30 April, 2015

Z is for Zombie

An extra layer of pain in my neck, present when I woke this morning, tipped me over my usual management threshold, such that the standard concoction of oblong and round tablets that I take every day and puts the pain away for the day and lets me get on with things was not going to be sufficient.

When this happens the first thing I need to do is turn to the big guns: literally a giant white disc of a tablet that renders me not quite out of pain, but reasonably disconnected from it so that I'm not grumpy and miserable.  

The downside is that functionally my reflexes are slowed, and my brain works a bit backwards.  And I walk with my feet about three millimetres off the ground - no chance of tripping!  My mouth is a little dry, so I quite enjoy a hot drink.  I stay away from sharp things.

I forget stuff, so I have to make sure I'm not tempted to rush, and my train of thought is very likely to drift off on a tangent, so conversations can be quite meandering, that is, if I find myself talking to anyone, which I tend to avoid doing when I've taken one of the big white tablets.

So yes.  Z is for Zombie.  Because that is what I am today.

Thank you, by the way,
if you've been following my blog during the course of this A-Z Challenge.
It's been an unexpected joy to be a part of, 
and really lovely to know that folk have dropped by.
It's been great to share.

29 April, 2015

Y is for Yes.

I was woken at about three this morning by a dream in which my boy had thrown a stick, very hard, which had hit his grandmother, knocking her backwards over the neighbour's fence, leaving her buried in the earth, dazed and injured.  I made myself wake up before I could dig mum out (in the dream) because the whole thing was upsetting and very, very stressful.  

Before bed I'd been watching a long documentary casting doubt on the official explanation of events surrounding September 11, 2001. Like many others I have also been very concerned about the squillions of people affected by the earthquake in Nepal, not to mention the most unjust execution by firing squad (carried out last night) of two reformed drug smugglers, in Indonesia, as well as the continuing horrors of our own country's needlessly inhuman asylum seeker policy. 

I'd tried to offset the darkness by doing some fun art play, but clearly the balance hadn't been quite right... Clearly.

Anyway.  The point is, there is a lot of darkness.

When John Lennon first encountered Yoko Ono it was at her exhibition of avant-garde works, "Unfinished Paintings" at the Indica Gallery in London in 1966. He was going through a cynical, anti-Beatle phase.  Tired of the constraints of fame and fans, of the war in Vietnam, of the taxation system, of contractual demands...

Yoko, a renowned artist, didn't know who John was when he turned up on the night before the opening, but he knew the gallery owners so she humoured him as he examined her works, and this is what he had to say about it later...

"But there was another piece that really decided me for-or-against the artist: a ladder which led to a painting which was hung on the ceiling. It looked like a black canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it. This was near the door when you went in. I climbed the ladder, you look through the spyglass and in tiny little letters it says 'yes'. So it was positive. I felt relieved. It's a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn't say 'no' or 'fuck you' or something, it said 'yes'."
Today, as I look out the window at a bright blue sky, dotted with cotton candy clouds, and my ears are assaulted with the cockatoos screeching mayhem overhead, I realise it's the universe delivering her message: "yes".  And I am relieved.


Blackbird by The Beatles
Artwork by soph&son

28 April, 2015

X is for X (the Roman Numeral for ten)

Milo doesn't really like reading fiction.  He enjoys listening to ME read him fiction, particularly when I do all the voices, but if I ask him to choose a book to read to me, he'll always select something from the bottom shelf.  That is, non-fiction.  

Let's face it, the kid has a lot of books, a reflection of my inability to enter a book or second hand shop and leave empty-handed, from which he has been the happy beneficiary.  There's picture books, paperbacks, classics, novelty books, reference books, series...more books than there are shelves.  Precisely the way it should be.

Amongst his non-fiction collection is a series called "Horrible Histories" (Terry Deary), one of which he decided to begin to read to me last night:  "Terrifying Tudors".

Horrible Histories by Terry Deary

And amongst the talk of the Terrifying Tudors was Milo's first exposure to Roman numerals:  Henry VIII and X as ten.  

And then the inevitable why?

I didn't know why, so I dodged the question by whipping out a pencil and showed him how it worked.  He caught on mighty quickly and then drew a clock face.  All the numbers perfectly formed ... but all squished into the upper right quadrant of the circle.  

So near... but getting there!

27 April, 2015

W is for Words

I sat for a heck of a long time trying to come up with a W to write about today. And in the end, when I couldn't come up with anything, I decided to turn to the interweb, typing into my search engine, for inspiration.  And there it was.


Probably one of the most important things, ever in the world, that I love, and use, and rely upon, and cherish, and choose, and polish, and turn over, and over-think...


As an eager and sometimes anxious (Mediterranean) communicator, words (with hand accompaniments) have been my constant tool.  I started using them in earnest a little later than most, but I could never be reasonably accused of neglecting them, not once I started, anyway.

And now, as a person who no longer works in conventional places or in the company of others, words are also a most welcome companion whilst I wile away the hours making art.  Sometimes even art out of words.

The Sphere of Good Things
by soph&son

I am addicted to alliteration.


I used to use more than my fair share, but age and experience have taught me to pull in, pare back and embrace the wisdom that less is more. (It's kinder too.)


If I'm ever stranded on a desert island, can someone please arrange for a Roget's Thesaurus and a complete Oxford English Dictionary?

I think that's all.

25 April, 2015

V is for Very Tired.

I've been Very Tired for a long time.  It's a thing people are nowadays, I know, so I don't expect anyone to feel particularly sympathetic or anything about the fact that I'm Very Tired.  But today is "V" day and I could be writing about all the Volkswagens I've ever owned or Vaseline (and how handy it is when you're dying your hair) or Vegemite or even, as Milo suggested on the way to Aikido this morning (that wasn't even on because of ANZAC Day), that I might like to write about words starting and ending with V (?!)... but I'm not.  

Instead, I'm just going to tell you how tired I am. Or for the sake of the exercise, how Very Tired.

Pluto manifesting the canine equivalent of Very Tired, that is Daarg Taard.

This bout of Very Tired started in March 2006 when due to a lack of foresight and planning – the way I've embarked on quite a few major ventures in my life – I found myself pregnant while addicted to (the medical profession says "dependent on") some rather heavy duty opiates and using other prescribed pharmaceuticals to manage a chronic medical condition.

The combination of growing a baby and taking drugs isn't really a sustainable practice so I was immediately pretty "strongly incentivised" to begin a program of withdrawal.  Cold turkey was dangerous and therefore out of the question, but because of the high doses of meds I was taking, the schedule was somewhat more severe than usually recommended, and steeper than a Disneyland rollercoaster.  

Anyway off I went…

The combination of morning sickness (stupidly misnamed) and drug withdrawal was Very Tiring.  I can't remember which bit I most resented: if it was the vomiting, the restless leg syndrome, the flu symptoms, the non-stop migraines.  Perhaps it was the anxiety, the insomnia or the blood curdling chills.  Not sure.  Whatever. By the time I was clean, which was well into my third trimester, I hadn't had more than a couple of hours consecutive sleep for a good 30 weeks, and I was Very Tired.  

The baby, bless him, had also not stopped kicking since he gave his leg its first mighty swing at about week 22 or thereabouts, so that had added another welcome element into the mix.  Come to think on it, by the time he was born at 37 weeks, he was probably quite tired too.

The birth didn't go well and we had ten days in hospital.  Tiring.  Milo couldn't feed, or sleep and I couldn't hold him properly because my neurosurgeon mismanaged the chronic medical condition and there were lots of complications.  You know, I'm too tired to go into details now.  Suffice to say, we were so happy to go home.  Happy and tired.

Happy to come home.  Happy and tired. Ten days old.

Because we had trouble feeding I had to express and bottle feed so there wasn't a lot of resting.  We did this for 12 weeks until I finally managed to get Milo to feed naturally.  That was very tiring.  And it drove me bonkers that the Child & Maternal Health Nurses would come 'round and talk about how babies feed and play for a bit and then sleep for hours...  

You see, unless he was being held, Milo NEVER SLEPT.  And it's not as if I didn't try every strategy under the sun to get him to sleep, because I did.  It's just that not a damn thing worked.  Nothing.

My sweet, sunny, lovely, bright, happy, shiny boy just WOULD NOT SLEEP. And the rigours of trying, and meeting with the disapproval of all the professionals ... that especially made me Very Tired.

For the next five years, until Milo went to school, he didn't sleep very well or very much.  And when he did he had the most awful, graphic night terrors.  Have you ever seen a small child in a waking sleep, hurling themselves about, fighting off invisible assailants, shouting and crying in the worst kind of unimaginable distress?  It leaves such an awful impression. Unforgettable.  

The next morning, though, he had no recollection, which is a terrific boon.  A licence, in fact, for me as a parent to let it go too. But the truth was I was so damned tired from the trauma of watching that it was hard to wipe the memory away… 

And when it wasn't the night terrors, Milo had croup.  Endless, endless coughing, hacking, choking, going blue in the middle of the night, croup.  Why oh why is it always worse in the middle of the night?  

He'd always eventually bounce through like it never happened…  He did.  And I'd see him off to kinder or school full of beans and vigour, and I'd collapse in a heap on the floor, shaking and shuddering at what felt like such a close shave.  

God I was glad to see the back of croup when he was sixish.  Gosh it left me tired. Very tired.

So now Milo's eight and at school. He gets bronchitis instead of croup but he actually sleeps quite well. He's an early riser:  five, five-thirty, six?  I don't think he's ever slept past seven.  Never.  He says he doesn't want to miss anything.  I mean, after all, there's a cat and fish: there might be juggling or chess while the humans are sleeping…  

Besides this, Milo's a sharer.  And a carer.  And certainly not a loner.  It would never occur to him for one solitary moment not to come and share every waking moment or passing thought, no matter how trivial (because none of them are trivial), with me.  So if he's awake at 5.30, then Lord give me strength, so am I awake.  This makes me very tired, because unlike him, I do not go to bed at 8.30pm.

And now of course we have a puppy who sleeps through the night but needs to "use the restroom" first thing in the morning.  So I'm out in the backyard, at 5.30am in a cardie and woolly hat, rain, hail or shine (well, in the dark), keeping the puppy company while he does his business and making sure he doesn't terrorise the cat…

(Sorry Pluto, payback for all the times you scared Bongo.)

So I'm tired, ok?  Very Tired.  Have been since 2006.

24 April, 2015

U is for Ugly

As a little girl I always thought of myself as extremely ugly.  Not in a quirky, interesting, goth kind of way, but in an Elephant Man, bag over the head, Cousin It, "If-you-put-on-make-up-people-will-laugh-at-you-for-trying" sort of way.

Looking back, I obviously wasn't terrible at all but I can remember being horribly embarrassed and awkward and uneasy about myself.  And it was always made worse when anyone EVER commented on how I looked. (It took me well into my thirties to learn to accept a compliment gracefully.)

I especially struggled with the facial dissection that occurs in families, when one's features are assigned to various family members of bygone generations.  I apparently have the chin of my aunt, the earlobes of my grandmother, the forehead and hairline of a distant cousin, oh! and Dad announced (with all love) at a dinner with Hec's best friend's family, that I have cow eyes.  COW EYES!  Thanks Dad!  Because I needed that spotlight in front of Colin and his brothers.

The funny thing is that as I have grown older I have developed a great fondness and affection for things less than perfect and although I could easily spend  a week or five without ever looking at my image, I have grown to tolerate the features of my face in a way I never thought I could.  What a relief.  It's so much more relaxing not loathing oneself every time one passes a looking glass.

from Tim Burton's Frankenweenie

My father and I have an ongoing disagreement which is best characterised by my adoration of Tim Burton's aesthetic and Dad's lack of understanding of it.  Dad sees the characters as ugly and deformed, while I perceive them as interesting and exquisite in their imperfection.  I think there is a generational and cultural gap at play in our differing viewpoints.

Whatever it is, I'm glad I can love "ugly" characters because it makes infinitely more things in the world so much easier to appreciate – not the least of which might be me.

23 April, 2015

T is for Truth

Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters
cannot be trusted in large ones either.

As our country unfurls its (offshore manufactured) flags and prepares to commemorate the centenary of a myth – no doubt, based in facts – but made popular and so much more palatable by an iconic cinematic masterpiece, Peter Weir's Gallipoli (1981), I am struck by an adage: that you'd not want to let the truth get in the way of a good story. 

This dictum has taken our nation quite a way from the core of itself, when the core was actually just fine, had there been the awareness, maturity and the fortitude to seek out the truth rather than just be seduced by a film, throw in some timely nationalistic spin, and call it fact.

And on this very same day the internet is throbbing with outrage because a young woman who built a successful life and business on the back of her astounding recovery from terminal brain cancer, has been exposed as never having had cancer at all.  Misdiagnosis, she suggests. But also, she says, possibly she was confused.  And she definitely had a difficult childhood.  And since she's come out publicly and told the truth about it all, she believes she deserves forgiveness and understanding for the deceit and deception.  She can't seem to see that "the truth" she's told isn't quite credible and nothing really makes any sense in light of what's gone before.  

People are really angry at this woman.  I have read calls for her to be put in jail for life.  I get it.  We don't like being made fools of, and people don't like fraudsters. And lord forbid anyone who really did/does have cancer stopped taking their medication and followed her lead and got more sick.  There's a betrayal here and the public response is vast and visceral.

I was raised to believe that the only thing a person should be loyal to is the truth. I'm interested that as a society we only apply this where it suits us. 

As individuals we can only be responsible for our own stories and our own truth.  It no doubt changes as we grow, reflect, review and gain new insights.  I hope as a community we can grow up and do that too.  I think we will all be so much better for it.

22 April, 2015

S is for Sky.

I don't often get to take holidays. 
But what I do instead, 
and whenever I like too, 
because it doesn't cost anything,
and because it's absolutely fantastical,

There is probably something healing physiologically when you tilt your torso back and open yourself to the heavens, but to my mind there's definitely something spiritual going on too.

The vast up thereness reminds me of all potentiality.

 It is a prompt to draw a deep breath.

Perspective is realigned.

And my heart can travel freely to the ones I love.

Looking up is my meditation.   

And reminding you to do it is my way of telling you I love you.

21 April, 2015

R is for Ruin

The greatest puzzle ever: putting the Parthenon back together.
I love ruins.  My favourite place in all the world is atop the Acropolis in Athens, which can be swarming with tourists at the height of summer, yet still somehow allows one to feel a quietude, peacefulness and connection to the planet, like nowhere else – not that I've ever experienced, anyway.

Selfie taken on the Acropolis in Athens in 2005
(before the advent of "selfies").

The late, and wonderful Christopher Hitchens wrote of the place, in 2009

But did you know, for example, that the Parthenon forms, if viewed from the sky, a perfect equilateral triangle with the Temple of Aphaea, on the island of Aegina, and the Temple of Poseidon, at Cape Sounion? Did you appreciate that each column of the Parthenon makes a very slight inward incline, so that if projected upward into space they would eventually steeple themselves together at a symmetrical point in the empyrean? The “rightness” is located somewhere between the beauty of science and the science of beauty.
Hitchens espouses the "rightness" of the Parthenon – how it is (or was) “the one building in the world which may be assessed as absolutely right.” and now, in its state of ruin it is no less perfect.  It is.

My appreciation of decay extends beyond ancient buildings, to other things as well:  furniture, books, ephemera...  I don't necessarily need to know the story of something, but am warmed just knowing it has lived.  Well, perhaps not lived, but that it has existed in time, experienced the vibrations of the lives around it.  And possibly even absorbed the spirits...

Nothing is more perfect, more comforting and more interesting and engaging, than something less than perfect. 

Perhaps people are the best example.

20 April, 2015

Q is for Quidditch (& all the sports I don't play)

"Sophia" and "sport" don't find themselves in the same sentence very often.  It really is quite miraculous that I ever got off my bottom to move at all, except that my Mum was cunning enough to leave my books, blocks and teddies far enough out of reach to force me to find a means of getting to them, and hence I learned to crawl, and then walk.

Running wasn't ever something I voluntarily did.  And competitive running? Are you kidding?!  There are photos from a Grade 4 comp but if I wasn't bringing up the rear I'd swear they were faked.

I have horrible memories of the being on the oval in middle school with a dictatorial physical education Nazi teacher forcing me over hurdles.  Hell!  It was hell.  Gazelle-like, my classmates flew over the obstacles, while I hesitated, stumbled and ate dirt and got dirty while the sadistic cow with the blasted whistle shouted.  

I could weep as I type.

Then cross-country running in Year 8 (which involved unsupervised laps of the very large block on which my school was located) left me in tears as the icy air burned my lungs and I lagged behind and I COULDN'T CARE LESS so I often opted instead for a far more civilised session of active sitting and discussion, in a cupboard, in my classroom, with a girlfriend occupying the other side.  Surely the teachers knew of the truancy, but it was probably kinder for everyone that way, so nothing was said, not as far as I knew.

Gladly dancing came into my life at around that time:  go-go.  So without any intention to be fit, or competitive or part of a team I studied as many iconic '60s film clips as I could find on late night television with the intensity many young people devote to the sport of their choice, and learned how to really move.  

 The Sonics - Psycho-a-Go-Go

My father and brother were both state grade sportmen and very competitive.  I love watching sport.  I barrack like my life depends on it, particularly for the Carlton Football Club, a team I was born to support and whose blood runs through the veins of every member of this branch of the family.  But I don't and I never wanted to suffer for sport.  I just don't think it matters.

18 April, 2015

P is for Pluto

Pluto is a (somewhat controversial dwarf) planet.

Pluto is also a miniature 16 week old schnoodle with a bad '80s dye job and an equally tragic perm who is now running circles round The House at Porter Street.

A puppy.  Why a puppy?  Well, there were quite a few reasons, but not the least of which was that we have a 14 year old Maine Coon (cat), Bongo, who has recently lost his life long companion, Poppy.  And I thought it would be easier for him to establish the hierarchy with the newcomer from the outset, if he, the older, wiser party could just...

Well, that all went to hell, didn't it?  What was I thinking?  

Bongo, the BIGGEST scaredy cat in all of Christendom.  

Bongo who in territorial invasions would stand a goodly distance behind Poppy but who generously and consistently lent great support from the rear by way of moral support.

Bongo who was always the first to get to the door, in case matters should spiral out of control.


Poor unsuspecting Bongo was one of the reasons we opted for a puppy and not an older dog and now he has to suffer the indignity of getting rushed at by an over enthusiastic ball of shouting fluff  with NO MANNERS when the people aren't paying attention.

The truth is The House at Porter Street has now become an apartheid state. 

Luckily Porter Street house is large.  
Luckily the humans are mainly on their toes.  
Luckily The Dark Lord of the Underworld gets tired early so at least Bongo can still get quality time with his human while it sleeps in its enclosure next to her bed. 

There are upsides and downsides.  The net benefits, of course, have far outweighed the bad bits.  Just not for poor Bongo.  I'm not quite sure how to make it up to him.

Ideas anyone?

17 April, 2015

O is for Office

The first job I landed after I returned to Australia following my runaway year (1987)  was in the print room of a very conservative Chartered Accountants at the top end of Collins Street.

It was before there were personal computers and a printer next to every work station. It was an open plan office, with rows and rows of hip, ambitious, male (mostly), accountants on one side of the office, private booths (with doors) for the mid-level executives in the middle, and stylish, exclusively female typists on the other side. The senior executives had the offices with windows around the edges. Naturally.

Each accountant would walk their hand-written workings to their assigned typist who would tap away at lightening speed, on an IBM or Hewlett Packard computer, linked by fat network cables to a room filled with banks of giant printers in an airless, windowless room.  

And that's where I lived.

My job was to collate the work as it came off the printers and redistribute it to the accountants.  I also had to make sure the printers didn't jam, which they inevitably did, because they'd overheat in the airless, windowless room: the paper would buckle, the toner would melt and glob and nothing worked as it should (probably least of all me).

It was a stultifying place.  The printers didn't talk to me and I was kept too busy by techno-malfunctioning to make conversation with any of the people who may or may not've been very nice in the world outside the airless and windowless room. 

My most enduring memory of my time at that office was arriving one Monday on crutches, having injured my knee rather badly over the weekend.  I was attempting to deliver the printing to the accountants when one of the amiable  fellows said something funny to me.  And I began to giggle.

With my ability to move limited to the use of crutches I had been carrying the files under my chin, so while I was laughing, I couldn't actually move anywhere, so as it was, I was somewhat stuck.  And the young men, probably all bored out of their brains, found my predicament hilarious.  Which compounded my embarrassment and made me laugh even more .

And at that precise moment my boss walked past.

She approached, gently relieved me of the files I was carrying and eased me towards the foyer, away from the  mirthful sounds so foreign to this usually austere setting.  I tried to apologise for disturbing the peace as we reached the airlock of the lobby, but I was authoritatively shushed and knew not to continue. As we stood facing one another, I waited nervously for this uptight, upright woman to speak.  Perhaps she would ask what had happened to me.  Possibly she would enquire if my leg was ok.  I never, however, expected... 

"Sophia.  We don't laugh here."

Needless to say, I didn't last there. I don't think I was a good fit for them, nor them for me.  I had such a happy departure.  But it should also be noted that my print room office job wasn't the worst job I ever had.  There have been worse.  But that was the first worst.  So it at least gets a crown for that.

16 April, 2015

N is for Ninety-Nine [99]

Barbara Feldon as 99 from Get Smart

The funniest thing we ever watched on tv when we were kids was "Get Smart".  And the person I most aspired to be was 99: the quintessential sixties woman.  

99 was perfect.  99 was like animated Secret Agent Twiggy with humour, and I couldn't think of anything much better than that.  Truly I couldn't.

I longed to be of the '60s, although I was a child of the '70s and '80s, so I was hopelessly out of sync with my era.  

I was also dismally out of sync with my self as this short, ethnic, fluffy, butterball, awkward and most comfortable when invisible, dreamed of waking up with 99's boyish, flat-chested, sleek, lanky, stylish for eons ease.  How life would've been different if I could've been like her.

But that was never going to happen.  

I've come to terms with that now, but I don't love 99 any less.  She's the grooviest chick ever.  
The Sacred Cows - Kill Kill Kill

15 April, 2015

M is for Mousie

from Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

I was always a "dog person" until Mousie. 

Duncan, my housemate, phoned me one afternoon to see if I'd mind if he brought home a lost kitten.  Me?  Mind?  Kitten?  Was he out of his mind?  

I'd never lived with a feline before.  My prior pet history had extended to our dog, Paton, a much loved Sheltie and a member of our family for 14 years; various gold fish; two terrapins; and I have a vague memory from before I was four of a short-lived budgie.

I instantly loved the kitten from the moment she entered our home.  Named for Agent Dana Scully of the X-Files (which was screening its first season at the time) Scully became Mousie pretty quickly:  Mousie Mouse of the Yukon.  It was apparent she was much more of an adventurer than a UFO skeptic.

The first challenge with Mousie was when Duncan decided to let her outside for the first time.  I was used to the whole dog thing, where you know where they are all the time and you keep them in the yard, or in the house.  He was accustomed to having cats and understanding that they come and go as they please, but because you love and feed them and give them a safe and warm place to be, they choose to come home...  I found that a very difficult concept to get my head and heart around.  So I initially had a meltdown and cried a lot.  

I don't think it helped that we lived on a busy road.  

I eventually came to terms with the ins and outs of cat companionship (I can't call it ownership) as Mousie and I, inseparable, moved to six different houses over the seven short, but very full years of her life.  

Mousie and her cremains, interred in an engraved cocktail shaker.
1994 – 2002

As I said, she was a great adventurer, and as such, inevitably found herself in extraordinary danger and peril.  One afternoon she was found by a neighbour hanging upside down, by one rear haunch, in the fork of a tree, where she'd been shouting for help for some hours.  She was lucky to regain the ability to walk after that little escapade.

Another time, looking out the kitchen window as I washed dishes, she ran underneath the wheels of a speeding car as she crossed the road, somehow emerging out the other side unscathed.  The only casualties were the stack of dinner plates in the sink which were pulverised by the cast iron pot I was rinsing, and dropped directly on top when I ceased to breathe as I watched the daredevil act play out before my startled eyes.

Poor Mousie. Despite her black barbershop quartet hairdo, she had the terrible combination of white tipped ears and a love of the great outdoors, so ended up with melanoma and the inevitably necessary ear amputation.  We grew used to that look while I think she avoided mirrors.

She was always also the target of bully boy Toms no matter where we moved, so she endured more than a dozen brutal attacks with the accompanying abscesses, anesthetics, drains, stitches, pain relief and vet visits.

In the end poor Mousie suffered a debilitating stroke which lead to the vet finding her riddled with cancer.  It was a turbulent, terrible, hideous day.  I thank heavens for my dear friend Gg who held my hand and cried with me while the vet team who had seen Mousie through all the turbulent times and had become an extension of family administered the final kindness: the blessed Green Dream...

I had begun a cross-stitch project a few months before entitled "In My Life". It seemed the most natural thing in the world to work her in to the design.  My life was at a turning point, I didn't know how big...  Losing Mousie was just the beginning...

"In My Life"
Started Dec '01 – Finished Feb '04

14 April, 2015

L is for Love

from Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Many recent conversations, about many different things, have come around to the one theme...  and that's today's L:  Love.

But it's not the love for your spouse, or your partner, or the one who broke your heart.  Nor the love for your child/ren or your parents or sisters/brothers/cousins/aunts/uncles/nephews/nieces... 

Nor the melting you feel for your puppy/kitten (no matter how old they are), or the goldfish/rabbits/guinea pigs/gerbils/hampsters/ferrets.  Or your best friend for whom you would go to any length, any time, without a second thought.  

I'm not even talking about loving The Beatles/Stones/Chisels/Bay City Rollers/One Direction (see how hip I can be, young reader?) or your favourite sports team, for whom you will line up for tickets, spend your hard earned pay and shout (in a good way).

Put away your spanking new gadget because I'm not referring to that either.  Or your car, new or vintage. (I know you rely on it to take you everywhere and you think it defines you...but it doesn't.)

The love I am talking about is what you have with yourself: the longest and most important relationship you will know in your life.  And probably the one most of us give the least amount of attention to because we are so intently focused on all the other things sent to distract us.

design by soph&son

So stop, take a breath and be as kind and understanding of yourself as you can be. After all, if you can't be nice to you, how can you expect anyone else to be?



13 April, 2015

K is for Kinds

from Edward Gorey's Gashleycrumb Tinies
When given latitude and time, I colour code.  Or if I'm a little anxious and things are beginning to overwhelm, I'll begin to sort.  I find peace when things are grouped by type and colour and size and shape.  

K is for kinds.

Not quite everything was ready, but I found myself sorting the M&Ms
as the first guests were knocking on the door...

I don't know when it started.  I didn't even realise it wasn't a thing everyone did until I was in the workplace implementing a new filing system and someone commented on my desire for coloured folders, matching highlighters and tabs.  

What was wrong with the vanilla manilla folders and the regulation hanging files? 

I didn't think there was anything wrong with what had gone before.  After all, the other was perfectly functional and fine. But for me the difference was like appreciating a window, which is a beautiful, functional and welcome thing, when you had the option of having a window that could also OPEN!  

With colour coding there is a instant visual indication of order and therefore harmony.  No need to dig beneath the surface, one glance and the glory is there before you.

And the act of creating that order is akin to putting the world to rights in a way that the world will never be put to rights.  
[I have to pause for a moment to consider the God Complex just described.]
I like boxes and drawers A LOT too because they offer the opportunity to compartmentalise.  A space for everything and everything in its place. The last house I ever rented was actually a house with no drawers (not even one, can you imagine?!), which forced me to Ikea to buy a drawer unit I truly coveted.  I have lots of little drawers with little things squirreled away in them.  Treasures.  Secrets.  Little bits and bobs that would be wholly lost if they didn't have that special place to be... Like my spare car key, or the cat lax, or a cigarette lighter (for birthday candles and blackouts), you get the idea...

This is the drawer unit once we moved to the Porter Street House.
So even though I no longer work in offices, I still find ways to colour code and sort, but not to get too crazy about it.  Hanging washing is a great and pleasurable opportunity, particularly with peg selection and ordering what goes where on the strands of line – I do try hard not to go out and re hang the washing when Mum's not done it my way (by the way) because I recognise that's not healthy.  Stacking the dishwasher too, not so much with colour but very much as a sorting and ordering exercise.

All that said, the stuff I haven't got to yet, the stuff that's not sorted and coded, is stacked.  So let it be known that until the items are separated into their kinds and disseminated into their places I have piles.

11 April, 2015

J is for Jerk.

I know a girl.  She's very nice, sometimes funny  – often when she doesn't mean to be.  She's caring and reasonably reasonable.  She tries hard not to be overly demanding.  She's accommodating and works at being there for all the people she loves.

This girl, no matter what, brings out the jerk in men.  I don't know why it is.  I don't know how she does it (it's not on purpose). But when she embarks on a relationship you can guarantee its going to end badly for her.  Without fail.  Always.

The pattern is always the same:  discarded, deceived, confused.  There have only been two exceptions to this rule: one remains a dear friend of hers, who was the only true gentleman she ever dated, who took the time to break up with her in person and left her with explanations and dignity; the other is not of sound mind.
She happily admits that despite not reading self help books she ascribes to the school of "You teach people how to treat you" so she feels she does have to take responsibility for the years and years of heartache and dashed hopes. But what are you supposed to do with that if every relationship is different and you're just being yourself?

Are you just supposed to sit back and take the blame for other people being bastards?

Is it all her fault?

What causes people to act badly?  How or why do men justify to themselves the things they do that are so hurtful to the women they've claimed to love?  I surely don't get it, and I don't have any answers.

I'd like to know what you think.

This post is interactive.

10 April, 2015

I is for Instagram

from Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies - because I can.

Instagram's a funny old thing.  I recently started using it after I heard someone talking about how it was a GREAT tool for promoting one's business (www.sophandson.com) particularly image based businesses (like mine).  It dawned that I may well be missing a really fabulous (not to mention) free means of putting my artwork "out there".  So, resurrecting my elderly and dormant account, I fumbled about in the unfamiliar architecture and got myself to posting the odd design.

And while I tried to get the hang of hashtags and filters, enter stage left Puppy Pluto.  And well, you know, animals and Instagram go together like dog-sausage* and stinking farts (sorry to be uncouth).  So before I knew what had happened I had daily Instagram fodder.  And new people "liking" my pictures.  And it was good and fun.

Puppy Pluto, 10 April 2015

Every time the phone would ping to advise that someone new had "liked" a picture I'd experience a happy and expectant little tingle and I'd click on their name, be they oskarcutiepaws, xplosivepants666, marsiegarcia, cultapparel or getlikesalot (no judgements here) to see who they are and whether I'd like to follow them...  

What I found was largely unexpected.  Sure, there were a number of entities who fitted the demographic  I expected my artwork and/or puppy photos would appeal to –  which is cool and makes sense.  But there are also
  • a disproportionate number of very saucy ladies with photos of their bikini'd bottoms and close ups of their bosoms, at dusk, at the beach; 
  • several continental and middle-eastern young men with what I can only imagine are aspirational stock images of luxury cars, jet planes and extreme close ups of their three day growths (very manly!); 
  • a few very enthusiastic and seemingly successful American Pentecostals with only a couple of posts but thousands of followers (not that I'm impressed by numbers but how do they DO that?);
  • more foodies than you'd think;
  • quite a few party girls who post photos of themselves drinking a lot with their party girl, gal pals; and
  • quite a few stoners with pics of smokey, hazy, leafy, darkened rooms.
It's very strange out there in Instagram world.  I don't quite feel yet that I've landed properly.  I'm confident at this point that I've got enough of a grasp not to commit some heinous gaffe or naive mip to be swallowed up by the thing as I may've had Instagram been my first social media foray. (That's a whole other story for a whole another day.)  But that said, I'm standing outside the process watching the oddness, because that's what this is.  It's strange.  I rejoice in it most of the time.  But sometimes it gets a bit scary...

*Dog sausage is not sausage made from dog (heaven forbid) rather, it is that rolled meat stuff that used to be called Chub and smells like hell - and that's before it's even been through the dog's digestive tract.