Sometimes I participate in the 612 ABC Brisbane parenting panel. Last week was an interesting topic - childhood obesity. You may like to hear what Felicity's school is doing about this problem, thanks to one dedicated Dad.
My kids had a grand time at Halloween. They put on funny wigs and walked the neighbourhood, gathering chocolates and lollies galore. Mr Catch did the rounds with them; it was an opportunity to catch up with the population of the street, some of whom he hadn't talked to since last year's Halloween. The trio arrived home with the sugar output of Jamaica.
The wigs have not been put away yet. The girls have been playing funny games with them, leaving them here and there. I keep yelling at this wig to get off the couch.
Fake guilty dog
100% genuine guilty dog
Meanwhile, in other news, the Christmas tree is going up this weekend. Can you believe It? I hardly can. 2013 has flown by so quickly. I'm looking forward to kicking back with my family and friends very much.
Hooray! I have completed the first year of my Masters degree. The last assignment was handed in on Thursday; now I have to crawl out of my hole and re-start my social life. Think I will contact a few ladies and organise lunch. It has been so long since I have seen some of my people.
Talking of lunch, I had the nicest little celebration with some school mums at 'Bertholme', home of the Moreton Ladies Club. This venerable institution began in 1924, when ladies who visited Brisbane were not allowed to enter public bars. and so had nowhere to have lunch, or freshen up.
Here is a shot of the entrance. I'm a lover of iron lace; the lunch was delicious too. Hi Kerry and Jessica! It was so nice to meet you.
Alas, one of the casualties of my study has been the washing pile. I have spent most of today traipsing back and forth to the laundry, loading and unloading the machine. The clothesline is groaning. While I was at it, I attacked the dog and the bird as well. Next stop, my horrendous decks!
My reading list is a mile long. I have just finished Maddadam, by Margaret Attwood, and Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent. Very different books, but both marvellous. Tonight, I'm diving into The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. It looks promising.
What are you reading these days? Any suggestions, now that free time is stretching out luxuriously before me?
I have a note book for fiction and blog ideas that I keep by my bed. When inspiration strikes, I write it down. I looked at the notebook earlier and decided that perhaps I should also always turn on the light. The last entry reads "27 men FLOR gabled house". Or maybe that's "27 hen FLOB gabled house". Let's hope that wasn't the best-seller. I have no idea what it means.
When I'm awake, the best place to get ideas is in the shower. Many times, I rush dripping to the notebook to get the thing out of my head and onto the solid permanence of paper. I have long said the best writing invention for me would be a waterproof telepathy machine that would suck the ideas straight from my brain to the computer.
My ideas always have earlier origins; a comment or image secretly lodges in my brain and begins to ferment. Later, that thing will slowly surface. You know how a dead body rises from underwater in TV crime shows? Well, just like that. Very slowly, it bobs up, and then perhaps rolls over. As it's floating and bobbing, I can see it clearly, but if I don't nab it quickly, it sinks, with only a faint burbling to show it ever existed.
If anyone is watching as I write these ideas down, it appears that I am one sandwich short of a picnic. Particularly if I happen to be talking out loud to myself about it. Only other writers understand; lay people are bewildered. Why is it so important? I can't answer, except to say it just is.
Writing processes are swirling in my head today because a guest lecturer talked about them at uni. Mary-Rose MacColl is a warm, funny writer who has written a wonderful book called In Falling Snow. She also writes many freelance columns in newspapers and magazines. I have become a fan.
She told some funny stories in that lecture. One was about her mum, who was a journalist with The Courier-Mail in the 1950s, and who met Enid Blyton when the author stopped briefly in Brisbane. When one of the other journalists asked Enid how she got her inspiration, she stared at him as if he had two heads. "Why, Noddy tells me, of course".
Now, Mary-Rose calls the creative process "Listening to Noddy". She gave us all manner of practical insights into the inner life of an author, and how to hear that spark of inspiration when it fires. I also SO wanted her beautiful fountain pen. If she had laid it on the desk near me, it would possibly have rolled it into my bag.
When I got home from uni, I was buzzing with interest in creativity and how artists capture and tame this beast. Google magic produced this TED video featuring Elizabeth Gilbert which beautifully sums up many of the issues. It's funny and charming and, even if you didn't like Eat, Pray, Love, I urge you to take a peek. It will help you to hear Noddy and understand what he's saying.
Just don't let anyone hear you answer him.
What helps your creativity? Any tips to pass on to the rest of us?
I have just finished reading Big Brother by Lionel Shriver. It's a confronting book, in all senses of the word. It's about obesity and addictions and attitudes to body shape and size. I won't ruin it for you. Suffice to say it's worth a read, if you like books that make you think. One sentence that really leapt out of the book at me was:
Eating nothing is easy. Eating something, but not very much, is an ever-lovin' bitch...
This sentence made me think about the will-power we can have when we focus our entire attention, energy and discipline on a goal, to the exclusion of everything else. People achieve amazing things in this state. Strangely, when a goal has to be balanced with other more mundane activities, success comes less easily. It's the power of excess.
You know that I'm not just talking about diets and food here. Exercise, work, hobbies, immaculate homes--anything can be achieved through single-minded focus. The problem is that such single-mindedness always comes at a cost. Other, equally important, parts of life break down and eventually we must attend to them. Exercise is a classic example. I know when I first start out on a fitness program, the day is organised around that jog or gym session. I will NEVER miss it. Never, never, never. I contort my whole schedule to make it. After a period of time, however, (days/weeks/months--insert your own level of determination), I realise how much I miss coffee with friends, or there's a mountain of washing in the laundry that's driving me nuts..or...or. It doesn't really matter which alternative activity to fitness is put above. The important point that Shriver makes is that there will be one. The original goal will lose its shiny, good looks and seems dull and lacklustre. Remind me, why I was ever so fixated on jogging again? Balance is the key, but often, unfortunately, very, very hard.
In other news, here's something there's never an excess of.
It's been a bumper pansy year. They're growing in a pot outside my writing shed, and make the place look so cheery.
I hope today finds you with a flower or two as well. Mrs Catch xx
Do you find that school holidays seem to go on forever? I do. I switch to a completely different operating mode to cope. It's ALL about relaxing and snuggling and long, pointless chats about whether dogs dream and birds have tongues. It stretches out endlessly before us.
Except for the last few days. You really have to be on the ball with those last few days.
That's when you are supposed to be organising uniforms, detoxing lunch boxes and polishing school shoes, ready for the new term. It's very easy for that small window of time to scream past as you all strive to soak up the few remaining sleep-ins or catch the last of the new movies. Beware - day one of the Term will then start with your daughter's biceps straining her sleeves in an alarming manner as you wonder in panic, "how can you POSSIBLY have grown that much in two weeks?" Also, strange new life forms will be discovered in the bottom of the school bag your child SWEARS was emptied two weeks ago. You spray it distractedly with Glen20 and pray the teacher doesn't get too close.
Youngest daughter's uniforms had to be replaced recently, as last term she was beginning to resemble a Sixties go-go dancer, so short were her skirts. There was also the very public rip in the too-tight sports shorts that has probably scarred her mentally for life.
Both daughters needed new school shoes as well. Although, to be perfectly accurate, that would be "shoe". This sends me crazy. One shoe is perfect, but the other has had the toe worn through from dragging said shoe along the ground while on the roundabout swing (not to be confused with the foot-drag braking of early bike riding which tends to be bipedal). How can I toss one perfect shoe? I call it the Cinderella Syndrome, and it's painful for parents of roundabout swingers everywhere.
Sadly, it has also come to pass that the girls have grown so much that their wardrobe hanging-space is too short. It makes me a bit sad - another sign that they're growing up. But, however unhappy, you and I both know that dresses need space - or they wrinkle. Which means you may have to get out the iron.
To avoid incurring such evilness, we scurried to the Swedish superstore. The Catch family doesn't go there very often and as I searched in the cavernous space for yet another missing member, I remembered why. We probably need to be tied together like an Arabian camel train. Or perhaps drop breadcrumbs as we go, like Hansel and Gretel, so we can find each other and the exit in the same month.
But, I'm having the last laugh. Tonight, the lunch boxes are gleaming on the bench and there are rows of well-fitting school uniforms hanging straight and unwrinkled nearby. Shortly, we will watch the last of the new movies.
Some days, we win.
Yours, ready to roll
What is your most important preparation for the new school term? Do you find it difficult to snap out of holiday mode? PLEASE, tell me I'm not the only one!!