When inlaws become outlaws: strategies and semantics

For some separating couples, the prospect of no more Sunday dinners at the inlaws is almost enough to make up for the pain of separation.

Not so for the lucky ones among us who count the family we partnered into as friends. Harper Lee could have been talking about ex inlaws in this passage from To kill a mockingbird:

‘Atticus says you can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.’

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird, in-laws | See more at www.diywoman.net

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The semantics of being single: Marital status

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, a single woman who knew a lot about semantics.

Jane Austen courtesy of the New York Times | See more at www.diywoman.net

In her day, Jane Austen would have been described as a Spinster (gasp!) or worse, Old Maid (smelling salts!). In recent times, her unfortunate marital status may have been softened to Unclaimed Treasure.

Despite this, it cannot be denied the woman knew quite a lot about love.

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Travels in the Somme with my father’s father

An unexpected detour during a six month stay in France links three generations of my family to a village in the Somme.

A version of this post first appeared on RMIT’s creativehiveblog in May 2017.

On Anzac Day 2015, I left Australian shores for six months travelling solo in France. Unlike my grandfather a century before, I wasn’t destined for the muddy fields of the Somme. My destination was another part of rural France altogether – Cinais in the Loire – the first of a series of housesits courtesy of a housesitting website called MindMyHouse.

First World War Australian soldiers bound for the Somme | more on diywoman.net
Syd Barker (second from left) and his brothers

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Superannuation and the single girl -the first in our Lawyers, Funds and Money category

A cautionary tale of superannuation, mortgages and sharks.

A year or so after I’d taken on a mortgage, I got a call from a financial adviser— let’s call him Ken—who said he was affiliated with my bank. He offered me a free consultation to look at ways I could make my money work better for me. How timely! I collected my paperwork and arrived at the bank at 5pm the following day.

Clocks and signs | More on diywoman.net

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DIY Woman’s guide to getting published

There has to be an alternative to doing time on the slush pile on the rocky road to becoming a published author.

Slush pile of manuscripts | more on www.diywoman.netSlush pile of manuscripts | more on www.diywoman.net

I’ve already likened my passion for writing to the urge to reproduce. I could say  the same of my relentless pursuit of a publishing deal. I am guilty of every crime in the self-promotion book. Schmoozing. Pitching at a minute’s notice. Imposing on the goodwill of strangers. It’s a litany of misdemeanours.

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Passion in life is reward enough: success is optional

The past two years have been the best I can remember.

Typewriter, words, printed | more on diywoman.net

I have consummated my passion for France and my passion for writing in one 24 month period. First I ran away to France for six months. Then I applied for the professional writing course of my dreams. Then I got in! I’m more than halfway through and I never want it to end. This story was first published in the February/March issue of The Victorian WriterDavid Brooks, columnist for The New York Times, once said:

people who live with passion start out with an especially intense desire to complete themselves. Continue reading

Ocean swim at Lorne Pier-to-Pub an unlikely cure

A classic DIY tale of fixing something that’s been broken. An edited version of this story first appeared as ‘Not Drowning, Waving’ in The Big Issue in December 2016.

Goggles for ocean swim | More on diywoman.net

 

On the second Saturday of every new year, the waters around Lorne heave and churn like a deep fryer of boiling oil with a wire basket-load of chips tossed onto its surface. People pay money to be one of those chips.

The Lorne Pier-to-Pub is the world’s biggest ocean swim race with entries now capped at 5000.

The race has been going for thirty-six years. Organisers introduced a ballot system after 2008, when all available places sold out on the first day of registration.

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DIY woman takes on technology…and wins

It’s once more into the breach for DIY head girl. And here is my absolute most brilliant bit of DIY ever. The neighbours at Seuilly

It happened just this afternoon in Seuilly. Yes that’s Seuilly. France. Two days ago I moved from one slice of French paradise to another just five minutes down the road. My current abode is a light-filled self-contained apartment off the beaten track with a view to die for and a cute little bakery van that drops in twice a week with a fresh baguette.It is the perfect setting for a runaway writer except for just one thing: no wifi…

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Tools of the trade

For the chef it’s his Sabatier, for a musician his instrument, for an artist his brush. So what is the tool of the writer?

My beautiful fountain pen
My beautiful fountain pen

Is it the latest slimline, impossibly light i-notebook? Or the hard-drive that stores the words for posterity?

Non, non et non.

For this écrivain, it’s her fountain pen. Continue reading

Days of the old schoolyard: friendships that are lifelong

Lindy and me aged about 8
Lindy and me aged about 8

Remember the days of the old schoolyard

We used to laugh a lot…. My oldest friend Lindy and I were always best friends at school, and little has changed. We still act like 17 year olds in each other’s company and have a language that no one else in the world understands. With a word or a look we can set each other off – into gales of laughter or on a trip down our own long memory lane. Continue reading

All Hail Asphaltia – Goddess of the Road

It was only when I heard the talk back caller announce that she was a white witch that I gave the radio my full attention.

Asphaltia in her Glass Temple
Asphaltia in her Glass Temple

Transfixed, I listened to her sing the praises of her car parking goddess Asphaltia, who never failed to provide her with a parking spot whenever called upon to do so. The only proviso was that the Benefactress must be thanked, and that the lucky recipient of Her bounty must attribute the procurement of the parking space to Her, and not to Luck.  To do otherwise would be considered ungrateful, and the driver an unworthy candidate for future good parking deeds.

The unbridled enthusiasm of the caller transcended the airwaves, and found its way into this cynical heart.  I resolved to give it a try next time I went shopping.  And lo!  It came to pass.  Not just once, but again and again.  And never once did I fail to thank Asphaltia for her intervention.  Buoyed by my success, I shared the secret with my children. Continue reading

Fame on Tap

Don’t just do it – broadcast it! Here is a story I wrote for The Big Issue about the fourth greatest achievement of my life so far:

Singin
Donald, Debbie and Gene

It was in my early teens that I discovered Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, and began my love affair with all things tap.  After seeing Singin’ in the Rain, I dreamed of tap dancing over furniture and up walls with my two leading men, leaving behind a bewildered Debbie Reynolds in my wake.

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