People keep asking me how my writing is going, as they look at my calloused hands, unkempt hair and tracksuit pants, assuming I must be about to launch the next best novel… I am always chagrined to explain that I have temporarily fallen off the writers’ wagon, and into the arms of another.
I am cheating on my pen with a rougher, tougher, more gratifyingly satisfying significant other.
How COULD you!? I hear you exclaim, despite the fact that your curiosity is piqued, and you’ve started to salivate for more information, photographs perhaps?
Well, before I tell you any more, I should explain something to you.
I became a full-time housewife this year. No job, both kids at school and me staring down the barrel of home duties, thanks to a generous husband who feels I’ve overdone things in the last few years while he’s worked away. He’s right. I did.
“Have a break,” he said. “Take it easy,” he said. “Chill out for a while,” he said.
What an opportunity! Of course, I didn’t take him up on it, not believing him for a second, but I did see it as a chance to do something interesting with my life that would propel me forwards and upskill me.
I made some inquiries about going back to nursing, or doing a post-graduate teaching qualification, but no, because it’s been more than 10 years since I left nursing and more than 20 years since I got my Arts degree, I was not recognised by any educational institution in Australia as having any knowledge, brain capacity or intelligence. I was going to have to start all over again, and study full-time. Even to be a nurse.
Well, bugger that for a joke! Why spend ANOTHER three years of my life doing something I’d already done, as a junior bum-wiper no less.
So I signed up to go back to Uni full-time to study something different. Something creative. Something that would make me cool.
Then I realised that 1. No course on the planet could make me cool and 2. I didn’t need to pay a university $7000 a year to become more creative. I just had to BE more creative. Unfortunately, I’ve resigned myself to never being cool. I like my Uggs and flannies too much.
My mother and son are ‘the artists’ in the family, and despite the fact that I’m known as ‘the writer’ in the family, my desire to write is inversely proportional to my happiness. Apparently, I have been really happy, because there’s a thick layer of dust on this here keyboard, I’m telling you!
So, what then? I needed something to get me out of my dressing gown and curlers every day, something that made me happy and benefited my family, something I could learn new skills doing and something relatively inexpensive.
A 50-year-old, leaky, unregistered, Murrumba Star caravan, full of wood rot, rusty and smelling like rancid lamb fat. But she was mine, all mine and I was going to turn that sow’s ear into a silk purse.
My new love.
Too bad I didn’t measure her height, so all my best laid plans to work on her at home were blown out the window when she got stuck under the carport on the first day, even with the tyres let down.
Luckily for neighbours and excellent friends with big driveways!
And work on her I have!
Despite me boasting to a friend that I was comfortable using all manner of tools after she suggested I do a tool-using course for women, David just about had a fit when he saw me about to cut my fingers off with the jigsaw.
So, I had regular lessons from my dearest husband in ‘how to’, and was therefore able to do the following…
- Rip out all the broken, smelly, rotten and greasy stuff… i.e. everything. Even the walls.
2. Rebuild the walls, cupboard, drawers, beds and tables out of ply wood and a biscuit joiner, spending many long hours working out angles… bloody rounded window corners and ceilings! Whose idea was that?
3. Scrape off old ceiling contact coverings (4 days OMG)
4. Gap fill all of my mistakes, thus adding about 50kg to the weight of the old girl…
5. Clean and prep the outside aluminium, replacing broken screws and pop rivets, three broken windows and a lot of cracked rubber…
6. Refloor and paint the dear thing (in a colour that apparently matches my phone, random). My favourite bit.
7. Sew curtains, buy new bedding foam and cover it all (with my Mum’s help, I’ll admit!)…
So get ready to meet the Cinderella of all caravans, my Gypsy queen!
Gypsy moves up to our block of land near Esk in a few weeks where we will keep her under her own roof, and build an outdoor kitchen, firepit and eating area alongside her.
My greatest thanks to David for his patience and advice, Mum for her sewing skills, Pip for her drawer painting skills, Chris, Naomi and Zach for temporarily housing Gypsy and making me soup, Mark, Mel, Ella, Thomas and Tilly for letting me keep Gypsy at their place, keeping me alive with tea and good company, and bolstering my flagging spirits on tough days with their enthusiasm for this project!
Now… what’s next I wonder? Gotta use all these new found skills somehow!
“Steamy Windows need a refurb?” I hear some of you ask!
Yes she does! I wonder if David will let me paint her green?