Archive | March 2021

Ranty Tuesday: teaching racism in the 1950s

I’ve been reading an old primary school social studies book. The casual and explicit racism is beyond belief.

There’s been a lot of head shaking and OMG-ing. And calling out to Mr S, “Oh my god, listen to this.” And, “Are you ready for more?” And sharing bits with my oldest son, he’s the one who has been very active in Labor politics and is very left. He just stares, bug-eyed and open-mouthed. And then laughs, “Did they really write that for primary kids?”

So what caused such a stir in the House of Lucinda? What is it in the 1950s social studies textbook for the young in NSW schools that has left us outraged?

Let’s start with the worst bit. The unnamed author is giving an account of the first British settlement and the new animals and flora they encountered – the platypus, lyre-bird, wattles, dingoes. OK, you’ve already guessed part of it. The next bit is on the local Aboriginal people. Like, they are just part of the flora and fauna. But it gets worse. They are referred to as the natives and the blacks. Still gets worse.

The author says Phillip, the first British governor, did all he could to “win their friendship.” Even when attacked by spears, he didn’t allow his men to fire guns as “he wanted the good-will not the ill-will of the Australian people. To learn their words and ways, he sent a party of sailors to Manly to catch a couple of them.”

What the actual fuck!

Catch them like some animals to observe! And the author doesn’t even realise the absolute oxymoron – writes of good will and in the very next sentence writes of kidnapping which is downplayed as “catching”, maybe she wants it to sound like a game of chasing in the playground?

Anyway, it still gets worse. The poor blighter who was kidnapped, allegedly “settled down” and taught Phillip some words. Then comes the closing sentence: “Everyone was sorry when Manly fell sick and died.”

Holy shit! No acknowledgement of the role played in his lonely death.

Then “another blackfellow [was] caught… He was a vain, cheerful fellow who talked a lot about himself.” This is what stands out? His immature nature compared with the clever, brave early British explorers!

What of the frontier wars? You’ve got to be kidding. Of course, there is no such thing. Rather, a story of justified action.

About 80 years later, the blacks in … Queensland speared a brave explorer named Edmund Kennedy. They were angry with him because, to save his party, he had to shoot some of them.” (my emphasis on brave.)

Can we unpack this? The European is brave. The local Aboriginal people are emotional and act unreasonably but Kennedy had no choice? Why? What had happened? And “some of them” – how many is some? We’re they dead?

A cursory search turns up interesting facts. No mention of shootings. I think the local people were engaged in warfare – it’s the 1840s and they would know what destruction arrival of the Europeans herald. As to brave, I think the European explorers were brave. But also so stupid. Most of Kennedy’s party dies. From starvation, and one from accidentally shooting himself. They got hopelessly lost and stuck in mangroves. It’s worth a quick Google. Or read this. You know who’s brave, Jackey Jackey, the Koorie from Port Jackson who carries Kennedy in his back , holds him as he dies and makes it to the supply ship without food while still being tracked and attacked by the local Aboriginal people.

This ignorance seems a recurring theme in Australian explorer tales – they ignore that Aboriginal people live in these areas, ignore that there may be things to learn, ignore that they may wish to defend their land.

But back to the racism in the text book. All the info given about the Aboriginal people’s is negative. Dampier, the English explorer, is quoted at length, thinking them the “miserablest people in the world … with great bottle noses… are of unpleasing aspect, having not one graceful feature in their faces.”

As Older Son says, if the English were on the ships, how’d they know what the First Nations people said?

Cook is quoted as saying they had the worst canoes he has ever seen. And when he came near to two fellows on land, they were unable to understand that he came in peace, so had to shoot them when they threw spears at his landing party. I mean he tried to tell them in the King’s English, what’s wrong with them!!! (Luckily he was able to use beads to coax the childish natives!)

I found this next quote strange, implying as it did that the Aboriginal people were defending their land against invaders (given that this was not the norm for textbooks or common opinion in the 50s) and strange as it went against the Australian orthodoxy that Australian defence personnel are the bravest in the world. After hearing the guns…

Very much afraid, they ran and hid themselves, just as other Australians did in 1942 when they heard the roar of Japanese bombers over Darwin. p24

Have you had enough?

Well, it continues. Banks is quoted as describing their huts as wretchedly built with “nothing more than pieces of bark” and their beards rough snd their bodies very dirty. Cook is said to have spat on his finger to rub off some dirt to see the actual skin colour. I mean, how bloody rude! And it is written as if it is the most natural and understandable thing to do. Why wouldn’t an English explorer have the right to touch someone with spit to check out the skin colour?

Of course, the Aboriginal people are described as having “odd habits”. This written straight after describing the spitting as skin wiping scene. I suppose that’s not an odd habit, it’s just disgustingly rude.

The Aboriginal peoples are portrayed as stupid and lacking knowledge or adult commonsense – for example, being puzzled by the clothing – but the author doesn’t record how the Europeans are ignorant – obviously because the author herself doesn’t think there could be purpose or reason for the actions of the Aboriginal peoples and their ways of living based on knowledge and culture.

I do wonder if Miss changed her views.

You know portrayal of Aboriginal history and culture wasn’t much better in the text books in the 70s. I remember my high school history textbook refer to Aboriginal people’s living a Stone Age like existence. No recognition of the diversity of lives. Nothing on frontier wars. Nothing on racism. Nothing on fight for land rights. I think the latter may have been a little sentence on Whitlam and his revolutionary government.

There’s more on people from other countries but I think we’ve covered enough for one post. I will save Miss portrayal of Chinese and Malaysians and Muslims for another post.

Remember the young students taught this in the 1950s are only just retiring. I know the owner of this textbook went to an expensive private boys school, whose students went onto to being leaders in business, law and politics. The owner of the textbook is a lawyer with an Order of Australia for his work. How did the students shake off the racism they were taught? Did they shake off the racist beliefs?

Weekly catch-up: social studies

Do you remember Social Studies at primary school? Social studies – that strange mix of history, geography, current affairs, famous people.

I’m reading the scraps of a primary school social studies book that I brought home from my mother’s when I helped her downsize.

The book was published in 1954. Well before I was born. How I came by it, I can’t remember. Possibly, a teacher was decluttering and gave it to the little avid reader, the little girl who always had a book in her hand. But wait. What’s that name in the front? Bobby Schweizer. That rings a bell. Weren’t they the German family who owned a restaurant and my mother was the live-in housekeeper come childminder? Yes. Yes, they were.

This book has moved interstate twice and moved in and out of many houses, possibly never being unpacked for the last quarter of a century from the box with my school workbooks and reports. With all that movement, it deserves to be read. Otherwise the thought of all that effort in moving and storing stuff for no purpose doesn’t bear thinking about.

So beyond feeling the need to justify all that storage and schlapping from one part of Australia and back again, why read it?

Well, it’s interesting. To see changing perspectives of what’s important and to see how things have changed.

Did you know it took seven and a quarter (I’m sure that quarter was important) hours to fly from Adelaide to Alice Springs!!! with several stops on the way. God, that’d be a long seven hours.

The photos of Sydney in the 1950s are amazing. So much green space. The harbourside open and clear. Not a skyscraper in sight.

In the section on Places and Objects of Interest in Australia, the unnamed author who says he is indebted to Miss H. J. Urquhart, the Headmistress of the Public School, South Strathfield, writes about Burning Mountain. Mr S and I have been there. We found it extremely interesting but I’d never read about it anywhere before, so it was funny to see it as worthy of putting in a third class text book in the 50s. It’s on the road from Sydney to Tamworth. The sign “Burning Mountain” attracted me so one time we stopped. Mr S wasn’t so keen as he thought it’d be nothing, just a name of a place. I really had to talk Mr S into stopping as once he’s on the route home, he doesn’t like to stop. Well, we were both amazed – it was definitely worth the stop. Burning Mountain has been burning for centuries – the fire following an underground coal seam and scorching the forest above. Still, a strange place to be included in a list of places of interest.

The social studies book has given me some places I want to visit. Never heard of Egg Rock on Mount Buffalo in Victoria. But after reading this, I’ve just added the Victorian high country for a summer exploration sometime.

There’s more references to the French sailors (who were here when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay) than I remember in my texts books at school. I didn’t know that Laperouse went missing so the French sent another boat to look for him.

The book made reference to a poet and poem of whom I’ve never heard – Adam Lindsay Gordon. Shock horror. Where have I been? Turns out to be considered one of the best earliest Australian poets. AND a couple of his poems have been turned into songs by Elgar. Sentimental ballads of the era had fallen out of favour when I was at school. If not for this book, I’d never have discovered The Sick Stockman. Worth a read.

But most, what’s the word I’m looking for?, disturbing..??? Shocked to the point of laughing in disbelief in this book is the casual racism. The unselfconscious contradiction. There’s so much to take your breath away, it deserves a post of its own.

So they will. On a Ranty Tuesday.

What I’ve been reading: tried a couple of items – Olivia Newton-John’s autobiography on audiobook, being one. She is reading it and she has a great voice to relax and help you fall asleep. Started reading a book on coming out gay in the 70s but there’s too much explicit S&M for me.

What I’ve been watching: Second episode of Fisk had me laughing as much as the first. This will be a series I will re-watch. Watched first series of Escape to the Chateau. It is escapism for all of us! And which constant, continual declutterer doesn’t like a decluttering show? Extreme hoarders always make me feel good about my stuff. But in the hoarders on Space Invaders, I see myself. I wouldn’t mind the team doing my house.

  • Sleep: not enough!
  • Water: I’ve started tracking my water and as I knew, I don’t drink enough. We’ve had days of torrential rain – it’s funny how you are more likely to forget to drink water when it’s cold or rainy.
  • Exercise: several usual walks
  • Decluttering: lots of paper gone. And other top

Ranty Tuesday – moths

It’s moth season. Not your little pantry moths. No, we get big buggers here. Not being entomologists, my friends and I call them Bogan moths. Forget worrying about spiders, I get more annoyed by moths.

For some reason, the moths just sit against the wall or ceiling all day – not flat but with their wings shut up so they look like little cocoons. So still. So quiet. Easy to forget. They might be dead.

But then, come night time, they decide to flap around like a bloody mad March fly.

When they flap around, it is so loud, it’s like there’s something much bigger.

They hit the walls and furniture with a plop and a plop flop.

But worse than the noise. I think they are attracted to my blonde hair. Maybe it glows like a light? Can you imagine how horrid it is to have a moth flapping at you, dive bombing you, getting caught up in your hair, in bed, when you want to sleep or do a bit of reading in prep of falling asleep?

Mr S has no sympathy. But then, he has no hair, so the moths aren’t bothering him.

The glow of my iPhone (which I’m still in love with BTW) brings them into the room. I lie in bed, reading, waiting for the next attack. (OK, I get it is the light of the phone, not my hair, but they still end up in my hair.)

One night, I squashed one between the headboard and mattress. Yay. That’ll teach it.

Next morning, when I went to remove the carcass, it was gone. Oh shit! It’s wasn’t dead. It’ll come back with more mates to get me.

And that’s what happened. The next night I was flapping around in bed because a moth was flapping around. IN MY HAIR AND AROUND MY HEAD!!! Mr S was not best pleased. Growled at me to keep still. What the actual hell!

So I went to the bathroom – I was sure the moth had settled on me. Stripped off my pyjama top and found the moth inside my top!!!! I flicked it in the toilet but it wouldn’t flush away. These things are indestructible!!!

And now I’ve to face species learning. They’ll all share the knowledge of me as the enemy, the one to get.

Next night … Unusually, I was in bed before Mr S. Reading, with the light on. Mr S comes in and turns off the main light. And hops into bed. “Stop. There’s a moth on your pillow.”

He cupped it in his hand and let it go outside.

Oh great! Another moth lives to come back another night. AND they all now know I am the failed murderer of their kind and Mr S is their saviour.

So now I lie here, waiting. Waiting.

I was going to write that the anticipation of waiting for a moth attack is worse than the actual attack but who am I kidding. They are both shit. Waiting to be attacked by a blind, crazy moth. And being attacked.

Why they want to come inside, I have no idea.

Oh and fly spray doesn’t seem to bother them.

Same night, middle of the night, I awake as usual. Can’t sleep. So start typing this post.

A moth now attacks me. (I know. This is turning into a soap opera.)

Into the bathroom. I’m sure they’re in my hair. No. All clear.

Back to room, stuff Mr S and his undisturbed sleep (which will form the topic for its own post on a future Ranty Tuesday), I’m turning on my bedside lamp. It will draw out the enemy, currently knocking and flopping against the back of the bed head and the wall.

Bloody hell. Two!!! Two come out. One I captured in a glass. The other may have succumbed to fly spray or gone elsewhere to mate.

(I worked out why they are so loud when they flap against the wall and furniture. They have tough hard bodies. I picked one up in the morning, in a bit of cloth, and squashed it between my fingers. Oh yuck. The crack. It was not nice.)

Is this all not rant worthy?

Weekly catch-up: empty nesters

Both my sons moved out earlier this year. The oldest to the inner city. Where he feels comfortable. Among the buzz of hip life. Full of intellectuals, hipsters m, wannabes, freaks, drop outs, young urbane types.

My youngest has moved out with another young lad from our street to a flat on the harbour at Kirribilli, that looks directly onto the Opera House. No one can believe what they are paying. The views are to die for. And with its gentility, it’s more The Dreamer’s scene than the city and inner west. He can skate or train across the bridge to the city and then escape back north.

Both are keeping their rooms here. And the spare room which has lots of their stuff. And shoes on the front porch!!!

Even if I was so inclined, I couldn’t empty their rooms. Mr S wouldn’t let me. He wants to boys to be able to come home any time they want.

Older Boy comes back quite often. He is a member of an athletics club close by and he trains with them. He might sleep here about once a fortnight. Or drop by for dinner.

Younger boy is back several times a week – sleeping here about twice a week.

He also comes to wash, to eat dinner with us or to eat whatever we had for dinner (we often cook double quantities to save cooking every night). On being asked, “What’s for dinner?” I asked if he thought dad and I might be cooking for two now. The look on his face told me he hadn’t even considered that option. He just assumed there’d always be enough for him too. Well, there is but it means we will have to cook another night too. And to be honest, Mr S always cooks for about twenty people.

The Dreamer has also said he is returning when his lease is up in June. So he has not really moved out – not physically, not mentally, not permanently.

So while we get several nights a week as empty nesters, we are not really empty nesters. Will we ever be?

I don’t feel deserted. How can I be? They’re here frequently.

I don’t feel at a loose end. I have never defined myself as a mother. Anyway, I am still a mother. Mothering was never my whole purpose and I didn’t live through my boys’ lives.

I can’t miss their mess because it is still here.

I don’t miss their company because we still catch up. One weekend we all went to an engagement party. Next weekend, we all went out for lunch and drinks and chat in the city. And then there’s the nights they’re here. And The Dreamer works at my school a couple of days a week.

I quite like the quiet. No SHOUTY computer game talk. No midnight feasting, klompimg around the kitchen, tinging of the microwave. No loud, not my taste, music.

So no grief here. But then maybe it’s because the nest really isn’t empty as much as it is that I have other things in my life besides mothering?

What do you think? Have you suffered empty nest syndrome?

What I’ve just read: I have several books on the go. None finished yet.

What I’ve been watching: started the investigative 3 part series into the fire in the ghost train ride fire at Sydney’s Luna Park in 1979. I couldn’t watch most of episode 1. It was too harrowing. I felt dread at the thought that the producer was just bringing up the pain of the families of those boys who died so she could have a sensational show; promising them a “real” answer rather than an electrical fault. But fuck, it was powerful and emotional and well done. No one who watched wouldn’t be in tears. Unless you kept turning it to mute and looking away like me. So you could say I didn’t really watch it. But I did watch some, even more without sound.

My pick for the week: Fisk. Written by and staring my favourite female comedian, Kitty Flanagan. Cringy, laugh out loud, nodding in agreement with situations. It’s great. I love the young comedian, Aaron Chen, who plays the “Webmaster”. All round brilliant cast.

Vegan-ish cooking

This fortnight I have been cooking dinners from Jackie Norman and Gareth Scurr’s Easy and Delicious Vegan Recipes for Busy People, although I have been un-veganfying the recipes with cheese and yoghurt and real milk.

OK, I’ve just been cooking vegetarian meals. But I like the terms unveganfying vegan meals or veganish cooking.

I like vegetarian food. I like the lower impact on the environment. If you want to do something for the environment, and you eat meat, cut out a red meat dinner each week. You’ll lower your carbon emissions by quite a bit.

I also like that I am not inflicting suffering on animals.

But the main reason I like vegetarian foods is: I like the flavour. But not vegan. Nothing beats milk and cheese and yoghurt.

I often go for the vegetarian options at lunches. People often comment, “I didn’t know you are vegetarian!” I’m not. Just prefer it.

I do like some meat. Roast lamb. Yum. An occasional piece of salty ham. Prawns. Mmmm. Roast pork. Occasionally. Not a fan of most pieces of chicken. While I often eat butter chicken, I normally only eat the sauce with a piece of naan, leaving the pieces of chicken for Mr S. I do like the skin off a roast chook. Not so much the meat.

Some of my meat-free choices might make little sense. I hate meat on my pizzas. Except for a few prawns. Spag Bol with meat is horrific. Makes me gag. But I can eat savoury mince. I hate tofu. It also makes me gag. Blurgh.

I’ve been following Jackie and Gareth on FB for a while – they sold up and have been living a minimalist life in a van driving around NZ. When they released a vegan cookbook, I thought it might not be released in Australia. Luckily it has been and my library had a copy.

First dish I made was their Ye Olde Family Chilli. Very similar to my own brew but they add tinned lentils and cocoa powder. Once cooked up, it really looked like meat. Not that I needed it to look like meat, but if sons come it might be good to fool them. I jazzed up our bowls, or loaded them up, with corn kernels, yoghurt, grated cheese, sweet chilli sauce and corn chips. My cheese and yoghurt additions are the non-vegan additions.

This was a winner!

Second dish was lasagne. Similar to my recipe, more so because I won’t use non-milk options to make white sauce and have to use real cheese.

I adapted their Man Flu Minestrone. What made it the BEST EVER minestrone was my addition of a piece of Parmesan. A rind with a bit of cheese still in it. OMG. Devine.

Also adapted their cauliflower curry. I tossed in some Nigella seeds and cardamom pods. Went down a treat. This was vegan. I was going to add yoghurt but it was off.

As well as being yummy, cutting the meat makes for cheaper meals. Which is lucky because I spent a bit on chocolate for Easter. 🐣

Ranty Tuesday: the not so prodigal son

I have always been annoyed by the story of the prodigal son.

What about the good son?

He’s worked hard. He stuck by his father. He persevered. He showed commitment and stick-with-it-ness. Day after day, he just got on with his routine. Maybe he wanted an adventure. Maybe he wanted some fun. But work had to be done. Money was not to be wasted, not to be squandered. He probably practised frugality alongside his father on the farm.

And what happens? His brother, who had been off having fun and having an adventure, gets the party. Do you know what prodigal means? Wastefully extravagant; spending recklessly and freely. That guy’s already had his party. He had nothing but party when he squandered his share of the money.

It’s like people who get cheered for getting out of debt. Or losing excessive weight. Or giving up drugs.

What about the person who day after day practises economy or good choices? Where’s their cheering? Where’s the interest in how they do what they do, did what they did?

Imagine a woman’s magazine having a front page headline: “Susie: how I haven’t got fat.” Or “Lizzie shares her story of not putting her money into pokies”. Or “Read inside for the scoop on how this woman goes to work every day, day after day, on time, for decades.”

So here’s to all the non-prodigals! Here’s cheers to you!

(PS: even if I was religious, I’d still be annoyed with the parable. Yeah, I get the analogy – believers squander God’s Grace but he’ll welcome you back. Still, give the party to the son who stayed and have the party-guy prove himself before he gets a big welcome back party – not just come back because he’s run out of money and there’s a famine in which the pigs are eating better than he was, and “Hey, let’s have a party”. Let the wasteful one do some work first. You know he’ll still want some more of the inheritance when the father dies.)

#enough

In Australia, there’s been a recent groundswell from women. A groundswell of disgust, of outrage, of enough.

Against indecent assault. Sexual assault. Harassment.

Over the current federal parliament, female parliamentarians have been leaving, citing the toxic male environment as a major reason.

Then a former Liberal staffer went public with a rape allegation. The Liberal ministers and advisors knew. But they silenced her – “it’ll affect your career” etc etc but they called for the sofa on which occurred to be dry cleaned.

Then allegations were made of historic rape against a current member of the Cabinet.

It’s not astounding that public opinion believes these women.

We all know a woman who has faced unwanted sexual or indecent assault, if not having faced it ourselves. We know that boys, especially from “exclusive” private schools have a sense of entitlement. And when the message is “it will be covered up”, the woman silenced, the story changed to make the abuser the victim, this sense of entitlement filters for many. (Don’t # not all men. I know. I’m married with two boys. But it’s strange that every woman knows someone who has been indecently or sexually assaulted, yet no one seems to know someone who assaults women.)

If women aren’t safe in the highest house of Australia, where are they safe in this country?

The groundswell called for women to surround the commonwealth parliament – a ring of women who’d stand in silence to acknowledge the women who had been assaulted and silenced. That grew into marches in all major centres.

I’ve been busy at work. The march was on a work day. Surely I couldn’t go? Anyway, I’m not one to mindlessly chant.

Any movement is going to be co-opted by other groups. I understand intersectionality, but this is about women’s fundamental rights. There were certain groups that were loudest on the Facebook page, excluding others in the call for inclusion. Did I really want to support these messages?

Driving to work, I was listening to one of the organisers on the radio. I knew I had to go. Had to add my presence. What if everyone said they were too busy? I rang a friend. She knew what I was calling for.

We both went into work for a couple of hours and then left. This is worth losing half a day’s pay for me.

I am glad we went. Yes, there were messages riding on the coat tails of our anger. But the message of justice for women was loud and clear.

Do you know how it feels to be in a large group of mainly women? Respected. Cared for. Safe.

No invading your space. No leering. Polite “excuse me” and “sorry” as people move through the crowd.

Enough already!

Social distancing was enforced by the police

Weekly catch-up: Hobbies

I’ve never been one to have hobbies.

Once, while in my early 20s, when visiting German relatives in Germany, an aunt asked me what my hobbies were. She was adamant that one MUST have hobbies.

That struck me as quite a strange thing to be adamant about and it stuck with me. Because I don’t have hobbies. And for the next 25 years? I still didn’t have hobbies. Oh god. Am I just a wage slave?!?

I’ve never been into sport. Blah! What is the point?

Dance? I have little rhythm, always start with the wrong foot, can’t tell my right from my left without winking, and can’t move my arms and legs with any sense of style.

I’m not at all crafty or creative. I’ve tried sewing. A practice in frustration. Was going to sew my sister a dress for her 21st. Hahaha. Who was I kidding! She never got a 21st present from me. Who knows where the cutout material ended up.

Knitting? Never finished the jumper I started. Let alone a scarf. Luckily my mother finished the jumper. I think. Anyway, I left the wool and wonky-tensioned piece with her.

Twenty-seven years ago, I found a craft for the non-creative. Cross stitch. All you need to do is count. I can do that. Did several. Then mis-counted on one and couldn’t finish it. “Just make it up,” said my mother. “Improvise!” That just won’t work. I’d end up with a very wonky piece and not in a creative way. I still have that UFO (UnFinished Object) and a few other kits in my cupboard.

I tried some scrap booking. More scrap, less booky. Why stick things around your photos? I don’t get it. And not because my pages look like I fought with the glue and other sticky things. I look at “good” ones and think why?

When I was a teen, my mother made me have music lessons. I won’t say it was a waste of money. But it definitely isn’t a hobby I’ve continued with. Much to the relief of anyone who isn’t tone deaf.

I tend to have challenges. Growing sweet peas. Running. (That one went as quickly as it came. See sport above.) Striking cuttings.

I do like words. Reading. Blogging. Learning languages. I think they’re my hobby.

Last year, I read Miranda Hart on hobbies. She struggles with them too. She outlines the ages of hobbies:

  • Teens – you’re only allowed to continue with your hobby if you’re talented in it. Think gymnastics, ballet, sport. Otherwise, with the need to be cool, you abandon hobbies.
  • 20s – you only need hobbies for your CV for job applications.
  • 30s – you look for some meaning. Search for something. Maybe join a book group. Or a masculine pursuit to find a partner, such as boxing or car mechanic classes.
  • 40s – gardening, but only if you’re professional successful or married. Otherwise you have to wait until you’re 50. Phew, this is now my hobby. My sons say it is a chore, not a hobby. So maybe I still don’t have a hobby.

Miranda says the only acceptable hobby throughout the ages is cookery. For this too, she gives stages, which are scarily accurate.

  • Child – adorable baked items
  • 20s – spag bol
  • 30s & 40s – lovely stuff with butternut pumpkin and chorizo from magazines
  • 50s & 60s – beef Wellington (possibly other comfort food)
  • 70s & 80s – back to adorable baked items

All well and good but last year I largely gave up cooking. I just can’t be arsed. It’s, I don’t know, like I’ve done enough dinners, baked enough cakes. Someone else can do it. Thank heavens, Mr S stepped up to grocery shopping and cooking.

Do you think people should have hobbies? Do you have a hobby? Or three?

One of my hobbies. (Saying something clever/funny but devastating.) When I realised it wasn’t everyone’s normal state. So it must be my hobby.

Last year, I took up “finding” cuttings for plants. I call it helping plants propagate. My friend calls it stealing. But look what it has given me:

What I’ve just read: this week’s read was fantastic. An antidote to decluttering, to simplifying. Miss Savidge Moves Her House by Christine Adams. Google it and watch the videos that were made in the 80s and earlier. What an unusual and independent and tough woman.

What I’ve been watching: it’s been one of those weeks at work when mindless shite on TV is needed to switch off the brain and when you can’t remember what you actually watched anyway.

Steps to my goals:

  • Sleep: bad – sooooo tired.
  • Water: bad – signs not drinking enough = headaches.
  • Exercise: blargh. Getting off the couch after a 10 hour day is hard.
  • Decluttering: holy t shirt cut up for rags.
  • Main thing I’m too embarrassed to tell you about: nix
  • FIRE: lots of talking and dreaming, little action. Though I did cook dinner on Thursday instead of spending $100 at a restaurant.

Ranty Tuesday: Apostrophes

I don’t get how people don’t get apostrophes.

It’s really quite simple.

Just because a word ends in an s doesn’t mean you put an apostrophe in front of the s.

An electronic sign on a local church made me want to phone and say, “It’s not how the church can help me but how I can help the church.” Apostrophes, people!

There’s only two rules:

  1. To show ownership.
    • Lucinda has a blog. = Lucinda’s blog
    • Jennifer has a book = Jennifer’s books
    • Mummy has a little helper = Mummy’s little helper
  2. To show a letter has, or letters have, been dropped.
    • I have had enough = I’ve had enough.
    • We will persevere = We’ll persevere.

But I just don’t get the mental block that some people have with apostrophes. It’s like they are trying to remember how to add or multiply fractions or do simultaneous equations. Apostrophes are not that hard. There’s only two rules. Learn them people!

There are many times I don’t care if people make mistakes. In texting. In writing me a missive (I am not one who corrects letters, no one likes that. I am thankful for a card or letter or email. And I know when typing quickly, we can all make mistakes.) When used by people who have learnt English as a second language relatively recently or without any classes.

But for a church sign on a busy road! If you can’t learn the two rules, how can I trust you to save my soul?

Weekly catchup: not my adult gap year

I was not meant to be working right now. This was meant to be my year off. Mr S’s too. Thirteen months of owning our own time.

We postponed it due to COVID. Can’t travel over seas. With state borders repeatedly closing, there were times we couldn’t even have travelled interstate, with no guarantee that state borders won’t close again.

Now, while I’m not sad we are not having this year off, I made it quite clear to Mr S, who wanted to postpone for two years, that I am definitely having 2022 off. I didn’t only want to go to the UK. I wanted to potter and garden and learn German and exercise and read and bake and explore and … and … and. So much more.

But mostly I wanted to not go to work.

Our forced savings for the year off have stopped being deducted from our income, which meant our pay as gone up to 100%. Having got used to living on 80% of our income, I didn’t want to waste the 20%, so I’ve upped our mortgage repayments.

With 20% of our income being taken out post tax and saved for us for four years, we have a nice lump sum waiting for us. We momentarily thought about cashing it in and paying off our mortgage.

But no! I WANT that year off.

I say to myself repeatedly, “Only three and a half terms left.” It’s a pretty liberating feeling. (Yes, I will be back after the year off but more than a year off – 13 whole months!!!)

I can see why FIRE is attractive.

It’s not that I haven’t got satisfaction snd identity and fun and fulfilment from work. But I’m ready to get more of that from other things.

What I’ve just read: Laura Tingle’s essay on NZ in the Quarterly Essay: The High Road: what Australia can learn from New Zealand. Sharp and incisive and comprehensive. Australians need to know more about NZ and this is a good start.

Also read Snakes and Ladders by Angela Williams, a memoir about a woman who was sent to prison for breach of weekend detention, a decade after her original drug-fuelled crime and after having turned her life around, getting uni degrees. I got to this book via a FB group which started in protest about the current sexual mistreatment of women working in Australian parliament but the FB group wiped the word women from the title as it was deemed exclusionary. At which point I left the group. The women are being raped, sexually assaulted, harassed because they are women. The protest is being co-opted by a group with a different agenda.

What I’ve been watching: I finished season 1 and started on season 2 of Our Yorkshire Farm. Mr S got into it too. What a fabulous family! But while I’d love to live there, farming is not for me.

Continuing with Season 1 of Vera – episode 2, which I have seen before, probably more than once but it was still so scary – the sounds, background music, faces popping up at windows. I had to mute bits. I can’t cope with really scary bits. I know it’s imaginary. I know they catch the killer but still. Why so scary? Why oh why do people always turn their back on the crazy murderer? And why are English coppers always on their own when there’s someone with a hammer about?

I also watched some rubbish – James Corden interview Prince Harry. (I will be watching Oprah’s interview next week.) Flicked between Gogglebox and Wife Swap. My two rubbish addictions!

Steps to my goals:

  • Sleep: crap week
  • Water: not enough.
  • Exercise: ditto.
  • Decluttering: said goodbye to the dress that I thought would last for a few more wears. But happy to release it while it is okay for someone else. With quite a few other items from my wardrobe, I will either take to a clothes swap meet or to the op shop.
  • Main thing too embarrassed to tell you about: did nothing.
  • FIRE: our first increased mortgage repayment went in, dropping our mortgage by over $7,000. If we keep this up, the mortgage will be gone in three years. My super is nearly double our mortgage, so worse case if work really shit me and I couldn’t continue is we could pay off our mortgage and fix up the house and live off Mr S’s super which is more than double mine.