A sky full of stars #blogjune

There is a mixture of sadness and relief when Blogjune is over- relief because the pressure is off and sadness because some of the voices which pop up at this time of year become quiet once more.

I did taper off, especially over the weekends, but it has definitely been the kick in the pants for me to write more and to reflect more.I meant to publish this last night, but real life beckoned in the form of my book club meeting over a glass of wine at the pub, after which I curled up on the sofa with Mr BG to watch a DVD.

There are so many eloquent and reflective people out there, and over the years of participating I have heard about

  • The Sydney Film Festival from Mal and Snail
  • Bikes and cycling-(I am glad I don’t ride Beach Road Graeme!)
  • Ereaders (Con seemed to hold the record for the most e readers)
  • Pens
  • Geocaching (in fact I found out about geocaching through Blogjune)
  • Cooking and cookery books
  • Books and bookshelves
  • Travel experiences
  • Art and Craft (I am missing Tony’s posts on his knitting endeavours, but loving Hoi’s watercolours and Sally’s ICAD challenge)
  • Pets
  • Children
  • Music (especially Fiona’s Musical Challenges)

Blogjune embraces the whole person, both in a professional and personal capacity, which is what I really enjoy. It’s a chance to meet people behind the pithy tweets or articles shared and photos shared on Twitter and Instagram. Not everyone has happy stories to tell, and people have been juggling, work, house moves, illness, and PhD submissions while still participating.

To everyone who has participated through reading, writing and commenting- thank you for a lovely Blogjune. You are all stars 🙂



Dear 2.45am- a letter to my pet peeve

You were late this morning, it was nearly 3.25 when you finally showed up!My daughter started yelling “Muuuum!” from her bedroom, at which point I nearly fell out of bed, padded to her room and grabbed the cat which had decided to play musical beds.

I could almost feel you mocking me when I returned to my warm cocoon and snuggled down under the doona. I ignored you and went straight back to sleep.

I think I met you when my brother was a baby. He was a rotten sleeper and would wake up crying for mum. Broken sleep became something I never quite got over and it’s stayed with me.

When my children were babies, you were a repeat visitor, coming several times a night when I had two of them both needing my attentions, whether it be hunger, teething or simply ‘growing pains’.

You weren’t all that bad. When my eldest was a baby, I snuggled with him for night feeds, his warm little body nestled against me like a little hot water bottle. When he weaned off the night feeds, I almost missed you :).

Now they’re older and mostly sleep through, unless there is a wayward cat, or leg cramps, or nightmares. If you come for me, I am usually tired enough to roll over and close my eyes.

There are other days when I can’t ignore you, or at least my brain can’t. That’s when I toss and turn, mulling over the day that was, worrying over the day that will be, and trying not to think of the many things I have to do.
There are times when sleep doesn’t return at all, and I face the day as a grumpy zombie.

Sometimes in order for you to disappear, I will get up and write a list of all the things I have to do in the morrow. It’s somewhat cathartic writing things down isn’t it? It quells my mind somewhat and then I can relax enough to sleep.

Hopefully I won’t see you tonight 🙂

Love Bookgrrl

#Blogjune 2013- unplugged, embedded, and over!

Blogjune is a challenge in the truest sense, and there is always a sense of relief when it ends. At the end though, I am always grateful as my RSS feed (thank you Feedly) expands with new blogs to read!

As a librarian who blogs, I don’t always blog about libraries, and I am always amazed at how people will maintain the momentum of publishing  great posts related to libraries.  Hoi’s library quiz, asking questions about librarianship was a great example, as was Peta’s A-Z of library terminology. Michelle’s Connecting Librarian’s reflective posts are always an inspiration. The concept of the embedded librarian was discussed with applications in information literacy provoked a great deal of interest.

Looking at the real world and discussing its applications to libraries is always inspiring. Ellen’s series on signage and its library applications and Janice’s posts on GovHack certainly made me reflect about the need to seek ideas from outside the library sphere.

People’s experience with MOOCs and online learning and the ANZm23things posts prove that we are still passionate about extending ourselves and enhancing our professional and geek skills.

While this is a challenge which is librarian driven, I really love the personal posts about people’s interests and their families. Seeing people’s families and pets (cue the emergency pet blog post), Tony and Penny’s learning to crochet, and people’s travel and shopping experiences are great to read. Fiona’s musical challenge is always a highlight of blogjune for me, and seeing and hearing about where people live is always a pleasure.

The inevitable book collection posts saw people show off their cookbook collections and show off their book collection, one book at a time :).

There were lots of posts on the craft of writing and wondering about what to write when your ideas dry up. The solution to keep on writing regardless and you will not only write your way out of a slump, but generate a blog post was done with gusto :).

One post which struck a chord with me was Con’s first post on being unplugged. It’s definitely something I have to do more often, if only for my eyes which get a wee bit strained looking at a screen. I feel significantly calmer if I haven’t been in front of a screen all day as well.

I loved reading everyone’s posts and looking at people’s image posts on Tumblr. I did find it tricky to comment sometimes (grrr with captcha and other blogger hoops), but I find the interaction of commenting fosters collegiality. I thank everyone that took the time to leave comments on my posts :).

I was thankful for other people’s post to inspire me and memes certainly helped. I was also able to finish off several drafts in my folder- most of the book reviews were for #AWW2013, so my posts had a double purpose for being published.

The last week was hard for a myriad of reasons. I wasn’t so much losing my desire, but I was operating out of my comfort zone. I was staying at my parents and blogging from my tablet or my phone. A close family member also passed away and much of the blogging energy was diverted.

The strange thing was, blogging had become a habit and and I needed it. It helped me escape from the week that was quite tumultuous. I have always found reading to be a refuge and reading people’s posts was a part of that refuge.

So thank you for reading, and thank you for blogjune.

Writing, Bookgrrl Style

What I love about Blogjune, or any other writing challenge, is that you are forced out of your comfort zone, flying by the seat of your pants in order to produce a post. You can plan out your posts, scheduling themes and memes in order to get you through the month. You can also be hit by inspiration brought upon by sheer panic to produce something. It’s usually a mixture of both for me.

Last week, I posted a blog post, about some unfinished business which had been years in the (crochet) crafting. It had been sitting in my draft folder, waiting for the moment I could hit publish.

This week I also wrote a quick post about my cat on my phone while travelling on a bus. Both were very well received :).

There are some ideas  and posts which have to sit and slowly develop. You can add a bit here, tinker a bit there, and allow yourself to ponder about it. Then there are some which simply pour from the pen or from my fingertips. I remember writing a post about my frustrations with Florence when I was on holidays last year, and then when my grandfather passed away I wrote about my relationship with him.

So this is what gets me from a blank screen to hitting publish…

1. Prioritising- yes, I know there’s washing to be done, a floor to be vacuumed, because I am currently sitting in a house with stuff like this that has to be done. And I will pretty much use blogging as an excuse to get out of any housework :). There were times when I was doing my Masters and I couldn’t see the top of the dining table for all the laundry and books and general household clutter. As long as dinners were cooked and clean clothes could be extracted from the huge pile on the table, I could get on with the business of study and writing. I was also able to be interrupted at any stage for cuddles and tickles.

2. Practising- my art teacher once told me to draw every day. Josh, The World’s Strongest Librarian also commits to writing every day. It may not necessarily be good, but it’s practise.

Do something. Do it every day. Focus on what’s in front of you, not how many days it’s going to take to get it all done. It all adds up.

Neil Gaiman has just released a new book and one site Book Riot has declared today to be Neil Gaiman Day- they collected a series of quotes he has said on books  and writing.

One of the quotes I loved was

“I learned to write by writing. I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure, and to stop when it felt like work, which meant that life did not feel like work.”

3. Ponder- just the very act of thinking of an idea and wondering about the angle upon which to write about it can make for great mental gymnastics.

4. And above all be inspired by other People’s Posts. Read what other people write, and be inspired by their triumphs, share their tribulations, and marvel at how they can put one word after another.

Other bloggers have also offered great insights.

Con likes the tactile nature of a pen in her hand when writing difficulties are encountered. Seeing the ink flow onto the page can be very soothing.

For Alisa it is writing one word after another to form a sentence, then another, until a paragraph forms.

And for Abigail the very act of sitting down is the greatest challenge. Even if your initial output is not great, you need to start.

And now I have a cat to pat, kids to put to bed, and a husband whose birthday it is today. Happy birthday Mr BG 🙂



For Blogs Sake!-end of NaBloPoMo

It’s the last day of November, the end of NaBloPoMo. To be honest, it was a bit of a slog, and I missed a few days. I could use the excuse I was busy, and I was, but it was a combination of factors, like extreme tiredness, or not really having anything to say!

When faced with a blinking cursor on a screen, or a night spent on the couch catching up with my husband, reader, I chose the husband! It did make up for the numerous nights when I did leave him to his own devices watching TV while I plugged away, writing away.

It is lovely to read the comments and see the likes on my posts, but writing is essentially a solitary business. Sometimes the words don’t flow, or they do, and it can be a jumble trying to sort them out while having to deal with demands of a family for silly things like food and clothes 🙂 .

This weekend I plan to put up the Christmas decorations and tree, attend the last soccer game of the season for Master BG, and recover from NaBloPoMo. And not have the weight of a post to do hanging over me…

Washing line philosopher

My 'room of one's own'

I will often do most of my thinking at the washing line when I am hanging out wet clothes towels and sheets. The washing line is located at the end of the garden hidden behind a row of silver birches and a vine-covered trellis. Actually, it’s quite secluded and idyllic and were it not for the fact that I have nowhere else to put my washing, it would be a lovely summer nook with a comfy bench and table. It’s away from the hubbub of the household and the children rarely venture down to tell me things of EXTREME IMPORTANCE when I am down there (they usually wait until I am busy in the bathroom to do that…)

These are a couple of the things I have thought about this week. As I only spend up to 10 minutes at a time, thoughts can be short and somewhat fleeting…

1.Google does not make you an expert

Ostensibly the article is about vaccination, but really about the way in which Google has made everyone an expert on everything. There is information which Google can’t access, but it’s not as easy to access nor search. As a result, you get people with just enough knowledge from ‘research’ to make them dangerous. There is also the ‘Filter Bubble’ effect in which Google personalises search results through its alogrithms to allow you to see information it thinks you WANT to see. Unfortunately the information you NEED to see may not appear.

3. Pinterest– I’m sorry, I don’t quite get you. It’s a bit like the whole Twilight phenomenon, where you see perfectly sane and intelligent women go gaga over a bunch of vampires, except this time it’s over pretty pictures. I like you, but I don’t understand you. Do I need to spend a lot of my time looking and pinning? Do I need to follow a lot of boards? Do I need to have people  follow me? I know looking at visual social networks can be highly addictive- I have easily spent hours on Tumblr before I went cold turkey…

4. How can I like aprons with their retro charm, yet detest the ubiquity of the Playboy logo seen on underpants and gym equipment? Both symbolise elements of a women’s subservience (the apron sybolising a confinement to a domestic environment, the bunny, a label of sexual objectification), and as a feminist shouldn’t I be fighting for the right not to wear an apron and hanging out this fucking laundry? But I really hate the way my husband hangs it out (sorry, love I do), and who else will?

5. I want a cleaner. And a nanny to pick up the kids after school and bring them home, rather than putting them into after school care, when Miss BG starts school. Perhaps Tony Abbott does say the occasional right thing…OMG, I AGREED WITH TONY ABBOTT- I need a drink…

6. Could I write full-time? I wouldn’t be able to afford the cleaner and nanny, but then I’d be at home…I don’t think there would be a lot of things we could no longer afford…

7. Can a happy marriage fail? Could I write a story about that without raining all types of karma upon me?

8. What am I going to do with the chicken for dinner tonight?


A room of one’s own

‘I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”

Oscar Wilde

When I moved out of home, I lived in a flat all by myself. I had lived in a 3-bedroom house with my parents, a sister and 2 brothers, and while I loved my family, I needed my own space and independence. In my own place, I could go out when I wanted, be responsible for myself and curl up on the couch at night, reading or watching the TV show I wanted to watch or listen to my music. I could also go out with whom I wanted without getting the third degree from well-minded parents.

It was not only my own space and privacy for which I was craving. Living and working in Geelong, I was always known as the daughter of mum and dad, and it was that to which I was often referred. I wanted to forge my own path and identity without being defined by my relationship to another person.

Then six months after I moved out of home, I started going out with MrBG and well, that whole single identity pretty much ended :). Well, sort of- as we were working together, we kept the relationship away from work and only a few people knew of our situation.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy coupledom, but the solitude of living alone did give me peace and I don’t mind my own company. I still love going out and catching up with people,  but there is only so much I can handle before I need to retreat and recharge.

How do I get the solitude I occasionally crave now that I live with two excitable little people as well as a husband? I usually take it when I can, getting up early in the morning to tap away on the PC, and enjoying, rather enduring, the long commute to and from Melbourne for work. When it all becomes too much, I escape to my bedroom and lie on the bed in the dark, enjoying the brief respite.

Working outside the home has also has also been a huge contributor to my personal identity for so many years, especially since the little BGs came along. It was a way to connect and talk to grownups, to wear grownup clothes and be valued in a different way to just being mum or wife. I really admire and support those who give up their work to look after children, but it was something I could not do- my job is a part of who I am.

Last year I was introduced to someone as a writer. While at the time I was a bit disparaging of the title (‘Actually I just blog’), it gave me a buzz that people would know me, and like me, as a writer :). I still have no inclination about giving up my day job, or day/night job for that matter, but this blog has become a part of me, a room of my own, so to speak. And I thank Pete, the person who suggested it in the first place :).

Bookgrrl’s top 10 posts of 2011

It has been an enjoyable year being Bookgrrl. It’s been fun writing about what I like and talking to the lovely people who read my blog either through facebook twitter and the comments. I

Thanks to the wonders of my WordPress blog stats, I am able to present the top 10 posts. From looking at these posts, my readers like it when I talk about the eighties, opshopping and myself. I think Miss BG’s entire ballet school cottoned on to my post about The Mermaid which was a good chance as any to show her off in a tutu :).

Some of these posts I would love to revise after having read them a while after they have been posted. Some have been painstakingly crafted in spits and spurts, while others have been quick to pop into my head and simply flow. Some are written in moments of lightness, some are written for the purpose of writing something, others are deeply personal and straight from the heart.

  1. Back to the 80s- Music
  2. Back to the 80s- Fashion
  3. Back to the 80s- Books
  4. Going Commando– shopping in a limited timeframe- what did you think I meant?
  5. Review- The mermaid – Miss BG in a tutu
  6. Do I? I do! The story of the romance between Mr BG and myself- and my red wedding dress
  7. The Romantic A review of one of Kate Holden’s followup to her memoir in my skin
  8. It’s time A story about my two lovely brothers
  9. Op shop holiday A trip to Melbourne opshopping
  10. The grr in Bookgrrl– my post about International Women’s day, being a mother, work-life balance and being a feminist

Tomorrow I’ll look back at the year, and at what resolutions I kept or didn’t keep, which would be more likely…

Being thankful

Five weeks ago, we were very lucky to be invited to a Thanksgiving dinner by a family whose husband is an American expatriate.

We were a varied group whose number included neighbours, people from work, from the local community garden and fellow American expatriates.

The dinner was a traditional turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, greens and corn bread, with apple pie, pumpkin pie and ice cream for dessert.

Before the meal we were asked to say what we were thankful for. My response was I was thankful for the kids in keeping me grounded. I was also thankful, in that they behaved very well and played very well with the younger children present.

As Christmas passes and the New Year approaches, I’m thankful for other things…

I am thankful for Twitter and Facebook, which has allowed me to remain in contact with old friends and make new friends. A Secret Santa was organised via Twitter, and the blogeverydayinjune, 1pic1thoughtinaugust and blog12daysofxmas were all organised through Twitter as well.

I am thankful for my blog. I love the outlet of writing and enjoy thinking about what to write in my head, jotting down notes, and typing a few words, before being interrupted by world war three emanating from the lounge room.

I am thankful for my blog’s readers, for your comments and support during my moments of feeling blah.

I am thankful for my lovely friends, both online and those I see, for making me laugh and cry.

I am thankful for my family, for being there when I need them.

I am thankful for my lovely Mr BG, for his honesty and love and for his ability to pick the perfect Christmas presents- a ghost tour of the Daylesford Convent, Body Shop gift set, a set of matroyshka measuring cups and a re-release of the first Duran Duran album, with bonus tracks and DVD.

Happy New Year