Darling daughter hasn't been very well for the last couple of weeks: there's a nasty chest cold going round the school and we've been fortunate enough to host it in our home, complete with all-night coughing fits and riotous temperatures. Now, sadly, it had the bad grace to infect me and I've got it worse than Darling Daughter which doesn't seem fair at all.
Needless to say we've taken the approach that if Darling Daughter is well enough she should go to school, not malinger around the house especially since we're all crammed together in two rooms and there's nowhere peaceful for her to rest here. But lest that seem unduly careless I should say that her teacher is very sanguine about it and there would have been hell to pay if Daughter had missed last Friday's Crazy Hair day.
There must have been a run on sprayable hair products in Coffs Harbour in honour of the occasion but knowing how much Darling Daughter hates washing her hair (especially when she's got a bad cold) I went for the non-spray option: I divided her hair up into five bunches, plaited each bunch around two hefty pipecleaners and tied the whole lot up in coloured ribbon and plonked fake roses and butterflies on top. I gather her class had lots of fun bending her plaits in passing, although I'm not sure she was enjoying it by the end of the day... but instead of having to wash it all out we simply had to take off the elastics, pull out the pipe cleaners et voila!
I put the plaits back in over the weekend on the basis that it would keep her hair away from the coughing... and this was sweetened by the thought of having marvellous waves in her hair when we did get around to taking out the plaits on Sunday. This made it a lot easier to have her face painted on Saturday when we went to the annual Bellingen Plant Fair.
It was such a wet and miserable day that we almost didn't go, and we had to stop off first and buy wellies for everyone, but I'm glad we went. For the last couple of weeks we've been living in a land of thick, oozy red mud thanks to the work of Pete and his excavator and the rain. Pete's been carving drainage benches into the hillside behind the studio/office building, putting in culverts and creating a new dam half way down one of the gullies. It's all been great work and very necessary but the mud has been a real problem. Walking down the slope between the house (where we park the cars) and the office/studio (where we live) has involved acquiring an extra two inches in height thanks to the mud sticking to the bottom of our shoes!
A side-effect of all the excavation work is that Pete has cleared a lot of land of its covering of noxious weeds such as lantana and tobacco bush. This saves us from having to do the work by hand, but now it's been cleared we need to replant it with ground cover plants before it reverts back to weeds. We had a good chat to a bush regeneration specialist at the Bellingen Plant Fair who approved our methodology: we're going to put down lawn grass seed and individual ground cover plants which will give good coverage quickly, and the ground cover plants will eventually smother out the grass. We're also getting rid of our Camphor Laurels by planting native strangler figs on them up in a fork in their branches. The strangler figs will - surprise, surprise - strangle the Camphor Laurels, but it will take time; meanwhile we don't lose the laurel's soil-retaining usefulness. Chopping them down, while quicker, would destabilise some of the slopes. We're going to prevent the laurels from seeding, however, by ring-barking them now: it won't kill them but it will wound them and prevent them from flowering while the strangler figs become established.
I was thrilled to find a Seville orange tree at the plant fair: my mother loved marmalade and I think she would have been delighted to think of me harvesting my own marmalade oranges. Can't wait... meanwhile we have lots of citrus for our citrus orchard: Meyer lemons, Imperial mandarins, a blood orange, a kumquat, a kafir lime tree and a native finger lime. Yum!
You'd think that all this malingering with a cough would have given me the time to make some work, wouldn't you, but I have to say that I've been feeling far too ill to work. In fact it's all I can do at the moment to type - and you can't see how many spelling mistakes and grammatical errors I've had to fix up as I've gone along! But anyway, I am thinking about working and the arrival of this box of wooden blocks has helped. Dearest Husband brought home a marvellous cube from a conference sometime last year. The cube is made up of 8 wooden cubes covered in folded paper, and the folding and cutting of the covering paper allows the cube to 'open up' and reconfigure itself, revealing as it does so the inner faces in different formations. It's not the same as the rotating tetrahedron I recently used to make a book in that it isn't endlessly reconfigurable: you unfold the blocks up to a certain point and then you have to fold them all back together again, but the movement is intruiging, nonetheless.
I've had a go using some old prints on thick etching paper and realised quite quickly that I need to use thinner paper: I understand the principal now and just need to use thin paper and more accurate cutting skills to make it work. What's exercising my mind more is a coherent idea behind the imagery... I'm sure I'll get there in the end.
Meanwhile I think I've got to the end of my ability to sit in this chair and type for today. It's time for soup and then bed again! This cold reminds me of being ill as a child (I used to get several episodes of this sort of cold every year and spent weeks off school). I'd be confined to bed in my room on the back-garden side of our house in Bognor Regis, listening to the local chooks pecking around and waiting for Mum to come up occasionally and feed me mashed banana with brown sugar and lemon juice if I had a sore throat. As I remember it I was largely left to myself, and daytime or nightime lost their meaning as I slept when I felt like it and read books the rest of the time... In my memory it was quite peaceful, a bit boring, and I remember spending a lot of time looking out through the small window across the landing at the top of the stairs, which gave me a peek out into wider world.
At the moment my temperature's climbing upwards again and I can feel my pillows calling to me. Fighting with breathing is doing wonders for my meditation skills: I have to concentrate fiercely on the whole of each breath in or out to stop my lungs from closing up and starting another coughing fit...
p.s., (posted Thursday) after a week of spluttering it all got too much: I had a meltdown last night and decided to see the doctor today (everyone wishes I could sleep properly because I'm disturbing them as we're all in the one room at the moment). Contrary to expectations the whole issue was taken seriously so I'm tucking into a good strong dose of Roxithromycin (one tablet with green tea on waking, half an hour before food...) and if my temperature doesn't come down within 48hrs then I get a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. I don't think it will get that far myself, but I'm looking forward to a better night's sleep tonight and - who knows? - possibly some energy tomorrow.