library patrons.”

“That’s it. I’m going to talk to the staff downstairs. This is unacceptable.” And with that, he tries to angrily stuff all his belongings in his pannier, which looks like it has seen better days, and really doesn’t fit much. He leaves with his laptop falling out of the pannier, and the charger chord dragging along behind him.

Not half a hilarious exit.

More orange juice out my nose as we laugh uproariously.

Then the librarian comes up. Nice middle-aged ginger-bearded man, with stove-pipe mustard coloured pants and a hoodie.

“Hi there. You know that this room is supposed to be a quiet working space for members, right?”

“Yes, of course. Is there a problem?”

“Well, this gentleman has made a complaint that you have been a bit rowdy. If you could just keep noise to a minimum, we won’t have a problem.”

“Of course. Sorry, but he did have his charger chord where I had to step over it.”

“Yes well that’s what the power points in the tables are for. I’ll have a word to him. Cheers for helping out.”

“No worries. You’re welcome.”

He left and went downstairs. I think he was relieved.

And below, the raised voice of Laptop Man could be heard…”What? I was in the wrong? Are you kidding me????”

Then I got about 20 minutes of “writing” and “brainstorming” on Facebook done, and sadly, it was time to go.

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Balancing Act

SO here I am almost in the middle of Term 2, writing every Saturday with some friends, and so far things seem to be working. I’m working as a relief teacher and really enjoying being in schools, helping students and staff, and still having time for myself. There are of course a couple of hiccups – financially when I’m sick, I can’t work so it impacts on my finances (which are a bit anemic at the moment). But generally this is the work-life balance I have been looking for, so I can complete the novel.

So the fun stuff: Choir is amazing but I haven’t been able to go the last 3 sessions because of a flu which has left me with little voice! Also it costs a bit to register each term but usually I should be able to manage it. No pay over the school holidays has meant that I have been behind financially. Next to 4sj and I am absolutely loving the balance between reading and exploring and explaining my experiences. Lots still to explore there. Financially though I am behind in my payments. Then there’s a couple of creative ventures I have going: Women Who Write is going well with turn-ups each Saturday afternoon for about 3 hours each time. I am enjoying the regular catch-up and attention to writing. Deb’s group has also given me a lift and a look into how doing a PhD might benefit my writing and might be an option.

Meanwhile the Emerging Writers’ Festival is coming up and I’m going to try applying for some assistance. I’ll get onto that really quickly over the next few days. That and a couple of virtual assistant jobs might set me up nicely.

Fabulous things so far:

  • going away for three days to the Otways, camping there and spending my birthday with like-minded others who really made a big deal of it.
  • going away for a weekend with writers who have showed me a world in which writing is possible and forms a part of their daily lives.
  • the lovely Gunnas writing retreat – still dining out on the connections and writing prompts from that
  • the attention to my patterns and how I might reroute them into something more functional.
  • the visits from dear old friends (Veronica and Kate) and the visit coming up from my sister (and all that that stirs up)
  • the realisation that there are ways to increase my energy

And there are a couple of ideas for short stories in the offing. Just a quick check in for keeping this updated.

If you’ve read this far, thanks.

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