Saturday, 31 August 2013

Making Over My Life: The Backyard

Everything is fairly stock-standard in a townhouse, same unit design, same interior decor, and same low-maintenance backyard.  As it's not a thoroughfare, it's easy to go a few weeks without even heading out into the backyard.  I've killed a few plants, you know.  I love bonsai, and after little success, my Mum finally gave me the bonsai I couldn't kill:  a plastic one.

I killed it.

So, my concrete backyard, which already received a beautiful makeover a few years ago, looked like this:

Quite boring really, not much to tell.  And, naturally, doesn't see a lot of use.  It's not a huge space, but it's certainly big enough to create an outdoor living area, to expand out from the townhouse dining room.  Ideally, I'd love to open the space up more and create a walk-through effect from the house out, so that the room easily flows from the indoors out. 

First of all, was cleaning the concrete.  The concreted area doesn't drain easily, so builds up quite a mess on it.  See the difference there, where I had already water-blasted?  It was heaps of fun!!

I removed the old plastic chairs, they were disintegrating in the sun, and nobody even liked to sit on them.  The dream is to get a beautiful wooden outdoor setting, but that's down the track a bit.

My favourite part of the garden, a gorgeous wooden-framed mirror also adds an illusion of space, and sits nicely behind the unidentified shrub (which used to be as tall as the house) and overlooks the buddha statue.

Maybe as the weather warms up, we'll spend more time out there.  Just need to get my BBQ back from Miss M!!


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Sad Irony

Miss M lost her great-grandfather yesterday. Her father's grandfather passed away, a mere year after he lost his wife, the long-standing love of his life.

I hadn't seen them in years. I met them in my teens, when I dated their grandson. They were spritely then, still enjoying international travel, with a wide and varied social circle. They welcomed me into their family, and I developed a great fondness for them.

Miss M was their first great-grandchild, and although I didn't see them very often, they sent many letters, cards and gifts for her throughout her childhood. I'm sorry that she didn't get to see them more often – they were a wise and compassionate couple and I enjoyed their guidance.

Our last visit to them was seven years ago, when the children were independent enough to get to know them without my encouragement. It was a beautiful visit, and I enjoyed seeing their hometown, and hearing stories of how they established themselves as a young family and built a life together. They were getting older by now, and their travelling time had come to an end.

 The Notebook - the-notebook Screencap

Image credit:

They survived some tragedy in their final years. It wasn't a fair end to a family who had worked so hard, and maintained such dignity throughout their years.

The sad irony to their story is that yesterday was also the anniversary of my grandmother's birth and death, also Miss M's great-grandmother. Miss M was still a toddler when my Grandma passed away, and wouldn't remember my Grandma in intensive care, removing her oxygen mask to play peek-a-book with her only great-grandchild, and getting mad at the nurses who chastised her.

I wouldn't realise until too late that I had such an ally in my Grandma. I still draw much strength from her, long after her passing.

Neither of these events bring me cause for sadness.  I see Mac and Ella as a young couple again, in love and enjoying their spiritual time together, unencumbered by the burdens of a needy family and life.  I see my Grandma as a wise old soul, drinking endless cups of tea and watching over us all still.

The further I move through adulthood, the more I appreciate the wisdom, patience and guidance that the generations before us held. Such a shame that I didn't appreciate and absorb it before now.  At least I got there in the end.

My Life as a Snooze Button

Those of you with teenagers will totally understand my morning. Right on 6:45am, I shake Son C and tell him it's time to wake up. I usually get either a wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights stare, or a grunt in response. The depth of the response is directly proportional to how late he stayed up watching youtube. :-)

At 6:50am, a second shake elicits pleas of “just 5 minutes more”.

Finally, the 7:00am final shake, complete with my demand that it's time to get up, sees his feet swing over the side of the bed, and a bleary stumble to the shower.

My daughter pointed out to me that I was really just a life-sized snooze button.

The joys of teenage parenthood.   

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Making over my life: The Loungeroom

I didn't take any before pictures of the loungeroom, there really wasn't a lot to tell. Other than a pile of junk inside the front door, which incorporated all the 'stuff' that was removed from other spaces as I cleaned them out, the space was fairly innocuous. I was cheeky though, and waited until after I had the carpets cleaned.

Beige carpets in a townhouse are the bain of my existence. Seriously, who carpets a dining room? Having the downstairs tiled is an idea that is becoming more attractive. :-)

This is the last of the downstairs that needs my attention, we're moving upstairs tomorrow. :-)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

2013: The Year of the Credit Card

I'm not even going to say it. You know what I've been doing all year. Paying out a credit card. Are you all sick of hearing about it? I'm sick of talking about it.

The comes a time though when investment must be made, and that moment came today in the form of a workwear upgrade.

I work in a university executive office, and I'm afraid that my simple lifestyle just doesn't quite cut it. I love my values, I don't try to fit in with the crowd, or keep up with the Jones', but even I got to the end of winter and needed something new.

I packed my car with coffee, my life savings (not the credit card), Miss M and Boyfriend Chris and charged forth to DFO at Jindalee. Direct Factory Outlet, I think it stands for. A consumerist mecca with the singular ability to extricate the last of your hard-earned cash from your pocket with claims of bargains and price reductions. Truth be told, I'm not sure there's much of a bargain to be had, but I guess that might just be my pessimistic opinion. :-) :-)

I found my delight though in the seconds rack at the Cue store, where, with careful selection, I found three elegant, trendy, delightful dresses at a significant reduction – all of which just needed a zipper replaced. A nip, tuck and a new zipper here and there, and I will have a new professional wardrobe.

The concept of buying seconds may not appeal to many, it may not provide the peaceful glow that comes from departing a store armed with armfuls of purchases and a thinner wallet. I can sew however, and fitting a zipper on is a cinch. U tilising your skills and providing your own labour can be great money-saving techniques for many home projects, if, like me, you're working on a budget.

That's my tip for Saturday night. What are your bargain shopping successes?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Somebody that I used to know

I made light in my recent post that, at 19, Miss M is now just somebody that I used to know.  Said in jest, there is undeniably an element of truth to it.  She is no longer the little girl that I used to know, that used to need me, that used to enthusiastically tell me what was going on in her life (at school back then).  

There came a time that I felt a deep communication black hole between us, particularly at the worst time of her rebellion.  She was determinedly trying not to let me know who she was becoming, and I impotently flailed at trying to break into her real world.

 Image credit:

Now she is a vibrant young woman who talks to me about life, about love, compromise, values, and now even her own potential children.  At times when I don’t know how to advise her to deal with a situation, I bring it back to basics and simply tell her my values with regard to relationships and life, and watch her analyse those values and implement them into her own life.  I find now she repeats those same values back to me as she talks about what is going on in her life.

There are still times that she removes me from her life – usually only short periods where I am superfluous to her needs.  I find this difficult – I wouldn’t maintain a friendship where somebody picked me up and put me down.  But I remind myself that during these periods, she is showing me that she doesn’t need me right now – that she really is doing very well managing her own life.  And that’s all we ever really want for our children, isn’t it?  I know that, soon enough, when she needs something, a friendly shoulder, she will come back to us.  She really is never very far away, and for that, I know I am one of the lucky ones.


Image Credit:  Son C. :-)