Monthly Archives: July 2014

Get Ready for Art in August!

artwork

 

It’s almost here!  Art in August – an excuse for those of us who don’t think we’re very artistic but like the idea of nurturing our creative side to crack out the paints and pencils and spend some time doing art for art’s sake.  We do this without apology or explanation.  We do not listen to the voice that says we have more important things to do, we don’t deserve this time, and, what’s more, that picture looks like rubbish.  We produce and we post!

If you’d like to join in, here’s what you have to do:

  1.  Get creative (and don’t apologise about it)
  2. Take a photo of your creation (unless you’ve created a photograph, in which case you can skip this step)
  3. Post this photo on your blog
  4. Link back to this post and mention somewhere that you’re joining in Art in August

I will link to you in my blog as well.  If you don’t have a blog, there are two ways you can join in:

  1. Post your work on the blog’s Facebook page
  2. Email the photo to me at laptopontheironingboard-AT-gmail.com  (I’ve written it out that way to stop robots spamming me; when you email me, write it out the regular way)
  3. I will post it on my blog for you.  You can even use a pseudonym, if you like…

I really should have put this post up months ago.  I haven’t given you much notice, I’m afraid.  But no fear – it seems to be the tradition for Art in August to post well into September and October!

 

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PM Essay

I’d like to start with a small apology to all the gentlemen who might be reading this (yes: both of you!)  This post will touch on the topic of – ahem! – hormones…

Most times of the month, I’m a fairly patient, laid-back, easygoing sort of person.  But, twelve times a year, I transform into a short-tempered, moody, destructive maelstrom.  Like a werewolf, but the sort that gets weepy watching superannuation commercials.

I’m a bit that way at the moment.  I’m feeling rather down on myself at the state of my house.  Two weeks of school holidays have taken their toll and the house is dysfunctional with mess.  It’s all dishes and clutter and Lego and loom bands and crumbs and random artefacts that look important yet seem to belong nowhere.

And clothes.  I think Strega Nona must have broken into my laundry and stirred my washing basket with her magic spoon.  Now I have so many dirty clothes, they’re spilling out the door.  It won’t be long before they take over the village…

Strega Nona with her pasta pot

I’ve been going a little nuts about it all.  Mr Knightley’s delightful-but-Type-A friend came over today and while I knew I couldn’t get the house to the level that Type A would consider ‘tidy’, I wanted at least to lift it out of the state of embarrassing neglect that made us look like the victims of a sock-and-duplo explosion.  As a result, I spent the morning venting and vacuuming and shouting and sweeping.  I bit everybody’s head off several times and, internally, I was biting my own head off (“What is WRONG with me?  WHY can’t I keep a tidy house?  How is it POSSIBLE that this many items can fit in the space under one couch?”) . I barked at Matilda for leaving her hardly-worn clothes on the school-room floor (she’d changed her mind on what to wear today, it would seem), roared at Christopher Robin for leaving his shoes all over the house, snapped at Harry for singing an inane song ad infinitum , wailed at Annie as she painted the table with cornflakes-and-milk, and ranted at the house in general about how hard it is to be me.

Mr Knightley, who had quietly wiped down the kitchen stove and benchtops, convinced me to stop for a minute and then swiftly administered coffee and chocolate.  It worked for a short time, but, really, I was beyond help.  It wasn’t long before I was again storming about the place, sometimes muttering darkly, sometimes screeching like a car alarm.  At lunch time, I snapped peevishly at Matilda, “that’s my seat!  Can’t you see my soup’s there already?”, but then I realised she was putting a note in my place.  Here it is:

Note from Matilda

If you can’t make out her handwriting, this is what it says:

“1 FREE NIGHT AT THE SPA

To Mum,

When you said “I was going to have a nice relaxing bath tonight but it’s too messy”  (I did say that last night, in another PMS-fuelled rant) I thought I’d give you this to say thanks for letting me have nice relaxing baths when I’m tired and worn out.  So I’ll clean the bathroom and you can borrow one of my Pippi soaps.

Love from

Tilly”

I felt rather small.  I had been awful to everyone all morning and my nine-year-old daughter still had the grace to treat me with generosity and understanding.  I gave her a fierce hug and cried copiously and surreptitiously into my soup.  But I’m fine, really I am.

Just don’t show me any superannuation commercials any time soon…

 

10 Short Takes … on Annie

10ShortTakes”

  1. Annie is my youngest daughter.  She is a sturdy two-year-old with hair like corn silk and deep brown eyes fringed with long dark lashes.
  2. I named Annie after Anne of Green Gables because she is utterly charming.  In real life, Annie is named after Mr Knightley’s Nan (do you remember me mentioning her buttons?) who was also utterly charming.
  3. Annie is the self-appointed Boss of the Family.  When she enters a room, she flings her arms wide and announces “I’m HERE ev’rybuddy!”
  4. Annie’s couture of choice is a tattered fairy dress paired with gumboots.  Today we’re going out to see friends. I dressed Annie in a sweet embroidered denim dress with a red top and tights underneath (every now and then I like to play dress-up dolls).  Annie protested stoutly as I dressed her up, but I kept distracting her and we got through it.  But just now, Annie’s come out of her room wearing only the red top and tights and brandishing one of her fairy dresses.  “I want to dress like a PRINCESS, Mummy!”.  I asked her what happened to the cute little denim number: “It in da wash.”  Sigh.
    fairy dresses on washing line
  5. Sometimes I try to apply some Mighty Girl philosophy to Annie’s regal aspirations.  “Princesses are wise leaders who make important decisions for their country”, I state solemly as I pull yet another tulle confection over her head.  “I so pitty!”  Annie replies with equal solemnity.
  6. As well as a junior monarch, Annie loves to be a ballerina, a mermaid, a rock star, a Wiggle and a superhero of her own devising, unaccountably called “Super Love Heart”.  Matilda will rig her up with a small blanket pegged around her shoulders and Annie will jump around the place and announce “SU-per Wubbart IN da rescue!”
  7. Sometimes, Annie and Harry play a game together called “Jack and Jill”.  I can’t quite understand the game itself, it seems to only involve them calling each other “Jack” and “Jill” and treating each other with exaggerated politeness.  There’s no bucket or anything.  I love this game.
  8. Yesterday, at breakfast time, a cranky Annie had a go at Christopher Robin: “want the milk, you idiot!” she proclaimed with gusto. “We don’t call each other ‘idiot’ in this family” I admonished.  “But they are idiots!”  Annie protested, with a stubborn toss of her golden head.
  9. When Harry has been naughty and is in trouble, he will go to Annie for consolation.  Annie will always stop what she is doing to give him a cuddle.  It’s very hard to stay cross at him when this happens…
  10. Annie’s favourite game is when she pretends she is Mummy and I am Annie.  Harry, however, finds this altered reality highly disturbing and will climb into my lap and insist on calling me “Mummy” despite his sister’s protests.  Cute.  Very cute.

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So, I’ve been thinking…

10 Short Takes

I get stuck sometimes with blogging.  I write these long, rambling posts with far too much detail and then nothing for weeks on end.  Then, it’s like I’ve set a standard for myself to write another overly-long post.  Well, no more!  I’ve had an idea for another sort of post for those times when I don’t have an epic fail to write about and I haven’t constructed something out of wool to boast about.  I’m calling it “10 Short Takes”, a list of 10 comments or pictures on a given theme.  It will combine my love of numbered lists with the discipline of brevity.  It will also be a nice way to keep in touch without the pressure of a long post.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be writing any more painfully long posts full of tangents and asides.  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t stop that if I tried.  That’s the way I talk as well, incidentally.  I prefer not to get straight to the point.  I can spend more time in the centre of attention that way.  These short takes will be in addition to the rambly ones and (hopefully) will help to fill up the long breaks between boasts and fails and miscellaneous God-bothering.

I was also thinking this might be a nice chance to have a bit of a link-up.  If you’d like to have a go at a ’10 short takes’ post, link to me and I’ll link to you.  All you need to do is write 10 comments (or photos) on any theme of your choosing.  I’ve even been playing around learning how to make a button:

10ShortTakes

 

Ohhh!  I can’t believe that worked (after the fourteenth try, I mean)!  So if you’d like to use the button in your post, copy the text in the above grab box and paste it in your post when it’s in “Text” mode (not Visual – see those two tabs at the top?)

I’ll follow this post up with some “10 Short Takes” posts.  The ironic thing is, this whole idea got me stuck for a while (I’d written most of this post beforeSlump‘) because I wanted the first “Short Takes” to be perfect and thus I froze.  These posts will not be perfect.  But an imperfect post that’s actually published is better than a long absence whilst I chase unrealistic ideals.  It would be really strange if you were sitting at my virtual kitchen table and I only spoke when I had something profound and well-edited to say.   Blogging is not a performance, it’s a conversation.

Blogging is not a performance.   It’s a conversation.

Stay tuned.

Slump

I’m stuck.  I want to write you a great post, a pithy post, a post that really says something, but I’ve hit a bit of a slump.  I’m all blocked up.

I say it’s all because I have no time to write, and in a way that’s true.  Small people tend to crowd my headspace these days and (while I love them and my vocation fiercely – I’m living the dream, I truly am), I crave an hour or two alone to write as much as a twelve-year-old girl craves a One-Direction poster signed by Harry or Corey or whatever his name is.

But in another way, that’s completely not true.  When I’m stung by a good writing idea, I’ll write when I have no time at all, furiously scribbling on old receipts and the backs of envelopes whilst the house falls into disrepair all around me.

"The Frenzy": a cartoon depicting chaos surrounding an oblivious Kate who is writing furiously.  Annie empties cornflakes onto the table, Harry is watering the television and the other two have kindled a small fire on the table and are roasting marshmallows

Good times.  But I’ve no idea what to do to get stung.  It just happens.

I was talking to my friend Strider today.  He’d brought Merri and Pippin over for a play (Arwen was working and Samwise was at a sleepover).  As we sipped hot beverages and gazed at our children rolling about on the trampoline (“Simon says: take off your pants!”), Strider asked me about my blog: did I have any posts in the works?  And was he ever going to get mentioned? (I promised him a Tolkein-themed pseudonym months ago).

So I told him, here’s what I’m working on at the moment (except that I’m not working on any of them):

  • two short stories for a local competition
  • two articles for Seton Magazine
  • A new whole series of blog posts that I want to make into a linky
  • Another Art in August linky
  • this post

Strider nodded wisely.  “Just pick one, Kate.  You’ve made it too hard for yourself.  Don’t worry about the others until the first one is done.”

He’s right.  I’ve allowed everything to pile up and bottleneck and have become all overwhelmed.  And the more time passes from my last post the greater the pressure to write something really epic to compensate for the long wait.  I get paralysed by perfection.  And this makes me avoid writing even more.

Amidst all this confusion, my Inner Critic saunters in and takes advantage of the situation and insists loudly that none of these ideas are any good anyway and I’m kidding myself if I think I am any sort of writer.  I think guiltily of all the readers I must be losing because they think I don’t write here any more, that Laptop on the Ironing Board is the cyber-equivalent of a ghost town, not worth visiting.  And then my mind crowds with images of creepy abandoned amusement parks and rusty swing sets and tumbleweeds and I feel so sad for my poor neglected blog and I think I should really write ten very special posts to make up for it and then I remember that’s what got me into this mess in the first place.

So, here is a post that’s not so epic but which I hope will act as a sort of brain-Metamucil and get things moving again.

There’s nothing like being regular, after all.