31 August 2011

The Other Jessie

Jessie sat in the back seat of the car cuddling her doll Maisey, holding her hot pink pen poised above her scrap-paper notebook.

"I'm going to write a story," she said.  "It's called 'The Little Girl Called Jessie.'  And it goes like this.

"Once upon a time there was a little girl called Jessie.  She was four years old.  And she had a Mum called [my name] and a Dad called [Mr de Elba's name.] And she lived at [our address.]  And she went to kindy.  And she had some dreadful brothers.  And she also had a little baby called Maisey.  Jessie and Maisey had matching pyjamas.  They ..."

"Back up a bit," I said.  "What sort of brothers did she have?"

A big pause.  Then Jessie said, "Awful."

Silence in the car.

"Actually," she admitted, "it was a different Jessie.  Not me."

30 August 2011


So the big boy Buzz brought home a note from school saying that they will be starting a unit on musical instruments next week, and it would be good if we could start collecting objects that can be used to make an instrument.  I assumed that many little kids will come along with a box and some rubber bands to make a guitar, and I started wondering what we could do that would be a little bit different.

Mister Google gave me many ordinary ideas, and two good ones.  One was to make a tambourine from a round lid and some jingle bells.  Buzz thought this idea was terrible.

The other idea was to make a glockenspiel from different lengths of metal pipe (electrical conduit was mentioned) and both Buzz and I thought that was a great idea.  I knew it would take some time and effort and probably cost a bit more, but how cool would it be to be the only kid making a glockenspiel from electrical conduit?  We would be awesome.

Today after the school and kindy dropoff I took Woody to the hardware store to buy the conduit, and hopefully get a nice man to cut it to size for me. My approach was to ask if someone could cut it to size or sell me "a hacksaw that could do the job," and the two gentlemen headed off to do the selection and cutting of the pipe.  This was no mean feat, because the instructions detailing how to get the notes of the major scale require that the pipe is cut to lengths involving eights of an inch, but they did it for me, correctly assuming that if I tried with a hacksaw, I'd lose not only the major scale tuning, but also some digits as well.

I was delighted.  I certainly cost more than a cardboard box and rubber bands, but it cost less than I'd imagined so I gleefully paid my money and came home.

It was then that I realised that the material the men had selected didn't so much go "ching-ching-ching."  It went went "thook-thook-thook."  Wrong stuff.  Glockenspiel fail.

Ching-ching-ching is really the minimum standard in a glockenspiel, I think.

So. I need you to tell me what to do next.

28 August 2011

The post I never got around to writing

(...and it's too late now.)

Oh!  My gentle readers!  I have been SO sick!  It was like ElbaPlague2009, but Mr de Elba and the children didn't get (quite) as sick as they did then, I got much worse, and the whole thing has dragged on much longer.  At least Buzz Lightyear didn't get vomited into.

All week, I was composing a blog post in my mind, mainly apologising for missing Swift Jan's splendid Birthday Party last Saturday.  But alas, I spent the whole week groaning or sleeping and the blog post never came to be.

I remember I planned to get someone to take a photo of me sleeping, while wearing my giant Cat-In-The-Hat hat.

I also planned to write something in anapaestic tetrameter about the sorry state of everyone's health.

I was going to mention the medicine shelf in my fridge.

And I was going to say something about this:

Something like
"Come and behold our dosing devices:
All sorts of shapes and various sizes!"

And yet, it never happened.  The upshot:
• Sick
• Sleeping
• Many medicines
• Various dosing devices.

Hope that will suffice.

18 August 2011

My Kitchen

17 August 2011

By way of thankyou

I dressed in the hat and you thought you were pranked,
But look at these lilies - consider me thanked!

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

16 August 2011

Part Three

Part Three was a challenge.  I knew from the program that I was following the main speaker's second message, her "call to action" and a time of prayer and reflection.  I didn't want to prance up on stage in my hat and bow tie, wheeling my squeaky wheelbarrow full of blessing boxes and prizes, to deliver some insensitive hilarity.  I think I struck a happy medium by starting seriously with content on the theme, then transitioning to some funny bits half-way through.

Part Three

In everyone’s lives are prob’ly examples
Of times when life strangles and squeezes and tramples
On mind and emotions, and then you might find
You’ve gone off the road, and your home’s far behind.

How long will you stay there? It can be a while
For one to escape from this lonely exile
One way or another you get on your track
And face towards home, and you find the Road Back.

And God gives to us those who make it their mission
To trudge every step of our tough expedition,
And these ones are keepers – they’re precious and treasured
Their words are so wise and they’re gentle and measured.

For me, some are Jodie, Priscilla and B,
In my darkest hours, these girls have helped me.
And in thanks for their comfort, their love and concern
I’ve given them plenty of laughs in return.

They laughed pretty hard when at work one day
To fix broken toys, so the children could play
I managed to fuse all my fingers – these four
With superglue to a toy dinosaur.

My cousin and I shared the great gift of mirth
When during my wedding I thought “What on EARTH
Is that on my seat?” I was really quite stricken:
I’d nearly sat down on her prank rubber chicken.

And I gave to my friends this great gift of laughter
When one day I taught Sunday School, and then after
I noticed the rip in my pants – plainly seen!
Black undies? Of course not! That day: tangerine!

What blessing to have those who share your hard road:
Those women with whom you can truly offload.
Reading these blessings is great and therefore
I think that it’s time now to pick out some more.

Part One
Part Two

15 August 2011

Creative response

When I saw my sister sitting with pen poised above her paper and a faraway look on her face during morning tea, I just knew that she was composing a "blessing" that was going to be in rhyme.  As yet I hadn't read out the bit about "You get double points if you've done it in rhyme," but I could tell that she was going for gold anyway.  Mum declared her handwriting not fit for the final copy, and she kindly transcribed it.

I asked the audience to give her a round of applause for her effort, but told them I couldn't possibly read it out because it was a blessing for me, and it was so outrageously kind that I wasn't even sure if it was true.  The audience wasn't at all pleased with that and our host stepped up to read it out.  I'm still not sure if it's true, but these 2 stanzas of perfect anapaestic tetrameter are so wonderful that I'm glad this piece got its day.

Our sister and daughter's the one we want blessed,
She's here at the conference - unusually dressed
In a tall stripy hat and a big red bow tie
We're so blessed by Kate, and there's the tale why: -

She opens her home to all sorts, and she'll feed 'em,
She gives other mums kid-free times when they need 'em,
She'll unburden your woes with a nice cup of tea.
And so there you have it: "A Blessing on ME!"

In the next session, I did have many rhyming blessings to read out, all in different meters requiring some quick pre-reading and some even quicker thinking before opening my mouth and launching off into the rhythm that the writer had intended.  Many blessings, rhyming or otherwise, needed to remain unread because of time.

In all, I had about 120 blessings that didn't make it, either to be read out as an honourable mention or as one of the 4 prize-winning blessings, and that was quite gut-wrenching.  Not one of the blessings in the "No" Pile deserved to be in a "No" Pile of any sort.  On the following Sunday morning I asked the organisers if there was any way to hand as many blessings as possible to their intended recipients.  We hope they each can find their road back home.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

14 August 2011

Part Two

Part Two

Welcome back ladies, you’ve had Morning Tea
I hope it was good cos it sure was for me.
We loved Lauren’s song and also Deb’s talk
I could listen to Evelyn until six o’clock.

I’m here to remind you we’ve something quite pressing
We’ll get this neat box and we’ll draw out a blessing
But first I should like to briefly detail
Those who’ve stood by me through trial and travail.

My mother should feature and she should be first
She’s seen me at best, and she’s seen all my worst.
She cheered in the good times and calmed me in bad,
Perhaps most of all, she has put up with Dad.

My mother does things others wouldn’t, for quids
She cleans out my bins and she cares for my kids
And if I should leave all my folding, and run,
I return and I find that it’s magically done!

My sister and I – there’s five years between us
But those who we meet who never have seen us
Don’t know who is older – it makes me quite happy
When she was a babe that I once changed her nappy.

When we get together, oh we laugh, she and I!
We laugh and we laugh until she makes me cry
Or until one or other discover, surprised
That our continence somehow has been compromised.

So those are two women who I’d like to bless
But who you have thanked is what we now address
Well guess what’s in here? I am now confessing
This box is just bursting its sides with the blessing!

I’ve had a quick look, I sorta pre-planned ‘em
We find that that’s better than picking at random.
I’ll read some out now, it’s finally time!
(You get double points if you’ve done it in rhyme.)

Part One
A Creative Response
Part Three

13 August 2011

Part One

I think that it's only fair, since I shared my stress with you when I was in the throes of writing this anapaestic tetrameter, that I share the end product.  Our womens' conference is called "Seasons", and we have a segment involving a "Blessing Box" where women are asked to write out little notes to others who have blessed them on their life's journey, and put them in a box.  Twice during the day some honourable mentions are read out, and then some winners are also read out and the ladies who were blessed by their friends are provided with little prizes.  This year, it was my job to lead the segment, which I did dressed in a ridiculously enormous Cat-In-The-Hat type of hat and a silly giant red bow tie.  My first installment is below, and the others will follow.

Part One

Welcome to Seasons, we hope you’re enjoying
The day-out with friends and we trust you’re employing
The grand opportunity Seasons created
To network with friends, as we have demonstrated.

More interesting sessions you’ll prob’ly not get
Than today’s talks from Deb, and of course Bernadette
And included in your Seasons entry fee payment
There’s coffee and lunch and of course entertainment.

There’s something to do here before the day ends
I hope I remember, it simply depends
On if I forget, and I will, I’ve a hunch,
After our morning tea, and again after lunch

To come and to save all you women from guessing
What goes in this box – why this box is for blessing!
You write out a note that will bless cotton socks
Of a woman who’s blessed you – and into the box

You place it and within a few hours hence
We read out a few of these kind sentiments
And to her whose blessing is read out at random
We take some small gifts, and to her we hand 'em.

Who will you bless here? If my turn would come,
I’d bless all my friends and my sister and Mum
But who you will bless now is quite your decision
I’m sure you can see with the clearest of vision.

So pick up your paper and writing device
And write a short note that will make them feel nice
And pop the note into our neat Blessing Box
We’ll read some out later to bless their sweet socks.

And soon we will head out to have Morning Tea
And write out our Blessings so generously
I’ll ask you to bless, while you munch on your snack,
A woman who’s blessed you on your own Road Back.

Part Two
A Creative Response
Part Three

12 August 2011

The Hateful Ladder

Jessie sat eating breakfast and between bites of egg-on-toast she casually mentioned, 'That ladder outside?  It hates me.'

I was absently buttering something for someone but managed to say, 'Mmm?'

She swallowed, took another bite of toast and explained, 'It whacked me.  It whacked me in the eye.'

'Oh no,' I replied.  'That doesn't sound good.'

She swallowed again.  'It whacked me in the eye when I was climbing up it.'

'Really?  How mean of it,' I said.

Then she nonchalantly remarked, 'See?  It hates me,' and went on eating.

11 August 2011

The Rainbow Fower (sic) and The Bad Debt

This morning over breakfast, Buzz announced to Jessie with gleeful excitement, "Hey Jessie, I'm gonna get chased today!"  That was weird, so I decided to eavesdrop.

"I didn't want to make you pay a dollar out of your Pig Box to the girls so I didn't.  And now they're gonna chase me today!"  It sounded ominous, but he was grinning from ear to ear.

Yeah, we call the Piggy Banks "Pig Boxes."  It started way back here.

At this point I had to backpedal in my mind to a few days ago.  Buzz had brought this lovely picture home from school.  It's a picture of a "Rainbow Fower" (sic.)

I was amazed at his penmanship, his spelling, his drawing and his colouring.  Could this be my six year old boy, who, above all other things, is a SIX YEAR OLD BOY?  Drawing and colouring are not his forte.

I asked him who drew and coloured this spectacular Rainbow Fower.  "Lulu's sister," came the immediate reply.  I then dropped the subject, secure in the assumption that Lulu's sister had drawn this magnificent Rainbow Fower and donated it to this poor Rainbow-Fowerless boy in her sister's class.

Except I do have one vague recollection of a conversation I paid a small amount of attention to after this - something about if Jessie wanted to keep something, she was going to need to pay someone $1 from her Pig Box.  And there was much kerfuffling around, presumably to access the Pig Box and to procure $1 from it.

I didn't pay any further attention to this, because I was somehow sure that Pig Box access wouldn't be possible, and until I was asked to assist, I didn't need to worry about this problem.

NOW I see what was going on!  Lulu's sister drew a "Rainbow Fower" at school, sold it to Buzz on approval for the exclusive enjoyment of his younger sister Jessie, Buzz promised $1 in payment for goods provided but failed to come up with the money and agreed to suffer the consequences - being chased by Lulu's sister at school today.

I just find that really funny.

09 August 2011

Anapaestic Tetrameter - Part 2

Sometimes, the words just flow.  I get on a roll and then after a while I write something clever, like rhyming longer words, or rhyming a word from posh language with one from not-posh language like in my Christmas poem: "Celebrating, we’re all munchin’ some expansive Christmas luncheon," and I know I'm in town. 

I had a moment like that the other night when in my current poetry project I rhymed "draw out at random" with "to her we hand 'em" and I got that "we're in town" feeling.

Unfortunately tonight the creativity has left the building.  Buoyed by my last two very productive days and feeling a bit of a slump tonight, I dashed out and bought a bottle of Baileys.  It's been ages since I've had a bottle of anything nice, and I thought it was time.  It turns out that a wee bit of alcohol, while relaxing my shoulder muscles and making me let go of my concerns and my mental lists-of-things-to-do, also stifles creativity. 

First, I begin to suspect I have lost my nouns.  Then I notice that creative adjectives and adverbs are gone.  Pretty soon all those clever turns of phrase and posh-language words are absent and all I'm left with is my brain fluttering around like a butterfly in my cranium singing, "la la lahhh" to itself.

I suspect I may give up tonight, pour myself another Baileys and go to bed to la-la-lahhh away to myself with my butterfly brain.  (I should clarify that this is quite a small amount of alcohol involved, and only a small physical effect is noticed.  The major effects are noticed in the creative side of my brain, which is currently skipping along holding a daisy, and wearing only one shoe.)

Blind panic will resume tomorrow.  There are only three more writing days until the conference.

07 August 2011

Anapaestic Tetrameter

Flying in the face of my new resolution never to write another blog post apologising for not having blogged enough, I just wanted to tell you that I've got a few projects on at the moment, all from different categories of Things-To-Do, and it's taking all my brain space. 

For example,

  • I have several reports to write at work, and having got to the blind-panic stage, I am setting aside all my child-free hours to go into work and sit there to do them, rather than trying to force myself to do them at home (laughing in own face at the thought)
  • I have to do my BAS which I was putting off until I worked out what to do with the fact that I have accidentally claimed for the same expense twice in the same quarter, and it needs to be fixed
  • I have six baskets of laundry to fold.  Unfolded laundry, I am certain, contributes to a large percentage of emotional difficulties among women my age.  We should all get together and do a study.
  • I am presenting a segment at our church's women's conference next weekend, and I have decided (because it's SO much easier this way) that instead of me waffling on aimlessly, I should present the segment in anapaestic tetrameter.  This means it should be a little like Dr Seuss.  I am buried in a strange but satisfying world of 'feet' and syllables and words that don't fit and words that don't rhyme.  Trying to weave the best words together into the best pattern is so artistically gratifying.
I'm not really getting around to these important (and increasingly urgent) jobs simply because of CKMT, as I'm sure you'll all understand. I still think often how great it would be to have those t-shirts made up, but I won't put it onto the end of the above list of things to do or I may go mad.