little red jottings

when a little red pen wanders off the page

Tag: least complicated

Each of us, together

20161126_192610Well, that was a week. Ian went to Kaikōura to cover post-earthquake things, and all manner of bollocks descended on me at work.

Home was good, though — our new after-school childcare person is a footballer, so the boys are well thrilled. He is also a jolly good cleaner, so I am well thrilled too. The boys are used to being journo kids — they missed their dad, but flicked straight into helping-out, getting-on-with-it mode.

I kind of enjoyed the quiet and calm of the week, but realised within half an hour of Ian being home that the volume in the house had quadrupled and I had slowed to snail’s pace. I guess we had all been managing and looking after each other and that was good, but we need Ian to relax us and let things go. It was a good reminder of the ways we balance each other, of the dance we do as opposites.

The boys were pretty scratchy, but by the time we had eaten bento, driven round the harbour, played soccer, made a sandcastle, conducted watery experiments on the sandcastle, snuggled on the sand, driven round the best inlet in the city, seen baby stilts and a kingfisher and got home, we seemed to have made it back into ourselves again.

20161126_192514And then we each found our own peace. Ian tidied up and did chores. I planted 40 zucchini seedlings out, picked a salad of baby leaves and flowers, and cut back some lupins and sorrel that had gone to seed. The Cat watched soccer videos. And the Rabbit made things.

He started by cutting back sorrel, but was interrupted by his bowels, which we only knew about because he left the bathroom in a less than ideal state. Then Ian found him in the workshop with a large piece of wood in the vice with the words “side 1” written on it. “What are you doing?” Ian asked. “Making a run for the guinea pigs,” said Rabbit.

Later, we were having dinner. Ian was drinking wine, eating pasta and talking to me. I was drinking wine, eating pasta and reading a book. The Cat was calculating the value of our car relative to the weekly income of a professional footballer (low). The Rabbit was drawing circles and cutting cardboard. Five minutes later, he had finished a set of traffic lights.

20161126_190707“What’s your plan for the lights?” we asked. “I’ll shine a torch on them,” he said. Damned if it doesn’t work, too.


Space above his head

I took the Cat to Melbourne in the school holidays, the first time we have travelled as a pair and a chance for him to spend some time with his godparents. We had a terrific time, enjoying warm autumn days, pomegranates from the tree down the street, drawing over breakfast, books, long talks, a new baby, soccer games, treks to the lake and noodles in the city. We spent a day at Healesville Sanctuary, then had a magical dusk experience exchanging whistles with a lyrebird at Badger’s Weir. For a birdo, it was peak spotting.

Less successful was my attempt to introduce the Cat to the joys of wandering Melbourne’s lanes and arcades. He got steadily more tense and grumpy, and I started to plumb the depths of maternal self-pity and stubbornness. Not a pretty thing on either side of the equation.

Then the Cat’s godmother suggested that we go into the State Library, a place that had given me much-needed calm and solace during our time living in Melbourne. We walked into the reading room and the Cat stopped still, his mouth open, wonder on his face. “This is a good place,” he said. “We can stay here as long as you like.” High above us, the roof domed to the sky; around us, the walls curved and people sat at the desks spoking out to the edges of the room. The Cat settled at a desk, opened his book, disappeared into himself.

So, a place that was built to provide the people of Victoria with somewhere to learn, to rest and to connect with their heritage and each other is still working. Architecture that inspires and lifts the mind, that speaks of democracy and learning, and that can soothe the frazzled nerves of a 10-year-old visitor — that’s good building.

Also, it has a chess room.

A scruffy, happy spring garden

Pink tulips, baby vegetables, a repaired buddha and an old lady cat who has lived in six houses with us and always manages to find a patch of sun. And coffee.P1090737 P1090740 P1090741 P1090742 P1090743 P1090744 P1090745 P1090746



I’m just going to start right out by saying that Word is driving me up the wall today. I’ll explain (or rant) soon, but first have to sort out problems with Spotify and my memory. Between Word and this sex abuse case that’s national news at the moment and that blatantly and excruciatingly exposes the rampant rape culture in this country, I’m in a vile mood and need music, so I thought a bit of cowboy folk might help, specifically a band I’ve been listening to since uni days, which I damn well know the name of and you will too — two women, guitar, rocking, been around forever and hopefully always will, you know the one — and I’m sure it will come to me by the end of this post, but if it doesn’t, I’m going to have to start eating more salmon and doing crosswords, because that sort of forgetfulness isn’t really acceptable. Anyway, I tried Cowboy Junkies and that wasn’t right, so then I tried the name of one of their albums, and that led me to 10,000 Maniacs, which is also good, but still not right, and now I’m going to talk more about Word and hope that some other part of my brain keeps trawling through its musical archive for me.

So, I am working on a large document that has been hacked about to the point where it may well be in terminal decline: it started off neat and lovely with a full set of nicely organised Word styles, but things have been pasted in from other documents, other authors have added material with different formatting, I’ve broken it into about 20 chunks, all of which have been substantially edited, then I’ve shoved it all back together, and now it’s just sitting there looking pathetic and refusing to do anything I ask.

Somewhere in this (admittedly appalling) process, the bulleting went astray, so I cleared out the bullet styles and have spent the last hour or two trying to reset them. I know exactly how I want them to look and I’m not a complete Word idiot, but it keeps defaulting to List Paragraph, and if it’s not doing that, it’s doing this other irritating thing where every time I try to base one bullet style on another one, it REMOVES the bullets from the original style, perhaps as a tax on excessive style mongering, I DON’T KNOW. I may be complicating things by having separate styles for

  • bullet lists
  • final items in bullet lists
  • numbered lists
  • final items in bullet lists
  • checkboxes, and
  • dashed lists

but I really feel that this isn’t too much to ask. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? If anyone can help me before my empha-capsing gets out of control, that’d be awesome.

Sweet Jesus, it’s girls. Something girls.

Maybe if I try to create styles in a blank document, then import them? I did get the page numbering to work, so that’s nice. I can’t even charge for the hours I spend being stupid, which is a little-acknowledged downside of the self-employed, freelancing lifestyle.

I refuse to scan my CD rack or do Google Deduction. MY BRAIN WILL WORK.

What do you know, the name was sitting on Spotify next to the 10,000 Maniacs playlist.

INDIGO GIRLS. I wonder how long it would have taken me to get there?


Update: Word just crashed and I haven’t yet dared to look and see what I lost. Vindictive bastard.

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