Tuesday, 18 September 2007

C is for ...

C is for ... Cat

Seems like I've always had a cat, since my first flatmate and best friend Lee Whiterod and I went to the SPCA in Hornby and picked out two kittens to be ours in 1984. We brought them back home in boxes on the bus. Mine was Hazel, a slinky black boy, and hers was Smith, a smoochy tortoiseshell female. Since then, there's been:
  • Esther - jumpy from the outset, ran away when we moved to Papanui Rd
  • Seymour - avid cricketer as a kitten, tap dancer as a senior; developed kidney failure at 12 and was euthanased
  • Chester - appeared at my parent's house one day and made it clear they needed to include him in their plans. They were smitten, but their three other cats hated his guts, so we took him back to Moir St with us. Pleasure seeker to the last, he died lying on his back in the sun at our neighbour's house
  • Frank - ran away from Moir St when I was in Cambodia. Sweet little guy, a bit dumb - got stuck up trees a lot
  • Nina - Frank's sister, chunky tortoiseshell bombshell. Would follow me when I left for work each morning. Was donated to Kate and JB, our over-the-road neighbours in Moir St, when we went to Auckland
  • Mao - handsome, kittenish, increasingly unstable offspring of Burmese female and neighbourhood ginger tom. also living with Kate and JB now
  • Catriona McLeod - stray, winsome creature who made our stay at Transplant House much more homely.
  • Pippi - came with the house when we bought Hebron Road. When we sold it, she came back to Moir Street with us. Sweeney's furry friend - he tries really hard to be gentle with her, and she's entirely patient with him when he inadvertently gives her the bash. There are times when we wonder which of them is the more feral.
C is for ... Craft
I couldn't go past that one, could I?? I simply love Craft. I could argue for hours about the relationship between Art and Craft, but I don't actually care if people respect it or not. I respect it, I respect what I do, what other people do, what craftspeople have done in the past. I personally get no joy out of those family groupings of pebbles with eyes stuck on them, or gingham covers for jam jars, or most of the stuff that's done with greenstone out there, but someone does - or else these things wouldn't keep cropping up anywhere they let you set up a stall.
Kimberley introduced me to Craft 2.0, and the women associated with it. Reading their blogs and seeing their work excites me, and gives me ideas for my own work around the house. Kimberley's eye for colour blows me away - when she puts stripes together, they're magic. Melissa's Tiny Happy work is especially invigorating, and the other day I checked out Rhiannon's hoodies - these women are working at making a living from their craft, and they don't know it, but they're helping me get up the nerve to try getting my stuff out there.
I learnt to knit from my mother, and to embroider from my Nana - both tremendous technicians. I'm very snobby towards the machine-knitted aran-type cardies in shops today, because of the work Mum produced. She also is skilled at constructing curtains, cot sheets, cushions, and I remember she devised an amazing quilt for Nana when she came to stay with us once.
What is my stuff? Well, watch this space ...

C is for ... Copper
I have a copper relief rubbing-thingy that my Grandpop made when I was young. It's on the wall at toddler's eye level, just outside Sweeney's room. I'm not that fond of the form, but I like it more as I live with it - the design is a traditional Maori taniwha-shape, based on limestone cave drawings, and the detail displays pretty good craftsmanship. I didn't know him much until I was about 19, and I grew very fond of him. He died when I was 28. Dad and his brothers occasionally tell stories about him, but he's really a cloudy figure. History may prove it to be a piece of old tat, but for now, I see it as a way to trace the line from Sweeney back to his great-grandfather and beyond.

C is for ... Counselling, Children, Cardigans, Cooking, Capote, Creche, Cambodia ...
I could go on and on and on. Obviously.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

B is for ... Bank
When I need work, I call around IT recruitment agents and send out my CV and go to interviews and talk a lot about myself and wait for someone to find my patter so adorable they simply HAVE to have me on their team. I'd just started doing that again, when I got a call from an agent who got me a contract I couldn't take a few months ago, asking if I maybe was available to take that contract now.
Was I!! All those relaxed mornings, afternoon naps, housewifey trips to pick up Sweeney from creche, hours spent reading blogs, watching movies, knitting ... well, they've been weighing heavy on me. Much rather work for a bank.
Yes, started at one of the several corporate offices of the National Bank today. Everyone seems nice, there's Calci-trim milk in the fridge, the toilets had toilet paper in them all day, I was assigned a phone the day I started, I have two screens to work on, so I don't go mad when I have 3 million documents open at the same time.
Oh, and the project seems interesting and not as bloodthirstily profit-centric as I've encountered in the past.
It made me realise that banks have been a big part of my working life - in fact, my whole working life since Sweeney was born - and I've loathed my part in their success so much that I've really cut myself off from the 8 or so hours a day that I spend doing their bidding. I don't think that's been too helpful for our bumpy family life, so have decided to enjoy myself more on this contract, and take that enjoyment home at night.
In that spirit, I'm a starter for any World Cup sweepstake.

B is for ... Baking
Last night I made muffins. Banana muffins. Straight out of the Edmonds, can't fail muffins. Kimberley needed some baking for Ronald McDonald House, and I've done little enough for her since she entered into the hell-state that is morning sickness, so I offered to help.
Got up this morning to find half of them had been subjected to harsh clinical testing due to Martin's need for sugar overnight. Gave a hearty "What the??" to the world and rustled up more in double-quick time.
Got them all onto plates, complete with napkins and a dusting of icing sugar, then negotiated hard with Martin for a ride to Kimberley's to drop them off on the way to my first day of the new job. All goes well until inner-city rush-hour traffic results in a hard brake action and the plates go for a slide, nearly off my lap. I instinctively put out my hand to stop them, damn near flattened the lot on the spot.
The air was blue. I know you're not supposed to do that with children in the vicinity, especially your own, but anyone who knows me is aware that craft of any kind is a sacred thing and you endanger it at your own peril.
Sorry, Sweeney. And sorry, Martin. I know you didn't mean to eat my work, then nearly kill the rest of it.

B is for ... Ballistic, Banshee, Battleaxe
Territory I'm trying to avoid at the moment. It's a long term project.

B is for ... Books
Good grief, we need shelving in our house. So many books. I grew up in a house with the most books of anyone I knew. I loved reading with my mum when I was wee, I loved having stories read to me by my dad and other men with deep voices. I studied literature.
I love going into Sweeney's room and seeing him absorbed in one of his board books. Sometimes he even has it up the right way. I took him into Unity Books yesterday and we looked at books until he was about to melt down over a lovely picture book with captions in te reo.
Oh, and let's not forget B is for Baby

Another long-term project. Sooo nice ...

Monday, 3 September 2007

A is for ... Angela
Well, you know about me from my profile.
So, A is also for ... Alphabet
Saw a lovely alphabet hanging yesterday that I decided to modify and make for Sweeney, and if it turns out to be not too pants, I'll make another one for Tiny. Watch this space.
When I was a youngster, I had a jigsaw of the alphabet, with Disney characters, and I still visualise it when I have to work out if F is the sixth or seventh letter of the alphabet - that sort of thing.

A is for ... Aristotle
As in, Alexander's tutor, pupil of Plato, deep Greek thinker. Another childhood memory, from sessions with my mum guiding me through my first encyclopaedia. That encyclopaedia introduced me to William Wilberforce and Abolitionism, made me realise the Moon wasn't mine to charge astronauts rent for, and cemented my love of knowledge delivered in soundbite-type chunks. It was written by RJ Unstead, whose name popped up on just about every history book kids of my age got their hands on. He must be well dead now - he looked aged and wise when I was six.

A is for ... Anger
People who've never lived with me, or have never worked with me, are always surprised when I tell stories of myself being angry. I guess we'll cover more of this when we get to V for Venting, or T for Tantrums. I'm working on my anger stuff at the moment, handouts, exercises, therapy. More of that later; this blog is still new and I'm not ready to be too serious just yet.

A is for ... Anchovies
Aaah, ambrosial fish! My favourite thing when Martin's off out and I'm in the mood to actually cook for just me, is some garlic cooked off in some olive oil, then breadcrumbs and anchovies tossed in, then the whole oily, salty, crunchy mess mixed into some spaghetti. I throw the lot into a big china bowl - one of those ones that your nana always made rice pudding for you in - and sit on the couch in front of telly to slurp my way through it.
Otherwise, an anchovy on a slice of cheese on toast makes a rainy Saturday feel suddenly cosier. Nigella Lawson's salsa verde in How to Eat - a mash of fresh parsley, olive oil and anchovies - has been a staple in our fridge for years now.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Jour de Sweeney's Papa, et Grandperes

Today was Father's Day. Sweeney came into bed with us this morning, which is always a nice start to the day. He was up and going a little earlier than usual, so we let him play Wrestlemania in the living room while we got ourselves moving. I can't get enough of seeing him in raptures at getting to the top of the couch, then throwing himself off, usually headlong, onto one of the squabs we've laid out on the floor below. The belly laughs are tremendous.

I called my parents to wish my Dad Father's Day tidings and to catch up a bit with my Mum. We talk a lot about Sweeney, and even though we don't always agree about everything, I find it enormously helpful. It makes me feel good to talk to them about him - as though other things in my life are all to hell, but he's a bright shiny thing above it all. Meantime I could hear the shrieks and gurgles of someone very small being supplied with Shrewsburies in bed.

Lunch was at the Shepherd's Arms on Tinakori Road with the O'Neills, along with Martin's Granny and the O'Neills' friend Nina Barry-Martin, down from Auckland for the weekend. Sweeney was passed around the table for cuddles, then he got to eat some of my venison pie, then worked it off with a lightning toddle around the bar. Always a pleasure to see people getting a kick out of the little fellow. After his early-ish start to the day, he was a little off his game by lunchtime, so we didn't stay over-long.

Had a quick look at Nancys. I've been going there for years, but never taken much notice of the patchwork side of the shop. Martin and Sweeney came in with me, and beelined for the squares of fabric - pieces with jellies, cake mixers, aeroplanes, cowboys, flowers, tractors, as well as beautiful abstracts. I could've spent all afternoon there, but the lads were pooped and needed to get horizontal asap.

Home for naps all around, then a bit of activity to get ready for the week ahead. I'm writing this after midnight, have been up and down to Sweeney's room to see why he's singing, crying or banging something against the side of his cot. Never known him to have a night like this.

Have decided to take on the Encyclopaedia of Me project - a post each day to correspond with a letter of the alphabet. Gave me the idea to make a hanging of the alphabet for Tiny's wall in wherever-it-is that Kimberley and Joe are moving to. She did tell me, but my brain gets very full so fast nowadays. Watch this space.

Got to go see whether Sweeney needs someone to sing backing vocals for him ...

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