OK, so this is last minute blogging. We're off today for two and a bit weeks at the beach. Yesterday was full of packing and last minute sewing. Can't go away without some last minute sewing, oh no. Last night I archived all my summer photos. So summer's nearly over. February always goes so fast. Anyway I'm sure there will still be warm enough weather for beachy activites. We're going to my aunts beach house down near the prom. A place that I spent a lot of time at as a child and my memory is that it's pretty nice this time of year. 

I was going to do a selection of various different types pictures that never got posted, but the ones I was most taken with were my corn shots. Especially after seeing the yummy corn Kris grew. Like I said, I'm a bit jealous of her corn. We got a couple of meals out of ours but it wasn't the nicest corn I've ever grown. Oh well, some years are better in the vegie garden are better than ever. Around Christmas, the corn was full of promise.

A month or two later, at the time the corn should be really nice, it's all brown. I grown corn most years and am familiar with the brown. In fact I quite like the look of it and often leave the dry corn standing until about May. But normally the brown comes after the corn is harvested. Some cobs we'd missed. But some were just not ready yet.

Alrighty, I have to finish packing. And Grace is running through the house, yelling Daaaarh and Gang. Finding things to pull out. Maybe I need to do some more sewing. No time. I'm not even going to open my bloglines. That will have to wait. Chances are there'll be an internet cafe visit or two while we're away but I'm going to try hard not to miss it. Can't believe how much part of my day this has become. Any way the salt water calls. See you in a week or two.

Big Nite Out

I knew if I stayed in Brunswick long enough that I wouldn't have to leave the suburb to see music. Actually we've been able to see music in this part of the suburbs for a while, but the death of venues like The Punters Club has meant that more and more venues like the East Brunswick Club have come into being. All enthusiastic and not at all flash, no airconditioning. But able to host credible overseas bands and charge for it. Even without airconditioning.

This night out has been on the cards for a while and I'm glad we booked to see The Handsome Family early on as it did sell out. Gerard arranged for us to go and see them last time at Ceres in 2005, when I was pregnant with Grace. He played me a copy of one of their CDs someone from Tas had sent him. I was instantly sold. As usual I didn't take the trouble to find out anything about the musicians, all I heard was the voice of Brett Sparks singing these dark, beautiful songs. He has one of those deep, male voices that can knock you over. The sound was so rich and layered I thought the band must be a multi generational tribe of country folk. So when Brett and Rennie Sparks came on stage at Ceres looking as if they'd be at home in inner city Melbourne and started cracking jokes about going to hospital and dysfunctional families and living in the US, I was somewhat taken aback. Where was the band? A drum machine and the odd extra instrument (melodica?)? Right. Not what I expected. Not at all. Still as I settled down and the night wore on, I stopped feeling dislocated. The beautiful, rich music with its' deep roots in American folk and country was still there. And the banter in between trod that beautiful line twixt tasteless and hilarious. If one was going to label The Handsome Family, I suppose alt/goth/country would do it. But despite all the jokes, it's pretty deep stuff. But I guess it's like reading a sad story out aloud for laughs, you get the audience in and with you. Then they get to hear what you say. And tragedy has its' comic side. 

photo by Mark Owen, from The Handsome Family Website

Last night was always going to be an excercise in endurance. It was hot in there. So hot that people were leaving or wiping their faces with their hankies. At one point I felt the sweat drip off my eyeball. The thought of someone else from the audience touching me in passing became unbearable. Lord knows, it must have been so much worse up on stage under those lights. Lack of airconditioning or ventilation made the Punters look classy, I tell you. I have never ever been in a venue where it was this hot before.

Three songs in they played my favourite song, the one I was hoping to hear live. The one I refer to in my head as the hole but is actually called The Bottomless Hole. The one I listened to endlessly while crocheting a blue poncho in my hospital room where I was a guest of the state for a month. Even if you don't know the tune, it reads out loud really well and goes like this:
My name I don't remember
Though I hail from Ohio
I had a wife and children
Good tires on my car
What took me from my home
And put me in the earth
Was the mouth of a deep, dark hole
I found behind my barn
We'd been filling it with garbage
As long as you could count
Kitchen scraps and dead cows
Tractors broken down
But never did I hear
One thing hit the ground
And slowly I came to fear
That this was a bottomless hole
I went out behind the barn
And stared down in that hole
Late into the evening
My mind would not let go
So I got out my ropes
And a rusty, clawfoot bath
And rigged myself a chariot
To ride down in that hole
My wife she did help me
She fed me down the ropes
And then I sank away
From the surface of this world
But when the last rope pulled tight
I had not reached the end
And in anger I swung there
Down in the dark abyss
So I got out my knife
I told my wife goodbye
I cut loose from the ropes
And fell on down that hole
And still am there falling
Down in this evil pit
But until I hit the bottom
I won't believe it's bottomless
The Handsome Family, singing bones, 2003

I love the lyrics to this song. How the simple words and everday imagery move into a surreal lanscape of the mind. I don't think I've ever read a better description of going mad and the loss of self. Maybe that's not what it's about but that's how those words spoke to me.

It's interesting watching the partnership between Rennie and Brett Sparks. Not that he'd like the word partner, that word being the subject of much on stage banter last night. He prefers husband and wife. Fair enough. Anyway, Rennie takes the lead with the talk between songs and she's the writer. The bookish one. As she kept reminding her husband. And the one selling CDS before and after the show. Just after the show ended, I turned around to buy a CD. I'd been standing next to the fan blowing air on the merchandise table and suddenly she was there. No break. Here was my opportunity to tell her how much the hole song had nourished me during that dark time. But I mumbled something lame about being first in line as I fumbled for my purse, handing her a 20 that I thought was a 50 and us both being embarrassed that I needed another 5. Not that I minded. Not at all.

If you want to hear a sample of The Handsome Family, apparently you can on their myspace. The CDs are available in independent type music shops. Highly recommended. And thank you mum, for baby sitting over night. It was a great success. Grace knew where she was when she woke up and was not the least but upset at going to stay at Nana's for the night. Indeed every time there was move to go any where today she would look at me and inquire, Nana? And I loved going out. Yay.

Added later: G and I were talking last night about which Handsome Family CDS we like best and about what makes them good. We both agreed that their self-conscious kookiness and eccentricity can be a tad irritating, even if it is really funny. Sad things don't always have to be played for laughs, you have to trust that the audience will engage through the work. Audiences are intelligent that way, I think.And that some of their CDS are a bit sameish. G doesn't like their drum machine and we had to agree that they are not a musicians band, they're a writers band.  Like G said, you tend to have your favorite and the new one isn't diffrent enough to want to move on. But what redeems all this and makes you go on past all this is the quality of her writing and the beauty of his voice. Still absolutely worth a listen. Most definitely.

Back in the olden days

Logo_23When I think of black and white photography, I think of the family snaps from my childhood. Old photos, on paper with white borders. Before digital photography, before colour photography was affordable (or even available) to the masses. Our family albums aren't in colour until some point in the seventies. And even then it's a washed out faded type of colour. Unlike the black and white photos, they haven't aged well. 

I don't remember when this picture was taken but I'm guessing that I'd probably be five or six, so sometime in the late sixties. As further evidenced by the cars in the background. There's another photo taken on the same day and I'm walking away from a horse drawn wagon with a very serious look on my face, so I'm also guessing that it's some type of family picnic or event with children's rides. The jumper I'm wearing is no doubt a mohair hand knit, probably made by my mum.

This photo was probably nicked from my parent's collection when I was a young adult and stuck to some sharehouse bedroom wall with blue tack. So it's not in pristine condition like the ones that have been kept in an album, but that just makes me like it even more. Not sure why, maybe because the photo has been out in the big wide world and has the marks to show for it?

See others in black and white here.

Blog on, in colour

When I first embarked on the blogging journey, I considered that if I were ever to become psychotic again, it might be necessary to ban me from the computer. Just in case I was channelling some reality TV host. Or telling all my family secrets. Or posing in the nude, shudder. Or in some other way being really, really embarassing. But I wasn't psychotic, not in the least. Just depressed and anxious and fearful. All tangled up. As I untangle, I'm starting to feel very sane and sensible again, but in glorious technicolour. There's no doubt in my mind that the medication I'm taking has a slightly disinhibiting effect on me. I remember this effect from when I first started taking an SSRI in the nineties. Luckily all my flakey action this time around is happening on the interweb, commenting far and wide with gay abandon (instead of the usual constipated foot in mouth scenario) and not at inner city parties or in seedy bars.  Anyway.

There's a lot of reasons one might choose not to blog about this aspect of life, perhaps donning an apron and offering pink cupcakes with a forced smile (imagery courtesy of h&b in her comment on Black dog, thank you) but that's not really my way. Much as I love a cupcake, I'm a tell it like it is kind of gal. It makes me feel better, it lessens my inclination to grind my teeth. (As an aside, I can't believe how much better my teeth are now I'm on the drugs). That's not to say I don't have boundaries, I do. As does everyone, which of course I respect. This just doesn't cross any of mine. The way I see it, there's still plenty of stigma attached to mental illness. That won't ever go away if people act all guilty and ashamed. So I decided after being hospitalised for the psychosis that I was going to talk about it as though it were any other illness. Which my family has been really good about. I've been pleasantly surprised at how people react. It's not like I talk about it often (except here), but if it comes up, it comes up and I don't pretend. Sometimes I even joke about it.

Looking back, I was way more worried about taking the medication than I let on. Not anymore. Indeed I am rather enjoying it. A sense of calm and order has returned to my head and I can do things, see things. Without struggle. I know there's lots of things that have to be sorted out but this last week I've wondered if I'm going through some euphoric drug honeymoon. Perhaps, maybe. I was talking with my sister about it yesterday and she thought maybe this is how I'm meant to feel, meant to see, once my brain untangled. I can see now that the black cloud I was living in was affecting my vision very directly. Now that it's lifted, everything appears so bright. Which of course it really is, because we're at the end of a hot Australian summer and the light can be blinding.

One of the things I've been considering is how vision might affect my mood. My drug of choice in the bad old days was pot. I was drawn to the way I could always return to the same head space, how it made narrative come alive in my head and how it made me see the world in brighter colours and more intricate detail. When I stopped smoking daily, I worried that I might never be able to see like that again. Of course, the seeing came back. And the clear head is such a bonus. So why did I think I needed a drug to summon something that was inside me all along? When I'm depressed, the good kind of seeing becomes harder and harder to reach until it goes away altogether. And it's horrible. So you use what's to hand, what seems to work at the time. And tell yourself that it's OK. All those wasted years watching the pretty patterns..

I asked the doctor about it today and she said that it was a good sign that I felt the world was bright again. So here's the question. Is it the medication that have made me see again? Or the absence of blackness? It is very hard to see in the dark, that much is obvious. But do I feel less dark because I can see again? 

Little Fluffy

Little Fluffy is bunny number three in the series. There's something to be said for making the same pattern a number of times. The first didn't turn out quite as imagined. I'm pretty happy with how number two turned out, and he's patiently waiting to go to his new home. Number three, Little Fluffy, had a whole new set of problems in the making, possibly to do with trying to sew fur in the extreme heat. Nonetheless I'm pleased with how she's turned out and I think Grace will be too. Little Fluffy is especially for her.

It's funny but when I was first thinking about the recycled Whiplash, my mind drew a blank. I was thinking, oh a rag rug would be good for this but rag rugs are definitely for long winter nights crocheting in front of the telly. Not for days on end where the temperature doesn't drop much below 30C even at night. (I know, I should really stop complaining about the heat....) Then I thought of the bunnies. And about how I'm already so in the mindset of re-using fabric and materials that I forget that I'm doing it. I use recycled material partly because I am really cheap and partly because these are the materials that interest me in the first place.

Little Fluffy's body is made from an old single bed woollen underlay, parts of which have seen better days. All the bits around the edge are fine though. So far this cast off has been used to make an insert for Grace's stroller and three bunnies. An old pillow cover of similar material has been used for doll hair. I can see myself continuing to find new uses for this stuff. It's such a great material to work with, easy to sew as long as you trim the edges and completely machine washable. It also has has a very appealing feel, much nicer in my opinion than most toy fur.

The feel of the material is something that I've been thinking about alot. I wanted to use fabrics that Grace likes to touch for comfort. So I included a patch of rough blanket on the stomach and some cotton for the ear linings. The cotton is part of an old ladies shirt that my mum made into a dress for Grace last year. It's Liberty lawn, one of my favourite cottons in the whole world and already soft from many washes.  The only new material used was the sewing cotton and embroidery thread, but they were from my stash and formed a minor part of the project. Which leads me to the stuffing.

Up to now, I've been using poly stuffing, because that's what I have to use up and it washes well. However it occurred to me that a stuffing could be made from all those tiny scaps that usually get thrown away and from clothes too scaffy for the opshop. So I cut these bits and pieces up as fine as I could. This is what little fluffy is stuffed with and it worked well. A little firmer than the polyfill but I think that's a good thing. So I might keep a bag of this on the go. I remember when my Mum used make toys back in the seventies, she used to buy bales of stuffing that may well have been made from fabric waste. Much finer than this, but the same idea. I wonder if anyone still makes it. It seems a great way of using everything up. I love using everything up.

There's nothing very weird about this waste, so it would have to go in category one for the normal use of pre-used materials. Loved making the bunnies, but I can't imagine making ten of them so I'm not putting my hand up for the Reform School prize. And even if I was interested in selling them, I'd do it locally as I'm thinking it wouldn't be very environmentally sensible to send them half way around the world.


Consulting the terribly shallow oracle of the interweb

It's very hot. Very hot. I've been watching a climate disaster movie on telly, the one where the earth descends into an ice age over the course of a week. The young men searching for medicine to save the damsel with scepticemia were about to be attacked by wolves that escaped from the zoo so I just had to stop watching. I'm sure it had a happy ending. Of sorts. Anyway, onto the meme.

I got this meme from Sara and it's strangely irresitible. Well, I couldn't wait to do it. (Actually I first did it earlier this week when I read Sara's, but memes are for Friday nights here) It's super easy, no thinking of favourites or opinions. Which is what you need when it's nearly midnight and still in the 30s. What you do, is google "your first name" needs. Eg Janet needs. So according to google, the first ten things (with original spelling and punctuation) that Janet needs are:
  1. 500 more tiles!!! So that you don't waste your time making a beautiful tile only to find out it can't be used.... (yes really, this was first)
  2. our help
  3. access to my...
  4. to be terminated on a nearby JANET backbone node to avoid complications (what the?)
  5. to realise that she cannot compare to BEYONCE (the first Janet Jackson reference)
  6. to stop being so proud (second Janet Jackson reference)
  7. another cat
  8. to raise the bar (the third)
  9. to relize that ever thing comes to a end (the fourth and my favourite, on reflection)
  10. to be micro managed
So yes indeedy, the somewhat shallow oracle of the interweb knows what I need. Hmm, another cat?

Is anyone else going to do this? Go on, you know you want to.

Yesterday morning

Yesterday morning before a late breakfast. Sitting under the vine. Talking with Grace. G working in the shed. Patches of the Virginia Creeper vine around the tree are dying but it still looks pretty good on the whole. Actually lots of the garden, especially my tomatoes and zinnias, looks sick. Tomato wilt? Do zinnias get tomato wilt? Or is it the grey water from Grace's bath? Which I thought would be OK given the miniscule amount of soap in it. Or just not enough water? Or something else altogether? Mostly the Virgina Creeper is still going strong. As are the geraniums, heliotrope and sages. A green resting place for the eyes. Summer gardens need plants that stay green when all else shrivels.

And my favourite orange poppy, which the other gardener mum in my mother's group told me is a Welsh Poppy. I've never had them flower all through summer before, but I've been cutting the seed heads off and every so often get a flush of new blooms. They don't last long in the heat. Just a couple of hours in the morning. Which is really all you need.

Art therapy

So as is often the case on a Tuesday, Mum came over to spend time with me and Grace. As Grace is making the transition to just one nap in the afternoon we had lots of time to sit and sew. We haven't done that for a while, summer not being the best time for hanging around the sun room. I've cleared up some of the mending and odd projects that have been hanging around my sewing space, so I felt reasonably calm about tackling the current for pleasure project. I know it would be sensible to make a couple of new summer outfits for me and Grace but frankly, at the moment I don't really care if we dress in rags. Quite freeing actually.

I've been working on a new look face for my bunnies. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out (photos in a day or two). Anyway as I was battling the tangle that is my embroidery cottons, Mum told me about how her mother used to make cardboard bobbins out of the lovely cardboard that used to come with new stockings. I don't think I've worn stockings since my twenties (eew, I hate them, yuck) so I cast around for some other cardboard, ripping the side off the beer box. And spent another hour or so winding my cottons. I am so pleased, it makes me feel all sort of crafty and organised. Mum started on a new jumper for Grace, even though I think it's way to hot to knit.

Grace joined us after her nap and was most pleased to wake up and find Nana still there. She played quite happily with her books, bits of cardboard and pieces of cotton. Until Tony the cat turned up and there was a bit of a scuffle over the washing basket. He hightailed it back outside. Whereupon Grace amused herself with pulling the plug out of the sewing machine. Which I guess is why I don't get to sew much at the moment.

This is a little sneak preview of work in progress. Creepy huh?

I think in this state he looks quite evil. Perhaps I am being a little over sensitive. Anyway, he no longer looks like this. I don't think I could bear to leave a bunny in this state. Grace has been trying to get her paws on him ever since I turned him right way out, but I think this bunny may have another home to go to. There's yet another bunny, still to be assembled, that Grace can add to her growing collection of cuddly critters.

All in all, a pleasant afternoon.  And despite the weather forecast, it rained. Lovely big wet thundery rain with some hail. Grace ran about outside saying, wain, wain. Yes sweetie, that's rain. And we just love it.

Black dog

It isn't sadness.
It isn't grief.
It isn't anger.
It isn't even unhappiness with my life.

One or more of these things may also be present, but my black dog of depression is something else all together. I've felt all these things and yet not been depressed. Even over time. And these days, I'm definitely old enough to know the difference. As an eight year old, I used to slump over the back of the couch and look out the window, into the carport and front garden and just feel grey and all wrong. I didn't know this passing feeling had a name but I wonder now if I learnt it from my mother. My mother who wore her blue dressing gown all winter and smelt of cigarettes and despair. She's fine now. I am not.

Nonetheless, I have to fight it. Other times extra attention to lifestyle have done it, you know enough sleep, cleaning the house, exercise, getting busy, new projects, more time with friends, healthy food and reframing my thoughts using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or Rational Emotive Therapy. Along with going to the doctor and between sessions talking to the therapist in my head. This isn't one of those times. In the past when I was like this, I would have self medicated one way or another. I've left that life behind me now and that's a good thing when you're the mother of a small child. Probably it's a good thing anyway.

When I first received proper treatment for my moods in the mid nineties, I thought I may have bought it on myself. Too many party drugs, too many bongs. Not enough sensible living or healthy relationships. A therapist helped me to remember the eight year old girl, to look at the woman I've become and to see that it's more mysterious than that. Perhaps a mixture of genes and learned behaviour, a cumulation of life experiences, maybe some dodgy brain chemistry. Not helped by my past responses, but not caused by them either.

So it's medication time. I think it's beginning to work. There's a lot of people who seem to be against medication for depression. And for mild to moderate depression, I'd agree. Looking at me one may well think that I am just not sick enough to justify it. But as my doctor says, I'm a great actor and can hold it together in almost any situation until I absolutely can't. And if I let it go that far, it's really, really hard to come back from. I definitely want to come back, you bet I do. So I'm holding onto that thought.

There were signs over the last few weeks that this was one of those times when I wouldn't be able to drag myself out of it. Anyone who has been around this block more than once or twice themselves will most likely know what I'm talking about. One of my signs is that I'm prepared to consider medication as an option, for at least six months. Which is a long time of feeling blurry and way too level. Of wondering whether my feelings are real. Worrying about whether I am allowing myself to be altered on some deeper level, or setting myself up for an even bigger fall. Feeling guilty that I couldn't stop it happening this time, feeling like a failure because I'm not happy or positive. Resenting feeling that I should be. Sometimes thinking that it's a modern kind of wrong to think that you can fix yourself by taking half a pill everyday. And in a funny way, I'll kind of miss my mood swings and even the black dog himself, in his milder manifestations, that is.

Still, medication and talking therapy will mean that I can address some of the issues in my life that are all out of whack. More than one person has said that I seem to internalise alot of what is going on around me and take it on in a way that manifests as depression. This was meant in a kindly way and I take absolutely no offence, but there's some chicken and egg going on here. Depressed people are not easy to live with at home. This is not the first time I've acted badly, withdrawn or been unkind or erratic with the people I love most. Hopefully I've caught it early enough and that as I begin to act in a more positive way (like how I like to think I really am), things will once more spiral upwards.

I'm trying not to write about this black dog all the time. Which is hard because I love writing here, more than I can say really. And right now this old black dog sits on top of everything. Just made for black and white, you could say. Anyhow, for next week I have in mind something a bit cheerier. See more people in black and white here.

B B B Bag

Ever since I did that meme, my head has been filled with Bs. And I never mentioned bags, which are a bloody big thing in our house. Grace is seriously into bags which she fills and unfills. She often has one hanging from her neck, while pushing her shopping trolley full of stuff up and down the garden. I quite like a bag myself, especially old bags from the oppy, even if they're not very practical. But my favourite is the scrabble bag, and I thought I might share a couple of pictures.

I've had this bag for a long, long time and don't even remember seeing it in the opshop or the thrill of the purchase. It's one of those possessions that I've come to love over time and if I remember rightly, it was pressed into service as a scrabble bag pretty early on and seems purpose made for that function. It has a loop closure that closes very firmly and the bobbles on the end of the cord are beautifully worked. There are some minor rough edges in the construction, but it was obviously made with skill and care. Having a use makes me enjoy the beauty and design of the bag even more, I think.

Not beer, bongs and black sabbath but beautiful things I like beginning with "B"

Earlier this week Kerryn wrote a marvellous list of things she likes that begin with "M". She reached into her scrabble bag and presented me with the letter "B". At first I had a little difficulty, not finding much to like about anything, so I asked G and he came up with the three things in the title. He was joking, at least I hope he's joking, because I'm way too old for that sort of lifestyle these days.

So without further ado, ten things I like beginning with "B"

First cab off the rank would have to be feeling somewhat Better. Thank goodness. There have been some slightly euphoric moments even. Perhaps somewhat akin to the feeling one might get if one stopped bashing their head against the proverbial brick wall. And then your head stops hurting, and surprise, surprise, it feels mighty fine. So I've stopped being such a meany, slept heaps, looked at the sunshine without scowling, done some sewing and stuff. I am so responsive to modern anti-depressants, it's almost scary. (And thank you too, for your lovely comments and well wishes. Much appreciated.)

Baking. I really like baking, especially if it involves butter and sugar. There's a raspberry butter cake in the oven right this moment. A vanilla aroma is wafting down the hallway so I just went to check and I think it will be a beauty. To be iced with pink rosewater icing and served with cream and fresh raspberries. We're celebrating my Mum's and sister Betty's birthdays with a family lunch tomorrow.

Baskets. I have many cane baskets and find them very hard to resist at the oppy. In particular the old stlye with the colored handles. However, my favourite basket is my lovely old washing basket. I think it was my paternal grandfathers and came to me after he died, along with my dirty clothes basket. It has a very satisfying creak as I heave it around. And when it's empty, it casts a lovely shadow in the afternoon light.

Bob Dylan. This evening G was playing Bringing It All Back Home as Grace was having her dinner. I was in the back room cutting out some bunnies... We were arguing lightheartedly about which is the best song. I'm pretty fond of Love Minus Zero/No Limit, which G thinks is a bit of a girlie choice. I can't remember his favourite. He reckons that Blonde on Blonde is Dylan's best album, as does the middle aged rock magazine. I prefer John Wesley Harding myself. Whatever, it's all good.

Babies. I never totally got how great babies are until I had Grace. Now I go all misty eyed at the sight of a newborn in a pram and if I get to hold one, well clucky clucky. I know they're lots of work and all that, but there's something so intensely special meeting a new little human at the beginning of their journey. All that pure energy. My mum says that she still sees me as her baby, which I guess I kind of understand now.

Black and white Tony cats. He's sitting at my feet on a discarded magazine. Just being Tony. Later he'll move into our bedroom to sleep all curled up on the fluffy seventies boudoir chair left to me by a friend who went overseas ten years ago. He gets the chair all dirty. I don't think she'll be back for her chair somehow and I certainly don't mind, he's good company is our Tony.

Beetroot. I'm starting to get the hang of growing beetroot. Not that they're all that difficult, they sprout easily from seed in the seed box, transplant easily and seem to withstand dryness and neglect. They wilt somewhat in the heat but come back to life once the sun goes down. I think they'll be sweeter and juicier over winter, being a bit dry for salads at this point. Even so, I've been making beetroot risotto fairly frequently. And the leaves are good in salad. An all round winner in the garden.

The bright colours and still beauty of the garden at dusk. Something happens with the light and everything intensifies. It's always been my favourite time to mosey around, see what's doing what, pick some herbs for dinner, smell the wafting of the heliotrope. I've tried to capture it in pictures but there's never enough light. This is one I played around with in photoshop elements. It almost captures what I mean.

Books. I love books. Books about gardening, about craft and sewing, about obscure crafts that I may never try. Books about housekeeping and having babies, or about better ways the world could be. Novels, fantasy, science fiction, history, romance, adventure, true life. Set here or somewhere a long way away. Anywhere really. Books about insects and camping, about history or about making the future a better place. Books about how to change the way you think or how to do something you've never tried before. Cookbooks. Old books, new books. Kids books. Picture books, books filled with words. Lots of books. Yep, I like books.

Bread. Bread is good, especially nice bread, like for example the Natural Tucker casalinga. Or the ciabatta from the green grocer. Or wholemeal hair shirt bread. Making bread is pretty good too, especially flatbead on the barbeque. We must do that again soon. It's been too long.

So ten things I like beginning with B. That wasn't so hard. I didn't mention bottlebrush, bog sage, beer, beans, buses, balmy evenings in the backyard, bargains, the mighty Blues, beats (as in dance music), silver birch trees, biscuits, bias binding, bonza, brown eyes, teddy bears or balderdash. Or blogging. As well I might have.

So, if you wish to play along, leave me a comment saying that you'd like a letter and I'll reply in the comment section with one from my scrabble bag. Or not, it could be that everyone in blogland has already done this one?

The calm bit in the middle

I was going to title this post; bunny was made by a mad woman, but it would be an untruth of sorts. As for some strange reason, making this little bunny was an island of calm in what has been a fairly tempestous few days. All in all, things have been a little better, once I decided that they weren't OK and made the doctors appointment. Work was calmer than usual, there was no fighting at home. Just a sense of bleakness and resignation that I couldn't shake as I went about my pared down routine. Until Sunday morning, which found my lying on the uncomfortable couch in the study trying to have a little cry while Grace alternated between trying to tickle me (charming) and trying to insert all her poking, prodding fingers up my nose and into my eye sockets (not at all charming). Thankfully G peeled her off me and took her to play outside.

Later that day, realising that I was going to visit my cousin and her new baby in hospital on Monday morning and that was tomorrow and I had no baby gift, I decided to pull out the sewing machine and have a crack at a bunny I've been thinking about for a while. There's a few things I'll change next time, and as usual there's somewhat of a gap between what I had in mind and what actually eventuated. What I am most pleased with though, is how the fabric sewed up. Bunny's made from washable wool underblanket and as I clipped the fibres before sewing, I do believe I may have been channelling Tonia Todman, or at least the memory of watching her sew fur on telly sometime in the early nineties. I'm also pretty pleased with the rabbit ears which are lined with washed silk. The face is a piece of old blanket.
My idea was to combine some of the fabrics that I know Grace likes to touch for comfort. Silk, fur and rough blanket. Next time though, I think I might sew a patch of blanket onto the belly and sew the face (with smaller rounder eyes) directly onto the fur, thereby avoiding the freaky raver/alien look. Which two people have commented on so far. However one of those people immediately held bunny to his chest and stroked bunny's furry back. As did my cousin, who was stoked to receive a handmade gift. I got to hold her gorgeous little baby girl for a good long snuggle and I do believe I may become one of those batty old ladies that just lurve a newborn. And cluck endlessly.

After the hospital I had a couple of hours to kill before seeing my doctor. And as it was 38C I decided to walk over to Fitzroy for a spot of bather shopping. My new form of self flagellation. The only pair that fit well had very dubious and somewhat crunchy padding in the bosom area. Which I was not prepared to pick out. So the hunt continues, with only online options remaining. Or having another crack at making some. Arrgh.

I was quite early for my appointment and it was a relief to sit in the air-conditioned waiting area and read the trashy magazines. As it turns out, the appointment was timely. My doctor is of the opinion that I am quite unwell and that although the stresses in my life could have been a catalyst for what has occurred, it has become something else altogether. And may have happened anyway. Even if life had been perfect. Possibly the down from the up, which I thought I may have escaped, it's been such a long time between. So now we have drugs. And a treatment plan which will involve talking therapy. It was somewhat of a relief to let it all out and to make a plan. I cried. She handed me tissues and the twee aspect of her demeanour that I have found intensely irritating in the past was strangely comforting. This is the first time I've had a major mental health issue and have been treated by a doctor (psychiatrist) who already knows my history and issues. Who already knows me. What a difference that makes.

The doctor also discussed taking some time off work, which I poo pooed at first, because work takes me away from everything and I kind of think it's a bit pathetic not to be able to turn up for two days. However the drugs did not make me drowsy as expected, so I spent last night grinding my teeth, lying awake, listening to my heart beat, then sleeping fitfully and dreaming that I had influenza. I awoke feeling that I had been at earthcore for three days straight with nothing but a disco nap. Not a totally terrible feeling, but not what we were aiming for. And possibly not conducive to making sensible decisions at work. So we had another chat on the phone today and I'm going to try taking the pills in the morning and have this week off work, giving me a nice stretch of time to become adjusted. Not so much pressure.

I expect that there may be some odd or dark things that come from my head over the next week or so. It's possible I could just go quiet for a while. Or not. We'll just take it as it comes.

The television meme

Tonight's meme came from The View from Elsewhere and she made it up, which greatly impresses me. Telly is a subject close to my heart, so here goes

1. Earliest remembered television
Astro Boy, from when I was about four. It was at a neighbours house because we didn't have one at that point. The next telly that made an impact on me was watching the moon landing sitting on the floor looking up at the TV attached high on the wall of the preps classroom. I don't think I was all that impressed by it either.

2. TV series you would want on a desert island
I'm not sure I'd be watching telly on a desert island. Wouldn't I be fishing or looking for food or building a raft or something? But if there was a boredom factor and we had electricity etc, I would want something really long running and either a) convoluted like Twin Peaks with the young and delightful Kyle MacLachlan, oh still my beating heart or b) really inane like Neighbours (if G was there, Neighbours would be a good choice because then he wouldn't be moaning about missing it) or c) Star Trek, for solidarity, because being marooned would be like being adrift like they were in Voyager maybe?

3. TV that made you laugh
Recently, The Ronnie Johns Half Hour which G made me watch. I kind of hated it because it is just so wrong, but at the same time I had tears running down my face. And The Wedge, especially the pokie ladies, the teacher and the pyscho school girl. Once again just so wrong. Oh and Kath and Kim, of course because that's where I come from. Noice.

In times gone by, The Goodies, the Young Ones and Fawlty Towers,

4. TV that made you cry
The news. Sometimes frequently. Bad things that happen to babies or children, refugees, war and bushfires. All these things have been known to make me cry.

5. TV crap that you enjoy
I have to admit to really enjoying reality TV, which G hates, especially Big Brother because it clashes with the news and he reckons that none of the people on it are very likeable. Which is not the point. Survivor, not all series, some catch some don't but I became fanatical about the the Australian one set on the Eyre peninsula. Idol. We both enjoy a talent quest and I think it makes for perfect Sunday evening viewing, especially in the middle bit before all the interesting contestants have been voted off. I've also been watching Wife Swap USA on Saturday nights which is pizza night. I'm not sure about this one, I think it may be a short lived fascination.

6. TV that irritates you
I added this question in myself so I could mention Smallville which I find intensely irritating. G lurves this program, so it has become non-negotiable. There's something about the contant meaningfullness of the narrative which sets my teeth on edge. The characters are forever saying things like, "the truth is..." or having a meaningful moment after some great crisis, like every five minutes. I know it's based on a comic book but it's all so high school intense, with no lighter moments or changes of pace to create tension. Urgh.

7. TV that you'll never forget
I can't remember. Oh I know, Prisoner which was mandatory viewing when I was in boarding school. Can you sing along to these words? "On the inside the sun still shines, And the rain falls down, But the sun and rain are prisoners too, When the mornin' comes around..."

8. Favourite TV adaption
I love a good telly drama but for the life of me can't remember. I'll come back and add it in if I do.

I know that I'd love someone to do a really femmo version of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series. They could film the mountainous bits in New Zealand and the Drytown bits in Central Australia. It could be a cult hit.

9. Favourite nerdish program
The new Doctor Who. I want it back on telly now. Although maybe I should get it on DVD because I'm sure it would bear watching repeatly. Not just because it is beautiful to look at, but because I'm sure there are many plot twists and subtexts I missed the first time around.

10. One TV program that you're currently watching
Jamie Oliver's new series. All about cooking from his garden, complete with garden staff at his spread in the country somewhere. And he uses shabby chic mixing bowls with reall chips. Not very hygenic but total swoon material. The food looks pretty good too, eventhough G complains everytime he sees meat being prepared that it's a gore fest (I'm not vego, only G is) and he thinks Janie O is somewhat naff. This is my tradeoff for that Smallville rubbish.

11. One TV series that you been meaning to watch
There's nothing on the radar at the moment. Although I wouldn't mind getting the Sopranos or Six Feet Under on DVD because they kind of passed me by. On too late or some such.

12. Now tag five people
I'm not tagging anyone. If you'd like to do this meme, please do. I've even left the questions in a block below so it's easy to cut and paste them because that's the bit about meming that I don't like, transcribing the questions.


Earliest remembered television
TV series you would want on a desert island
TV that made you laugh
TV that made you cry
TV crap that you enjoy
TV that irritates you
TV that you'll never forget
Favourite TV adaption
Favourite nerdish program
One TV program that you're currently watching
One TV serieds that you been meaning to watch
Now tag five people

The baby shop

I've been putting it off, but today seemed as a good a day as any for a visit to the baby shop. Part of a chain that opened a megastore at Highpoint, affectionately referred to by some of the mothers at mother's group as Buntings. Or not. We've had some not so great experiences there. Like the time I slapped G on the face (I was growing a pyschosis at the time) or the occasion a sales assistant practically called me a bad parent because I wanted a certain type of car seat which she assured me was unsuitable for a six month child. Which it wasn't. However today's visit was quite pleasant. We investigated and purchased one of the required potty items, Grace played on all the toys and was nice to the other children, G visited supercheap auto and bought a builders square that's more square than the one he's been using and I got to take pictures in the carpark.

I find the two images above quite calming and on previous visits have thought that I'd like to take the photos but didn't because I was either in a huff, didn't have my camera with me or was with my mum. Not that she'd mind, but Gerard totally gets that I'd want to. Encourages it even. The picture below, I find a little disturbing for some reason. Grace however, sees it and her eyes light up, Bubba, bubba. We didn't even bother taking the stroller and she walked in holding my hand, greeting each new baby. She's especially interested in smaller babies, even better if she gets one to smile at her.
So we arrived home with a bright red potty, which I probably could have got at Kmart. Grace thinks it makes great headwear but I am far to uptight to agree with her. It's going to live outside in the big persons toilet and I think that given that she's not yet two, she's far too young to be trained. However at home (thankfully not when we're out) she keeps removing her nappies before she wets them and seems to know when she's going to poo. We're also going to get one of those small seats for the big toilet, which she's absolutely fascinated by. Gone are the days when anyone gets any sort of peace in there without locking the door. Not that I'd call trying do what one does, with a toddler howling outside and trying to crawl in under the door, peace. Anyway, it's all sort of snuck up on us. I thought this wouldn't even begin to be an issue until well into her third year. Having absolutely no experience in this area, I'm thinking that at this age maybe we just tell her what it's for and see what happens?