This songbird’s wings are clipped

It’s choir season again – yay!

For three years now I’ve been venting here about the spectacle I make of myself whenever our artistic director, in his ‘wisdom’, incorporates choreography into our repertoire. I mean, I’m not talking mild ineptitude, I’m talking about a horrifying lack of co-ordination; an inability to clap and sway at the same time; and a constant fear of crashing off the risers and taking the entire soprano section with me.

I can't work under these conditions!
I can’t work under these conditions!

Well it’s time to stop whingeing and do something about it. Our last show was a monstrous demonstration of badly executed movement, compounded by a ridiculous array of costumes, all of which detracted from the beautiful (if I say so myself!) sound we work so hard to make.

Enough already! I have found a choir which promises we can ‘make music without the use of jazz hands’ and where jeans and black tops count for costuming. Oh joy!

Sadly, I’m already missing my peeps at the other choir. Three years is a long time for me to stick at anything. In fact the only other thing I can think of is motherhood, and really what choice did I have?

So … this post is dedicated to all my dear songbird friends who I will sorely miss. May your wings carry you in a glorious display of rhythmic movement. As for me, I think I’ll keep both feet planted firmly on the ground, and my wings by my sides – because there’s no way you should expect me to stay upright while trying to remember the words, the tune and the steps all at the same time.


When Good Kids Go Bad

As a parent you like to think you know your children; their strengths; their weaknesses; what they’re most likely to be arrested for.

Or at least we did. Until last night when I received a text from Roxy saying “I have 2 grams for $40”. Closely followed by another that said “Oh shit! Sorry not for you! Ignore that!”.

No! There must be some mistake. She’s probably selling stage make-up by weight, or maybe italian herbs for a special pasta sauce. Yeah that’ll be it. So there then ensued a back and forth via text during which I invited her to explain, while she, for her part, became increasingly evasive.

I finally phoned, half expecting her not to answer the phone. If she doesn’t, I thought, I’m on the next plane to Vancouver; I’ll drag her home by the ear and get her a nice little job at the library. Why, oh why, did we allow her to go there in the first place, to be surrounded by drug addicts and – perhaps even worse – musical theatre kids? Is that where we went wrong?

The helpless giggles that reverberated down the line (am I showing my age using the term phone line? Do we still have those?), when she answered the phone definitely reassured me somewhat.

So … what the heck?

It turns out she was participating in a twitter prank to see how crazy you can make your parents. Apparently we passed some kind of test by not immediately disowning her, swearing at her or professing not to have wanted her in the first place. Yay for our awesome parenting skills!

Thanks Nathan Fielder. Ha bloody ha!

Sod This for a Lark

How many hats can a person wear without going completely schizophrenic?

I suppose it varies according to your innate level of mental stability, but having started off a bit batty in the first place, I feel I might be nearing my natural limit: stay-at-home mum, copywriter, empty nester, tree farmer, trusty sidekick, and now student as I just started an online horticulture certificate course.

This morning’s hat was landscape labourer, which is technically a sub-hat of the trusty sidekick hat.

And so, I found myself grovelling on the cold, damp ground laying about 400 acres of grass – or sod as they like to call it here, despite the fact that I’ve tried to explain that that’s a bit rude.

cropped sod picFor hours I kept my nose to the ground, while I unrolled, lined up and pounded down piece after piece, sure that I must be achieving something – until the occasional glance up at this deceptively large suburban yard disillusioned me and showed that in fact I seemed to be making negative progress.

To amuse myself I muttered sod jokes to myself – like calling each piece of turf a stupid sod, or telling bugs to sod off. Now that’s sophisticated humour.

By about 2.30 my arms informed me that they were finished for the day and had no intention of lifting another piece of sod – each of which, incidentally, weighs about the same as a greyhound bus. Sadly that was about an hour and a half before the rest of my body was planning to leave. Now, as the boss’s wife, I could have feigned a frightfully important errand and left, but I found I couldn’t, in any good conscience, abandon my post or my fellow landscapers, so I soldiered on. Damn that protestant work ethic!

By 3.30 the rest of my body joined in the dissention and the work ethic buggered off early for the evening. We had laid all except the fiddly bits, which the others seemed to managing quite splendidly without me, so I made my excuses and sidled off. Only half an hour early.

Perhaps, when I volunteered to help hubby with whatever he needed, whenever, I should have specified the weather conditions in which I was prepared to go outside, and the fact that I don’t expect to have to do any one task for more than half an hour at a time.

Verdict? Anyone?

A Triumph of Technological Wizardry

For ages now I’ve been thinking that it would be nice to customize this blog.  Make it my own.

Well after months of forethought and planning I managed to gather my children and coerce them into posing for an ’emptying nest’ picture.  With varying degrees of co-operation.  The exhibitionist of the group was just happy to have a camera pointing at her and she skipped and waved on cue.  The boys, as you can tell, were slightly less enthusiastic, but they walked where they were told and for that I am extremely grateful.

Picking a new theme was a challenge, primarily because I couldn’t work out how to change the header image, but google came through for me and together we worked it out.

Here’s the result – and I would love to hear what you think of the new look.


I haven’t blogged for a while for a multitude of reasons, the primary one being that I’m extremely easily distracted.  Yes, despite the fact that I’m as passionate about this blog as I am about any other hobbies/interests I might have, I find that entire weeks can go by without a word and without a qualm.  So after skipping all kinds of adventures, from Sunny Jim graduating, Hoss breaking his arm and Roxy coming home from  Vancouver for the summer, here’s what’s on my mind right now…

… the trouble with teenagers is that they think it’s perfectly acceptable to have their own lives.  I have a houseful of young people all expecting food to be readily available and laundry to be felicitously completed, but the amount of quality time they have to spare for their mother is negligible (ah yes, I remember the good old days when I was the one in charge of quality time).

So I planned a family trip to the farm and told everyone to be available on pain of death.  We used the farm as a recreational property when the children were younger and it’s where many of their fondest memories were created.  It was a place where we would meet up with the extended family and they would get to play with their cousins; until hubby planted trees there, and it became a place to go and work.  The appeal faded rapidly.

Well this weekend was to be work-free and I have looked with anticipation towards some relaxing family fun.

They say nothing stays the same and in some cases, it turns out, that can be a good thing.

I steeled myself on the morning of departure for three or four hours of shouting at everyone to pack, then having to repack for them because they failed to take anything even remotely practical.

I prepared myself for their complete failure to comprehend that sitting comatose in front of the television is infuriatingly unhelpful when we’re trying to get away.

I braced myself for the sudden flurry of activity when it’s time to leave and they realize that: they didn’t have any breakfast and they’re starving; they forgot to pack videos for the drive; they didn’t charge their cellphones and can’t go anywhere with a potentially depleting battery; and so on.

Well, glory be!  At the time of departure they all plodded out with their packed bags and got into the car without even a grumble.  There was no arguing over who would have to sit in the middle because Roxy had very cleverly decided to bring her boyfriend, necessitating a second vehicle.  They all arrived with any necessary entertainments for the trip and didn’t even complain when they had to wait half an hour for food.

I’m happy to report that the weekend was a little slice of heaven.  The weather was fantastic and  it was all family harmony the whole time we were away. There was no whining or arguing; there were no calamities or disasters and I didn’t once want to throttle anyone!  Good times.

Grandma and Grandpa joined us, but unfortunately most of the extended family couldn’t come because, due to Roxy’s scheduling restrictions at her dinner theatre job, our ‘weekend’ was actually a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.  But the children’s cousin did come out and he was a great addition to the group, as was Roxy’s boyfriend.

And that’s all good you might think, but it does drive home how rare those moments together are now, and how they are only going to become increasingly infrequent.

We’re home now and Roxy is already at work, and SJ has gone to visit a friend.  It’s a good thing I took lots of photos to remind me that I did successfully corral them and keep them gathered for a few short days.

35 Years of Visualisation Pays Off


That's right, I said O-MG!
That’s right, I said O-MG!

Here’s what happened … Last October I needed some photos in preparation for a trade show hubby was promoting his trees at.  So, off I went to one of his job sites with camera in hand.  Now the trees are pretty exciting (no really … I’m a bit of a tree nerd), but not as exciting as the little yellow MG the client had parked at the side of their yard.

Now I should mention here that I’ve wanted a yellow MG since I was about 15, which was, sadly, back when they were actually still making them.

So, I snapped the requisite tree pics and then concentrated my lens on this little beauty.  Why?  No reason, really … I’m just a dork and I find the sight of a little yellow MG disturbingly exciting.

That evening I showed the picture to hubby – “they’ve got my car!” I shrieked.  He put on his usual expression of mildly bemused tolerance and then feigned some admiration, but I didn’t sense the enthusiasm I was hoping for.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that he’d been trying to persuade the client to sell him that car for about six months already.  My 50th birthday had come and gone, much to his disappointment, but he kept his eye on the prize.  Until last week when the client finally decided that the car had to go, and rang him unexpectedly to offer it to him.

And now, here it is, in my garage!

Clearly, not only does the camera add 10lb, but so does the car - being so tiny and all.
Clearly, not only does the camera add 10lb, but so does the car – being so tiny and all.

It could be argued that the second picture here is slightly unnecessary, as it’s really just another picture of the same car … but it’s a little yellow MG!

In the process I’ve learned something a little interesting about myself.  You see, the car is in pretty rough shape; it doesn’t run and it needs some serious refurbishment to get it back to the pristine condition I’m imagining.  But somehow that makes it so much more exciting.  I’m not sure I would love it as much if it was this perfect, shiny thing that I could just hop into and drive right away.  Perhaps this new baby is the project I’ve been waiting for to fill my emptying nest.

Offbeat Legacy

We all want to feel that we have left a legacy for our kids – something of value that can be passed down through the generations.

I like to feel that I’m leaving my children with a strong sense of family; teaching them compassion and humour … and who knows what other wonderful things people might think to make up about me when I’m gone.

An inability to clap wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

For a recent university project, Roxy was instructed to describe what she learned during her first clapping-handsyear of Musical Theatre; focusing on how she did in achieving her goals, and what she learned both about the art and herself.

Among other things, she said she learned that she has no sense of rhythm – due, she assures us, to a genetic predisposition which she identified during an unfortunate episode in which I was discovered clapping on the offbeat.

It only happened once … will I be haunted by it forever?

I can assure you that I have busted some pretty complicated moves in my time.  During a recent choir show we had to sing, sway and clap to one particular song … all at the same time!  And if that wasn’t bad enough, as we swayed one way we clapped once and as we swayed the other way we clapped twice.  Clearly a feat of incredible coordination and (dare I say it) rhythm.  It took a great deal of concentration and practice, but I mastered it.  To the point where Roxy even complimented me on the timeliness of my clapping.

Perhaps the message she should be taking from this is about having the tenacity to soldier on against crushing challenges – to clap in the face of ineptitude.  Yes, that I like the sound of.