My grandmother was a very proper woman.
That didn't mean she refused to get her hands dirty or came from an upper crust background; on the contrary. She grew up in the market gardens of Walkerville with two Scottish parents who were illiterate, helping them cart their vegetables into the Central Market to sell. After marrying my grandfather she helped him run their grocery store, bearing three children and nursing him through an almost-deadly bout of Scarlet Fever. Socks were darned, children's coats were made from worn-out grown ups' clothing and gardens were seriously tended to as the main source of food for the family.
She was a devoted Methodist and firmly against the drink or pretty well anyone who took one.
For me, however, all this was mostly found years later, because I was only a child when she died. Inexplicably, one word she used often, to describe time-wasting and procrastination, was 'fiddle-arseing' which, on reflection years later, sounds decidedly non-Methodist to me.
And thus, in homage to her unintentionally robust description, I find myself becoming a World Champion Fiddle Arser.
Take this morning, for instance. I had three work-related tasks on my scrawled down 'To Do' list:
1) Ring the AMA media person to speak to an emergency doctor for a careers article
2) Contact the owner of Oranges and Lemons for an article on employing asylum seekers
3) Write first draft of education article for The Age and email to interviewee for them to check that facts, tone and quotes are all OK.
Nothing hard, frightening or intimidating to do; all stuff I relish.
And yet......... What did I do?
Complete a run on the treadmill. The thrice-weekly standard, chocolate-flab-defeating 8 km.
Sit outside in the autumn sunshine cooling down. This is fair enough because you can't just rush into a hot shower with sweat dripping from your eyebrows, but I linger a little longer, stroking Milly's ears and pulling up a couple of stray weeds.
Drink some water and eat a left-over muffin, before having a shower. Not my usual four-minute special, but a long and hot one in which all parts of overgrowth are shaved. When dry, my toenail polish is removed, heels scraped and nails trimmed.
A bit of jokey muscle-flexing in front of the mirror occurs (yes fellas, women do it too although I often suck in my gut and do a 'Before' and 'After' imitation of a weight loss advertisement to mix things up a little) before noticing my evil single chin hair has arisen. Plucking, moisturising and hairstyling then occurs. More self-amusement arises when I brush my hair forward and think I look like a 41 year old Justin Beiber.
Take out the buckets of water from the bath/bottom of shower and sloosh onto the pencil pines. Accidentally trudge in some mud and bark chips which need to be cleaned up. Do this, and again try my Justin Beiber hairstyle. Yep, still utterly hilarious.
Walk into Sapphire's room to put her $5 weekly pocket money on her desk. Can't resist adding an extra dot point to her noticeboard.
Put on a load of washing and place the hose in the laundry trough. Bucket the draining load onto the Manchurian pear trees, lavender bushes and scraps of still-living lawn. Notice several fresh dog turds in the grass, which are picked up using two scented nappy bags.
Make a cup of coffee. Pack the dishwasher. Write 'dishwashing powder' on the shopping list.
Photograph two blocks of chocolate at various angles. Flash and no flash, close up and slow shutter. Overhead light and shadow. Backside and front side. Whole and broken.
Eat chocolate. Jot down some notes about it.
Hang out the washing. Pat the rabbit. Kiss the dog. Invite the dog to come and join me in the study for some work.
Drink now-tepid coffee. Download the chocolate photos. Eat the remaining chocolate. Read emails. Laugh at this YouTube video about leadership. Plug in the iPod for re-charging. Read favourite blogs.
Go to the loo and afterwards decide to empty the bathroom bin into the kitchen bin. Then notice that the kitchen bin is overflowing so badly that coffee grounds have mated with squashed orange skins and are starting to ominously fizz up through the swing flap. Take bag out to the garbage bin and sort out the recycling at the same time.
Make my bed.
Sit back at the computer. Pat Milly. Pick my nails.
Get up and eat a pear.
Sit back at my desk and notice that Milly's nose is now touching the floor. Enjoy watching her as she yelps in her sleep (chasing cats? finally catching the rat that runs along the top of the fence? grandstanding at her victory in being allowed to sleep on the leather sofa?). Take a photo.
Drag attention back to the computer screen. See a new email from an acquaintance who works as a photographer but is studying creative writing. He wants me to answer a few questions for his essay on people who work from home.
I choose this question to answer first: 'How do you ensure that you're not distracted by things around you' and start writing. Complete the question in time for lunch.