apricot blossom

SpcSpring seems to have come early this year. Only last week I was enjoying my new (to me) wool coat and wearing scarves inside to keep my cold ridden neck warm. The last few days have seen me hurriedly unpacking some summer clothes in a rush before work because it's just too mild to be wearing jumpers and leggings. Not that a sudden arrival of spring is unusual for Melbourne. It will most likely be cold again. But the season has turned and I find myself standing around the backyard in my thongs (as in flip flops) at the end of the day, letting the fragrance of apricot blossoms drift over me while I talk on the phone and take pictures of the light (yes, all at the same time).

I'm planning to sort through all our clothes on the weekend, packing away winter woollies and seeing what we have for summer. Grace seems to have grown several centimetres overnight and I'm wondering what I'll be wearing to work if we have a sudden hot spell. Please let me be organised enough not to have to wear my maternity trousers with a safety pin and a long top. Not for the third summer in a row. Or the fourth, if you count the summer I was pregnant. Exhale. That's better. Now I'm starting to think about planting tomatoes and beans (even if we might not be here, because you never know and it's not that hard to throw some seeds in the ground), Christmas, a summer blog redesign and booking some holiday time by the beach. And maybe a short camping trip somewhere. Oh yes, roll on summer.

Pattern, the theme for August. See more here.

tumble weeds

I feel like I've fallen out of my blogging chair, that there are big tumble weeds blowing in from from the west. I'm chasing them, but if you've ever chased a tumbleweed, you'll know they're pretty hard to catch. Actually most of my life at the moment feels a bit like chasing tumbleweeds. Not at all unpleasant, indeed the desert air is crisp and clean, the scenery stunning (in an internal rather than a literal sense) and the company fine. I've had a horrid cold too, which has necessitated more rest than usual and a fair whack of cough medicine at night on top of the sleepers.  Nights have been strange, even before the cough medecine and as I've been cruising the blogosphere, I'm sure I've left the odd comment, that is well, a bit odd. Especially last night, after I spilt a glass of beer in my crochet basket (misjudged the side table, very sticky). Anyway, I've been sleeping like a stone with intense dreams that I can barely remember, the sort that slip away on waking, leaving a fragment of tumble weed.

Speaking of weeds, our garden is full of them. Chickweed mainly. Which I am looking at, thinking about pulling out, but lacking the usual enthusiasm for. Too much time spent chasing tumble weeds. And planning new gardens.

So beyond picking and maintaining the vegies in a most minimal way, I think my next big garden effort will involve setting up a cutting and seedling nursery. In preparation. Although after I attended an auction yesterday, just for practice, and to imagine what it would be like bidding at one,  I'm wondering whether we can afford Pascoe Vale. Which I've started to feel very positive about. Still I guess it's a bit like looking for a rental house, you go and you imagine living there and you apply and then you don't get it, so you move on in your search, adjusting your expectations as you go. Except with buying a house, all the extended family come to look at various times, and puts their two cents in. Because buying a house is a Big Thing. It's exciting. And it's a fuck of a lot of money.

The week off work has gone by in a blur; house stuff, lying on the couch, sleeping in, doing some housework, going to my photoshop course and learning how to work with layers, some shopping in town on two occasions, Grace helping me get ready for a teaparty, entertaining some lovely ladies (and two bubbies) at lunchtime, being left breathless with the sense of conversations just begun but isn't that always the way so now I expect it, starting a new ripple crochet scarf which is a bit funny (and now smells like a pub) but compels me to watch lots of telly (cutting into my blog time), spending an afternoon with mum and making a new wrap top (which had some problems and I wish I had time to write about sewing but I might later), going to the new and cheaper dentist and discovering that I need another root canal treatment (oh surprise) because there's an abscess under an old filling and the tooth has probably died, which while not always painful is probably filling my system with infection to fight(gross), more sewing, more house stuff, several loads of laundry, having lunch with my dad and sister and still being allowed auntie cuddles with Ruby-Lee eventhough I still have a cold, yet more house stuff and now we have a visitor from Tasmaina and I should be cooking lunch. With my little helper. So I might leave with a picture of my garden from a distance, looking into a spring sun.

From behind the yelllow jasmine. Practising framing, as discussed in my photoshop class, and trying not to just take close ups of plants which I love, but are, in my view, much easier to do. Not that this has been photoshopped like this or this. Not at all. And when we do move, I'm going to want pictures of this garden. And because G mowed the lawn which always makes it look pretty. Back at work tommorow, not sad about it, but wouldn't have minded another week. Still that's how it goes.


SpcI haven't found this month's theme as compelling as I thought it would be. There are lots of patterns in my life, but I don't seem to have any ideas about them. Anyway, the other day I was flicking through my old photos for no particular reason and the patterns in this one catapaulted me back to that Christmas in Tipperary town, 1986. I was in Ireland with my boyfriend. He was not well and to say that it was an ill advised venture was massively understating the obvious. But we were young and I still believed that being in love was the most important thing. We stayed with his grandmother who welcomed us beyond all expectation. She was well over eighty, nearly blind and lived alone in a house that had no inside plumbing and a wood stove in the kitchen for heating and cooking. At first she made noises about me sleeping in the front room, but then decided to put us both in the upstairs bedroom. In single beds with a big holy picture between us and some stern words about behaving and not to be telling the neighbours. We did behave, but the neighbours all knew because it was a small community and it was a pretty big deal to have your Australian grandson visit. Even if he was mad.

There were alot of things about Ireland that surprised me. Like how cold and wet it was. I had never imagined a cold that cut so deep into your bones. And the dark. Australian light is bright by comparison, even in winter. I felt like I was in a perpetual twilight and I think that made me the most homesick of all. Especially on Christmas day. Despite the shitty look I'm giving the camera here, there were some good times in Tipperary. Once I found out that it was an acceptable method of transport, I hitchiked around the countryside visiting old castles and various sights. We were taken to a wild Irish dance and invited to peoples homes where we sat around drinking and listening to people sing and recite poetry. And the next door neighbour would have me over and run me a deep hot, hot bath when I started to flag. And fill me up with good food when the boiled bacon over at granny's got too much. But really, what you see here was the beginning of the end. I left him some time in the New Year and went travelling by myself. Of course, we met up again, and again, but there wasn't ever a happy ending. Not with that one.

More patterns here.


because something is happening here, but you don't know what it is

The city at night. Gentle rain. Cheap Japenese food for dinner, where the dillish young server forgot to take Gs order of tofu. Secretly really enjoying the miso chicken with the dodgy sauce. With diet coke. Onwards to the tram, part of the throng heading to the the footy, the melbourne storm (is that rugby?) and the Dylan concert. Being bossed about by a very officious yarra trams official, you wouldn't have been surpised if he had a poking stick for pushing everyone into the tram. It was fun, sparkly and good natured. People were talking to strangers about where they were going. 

The first security dude at rod laver area said I'd have to cloak my camera. The second security dude looked at it and said that I could keep it, as long as I didn't use it. By request of the artist. Apparently they were meant to prevent even mobile phones being taken in. Again by request of the artist. We laughed. There was the flare of camera flash all night. Which is really silly because a flash won't work beyond a few metres. Our seats were a long, long way up. The combination of the miso chicken and my sports stadium verigo fear/anxiety didn't sit that well at first. Especially since the first band were pretty ordinary, I thought. Loud and boring. Last time, I think Paul Kelly opened. Double treat.

Once the stadium filled and the thin man appeared, I began to relax into the night. It was up and down. The opener, a version of rainy day woman was a bit of a throw away. Some of the songs in the first bit seemed a bit overly full of  instrumention to me. Too much boogie woogie. Then there was the standout. John Brown, a new to me song about a mother going to meet her son returning form the war at the station. Spine chilling. I wasn't the only one leaning right forward in my seat. There was also a gut wrenching version of Highway 61, rougher and tougher than I've ever heard it. Catapaulting me back to the moment when I first keyed into that song, when I first heard the poetry rather than the noise. I was twenty and my boyfriend of the time was in royal park hospital and I was listening to his records in my room. And around the same time there was an acid trip during which me and my girlfriends played highway 61 over and over again to hear the zing zing sounds. It was a long time ago and somehow hearing the live version telescoped those separate but connected memories into one impression. Even without the zing, zing.

He also did kickarse versions of Like a Rolling Stone and Ballad of a Thin Man, one of my all time favourites. And Tangled up in Blue. One the way home, a woman on the tram was telling her friend that she was in two minds about the concert. That he didn't do the old stuff. Another woman sitting near us was beaming. I started listing the old songs and G piped in with the obscure ones. Then we had a chat with the other woman about the new song we heard about the woman meeting her son at the station. She had the new album on high rotation, she said, and it was excellent. Of course he's going to change what he does. It would be boring for him and therefore boring for us if he didn't. We talked about the other Dylan concerts we'd been to and the ones we missed. She was in her fifties and had been going since the seventies. I was impressed. It was a very multi-generational night. Young kids, old people, old people behaving like young kids, middle aged people looking thrilled (or not), families, scensters. Truly awesome. I whinge and grizzle about my life sometimes, but really I'm pretty lucky, to live here and now, and have the wherewithal (and baby sitting) to participate in such treats.  I feel full of music and poetry. Yep, awesome.

day one in the tardis

So today was the first day of my week and a bit rec(reation) leave. A week off plus my one in four Thursday tacked onto the Friday I normally have off. If that makes sense. I wouldn't know, because I feel completely scattered, like I need to unwind really, really fast and then get things done and then relax properly. All at once. A week seemed quite a long time at first, but now that I've made a list of what's going on each day, it really isn't. There's only one day where I don't have something planned. Except for the second Sunday. Most of the planned things are lovely (and I wouldn't change them, no not at all) but I wouldn't mind replicating myself so that there was a week of activities and socialising and a week that could be dedicated to lying the couch, sewing and mooching around. Most days I only have one thing to do, and except for the day of the dentist which I booked because I think I'd be a whole lot happier if my teeth didn't hurt and because I couldn't get an appointment at my favourite dermatologist to have the weird (but not serious or really painful) bumps on my legs seen to, the days are filled with nice things. And no doubt, there will still be a fair bit of mooching and faffing. And hanging with Grace, who often likes to wear pink.

This outfit included pink trackies and ugg boots. Last Sundays outfit featured the yellow raincoat and the 'lo 'lues top, a constant favourite, even though it isn't pink. We pretty much let Grace choose what to wear, within the dictates of the weather and without wearing seven hundred outfits a day. Not that I take her shopping for clothes yet (except shoes and that's hard enough). So it's really a pretty limited sort of choice.

Today we went to the toddler reading session at the library. I bumped into a few people I know from round about and had a natter. Grace listened and played for a short bit and then an older girl taunted her with the information that they had taken the teletubbies DVD and that therefore Grace couldn't have it, ever. Luckily her mother stepped in. It's such a scene the Brunswick Library. G took Grace home while I had a good long Savers session. I'd really like to get my work look sorted a bit. It's not really a suit sort of place, but I seem to keep falling too far into the scruffnut zone. So some shopping in the city tommorrow. And later in the week maybe some sewing or at least some planning, so I can ask sister Betty to make me some new things.  I did buy a new coat which I'm in two minds about. The perfect charcoal grey Country Road pea coat with wool lining and a sort of heavy waxed cotton outer was just a bit too small. I hummed and ha-ed and decided that I really couldn't buy something that might fit me later. No matter how perfect. I ended up getting a shortish dark blue wool cashmere boxy coat with a big collar that could be a bit stylish or a bit old lady. It's hard to tell. Perhaps I should just get over myself. At least I won't be wearing my raincoat or the old man's coat all the time anymore.

On the way home, I took a whole lot of pictures of the magnolia tree near the station which is covered with new blossoms, a sure sign that winter is coming to an end. Joy. I'm doing a CAE course which I expected would teach me how to use photoshop elements, but it's turned out to be a lot about photography in gerneral. Learning lots of new stuff but there's not really enough time to practice properly. And it's confusing. Oh well, I'm sure I'll pick something useful up and it's good to have hobbies.

Maybe I can take some night shots tommorow, because we're going out. At night. Without child (who'll be staying at Nana's). To see the big Bob. Oh the excitment!!!


As far as land size and the amenity of inner city living goes, its looking like I've been having my cake and eating it too. There just aren't that many homes in my area with backyards, even fewer with backyards this big. And even if we were to find one, I doubt whether we could afford it. Or if we could, it would be so derelict that really we couldn't afford to make it habitable. Even some of the houses without backyards are pricey. So we've started to look a little further out. This weekend we looked at three houses in Pascoe Vale. And we saw one house that we really liked, like really, really, roolly liked. It's at the quiet suburban end of a larger street. The block is huge. Bigger than we have now even. Northerly aspect. There is a fabulous shed (not that we'd buy a house for a shed), a greenhouse, concrete tubs for goodness knows what and even a hills hoist. Not much garden, but I quite like the idea of a blank slate. The house is post war solid brick with concrete render. It hasn't been painted in a very long time and there are one or two minor cracks, but nothing indicating major drama.  Brick houses make me nervous this way, but I guess you'd get it checked out. There were also a couple of stumps that might need to be replaced but all in all it felt pretty solid. Immediately habitable.

The layout was good. Nice room sizes, a good hallway with a linen press (oh, still my beating heart), some cool features including chandelier light fittings. Mostly just a bit of painting and repair needed. The only thing I didn't like was the location of the dining room. But I could see how it could fixed, by removing a small brick wall, which I know can be tricky but again you seek professional advice before getting out your sledge hammer. The removal of this wall was something G so didn't want to discuss. I know that we'd live in a house before we altered it significantly. To me, that just makes sense. But, I have to know that a feature that is mandatory in my view is possible. It's interesting seeing what things I am immovable on and this is one of them. I want a layout with only one eating area, adjacent to the kitchen. Not in the kitchen, but open to it. No kitchen meals area and separate formal dining area for me. And it has to be light and big enough for the table to be fully extended on occasion. I see this as where a lot of the family action will happen, newspaper reading, hanging out and drawing et cetra. A major social space in the house. Anyway, I guess that's a conversation we'll have to learn how to have.

There were also two story dwellings on the west side. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It sort of comes with the territory of increasing urban density which I think is a good thing. My biggest issue with the house is location. It's an easy (with a hill) walking distance to a train station and close to two reputable state high schools and several primary schools but I don't know about shopping or libraries or parks. Or whether people would still come and visit. Is it too far away? Would we be happer in a smaller house and no yard but closer to where we live now? It's a hard question. A lot of what we really like doing; gardening, building, making stuff would  benefit from the space. I can see the permaculture paradise lifestyle we could build in this house. Many of the things I've wanted to move to the country for, we could have here. But in an area with bigger blocks, you loose some of the vibrancy, some of the buzz that makes living in the inner city attractive. There were some other houses I looked at in the afternoon while Grace was sleeping, even further out. One of them was in an area near Merlynston train station that had a pleasant village feel. But I think if I'm going to move further out, then I want a big garden. If possible.  Ah, trade-offs.

when I was blonde

My Flashback Friday offering. Yes, I know it's Saturday already but I'm behind in everything. My bloglines is exploding, my sewing remains in pieces, I have homework from the CAE camera class I'm taking, the garden is sprouting weeds and I really need to plan out the week after next which is a holiday from work. I keep saying, yes, we'll do that on my week off. That week is starting to feel a bit like the tardis (bigger on the inside than the outside, a comment we often make about the shed). Unfortunately, I am not a timelord. Although tonight, I did get to watch Dr Who on the couch with a glass or two of lambrusco. While G made homemade pizza for dinner. Ah, small patches of blob out bliss. Could do it all night, but I also need that feeling of download that blogging gives me. Meant to do it last night but I was tired and got caught up in the online realestate scene, while compiling my weekly list of houses to visit. More about househunting tommorrow because there are thoughts stewing around my head in that direction too.

Anyway, this is not the best of my blonde photos, there's one I remember as being really fantastic but I think I stole it from mum and then lost it. The one above was taken at christmas lunch at my parents house in 1988. The one below would have been taken at Christmas dinner at my auntie Pauline's old house. It's after I finshed uni but before my parents separated as my mum is in the photo.  She's the only non-blonde. I would have been going through my wannabe yuppie phase. I'm wearing my favourite lime green silk shirt, the one I bought from the upmarket re-cycle shop in Bourke street. I remember it was an expensive men's designer shirt, with the most gorgous pearl buttons. I had a lot of affection for that shop too, and was sad to notice it empty with "for lease" sign in the window on my last trip to town. I've had really short hair several times in my life but only went blonde once and I remember it being much more painful than other colours. And that it needed several top ups of magic silver white.

Standing next to me is my sister Betty, then called Liz. On the other side is my mum, my auntie Pauline, my cousin Susie, my auntie Sandra and my cousin Samantha. I'm the oldest cousin and Suzie the youngest. So much has happened since this was taken. Obviously. As there are seven women in the picture. There's been separation and divorce, death (of one of my uncles in a speedboat accident), all sorts of other loss, mental illness and many other assorted struggles. There's also been university degrees completed, houses built, bought, rented and sold, marriages, re-marriages or de-factos made, careers and business endeavours cast off and started. And all the other trivia in between. Like all families. All of the cousins in the picture now have babies or young children. And all the mothers are now grandmothers.

Betty and I went to visit Susie and her baby daughter yesterday. We haven't been in contact much over the years but she and her partner have moved to a nearby suburb. Now she's a mother too. It was an amazing visit and Grace has been talking about going to Susie's and there being ham and cake and two bubbies!!! two bubbies!!!  Bubbylee and Jessica (which she can't say yet). And I've been thinking alot about our shared childhood history. And about how cool it is to hold a baby on my lap and say to Grace, this is Jessica, she's my second cousin. You and her are third cousins, and Ruby-Lee is your cousin.

You know, I could write a novel from this photo. I'm not going to for obvious reasons, but I could.

our very ugly carpet

SpcThe August theme for SPC is pattern. And the first pattern I think of is not a pretty one. Indeed, I have often gone out of the way to exclude the carpet in our house from any pictures of domestic life. Really, I'd like to pretend that it's not there. In the eighteen or so years I have lived in this house, I have always disliked the carpet. Quite intensely at times.  It was crappy when I moved in and it hasn't improved any. We have some big rugs, but there are always little pieces that are impossible to cover. Like this particularly grotty patch in the hallway near the kitchen. For effect, I am modelling my none too clean dressing gown and my ugg boots which, despite their scruffy appearance, have just been washed and fitted with new sheepskin liners. 

The lino in front is also really old, but I actually don't hate it. In some moods, I'm really rather fond of it. Perhaps because it's cleanable? When I was pregnant with Grace, I spent the first week of my maternity leave with a friends steam cleaner. Systematically going through each room. Although I removed heaps of gunk, it never seemed to look any cleaner. Now we just vacuum every week and I try not to make it my visual focus. Besides, we're looking for our own place now. And when it's our house, I'll be able to rip up the carpet. Can't wait....

See other, prettier patterns here


We looked at three houses this weekend, and I visited a fourth in the afternoon while Grace was napping.  Gosh, what a production. Two houses were OK, if the price is right. One was a nightmare, fantastic location, great block, northerly aspect but the layout of the house was such that the laundry and the bathroom completely blocked the light. And the ceilings were really, really low. Which alongside an almost total lack of charm, made me think about how the (non) design of a house might affect how one lives. This one looked like the kind of place where people sat inside watching telly and smoked. Or cooked. Or tinkered in the shed. Which was massive. But one does not buy a house for a shed. Even G, who loves his shed, says that. All the spaces were separate and unconnected, with no view to the fabulous backyard. Yuck.

The other house that I really hated was also in a fantastic location, but it made the tumbly down house house look generous. The same tumbly down house which sold at auction on saturday for a ludicrous amount of money. Especially considering the degree of deciptuitude and that you could hear the hum of freeway in the backyard. Anyway the roof on this other house was still watertight, just. People were living there, but the rooms were small, the back of the house rested on the dirt, the so called third bedroom was barely big enough for the single bed it contained. The bathroom was unbelievably small and the back yard was tiny and dark, despite a promising orientation. And I wondered, who would pay the asking price? I really couldn't see it at all. But as the gleeful looking agent said, this area is showing a lot of growth. Yes, well it is.

So on to the good houses. The best one was small but had an air of integrity. It was in a nice street in a desirable area. In fairly original condition, it had been well looked after. The roof was in very good nick. There was good side access and just enough backyard. The carpet was horrible and there was no shed, but I could see how the layout could be worked and opened up a bit over time. The bathroom (above) was also a fairly startling shade of blue. Smallish but not impossible. And kind of charming. Lots of interest in this house. Definitely a sleeping beauty. You could tell.

The other house I liked was scruffy but charming. It was more immediately livable than the best one but I couldn't quite see how the layout would work for us in the longer term. Still it looked like people enjoyed living there. Lots of light. Flow from inside to outside. A lovely street. Possibly within our price range. I don't know, I feel like I'm kicking tyres. So I've started a book, with the floor plan brochures and scribbled notes. I'm guessing what I think they're going to go for and making a note. Next weekend we'll look at another two or three in a slightly different area.

I lay in bed last night thinking about every house I've ever lived in; the good points and bad points of each. And I've also spent a fair bit of my online time this weekend looking at realestate. Yep, I am now obsessed by houses.

eight days a week

Tonight I'm going to combine ye old friday night meme with some flashback friday action. Mum has lent me some of her albums and I am tripping down memory lane, I can tell you. Rachel tagged me to do eight things as we're both new contributors to the Self Portrait Challenge. This means that on the fourth friday of every month, I'll choose two or three of my favourites for the week and write a little post on the SPC site. Exciting, yes. A little daunting, yes.  But good. A woman needs her hobbies and interests.

OK, on with the eight, an eternal favourite in blogland it seems. Not that I mind, I can probably keep doing eight things forever. Because I am old. As you will see.

1. People often comment on how much Grace looks like me. Personally, I think she looks a lot like Gerard. However, this is me at two which would be in 1965. Now I know why my mum keeps saying this. It's a bit scary in some ways, but also kind of nice. The pattern is because the photo is stuck in one of those sticky plastic albums, which are bad, bad, bad. What were we thinking?

2. We even had the same ultra short fringe happening. Except mine was much straighter than Grace's is now. This means either that I was better at sitting still, or my mum was better with the scissors. Or something else entirely.

3. I had bolognese sauce on toast for lunch today. From the freezer. Nearly as good as savoury mince. I really need to make savoury mince again soon. With cabbage and chicken stock (an improvement on the chicken noodle soup my Nan used). We ate lunch in the sunroom with Mum and our friend Steve. It was extraordinarily pleasant. There was also bread and cheese et cetera. Although, how one could pass up mince on toast for lunch is beyond me.

4. As a girl, I read alot. Several books a week, mostly from the local library which I remember visiting in our pajamas at night and also on saturday mornings. I loved the smell of the library and absolutely adored the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, reading it several times over, always devasted when I came to the end.

5. This was a pretty big fashion influence, as you can see here. I'm in the middle, looking prissy. My sister, on the same day, looks like a scallywag. That's my mum, cutting the cake. It was 1975.

6. This was the dress I was thinking about when I wrote about the bad dress incident in the movie, My Brilliant Career. Mum tells me it was cotton, but I remember it as a scratchy, awkward dress. By the look of it, there was a lot of pioneer influenced fashion going on then.

7. Another thing I have in common with Grace is the monobrow. I love it in Grace, and was appalled when someone suggested that I remove it. At the time she wasn't even one! I kept mine until I couldn't bear the teasing at school, sometime late primary or early secondary. It's pretty much gone now, even if I wanted to grow it back, I don't think I could. Which is kind of a pity in a way. Maybe.

8. I was very moody from about eleven or twelve on, which I think was captured very well by my dad in this photo. Although, with that angle, he's made my nose look more bumpy than it is. This is from his photoclub days, when we would wake up on Saturday morning and find newly printed black white photgraphs drying on the loungeroom floor. We love our hobbies in this family it would seem.

A slightly funny eight, I think, but the photos drove me tonight and it's kind of a random thing. It goes where it will.