Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life stories from our unfashionable dining room table

I'm eating a late night snack with a choice of literature in front of me. There is Hairy Maclary's Caterwaul Caper, which isn't much fun without someone on my knee practising her new vocab.

There is the terms and conditions of banking published by kiwibank. I thought John Key might kill kiwibank but it seems that this year you just wait for banks to die all by themselves.

Also on the table, a Spot What? book, a rugby league mouthguard, a toy motorbike and a torch. You need all of these accesories to be interested in the Spot What? book.

Beyond the sudoku, the sunglasses, discarded tissues and the join-the-dots book, an old Guardian Weekly proclaims that "Middle age needn't be miserable for women." I've already read that. It's partly about hormones. Once is enough.

My own choices at the table are a magazine on garden herbs and a book on twentieth century New Zealand Art. I've hammered the herb book before and jab yet another mental note to myself about eating nasturtiums and making el cheapo pesto.

So, Towards Aotearoa. The art book. There is a painting on the front of lots of stones, a tractor and a mountain. Taranaki? I look inside to find out. It's Michael Smither. Of course it isn't of a particular place. How uneducated of me. I watched a tv programme on Michael Smither once, during a brief stint when we had a tv. He was in a cold hut in Central Otago with no money and lots of small children and when his wife got fed up and asked him to do the dishes or change a nappy or some other reasonable thing, he sat down and painted a picture of her looking grim.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Divine taste

Interior decoration.

A priority for the stylish. Not to be confused with exterior decoration, which mostly seems to be about dieting and jewellery and finding that the jeans you bought last year and never quite fitted can now be abandoned in the interests of the next new look. The next new black which mostly turns out still to be black.

So anyway, enough of fat and the jeans which other people take to St Vincent de Paul which fit my out of date image for years on end.

Interior decoration is not about drugs to realign your brain. I don't even need drugs for that. All I need to do is to parent alone for more than ten hours at a stretch.

Interior decoration is about taste in your home.

You can't even begin to qualify if you have fleas. Due to the infinite mercy and serious killer drugs of Piner the Pest man, I can indeed redirect my energies to the lounge. If I had divine taste, it wouldn't even be the lounge. Living area perhaps, like the real estate agents trumpet, or something else entirely if I was remortgaging two years ago and thought I'd tip the house upside down and backwards all in order to still eat, sleep and poo in the same house but facing different compass directions.

Anway, or lounge, as the word befits the era of our wallpaper, is in need of a refit. I have grand plans for this lounge. I've had them before. The plans all start and finish with not using it as a clean laundry station and eliminating 85 pieces of train track and 93 hot wheels cars. Since these grand designs started, fitfully and never with much traction beyond a week, we now have extra design challenges. Dolls. And their socks.

But no. There's more. This time I am binning the dinge. Literally. We stripped the wallpaper off, my delightful children who had been practising in the rest of the house against all injunctions for years and I, and we put it all in a big black sack for the big hole of consumer baggage out on the edge of our town.

So now we have a light filled room. The laundry looks sparkly in it.

I hear of women with divine taste in my town. Absolutely divine. As for me, I just need to persuade my family to join a nudist group come rain hail or shine and then we might paint the couch and the chairs. Or re-cover them. Or take them to the women's refuge or the sallies or back to the Anglican church fair where we first found them. Oh the step up they provided when we could start sitting on chairs instead of the floor.

Can't have done any washing that first day....

Saturday, March 14, 2009


There is a deadline, all of my own doing. No one made me join writers' group. No one made me have children or said I had to become a mass group youth torturer either. I struggle with deadlines for them all.

What shall I write on my get out clause, or excuse for not doing my homework slip? Sandra was unable to complete her homework as she was busy dealing with silverfish, headlice, fleas and mice. Hmmmm, boy do I wish that was a lie.

Sandra was unable to complete her homework because she was making assorted kinds of bread, none with a recipe and then wondering why they turned out less than perfect.

She was also unable to complete her homework because she was swanning around the environs of Fox Glacier, hauling her daughter up away from the actual glacier from time to time. That is an acceptable truth. On the palatability of experiencing it scale.

Sandra will be unable to complete her homework the night before writers' group because that will be St Patrick's Day and the beer coasters will be too wet to write on.

I do know I have to front up because this month I finally got organised and rang the nice lady from the West Coast Messenger. I usually meet Jo Keppel while I'm doing motherish things like toy library and sewing nappies. I've quit both of those things of course. So now people see me in the supermarket and tell me they saw about me in the paper. I usually smile and flee because the first time I did not, someone asked me what I wrote.


shopping lists.

Um, about domestic stuff.

Er. um. I wrote about my washing machine once.

Then I hit the warble button on my brain - I have several such buttons, all easily pushed. Well, you know, it seems an intrinsically good idea. To have a writers' group in Greymouth. We started it after the Kate do Goldi workshop. Where I had the flu. At least it gets me writing.

My questioner glazed and started to check her son's nappy.

Sandra needs a writers' group to make a shopping list. For the good of the community.

Roll me out the insane people please. They will be so much better to communicate with.

So if you see me in the supermarket and tell me you saw about the writers' group, please don't take it personally if I rush on past instead of encouraging you to join. It's just that I've clocked that the washing machine hasn't broken since the last piece of writing, I'm still too traumatised to talk about the fleas and now half of Greymouth thinks we have a proper writing group. Please look to your left (or right) for someone to give you more hope than Sandra.