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Members of my family often share a common trait. Sometimes we take a long time to finish things. Difficult jobs or little fiddly things that get put into the too hard basket for weeks, months, or years – or sometimes even to die there. But then when we do finally get around to doing the job, the result is what it’s really about.

Here’s an example. When Little Miss Munchkin was still floating around in her mummy’s tummy growing limbs and a lifetime supply of brain cells, a Baby Shower was held in her (impending) honour. Aside from punch and an excess of pink and blue cup cakes, there was also a packet of letter cards – black and white cards each displaying a big letter of the alphabet and an inviting expanse of white where guests (and absent others) could demonstrate their talent and aid in the future education of the soon-to-be-revealed child. Once the set was completed, it would be laminated for future child-proofing and brain stimulation.

Pencils and crayons were to be provided so attendees could participate on the spot and draw and colour Apples, Balloons and Clowns to their hearts’ content.

On the spot.

That was the key component of that previous sentence. But there was too much conversation and gift-giving and frivolity so we didn’t quite get there and the cards were returned to the packet, still blank.

Never mind, thought Mum-to-be, they can be distributed to attendees and selected chosen ones on the promise of contributions and timely returns. Some obliged straight away and sent back their cards completed and coloured even before baby was born, others trickled in over the months, requiring either to be posted in both directions around the vast country, or a little prod. Even the ones with no artistic talent (like me) contributed something even though it wouldn’t have been worthy of any art awards. Dad, despite his tendency towards ADHD and hyperactivity, was a bit slow in getting going, but when Z was completed, it was pretty impressive.

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But where was the one from Gramps? He was reminded, he was cajoled, he was prompted, he was threatened. But nope, nothing was forthcoming. And the child turned 6 months, and then the child turned one. But still – nada. Just promises.

Eventually, nearly a year and a half after the baby shower, the pressure mounted and the tone of requests escalated. No more avoidance. He had to act and the job was begun on the letter V.

Do you think he could he have just quickly sketched some pretty violets and coloured them purple or drawn the simple outline of a vegemite jar? No. It had to be good, a considered affair, artistic.  And given artistic talent doesn’t flow freely in my family, he had to get a little assistance from somewhere.

So, task now accepted, he spent hours considering his approach and researching available artwork options. That is, he searched for suitable images he could copy or trace (that’s what you do when you really can’t draw) and researched musical symbols and notations as musical knowledge is fairly lacking too. He had to find the right image, then resize it using technology (another challenge) so that it could be traced onto tracing paper to be transferred to the card. That’s what you do when you are incapable of even copying an image freehand.

Then it got ridiculous. He couldn’t just draw five straight lines of the musical score. They had to be slightly curved out, at a consistent angle. He actually used various sized measuring cups to create the correct arcs.

‘It has to suggest the fluidity and movement of music’ was the rationale. ‘Not just lines on a page.’

And of course a name had to be surreptitiously included in musical notation (of which he had been previously not even been aware) – treble clefs and quavers were carefully traced and replicated. The creation of this masterpiece took him six hours in total. Six. But the result was fantastic and a striking image has been created as part of the arsenal of educational tools for the grandchild.

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V is for Violin

It took nearly a year and a half to get there and nearly an entire working day in the creation, but we got there in the end. Now finally there is a beautiful completed set of 25 alphabet cards just waiting to exercise Miss Munchkin’s little brain.

I wonder who’s got the letter ‘T’?

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