A stroll at twilight

By Vita Forest


Tonight we took a walk.  Lucy and I strolled down the road at twilight with Max click-edy clacking away and back on his skateboard.  We soon turned off the main road and headed up the hill through the quieter streets.  Max scooted ahead until it was flat and swerved along a car-less road.  Our suburb is full of walking tracks and pathways between apartment blocks and we followed him down one such track into the cool damp shade within.  There were brush turkeys scratching about between some trees, but they soon dashed out of the way when the sound of the rolling wheels grinding over concrete alerted them to Max’s presence.   I was suddenly aware of the gradients of the path, the hills, the jutting cracks in the footpath.  Having a fourteen year old on a skateboard will do that to you.

We walked through another track to a park hidden between an apartment block.  Someone had personalised the pathway to their door with ferns and potted palms and a few pink Impatients for colour.  Further on we glanced up at “the hoarder’s house” a balcony we had noticed on another visit, I don’t know what the inside of the apartment is like, but the balcony is overflowing with “useful items” – a microwave oven, an ironing board, piles of chairs and more chairs, a rusting electric fan, a folded banana lounge and boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff.  Makes me feel ill just thinking about it.  Max was pleased with the deserted day care centre area that backed onto the park and was “available to the public” at this after hours hour.  There were gentle slopes, steep inclines and different levels to roar across.  I inspected the rocky course for the water pump and the tiny veggie garden with its neat row of brightly coloured watering cans.  Max and Lucy peeled off their shoes and pulled themselves up to the top of the climbing frame, laying back and looking up at the fading blue of the sky.  Max relaxed into the ropes but Lucy kept a firm grip on the edge.  I lay back on a convenient chair and looked up at the sunset.

Later, Lucy and I inspected the “house” – a part of the park with the outline of a building mapped out with some low walls, some empty window frames and a welcoming wooden door frame.  Inside the “rooms” there are tables, chairs (some moveable) and even a wooden chaise longue.  Every table is decorated with brightly coloured pottery and doily inserts.  It’s very homey.

While waiting for Max to reappear from one of his skating jaunts, Lucy and I were calming watching a couple of brush turkeys pecking around in the damp earth of the park.  Suddenly another, crazier one appeared.  It dashed across the lawn to one of its friends, then proceeded to chase it up into a tree.  Lucy and I watched as they branch-hopped, jump-flew their way up the tree then we scattered as the chas-ee took flight (very badly) and heaved across over our heads before landing on the grass and running off again.  They are not the most graceful flyers.

We walked past the oval, past the grunting footy players on the astro-turf, and turned for home as the light dimmed.  The clouds were chiaroscuro mountains in pink, orange and dazzling gold.  The world smelled fresh and alive after all the rain and our clattering heads had calmed.

Walking does that to you.

Mobile Tales Despatch 2 – in which our heroine simply listens

By Vita Forest

img_10751

Christabel La Mouse awoke in her snug cabin on the Good Ship Possession and listened.  She liked to do this before she opened her eyes, before she really started the day.  She snuggled deeper into her cosy woollen eiderdown and simply listened.

To port there was the occasional sliding swish! from the Deep Distance which must mean rain.  (There were huge creatures called Cars and when their swift feet touched water they made that delicious swish!  So Christabel had learned at school.  She was yet to actually see one).

To starboard was the chatty murmuring gurgle of the Refrigerator in The Room Beyond.  It was a kind of hotel for the food that arrived in The Home, including, and most importantly, cheese.  Christabel lived for those days when, on one of her fishing expeditions, she managed to secure as the catch of the day, a tasty morsel of that supreme delight.

img_11381

And directly below the ship, down deep on the rain-pitted surface of The Table, was a busy sort of brushing-kind-of-scratching, that stopped and started in an irregular fashion. It was That Person with the Paper and the Pencil.  Christabel sometimes liked to watch this (when she was not so cosy and tired, of course), for onto a flat white rectangle, tiny scribblings would pour from the end of the tool the Person used.  They were hard to make out, what with the currents passing over them, the distance between Christabel and the pages and the Person’s quite atrocious handwriting.  Her spyglass did not work on such occasions, and the spinning of the ship did not help.

img_11431

Still it was a comforting sort of scratching whisper.  Every now and then there was a pause and a Ting! which Christabel knew meant the Person had stopped to take a sip of her milky tea, chiming her pencil against the china as she did so.  Perhaps one day she would find some implement to assist her in discovering what the Person wrote.  But now just now.  Now was the time for a little more sleep wrapped in her eiderdown in her cosy cabin.

One must always prioritize rest.

 

This week

By Vita Forest

img_10091

On the Grand Canyon walk near Evan’s Lookout

This week I have been

READING

  • The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Right Attitude to Rain by Alexander McCall Smith

Delightful holiday reading!

WRITING Brief Encounter

VISITING

  • The Blue Mountains with Vastra, Saskia, 7 children and one dog!
  • The Grand Canyon walk near Evan’s Lookout in the Blue Mountains (magnificent).
  • Newtown for a spot of sketching.
  • School to get ready for Term 4.

MAKING more costumes for Lucy’s school musical.

ENJOYING having our booth seat rebuilt and reinstalled – Thanks Dad!  (Now we really feel back to normal after “The Great Flood”).

CELEBRATING Lucy’s upcoming birthday with a dinner, movie, sleepover party.

img_10461

Graffiti in Newtown

 

 

Channel surfing

By Vita Forest

After a stressful few months, a couple of weeks back, I succumbed to the flu.  It hit me hard, with a whole week off work, two trips to the doctor, and not much else apart from dozing in bed, watching the box and solving a few Pocket Codeword puzzles (have you tried them?  They are addictive).  On the Monday I was also joined by Lucy, on the Friday, by Max.

On Monday, Lucy worked her way through episode after episode of The Adventures of Merlin Series 1.  I drifted in and out of consciousness, vaguely aware of the latest threats to Camelot, Arthur calling Merlin “an idiot”, handsome knights clattering over cobblestones on striking French steeds, and that this was at the stage in the story where Morgana had not yet crossed over to the dark side.

Over the week, I worked my way through The Bridge on DVD, that fantastic Scandi-noir series from Sweden and Denmark.  Not while the kids were with me of course.  Max had picked up the DVD and remarked that soon he would be old enough to watch things with MA-15 ratings.  Oh joy.  He has shocked his aunt with his intricate knowledge of the workings of Westeros “and how about that Red Wedding hey?  Episode 9 is always really good…” A very well-executed deception.  (Well we do talk about things here, and I had used the Wildlings for inspiration for  some costumes I had been designing at the time).

Both my children enjoy the current crop of shows on finding houses, preferably in foreign climes, or building structures with very small floor plans.  “Yeah, coz you need a three car garage when there are only two drivers in the family”… “it’s tiny, what did he expect?  That’s why it’s called a tiny house!”… “I liked that one with the hand-knitted hammock…”

And one night as I forced some dinner down, I watched in horror an awful show where a bunch of grasping young women with too-much makeup, too-short skirts and too-high heels, where vetted by a raucous threesome, who spoke about them as if they were not there (“I hate your dress” “you stand funny, kind of sideways” “your teeth are awful, get them fixed”), before they were thrown in the way of two thirty-something rich dudes, whose only saving grace seemed to be their large bank accounts.  “Why did you watch it?” Max asked me as I recounted the foul dealings to him as what I hoped was a cautionary tale, “I don’t know,” I answered, “It came on and I just couldn’t believe these people were real.”  But they were real and in a world with The Bachelor (another show I simply detest) I shouldn’t be surprised.

Max was sick on the Friday too, and after briefly checking out a young couple searching for a home in The Netherlands, he went to the cupboard and found My Neighbour Totoro and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Ah joy indeed!  My parents popped in briefly with homemade lamb and barley soup and we slurped it down as we watched these delights, receiving nourishment in a number of different forms.

This week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

READING The Circle by Dave Eggers (hope to have it finished before Book club…)

DISCUSSING with my kids how radicchio sounds to them like a spell from Harry Potter, try it – Radicchio!

FINDING out that our dance group got through the auditions and into the big interschool performance to be held later this year.

WATCHING some Olympic finals with the whole school – deafening cheers!

GETTING the carpet in at last. The kids love it “It’s like walking in a meadow of soft grass.”

VISITING Balmoral Beach with my Dad, sister Briony and kids Max and Lucy on a sunny winter’s afternoon.

SPENDING some time hanging out with the kids and the cats,  luxuriating on the velvety soft carpet, while looking out at the blooming camellia tree, as the sunshine streamed in.

Security necklace?

By Vita Forest

Survival kit

Survival kit

As some of you know, I have just experienced “The Great Flood” of 2016, where a hidden hot-water tank exploded, flooding most of my flat with water and destroying wooden floorboards, carpet and parts of the magnesite underlay…  all while I was over five hundred kilometres away.

Very character-building…

It meant I could not live in my home for over six weeks (and the “unexpected renovation” is still not quite complete – carpet will be laid next week).

It was an interesting time, with some lovely family and friends lending me and my kids their homes while we waited on ours to be repaired.  The kids’ Dad even had them for some extra time which was very helpful.

But when we were together, it was interesting to discover what we needed to make ourselves feel at “home”, to make ourselves feel safe and at ease.  (I have just started teaching a unit on The Need for Shelter where my little people of six, seven and eight were able to articulate that shelters make us feel safe and relaxed as well as providing protection from danger – how wise they are!)

For Max and Lucy, what they needed most was familiar bedding.  Despite the comfy beds and bedding on offer, they quickly requested their own sheets (flannette – delightful in our Sydney winter), their own pillows and their own doonas when next I visited the shell of our flat to feed the cats.  I too retrieved my doona from the garage, the familiarity of its weight and the design on the cover, bringing a slight unclenching of the muscles around my neck.

What else made me feel “normal?”

  • there was my silver triangle necklace hung like a talisman around my neck during the day and tipped like a handful of sand through my palm at night, to land and settle in a little mound on various bedside tables.
  • a change of glasses every now and then (it’s what you can do when you buy 5 pairs from Dresden Optics at a cheaper price than your single last purchase).
  • some good comfort reading (Fleur rang me after reading a This Week post and discovering I was rereading Possession – things must be bad!)
  • my black leather boots which I practically lived in, good for work and short moments of play.  They became my uniform, one less thing to think about.
  • my pink notebook and a sharp lead pencil to get some of the junk out of my head and to continue exploring ideas for blogging.
  • my phone – rather than a laptop – how many phone calls, notes, google searches, blog posts did I do on that tool over those weeks?

It’s not much really.  Not much stuff that I needed.  And now I am sorting through the cupboards and boxes and piles in the garage and am finding we can get rid of a lot of it.  I do tend to lean towards minimalism and this experience has confirmed that trait.

What do you think?  Do you have a security necklace too?