Saturday, December 25, 2010

This was a hard one

My Uncle on Dad's side married a Kiwi.  Grandad lived in Dululu but Dad got him over there to visit a few times.  I remember seeing Grandad off from the Rocky airport with its corrugated iron terminal that would give today's anti terrorist scouts an instant migraine.

Unlike my own children, we were given very few presents by our Grandparents thus the presents we were given meant a good deal to me.   This Maori doll came back with Grandad Bill from that first trip and I loved her instantly.  I was devastated when one of her eyes fell out so I found a piece of bitumen and stuck it in as a shiny if jagged replacement.  I wore her hair thin in patches playing with her.  

How can you miss a doll, I wonder.  I do know I miss my Grandad Bill.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

Facing up to it. circa 1987 (!)

In year 10 art we had to do an art piece about ourselves.    Dad spent a long time helping me with this one.   He used plaster bandage to cast my face as I lay there with straws up my nose so I could breathe, getting hotter and hotter as the plaster set and the vaseline on my face oozed.  He showed me how to draw ovals using a string and drawing pins and had already taught us how to use the darkroom so I could print out the photographs.  First pic, baby in Ferny Hills before we moved to Rocky.   About 2 years old with two favourite dolls, dressed in my skirted togs.  With one of the cats, perhaps Tombo.   As I appeared in the local paper, dressed as a clown and on stilts after a drama workshop.  Made the wig I was wearing out of wool, took forever to sew together. With one of the chooks.  We used to tie a long piece of string to one foot and the other end to a tent peg and they happily pecked away on the grass before going back into the coop.  Aged about 14,  posing so that my brother  could practice his photography for school.   I did well with my art and it was difficult to choose between art and drama when it came to university preferences.   Now I wish I'd stuck with journalism or chosen architecture.   Pity I don't believe in re-incarnation.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Music to my ears

20 years ago, my precious Aunty Pat died of cancer far too young. I was in Grade 12 and and deeply sad.   They had four boys and I fancied myself as a daughter to her, someone who would talk about fabrics and sewing and clothes.  She would pass her old patterns on to me.

I don't know how it came about really, but Uncle John said I could have her piano. The piano was the first thing you saw as you came into their house.  It has ivory keys, though some of the tops have been prised off and on the middle octave the notes are written in black marker.

It must have been some years later because I had a house of my own to bring it to.  I learnt the basics of scales and some simple tunes with my grandma when I was young but never had another lesson.  Hopes of getting further along with my playing never materialised into lessons or the magical and late ability to play-by-ear so it just sat there. 

Many, many years later and I finally realised there was never going to be room 'upstairs', never going to be the money for repairs and tuning and lessons and no time like now for letting it go.

The piano went solidly and gracefully out into the sunlight and across the way to my brother's house.  There are fingers there that know the ways of notes that dance and treble across the page in sharp leaps and minor pauses.  

The piano is my favourite instrument, but  it has to be played. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One brown bottle, sitting on the wall

About a year ago, I had morning tea with some old school friends, one who was at school with me from Grade One, circa 1977.   That year, we made lovely singing choir boys with ping pong ball heads and yes, bodies made out of beer bottles colloquially referred to as 'stubbies'.   On top was red crepe paper and a white doily to make the lace surplus of the choir boy's uniform.

I showed this little fellow (only sans clothes due to my children and their inquisitive fingers) to her.  Her response was to laugh out loud,  "Oh Nikki, you HAVE to throw that out!".   So I did. 
It was hard.  I mean, vintage beer bottle you know, they don't make them like that anymore.  

I had a wonderful Grade One teacher who made our first year of school a very happy one. Sr Carmel was a Presentation nun and full of love and kindness.  Our classroom was an old house up on stilts.  The main living area housed our desks.   We did our painting and artwork on the enclosed verandah and she read to us from Gulliver's Travels in the afternoons round the side, in the sleep-out.  If you got to school before the bell you could play in the dirt under the house but since I could do that any time at home, it didn't hold any appeal for me. 

We put on the Nativity play for our families.  One of the girls in our class had a new baby brother, so she was Mary.   By the time it got to me there weren't any major roles left so I got to wear pyjamas and bring in my favourite toy for baby Jesus.  I brought in my squeaky, rubber, peg. 

Each year, I send Sr Carmel a Christmas card.  Each year, she sends me one in return.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Put your money where your mouse is.

I first remember having this little, mouse, coin purse when I was about six.  As you can see, it didn't fit a lot of money in it, but 50 cents was big bickies in those days.  Icy cups at tuckshop were 5 cents and a packet of fonzies chips 20c.   I had a bit of an obsession with tuckshop, given that we were not allowed to buy our lunch.  

We made our own lunch each day but I used to sneak some of my pocket money to school in my mouse purse to buy myself a treat. If my older brother busted me at the tuckshop I would whine something about forgetting my lunch.  

I feel a little sad about letting this little fellow go, busted zip and all. 


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A few of my favourite things

Amongst one of many boxes of 'paperwork' I found this paragraph I wrote in Grade Eight.
(1985)   My bunnykins bowl was a baptism gift from my godparents.  My brother had the cup and someone else the egg cup, or perhaps they came as a set and I shared them by default, I don't know. 

I did manage to hold on to it long enough to get it out for my children to use.  I had it not "for the rest of my life" but until this year, when one of my children broke it.   At first I was devastated, but  then I realised it was a moment when I could  change direction.   Instead of making a big deal out of i I very bravely swept it up and put it straight in the bin.  "Don't worry, it's only a plate"  said the new me!

I could hardly believe it when I was digging through boxes looking for things to send on their way and this page was there.  I thought it another fitting object for my year of living dangerously, bin lid poised.

I hold things in my memory.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Passed on

This piece of lace belonged to my great grandmother, Kate Sumner.   It came from a bag of nd trimmings that mum and her siblings were allowed to play with when they visited their grandmother's house.  

My mum taught me to sew when I was quite young.  I tried many times to work out a way of using this lace for a collar or an insert into a dress. It was difficult as the lace was not quite long enough or the wrong texture or colour or too precious in my mind.  

This year,  I bundled it up with a picture of Kate and sent it to her 19th great grandchild who is studying fashion.  I know that it is probably not Claire's favourite 'vintage' but she will have enough respect for what it is to give it a blessing as she tosses it into the rag bag.

I love well made objects that travel through time to reveal themselves again to someone new. 

I am appreciative. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Just one day

I was about eleven years old when I did up this daily schedule on an old piece of card and carefully covered it in contact.  I like very much that I had "Rest" for ten minutes between making my lunch and collecting my lunch and hat.  I like that I have a "Make lunch" time slot at 7.20pm in the evening on the same day that I have "Make Lunch" at 7.55am in the morning.

When I was teaching, I bought the purpose- made Teacher's diary but I always ended up making myself a timetable based schedule with all sorts of colour coding and symbols that made perfect sense to me alone.  It was a stapled stack of photocopied pages but I could fit a whole term's worth of school weeks in my bag.  I would cross the weeks off - sometimes day by day and sometimes, lesson by lesson. 

It feels right to have things pinned down on paper, neatly separated into boxes, coded and logical and promising.

It makes me happy to know what's coming. I don't like surprises.  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Duck Bag

I used to take this bag to church on Sundays with a toy, a book and something to eat.  We used to sit fairly close to the front, so I had to pick the moment I broke out the biscuits.

It made me feel grown up.  I loved the picture of the duck on it that I thought was Donald Duck.  I loved the rough, woollen texture and the simple, subdued colours.  When the strap broke, I fixed it with a silver, safety pin.  

I don't know when I put it away or even if I had the thought that 'one day' I would pass it on to my children.  I do know that when I finally brought it back out into the light of day that my daughter was underwhelmed. 

I appreciate a beautiful handbag but I hate carrying them.   I usually continue the habit I had as a teenager, jamming money or a keycard into my pocket and travelling light.  Handbags aren't good for hoarders.  In mine at the moment I have:

a flyer for a video store
a menu for an Indian restaurant
a crumpled review for a restaurant I want to visit
a tampon
Friday's mail
a bank statement and my daughter's bank passbook
one lipgloss and two containers of blistex
a highlighter, one permanent marker, a biro and two colouring pens
a purse with our library cards in it ( to travel light, but not lose the cards from my pocket)
my daughter's purse
my wallet that won't shut because it is full of receipts, cards and business cards
go cards for the bus
a nappy for Jed
two bus timetables
an emerald green ribbon that comes out once a year for St Patrick's day
a flat, rough rock from Currumbin beach
swim centre brochure
a necklace
new house numbers
doctor's scripts
empty toblerone wrapper
menu for a burger restaurant
discount vouchers for a book store

I like to be prepared.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday, 22nd October, 2010

The surfboard

My first long term relationship was with a guy who loved surfing.  It was ironic really, as we grew up in a country town half an hour away from a beach with no real surf and muddy, brown water. 

I used to read his surf magazines and dream of being able to surf for myself.  I was envious of the feelings surfers always attached to their experiences with the ocean, all that 'calm'.

I was given this board by a friend from uni who found it in the dirt under their share house.  She took me with her on a week long 'learn-to-surf' trip in the holidays.  I  took the board with me my first year away working, tried to surf in Byron Bay, where the board was made. 

My brother surfs and he took me 'out the back' one day and I was so terrified of all that salty unknown beneath me that I made him bring me right back in again.  I knew then that my fear of sharks was going to stop me ever enjoying the mystical buzz of the ocean but I didn't let that board go.   It was unusual in shape, a bit of a prototype.   It nose-dived in the worse way possible and was scarred and scratched.  

I'm cheating a bit, because I did finally let this one go.  I sold it to a real surfer, one who had a bit of a passion for buying and riding old boards.  I talked him up to the price 'of a carton of beer', about $30.  I felt not so bad about this one, since I was never going to make it into a coffee table.  It went to a good home.

I still love the beach and the ocean.  I still feel an incredible sense of calm when I'm alone on the beach, watching the waves, or lying face down on the warm sand after a swim.   I still love the way rocks feel when they have been pounded by the waves and sand into the smoothest of pebbles.  I still love the feeling of a swim in the sea, beats swimming anywhere else.

I will never be a surfer. 

4am podcast

Woken at 4am this morning, I  listened to a podcast to try and get back to sleep.  It was a radio interview with a comedian who has just published a book about her 'secret life' as a hoarder.  Listened along with her as she spoke about some of the insights she got when her 'stuff' started to get the better of her.  Listened along at the bemusement and then the exasperation of the interviewer as she revealed more and more of her hoarding 'addiction'.

I understood her need to still have those TMNT socks from primary school. I understood why it was so hard for her to throw them out .  I twinged with recognition as she described her 'dividing wall' of boxes of stuff, artfully arranged.  I laughed as she recounted being told by her best friend that she couldn't get rid of her stuff because she was hoarding the flat she was living in as well.

She needed to honour the little girl that she was.  She was narcisisstic about how important she was in people's lives, even when they had moved on.  She thought if she could just fix all the once useful things, everything would be alright again.  She wanted to hold on to the happiest of memories and times encapsulated in each piece of 'stuff'.   She didn't know who she was now, so she held on to who she was then.  She still had 'a bunch of sticks tied up with a red ribbon', the sticks that were the first bunch of flowers the first boy that every loved her gave to her.

I know that person.  I am a hoarder too.   I  have not yet worked out all the whys but I am going to try an experiment.  Each day I am going to take one thing from my many boxes of 'stuff' and post a blog about it, then let it go.