The thing about accidents, says Petra, is that they’re not happening until they are. You’re going along fine, and then bang, an accident. You don’t know it’s coming. That’s why it’s an accident.
Sometimes you can see that things are going wrong and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s an accident too. But mostly, you’re not having an accident, and then you are.
A lovely wee quote from Petra talking about the craft project of one of her classmates:
If Dylan wants to finish her bag before the end of the year, she’ll have to get on her wriggle.
What she’s trying to say, for those who aren’t familiar with the idiom, is that Dylan needs to get a wriggle on, or hurry up.
And now I wonder who uses this. Is it an Australian/New Zealand thing? English? A quick google suggests that it’s English in origin but widely used in Australia (and in New Zealand). One website helpfully points out that the New Zealand equivalent is “rattle your dags”. A classic New Zealand phrase this and one I like very much, but I don’t use it at my place. Dags are the lumps of crusted shit that stick in the wool around sheep’s backsides, so I figure I’ll save that fascinating conversation with Petra until later.
Miss Petra seems to have been sick every other week recently. A cold, one of those ghastly 24 hour vomiting bugs that always seem to kick in at 2:30 am and keep you up puking until dawn, and this week, a nasty cough and a reasonably high temperature. This last one has been a bit scary for us all because we’ve been unpleasantly reminded of Petra’s pneumonia experience last year. That started with a cough and a temperature as well, and finished up with two nights in hospital receiving intravenous antibiotics.
We went to the doctor yesterday to ease our minds and the nice young woman we saw examined Petra thoroughly, jollied her along, and gave us a suitably reassuring diagnosis. She made no attempt to offer antibiotics, which was a relief because Petra’s thoroughly opposed to the whole idea after the queasy-making concoctions she had to take last year. We tried to hide the taste in smoothies and ice-cream and other drinks with limited success. Petra hasn’t had a smoothie since and the sight of orange-chip ice cream at her grandmother’s reduced her to tears on our latest visit to Dunedin. Pneumonia is a traumatic business.
Petra’s a lot better today. Her temperature stayed pretty much normal throughout the day and the cough’s improved. She’s just knackered, white-faced and black-eyed, and generally looking like she’s gone a few rounds with a number 5 London bus. Cross fingers for a recovery in time to go back to school next week.
All the illnesses have meant that I’ve been stuck at home. I’ve had to cancel appointments. My newly set up desk is still unused. And it’s not possible to do even the small things like picking up a few things from the supermarket or visiting the library or walking the dog in the lovely spring weather. I’m getting cabin fever.
Ford publishes a weekly column for Fairfax Media in Australia. She’s smart, funny, and refreshingly sane about the crap that women deal with in male-dominated culture. Here she is talking about showing skin in public while not conforming to society’s narrow beauty ideals. I particularly like her last paragraph.
Despite its susceptibility to insidious ideas about the body beautiful, the #fatkini trend still seems different to other selfie based campaigns (like the noxious #makeupfreeme). While other campaigns hinge on notions of conformity, asking that the beauty ideals and objectified be widened so that even more women can be subjected to their judgment, the #fatkini (and other fat fashion trends) is a pointedly transgressive political movement which seems to ask for an eradication of beauty rules altogether.
It’s frustrating that women are forced to waste precious time and resources staging rebellions over how much space (both physical and visual) our bodies are entitled to take up. Even though we weren’t party to the negotiations of that social contract, we’re still expected to adhere to them. So it is political act of defiance any time women brazenly flout these unwritten rules.
It will be nice to arrive at a point in time where women of all shapes and sizes can go about our business without being reminded that our most urgent task is to cultivate the erections of an omnipresent male viewer. Until then, we’ll just have to keep storming the beaches, an invading force clad in the soldier’s uniform of brightly coloured geometric prints and high waisted cut outs.
For book geeks everywhere…
A chicken walks into the library. It goes up to the librarian and says: “book, book, book, book”.
The librarian hands the chicken a book. It tucks it under his wing and runs out. A while later, the chicken runs back in, throws the first book into the return bin and goes back to the librarian saying: “book, book, book, book, boook!”. Again the librarian gives it a book, and the chicken runs out. The librarian shakes her head.
Within a few minutes, the chicken is back, returns the book and starts all over again: “boook, book, book, book bookook!!”. The librarian gives him yet a third book, but this time as the chicken is running out the door, she follows it.
The chicken runs down the street, through the park and down to the riverbank. There, sitting on a lily pad is a big, green frog. The chicken holds up the book and shows it to the frog, saying: “Book, book, book, boook”. The frog blinks, and croaks: “read-it, read-it, read-it”.
As told by DonUrabuenos on 16 August 2014 at 7:47pm in the comment thread for The Guardian article, The woman who went to the library and read every book on the shelf.
Petra’s growing apace. She’s bigger, faster, stronger, and much, much smarter. Figuring out what to do with her enlarging self is giving her a bit of grief. She’s not as assured and skilled as she thinks she should be given her new powers, so she’s trying to manage herself into being magically good at everything instead of allowing herself to learn.
I can empathise with this struggle to manage, to be right and perfect and never make mistakes. It’s the bane of good girls everywhere. I want to say to her, “You never have to be anything other than what you are right now. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to be good, you don’t have to be all-knowing. You just have to be you.’ I found myself muttering all that as I drove home from dropping her off at school this morning. Words to live by. Words I could stand to take to heart myself.
Petra and I got Travis a ukulele for his birthday a couple of months ago. They’re great little instruments – so versatile and easy to play. You can be strumming recognisable tunes in very short order, and if you’re musically gifted you can display impressive virtuosity. We’ve been listening to ukulele covers and thanks to the wonders of youtube we’ve stumbled on a few really wonderful ukulele orchestras. Yes, ukulele orchestras are a thing. Who knew.
There’s one right here in Wellington, that includes Brett Mackenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame. They’re a good time band – a bit shaggy round the edges. They obviously enjoy themselves together and they’re fun to watch. My favourites of theirs – It’s a Heartache, which comes complete with a very Wellington video, filmed just round the corner from Travis’s office, and The Bucket, a cover of a song I’d not heard before by Kings of Leon.
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a whole other thing. They bring highly-trained musicianship to bear on all sorts of songs, from Anarchy in the UK arranged as a folk song and a jazzed up Wuthering Heights, to really fabulous covers that aren’t just funny novelty songs but excellent versions in their own right. My favourites – their cover of Wheatus’s Teenage Dirtbag and a suitably paranoid version of Psycho Killer.