So fluffy I could DIE!

my breadThat right there, my friends, is the result of blood, sweat and many, many tears.

That’s my first successful sourdough bread loaf, made from scratch with just flour, water, salt and the sourdough starter that was, yep, made by me.

Am I just a teensy bit proud that this loaf would not kill ducks if you threw it at them?

Why, yes. Yes I am.

Am I grateful that the boys didn’t seem to mind that some loaves required a chainsaw to cut through the crust and consumed all previous loaves?

Indeed.

Am I happy that it only took approximately eight weeks of persevering through making a loaf every week to finally get one that worked?

Damn straight.

Did I make EVERYONE who came into the house yesterday marvel at and admire my lovely, fluffy, delicious bread?

I really did.

Am I concerned that I don’t actually know what I did differently to get this loaf right and lay awake at night fearing I’ve reached the pinnacle of perfection and it’s all downhill from here?

Just a little …

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Nooobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

nobodyExpectsTheSpanishInquisition

The Spanish Inquisition … when you least expect them.

Author’s note: The following is blatantly rejigged without the permission or knowledge of The Monty Python Flying Circus

Nooobody expects to have fertility issues! And here’s one thing you should never say to a woman trying to conceive: “Relax and it will all just happen naturally” ... and “But you’re still trying, aren’t you?”

Two! Two things you should never say to a woman trying to conceive: “But you’re still trying” and “Relax”... and “There’s always next time”.

THREE! Three things: “Always next time”, “Still trying” and “Relax”… and “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be”. 

LET ME START AGAIN!

I have a whole new respect for witches. Magic is hard to ‘make happen’ and despite all the science in the world, it still requires that little spark of magic to make a baby come to life.  As we’ve discovered over the past four years, magic can be very elusive and certainly out of our control.  But here’s the thing I find the most difficult about the whole process: other people’s comments. Which is why I tend not to say anything or if I do, brush it off with humour.

Once upon a time, I was probably guilty of saying any one of the following four quotes. After all, I already have three completely gorgeous, grown-up children. I’ve done this before. So why THE FUCK* can’t I do it now?? (Because I’m 45, that’s why. But hey, nobody said logic and babies in the same sentence without laughing, right? Just so we’re clear, my husband’s jiz is positively jumping out of the jar, it’s so fertile. And he’s got the lab report to prove it.)

So here’s my Top Four sayings that I would advise you to avoid if you’re trying to be supportive of someone struggling to have a baby:

1. RELAX AND IT WILL ALL JUST HAPPEN NATURALLY

Well, shit. Why didn’t I think of that? Seems so simple when you put it that way. But here’s the thing: this is a situation you have no control over. No control = stress (look it up. Scientific fact.) Stress = I can meditate all the fuck* I want and nothing is going to take away the anxiety of counting the days to get the timing right (and hey, here’s a tip for those currently trying – saying “Honey, I’m ovulating. Let’s do it. Now.” is not considered ‘sexy talk’ and usually has the opposite effect), then waiting for two weeks to see if anything happened.

Then there’s the fun-filled IVF road of jabbing yourself with needles every day for 10 days then going under a general anesthetic to be ‘harvested’ THEN hoping for a further five days that the little blighters fertilise/don’t start dying off/make it to transfer THEN waiting two weeks to see if anything happened.

You try relaxing under that kind of pressure.

2. BUT YOU’RE STILL TRYING, AREN’T YOU?

Ugh. Stab me in the heart, why don’t you? What are you ACTUALLY trying to say? Are we still having sex? “No, no, I thought since we can’t get pregnant, I’d go on the pill and take precautions. Or just say no to bedroom funtimes.” Stupid, stupid question.

Or in the case of failed IVF, do you mean will we immediately spend another $5000 and a full month on heartache, needle jabbing, hoping and praying? “Sure, sign me up for that shit again. I mean, I don’t think I suffered enough last time, you know?”

I understand you’re trying to be positive but the implication we take away from that question is that we HAVEN’T been trying.  And here’s an insider secret for you: even when we say we’re ‘not trying’ anymore … we still are. Until we get a baby, we’ll always be trying.

3. THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT TIME

Seriously? We’ve just been through hell and it’s not somewhere we’re keen to revisit … even though we will. Read previous response.

4. IF IT’S MEANT TO BE, IT’S MEANT TO BE

That kind of zen philosophy is not helpful at all. It’s kinda related to the ‘Relax’ response. Stress comes from having no control over a situation that directly affects you. If you and your partner decided you wanted a baby together but it’s not happening, even though you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on natural remedies, given up coffee and wine, exercised to get fit then finally turned to science and forked out thousands for a helping hand, being told that maybe it’s just ‘not meant to be’ personally makes me want to punch you. Hard. In the face. Don’t EVER say it.

Here’s the thing …

There is nothing you can say that will make it better. You are blissfully unaware (as my younger self was) of the struggles and heartache and despair these people go through EVERY SINGLE DAY.

So, my advice? Don’t even try. Don’t give them too much sympathy – they’re struggling to hold it together and you feeling sorry for them just makes it harder not to blubber like a … well, a baby.

Don’t talk about it – unless they bring it up first. Then possibly just listen and nod occasionally and say innocuous things like “I see” and “Really?”

Instead, give them coffee.

And wine.

It will be gratefully accepted and much appreciated.

*Sorry about the swear words, Ma

Proofreading is not for the weak

daily_picdump_550_640_09Many people ask how I got into proofreading which usually slides into how can THEY get into proofreading as it sounds like an awesome gig.  Working from home. Correcting creativity because you may not be able to write it but hell, you know what good grammar looks like.  Easy, right?

Well, yeah. It is relatively stress-free and I have to admit it is a very good gig when the work is around.  And I can listen to music while I do it.  But as to how I got into it?  Quite by accident, actually.

I may have mentioned in my last post how study is my happy place and it’s usually my go-to when life gets craptastic.  I can’t actually remember how I found the course but it was $1000 and sounded great and was, for all intents and purposes, exactly what I needed (except I don’t know that anyone actually proofreads by hand using strange squiggly lines anymore. Like many other things in life, it’s all gone digital).  I completed it in record time … but breaking into the industry is a little more challenging.  Looking back, I was so very, very lucky.

There’s a band of five of us from Uni who still get together once every five years (although now we’re *ahem* more mature, we’ve decided we may need to shorten that timeframe).  I had just finished my course when we had a catch-up and one of the girls mentioned she did overwhelmingly well in her first year working from home as a proofreader for the advertising agency she’d worked for before babies … so much so that it would be great to have someone who could take the overload when it got too much or she wanted to take a weeks’ holiday.

I tentatively put up my hand, like a shy kid on her first day at school, and mentioned how I’d just finished such a course.  Even though she’s a great friend whom I’ve known for years, she’s bossy so I was a little scared at first! But actually, we have the perfect working relationship. She gives me tips and tells me when I stuff up and all in all has been a wonderful mentor – so much so that when I decided to jump out of the rat race and try freelance, she was incredibly supportive and we’ve been able to ramp up business quite a bit.

So, the short answer to any inquiries about how to get into the business of proofreading is … luck. It’s not what you know but who you know.

The next thing people say is how easy it must be and how they could do it too.  And that’s where I become a little more cagey. What I want to say is “Yeah, but I’ve seen your Facebook posts!!!!!!!*”*Note: This is an example of such Facebook posts that make my right eye twitch. More than one exclamation or question mark is really not necessary and looks completely stupid.

It’s not actually that easy and if you’ve ever had to read an insurance document outlining all the fine print … oh … you haven’t? No, of course not. Because it’s BORING.  But that’s quite a bit of what I do. Read the fine print. Make sure all the headings are consistent. All the capitals are capitals or lower cases are lower cases and does this look the same as the heading on the previous three pages?  An incorrectly spelt word is easy to find.  It’s all the other stuff that makes me feel like a Word Detective.

I love it because it appeals to my craving for structure and neatness and control and a place for everything and everything in it’s place.  But one thing I have discovered is that I can’t proofread my own stuff.  If I do a graphic design job that requires proofreading as well, I need to do one then walk away and do something else and give my brain time to swap over before I come back to concentrate on the other as  looking at the presentation then going through the text uses different parts of the brain.

And as for my blogs?  Oh yeah. There’s gonna be some clangers in here 🙂