Search: label/StationHouse

The Sticks.

by Lori Dwyer on April 29, 2013 · 8 comments

I find myself occasionally feeling as though I have to defend my decision to live contentedly here in TinyTrainTown– in the sticks. Semi–rural. Bush. ‘All the way out here’.

Each and every courier, tradesman or journo who’s ever come to the TinyTrainHouse comments on how far away it is from anywhere. How very small the town is. How they’ve never even heard of TinyTrainTown before. The tradies who get lost on the way here are always the most disparaging, their good humor eaten up by un-curbed roads that seem to stretch forever and all kind of look the same.

“How did you come to live out here…?” People are generally mystified as to why anyone would want to live where I do. I stare back at them, equally bemused, amazed that they’re unable to see what I see.

I guess it’s true, it might seem slightly isolated. TinyTrainTown is at least an hour and half drive from Sydney. We’re fifteen minutes from the nearest service station or major supermarket, probably forty minutes from any larger stores or services.

The road into town is eight kilometers of scrub and barely used train tracks. The population tops about 700 people (and that seems an over-estimate, really). As I’ve heard said, TinyTrainTown is so small it ‘doesn’t even have a pub!’

The town is not particularly quaint or pretty. It’s so nondescript that you could literally drive through it and not realise you’d been here. The mobile reception is nonexistent, and even the land-line home phone and ADSL internet crackles and drops out terribly if it happens to be raining. Or windy. Or, you know, Wednesday. Whenever.

But that’s the worst of it. The tarnished view of the penny, the dark side of the moon. There’s always more to things than that. And if nothing else, I tend to be an optimist.


It’s quiet here, peaceful. There is no din of constant traffic, no continual thrum of people. I like that. When I was little, growing up in Paradise, it was so quiet at night you could hear the rumbling boom of thunderstorms far out at sea. I remember, as a child, staying at a relative’s house in the middle of the city suburbs and being unable to sleep for the never ending noise coming from the streets outside. The cars. The horns. Music. People. It’s never quiet, not really. You get used to it, I know that. But I’ve grown accustomed to the silence again. The only thing that desecrates it is the occasional passing car.

While the town itself is nothing much to look at, the scrubby eucalyptus bushland of the national parks that surround it are soul-soothingly pleasant. A thousand different shades of green. There are parrots and cockatoos, possums and sugar gliders. Sandstone caves and tiny creeks. Snakes and spiders, too, of course; but I don’t think any kid is really that much worse off for having a basic knowledge of them (‘basic’ rather than ‘intimate’ being the key wording here).

People know people, in TinyTrainTown. While I’m never really been a rah-rah-community-spirit kind of person and I tend to keep to myself, I know my neighbors by first name and the local shopkeepers by sight.

We actually do have shops here, though they’re as easy as anything else in the town to miss. Three of them, in fact- a fish and chip shop; a small supermarket; and post office/newsagent/grocery/DVD hire. All the shops are overpriced and sell short-dated stock at the tills, but you can still get all the basics you need. 

We walk to the shops, most days, when we’re not in a hurry and the weather’s favorable. Some days we walk home from daycare and school. The round trip never takes longer than half an hour by foot, no more than four minutes by car. If it takes longer than two minutes to drive there… it’s probably not in TinyTrainTown.

It’s safe here. It feel secure. It feels like a wholesome place to bring up small children. And most of the time, it’s just a nice place to be.

None of this seems to sway anyone’s opinion. “Yeah but, love… it’s just so far away!”

I find the only answer anyone gets is in the language everyone seems to understand.

“Uhhhh… The house prices are cheap. Three bedroom house, big backyard…”

And that makes logical sense to most incredulous tradesman who’ve made the hour trek to TinyTrainTown. It’s easier to see the appeal in that; in choosing between a tiny flat or a huge mortgage an hour closer to the city, or having a house of my own and dealing with the occasional inconvenience of living ‘all the way out here’.

I made the right choice– I rarely ever doubt that. It’s just other people, I find, that take some convincing.


Karma Blockers.

by Lori Dwyer on March 13, 2013 · 12 comments

Philosifry Untitled

Annnnd… this*. I’m never sure if it’s the chicken or the egg that comes first– if I get depressed because I let that procrastination take over, or if that procrastination taking over is a symptom of the beginnings of depression.

But they feed each other. Depression, anxiety and their concubine, apathy; they get together have a big ol’ ménage a trios in my mind and I’m the one left feeling exhausted and spent and seedy.

‘Your inbox will never be empty’, they like to say; and I’m fairly sure that was said back when an inbox was an actual box, as in ‘a tray on your desk’, rather than a folder in your email account. There will always be things to be done on your list of Things To Do. The key to it all is to give yourself a finishing time, a point in the day where you have done enough and can relax…

Which, in theory, is just fine.

My problem is that things seem to linger and stay on my list of Things To Do for longer than is reasonably necessary. I go to bed each night with the Things To Do list written, with the very best of intentions… Only to find the next day slips through my fingers like sand, like silicon; and I’m left repeating the whole process again.

I have a phone call on my list of things to be done that has been there, either transferred from list to list (both digital and papered in notebooks) for almost a year now. Roughly 360 days of saying “I will do that, tomorrow”. Roughly 360 days of beating myself up just slightly.

‘Clean the gross gunky stuff off the top of my kitchen shelves’– that one’s been on the list for eighteen months. Since I moved into this house.

‘Sow new buttons on Chop’s school shirts is currently entering its seventh week of inbox loitering. ‘Make dentist appointment’ is cruising at three weeks.

It’s not as though any of these tasks are particularly important or life changing or ominous. They’re not even difficult. It’s just that even beginning them seems so many kinds of momentous. So I follow the steps of the dance of the chronic procrastinator and write lists, ignore them, rewrite them then ignore them some more.

They begin to feel as though they pile up on my soul as well as my lists, like the constant ebbing pressure of knowing I need to do them is eating big ulcerated holes in my mind.

It’s on those occasions that I’ve found it best to instate Anti Procrastination Day, FlyLady style. And take the veritable, bitching bull by the horns. Stop thinking too much about things and do things instead.

I’ve taken to calling them, in my mind, ‘karma blockers’, those annoying tasks and Must–Be-Done’s. Because it very much feels as though that is exactly what they are– they force up huge blocks in the way of the flow of life. They disrupt energy, negate change. And it’s impossible to invoke a sense of lightness when something makes you feel so heavy.

I like to imagine myself as some kind of video game heroine, doing great big round kicks and Matrix-style slow jumps through the air while I explode the things on my Things To Do list, kicking butt over one thing after another, growing stronger and gaining some kind of reward– life points, maybe, or just general good karma. And I walk around for days afterwards feeling alive, feeling good. Feeling like a mother f*cking adult.

I hate the feeling of things left over, of tasks left behind, gathering dust. The permanence of them annoy me– I can manage to cross a dozen things off my Things To Do list in a day, but none of them will be important. I think the rationale behind that thinking is as simplistic as it seems– I tend to do the easiest tasks first, the ones easy to cross off. I think we all do, maybe.

So the easier things slide off the list, daily, and only the karma–blockers remain.


It’s Anti–procrastination Day here in the TinyTrainHouse today. I have done six million loads of washing and am about to vacuum the goddamn floor.

Like the responsible adult I am.

*I have, evidently, been spending far too much time on Reddit lately. More on that, soon.



by Lori Dwyer on February 19, 2013 · 3 comments

I have had two teenage girls staying with me for most of the last week. Long story, short… everyone needs a safe place. Especially if they’re only just eighteen and come from a somewhat dysfunctional place, through no fault of their own.

They’re both gorgeous kids and I love them dearly. At the same time, they are driving me fucking insane. Partly because I am so damn jealous. Not of the being a teenager thingthat sucked, as we’ve already established. I’m more jealous of the sleeping like lazy pussy cats whenever they so desire.

Half their luck.

Anyway. I’m definitely getting an education in a million teenage things. Like ‘mint’ songs (cue rolling eyes and assertions of “Mad song, Auntie Lori. Lets just leave it at that.” What was I saying, about how I used to be cool…?). And ‘inboxing’ as a verb. And the very nasty side of Chat Roulette.

Not to mention the unholy mess that is teenagers on Facebook. The amount of communication that goes on with these girls and the people they know– as well as the people they don’t know– is terrifying. Facebook is like an extension of themselves. The look on their faces when I told them to lay off the wifi for an hour or so was priceless– I could almost see the seething anxiety it was causing them.

The more people communicate, I guess, the more open we become and the more we talk, and the thinner the boundaries of what is silent and taboo become.

But watching all that honesty and openness infiltrate the lives of girls who I’m tempted to view as still just babies at that age… it’s overwhelming and scary and I’m afraid for them, and for the millions of other kids out there growing up right now. I’m not positive, of course, but I think I may even be more fearful for the teenagers of 2013 than I ever will be for my own children.

Because this is all growing so fast. Our technology eats us in great belching bites– we are too smart for our ethics and morals. This flood of information, of communication… it seems unending right now. I can’t help but wonder if we will reach a place where the tidal wave of new stuff starts to slow and we can find some still waters.

Things are going to be very different, of course– they always are, after a flood. But the basic landscape of humanity… I’d like to think that will remain, underpinning whatever else comes.

It’s just that it’s all so new right now. Boundaries haven’t been tested, rules haven’t been made. There’s no sense of privacy or self–preservation and ’the worst that can happen’ hasn’t been established as yet.

I like to think that by the time my own kids hit that age, we’ll all have more experience at dealing with this new-found flood of information. I like to imagine that, in ten years time, this technology will be so mainstream that we’ll have no other option but to assimilate a whole new set of morals and ethics, ones that take into account what we do online and how accessible other people’s private information is to us. Maybe what we’ve lost in terms of privacy, we’ll begin to gain back again.

Or maybe not. I don’t know. I do know, having seen it first hand over the last few days, that an Internet connection is no longer an option for teenagers, but a necessity. I think I believe that social consequences should be factored into the decisions we make regarding our children’s overall well-being  And, I think, that long term denial of Internet access to a teenage girl would be the equivalent to a small social death. Without anyone but the outcast in question to mourn it.

In a society where children are sadly sexualised and puberty is beginning younger and younger, the thought of giving sixteen year old girls that kind of access to everything is terrifying.


Ironically, having two Teen Princesses In Waiting as house-guests for the week made me appreciate my own little darlings that much more once they had left. A three year old and a five year old are blissful, compared to a seventeen and eighteen year old. They actually don’t make as much mess. They take up less room. They are heaps more fun.

And they actually talk, like, to me. One of the princesses actually sent me a message on Facebook to ask if she could borrow my hairspray. While we were in the same room.

“Yay!”, says the Chop after arriving home from Big School on Friday to a clean house, quiet and peaceful with just the two of us. “We have our house back!”

And I think- indeed. It’s amazing how far we’ve come. And how much it feels like a home, with just the three of us there.