Deus ex machina?

“We’re buying a house so that you can rent it from us.”

Imagine all the things that might go through your mind if your average middle-class parents told you that. All the emotions. I’ve probably felt them all over the past month.

For a while, the most glaring one was guilt. I felt (and still feel) awful not only that I struggle so much with life that my parents felt they needed to do this for me, but also that I am clearly so privileged to have such generous and accommodating parents looking after me. (I have long-standing guilt issues with being a privileged Westerner.)

I have always needed a LOT more help than my younger sisters, largely because I… am not good at life.
And I don’t mean in a, “oh, my life sucks, woe is me” kind of way. I just mean, my personality, my mental issues, my disorders… things don’t come as easily for me as they might to others. It’s not something that I generally talk about, because it makes me anxious to think that people might think of me as spoilt and lazy. (But, I also understand why they would. I know people certainly have thought that of me.) It’s kind of a, ‘I wish I could do all these things myself, but I’m glad I have such awesome parents’ situation.

I am also, of course, extremely grateful for this enormous helping hand.
And, since seeing the house that they have signed for, I’m excited.

Tin roof. Wooden floors, carpeted bedrooms. High ceilings. Solar panels. The room that will be Devin’s has louvre windows. The room that will be ours has built-in cupboards covering an entire wall. The backyard is big enough for playing and making a vegetable garden. There’s a built-in display cabinet with sliding glass doors in the dining room and all of the rooms in the house are individual rooms! No open-plan living at all! It’s practically my dream home. In all seriousness.
It’s an old house but in remarkably good condition, and the only thing that needs to be done is painting. (Though, I mean, I guess we could keep the pink and purple walls… )
And, with the mid-January settlement date, it means that I can keep my long-standing tradition of moving house in the middle of scorching hot summer. (When we moved from Armidale to here, it was 42 degrees Celsius.) Hooray!
(All right, that bit may not have been entirely genuine.)

One of the things I’m most excited about is organising our stuff. I’m already having to contain myself, because I just want to pull all our boxes out and sort through them. (Half of our stuff has been stored in the garage for the last two years.) I want to start painting furniture now and buy new hardware for the kitchen cupboards and start packing up the belongings we have throughout this house and, and, and…


I have done something in preparation, though to be fair, I’ve been meaning to make this for months…

I made Devin a doona (duvet) cover using fabric I bought, and an old sheet. Have you seen bedding options for kids? Especially boys? It’s not pretty. An average budget will get you something stereotypically and gaudily ‘boy’. A higher budget will get you something stereotypically ‘boy’. And a ridiculous budget opens up more ‘gender neutral’ options, which most designers seem to interpret as ‘bland and muted’. Anyway, I’m hoping to carry some of these colours into his room.
Of course, I had put this project off for months and months (I already had the fabric waiting), and how long did it take to make? A couple of hours. I just measured a doona cover we already had, and vaguely followed the instructions according to this tutorial. (Managed to make a bit of a mess of the snap opening, but I’ll be the only one to see that part, anyway.)

So. The title of this post refers to both the fact that we suddenly have our own house, and also to the fact that I seemingly need another deus ex machina to solve my money/job conundrum. I mean, two in one year. That’s not too much to ask, is it?




I’m bad at hobbies. I’m one of those people who gets frustrated when I can’t do something well the first time I try it. Yes, one of those people… If I do happen to stick with something long enough to at least get a basic handle, the next hurdle is practising regularly in order to improve. So, if I count all the skills I’ve gained from all the pastimes under my belt, we can see that the number of times I’ve overcome that hurdle is… oh right, zero.

In December last year, I saw Kelly Doust’s The Crafty Kid on display at the library just as I was checking some books out, and despite the fact that I had nothing to sew and nothing to sew with, I quickly added it my pile. I soon grew tired and annoyed with the author herself (“oh you simply must only use all natural, organic fibres, and I don’t know how anyone could possibly put anything but cashmere on their bodies and their children’s bodies in winter” – to paraphrase), but the projects in the book looked simple enough to put me in an inspired mind. I received a sewing machine for Christmas, looked at it in its box for two weeks, packed my computer away, bought Pip Lincolne’s Make Hey! While The Sun Shines, procrastinated a little bit more, and finally, I made this –

In the book it’s called the Piggy-Back Pocket Monkey, but when I presented it to Devin, he gave it a pat and called it ‘Friend’, so Monkey Friend is the name on this guy’s birth certificate.

For a complete beginner like me, the instructions weren’t always very clear. Some parts seemed to skip along quickly, being vague, other parts were so specific that they made me question things I’d done before. (“I did that in step 3 but it didn’t say anything about that there, why is she specifically mentioning it now?”) A misprint in the list of materials meant I spent $14 that I didn’t need to. But I managed. There was one moment of panic, when I turned the whole thing the right way out after sewing everything together and realised that half of each leg had managed to escape being stitched, but I fixed it the best I could – that’s why the bottom corners aren’t square. The pattern was for an older, taller kid, so I just tie the legs around Devin’s waist and put a knot in the tail. The monkey in the book was decorated with triangles, but obviously I made my own design. I am so. sick. of. triangles.

My mum found the calico hanging around the house. The brown velvety fabric was in the scraps bin at Spotlight. The most expensive thing about this was the Heat n Bond used to iron on the face and cloud design.

So, aside from sewing vertical blinds and little pouches for board game pieces, this was my first solo sewing project. It wasn’t perfect. I have so much room for improvement. But I’m really satisfied, and I want to make more things. (Admittedly it did help that I already knew how to basically sew a button and operate a sewing machine…)
I think one of the great things about sewing is that often, it doesn’t matter if your stitches are wonky or your seams aren’t flat or you… accidentally miss the monkey’s legs. You can still end up with something that looks good and that you’re proud of. I mean, maybe get back to me when I have to make a formal gown or some such thing that requires less character and more precision… but for crafty, hobby projects like this, imperfection is fantastic.

All right, another expense was this pin cushion because I didn’t much fancy sticking my fingers into a box of jumbled pins. Devin kept taking it when I wasn’t looking because the little people around the edge are, apparently, “baby boys!” I had to go and buy him one of his own, so he can grab it and exclaim “little baby boys!” to his heart’s content. Pin-free.