Nearly there

So tonight and then tommorow night (after the gym if I'm good), and it'll be done. I will have posted every day for November. And yet I still haven't written about all the things I meant to, or said everything I wanted about the things I did. Even so, it has felt good to do this everyday, some pause and reflection. I may have a little rest at the end of it all, but then again I'm thinking of a meme for Friday night.

Tonight (again) I wanted to write about blogging as a form but I'm not feeling all that coherent (dammed tooth, more dentistry will be necessary). Like last week, I had all these interesting and in hindsight, coherent thoughts this afternoon. The kind of thoughts that you think as your child sleeps soundly, the house is quiet with no music, no power tools, just a breeze and some sunlight and the dull hum of traffic and suburbia. And you go through your drawers and wardrobe and discard or pack away all the clothes that: don't fit, are scratchy or itchy, were worn when you were pregnant and have not been altered since, are too tattered even for the op shop, are seasonally inappropriate, or you no longer like. And then when it is all done, you realise that although there are some gaps to fill, that really you do have some things you don't mind wearing. But there is still not a thought in my head. I should have taken notes when there was. So I think I might schlep off to bed. Work tomorrow.

Lurex in the morning

For most of the last decade of the century just gone, the end of November meant two things to me, cherries and the start of the forest party season. Around my birthday, I'd start anticpating, planning, counting off the days. It wasn't always as good as I thought it would be and sometimes it was beyond anything I had imagined. There's a lot of bad things you could say about these parties; the environmental impact, portaloos, driving home, the behaviour of some of the patrons and oh yeah, the drugs (not going there because we all know drugs are bad, mhnn).

On the good side however, these parties rolled many favourite activities into one big bundle; camping with friends and workmates (hospitality types back then, you know work hard, play harder), wacky and frequent costume changes, lazing around, top notch freaky people watching, special moments taking in the beauty of our natural environment, constant techno music and if everything clicked, hours and hours of dancing.  My favourite time to dance was in the early morning, so I'd pace myself to have a rest in the wee hours and emerge just before dawn. Some dawn dancefloors had the most amazing vibe if you could catch it. Sometimes the energy was fleeting, hard to tap into. Other times, the best times, it was something truly special to be part off. It's really hard to describe, but amidst the trashier aspects of the whole scene there could be a deeply spiritual experience. Each person dancing their own dance but in harmony and in conversation with each and every other person around them. Fragmenting and coming together again, like the pattern in a kaleidoscope.

Then as the day dawned and the sun shone brightly (hopefully) the vibe would morph into something more playful and even more trashy. People would go change into their day outfits, hats, big sunnies and lots bright colours and lurex in the sunlight. Lurex was big back then in the nineties, as was a certain type of polyester. In our circles at least. I remember having to ban cooks from wearing it in my kitchen, the thought of the possible burns being too much to bear.  This summer, like most this century, I've seen the advertisements and they don't pull as much as they used to. In my heart I know that I'm really too old and sensible for that sort of thing now, even though I do know of other older people who go and sometimes, just for a moment I'm tempted. Just for a moment.

November has been the month of GLAM for Self Portrait Challenge. Go on over and see who else is glamming it up.

Running wild

I've been re-reading Swallowdale by Aurthur Ransome, a lovely old hardback copy from the Coburg market. I adored this series as a child and read and reread each one several times. Every so often I come by one in my travels as an adult and they are the ultimate comfort re-read. There's something very gentle about them, even though the children face danger and have adventures, they have a meandering pace and well, a niceness about them. Most of the stories take place outside the adult world, although there is a sense that the children are being watched and supported by sympathetic adults. They camp, cook for themselves, go sailing and are generally very self-sufficient.

As a child I used to ponder maps such as these and compare them with the mental maps I had of my own places. We were allowed to roam freely from quite a young age and were lucky to have permanent bushland and a creek (albeit polluted) out the back gate and across the paddock. Features of the landscape were given names and invested with meanings known only to us. We built cubbies, dammed the creek, dug caves, climbed cliffs, observed plants growing and explored every nook and cranny of all that land bounded by the roads we weren't allowed to cross. There were feuds with other bands of kids, followed by alliances, then more feuds. We dreamed up projects and made expeditions.

So it's probably no accident that my favourite books and series were those in which children had their own worlds, largely independent of adults. I'm thinking  of the Narnia chronicles, the Famous Five, I am David, and one book, the title of which I've forgotten, in which several children fend completely for themselves over summer and cook their meals in a hay box while hiding from the childrens services. We didn't often play games based on these books, but I'm sure that they fed our sense of adventure. I asked my mum if she worried about us free ranging around the neighbourhood and she said of course she did, and that she would sometimes watch us from a distance until she was sure we would be OK. She said that they had made a conscious decision to allow us this sort of freedom, that they'd both had childhoods with freedom to roam and wanted the same for us. It's not like we were allowed to do anything we wanted though. As a moody thirteen year old, I was allowed to ramble around the bush by myself for hours on end but not allowed to go into the city and meet friends at Flinders Street station by myself. My father came with me and watched from the car until he was sure everything was above board.

Em wrote this post the day before yesterday and I've been following the comments. It's got me thinking quite hard about what sorts of freedoms I want for Grace. I don't believe that the world has become substantially more dangerous than when we were children. We've become more safety conscious (I'm sure I'm not the only one with memories of bassinets strapped to the back seat and parents fagging on in the front) and more aware of possible danger but I don't think that there are more people who wish to do harm to children than before. We're just more afraid of them. I don't want to keep Grace inside, or only in the backyard or going from scheduled activity to scheduled activity. Already I know that this isn't what I want for Grace. Even now she has her own agenda and wants to spend time out of my orbit, and having cleared the area of obvious hazards, I'm happy for her to go her own way. She's still very little so I do watch her, but I try to be unobtrusive about it. When she's older, say middle primary school, I'm going to have to contemplate whether we'll let her go and ride her bike in the park by herself or with friends. Which places she'll be allowed to escape to.

Already I'm looking about our inner urban environment and wondering where it is that kids go to play, or if they do. I once saw a cubbie house in the nearby dog walking park, but it didn't last long. There's a creek but it's concrete and kind of closed in. I don't feel safe walking there so I don't see that I'd allow Grace to play there even if she wanted to. There's some scruffy bits of Royal Park with BMX tracks, but it's quite far away. I guess we'll have to see when the time comes. At least we'll be able to go and stay at a friend's house in the country, there's lots of good rambling and roaming areas there. The whole idea terrifies me but I wouldn't want her to be a young adult having had no experience of making decisions or looking after herself, or even sometimes having to get herself out of trouble.

Just another Sunday

I'm saving my jars, laying in the white sugar, steeling myself for the tediousness of de-pipping at least three kilos of tiny plums and for the watching of a huge pot of boiling sugar. And that it will be at least 36C on the day and I will be hot and sticky. We are totally out of homemade jam. The last bottle was eaten several months ago, so we have been subsisting on gifts and on supermarket jam. Mostly supermarket jam, or exotic varieties from one of the middle eastern outlets two streets up. All of which is OK, interesting even, but really no substitute. Unfortunately the loquat tree is still recovering from it's very severe pruning which was carried out because all the fruit was too high to reach, even by a tall person on a ladder. Loquat jam is lovely. It's the first to fruit and is high in pectin so it sets well. It can taste a little generic stone fruit, not quite like loquats, but like good stone fruit nonetheles.  The best jam however is from these tiny little olive sized  plums. The big tree is old and diseased, and if we owned the property would probably be chopped down eventually. But is does make the best jam, especially if made with about a quarter underripe fruit.
Looking at the plums this morning, I think I'll be jamming before Christmas. Maybe in two weeks for the extra sour batch and another batch a week later. So I'll be able to give some away in the inevitable erosion of the family kringle.

I spent most of the morning sewing a new top for work. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. Bias cut, asymmetrical stripe, with sleeves that weren't part of the pattern. I've never made a top cut on the bias before and I'm surprised at how easy it was. Mind you, I was sewing without a toddler rampaging nearby. G took Grace to the Trash and treasure, leaving me with a good two hours in which to immerse myself in the sound of the machine. I really need to buckle down and make myself some new summer clothes that I can wear to work. Last weeks effort was truly woeful, maternity pants held in with a safety pin that kept jabbing me. Noice. It was a choice between that with a matching long top, or non-maternity pants with a maternity top that I'm sure my colleagues would have recognised (I wore it every second or third day). Or a totally clashing blue and green outfit. Or a flagrant flouting of the dress code and wearing my black jeans which my team leader says look like blue denim to her. A new low even for me. So no frivolous craft or other projects until my wardrobe is sorted.

After lunch I took Grace to the park near the supermarket. She's starting to really enjoy playgrounds even though she's too little for most of the equipment. Today she enjoyed the baby swing for the first time, possibly because there was an older girl on the swing next to her. She also watched the girl go down the slide and decided to have a go herself. The first time, I set her on the low platform and she climbed the rest of the way to the top of the slide herself. She sat at the top for quite while then pushed herself down. It was all good until she leant back and went from sitting to lying on her back. She wasn't hurt, just startled and surprised. Then she climbed all the way up the steps and platforms, all by herself and went down again.  

After the park, we stopped to check out one of my favourite front gardens. (Photo taken from park across the road, seems a bit pervy to take photos of other people houses but I would if I was travelling and seeing new architecture) Anyway, in my dreams this house comes up for sale next June, and we can afford it and it has a really large backyard (which it probably doesn't).
And they throw in the retro van, which I renovate (this is my little fantasy) for us to live in while we polish the hardwood floorboards and rework the living area. I've lived in this style house before and they have potential. When it's all done, we use the van for guest accommodation and for charming seaside holidays where we spend rainy days playing cards inside and every other day, well at the beach and going for walks, making collections of flotsam and reading books.

What you can't really see in the photo is the little path through the long grass. I love this overgrown garden, even though it has me itching for my secateurs. There's a lovely she-oak down the side, an olive tree, good jam plums and glimpses of other fruit trees. Not to mention the rampaging geraniums and pelargoniums.

Agapanthus

We have quite a few agapanthus out the front. They line the path to the door and are a particular pleasure in the evening light. Like many other plants in my garden, they could also be considered weed in some situations. I remember at my thirtyfirst birthday barbeque being quite upset that some young boys had pulled out the first two flower spikes and were using them as swords.  Not that I said anything.







The only one word meme

Tonights meme is from Susoz. Earlier in the week, while out scouting for memes, I was considering doing the gender meme as seen at The View from Elsewhere. I started going over it in my head today on the tram and just got myself all muddled, not to mention a bit snarky. Not that I mind a little snarkiness now and then, indeed I find it quite useful. Maybe next week.

The rule with this meme is...You can only type one word. No explanations.

1. Yourself?
Ample
2. Your significant other?
Eccentric
3. Your hair?
Heavy
4. Your mother?
Involved
5. Your father?
Clever
6. Your favourite item?
Camera
7. Your dream last night?
Gone
8. Your favourite drink?
Coffee
9. Your dream car/truck?
Hybrid
10. The room you are in?
Shambolic
11. Your ex?
Past
12. Your fear?
Disaster
13. What you want to be in 10 years?
Happy
14. Who you hung out with last night?
Gerard
15. What you're not?
Rich
16. Muffins?
Raspberry
17. One of your wish list items?
House
19. The last thing you did?
Commented
20. What you are wearing?
Poncho
21. Your favourite weather?
Balmy
22. Your favourite book?
Hardback
23. The last thing you ate?
Icecream
24. Your life?
Good
25. Your mood?
Pensive
26. Your body?
Womanly
27. What are you thinking about right now?
Bed
28. Your car:
Commodore
29. What are you doing at the moment?
Blogging
30. Your summer?
Lovely

Cherry season

I had forgotten how much I love cherries. I forget every year. The first ones are invariably disappointing, this year small and soft without much flavour. But this week, this week there have been some extraordinary cherries. Early in the week some very deep red, tangy cherries from the local greengrocer, who are very patchy on the quality of their fruit I find. But they also have the best tomatoes at the moment, thin skinned Adelaide tomatoes. Rouge de Marmande, I think. Soft, low acid and full of sweet, sunshiney flavour. The other fabulous cherries have come from the big green grocer down on Sydney road, whose fruit I also find a little patchy. They don't have the Adelaide tomatoes so far this year. But their cherries have been the best. Big fat, red orbs. They don't last. So it was back to the local green grocer who had another batch. Paler than last time, but sensational tasting. So I'm starting my summer fruit rounds. For cherries and peaches (when they come in) l will travel. There may even be a trip across the valley to this other little fruit shop I know in a neighboring suburb. And maybe to the market. I'm starting to think of the Christmas box. There's also someone else in my house who really likes cherries. Apart from G, that is.

I wonder who that might be? The photographing of cherries out under the washing line was not a great success. I had lots of pictures that I wanted to try but Grace wasn't having a bar of it. And I kept having to stop and de-pip them for her. Although I think she may have beat me to it on a few occasions. Trying to retrieve pips from her mouth just ends up with me getting bitten. Little savage.

We also had an unfortunate incident at playgroup yesterday, where Grace may have bitten another toddler. Oh the horror. Luckily the other mother was OK about it, well as OK as you can be when your child has just been bitten. And Grace was searching out drawers, cupboards and other items forbidden to children at a frightening rate. She's certainly not shy about being curious. So playgroup was not relaxing, as I had to be constantly on her case.

Which was a pity, as the other two mothers who turned up were the others who don't use any sort of formal childcare. So there was an interesting conversation about that particular choice, without feeling that we might be treading on any toes. I'm not against childcare per se, indeed I think it's very important that it's available and seen as an OK choice. And I think that kids are pretty adaptable. But I've been starting to feel some pressure now that Grace is nineteen months old. Just little things, like at work other mothers have been telling me how much their kids love it. Some of the mother's group talk about about how confident their children are becoming and how much they're learning. So I worry that Grace might be missing out. And there's a part of me that thinks that I should be more career focused. It's like a siren call, even though I've told myself repeatedly that there's nothing to be gained from rushing in. It will still be there for me in a few years, if that's what I want. Which I mightn't, but then again...   G didn't believe me when I told him that I was starting to feel some pressure until he got it from one of his bandie type friends whose child is four now and who expressed disbelief that we'd decided not to put Grace into any sort of care until she was fairly verbal.

So it was timely to have this particular mother's group. Even though our situations are different, we're all feeling similar sorts pressure and similar fears. But each family has made very conscious choices about keeping our children at home or with family for the first few years. I felt so much better after the little chat. I know we're pretty lucky because we have fantastic family support and a lifestyle that can be adapted so that Grace is with one of us or with my mum. And that not everyone has that option, or feels happy with that sort of lifestyle, so it's important to be able to be positive about good quality childcare. But it should go the other way too. And it won't  be all that long before there's kindy and school and all sorts of structure. So I'm going to be resolute and revel in a summer or two of messy play and fruit running down our faces.

Third quarter

I have to say that I'm really, really pleased that I've got this far in NaBloPoMo without skipping a day. I'm not fussed that it's patchy, just pleased that I've completed a post everyday. When this is over, I'll enjoy writing some posts that take me several nights to write because I'm struggling to make the words come out how I mean them to. But I like quick too. I like the nightly ritual, even if I haven't been going to bed as early as I should. Which is nothing new.

I'm still only up to S in the great list of participant blogs so I'm trying to resign myself to not viewing them all. Which is a pity in a way. Reviewing, even briefly, all these blogs has given me a lot to think about the nature of blogging. It fascinates me, this idea of quick publishing and microaudiences. And yet a lot of people seem to write as though they're talking to millions. Which they might be. And others write as if no-one at all will read them, as though it is a private journal. Some people take great care with their words and how their page looks and some, very little. One thing I've noticed is that a lot of people seem to be running out of things to write about. My experience has been quite the opposite, the more often I write, the more things I can think of to write about. I still haven't had to resort to my list of half baked ideas. In some ways, I'd quite like it if there was a little less in my head. So that I could think deeper about fewer things.

One thing that I've found is that I quickly made a routine with what I write on certain nights. Tuesday is self portrait challenge, Wednesday is NaBloPoMo reflection night, Friday a meme. Throw in something about the garden, or maybe some making or baking and that's at least five days covered already. My life always gravitates towards a routine and I find them deeply comforting. So I don't always see the benefits of trying something new. Grace didn't have a morning nap on account of playgroup today and as a consequence had a monster afternoon sleep. I lay on the couch and read a novel, I can't remember the last time that happened. Could I make that a routine once or twice a week? Even if just for twenty minutes?

I had a whole lot more I wanted to say about blogging as a possible literary form. It was all quite well formed in my head this afternoon as I was planting a succulent border. Now it's gone and I can't stay up really late waiting for it to come back. Work tomorrow. Sigh. Sleep. Must. Yes. OK. Done.

Power tools in my mouth, thinking about hats


I spent the better part of this morning at the dentist. The only part of going to the dentist I like is the trashy mags in the waiting room. I find even having my teeth cleaned so excrutiating that I lie there rigid and tense. This was my second visit with a new dentist and today he tried to convince me to have a filling without an anaesthetic. No. No. No way. We had to sort that one out pretty quickly. Even so, I'm liking this new dentist, he mightn't have the impossible blue eyes and charming patter of the last one but he's quiet and seems intent on his work. He was pleased when I chose the classical music over the TV. Conversation with his assistant was at a pleasant and professional minimum. Anyhow, as much as one can with a mouthful of power tools, I relaxed and thought about the hat I would buy once it was all over.

My plan was this. I would walk into Savers or Don Bosco opshop and there would be a perfect, finely woven straw hat with a wide brim. Less than $5. In a large size and perhaps in a lovely, flattering colour. Pink, beige, grey, black or even green. I would take said hat home, slap on some face and pose under the tree for my SPC. There would also then be another hat option over summer, other than the Brian hat which is a grey nylon mens farmers hat, with braid around the rim that I bought in outback Queensland one road trip. Good for gardening, but not very chic. I do have a lovely cloth hat, but sometimes circumstances call for straw. Needless to say neither shop had what I imagined. I decided, what with my very unglamorous mouth and all, that maybe self portrait wouldn't happen this week.

Then at about five thirty , Grace was hanging out with G inside and they were having a fine old time. I realised that I had one of those twenty minute windows. I grabbed the mask which was one of a few cheapies I bought at the start of the month and raced around the backyard with the camera.  It's been hot all day. Like the middle of summer hot and yet only last week there was snow down to 400metres. Melbourne is famed for fickle spring weather, but it's a little stranger than usual. And it gets in your head. Grace came out to play just before her dinner. I thought she might be scared by her mummy in a silly mask but she seemed to find it most amusing. The backyard was full of wind and wild energy. We've been on the edge of a storm or a cool change for hours. So I posed and laid around, enjoying being bird woman for a while, eventhough I'm still thinking about that hat. Check out other versions of November's GLAM theme here.

Adventures in crochet

I wasn't going to enter whiplash this month, but a comment by sarawithanh on this post got me thinking. About crochet in particular. I love making rag rugs, cushion covers and baskets from old clothing torn into strips, and I guess you could call that alt craft, at a stretch. However that's a winter telly watching type craft and we definitely do not need anymore rag rugs in this house. Then I was diverted by my garden folly project, which I decided not to enter. Nonetheless I decided that I could definitely handle another afternoon in the backyard lounging area with a frivolous piece of craft in my hands, watching Grace explore the garden.

So I started thinking about what materials could be worked with a crochet hook. The watsonia leaves probably could, but would need lots of preparation. I once crocheted strips of kelp while on holiday. Once dry, they curled into fabulous shapes. I'd really like to do that again but we're nowhere near an ocean beach. In the end I decided that I would find something at the two dollar shop or supermarket and see where it took me. I came away with three possibilities; wire, string and twist tie. The wire I wrote off quickly. It hurt too much. The string had possibilities and I started making a bag, but it was going to be big and ugly. And the string had a nasty chemical smell in my hands. Not really all that pleasant to work with. So I made a little basket for some of Grace's outside blocks. Then I started to play with the twist tie and to my surprise it was easy to work with. And fun.

The best thing about crocheting the twist tie is the way it can be worked with a loose open stitch and is self supporting. It can also be squeezed and shaped with your hands. This little basket is going to live outside and hold some of Grace's outside blocks. Her favourite activities are filling and emptying containers, and carrying things around in bags. I wonder how she'll react to a basket that can be moulded with her hands.



 So there you go. I did enter after all. I suppose it would have to go in the category of skill? There's not much design involved and really the exercise was about the materials and what could be done with them. Oh, and the garden folly got some running repairs today and is starting to dry out and change colour. I think it will be fun to watch. I'll post some new photos next week, weather permitting.

Me poppies

Although the orange poppy is my out and out favourite, I'm really enjoying the flanders poppies this year. It's not as great a display as some years.We had a great display in 2002, possibly because I didn't get around to pulling any out. I remember we went away in late November and a friend who was minding our house painted spectacular drifts of them, immersing herself in all their glory. This year I was on to them early, because if I leave them I can't pull them out when they flower and we end up with no vegie patch. My approach these days is to leave a few clumps here and there in the flower garden and in the section that will be planted with vegies in late spring, early summer. I suppose I could pull them out before they go to seed, but where the fun be in that.


They were originally called corn or field poppies because they grew in fields of cereal crops and on disturbed ground. After world war one they were seen to be one of the first flowers growing in the aftermath of the devastion. Seeds that had been dormant for years came to light and flourished where they hadn't been seen for many years. Given the similarity between the colour of the poppies and the colour of blood, poetry and ritual were born from that moment. And flanders poppies have become an unmistakable symbol of remembrance. I'm not one to celebrate war in any way, and the modern Anzac day of gives me the creeps, but poppies for remembrance seems quite right to me.

I'm surprised that they're not classified as a weed though. From what I've read on the web, they've naturalised through parts of the US and you often see them growing wild by the side of the road here too. I bought a punnet of them about seven years ago and have been pulling seedlings out of my garden ever since. I would imagine that if you let them get beyond a certain point, they could get right out control.

Garden folly

Last night I was checking out whipup and noticed a discussion on the alt craft whiplash for November. It got me thinking on the whole notion of alt craft and this morning as I was lying in bed looking out the window, I thought I might just whip up something bright and whimsical this afternoon, as you do, and enter it in whiplash. Ha. I should know by now that I am not really a competition kind of girl. Last time I ended up rushing and then feeling all inadequate and neurotic. The (self imposed) pressure and indeed perhaps the whole idea of competitive craft makes me feel kind of ooky. But I'm a joiner and a jumper on of bandwagons and it's a very kindhearted and gentle sort of competition. So I felt all conflicted.  In the end, I decided that what I really wanted to do was to sit under the tree and make something really simple, a garden folly. I do these from time to time. The last one I made was when Grace was about four months old. It's a construction made from bottlebrush cuttings and sits on the front porch with ivy growing over it. Eventually these things fall apart and watching the decay is part of the fun.

We have a big clump of weedy watsonia (not sure if it's the really bad kind) in the front yard, which has died down. I remember my mother making woven mats out of the strappy leaves of this plant which grew on the vacant block behind our house when I was a child. So maybe this kind of thing is inherited. Anyway, after trying and finding that I couldn't crochet the leaves, I decided to make a shadow screen. A bit like the cardboard construction we used to make in the eighties to turn the telly into an exciting psychedelic party decoration. This involved rolling the leaves into circles and sewing them together.
It was easy and pleasant. My mind wandered, my eyes looked out over the garden at the flanders poppies as they faded throughout the day. I thought about how nice it is just to sit and make something really useless and pointless, just to feel the material in your hands, to see it take another form. To watching Grace play in the ashes of the barbeque and get really, really dirty. Thinking about a sandpit. Imagining how much fun it will be when she is ready to start making things herself. I'm really looking forward to the world of kiddy craft. At this stage she is interested in watching us and arranging things. Then at the end of the day, I put my little construction into place.

It reminds me of the doodles I sometimes do in the corners of pages. Like if I'm in training at work, or on the phone and not multitasking. I don't think it's a whiplash entry. I don't really think it's craft. I don't know what it is, other than a pleasant way to while away a couple of hours under the tree. Yes, I think they are three dimensional doodles.

The long and winding meme

I nicked this Friday nighter from The View from Elesewhere. I have no brain left after work and am totally incapable of any sort of original thought whatsoever. Spelling and grammar are looking shaky too. But I've told myself I'll post every day and have started a Friday night meme routine, so here goes..

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?
I think I meet the dress code, but my hair's all wrong. And I'm wearing nearly all black which I've been trying not to do this year. And I'm putting on weight again.
2. How much cash do you have on you?
Fifty bucks and some small change.
3. What's a word that rhymes with “DOOR?”
Floor?
4. Favorite planet?
This one. Boring answer but I'm not the stargazing sort.
5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your mobile phone?
There are no missed calls on my mobile. I ring them, or not. And then delete them.
6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone?
It's called Discoid. Nothing fancy, just a nokia tone. But Grace keeps finding my phone and somehow changing the ring tone and /or the volume so I never know if it's my phone that's ringing. Not that it rings much, except by pre-arrangement.
7. What shirt are you wearing?
A dusky pink t-shirt from day before yesterday. No point putting on someting clean after work.
8. Do you “label” yourself?
You mean things like fat, useless, slack? No, I try not to. On a more positive note I would call myself a feminist, lefty, greenie type. But not dogmatic, overly correct or particularly rigorous. I remember days of being judged by one's politics and it always felt like yet another type of put down.
9. Name the brand of your shoes you're currently wearing?
I'm wearing my ugg bootees and I've examined them closely for a brand, but they are apparently brandless. I bought them at the Vic market at the start of the winter just gone, and from memory they're Australian made. And they smell.
10. Bright or Dark Room?
Dark room when it's hot, say over 36C. Bright room when it's cold, say under 20C. Otherwise natural light during the day, lamp lighting at night if watching TV.
11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you?
I like her blog and she seems pretty nice. People who like cats generally are.
12. What does your watch look like?
Black plastic swatch with a fairly scratched face. I've been wearing this model of watch since the eighties, I think.  It's very easy to read and I can't bear to have any sort of metal next to my skin for longer than ten minutes.
13. What were you doing at midnight last night?
Sleeping, tossing and turning. Worrying about tommorow, which was today and actually turned out OK.
14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say?
Happy inbetweeney day, schmay!
15. Where is your nearest 7-11?
Down the road, around the corner. About ten minutes walk. I don't really go there much these days, except sometimes to pick up the paper on Sundays if we've been to Coburg trash'n'treasure and we're having chips for lunch. When I was a smoker, it was a bit of a regular.
16. What's a word that you say a lot?
What? I'm a bit hard of hearing and I live with a mumbler.
17. Who told you he/she loved you last?
Grace, not verbally. But it's pretty obvious in the way she greets me when I come home from work. The toddler whole body lovething. Melt.
18. Last furry thing you touched?
That would be Tony, our black and white cat who is curled up on a mohair blanket on the floor beside my desk. I'm surprised he's not in his usual possie up on sofa bed, half on the arm, half on the cushion.
19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days?
Nothing exciting. Just nurofen and port, but not at the same time. And that would be about the extent of it these days. Although I did get quite excited by the gas when Grace was being born. Especially afterwards while I was being stitched up, and didn't have the contrations to prevent me from long inhalations.
20. How many rolls of film do you need developed?
Just the one that was in my old camera when I got my digital.
21. Favorite age you have been so far?
30 was really good. I had the coolest birthday party. It was 90210 themed, with kind of a drag twist. But my life as a whole is better now at 43 than it's been for ages.
22. Your worst enemy?
Some of the people I've shared houses in the past with may have thought that I was an evil witch. These days I'm my only enemy. But I'm going for a truce, following by a lasting and meaningful peace.
23. What's your current desktop picture?
Stretched euphorbia from my garden. G changes his almost everyday but I keep mine for months and months.
24. What was the last thing you said to someone?
I'm off to do my internetting.
25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be?
Million bucks, easy. See last Fridays meme.
26. Do you like someone?
Der. What sort of question is that? Of course. I like lots of people. Most people. Even some people who shit me, I quite like. But if we're talking like, like, as in romantic, then I like G. There is no other.
27. The last song you listened to?
One of the songs from Seasons by Dion from a record that G bought from the brotherhood today. Dion wrote Runaround Sue and The Wanderer. This record was released in 1984 and is spiritual, almost folk rock. It was beautiful. I might have to hear this record again tomorrow.
28. What time of day were you born?
My mother says at six in the morning and that she would know. My father says she was fairly out of it and that I was born in the evening. We all agree on the day.
29. What's your favorite number?
Huh? I dunno.
30. Where did you live in 1987?
I think I would have been living with my friend Jane in a terrace house in Fitzroy, just off Brunswick Street. It was unusual as there was a spare block down the side. We had moved from an upstairs decco flat and planned a garden but the landlord, who lived next door, had other ideas. He was planning for his daughter to live there when she married and built a massive veranda over most of what would have been the garden. Living with Jane was like being married, but without the sex. We finished each other's sentences. She even did my washing. We still gardened alot. And had careers in dodgy companies that would go through mass retrenchments once the nineties dawned. And we drank champagne and ate out quite a bit.
31. Are you jealous of anyone?
No, I don't think so. Maybe a teensy little bit of women who are pregnant. I would really like to have another but I think it might be too late. We'll see.
32. Is anyone jealous of you?
Not that I know off. Jealousy is such a waste of energy anyway.
33. Where were you when 9/11 happened?
I was in bed asleep. G came and woke me up before my alarm went off and told me that something really bad had happened. I remember listening to the announcers on RRR doing a similar thing, letting people know before they turned on the news. I watched the news before I went to work. At work (back then, a public service call centre), the phones where eerily quiet and we crammed into the small tea room to watch the coverage unfold. After a while, I couldn't watch anymore and went back to my desk.
34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money?
The only vending machine I use occasionally is the one in the tea room at work. It doesn't give change so people put in what they have and leave the credit for the next person, which is really rather sweet I think.
35. Do you consider yourself kind?
I try to be kind (and real), especially in how I do my work. Which can be difficult. Sometimes I'm a bitch and have to work hard to be a nicer person.
36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be?
The inside of my arm, between my wrist and elbow. But I'm not getting a tatt. I think I'm well past that stage of my life.
37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be?
Arabic.
38. Would you move for the person you loved?
Yes.
39. Are you touchy feely?
Only with people I know very, very well. Otherwise I'm quite stiff and awkward.
40. What's your life motto?
I don't have a life motto, or a five year plan, or a terms of reference, or a strategic direction. I do have certain values and things I would like to do but I'm not going to corporatise my life direction. I've tried in the past and it always ends in tears.
41. Name three things that you have on you at all times?
If I'm going out, apart from keys and wallet, I tend to take water, sunglasses and camera. And if Grace is coming too, a bag of toddler necessities. If I'm going out by myself, I might take a book, especially if there may be some waiting. Bonus reading time is savoured.
42. Whats your favorite town/city?
Melbourne. Like I said last week, I'm very tied to this city.
43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash?
I think it might have been lunch on Tuesday. The crunchiest and best fish and chips I've had since the cafe, cherries and apricots for dessert.
44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?
Does a job application count? 2003 I think.
45. Can you change the oil on a car?
No. That's why we get the car serviced. I suppose I could learn how to do it if I really, really had to.
46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her?
That someone had seen him in a country town near where he is reputed to live. More feral than ever. I don't care any more.
47. How far back do you know about your ancestry?
Great grandparents on each side. Except for my fathers, fathers family which has a family tree thingo going which I could look up if I wanted. But really, great grandparents is enough for me.
48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy?
I don't do fancy. I did adhere to the dress code (neatly and quite sharp, even) for work today, in honour of some visiting dignitaires from overseas. The leadership team have been in a tizz about it all week and it was easy brownie points. Sort of fun in a nerdy sort of way. And my goodness, there were some smashing outfits today. All went well. Apart from that I think the last time I really dressed up may well have been in the mid nineties for my dad's wedding. I wore black pants and a teal blue velvet coat dress which set off my very short red hair. Also smashing.
49. Does anything hurt on your body right now?
Yes, my lower back which was giving me a lot of grief earlier in the week. It's nearly better now, but I've been sitting too long.
50. Have you been burned by love?
Yes. Hasn't everyone?

Fifteen

Thursday nights have had a routine for me. Finish work in a hurry, drive to the gym, procrastinate by sitting in the car and watching the trains go past, go to the gym in a hurry, complete as much as my program as I can without having to wait an absurdly long time for that last bit of equipment or for some floorspace to stretch. Come home. Be greeted by freshly bathed and shrieking girl and stressed but proud G. Spend time with Grace while G prepares dinner. Pop Grace in bed, rush to have a shower and then sink into the delight of my favourite television show.

All the more special because G can't stand it, yet makes it pleasant for me to relax and watch. Ever since the school dinner series I have been a Jamie Oliver convert.  Even though sometimes I find his TV persona a bit irritating , bit formulaic. The one in Italy to my mind was a shocker. Even so, through all of them comes a passion and belief that ordinary people can and should cook good food. That it is not particularly difficult, that you can have a go. That food is part of your life and it should be be good. I especially love watching him make bread, or pasta.
With fifteen though, my viewing has certain conflicts. Is it right to make a TV drama from the lives of these young people from such hard places? Should such an undertaking need such a big publicity juggernaut? Yet another part of me says, it is so hard for these kids to get a break, that if the fifteen foundation help just those kids, then there are twenty or so young people that have had way more help than they would get from the usual sources. And that helping these twenty young people might be more effective than the hit and miss efforts of our current system, in which most people don't get the help they really need. I guess I am asking myself whether it is better to intensively help a few, than to  not really help many. And then call it entertainment. In an ideal world though, everyone would get the attention they need to become independent and self supporting.  Because if you've have what's know as multiple barriers (to employment) then sometimes having drive and passion is simply not enough. Despite what our culture. It just isn't.

Still, I do love a restaurant show. And watching people become confident in the kitchen. Especially when it also involves the stress and deadline of opening a new premises. Now the show's over, at least until the next intake. Which I suppose if you were a trainee chef would be something of a relief. To be able to just do your job and not have a camera in your face looking for the next dramatic moment. But I will miss it.

Half time

So far so good. Have posted every day for NaBloPoMo. Even on the nights when I would rather just watch television. I haven't been stuck for a topic yet, but am starting to tire of my own domestic trivia. Too much and this is what we did today will do that, even to the autobiograpically inclined. But for the last week it would have been an almighty challenge not to write about life. To live life, research another topic and then write about said topic and still keep all the balls in the air. So it's been life is art, art is life around here. Even so, I am falling behind with my emails, my regular blog reading, Mrs Washalot and of course, the housework. But that may well have been the case anyway.

And I've been attempting to visit every blog on the NaBloPoMo list, starting from the bottom. I was going with the randomiser but it's hard to add the ones you like to your favourites. And I'm retentive enough to want to feel like I have visited every single one, in some sort of order. I'm up to T, working from the bottom down.  And I'm learning a lot about what attracts this casual reader. Pictures, I like pictures. I like content too, but only if I don't have to squint.

Most of the blogs I read regularly, I've found from the sidebars of blogs I already like, or from following comments. A bit like being introduced at a party, there's likely to be some mutual acquaintance or common interest. Or recommendation. But flicking through a list is different. It's so much more shallow. No pictures, the grey blogger template, a tagline that says musings, mutterings, ramblings or some such and I'm out of there. If a blogger tells me straight up that they're boring, who am I to argue. Schmutzie posted this recently, putting the point far more fetchingly than I ever would. All I can say is that I am so glad that G talked me out of some of my initial ideas for blog names. One even had the word mumble in it.

So when I came to waves of modulation, I was totally captivated. Beautiful pictures, just beautiful. And writing. And she likes weeds. Made me race out into the backyard with Grace and the camera, even in the ferocious windy cold snap we're having. To learn and to look.

Forty-free

When I think of glam, I think of inside, artificial environments. And dress ups. Makeup. Perhaps at a stretch, a sunshiney beach with seventies style bikinis and tanned cool people (as if). None of which were going to happen this week. No chance. The only even slightly glam like thing I had going today was the feeling that I hadn't slept for days and that I was running on that surreal tired and wired feeling, like after you've come down but haven't quite come back. If you know what I mean. Which if you don't have to drive or work, and if you can relax into it, is quite pleasant. I'm blaming it on the birthdays, my back and the weather. And consequent lack of quality sleep. So on the beach today in the blustery cold wind that can be Melbourne in spring, I donned my big lady sunglasses and posed for my camera.

I guess the other little bit of glam is some post production which I haven't really been into before. I'm very new to photoshop (elements) and the glam theme seems the perfect time to have a little play, to experiment. Because in some ways, the essence of glam is fake, pretend, things done for effect. I have a zillion ideas, but so much to learn.

The beach outing was my planned birthday treat. Our birthdays are a day apart and Gerard wanted a social event, which he had on Sunday. This was mine. Just a simple day out with G and Grace. A lunch of fish and chips with diet coke for me, chips and cornjacks for G. Little bits of everything for Grace, except for the coke. Which felt uber trashy, like we could be pounced upon by a current affairs show or human services at any moment for letting our toddler eat chips.* But there were cherries for desert, which evens it out a little. Then a big walk along the beach, taking big eyefuls of clouds and waves and cliffs. Being buffeted by the wind, breathing salty fresh air. My back ache is all but gone and I feel a good sort of tired. Like I've danced all night, laid about all day and am ready to be tucked into bed. And sleep.

Check out more glam here.


*Children and babies eating junk food is in the news alot in Melbourne at the moment. Grace actually has quite a healthy diet, she even eats greens like silver beet and brussels sprouts. Something I'm aware might not last.

The stillness still that doesn't end

Today was inbetweeny day. Somehow this day between Gerard's and my birthday has become more invested with meaning than the days either side. So far I have had one text, three emails and a number of verbal "happy inbetweeny day" good wishes from G. I quite like it. Not that we do anything particularly special. It's more what we don't do. Today we suspended Monday housework, letting the house slide further into feral decline. We'd been planned to play through the whole collection of REM which G has been uploading from CDs, records and tapes onto the computer. He's also wired the music systems so that the jukebox effect can be heard from the study, lounge, kitchen and sunroom speakers, all from the one source. Which means that the only potential dissenting sound system is the one in the shed.

So why REM? Well when we first met, there didn't appear to be all that much music that we both liked. It may well have been one of the reasons that things didn't take off when we very first met, three years before we remet. Sure we both liked Dylan, Nirvana and Lucinda Williams. But in our local tastes, I liked electronica and he liked rock. Like water and oil. But we both loved REM, from way back.  I probably jumped on the REM bandwagon later than G, when the song Losing my Religion was a big hit. But I went back and bought previous records and then subsequent CDs.

So REM has been on my personal soundtrack since the mid eighties. Listening today, I've remembered an old friend playing Near Wild Heaven on his guitar. Looking beautiful.
And I always thought that it would make me smarter
But it's only made me harder
My heart thrown open wide
In this near wild heaven
Not near enough.

Two weeks later, the same song playing in my Honda Civic as I drove to Lake Mountain for some skiing, seeing the mountain ash in the mist, looking for the first patch of snow and feeling the thrill of that crush but knowing that it wasn't near enough. Several years later his sister became my best friend and everything became simpler and way more complicated as often happens when you're in your twenties.

Hearing Everybody Hurts from Automatic for the People, which is actually not one of my favourites, I'm transported to a certain summer in far north Queensland after my retrenchment from the evil tobacco company owned life insurance company where I had worked designing clerical workflows and writing procedure manuals.
Sometimes everything is wrong. Now it's time to sing along.
When your day is night alone, (hold on, hold on)
if you feel like letting go, (hold on)
when you think you've had too much of this life, well hang on.

The company where I had started as a temp and stayed for six long years, where I set a wastepaper bin on fire emtying my ashtray and disabled a keyboard with a blender full of mango daquiri during a christmas eve morning tea.  Odd moments of fun but just so not the sort of company you'd want your efforts to help prosper. Bittersweet freedom.
New Adventures in Hifi and my crush on a geeky and awkward man who must have known, because I was quite obvious. And we went on dates for chrissake, which was almost unheard of in my circle. I always assumed that he thought that I was way too trashy to be more than friends.
I never thought of this as funny
It speaks another world to me
I want to be your Easter bunny
I want to be your Christmas tree


And last but not least, Paul old old friend. I went to see REM in the early nineties with him and another friend, Dale, and my sister Betty and her partner at the time. It was at the Myer Music bowl under the stars. Perfect. I wish I could have gone in 2005 but they were playing the day before I was due to give birth. As it was, Grace was another week away. You are the Everything from Green (which G thinks is lightweight but I think is one of their best) always reminds me of being in the backseat of Pauls' old brown station wagon, driving out to Kuranga nursery while him and Dale bickered in the front. Being there being far better than any possible alternative.
Here's a scene
You're in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around
To sound of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel
and feel such peace and absolute
The stillness still that doesn't end

My parents separating and feeling nostalgic for my childhood in an angry sort of way. Watching Dale order vegetarian from Hungry Jacks. That song also has one of my all time favourite lines,
Late spring and you're drifting off to sleep
With your teeth in your mouth


So the day has just sort of crept along with a sound track of memory and reflection infusing everything. I've had a sore lower back for a couple of days now and today spent several sessions in shivasana (the pose of the corpse) followed by pose of the child, a chest drag, the cobra and some other stretches that might help.Trying to fend off a visit to the pilates/physio/dance therapist who fixed my back four years ago. She made me stand in front of a mirror in my undies next to her (she's tiny) so she could assess where my body was crooked. It worked but I'm not keen if I can avoid it. So I've been stretching.  Hearing the words and music, looking at the ceiling and out the window in Graces room from different angles. The same soundtrack but different as I give Grace her dinner. Gerard asking me whether we've had enough yet. But I haven't, I'm still playing through the list as I type.

Happy birthday Mr G

Tonight is yet another of those nights where I would blob out in front of the telly if it wasn't for that strange internal commitment that is NaBloPoMo. I've had a few lambruscos and they've gone to my head, so I might have to come back tommorrow and clean up. But I will have done my post.

We spent the morning in a calm frenzy of baking and food prep (all strictly according to my running order) with me lapsing into head chef mode, "You don't have time to be talking on the phone, there's dishes that need to be done..." To which he replied "but it's my birthday."  As it was, we were ready well and truly before anyone turned up because this is Melbourne and everyone was fashionably late. Does anyone else remember going to parties where it was social death to even consider leaving the house until about eleven pm?  Well I'm guessing that this was the day time version. But it's not like that everywhere. As Gerard said, in Hobart, if you invited people at one to eat at two, they'd turn up at eleven to get an early start on the beer.

So there was lots of time to scan the skies and check the bureau of meteorolgy. We decided to go with my initial assesment that it would clear up around lunch time. As it was the weather was pleasantly balmy all afternoon. Nearly everyone we invited turned up, some with presents even. At this advanced age, I certainly don't expect presents, especially when we don't make a big deal of the birthday thing. From my sister, some beautiful peony roses and some chocolate covered ginger. From Paul, two exotic fruit trees that he may well have grown himself. This is the friend who when I was sad, delivered a trailerful of chicken manure to my backyard. He knows me well. G scored a very impressive collection of burnt CDs, hours of fun. So thanks guys. Anyway, we ate and drank and talked and a good time was had by all.



Then a bit after six, it started raining and everyone helped us bring stuff in. Then they all went home. Now everything has been put away and Grace has come down off her sugar high and is in bed. There's been some thunder and lightening. It's raining properly now and there will be a snack of leftovers for dinner. And maybe some more lambrusco and the last little bit of raspberry almond tart.

An old artichoke

It hasn't been a fabulous season for artichokes this year. Despite having more plants than last season, we've only had one artichoke feast so far. And I'm not sure that we'll get enough for another. We're having a few people over tomorrow to celebrate Gs birthday and, weather permitting, and having a big old barbeque. Artichokes keep going on and off my list. Maybe there's enough for three, but certainly not for ten. But then with all the other food, maybe everyone could have just a taste. But then artichokes don't mix all that well with other foods and they don't taste as fantastic as they are until you're on your second or third half. Maybe this year, I'll leave them in the garden and let them flower.

This is an artichoke I picked last time. I set it aside because it was too big to be a pleasant eating experience. It's been up on the shelf so that I could admire its' form and watch the play of light through the kitchen window each morning.

Today in between writing a menu, a running order and a super detailed shopping list and heading off to do a big shop, I raced around taking some new photos of the artichoke. Three weeks after being picked, and just being left on a shelf, it is half withered, half flowering.

I even took it outside. It's amazing how different it looks in another light. Then I had to go shopping. I'm so bored by the act of going shopping, bringing it in, putting it away. Over and over. But I do like the fridge being full of food and beer. Including little lamb chops and gourmet sausages, because most of our guests are not vegetarians. Yummo. I really do have to try and go to bed early tonight because I have set myself a very ambitious list of cooking tasks tomorrow. But I can do it, I just have to keep my cool and not drop whole eggs into the kenwood chef like I did tonight.
We haven't had more than a couple of friends over at a time for quite a long while. Except for Grace's birthday which although big, was pretty much just family. It's not like I feel as though I need to polish the silver and shine the windows (although I am thinking of a windows day soon) but I do feel a tad anxious. But G said he wanted to have a gathering. I was initially quite unenthusiastic. In the end, we decided that we would each choose an activity for our birthdays, which are only a day apart. And on in betweeny day we are going to do minimal housework, play lots of REM and G is going to go into town to buy me a birthday present. My day involves an outing and scenery. So G has got his gathering.  I agreed that if he did all the phone calling and organising, that I would do the food. He's chosen to invite old friends we haven't seen for a while and we've kept it small. So hopefully I'll actually get to talk to people.  So now I'm actually really looking forward to it. Even if it rains and we all have to squash inside. Because we need the rain, so even if it ruins our plans I am going to be happy if it does.

Friday night meme

I stole this one from Sooz and Suse.
1.Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 - in the book closest to you right now, what does it say?
He shook his head like a totured bear. He recognised in anguish that it was possible.
"It isn't true mother. But if it was - I'd want her."
More than ever, he thought, more than ever, to protect her, to protect his brother, even, the child.
"You'd take left overs? You'd take up where he left off?"
"Yes,  Mother."
From The Sojourner, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Readers Book Club 1956, which G bought at the opshop the other day because he knows I like old books about rural life. This one also has a rather nice coloured dust jacket which has been ravaged by the small child. G is going to repair it for me as he has a special touch with old books. I will read it one day.
2. If you stretch out your left arm - as far as possible, what are you touching?
Air. But if I look along my hand, I can see the window and Grace's pile of toys and books.
3. What's the last program you watched on tv?
The end of Smallville which I find very samey every week.There is a plot, but it's buried beneath the characters being intensely meaningful, either through long lingering looks, moments or verbal exchanges. Lots of intense life changing moments, like all the time. But G enjoys it. And the beginning of the Hulk which looked kinda interesting. I didn't realised it was directed by Ang Lee who made one of my favourite movies, The Ice Storm. I would have watched it except that I'm doing NaBloPoMo and therefore need complete my daily blog post now if I have any hope of going to bed before midnight. Which I must because I have a very big day tommorrow. sigh. 
4. Without looking, guess what time it is.
Half past ten. Ten 15, close. Better get a wriggle on then.
5. Except the computer, what can you hear right now?
The occasional car. A distant tram. G's computer is very loud. And for some reason is hard to turn off. I could listen to music as G has put nearly everything we own on the computer but I quite like the absence of music at the moment.
6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do?
About an hour ago. We have an outside toilet. Very old fashioned, but it has a beautiful view of the garden and is really only tedious for about two months of the year, if that.
7. What are you wearing?
Black stretch velvet lounging trousers. Pink t-shirt. Orange jumper. Ugg boots.  Pretty much what I was wearing last Friday night. But no poncho, it's not cold. I like to change into my comfy clothes after work.
8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about?
I don't think so. Anyway, I can't remember.
9. When was the last time you laughed?
Early this evening, after settling in after work. We were hanging out in the loungroom. Grace was pulling on one of G's old Carlton caps. And running around, making faces. Little girl being cute in a big hat. Very funny.
10. What's on the walls, in the room you're in right now?
Pictures from the opshop, photos, memorabilia, a map of the Castlemaine area (I once had dreams of buying land somewhere out there), a kite, one of G's paintings, two woven masks from Papua New Guinea, some old record covers, G's frighteningly high shelves full of stuff.
11. Have you seen anything strange lately?
I worked today. It was all strange.
12. What do you think about this meme?
It's a bit like the one I did last week. I was thinking today about making one up in the future and seeing if it took. Maybe.
13. What's the last film you saw?
It's been so long since I went to the cinema. Way, way before Grace was born even. I think it may have been Lost in Translation which I loved. Next time I have an afternoon to myself, I should make an effort to go. I love going to the cinema on my own during the day. It feels indulgent.
14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money?
Well, after sharing some around with my friends and family, I'd have to choose which of my three money is no object fantasies to pursue. One fantasy is to set up a big shop in my suburb selling the best new and recycled baby and kids stuff. The mainstream and the environmental products in the one shop. And handmade and artisan goods too. But there would also be a really woman, baby and child focused cafe attached. With food suitable for pregnant ladies. And comfy chairs for feeding. Change facilities. And somewhere for toddlers to rampage. And it would be genuinely friendly so that new mothers venturing out would feel welcome and like they had somewhere to get out of the house where they weren't considered to be in the way. And I would employ all the people I know who need jobs. And a few others. And there would be a fabulous beauty parlour and hairdressing/ massage studio upstairs with a pregnancy table. And a short stay creche. It would be fantastic. Fantasy number two involves buying a big house, engaging a mothers help and becoming a serial foster carer. Fantasy number three would be to buy a small holding up in the hills, grow potatoes, make vodka (G's fantasy), have a huge garden and write, make and potter to my hearts content. And travel every second winter. I guess if it happened I might do something that combined elements of all three fantasies.
15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.
I just did. Honestly if it's not in the blog... Oh I know, I have a tail. Just kidding.
16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt - what would it be?
Less stuff. I'd change the world so there was just less stuff in it. Much less stuff. The consequences are mind boggling. Less waste, less effort, less materialism, less work. More time for all sorts of creativity and being.
17. Do you like dancing?
Oooh yes. Especially techno/disco in the sunshine, but it's been a while. I intend to age disgracefully and restart my dancing days when I'm in my sixties.
18. George Bush?
Old news?
19. What do you want your children’s names to be, girl/boy?
I'll cross that bridge if it appears again.
20. Would you ever consider living abroad?
Not on a permanent basis. I'm very tied to Melbourne.
21. What do you want God to tell you, when you come to heaven?
Hello, we've been expecting you. All your friends and loved ones (except of course those still living) are here to meet you. And we have cake. And fattening is no longer an issue, so knock yourself out.
22. Who should do this meme?
Anyone who wants to.

The study

New visitors to our house are sometimes taken aback by the study. It's one of the front rooms and being closest to the street, with a lane down the side and a bit on the damp side, really the least favourable bedroom. Back in the days when this was a sharehouse, this was my room and I thought it was the best room because of the window. But it was damp and dark and noisy, quite horrible in winter. Now it's the study, where we have the computers, the music stuff and pretty much just lots of stuff. And the foldout sofabed for unfortunate guests.

Here's my desk, taken on a Sunday night before the Monday whizz through tidy up. The flowers on my computer desktop are euphorbia from the late winter garden. I can show you the carpet in this room because it is not our disgusting rental house carpet but an old rug the op shop was throwing out. Actually this room does not have the most hideous carpet of all, but anyway.

From my desk, I can look out the window and watch people walk by. And trams go past. And see the garden. I planted this view, I'm quite proud of it.

On the other side of the room is Gerard's desk. We don't share a desk or a computer because we both have too much stuff. And he likes to do experimental things on his computer whereas I'm quite a straight internet explorer type. Grace likes to climb up on the chair and sit at her daddy's desk and play jungle mouse (which also stops her from actually doing anything on the computer, like say rearranging your browser toolbars or deleting files). It amuses her for at least five minutes. After which she likes to stand on the chair and hurl his papers on the floor. Which she is not allowed to do.

This room really comes into its own in summer when its cave like qualities can be truly appreciated. It's fun to both hang out in here together so he can talk to me while I'm trying to write or read. Yep. No, actually sometimes it is fun when we all hang out in here. There's the sofa bed to lounge on and the window seat where Grace likes to stand and bang her head against the glass. Which she is also not allowed to do. Luckily this room has a door with a high handle, parental supervision required.

Eight days in

There have been times over the last week when I've wondered why in the hell would I set myself this particular challenge. NaBloPoMo seems such an insane thing to do when I'm already busy, getting busier every day and chasing after a toddler. Some nights I fight the urge to just blob in front of television. But once I get past that feeling of not wanting to write, of procrastination, I quite enjoy it. The tap, tap of the keyboard. The respite and sense of space in my own head. I thought I would run out of ideas, but no, they're still crowding around, buzzing here buzzing there. Some posts, I thought might have been better, but I'm learning to let go. I guess that's part of the point of it.

I'm also enjoying being part of something big. According to Lane at pink elephants the official particpant list has 1,913 blogs on it. And she would probably know, as she is the genius that bought us the NaBloPoMo Randomiser, possibly the internet's greatest distraction device. I'm enjoying finding some new blogs. Not that I'm getting quite as much blog reading time as I would like. But I think I will come out of NaBloPoMo with some new regular reads. It's funny but although blogland is huge, I feel like I hang around mostly in my own little neighbourhood. Which I really, really love but it's also nice to go exploring.  I'm going to copy daisies and write a weekly list of new (or newish)blogs that I've found or have found me, so in no particular order:

More kisses please
Color the sky with you
pluck the petal
the x facta
pink elephants
She knits shizknits

I'm still being a bit of a lurker and haven't been commenting much, especially on new to me sites. But I am reading when I can.

Putting on some face

November's self portrait challenge theme is glam, "disco, diamonds and glitter" and you know, that whole glam rock thing. Once upon a time this would have been right up my alley, back in the day when too much glitter was never enough. I used to love going out dancing: forest raves, niteclubs, dodgy warehouse parties. You could have said that I liked a party. Most of my outfits were quite practical but I did have some lovely things. A long lurex dress in greens and blues, some sparkly gold high heels, various hats, sneakers with silver stripes, coloured beads, a red velvet dress that I used to wear over pants, disco balls, bindis, various types of glitter. How things have changed.

Yesterday when I went to look for some dark coloured lipstick, all I could find was one dried up matte colour, circa 1995, I think. Yuck.  No lip pencils either and I could barely remember how to apply it. Then once it was on, I felt like my skin couldn't breathe. I raced around the backyard, trying to look glam but it really wasn't working for me at all. I think finding some new ways to glam it up might be an even bigger challenge than revealing my imperfections. Still, it might be be fun.

For lots of GLAM, go here.

A tart's tale

When I open the pages of this book, I go back in time to a stainless steel kitchen with a big oven and afternoons spent baking and juggling late lunch orders. The pages are sticky with food and coming apart. Each recipe has notes and amendments. Many with bulk quanties. Some recipes are written in a kind of cook's shorthand, others in precise detail. A few recipes were given to me by people who worked in my kitchen, in the cafe I used to have with my mum and my sister. I don't really think about the cafe much anymore, it's been ten years since we sold and moved on. This recipe though, is special. I use it a lot. It was given to me by a chef I worked with because I couldn't make pastry to save myself and needed an easy base for tarts. These days, I'm sure that given time and practice, I would master pastry making, but back then I needed quick solutions.
I ended up making the largest quantity that would fit in the mixer. Now I have four tarts worth in the freezer for the upcoming festive season. Easy biscuits, ripple cakes, tarts. It's not really as good as proper pastry, it's quite hard and chewy. Or at least the bit I'm eating now is.  Today's effort was lemon tart with the filling from The Cooks Companion. I've been hankering after this for some weeks but G doesn't like tangy lemon flavours, so I've been waiting for an excuse.
Grace wanted to watch and taste, and despite me being worried about having her in the kitchen with the oven on, she was really pretty good. She stood up on the chair, completely immersed in what was going on until she got bored and started strewing bits around the floor. Which she then proceeded to place in her bags and then unpack again. I just sort of gave in to the mess and chaos. Except for the moment I was putting the tart in our awfully low oven, which was a little hairy until I popped her in the high chair and gave her a beater to lick.
We managed to get the tart in the oven, the kitchen cleaned up and Grace down for a nap before Sooz and Amy arrived for an afternoon visit. Needless to say, despite everyone tiptoeing around, Grace woke up shortly after. Indeed, she may never have slept. She often fools us by playing quietly in her cot until she senses something more exciting happening. Like visitors and food.

I'd like to show you a picture of the tart but it didn't come out of the oven until well into the visit and I had to stick it in the freezer before serving it, still warm. It did ooze a little. Besides, sometimes you just have to relax and enjoy the pleasurable experiences life sends you without reaching for the camera. Good things like chatting and children. And checking out the garden. And eating lemon tart. And the best of all, good company.

What's left of the tart is now quite firm.


postscript: The tart is now finished. Polished off for morning tea/late breakfast by Mum & Stepdad, Grace and me. Life is good.