Sunday, 30 November 2008

worstest week ever

Um, let me count the ways.

I am getting sicker not better. So is my mum.

Wil is on antibiotics too.

Amy sliced her foot open on the side of the pool during swimming lessons and can't really walk. It's been a long time since I saw that much blood and don't even get me started on how that pool is a just a string of such accidents waiting to happen. (I see that even though the multi-millions have been allocated to refurb the pool from all levels of government, works won't be starting for at least a few years...)

And now D is sitting in a village with 16 Australian and 16 Thai students wondering whether it is too dangerous to return to Bangkok to finish his class. I am madly doing research about alternative routes out of Thailand since most of the Thai Airways fleet is grounded at the airport that is closed and occupied by anti-government protesters. Looks like he might be making an unscheduled trip to Cambodia through a dodgy border crossing. And whatever happens form here I don't think we can bank on seeing him for a while.

Friday, 28 November 2008

right now

I wasn't actually tagged for this one, but Suzy inspired me to do this meme -

Outside my window… it is grey and damp.

I am thinking… about D away in Thailand. The news is full of stories about impending strife and closed airports. I miss him and hate to think he might have trouble getting home to us.

I am thankful for… a night without my kids tomorrow night. I mean, most of the time I am thankful for my kids, but after a week alone with them and lots of sickness for me and Wil, I am craving some time apart.

From the kitchen… tonight's macaroni cheese is hanging in the air. D can't abide the stuff so the second he's out the door Amy is begging for it.

I am wearing… jeans, T-shirt and hoodie. God, I'm so glamorous.

I am creating… a mess. No energy at all for anything else.

I am going… to drop by the Sisters' Market tomorrow morning after I take Amy to swimming lessons and then come home and have a monumental nap. If I have energy for anything more than that I might cook something nice for dinner or think about sewing a few gifts for the upcoming festive season.

I am reading… not nearly enough. I snuck a look at a couple of paragraph's of my mum's book yesterday (Ransom by Jay McInerney) and I was all filled with a desire to read. I have a mountain of reading for work and a book to review and really no time for any of it. Instead I am watching Mad Men and knitting socks and liking it a lot.

I am hoping… that tomorrow I start feeling better.

I am hearing… rain on the roof and the kids in the bath. And Wil screaming No! and then Amy yodelling (Sound of Music has a lot to answer for in this house!) then them both yelling mummy! mummy! and then playing all over again.

Around the house… there is the conspicuous absence of D.

One of my favourite things… is getting into bed at night and sleeping soundly.

A few plans for the rest of the week… making it through alive without emotionally scarring the kids. Solo parenting is hard!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing

Sunday, 23 November 2008

and a big yellow taxi took away my old man

Travel well D.
We miss you already.

PS you know that thing you joked about, that unlikely scenario whereby a kid might push in both the bathroom door locks and then shut the two doors behind them? Yeah well, about 2 hours after you left today that happened. And we did as you said and yay for Tim who climbed up as you advised and took the side off the skylight housing and climbed down and let us back in. But you know what? All we really needed to do was rotate the external handle cover plate to line the little hole up with the lock mechanism and it can be released with a skewer (as Tim discovered after all the hard work was done). Live and learn. This is when good neighbours become good friends...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

c'mon get happy the CD swap

So come on everybody get down and get with it,
come on everybody get down let's rock and roll.

Or get Country or World or whatever. Because there is no such thing as universal happy music - one person's joy is another's aggrivation, and while Christmas Carols over a tinny loud speaker in a shopping mall the day before christmas raises my blood pressure, singing carols with my kids as we prepare for the holidays brings tears of joy.

So you know, what ever floats your boat. Or dilates your blood vessels.

Here's the deal.
Make a mix CD of your favourite joyful music, burn copies and send them to AT LEAST 3 other players.

You have to be prepared to send internationally, though I'll do my best to distribute postage costs fairly. I'll also do my best to ensure you get as many CDs as you send, but I'm not sure if I will be able to do that exactly. You can take some effort to decorate the CDs if you'd like, rope in other people to help you with technology if need be (that would be you Suse), or send other happy making items with your parcels, but it isn't mandatory.

I'm making things all the more complicated by letting people nominate the number of people they are prepared to send to because I don't want people not to play because of cost considerations, but I know for myself, and I am sure some others, I would be happy to burn and send out more.

Want to play?
Send me an email (don't use the comments!!) to by Friday 28 Nov
with the following info:

Blog/Flickr/Ravelry ID/other online presence (if you have one)
email address
snail mail address
max number of CDs you would be prepared to send out (between 3 and all players)

I'll let you know your swap partners within a couple of days and all CDs need to be posted by Monday 8 December at the latest so everyone can take advantage of destressing in the midst of holiday madness.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

so there's good news and there's bad news

Oh the irony of life that our the dark times make the light times so much lighter.

The last couple of days have been lovely, the shadow of D's impending departure on another trip to Thailand has barely dimmed the bright shiny times we've been having. There's been lots of fun in a totally pedestrian domestic way.Wil is learning to like ice cream.

Some sewing for new summer skirts for Amy, this one a repeat performance of one I made in March last year that simply wore out from use (pattern from Ottobre), and this one using Liesl's free pattern over here at Oliver +S. (Now, who recognises that gifted fabric?) I hestitate to even call it a pattern - it is so darn simple I can't believe I haven't already made a thousand for Amy. It made me realise that it is easy to overcomplicate kid's clothes because while I could never get away with a whole bunch of elasticated fabric round my waist, it looks totally fabulous on a 6 year old.

I used the pattern because I was teaching an absolute beginner and I knew it would turn out well even if the sewing was less than perfect - and it did! So yay and thanks Liesl.

I've been out to lunch with a friend in a rare unhurried moment of just, well, hanging out and the scarf I started is powering along and still looks great.

I got a lovely little parcel of fabric in the mail from Corrie at Retro Mummy, who has sadly closed down her fabric by the meter shop, but who will continue to sell her cuter than cute prints by the piece and her Japanese mags and books from her etsy store in the new year. Wil is going to absolutely go nuts for this car fabric! Thanks Corrie :-)

But now, on Wednesday, with a significant work task ahead of me, a whole day teaching on Saturday and D leaving in just 5 days I am coming down with a really awful cold.

I know, a cold isn't much, and even when looking after a family on your own, not really enough for a major whine. But for me these days, viruses of all types are cause for concern and the approach of any kind of illness involving my lungs and stress brings on a lot of anxiety and panic.

I haven't really written about this before because I keep thinking sometime soon I'll be clearer about what is actually going on and where it is headed. I also haven't written about it because I find it awkward to deal with how people respond to illness.

So I'm going to write about this now because this blog is a record of sorts for me and my kids one day, and one of the ways in which I process stuff. But I'm asking you not to write a whole lot of comments about it because I'm not sure how to respond to them. Even if your intent is sympathetic, I am really wobbly on this stuff right now and just need to work through it a bit on my own.

About 7 years ago I started having these weird once a season episodes where I found it hard to breathe. They happened in Spring, always on the tail end of a cold, and I went to the doctor each time, took some drugs and got better in a week or so. After a few years it seemed like my breathing was continuously compromised by just a bit so I started taking an asthma preventer.

When we went to Thailand I lost all symptoms, went off my preventer and stayed fine for 2 years after returning. But in May this year, without any kind of warning or apparent provocation my symptoms returned. And pretty much continually since then I have been on a roller coaster of acute episodes with short spans of less acute symptoms and I don't seem to respond to asthma drugs.

When I am feeling OK I tell myself that a lot of people have asthma and successfully manage it and live full and happy lives. I know me and my doctors aren't doing so well at identifying what my triggers are and what drug therapy might work, but that is hopefully something we'll get a handle on soon. I know too I live in the asthma capital of one of the most asthma prone countries in the world and this has been a particularly bad year for asthma all around, so you know, I just have to focus on getting through it.

But when my symptoms are more acute, or heading into acute like now, I feel a lot less optimistic. I wonder whether this is something more than asthma, something scarier and more lethal. Something coming about as a result of a misspent youth involving way too many cigarettes and bad choices. I feel mortal and afraid and helpless and hopeless.

And I feel particularly and horribly unable to be a good parent. I imagine my kids growing up while I get sicker and more dependent. When D is away I lie in bed at night doing endless rounds of worry about whether I should be going to hospital, who I could call to care for them, how they will feel to wake up and not find me there. Or worse. Sometimes I am so exhausted and preoccupied by the effort to keep breathing that I simply can't care for them in a way they have every right to expect to be cared for.

And sometimes, when things are really bad the effort to breathe and the fear and anxiety that comes with it is so overwhelming that I feel totally desperate. As much as I can I try to, have to, keep going in ordinary life - I make dinner and go to work and read stories with the kids and plan for tomorrow. But on the inside I am jelly, terrified and disbelieving that is actually happening and that no one seems to be able to do anything about it. It is a highly potent cocktail of stress and anxiety which clearly aggravate my symptoms.

I'm trying to get a handle on it, trying to find ways to manage both the head and the lung components but it is hard and sometimes I feel totally defeated.

So all of you cross your fingers for me that this episode is over fast, we get through D's trip unscathed and sometime soon we work out exactly what is wrong with me and how to manage it.

One of the concrete things I am going to do is host a CD swap of 'joyful' music. Ever since reading about the findings of a recent study that found listening to joyful music dilated your blood vessels by as much as 26%, I've been determined to get more of it in my life. I am hopeless on the getting new music front, so I'm really needing some inspiration. I'll set it up in a separate post, but I hope you'll all participate!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

just my luck

I decided to bite the bullet and just buy blocking wires because searching for the cheaper alternative of welding wires has been driving me insane. Sure if I happened to be driving around the badlands I'm sure I'd be having to push them out of my way but in the inner city with no car it was all just too freaking hard. And now that I really need them (yes! yes! the Hanami is finished!!) they are out of stock. Like everywhere. And won't be in for, you know, of course, weeks.
So here look at my gorgeous pile of squishy yarn. You too can wait to see what it will look like after the miracle of blocking. Hmm.

But on the upside it is time to swatch and knit for the gift giving season. I've been searching for the perfect project for this delicious yarn ever since I dyed it way back in May or something and now I have it - thanks Helen for the tip and lesson! Pattern here.

And in totally knitting unrelated news we now have doorhandles on the bathroom doors. Yay D! That we may all crap in peace.


Hmph.Colinette Jitterbug bought at considerable expense and this is what I get for it.
4 months of very light wear (round the house mostly and not all that often) and they have giant holes in both soles.
By way of comparison, the Lion Brand magic stripe yarn I used to knit socks for D is still going strong after 14 months of heavy duty wear (in boots at work all day at least once a week). I'd show you a picture of them by, well, they are on D's feet inside his boots out in the world. As usual.

You can bet I will be casting about for non sock projects for the other ball of Jitterbug I have.

While I have you, a recent study has demonstrated that blood vessels dilate as much as 26% after listening to joyful music (anxiety provoking music constricts by up to 9%. Think shopping centre Christmas know what I mean?). Now, I could do with some dilation big time so tell me, what's your suggestion for some joyful music?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

time to give

I'd heard about Catherine Hamlin a few years ago, and each time I read stories about her work I cry. An aussie obstetrician and gynaecologist in her 80s she works tirelessly to help women injured in childbirth in Ethiopia. Some of her patients walk for hundreds of kilometres to seek her help, some of them have been living with their injuries for decades.

Women whose births are difficult and prolonged and who receive no medical aid often lose both their child and their health, especially when they are young. They develop fistulas, holes between their bladders or rectums and their vaginas. They most often become outcasts because they smell and leak and are sometimes cast as cursed. Their husbands and families frquently abandon them and they are often still just teenagers.

Catherine Hamlin and her husband Reg opened the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital 35 years ago and have cared for, operated on, educated, housed and in every imaginable way worked for a better life for the 32,000 women who have come to their door. All treatments are free and women who can't be cured are provided with long term accommodation and purpose for their lives.

I think I feel particularly affected by this issue because if I hadn't had surgical help to birth my children this almost certainly would have happened to me. How unfair is the world that we live to complain about the medicalisation of our births while women routinely lose their babies, their husbands, their dignity and place in society for lack of it.

This work is so so important, and sadly still so incredibly vulnerable. They do not have the kind of financial backing to ensure their ongoing survival let alone fully realise their plans to train midwives to help prevent these kind of injuries at the village level. They really need our help, and Catherine's 50 years of hard work needs to be rounded off with the confidence that her work matters and will continue after she is gone.

While $450 isn't enough for one night's stay in most hospitals in Australia or the United States, it is enough for Hamlin Fistula Hospitals to provide one woman with restorative surgery, postoperative care, and classes in health and basic literacy while she recuperates. It's even enough to provide her with a new dress and bus fare home.

If you give to just one charity this year, make it this one.

Friday, 7 November 2008

why I care about Obama

I got a comment after my post The day before yesterday in which someone wondered why, all the way down here in oz, we’d care so much about the outcome of the US elections.

And you know, I’ve not cared so much ever before so it got me thinking about why I do this time.

I think there’s two quite different buckets of reasons. Firstly there’s the things about Obama.

That he represents (to me, way back here in my metaphoric armchair on the other side of the world) the politics of hope. He seems to be a man of integrity, honesty and realism. He seems smart and insightful and largely undeluded about the nature of things. Basically, he seems like an ordinary bloke, of the very best and most elevated kind.

I really like that he is of African American descent, that he has lived in different parts of the world, with white relatives as well as black and in a range of circumstances. I think this makes it more likely that he will have understanding and empathy for all people, not just people like him. And I like that he is well educated because I think that gives him the power to use what he has experienced in the most effective possible way.

I like that he has been a champion of those without power and status, without seeming to be stuck in the burn out and despair that this kind of work can bring. I like that he seems calm and reasonable. It seems a lot less likely that he’ll do something really scary and stupid based on his own personal emotions or prejudice than the other mob have been doing for a while now.

If it sounds a bit like I’m elevating him to the status of super hero then I’m not making myself clear. A good deal of what makes a good leader is knowing when to do nothing, when to accept the situation as it is and not act all god like. Heck, I’ve worked in government long enough to know that the desire to change the world is often ill-conceived, poorly executed, bound to fail, and wastes a lot of resources.

I don't expect him to move mountains, I'd be happy if he just didn't fuck things up even more than they already are. He's taking on pretty much the worst job I can imagine so just showing up for work will be a challenge and clawing back any ground at all a victory.

I feel like Obama gets this. I’m not sure why, I just think he knows that real change comes in much more subtle ways. Not grandstands, wars and sledgehammers, but in accepting the flawed nature of human beings and trying to do the best you can in complicated times.

And even if he doesn’t get all this, he can make me, and a really large number of other people believe he does. And that’s enough for me to be really happy. Because people could have chosen differently. They could have chosen out of fear, and accepted a starting premise that the world is a bad place, full of bad people out to do you wrong. They could have believed that their best chance in life is predicated on knocking the less able and fortunate out of their way to protect their patch.

So you know, I’m glad he won because I like him and what he represents to me.

But the other reason I care is because over here in Oz we are, willingly or not, bound to the US and all the things they do. As the years go on my sense of the interconnectedness of us all grows ever more strong. This is something I feel, something I have experienced viscerally since having kids. Like radiating circles out from myself, I just can’t see an edge to what can and will impact me.

You know, I can’t watch a kid on a world vision ad without feeling like it is my own, without thinking what if Amy was left in the world without me, without food, while bombs rained down? So you know, their suffering causes me suffering too, however abstracted.

But before you go thinking this is just another sob story, those impacts have other dimensions. Clinical and quantifiable. When the US government bails out banks who lend money to people who can’t afford it so they can buy a lifestyle they haven’t earned, I end up paying some of that. I pay for it through the shifts and ripples of the global market, through local job losses and rising prices in imported goods I can’t avoid.

When the US goes to war, we go too. Even if we weren’t sending our troops, the costs of those wars reverberate back through economic exchanges that lead right to my door.

Now this isn’t new, not even new to me. The ties that bind people and nations have always been there. But it feel like they have been strengthened over time, and my awareness of them has been heightened. While the global economy and environment goes into decline and some serious questions are floating to the surface about the market and our concepts of freedom and choice and rights, the time seems really pregnant with possibility.

Possibilities for good, possibilities for bad.

So choosing the bloke who seems most focused on dealing with the hole we’ve dug ourselves, without losing sight of the hill top we wish we were on seems like a very good omen indeed.

Plus, did you see him dance on Ellen? How can you not vote for a guy who moves like that?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Sunday, 2 November 2008

my daughter is totally cool

The things she thinks up.
This spontaneous ditty took me by surprise, and cracks me up more each time I look at it. So full of love!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

livin large

So my thinking goes like this.

The craft weekend was such a highlight on the value of rediscovering our teenage feedback years, so much better than a fashion mag or visit to a clothing store. A bunch of other real life people giving you another perspective on the way you look is something most of us can benefit from but rarely get.

Now that I am all excited about sewing again, I'm really enjoying looking at blogs about clothes, design and sewing and talking to people about it. There's no shortage of fashion and sewing blogs out there, I'm discovering more each day.

But I'm always missing the next post, the one about really well dressed big women. The one about how the adapt a great pattern. The one about why I shouldn't make a garment with puffy sleeves.

I'm not talking about the fat lady blog. The I wish I was smaller blog, the I want to talk about my fat issues blog. And definitely not the I'm going on a diet blog.

I'm looking for the here is a photo of large lady X in a really great or interesting outfit blog, the when I made this top here was how I handled the upsizing blog. I want the so and so makes really great large black tights and so and so has a fabulous linen cardi that goes up to an XXXL in their current range.

And I'm thinking this blog has to be out there right? Someone has to have realised that there are now more large women than small, that lots of them blog, sew and want to look good with the bodies they have. Many are looking around for ideas, inspiration and advice.

I can't possibly be the first to think this thought. Am I?

If that blog was out there I'd read it in a shot, and I'm sure lots of others would too.

But if it really isn't out there, and it should be...well, you can see where I'm heading here. I want this blog so much I might have to make it.

I do not consider myself to be a bona fide fashionista so I'd be needing the help of a bunch of other people. In fact, by its very nature this would need to be a community blog, a multi author blog.

So what do you think? Anyone want to help me:
  • find pics of good looking well dressed larger women?
  • write posts about making clothes for yourself or others who are large?
  • host or contribute to discussions about clothing dilemmas, tips, solutions, techniques, self imposed rules or boundaries?
  • post links to and reviews of products and services aimed at clothing larger women?
Oh and I should add that on the product front some aussie content would be nice. The fat chic blogs out there are all about stores and designers I've never heard of because they are in a whole other place. Sewing and discussion transcends borders but change rooms do not. Especially with an exchange rate like we've got now.

no way no how

OK I just tried on the puffed sleeve T-shirt and the jury is no longer out. I look, to borrow a phrase, like a front row forward in drag. Only worse.

Those sleeves have got to go. (Especially since I just noticed - god can I admit this - that one of them is sewn on the wrong side of the fabric?!)

And while I'm at it, that neck should be bigger. Sigh. There's going to be some large scale renovations.

I know it is worth it, I like the detailing on the front (one of my grandmas hand crocheted doilies deconstructed) and the colour is great with my new linen skirt, but I have two other tops hanging on the back of the door to my office already. I find it hard to get enthused about altering garments. Somehow the magic has already gone.

Last night I slept nine hours straight and I don't think I even rolled over in bed I was so tired. This morning I got into the shower and tried to shampoo my hair with face cleanser and it took a moment before I could work out why there was no lather.

Today I am off to buy yarn with a gift certificate I got last christmas that is about to expire. Can you believe that, that nearly a whole year has passed with me having yarn dollars in my pocket I didn't spend? I'm kind of weirded out myself.

And a cockroach just crawled out of the newspaper and all over the rim of my tea cup. Is that a bad omen or what?