Professional Idiot

One of Keith’s business colleagues texted me yesterday looking for Keith. They had the number of my phone and not his.

I sent them a text business card with his phone number. But he’s not listed under his proper name on my phone, he’s called K-Dog My Love And Crazy Old Bastard. I only realised I had provided this unknown scientist with this strange contact after I pressed Send. I had to follow it up with the text of shame. Until that moment, I was pulling off the illusion of businesslike professional life-partner.

Anyway, it was a nice few minutes while it lasted.

 

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It’s Wednesday, And Nobody is Vomiting. Hooray!

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Actress Constance Collier models my  hairstyle and facial expression.
This morning I was a bit stressed and shitty, harrumphing about the place trying to get all five of us out the door. Later I came across something I wrote a while ago about my Wednesdays. Reading over it this morning, I was transported back to a period of family sickness (ah, the Autumn Plague of 2013, when three children were vectors of disease from three different institution. Tough days. Tough, stinky days…)

 

For a brief, glorious period, I have been setting aside Wednesdays as my writing day, with Peanut at school, T-Bone at pre-school and Pudding at family day-care.  It requires an intense morning wrangling all five of us out of the house for the day: washed, dressed, breakfasted and loaded with lunch and homework folders and assorted paraphernalia depending on age and continence ability. (If Keith forgets his Pull-Ups it can make for an awkward video Skype with scientists in Germany.)

 

The triple drop-off completed, I head to the coffee shop and the library for caffeine and a few wonderful, quiet, focused hours, before the end of the school day calls and it’s time to do the pick-up in reverse order. Then we crack through Wednesday afternoon:  music lessons, soccer training,  homework, housework, dinner prep and the general management of overwrought, post-institutionalised children (mainly through the judicious application of porridge, ABC2 and Mum’s lap.)

 

Wednesdays are busy, but those hours I spend alone in the middle; out of the house and tinkering with words,  fill a important need for me. They drop me back into myself. They allow me space to think a thought through to its conclusion. They fuel me for the following week of trying to respond to the needs of others, and grabbing moments to myself in between tasks.

 

Alas. It’s been a while.

 

Today, Peanut barked her way through a doctors visit where they diagnosed her with laryngitis. As the GP listened to her chest, and her breathing rattled theatrically and satisfyingly, she grinned with pride. She’s next to me now, making lists of things to research on YouTube and asking me every five minutes ‘Are you finished on the computer yet? Are you finished yet?’

 

It’s not as peaceful as my coffee shop.

 

Last week, the vomiting seemed finally to have finished. The last lot of defiled linens were drying in the sun, and I was desperately looking forward to a Wednesday on my own. But nay. The water heater broke down, and I had to spend the morning with a plumber who followed me around the house explaining how Hitler had invented an engine that displaced space so that objects could move faster than time, thus flying to the moon and also building the pyramids. He had seen UFO’s from his house in Engadine, so he was definitely not mistaken.

 

It was not  as peaceful as my coffee shop.

 

The preceding two Wednesdays had been spent cuddling miserable children and washing gastric juices out of my hair. That was not peaceful. Before that, my school holiday Wednesday may have been fun, and may have been packed with togetherness and good times and the general Making of Memories, but it was definitely, absolutely, without question, not as peaceful as my coffee shop.

 

Next week.

 

Please.
The useful thing about practicing the dark art of blogging is that it gives you the chance to look back at seasons of family life that would otherwise have gone unrecorded. I read over this old post and I am washed with a wave of relief- oh my god, I am so lucky not to be juggling three sick children today! Here I am, tapping away  through my to-do-list, with absolutely no vomit on my hair. It’s glorious!(Disclosure: there may be some head lice, but that’s a story for another day.)

 

Yes, sure,  the laundry is a public health hazard. OK, I can’t look at the floor of the toddlers room without despair. Admittedly, there is Weet-Bix on bowls in the kitchen right now that will never be entirely removed without special blasting equipment.

 

But we are all well, we are all healthy, and part of the reason that the house is in such a state is that at the end of the day, I would rather watch Masterchef and read books in the bath than spend my few hours off-duty scrubbing floors.  It’s bloody hard work cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring and trying to create a loving and nurturing home life. It takes a lot of energy.

 

Every once in a while – before a party, say, a couple of hard core days of intensive housewifery will bring the place up to tip-top shape, and the hour that tidy house lasts for is immensely gratifying. But to manage that every day? It’s impossible for me.  I’m at capacity keeping up with the loop of meals, laundry, Lego-clearing and bag-packing. And Keith’s business is a start-up – he works all the time he can, and he is super-dad all the rest of the time. He doesn’t want to spend his off-time sweeping dust bunnies. He helps me crack through the basics, and then he rather turn his attention to  giving Peanut piano lessons, or reading with T-Bone, or playing the game with Pudding where he pretends to turn into an angry woman when she pulls his nose. (It’s a good game.) There’s only so much time in the day for all the things.

Anyway, this old Wednesday post was a reminder for me that maybe family life will always be some brand of simmering chaos, changing in flavour, often unexpected; and I should stop, smell the coffee and appreciate the moment. Right now, the place might look like hells kitchen, but Peanut’s piano is getting good, my back is stable, my sinuses are clear, nobody is vomiting, and Keith only behaves like an angry woman when somebody pulls his nose.  Win win win win win!

Interesting People: Cath Young (Blogger, Crafter, Captain Of Industry)

In Australian craft blogging circles, Cath Young of My Bearded Pigeon is really beloved. She epitomises the inclusive, supportive and creative energy of Australian blogging at its best. Today, she’s talking to me about her thoughts on the evolution of the Australian blogosphere, her journey from craft hobbyist to businesswoman, her copyright battles, and the way she has combined craft and social work into her ‘holy grail’ of creative fulfillment.

 

Here is Cath, in fancy moving pictures, and in her own words:

 

Cath when did you start blogging? Can you paint us a little picture of what the blogging landscape was like then?

 

I started blogging in 2009 (under the name chunkychooky which was the name of my first Etsy shop. ) Marlo was 2 at the time and I was going a bit crazy at home. I had just discovered blogs, Pips (meetmeatmikes) was the first one I read regularly and from hers I found others I loved. Blogging was so different then. Bloggers weren’t on TV giving opinions and there were no sponsored posts, no one really knew the name of bloggers, it was very different. I’m not saying bloggers shouldn’t  be doing those things, I’m just saying it’s different now. Blogging is  a business in itself.

 

The blogs I was reading were written by women who had kids and who were crafty. I had always felt a bit isolated in my love of making things  and then I found  others who also made things via blogs and I was so inspired and excited! We would blog about what we were making and show each other, and share tutorials and there was a lot of linking between each other, there was a very strong sense of community, and lots of support amongst us crafty bloggers. None of the blogs I read had any advertising on them. I was approached by Penguin books to review craft books on my blog and I just couldn’t believe they would send me books for free. I asked if I could host a giveaway with the review and that worked really well, but not long after that I stated getting approached for other types of reviews and I remember struggling with it… Was it Ok ? What were these companies? Were they ethical, etc…?  My business took off at about the same time and I got busy and then another baby and,  well,  blogging was on the back burner for a bit.

 

Were you always crafty? When did your crafting begin to shift from a hobby to a business?

 

Yep. Reading books and making things were my favourite things as a kid and they are STILL my favourite things. (And as much as I spend time reminding myself that Marlo is not a mini me and may not enjoy the same things as me,  she does!! ) I was always making things. Always.

 

I started making things to sell- starting with fisherman pants for babies and toddlers and then toys, under the name chunkychooky when I was on maternity leave. I started My Bearded Pigeon in 2011 and within about 3 months it went from little hobby to full time business. It was a very steep learning curve. I never would have thought I could run my own business but I love being my own boss, I love working in my pyjamas.

 

Is it a never-rains-but-it-pours sort of situation when you are selling your work online? How do you juggle the up-and-down nature of crafting as a business? Has it ever totally fallen apart?

 

I freak out – still- if a day goes by without a sale. This is quite ridiculous and ludicrous but I can’t help it. I try to be all zen about it but I can’t be. It’s MONEY. It’s serious. It’s helping our family pay bills and work less away from home. It totally fell apart – rather I totally fell apart- when I reopened the business when Romi was 3 weeks old. November is our business month of the year, and when I say that I mean our orders triple, so I couldn’t keep the shop closed- and yeah well, 3 week old baby and running a business. I cried a lot. Romi was attached to me the whole time and just slept but I was rather hysterical.

 

I try to, when the business is quiet, work on new products but it’s time consuming and I get interrupted a lot! I also work as a Drug and Alcohol counsellor (I’m a social worker ) 2 days a week for the Department of Health and yes, it’s as full on as it sounds and yes, craft is my outlet, but I couldn’t imagine doing the crafty stuff without the social worky stuff as well.  I like doing both .

What are you interested in making at the minute? What is catching your eye and inspiring you right now?

I am looking into some new ideas and maybe even some design related study later in the year if my brain is up to it! What’s catching my eye at the moment- same ol same ol- photography. I have been doing a 52 project via Jodi at Practicing Simplicity and have had my camera on manual all year. I have learnt so much by forcing myself to use my DSLR every week. I spend a lot of time looking at photography and working out what I like about the photos. What’s catching my eye is how boring a lot of styling is  - same chairs! I love Eames but so many magazines,  year after year….. It all just looks the same, replica chairs and IKEA furniture, I’m finding some interesting stuff from overseas and it’s great. I do love Pinterest for this reason. So maybe I am noticing what’s annoying me as much as what’s inspiring me.

What advice would you give to somebody hoping to sell their craft or art online?

 

Don’t copy. Seriously. Just don’t. Don’t open a shop with stuff you saw on Etsy and think no one will notice. If you start selling an item that was originally on a large international blog as a tutorial you cannot claim it as your own. Don’t pay for information about opening a shop online until you have read all the free stuff that is available.

Spend time on things  like a good logo and branding and a good name. Don’t call it (insert name here) creations, you are creative,  so be creative with your name. Handmade with love is also taken, a million times over.

Can you tell us a little about some of your copyright struggles?

 

I could write pages about the pain of copyright and my hangry cushion. It has been very stressful at times. I would love to start a crafty/ arty/ designer union for help with this, but the big thing I learnt is you don’t always need a lawyer. There is lots of tips and help online and some basic principles that you need to know.

 

Have a look here: http://www.copyright.org.au

 

People will tell you all kinds of crap like “if they change 10% it’s not copying”. That’s not true. There are so many myths. You also need to grasp the Berne Convention on copyright across the world. (Here is a simple explanation: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention).  You do not need to register copyright in Australia but you need to be able to prove dates. A blog post or Etsy sale will do that.

 

I managed to negotiate a large settlement for myself when a big company that put my hangry design word for word on a t-shirt. The most important thing is this: DO NOT NAME AND SHAME. You may need this as bargaining power later, but also you can be sued for defamation down the track. People will tell you to name them, DONT! ( And just for the record, I’m not claiming to have invented the word Hangry, but the definition I use on my items, which is subject to copyright since 2011 is my very own definition that I made up and the concept of putting the word hangry in dictionary form on an item is also my concept.)

 

What is Days for Girls and how can people get involved?

 

I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of DfG until a few months ago. Now something  I live and breathe! Days for Girls is a worldwide organisation with a goal of providing women and girls across the world with feminine hygiene kits- sewn reusable pads, a washcloth etc so they do not have to miss days of school or work when they have their period because girls have access to NOTHING! Girls are using  chicken feathers and corn husks or sitting on pieces of cardboard at home or piles of ash , for days,  EVERY MONTH.

 

When I first heard about it, like every person I have told, I actually felt ashamed that I had never thought about what women in other parts of the world use when they have their period. We now have a Bellingen group and we have had lots of interest.  The CWA is sewing some kits and a group of high school students learning to sew after school are also joining. We will be sending our first lot of kits to Papua New Guinea in a shipping container full of medical supplies. We are changing girls lives and it is the most awesome thing. It’s Craft and social work combined- it’s the holy grail for me! If you would like to be involved please like our page Days for girls Bellingen on Facebook (Here’s the link.)

Thanks Cath! Find more from Cath (and that Hangry cushion) at her Etsy shop and  her blog

Previous Interesting People posts:

 

Calamity Jane, Alaskan homesteader
Carly Findlay, appearance activist
Jo Thornely, internet celebrity
Lexi Campbell-Kentmann, blogging superstar
Gerri, Claire and Carmen, mums of nine kids

Honest School Notes #5

Dear office,

I know it’s only day 4 but Term 3 seems to be…. I believe the colloquial term the young people use is ”kicking my arse.’

Behold, yesterday:

1. Fail to get up half an hour before children to establish peaceful morning routine. Instead, get dragged away from electric blanket violently by small, unnaturally strong and hungry child. The pain in my back wakes up and says howdy.  Apply coffee.  Commence intense, chaotic forty-five minutes of shoe-searching, lunch-packing, toast-eating. Shit! It’s photo day. Plait hair and scrub uniform stains with kitchen sponge. Do the school drop off. I love you! Have a great day!

3. Take 2 y/old Pudding to town to run errands at Medicare and HCF. (Make the mistake of asking Angriest Woman In The Universe at Medicare office if she knows where HCF office was nearby. ‘It’s where it’s always been, ‘ she snarls.  ’Hasn’t moved.’) I love you, lady! Have a great day!

4. Run random in-town errands with small Pudding who deals with the boredom of shopping by playing Hide and Seek. She’s adorable, but she’s heavy to haul out from under shelves and benches. Spit on tissue to rub baby-cino off Pudding’s face and feel connected for a moment to mothers throughout the ages. (Mothers – grossly invading your personal space since the dawn of time!) When Pudding lies full-length on the floor at Best And Less, clutching a pair of sequinned baby high-heels and wailing ‘But itsa my birthday!!!’ it’s time to go. (Past time on the toddlers meltdown clock by about ten minutes, actually.)

5. Home, make lunch for three, call Keith from his backyard office, snarf sandwich, complain to each other about our mornings. While he goes to change over the composting toilet (fun and fragrant!)  I put Pudding in front of Play School while I clean the kitchen from breakfast (and the remains of last nights dinner. And maybe a bit of lunch from 2012.)

4. Take steak out of freezer for dinner.  Pack bag for swimming (goggles, warm clothes, towels, enough afternoon tea to fill both raging after-school and after-swimming appetites of 5 and seven year old Peanut and T-Bone.)

5. Run a bath. Convince Pudding it’s time for siesta and put her in her cot with her books. Get in the bath with a cup of tea and a book and pray to the gods for half an hours peace.

6. Ten minutes later, Pudding calls out from her room. ‘Mama! I done a poo on my pillow!’ Get out of bath. Curse the gods. Put the bedding on a hot-wash. Apply coffee.

7. School pick-up. Take all three kids to osteopath appointment. Administer a stern outline of Expectations of Behavior. They behave well in the room, but I suspect the red snake I found on the floor of the car and promised to divide in three if they were good was the real motivator.

8. Race against clock to get to swimming lessons. Strip, watch, clap, strip, yell, dry, dress, pack back into car. Smallest child says she doesn’t want her Vegemite roll, donates it to big kids and then changes her mind. It’s world war 3.  Pain in my back is growing more insistent.

9. Home. Unpack bags, chop vegetables, cook steak and noodles, avoid racing scooters, negotiate battles. Clean wee off bathroom floor. T-Bone follows me about the kitchen reading the school-photo booklet and making me discuss each possible photo pack. Fuck! Remember have not paid for school photos. Go online and find site, rail against setting up ‘account’, but make it through process. Find new wee on bathroom floor. Set table. Apply Nurofen Plus.

10. Sit down to dinner. Discuss social, cultural and political happenings of the moment. Children contribute with interesting and unexpected viewpoints , i.e ‘put a poo on your head.’

11. Readers, homework, bedtime. Get small ones to bed (I love you! Have a great sleep!)  and then do the washing up while Keith combs conditioner-treatment through Peanuts hair for nits. Try to mentally gaffa-tape mouth but cannot stop giving advice To Keith who is doing it ALL WRONG.

12. Collapse on couch.

13. Dribble in sleep.

My apologies, office. I know it’s only day 4 of term but I’m not sure it’s going to get much better.

Yours,

Ms McIntosh

ps: Send Valium.

Honest School Notes #1

Honest School Notes #2

Honest School Notes #3

 Honest School Notes #4

What Not To Say To A Lesbian

image from the excellent tumblr Vintage Lesbian

File this post under the ‘useful life hacks’ banner. This article is full of excellent information, but mainly it makes me want to be a lesbian just so when somebody asks me ‘But how do you have sex?’ I can answer thusly:

Well, first we make an offering to the Goddess. Then we walk counter-clockwise in a circle around a bowl of flax seeds while reciting lines from the Indigo Girls canon. Somewhere around the seventh rotation, our vaginas fuse together in spiritual and ecstatic union. Afterward, we drink rooibos tea and discuss prison reform.

Back to school tomorrow! May your morning run as smoothly as a the acerbic put-down of a funny lesbian. We’ve got swimming, Girl Guides and rugby all booked in for this term. Itsa gonna be a busy one.

x

 

Her Breasts Are Soft And Tender As The Pelicans

School holidays are nearly over – back to normal routines next week. How did you go? My second week has been much easier than the first – I’m feeling much healthier: more energetic, less emotional. We’ve had lots of extra kids this week – I just keep feeding them. If they come to complain, I stick a banana in their mouth before they can get the sentence out. Then I perform the classic mime ‘Trapped In A Box With Michael Flatley’ until they they leave the kitchen, confused.

Games of Garden Masterchef have been popular (complicated leaf art and grated oranges), the dolls house is having a revival and magazine collages are hot right now.  When Keith comes up for lunch it’s easy to persuade him onto the piano. In my world, there is no fun like christian-strumming four guitar chords and belting Katy Perry numbers with theatrical seven year olds who haven’t yet learned about self-consciousness.

How long do you think we’ve got before the fact that Dad can (and will ) play Let It Go with Liberace-esque flourish  is not longer amazingly cool to Peanut but…the opposite? Don’t tell me.

ps – Unrelated, but fabulous: Pick-up lines from 1663. Your mission for tonight, should you choose to accept it: use one of these lines, then reach behind your ear and waggle your reading glasses slowly, sensuously, erotically.  (Extra points if you dress like this. )  Go get em, tigers. Thank me later.

“Liquorous rolling eyes.”
“Her Cheeks are spread with Spices and Flowers.”
“Her breasts are the soft Pillows of love.”
“Her breasts are soft and tender as the Pelican’s.”
“In that sweet dimple, when she smiles, Cupid hath pitch’d his tents.”
“Her Thighes are fit subjects for the pleasant Songs of youthfull Poets to acquaint the world with.”
“Her legs as stately and firm as marble pillars.”

(via The Academy of Complements and Ask the Past)

Choos!

Kids in The Kitchen: Making Muesli

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Muesli (or granola) is such a great thing to make with the kids. It’s all tipping stuff out of jars, mixing and measuring, getting hands sticky. Excellent fun. Hard to bugger up. And although the cleanup can be epic,   the payoff is delicious. A weeks worth of yummy whole-food satisfaction.

Here’s my recipe.

Ingredients

6 cups rolled oats

2 cups dessicated coconut

1 cup wheatgerm

1/2 cup LSA (linseed, soy, almond meal)

I cup chopped nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds)

1/2 cups raw cacao nibs

1/2 cup pepitas

1 cup of dried berries

!/2 cup chopped dried apricots

Really, it’s just about a bowl full of grain, nut and seed goodness. I just superboost that bad boy with whatever I have in the pantry (or can vacuum from the bottom of my handbag.)

Method

1. Preheat oven on low (160 degrees)

2. Get your little soux chef to mix all your dry ingredients together  in a great big bowl. (Do not look at the floor after they do this. It’s chaos. It’s a car crash. It’s the Costa Concordia. But it’s recoverable. )

2. For the syrup, take  1 cup of honey, half a cup of raw sugar, a quarter cup of coconut oil and a quarter cup of butter. Melt this gently over a low heat until deliciously dissolved.

3. Do this part yourself (it’s hot) : pour the syrup over the dry mix, and using a spoon first and then hands, squish the mixture until it forms a great big squidgy, sticky mess that has all been slightly coated with syrup.

4. Get a couple of big baking trays (you may need three), line with baking paper and press the mix down firmly to fill the tray right to the corners. This is a great job for little hands.

5. Bake the trays for ten minutes or so, until the tops of the mix are browning slightly. Let them cool on the countertop and then decant it all into a big container. Admire this with pride and satisfaction. DO NOT look at the mess on the floor until you’ve had a nice cup of tea and restored your energy.

6. Eat with pleasure (We like it with Greek yogurt, bananas and the inner glow of gastronomical smugness.)

7.  You had better deal with that floor now.

Also:  some tips from a granola expert (I like the idea of adding the fruit after toasting), Ruth from Gourmet Girlfriend  with her recipe for muesli bars, and more cooking with kids: greek yoghurt pannacotta with raspberry sauce.

Bon appetit!

x

 

This Is 43

1. An early morning on the couch sharing a hot-water bottle with the kids and reading Tintin.

2. A poem from my seven year old:

I hope you will never forget
Our love and no regrets
Or the smellyness of Dads bum
Never ever is you Mum
However much I read Tintin
I will never put you in the binbin
Or how much I read Harry Potter
You will never be called a rotter
So for all the love we have all gave you
Even if you smell like poo
I swear I will never kill you.

3. My sister in town staying an extra night at Mums so the kids can have a sleepover with their cousins while I hit the town with Keith. Thanks Mum and Sam. (Especially for telling me I have a long and lustrous chin hair waving in the winter sunlight.)

4. Searching for my glasses so I can see well enough to pluck the chin hair in the good light of the car’s rear-vision mirror (no trouble spared for date night!)

3.  The closing night of the Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Patyegarang at the Sydney Opera House – a beautiful and moving story of first contact.

4. A (child-free!) wander around Berkolouw books and a top find – a first edition of the 1950′s release of the Regency-era diaries of the biographer James Boswell. So up my alley.

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4. A stroll down to my old hang Bar Italia for a cheap dinner and SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! – a surprise party! With my Sydney posse! I hardly ever get to see these beloved old bastards of mine and they even came dressed in a ‘nose’ theme in honour of my sorry old sinuses. (That’s me clutching all the tissues and being happy.)

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6. We ate, we cackled, and then we went to the pub where in accordance with the gods who were smiling on my whole birthday: Karaoke. Night.

In short, I highly recommend that you guys have some sort of pre-menstrual house-work and family-life meltdown just before your birthday. My lady-tantrum seems to have galvanised Keith into throwing the best birthday he’s ever managed.  I’m not saying I , like, planned it? But it really worked out well for me.

Although he’s totally buggered himself for next year.  Where to go from here?

In everyday news, school holidays and health dramas have interfered with my writing much here lately. Hope to be back on the horse soon. Sooner. Soonest!

x

Bookshelf : Man Versus Wild

I’m still feeling a bit unstable in the old spine. It’s a good day to turn my attention far, far away from my own creaky body and to write a Bookshelf post. Are you a ‘lied about being the outdoor type’ type? Do you like to wrap up in a soft cardie, make a nice cup of tea and sink into a tale of wild adventure while your feet stay lovely and warm on the dogs back?

Great! Me too! (Except for the dog. I have to substitute my kids for that bit.)

Here are a few heart-thumping stories of the awesome powers of nature and the equally impressive human spirit.

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger is a wonderfully written piece of narrative non-fiction about an epic storm that hit the fishing trawler Andrea Gail outside Massachusetts in 1991. Detailed, meticulous and powerful, it’s a thrilling read. Junger’s powers of description tackle life at home in a small port town:

“There are houses in Gloucester where grooves have been worn into the floorboards by women pacing past an upstairs window, looking out to sea.”

and he really gets his teeth into the terrifying powers of a massive storm at sea.

“Unfortunately for Mariners, the total amount of wave energy and storm does not rise linearly with wind speed, but to its fourth power. The seas generated by a 40 knot wind aren’t twice as violence as those from a 20 knot wind, they are seventeen times as violent. The ship’s crew watching the anemometer climb even 10 knots could well be watching their death sentence.”

A great present for outdoorsy types, this book.

The Perfect Storm 1

(From the 2000 film of the book)

 

Touching The Void by Joe Simpson describes a terrifying climbing trip gone wrong in Peru. At 21, 000 feet, Simpson fell off an ice ledge and broke his leg. His partner Simon Yates was forced to cut the rope he dangled from, just moments before he too would have died. Over the next three days Simpson struggled down to Base Camp – frostbitten, starving, dragging his leg – and his detailed memories of the journey are compelling and beautifully expressed.

Peop_Pers_14simpson-mountaineer

Joe Simpson by Barry Lewis

 

127 Hours: Between A Rock And A Hard Place is another triumph of the mind over the body. Aron Ralston was a full-on mountain-biking, snow-boarding, rock-climbing adventure junkie when he went hiking alone in a remote Utah canyon in 2010. It was all going swimmingly until an 365 kilo  boulder trapped his arm against a wall. Over the next six days, Ralston ran out of food and water as he tried to come up with any possible exit plan other than the one that involved than amputating his own arm with a pocketknife. All options failed, and he did, eventually, do the job. He survived. The book follows, hour by hour, his thoughts as he contemplates his past and his terrifying present. It’s a cracking, heart-in-mouth read, as you wait for the inevitable to happen.

Finally, if you like Everest stories (as I do), Into Thin Air is a classic of the genre that tells the tale of the 1997 Mt Everest disaster, when a sudden storm killed eight climbers. It’s a great work of narrative non-fiction by one of the masters of the genre, Jon Krakeur (who also wrote Into The Wild, a book exploring the mysterious tale of young Christopher McCandles escape to, and eventual death in, the remote Alaskan wilderness.)

Also, Alive In The Death Zone by Australian mountaineering legend Lincoln Hall tells the story of his near-death from cerebral oedema at the summit of Everest. The night he spent spend waiting for death and his surreal trip down the mountain the next day make for a fascinating tale. (Hall lost fingers and toes from frostbite after this climb, but survived. He died of mesothelioma in 2008. )

Do you have any adventure tales to share? Hit me!

(P.S: here’s a fantastic interview about ‘extreme medicine’ on the Fresh Air podcast. Dr Kevin Fong explores how humans survive deep sea, outer space and extreme heat.)

If you’re interested, other Bookshelf posts:

A Sweet Look At Crazy Irish Catholics

5 Great Read-Along Chapter Books For Kids

Celebrity Memoirs – The Best, And The Best-Worst

Adventurous Women

Oh Me Nerves

I’m still alive, yo.

I’ve got a sinus infection which is taking me back to a dark place of congestion and fear.  And last night, around a campfire, my chair collapsed. One minute I was happily cuddling the T-Bone and  eating garlic prawns, the next I was flat on my back in the dirt with a twenty kilo son on top of me.

I’m OK. Bit sore, but nothing to worry about.  But if you have a history of  back problems,  my friends of the interwebs, you’ll understand the psychic punch of a little accident like that.

It’s been a bit of a weird couple of weeks, actually. I was going to write about it tonight, but… me nerves! Oh, me nerves.

Instead, I think I’ll give you Lennon and Maisy. They are just damn delightful.

Hope you’re all travelling well out there. Tackling the school holidays with grace and pay-shence. Keeping your bum on your chair.