Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A day in the life

Today has felt really long, but in a good way. I worked at home and my partner had a day off, so it was all a lot more varied than office-bound days are wont to be. Here's how it rolled.

6:30am   Wake up, contemplate ceiling for a bit.

6:45am    Get up, dress, have breakfast in silent house. Astonishingly, all three kids are still asleep.

7:20am    Wake husband, leave house for appointment. His turn for school drop off!

7:45am    Arrive (early) for appointment so kill time walking briskly around the shops to wake up.

8:00am    Appointment with lovely psychologist. Leave feeling in better control of my jerkbrain.

9:15am    Arrive home. Have cup of tea with husband.

9:30am    Begin day's work. A difficult and complex document is on today's agenda. Fortunately, the
house is quiet and I am in the right head space to do it.

11:30am   Husband leaves to go help in school kitchen with cooking class. I take a pause from work
to hang washing out and refresh my teacup.

1:40pm   Husband gets home from cooking, and I look up in a daze. Have been completely absorbed
in the work and forgotten to eat / move / stretch for over 2 hours. Now I am very stiff.

2:00pm   Husband and I drive to the beach park 10 minutes away and go for a walk to ease the kinks
and have that rare thing, a conversation sans kids.

3:00pm   Back into work for me, while husband goes to collect Kids 1 and 3 from school. Kid 2 has a
homework help program followed by guitar group.

4:30pm   Husband goes to collect Kid 2, while I keep working despite Kid 3 playing with her Furby
Boom toy right. behind. my. head.

5:00pm   Husband out to run errands; I am still working; kids are doing homework or playing. I pause
a few times to check the potatoes slow-baking on the BBQ, to help Kid 1 with her antonym / synonym homework, to talk about her day with Kid 2 and to admire Kid 3's artwork.

6:15pm    I finish my document, woooo hooooo! Email it off in triumph and go outside to start
cooking the meat, onions and mushrooms for dinner.

6:40pm   We all sit down at our outside table to eat a BBQ dinner in the faintly cool, beautiful summer evening. It's extremely nice.

7:20pm   Husband and Kid 2 go off to do grocery shopping, while Kids 1 and 3 play on trampoline and I do dinner dishes, put on more washing, and reply to accumulated personal email.

8:00pm   Kids 1 and 3 begin night-time ablutions, in which I play the role of cheerleader, towel fetcher, pj-layer-outer, and hair-washer.

8:15pm   Kids are washed; youngest and I sit down to do her reader and her spelling words. We then
swing into bedtime stories.

8:45pm   Husband and Kid 2 are home, and Kid 3 is off to bed. This causes some ructions, but we
sort it out. By 9pm, everyone is (more or less) settled down.

9:00pm   I read a chapter of our current read-aloud, Madeleine L'Engle's An Acceptable Time, aloud
to the big two. We snuggle on the couch. This may be my favourite part of parenting.

9:30pm   Kids 1 and 2 off to bed; I get on to computer and put in a solid 45 minutes writing on my
novel, adding 600 words to the total. I also mess about a bit on Facebook and Twitter, as you do, and write this post!

10:35pm Once I hit post, I'll be off to bed to read a little before flaking out - hopefully quickly, but sleep is always a roulette with me now so we'll just have to see.

That's actually the sort of day that, when I'm well (as I am ... ish ... at the moment), I like the best. I'm figuring it out by inches, but I really am coming to the conclusion that home-based work - or work that is at least mostly doable at home - is the best fit for me, in terms of my work habits, my aptitudes, my family balance, and my sense of life fit. (Not to mention that I get much more detail work done, away from offices).

These are interesting thinks, at the end of an interesting day!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Words for Weather (Poem)

Petrichor: meaning, the scent that rain makes on dry ground
when the clouds have finally given up, and released their payload
and the parching earth, the dusty or tarry or stony or shrivelled earth
relaxes, as do we, with astonishment into the water -

Brumous: meaning, of grey skies and winter days
An onomatopoeia, in fact, summoning brooding slated mornings
Afternoons that end at 3, and sunless sadness
Wintry, in that deep, bone-chilling, crushing way -

Chinook: meaning, a warm, dry, gusty wind to the leeward side of a mountain range
A lifting wind, an unsettling warm trickle
bringing ideas and notions, perhaps,
bringing unexpected serendipity and air-blown rages

Diamond dust: meaning, a fall of ice crystals in the form of needles, columns, or plates
Sharp as needles but much heavier; dangerous as knives
Ready to brain you even as you marvel at their intricately wrought perfection
Cold as the ice that forms it

Depression: meaning, region of low atmospheric pressure with low clouds and rain
not really in need of further explanation, having too close a parallel
in the human heart
to be in any wise mysterious.

Killing frost: meaning, frost severe enough to end the growing season
A blight to hopes as surely as to tomatoes
All it leaves is the sigh of endurance, in the morning after,
Clearing away the dead, and going on
Mammatus (or mamma clouds): meaning, hanging, rounded bumps on the under-surface of a cloud
Often tagging along with severe weather, but themselves benign
Maternal forms in the sky, promising a comfort they cannot, ultimately, deliver
(but soothing, nonetheless, on the eye)
Weather: meaning, state of the atmosphere with respect to heat or cold, wetness or dryness, calm or storm, clearness or cloudiness
The shifting conditions of the world whose skin we walk
while we also walk our own skin
internal climate control variable.

- Kathy, 22/2/15

Monday, February 16, 2015

Working part-time, writing a novel, and doing life

So I started my part-time hours at work two weeks ago - this is week three. I now work 0.6 over four days - school-hours days on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a regular 9-5 on Wednesdays. This means I have Fridays off and that I am able to pick the kids up from school every day except Wednesdays, which is their dad's day anyway (he works 4 days a week).

I also started a writing class at the weekend, called Novel in a Year. The goal, you'll be unsurprised to learn, is to produce a novel across the course of the year, with help, encouragement and instruction along the way. My work in progress is a sort-of science fiction novel, with a provisional title of The True Size of the Universe. I am off to a flying start, but as all writers know, starts aren't the hard part ... let's see how I'm travelling once I hit the 15,000-word-doldrums.

Two weeks is, of course, very early to make any sort of judgements about how anything is settling, but my preliminary observations are these:

1. The extra time I am now not paid-working on my three short days (ie the hours between 2:30 and 5) has been swallowed without trace by kids' activities. Instead of the kids going to after-school care two nights a week, I chauffeur them to netball and swimming, do their readers and help with their homework. Instead of an extra night of takeaway or leftovers, I just cook from scratch. Instead of a cleaner once a week, we're defaulting to once a fortnight.

Bottom line - I don't feel any different about my Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays (and Wednesdays, of course, are the same as before). They don't feel shorter or easier or less tiring; the work is just configured differently, that's all.

2. Fridays off, on the other hand, have been very nice, and quite different. (From a sample size of two, but still). Again, the amount of time gain has been much less significant than I thought it would be - I do only have 5.5 hours from when I leave the kids at school until when I need to be back there for assembly, and that really just isn't that much time - but the *mental* break from work, being 3 days long, has been very welcome and quite total.

The first of my days off I did housework, had a haircut, had a friend over for lunch, and watched Parks & Rec while folding laundry. The second, my husband also had the day off, so we went to Docklands for a pre-Valentines Day lunch, had a lovely long walk, and came home to do laundry for an hour before picking the kids up, and taking them swimming. Both haven't been overly productive per se, but they have been nice, and have extended the value of the weekend greatly. I am really hoping this will continue to be the pattern.

3. My life is still overcrowded and not likely to get less so in the foreseeable future. Working less paid hours simply resets the emphasis, it doesn't magic 40 more hours out of the air. Especially now I am trying to write my novel, I am going to need to remain very mindful of my health and its vagaries, and give myself permission to take downtime when I need to, even if it means a sick day from work, housework undone, events missed, or doona days.

Anyway - so far, so good, I guess. The next month is a bit hyper, with my youngest's 6th birthday, many activities and commitments, and our wedding anniversary night in the city; but it's not too long really til Easter, which means 10 days off for me. Things could be a whole lot worse!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Month of Poetry in Review

Month of Poetry finished yesterday, and once again, I found it a great experience. I did write 31 poems, although not all of them found their way here (some went to the closed MoP blog, some to the closed Facebook group, and a couple were too raw to post anywhere).

I was quite pleased with the month overall, although there were definite misses. Form-wise, I wrote 4 sevenlings, 5 villanelles, 1 kyrielle, 1 Abcderian, 1 erasure poem, 1 enjambed rhyming poem, 10 free verse, 5 haiku, 2 rhyming poems and 1 stream of consciousness. Subject matter covered nature, family, historical and religious figures, politics, and environmentalism / dystopias - sometimes all at once, which got a bit confusing at times.

I really liked my Maligned or Mistreated Women of the Bible mini-cycle - 8 poems in all, covering Vashti, Queen of Persia; Jeroboam's wife; Cozbi, the Midianite princess; Aholibamah, the Canaanite wife of Esau; Lot's wife; Pharoah's daughter who adopted baby Moses; the ill-fated daughter of Jephthah; and Delilah, or Samson-and fame. In fact, I'd like to do more in this vein and will explore offline.

My Favourite Five from this year is a little hard to pin down, but I think I'd choose these:

1. A New Year's Day Sevenling
My first attempt at a sevenling, and I like the last line in particular.

2. Liar
This raw stream of consciousness, written from the POV of Cozbi the Midianite princess, came through in a voice I've never really achieved before.

3. Birthing the Poem
It's far from perfect, but I am fond of this one. A self indulgent poem, yes, but very enjoyable to write.

4. Penalty
Angry and cynical and political. But sometimes you need those things too.

5. Salt
Kyrielles don't always work for me, but this one, on Lot's wife, did. (I think).

As always, doing this exercise has reminded me how important creativity is to my sense of purpose and wellbeing, and the reality is, writing is my primary form of creative expression. I am a visual dullard; I can't craft; I am not especially musical (I am competent at piano and can hold a tune, but in no way talented). Writing poems and stories is, for me, the way to let the light out and play with it, and I cherish disciplines like Month of Poetry for the richness they bring me.