the goddess of small things

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Other than a short story I’m buffing, my blog post WIP folder resembles Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard; bare of anything other than snippets and reminder notes. What is it I do with my time?

Monday to Friday 9 to 5: day job. As mentioned, I’ve had an office desk reshuffle where I came up trumps with a sunny spot and harbour view. I’m 6 months into a role reinvention and a month into rollout of a new technology system; it’s all about tail ends, engaging others and building up muscle memory.

Before and after work… sometimes during if there’s a lull: domestic business.

Thanks to Australia Post I’m getting more exercise as they remove local red post boxes. It feels personal… first it was the red post box near the pub at Taylors Arm which means now the nearest is in town at Macksville 30 kilometres away. The next to go was the red post box I pass each week day on King Street conveniently adjacent to St Peters train station. Sure, most of my correspondence is electronic but I like to send special occasion mail to various family members within demographics diffident to texts and emails, as well as return Quickflix DVDs… some of us haven’t succumbed to pay TV or movie streaming.

And then there’s Telstra… Even Wikipedia’s entry for Taylors Arm warns “There is no coverage for mobile phones in Taylors Arm.” For us it’s been a decade long saga to little avail. We were somewhat heartened by news that “Telstra will build 429 new mobile towers in regional Australia” but the devil in the detail is Upper Taylors Arm will be recipient of one of the “250 Small Cells to deliver high speed 4G data services” rather than a tower so “Customers with 4G capable devices may notice a change in the device’s signal/strength bars, but no change to their voice service“. As far as timing info there has been nada except “We’re currently working with Government on how to allocate them and will have more details coming soon“.

After persistently & extensively contacting Telstra requesting information & assistance I was eventually assigned a Case Manager who promptly & concisely advised “We apologise that your options for internet connection is currently limited because your area is found on a blackspot… We are working very hard in building more towers for customers but we cannot provide a specific date for this… While it is disappointing that we are unable to reach a mutually agreeable solution, Telstra is confident that our investigation and proposed resolution are appropriate and therefore, I’m not able to do anything further to resolve this matter for you.”

My attention turned also to the bank with which we have a small investment property mortgage. Over the years, drop in Australian interest rates has halved our rate but the reduction never applied to our minimum repayment amount… unlike the opposite scenario! Early on we elected to pay extra via fortnightly payments, so we’d never noticed. My first attempt at requesting an adjustment netted us a further rate drop… our Home Loan Specialist didn’t appear to grasp the nature of the request and happily advised us that he had reduced our interest rate in line with other available products. I was grateful, and eventually successful after another equally tedious round of ‘if you don’t ask the right question you don’t get the right answer’ emails.

If that wasn’t enough, I took a look at our landlord and occupier home & contents insurance policies as renewals evidenced price creep. It’s always interesting to understand nuances of other industries. Apparently tenanted property attracts higher risk so it must be covered by Landlords insurance… at double the premium.

goddess and small things that probably need dusting...
goddess and small things that probably need dusting…

As well as usual household dross -food shopping, cooking dinner, paying bills, cleaning- recent undertakings have included futilely investigating alternative mobile phone & internet providers and products, acquiring replacement reading glasses for the G.O. & registering the frames warranty via Oakley’s clunky online process, arranging & attending a smoke detector & fire alarm inspection appointment, rescuing an abandoned lemon kaffir lime tree, revamping balcony potted plants, upcycling a footpath-find gilt mirror, research ideas & possibilities, so on and so forth. I don’t know how I stand the excitement…

Next weekend is the Labour Day public holiday for NSW. The G.O. and I couldn’t possibly make a trip to Taylors Arm without a laden ute. So last week taking advantage of the G.O.’s no-work Saturday, in between browsing motorcycle showrooms we ticked off a few more home improvement purchases from our list; the back of the ute now jammed with storage and kitchen shelf units, curtain rods and other DIY bits n’ pieces.

However, my salvation in the midst of mundane is books. A welcome highlight of recent office book club selections was Vera: My Story. In the words of Kerry O’Brien “Vera was wild, exotic and utterly outrageous when I met her as a young journalist in Melbourne. When you’ve survived both Hitler and Stalin there’s not a lot more to hold you back. She has a great story to tell.”

Regardless, I’m sure Vera Wasowski attends pragmatically to household matters, such is her partiality to order and pleasant space.

“It is important to me to find a home: a place that welcomes me each day. I can’t be a bohemian nomad all my life. I can’t; no-one can. You need a place where you can sit down in your weariness with a glass of wine and a cigarette and gaze across the room at the books of your life, at the paintings that bring a gladness to your heart each time you look at them.”

Rest assured however, I’m not alone in my household’s domestic endeavours. While the G.O.’s efforts are constrained by his work hours and environment he does what he can and often what I’m disinclined to; oven, window & shower cleaning amongst other things.

32 thoughts on “the goddess of small things

    katechiconi said:
    September 25, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    One of those weeks where you don’t stop but have very little physical evidence for your industry… The phone problem is a sticky one; back in the 80s, my father lived in Spain, in an area without landlines or mobile coverage. He had a radio telephone, which could hook into the regular phone network. It was pricey, but worth the security to him. Satphones are another option, of course, but again, are expensive to own and operate. I’ll be interested to hear what you finally come up with!

    Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      September 26, 2015 at 7:10 am

      We have a landline, plus pre-paid mobile phones & internet sufficient for everywhere bar TA which as I have explained to Telstra at length… we’d rather not have to supplement with further devices/services/expense all of which cost & offer far more than is viable for 2 very modest home users.
      If we were prepared to throw money at it there’d be no problem but we can’t justify the expense of a satphone, myriad of other exxy options or absorb it into a business balance sheet.
      At the moment we have decided doing nothing is the best option 🙂


        katechiconi said:
        September 26, 2015 at 7:40 am

        Yes… it’s that bit about explaining to Telstra *at length* that resonates with me! Remind me to tell you our saga some time (when you’re really, really bored).

        Liked by 1 person

        Roberti Bouwmeester The Netherlands said:
        October 6, 2015 at 8:09 pm

        Mrs. Dee, I stumbled on your story about Rudi&Olli, big surprise as I am the son mentioned in the story. If possible I would like to hear more particulars, greetings Robb.

        Liked by 1 person

          EllaDee responded:
          October 7, 2015 at 9:43 am

          Hi Robb,
          It is a big wonderful surprise to hear from you 🙂 But my Rudi & Olli story has now accomplished what I had quietly hoped it would, and I’m thrilled. I’ll email you directly so we can correspond further.
          Best wishes, Dale


    memoirsofahusk said:
    September 25, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Vera has her priorities right and judging by your caption so have you! A glass of wine, a cigarette (well maybe not) and paintings. No dusting, note 🙂 I seem only to dust when people are coming to visit and like you there are a few things that tend to be left to Anthro-man like shower cleaning. I often get surges of anger that I have to do mundane things like washing clothes and even putting my clothes away after I take them off! I think of Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar when hair washing becomes a – well, it will only need washing again so why bother – issue. But even if I feel like that about washing clothes and dishes, I never really balk at washing my hair. Vanity is a strong impulse!

    Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      September 26, 2015 at 7:39 am

      One member of our household still enjoys a cigarette, though not as many these days, so I’m loathe to impinge on his small pleasures…
      I have a wonderful micro static duster that is good enough for a quick flick around but our day-to-day routine really is sufficient for visitors, so after many years of superfluous pre-cleaning I now reserve my efforts for post.
      Clothes washing I never mind. The machine does the work, and I enjoy hanging out the clothes and getting distracted by something outside while doing so. But I know what you mean, sometimes ‘it’s X-day so it must be clean sheets day’ feels groundhog day redundant, and the endless repetition of basic things can chafe.
      Except for daily work-day hair washing, I’m tending somewhat otherwise as my hair is far more manageable after 4 days of being left… hair care economy of scale, somewhat like household care 🙂


    Glenda said:
    September 26, 2015 at 2:11 am

    Ella, your life sounds just like mine. People often ask me what I have been doing. Now I say ‘living’. It takes a lot of time.


      EllaDee responded:
      September 26, 2015 at 7:15 am

      I must remember that response 🙂 I’m sure there’s a theorem explaining how the requirements of living expand according to one’s available time… along with how the older you get the quicker time passes.


    Gerlinde said:
    September 26, 2015 at 6:22 am

    I’m retired and I still feel like a dog chasing her tail when it comes to living. I’m always busy, which is good but dealing with all the requirements it takes these days is unbelievable and it never ends. One day it is computer problems, another medical insurance calls and so on. I don’t think it ever ends! Have a relaxing weekend.


      EllaDee responded:
      September 26, 2015 at 7:56 am

      Cynical-me thinks the main function of the multitude of providers is to take our money and provide product only… service & details to be negotiated or figured out by the consumer. Somehow all the things available to us to make life simpler have ended up eating our time…
      Thank you, a slower pace weekend, productive and relaxing 🙂


    acflory said:
    September 26, 2015 at 9:14 am

    I love that quote from Vera. It encapsulates everything I think of when I think of ‘home’. Sadly I can relate to your less positive domestic woes as well; there is always some damn thing going wrong, breaking, or just generally not ‘right’. As for Telstra….

    -face palm-

    I do have a suggestion though, although it won’t be cheap – a satellite dish. We have generally poor reception here in Warrandyte and my neighbour [who works in the industry] has a satellite dish on his roof to ensure adequate connection at all times.

    Don’t know how much it would cost, but it might be your only realistic option. And I’m sure Telstra would be aware of that too. 😦


      EllaDee responded:
      September 26, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      We have a satellite dish courtesy of the government because TA also has no TV signal but we had to pay for it to be installed, and we also purchased a telecom antenna & cabling, and Telstra blue tick phones with antenna ports rather than the Samsungs we’d prefer. We could just keep spending on infrastructure in lieu of the telco’s doing so… but I ask why should we when apparently 99% of the population essentially benefits from it gratis. We’ll continue to wait, see and investigate other options, including VoIP if the small cell delivers adequate 4G coverage.


        acflory said:
        September 26, 2015 at 11:36 pm

        Aaaah! Should have known you’d have it covered, and yes, that infrastructure is long overdue. I wouldn’t hold my breath though…just in case.


    Francesca said:
    September 26, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    After the bushfires of 2009, I had long and expensive calls to Telstra regarding their absurd charges. They continued to charge for a landline ( for a burnt down house) and then charged interest on that when not paid for.There were charges for phone calls on the non-existent landline also. Whenever I spoke to someone about the problem, they continued to talk to my about my “home” phone. This phase triggered extreme anxiety attacks and stress- “but I don’t have a home phone because I don’t have a home because, unless you haven’t heard, thousands of homes bunt down in February and mine was one of them.” All this fell on deaf ears- the robot employee continued with the rehearsed spiel. This went on for nine months and was finally resolved by the ombudsman. I would say that our dealings with Telstra caused extreme post fire trauma , more than anything else. I still cannot ring Telstra to this day.

    There’s nothing wrong with a messy house.


      EllaDee responded:
      September 26, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      I’m so sorry that Telstra exacerbated what a very stressful and unhappy time for you. If we could go with other providers we would, but we’ve tried and they’re equally inept. Unfortunately taking telco issues to the Ombudsmen seems necessarily the rule rather than the exception to the point in this case Telstra assumed I made a complaint when I hadn’t, hence the case manager. I understand about not being able to call them… I also refuse to call them but do everything via online chat or email so I have a record.
      I, thank goodness, learned to relax my housekeeping and it certainly wouldn’t pass a white glove inspection but no-one’s died yet from the dust.:)

      Liked by 1 person

    Miss Alister said:
    September 27, 2015 at 12:31 am

    Do I hear echoes of the ether in this post? Certainly the title is inspired! If there was only more time…although you do somehow manage to trick the hours into giving you more minutes! Still, the spirit, as expansive as it is, seems never to get enough… Still, again, everything here sounds good–like butter spread well over toast–especially your buffing, which makes me curious to see the final gleaming story one day! And your 9 to 5 sounds fabulous – where do I sign?! Ah but the blackspot, like Horton finding a Who on a speck of dust, like Lady MacBeth and her unremitting spots, it’s all quite appreciated in the Arts but not so much in the nitty-gritty of life… Appropriately, then, the salvation of books!


      EllaDee responded:
      September 27, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Lots of things happening in the ethers and behind the scenes…
      The damned black spots cannot be vanquished, and their power cannot be called to account but I doubt it haunts them… they would have our money regardless.
      The trickery you speak of would be classic female magic… multi-tasking!
      Ah yes, books, the balm of my days, along with coffee in the morn, tea after the noon and wine in the evening.
      Short story coming up soon… it’s time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    Lori said:
    September 27, 2015 at 3:37 am

    Do you have to press all those telephone recording prompts for service like we do here in the US? Ugh, I can’t stand all that tedious stuff. Sounds like you’re getting stuff done, though. Keep up the good work.


      EllaDee responded:
      September 27, 2015 at 9:12 am

      Probably but while I’m in the city and have the luxury of internet connection I don’t call them, I log onto a chat! I truly believe the whole call centre set up is deliberate disincentive to complain or ask for assistance.
      I have a to-do list, that I love crossing things off 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    diannegray said:
    September 27, 2015 at 7:07 am

    I can’t believe you actually got through to Telstra – were you sitting on hold for three days? 😉
    When my son came to visit a few weeks ago we were walking the dogs at Scary Gully and my phone rang. You could have knocked him over with a feather – he said we get better coverage here in the ‘bush’ than they do in the city. He lives in a backspot which is only one kilometer away from the city centre.
    My brother’s house at Coffs is also in a blackspot (but he thinks that’s a great thing because when his kids visit they’re not constantly checking their phones!)
    I always thought when I quit work that I’d be free to do whatever I want and relax – how wrong I was. I seriously don’t know where the days go now because I’m busier than I’ve ever been! 😀


      EllaDee responded:
      September 27, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I don’t talk to Telstra on the phone, that would be insanity… I log into a chat on one screen and then go about my business on the other while they faff and pass me around until they promise resolution and give me a ref number… and when they don’t get back to me I log another chat, quote the ref number… do it all again until they assign a case manager, who I email the logs of the chats to… who then -in this case- gives me the official brush-off…
      I just wonder how the telcos come up with their damned lies of statistics when 1 in 3 people I talk to has coverage issues of some form. Even in the CBD my coverage is patchy, and when we were with another carrier our home suburb 2.1 kms from the city was a black spot, which they kept very quiet until they rectified it…
      I expect when we escape busy will be the case for us too, I think it’s the norm, rather than exception when all is well… time passing quickly to me means happy, productive days 🙂


    Bill said:
    October 2, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Perhaps the only thing I miss from city life is high speed internet and reliable cell phone coverage. I hope things improve at Taylors Arms. At least it appears they are working on it.

    Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      October 7, 2015 at 10:56 am

      I enjoy the disconnectivity but only when I have the choice rather than limited options…


    roughseasinthemed said:
    October 9, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    No post box for thirty clicks?! That’s terrible.

    Great you heard from Robb 🙂


      EllaDee responded:
      October 10, 2015 at 6:49 am

      The post box lack annoys me… I needed to vent, no doubt there is official justification behind its removal.
      I must admit when I read Robb’s comment I was OMFG kind of stunned… and am now somewhat stoked my little story did that 🙂


        roughseasinthemed said:
        October 10, 2015 at 6:53 am

        The post box would have sent me off the wall! So it’s expensive. So what?

        I loved Robbs comment. So so pleased for you 🙂 makes up for the postbox?

        Liked by 1 person

          EllaDee responded:
          October 10, 2015 at 3:47 pm

          Yes, but not if I wanted to mail him a letter from TA!

          Liked by 1 person

    ardysez said:
    October 10, 2015 at 8:49 am

    I like Glenda’s quote ‘living takes a lot of time’. Indeed. Prior to a trip away, we have just come through a period such as you described and having just returned already ‘things’ have reappeared. Why is it banks are so hard to deal with, when it comes to OUR money? I would be annoyed about the post boxes disappearing too. Friends and family in the USA still look at me in disbelief that we can’t post letters and cards from home, as they have been able to do for many decades. The US postal service is struggling financially now, similarly to Aus Post before their recent revamp. If you trace all of these problems of living back far enough, it seems to me they are due to someone wanting to make a profit, or a bigger profit. Everything has its bottom line and that is the bottom line. 🙂


      EllaDee responded:
      October 10, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      I’m sure I remember back in the day on my grandparents’ farm outgoing mail being collected by the postie… It may still happen in remote areas but would be exception rather than common I imagine.
      I agree, profit and/or some bright spark with a fancy business plan who wants to get noticed in the office hierarchy/add something impressive to their resume mucking around with things…
      Good luck with catching up on your return to day-to-day life business… it’s almost a full time job in itself.

      Liked by 1 person

    Kourtney Heintz said:
    October 12, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    It’s funny, there’s a place in CT that’s nicknamed Brigadoon because there is no cell service there. it’s a small quaint town but it was so weird to be completely and unexpectedly off the grid while within miles of other places that weren’t. It’s always good to speak up, you never know where it might lead and even if it doesn’t get the desired results, sometimes enough pebbles can cause a rockslide. 🙂


      EllaDee responded:
      October 12, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      It’s weird how coverage work, from our house within the village we can see locations which have that elusive coverage! being switched off is nice for a few days to chill out but after a week it gets a somewhat tedious not having what we mostly take for granted.
      No news yet…


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