Monday, January 30, 2017

January Goal Review

So as the first month of the year draws to a close, I thought I'd look at how I went with the goals I set myself in each of my three target areas for 2017 (fitness, household organisation, and creative life).

My goals were:

Fitness - Walk for a minimum of 30 minutes a day
Creative - Complete Month of Poetry with one poem produced each day
Household - Complete kids' rooms clean-out, recarpeting and room swap

I have, mostly, hit my targets for the month.

I slammed it in the latter two categories - the kids' rooms are completely done, look great, and we have tossed out an epic amount of junk, which feels awesome. And I have indeed written a poem every day in January - granted, there's still a day to go, but I don't think I'm going to drop the ball now!

With the walking, I didn't manage every day, due to getting horribly gastro sick in the latter part of the month (probably, but not certainly, as a result of being glutened), which had me bed / couch bound for three days and rather exhausted for a few more. I will say that every day I was healthy, I did at least 30 minutes, so that's a pretty good outcome anyway.

So for February, the goals in each area are:

Fitness - Work with physio / personal training practice to develop suitable exercise program
Creative - Add 10,000 words to one of my half-finished novel works in progress (The True Size of the Universe)
Household - Clean out my chest of drawers and cupboard

Given that February also contains school-start shenanigans, my youngest's 8th birthday festivities, and about 3.5-4 days a week of booked paid work, I think that's more than enough to be going on with.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The year ahead

I'm quite engaged at the moment in planning out the shape of the year, as one does at the end of January (well, as *I* do, usually!)

It's looking like a good six months for work - my bookings never stretch too far into the future, but I'm solidly, but not (yet) excessively, committed til the end of June, which is a good position to be in.

We are (mostly) ready for school start, and the return of netball, chess and music lessons. Investigations are underway to add horse-riding lessons and martial arts into the mix, which will somewhat complicate matters logistically, but we'll see how we go.

The first half of the year's calendar is filling rapidly with events (weddings, dinner parties, birthdays, theatre, conventions, etc) and we're close to locking in a mid-year mini-break with friends and our Sydney holiday in September. (Just quietly, the family is very excited about Sydney - we are planning to do the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Powerhouse, catch up with friends and family, do lots of touristy stuff, and go to Sydney OzComicCon).

I am about to get cracking on getting everyone's passports sorted as the first stage of serious prep for Japan in April 2018.

The year ahead looks like it could be a good one for us. I know that the best-laid plans don't always come off, and that events and circumstances can always derail us, but so far, the wind is setting fair for a good year's sailing.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

26 January Villanelle (Poem)

Australia / Invasion Day villanelle. I always do a fairly depressing villanelle for 26 Jan.

Unfiltered sun and drowning dirty rain,
Climate is not weather, and it's turned;
So much lost, so little common gain.

The nation calibrated now to train
All angst and fearing on the Other, spurned;
Unfiltered sun and drowning, dirty rain.

Everyone is told now that our pain
Is self-induced, not born of wealth unearned;
So much lost, so little common gain.

Echoes of the dark past in refrain,
Power feeds itself and is returned;
Unfiltered sun and drowning, dirty rain.

The hungry and the desperate wait in vain,
While politicians argue who gets burned;
So much lost, so little common gain.

The world swings right, and we move in the lane,
Home-grown callousness both born and learned;
Unfiltered sun and drowning, dirty rain,
So much lost, so little common gain.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Warrnambool: A holiday in (mostly) pictures

We got home from a 9-day vacation in the Victorian coastal town of Warrnambool on 13 January. We've holidayed in Warrnambool before (in February 2013)  and had a really fantastic time on our first trip. When I polled the family about possible locations for a summer 2017 holiday, both my partner and my eldest daughter quickly suggested Warrnambool, and it turned out to be an excellent plan.

I did daily FB posts about the holiday, so, handily, I can use them to remind myself of our activities quite easily; but I think a picture post is always nice, to capture some of the beauty that surrounded us so thoroughly.

Key things we did, and loved, included:
- Multiple beach swims
- Rockpool exploration
- Horse riding
- Visit to Tower Hill and nature walks
- A day in Port Fairy
- Fishing from the breakwater
- Mini golf and paddle boating
- Visiting Flagstaff Hill historic maritime museum
- Card games, colouring, reading, napping
- Nice food discovery and consumption

We stayed at a house just outside of town proper, set in a large garden which was occupied by many wild rabbits and next door to a field where two very friendly horses lived. Feeding apples to, and stroking the noses of, the horses became a lovely morning and evening task and really added to the whole experience. The sky was not polluted at night by city light, so we were able to use our telescope to full effect and got some great moon, planet and star-gazing in.

My parents came down for two nights while we were there and came to Port Fairy for the day with us, which was just delightful. We did the Griffith Island walking track at Port Fairy, which is the first time we've done that (last time the kids were too little for it) and it was very beautiful. We also discovered a fantastic little secondhand bookshop there.

My parents also very kindly sat with the kids one evening so my partner and I could get out for a dinner by ourselves - we went to Pippies by the Bay and had seafood and Eton Mess, and it was absolutely delicious.

We were super lucky with the weather - we arrived in the afternoon on Wednesday and left the following Friday morning, and in that time, we copped one stinking hot day where it was too hot to get to the beach (we went to the cinema instead to escape the heat!) The only rain we had commenced on the morning we were packing to leave, and we ended up driving home through quite heavy downpours (a little hair-raising at times, but we made it safely!)

It was one of the best family holidays we've ever had - I think I'd probably only rank Port Douglas in 2014 above it, to be honest. Just the right balance between Doing the Things and Doing No Things. We're already decided on a return visit in 2 years (Jan 2019) and I can't wait!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Night Wife (Poem)

Day 17 Month of Poetry: Back to the women of fairytale for perhaps the best-known fairytale of all from the Arabic world - this is inspired by Scheherazade of 1001 Nights, and by the migraine-sleeping-off nap and weird vivid disconnected dreams I just had.

Night Wife

Listen, king, and I will tell you a tale.

It starts in a city of saints high in the desert
where the morning light has such a clarity
and the pink hills all around glow with life

and then there is a boat that goes under the sea
nosing up to the shallows like a curious porpoise
inviting you to come beneath, and yet

the sky gallops like a wild mare, ribbons of white foam
chasing each other towards heaven

there is a woman in it, with eyes like muddy stars
a gaggle of geese in a field, and a treasure -
only time will tell what kind

I saw it when I slept, and the song the colours sang
tore my heart into pieces at my feet

Listen, king, and I will weave you a new palace
the filigree of dreams is finer than any lace
honey-golden with promise and the longing,
that aching longing,
that comes when you look to the west
or at the vast night sky, and the soul cries out -

Once upon a time in a land far, far away...

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Home from Holidays and Resolutions

We got home from our beach holiday in Warrnambool last night. It was a wonderful break - 9 days of fun, sun, beach, sleep, card games, poetry, horse riding, eating out, and nature walks. It did us all a great amount of good. I'm planning a picture post about it for next week.

Having the time away gave me a chance to reflect on what worked well for me in 2016 and what didn't. As I noted in my end of year post, one area that 2016 let itself down was in terms of my creative life. Another area, which is a perennial problem for me, was in terms of orderliness / organisation (and cleanliness) of my living space. I am reasonably organised in terms of life logistics - I don't frequently forget appointments, committments or activities - but our household level of organisation is poor to fair depending on the week. In particular, we have piles of stored, unsorted and unmanaged, stuff that are so dense that the chances of actually finding anything in them are low at best, and these piles are everywhere and overwhelming.

I accepted years ago that I am never going to be a perfect housekeeper, or even a very good one. But when one's inability to organise physical space gets to the level of losing objects each and every day, high levels of stress because of persistent junk, and a cramping of desire to host people in my house because of its state of disarray, it is time to do something about it.

Another thing I have been putting off for years, but realised with great clarity while on holidays, is that I really need to properly sort out my spinal issues and work on improving my fitness. I have sorted out, to a good extent, my management of my chronic health conditions, through a mix of medication, lifestyle adjustments, and strategic deployment of specialist interventions. While this is a good thing, I am still extremely unfit, and this will have increasingly large consequences for me as aging takes its toll.

So although I have a degree of scepticism about new year's resolutions generally, I thought this year it would be good to set three goal themes, and each month, nominate a specific thing to accomplish within that area. My working life, family relationships, overall health management, and social life are all doing pretty well, so there is no specific goal there, just steady as she goes.

Thus, 2017's Three Big Goals are:

1. Improve spinal health and increase cardiovascular fitness (Goal 1)
2. Re-energise creative life (Goal 2)
3. Improve household physical tidiness and organisation (Goal 3)

I have put in place already some steps in each category. I'm starting a program of combined physio and training with a highly recommended mixed practice in early February; I've signed up to Write Every Day for a Year Challenge; and we are, as I write this, dismantling the kids' unbelievably messy bedrooms in preparation for recarpeting and room swapping (which is involving a lot of chucking out junk).

What I want to do is to have one specific sub-goal each month within each of these three categories to give me focus. For January, these will be:

Goal 1 - Walk for a minimum of 30 minutes a day
Goal 2 - Complete Month of Poetry (write a poem every day for the month)
Goal 3 - Complete kids' rooms empty out and recompilation into new configuration

So far, I am on task with 1 and 2 (we walked heaps during the holiday!) and we are in progress with 3. Here's hoping that can continue as the month moves on.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lettuce Wife (Poem)

Day 13: Wives of fairytale again today, and I'm trying a little sevenling based on the story of Rapunzel. (I know the title is a bit of a stretch, but rapunzel is a kind of lettuce, and she and the prince do end up married in the end, so).

Lettuce Wife

Three things, my life:
a blue-stoned rounded room; a head of wheaten heaviness;
the faint thread of song in the night.

Three things came of it:
a bellyful of new life; the acid rage of the witch;
the cutting away of sight and magic together.

Desert tears in darkened eyes call sweet agony to the dawn.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Sevenling for Beauty

Day 9: Month of Poetry

This one is inspired by the unbelievably great beach holiday we are having and the soaking in beauty that my soul is getting.

A Sevenling for Beauty

Three things in nature catching at the heart:
the blue-green changing sea; the high gloss on the neck of a horse;
the inscrutability of stars in their constellations.

Three things, closer:
the widened eyes of a child seeing a starfish;
the tenderness in a man's lopsided smile;
a glimpse of your own face in a rockpool, wearing hard years with unexpected lightness.

And all around, beauty: above, below, within;

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Seal Wife (Poem)

Day 5 Month of Poetry: this one based on the many fairy stories about the selkies.

Seal Wife

the moon sugar-white sharp like day like stainless noon
magick above waves above sand

dancing on feet on brittle toes brighthair darkeye I
with sisters with silver with blood of ocean
every speckling sparkling pore

behind rock hidden hard breathing
as moon kisses not-women pale against ice-stars against soft sky
when I keen for my skin you say nay, nay:
stay stay my bride be
selkie of the sea

of the kitchen hearth, now
not of sea

belly grown huge with black-eyed babes
no sisters to swallow screaming
no salt to wash bleeding
no fur no fins no thing sea could own

light through glass say: away, away
wrapped in what you stole 
black-eyed sons must fret on floor

one flick one tailbright tailblackened
to ocean I
to self I

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Sevenling for a Small Girl and the Sea

Month of Poetry Day 4: A Sevenling for a Small Girl and the Sea

Three things she cries wonder:
the soft give of white sand in her toes;
the cool suction of wavelets; the wheeling importunity of gulls.

Three things lie waiting:
stinging flies; a treacherous dump tide;
over in the west, a hazy glimpse of heaven.

The small girl rushes, unheeding, to the sea.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Troll Wife (Poem)

I usually pick a theme for my MOP efforts - in past years I have done Narnia, Women of the Torah, and Women of Mythology. This year I am doing Women of Fairytale, but what I am trying to do is to unpick the message / motivation behind the story (or make one up if that works better!)

Today's poem is based on an Icelandic fairytale called The Witch in the Stone Boat, which was in a fairytale collection I had as a child. The story is one of substitution and glamour magic, where a witch takes the place of the rightful queen, but her behaviour is then totally different. I speculated on what this might be a metaphor for.

Troll Wife

He looks at her with baffled fury and says:
You didn’t used to be like this

She hitches the screaming toddler higher on her hip and says
Well, this used to not be my life, either
you going out all night and me here with nothing
but the dark and the animal breath of half-sleeping children

He makes a fist, and says, I ought to -
She laughs. You ought to what?
He shakes his head. No words come.

She stares out the window and thinks of the stone boat
sailing with cool granite under her feet
seeing him, straw-haired, hard-jawed, and thinking:
if only I had that, I would be happy forever

the stars in the sky say: Oh lady, lady
and she keens back, where am I, where
who is this brown-eyed woman in the linen shift who holds my son

and the boat sails on to the underworld
as he closes the door behind him.

- Kathy, 2/1/17

Sunday, January 1, 2017

12:01am (Poem)

Today I started Month of Poetry 2017, with this on-time welcome to the New Year! This month I will only be blogging poetry and photos.

dragon's teeth split the sky
the year turns in gold and cinnamon, and with it:

all the sadness and the sparks
all the fury and the fear
all the sweetness and the longing
of the old, flares up:
shining like bright ghosts on the limen

the angel opens the book, and says:

- Kathy, 1/1/2017