Meet Violet Beauregarde, my new purple ladybike. Isn't she lovely? I hope she is much nicer than her fictional counterpart, and that she doesn't have a thing for chewing gum. I can't wait to take her out for a ride.
The Cherub, the Climber and I (on my old bike) have been riding to school most mornings. Climber rides on his own, like the big grown-up high-schooler that he is now, and Cherub and I go at Cherub-pace behind him. It's a 5-kilometre ride for us, and it is a lovely, refreshing and exhilarating way to start the day. Far more pleasant than driving, especially in late summer and early Autumn, when the mornings are crisp but not cold. I love riding behind Cherub. We don't go very fast, but we can have little chats and he looks very sweet bobbing about, as he pedals, and checks to make sure it's safe when he crosses roads or tramlines, and gives little waves of acknowledgment to car-drivers who are waiting for us to pass.
The more I ride, the less fond I become of The Lycras, those aggressive and righteous cyclists who think wearing neck-to-knee lycra gives them the right to behave like fascists. They're all men, of course, the Mean Lycras, as if you needed me to tell you that. The first day Climber rode to High School on his own, he messed up doing the exit from bike-path to school crossing and was abused by an intolerant Lycra, which is akin to hassling a Learner driver, in my opinion, and you shouldn't do it! One of the things I like about cycling is the feeling of being part of a community, a two-wheeled, zen-like, planet-saving, healthy, gentle community, so when angry Lycras start abusing other cyclists, it feels traitorous as well as unpleasant. If you're going to be a road-rager, get back in your car, I say.
This evening I took Cherub to meet my Dad at the house my Grandfather built. Tomorrow it will belong to a new family. Today was the last chance to see it, to walk through it again, and to remember the old days.
My grandfather was a carpenter, and this house is full of the most wonderful cupboards. I dream of good cupboards. Rental houses tend not to have helpful storage solutions.
As kids we were fascinated by this revolving kitchen cupboard. If you were small enough, you could go right the way round. I wouldn't let Cherub try it tonight though.
Dad says these ones in the main bedroom, shown below, were french polished. To be honest I'm not quite sure what that involves, but it sounds posh, doesn't it? They're a bit knocked about now in places, but still lovely and glossy.
This is my Dad in his old bedroom, with the cunning little drop desk. The bedroom seems tiny to me, hard to imagine two boys sharing it comfortably, but then it does have wonderful cupboards. There would have been a place for everything.
Imagine building your house, your whole house. If I wear a dress I've sewn, I feel quite proud. But just think how you must feel, looking at a house, with clever revolving kitchen cupboards and dropleaf desks and drawers on bedheads, and a garage and a garden shed, and knowing that you'd made that. Wow.
One of the discussions we had at our last Craft Camp was about the nature of making.
I think it was Janet who said that, statistically, people who make come from people who
make. My Mum has always made things, for as long as I can remember.
Wonderful, quite adventurous cooking for the day (curries from
scratch! ginger beer!), gorgeous colourful crochet, the best jam you've ever eaten, beautiful handpainted silk scarves, t-shirts,
painted t-shirts, sculptures, drawings. My Dad didn't do the regular cooking, but every so often he'd do a speciality, like baklava. And he has always been keen to
potter in the shed, preferably with power tools. And my grandfather built a house!
Thinking about all that makes me feel happy and part of something. The satisfaction that I feel as I
attempt hot cross buns from scratch, or make clothes for me and my
family, or even, like a madwoman, take on the costuming again for
Cherub's forthcoming school concert, is a gift that has been handed to me from my family. That's really special.
Both my boys are makers too. I hope they always are. Especially if the Climber can knock up more delicious dinners for us, like he did tonight: Lamb Cutlets with yoghurt on couscous, from the Year 7 Food Tech textbook! Mm-mmm.
Man, I'm looking forward to the school holidays! I am looking forward to sleeping in and loafing round the house, and a little rest from my strenuous new timetable at tap (all my evening classes are now on Monday and Tuesday nights, which is great in terms of spending more time with the family, but physically more tiring) . Mostly though, I'm looking forward to a rest from trying to keep Climber up to speed with all he has to do at High School, because at the moment, he, poor, tired, culture-shocked love, is the Mayor of Vague-Town. Which means, to help him cope, I've had to ramp up my role as the Queen of Chivvy-Land, and may I just say, it's exhausting and boring. I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy checking where he is (he drifts away to quiet rooms at home), whether he's done his tasks (usually not), and whether there's any extra stuff on the agenda that he's forgotten to tell me about (quite often). I do feel sorry for him. It's not that he can't do this stuff, but he is so overwhelmed with it at the moment that he just wants to be when the day is over, to idle, to dream, to play. And I have to keep bringing him back to homework, packing the school bag for the next day's lessons, flute practice, soccer training, uniform in the wash, lunch-bag on the kitchen-sink and so on. I'm sick of always telling him to eat up! because we are rushing out the door. I want the young dreamy dreamer to be able to take as long as he likes with his food, to have more time with his imaginary games. So roll on, holidays!
On the whole though, High School is going well. He likes the teachers, the kids and the curriculum. He's enjoying learning to play the flute, and progressing well with it. (Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot cross buns is sounding rather good now.) We had one minor glitch regarding a science assignment where he had to email his completed assignment and couldn't (we think the file was too large but it's difficult to know with ipads, and of course it all happened on a night I was at work and unable to assist with IT issues) and his teacher was brusque and dismissive when a highly anxious and stressed out Climber, having given up his recess and lunch to try and solve the emailing problem, at last ventured to ask for help on what he should do. However, I had some conversations with the teacher involved and the Year 7 Co-ordinators and we have agreed that whilst it is understandable that teachers get sick of the computer ate my homework type excuses, they could perhaps be mindful of not brushing off stressed out Year 7s who are new to the system, just in case they give the impression that asking for help in high school is a waste of time.
In other news:
The kids played soccer in a Cup Tournament last weekend on as savagely cold and wet an Autumn Day as you could imagine. That's Melbourne for you: heatwave one weekend, bitter wind and rain the next.
Both their teams got soundly thrashed, and Climber came close to
dropping his bundle as goalie against a particularly ruthless and
efficient team. He felt better next game when he played defender, but
owing to his fragile self-confidence, he let one tough game in goal
overpower a whole season of good goalkeeping last year, and declared as
we left the ground that he was no good as a goalkeeper. This is our
year of trying to help him with his self-confidence. My approach at the moment is to stamp down hard on negative self talk, and we'll see where that leads....
Also, I've been to Craft Camp! It was super. Of course it was; lovely companions, fine food and bonus, an air-conditioned environment and an outside temperature a good 4 degrees cooler than heatwave-stricken Melbourne on that weekend. For the first time ever at Craft Camp I made something for Mister Fixit, who surely deserves a bit of handmade love for being so encouraging of giving me time away. So I made him, as a surprise, but based on conversations where he'd said he wanted one, a Hawaiian shirt. A really, really bright, lairy Hawaiian shirt! And actually a little too big, but it's the sort of style to be worn a bit oversized so it totally doesn't matter. I had some very good help with the collar, thank you, my crafting sisters. I think it looks like the real thing.
I also had time to run up a purple corduroy frock for winter, which came up very nicely.
NB. All photos featuring the children are now classified as "private" on Flickr and can only be seen by my Contacts (that is, if you click through to Flickr for a better look at them). If I know you or your blog I am happy to be friends with you on Flickr . Joining is free and easy, and you can store up to 200 photos there.