christmas day 2010

We arose at a leisurely seven o'clock and ate breakfast together in the kitchen before adjourning to the lounge for presents. This seems to have become a tradition, even Grace accepts that we have breakfast before presents. Everyone seemed pleased with their loot. Grace got a big box of lego, a heart shaped box set covered in sparkles, dvds galore and sundry pieces of tat from father christmas. The bindis in particular were a big hit. Along with the girlie books of stickers he must have got from the $2 shop near Preston market.

gerard and grace doing the presents on christmas morning

I gave G a cool rock book that he has already read (damn) and Grace and I got cd/dvd that wasn't the one he really wanted because that one isn't out on dvd yet except as a zillion cd/dvd box set for more than I thought was reasonable. Maybe I should have, but oh well. I on the other hand totally scored with one of the books that I have been looking at wistfully but probably wouldn't buy myself. Very exciting. Did you know that according to this book, all eucalyptus indigenous to the Melbourne area have cream to white flowers? Except that another book I have on loan, plants of the Merri Merri says that the variety I have planted can have pink flowers. Hmm, a thought that was with me all day and prompted a few discussions about planting indigenous gardens and whether it was tokenistic, futile or a good thing to do in a latte sipping way. Or indeed a plant based form of racism. We obviously over think things a bit, my family.


Before heading to my dad's for lunch G did a load of washing and I dipped some peppermint flavoured sugar in chocolate and we gathered up yet more loot and loaded up the car. On the way I couldn't help noticing all the agapanthas in flower in the dividing strip in Heidleberg. All I could think was weeds, pretty weeds. Sadly there are plants I like to grow in the garden that are also classed as weeds, so not a great thing to be thinking about when trying to be merry.

nina and dad at front door

Luckily it was very jolly at dad's. We mingled and snacked on all sorts of tasty things before feasting on ham and chicken (our family doesn't really like turkey) with vegetables and gravy followed by mum's pudding with spicy brandy sauce and lashings of cream. Yum. Yum. Then there was presents and once again the children scored. It was less crazy than last year and the toys have been much enjoyed. Grace loves her Barbie with the horse and her flipper set, or as she calls them, the duck feet . There was lots of sugar around and lots of excited children who crashed and ended up on the big cream couch watching telly.

gerard and cam

By the time we got home, Grace was asleep in the car covered in chocolate. She'd had a ham sandwich before we left so there was no need for dinner.  It was awesome having my sister Betty, Cam and the girls around. Felt like a much more natural Christmas to me. It was also awesome having Dad and Nina host Christmas and pretty much do everything. Thanks heaps!


Next year it would be nice to: Get the shopping, cleaning and making completed before the week before Christmas so there was more time for visiting, baking and gentle domesticity, have a list of gifts worked out earlier so I don't panic at the end, loosen up a bit and realise that there will always be enough. Our needs are pretty simple really and I should avoid getting love and care confused with stuff.

Other great things about Christmas this year: Christmas eve in the park with neighbours and guitars in the slowing light, having all the presents wrapped and ready to go before Christmas eve, Boxing day. How I love boxing day. I spent the whole day in my pyjamas playing with Grace's lego. Excellent.

How was your Christmas? I have loved reading and peeking into some other family Christmases this year. So thank you for that.

merry, merry and all that

Hi, there's a little moment of calm here while G and Grace have popped up to the shops for some last minute bits and pieces. Finally, I feel a bit organised. After a frenzied dash to norflands yesterday feeling panicky that I didn't have everything and some last minute sewing, the gifts are done. And I think they've all turned out pretty well.

star shadow

christmas elf

So yeah, my anxiety about stuff not being enough probably prompted my dash to the shops, but I'm cutting myself some slack here. I'm a tightarse most of the year and going just a little over my budget is OK. Last night I sat up with a movie and wrapped, so most of that is ready. I'm going to start making dinner soon, it's nearly 11.00am but we're planning on a very early dinner of nori rolls and chicken drummettes tonight, followed by a play in the park. With the cousins! Grace is so excited to be taking the cousins to dinner in the park to see her friends.

Yikes, they're back. OK must go. Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating, and all the best to those who aren't. See you all on the other side. xoxJ

they're here

We went and had dinner with my sister Betty and her family at mum's tonight. Fish and chips. Gosh, how the girls have grown since we saw them in August. Grace was very excited but hesitated and sat on my knee for a few moments. Then they were off. Racing around and being cousins. Grace talks about Ruby-Lee and Maeve and them being her cousins very regularly. More than I'd expected considering that we really don't do a whole heap of phone contact in between visits. Ruby-Lee apparently talks about Grace a lot too. They obviously feel something about their relationship that transcends distance. Which thrills me in a way that's hard to explain.

ruby-lee, nana and grace

I liked catching up too. It feels like the holidays have begun properly now. I've had a little resurgence of Christmas anxiety and I've spent two days cleaning the house. It was pretty dirty and unpleasant. I have this fantasy of a minibus of camp elves arriving with brushes, brooms and magic cleaning potions and totally sparkle cleaning the house while I relax with a coffee and a biscuit, but well that wouldn't get it done so I just got busy. We now have clean, but slightly streaky windows and clean sheets. All the main shelves have been dusted and de cluttered. The child's room has been rescued from the layers of end of term detritus and general slack arsed, let's just clear a pathway to her bed approach to cleaning.Three boxes of magazines and things we no longer need went back to the opshop. Some of the cupboards have been sorted, my sewing area is tidy, spider webs have been knocked down and the front porch hosed out.


I've done a big supermarket shop. The garden could do with some work, there's manure and mulch to spread, weeds to pull and seedlings to thin. However G resowed some lawn a while ago and has been cutting the grass nearly every second day this month and it's the best it's ever been. And we've tidied up the little outside sitting area. So yeah, I think we can call it done. Especially as I do still have some gifts to make and I guess given that it's only two days until the big one. I hadn't planned on leaving it to the last minute so I'd better get cracking with that. And some baking, if you can call making white christmas baking.  And hopefully we'll see the cousins again tomorrow or the day after. Then of course there will be the big, but hopefully fairly relaxed Christmas followed by a boxing day of extreme idleness. In a lovely clean house.

reasons to be cheerful - part one

I'm on holidays! Until the new year! Breathe out. Still a bit tired, but nothing some rest and relaxation won't fix.

My sister and her family are coming home for Christmas. The excitement countdown has begun.

Grace bought home her end of year report on Tuesday. We are so pleased and proud of her. Not only is she reading, writing, speaking and listening at a high level, but she scored an excellent for effort and class behavior. Her other results are great too. She might be one of the youngest in her class but she's certainly right into school.


And talking about reading, how cool is it watching your child grow into an independent reader? One night Gerard is reading The Enchanted Forest aloud to Grace. The next night she reads me a good few paragraphs first. Mostly Gerard reads and Grace and I listen. Oh, and how I'm enjoying going visiting up the Faraway tree again. Except for Dame Slap.

Christmas chalk drawings on the community art wall this morning. How I love that this art wall has become part of the scene.


I'm picking berries from the bushes I planted winter before last. Sure, they are threatening to take over the garden, but I think if I tip prune them and spread some manure around, we might get a couple of punnets every couple of days for a while. Yum.

I am thinking of going to Savers and Rathdowne Remnants tomorrow. Grace might come too.  Just because.
Christmas shopping pretty much done. Lots of easy craft and some cooking left to do. Nothing too hard. Next week should be pretty cruisey.

Gerard brought the calendars home today - oh my. I didn't think I had taken enough calendar worthy pictures this year and I always grumble inside about the cost of getting them printed. But once again, I'm very happy. Love the really simple layout and quality of the Michaels' calendar. This is the fourth year (?) I've done them and they feel a bit like a tradition.

since when did we start saying happy holidays?

Dinner in the park in spite of the weather. Actually a fair bit of time at the neighbour's place with lots of kids waiting for a gap in the weather, but it was good to see the kids in gumboots racing around the park in the long wet green grass. At the edges of the park, the grass is so long in places that the kids could hide in there.

I can hear bats outside. How I love watching them glide and swoop across the sky.

Hear Ian Dury and the Blockheads here.

christmas shopping

Today I spent all day shopping and running errands and I'm beat, but pleased it's done. Very. All that remains is to take Grace on an expedition to buy a present for Daddy - she's very keen on this, we'll go early and keep it short. I think she likes the bus trip most of all. As do I. Today I went in to town straight after drop off, picked up my glasses, got my hair cut by a young woman who asked me if I was married to my "partner" and seemed genuinely shocked I wasn't, ordered the calendars, picked up some art supplies and some gifts. Then after lunch I caught the bus to Northland, which was a lovely little journey through pockets of Melbourne I haven't really seen before. Norfland was surprisingly unchaotic and I braved toys r us and target to find the last items on my list.

*bourke st mall
It was really a pretty good day to go shopping. Beautiful mild weather, not too many people about and not too much frenzy. Although I did find myself at the end wanting to buy just one more thing. Sometimes when I give myself permission to shop, I start enjoying it and find it hard to stop. But stop I did and that's it for me. The rest is baking and easy sewing. And tonight, as I have already done all my ironing ready for work tomorrow I am just going to sit and knit before going to bed at a reasonable time.

Oh, and the haircut, it's a bit strange. I have heathen hair. Obviously..

spur of the moment kitchen table craft frenzy

This afternoon Grace and I went to a neighbourhood Christmas party in the rain. Grace was a little subdued after an incident with the Christmas tree this morning and a wobbly tooth that's freaking her out (perhaps because of her dental trauma after the scooter accident). When it started to rain a bit, she was keen to go home and on the way we collected some bark from the park and some paperbark from a street tree. All of a sudden it had come to me how I was going to make a tree on the Christmas tree stand G made for me last year.

I made a glorious mess. Met some spiders. Worked with scissors and a knife. Constructed a star out of fabric and beads from the stash, stiffened with one of my favourite craft materials, beer box cardboard. And t-da!

bark tree

We now have three trees on our mantel and the one in the corner. Making the bark tree was great fun. Better than making biscuits for the teacher or cleaning out the plastics cupboard. The biscuits can be made after work one night. I feel much more in the spirit of things now. Christmas shopping and errands day by myself tomorrow. It involves a detailed list and a new bus ride.Strangely, I find that terribly exciting.

goodbye grinch

Yep. The grinch has been with me and I'm thinking that if I write some of it down, name it, own it, then maybe I can move on and enjoy myself in the lead up to Christmas. Please feel free to skip this if you've moved past this stage in your preparation for the Christmas. I'm planning to post good things after this.

On Friday morning I had quite a detailed session with my shrink. She said that despite some issues at work and home, I seemed fine. And I said, yes it does look that way, but that's not how I really feel. There have been days when I have struggled to hold it together. Some awful low patches and secret tears. My actor is working really hard and she is very tired and getting a bit shaky. Oh, I am a good deceiver. Anyway, sitting outside last night watching the clouds in the night sky, I came to the conclusion that ever since my manic episode in 2007, Christmas has had an edge for me (and my little family) that is hard to shake. It's like each December, just as the weather heats up, issues from our respective families come out to mingle, play dirty and we both act like crap. I'm calling it the Recurrent Family Christmas Shit Cycle (RFCSC).

spider friend

Our culture surrounds us with messages that Christmas is fun a time of joy and giving, all pretty and sparkly and beguiling. Despite clear evidence to the contrary. Oh sure, some magazine articles acknowledge the stress of the season, but pretty much the sparkle dominates.  My rational side knows that that it's advertising and cultural compulsion and that really, everyone's Christmas truth is bit different. Some years are great and some not so great. And you can get yourself all in a tizz over making it just so and you still don't have much control over whether it will be one of the good ones. Or whether it will be one of the shockers that puts you off Christmas for a long time. Most likely there will be good bits and bad bits and the best bit is lying on the couch on boxing day watching dvds and eating leftovers. So anyway my control freak just goes into overdrive, I find myself wanting to clean compulsively and I don't sleep well and I'm cranky. Which I feel even more sad and guilty about because there is this little five year old who is all about the excitement. Although Grace did say to me the other day that if I bought her a present she didn't like, she wouldn't like me. Oh, the honesty of children. Anyway, it is only eight years since that we started having Christmases with both my mum and my dad and their respective partners. Obviously thinking about three families, mine, his and ours does me in. That's a lot of RFCS. 

bark and fabric

OK, so on top of the RFCSC, there is work. Each day at work I'm reminded how lucky I am to have a home, a stable family, enough money to live on. Even though by some standards we live on the smell of an oily rag, we really are very lucky and we don't go without. We don't have to decide between paying the bills or buying some Christmas gifts for the child. We have resources and space to make stuff, to generate good things that don't cost very much. I meet lots of people who have a fair degree of anxiety about providing a good Christmas for their kids. The least stressful Christmas at work was the one K Rudd was splashing the cash around. Sure people were cynical and knew the money wouldn't last but it created a whole different vibe.  You would think that a country of such vast mineral wealth would provide a public health care system that looks after the sick. And a state education that was so awesome that hardly anyone went private. What a great leveller of opportunity that could be.You would also think that we could have made some progress in dealing with the housing issue by now. But it is worse than ever. I rang a housing service on behalf of a young family who were dependent on the goodwill of friends and had lived in five temporary places in the last two months. The housing worker didn't laugh, but she might has well have. There is simply nowhere to refer people. My job is meant to be all about social inclusion these days but frankly, I think there are whole sections of our society that get a pretty rough deal. Obviously, shiny happy is not for everyone. 

Oh, and then there is the stuff about Christmas being women's work and responsibility. I got all bitter and twisted about that at beginning of December and cracked the shits. Now I have to admit we are being much more consultative about gifts and how Christmas will work. G is also being helpful with things like getting ready to put the Christmas tree up and giving me a fair amount of space and time to do some of the things I find difficult - like the Christmas Calendar. That's become a tradition of sorts and I do like it when it's done.

Well. Big sigh. That wasn't as bad as I thought. I actually feel better now. Thank you.


when the rain stopped

Sorting through my photos from November and as the thunder roars again, I'm reminded of a spell of lovely weather we had then. It stopped raining for a couple of days and the skies were blue. Everything of course, was verdant and green and kind of sparkly. That's one upside to all this rain, when the sun finally reappears the world glitters.

front yard


leanne's garden


more of leanne's garden

I took these photos on the way to pick up Grace from a birthday party. How I love a drop off party. Anyway, it was the day before the election I think. And I stopped to admire one of my favourite garden in the 'hood. It really is gorgeous. All natives and many plants indigenous to our area. The dianella (not sure of the variety) in the middle picture is one I've just started to notice and hopefully some little self seeded ones I got from another neighbour will flourish in my front yard and bush up the very non native irises. The little blue bell  in the last photo is also a favourite of mine. As is the dicondra. Both are found naturally around here and despite being delicate looking plants appear to very hardy. 

Oh goodness, here comes the rain again! Time for bed I think.

it never rains

This afternoon, sitting at my desk waiting for something, possibly the computer, I glanced out the window and noticed the sky was grey and there were splatters of raindrop on the footpath and thought oh surprise, it's raining. Again. People were rushing through the street. Or not. Because although it's wet, it's warm, not cold. Which is nice. So is the rain I suppose, although there have been garden casualties. Perhaps I need to let the ground dry out a little before I plant again. Which seems counter intuitive, but I did read that if the soil is too wet, the roots can't breathe or some such.


On the weekend there was an awful lot of rain. Again. And because the ground is already saturated it doesn't take much to flood the creek. I went for a look on Sunday and was remembering how a couple of years ago (2008?) we were so excited when the waterfall started running again. On Sunday it was loud and powerful. The ground was soggy underfoot. It was thrilling. The smell of the brown water reminded me of the creek from my childhood. It's a grand thing to have a creek nearby that you can go and check the weather against.

all the rubbish


The confluence was mighty too. Again, I stopped and stared. And tried not to think about the election result. It hadn't been declared then, but the writing was on the wall, as it was from about 7.30pm on election night. A woman with a baby on her back said she feared what might come down the river. All I could see was rubbish trapped up against the bridge which is sinister enough. It felt very apt to be staring at the flood. To be honest, the election made me feel pretty grumpy. Like I said on Facebook, most people I know vote Labour or Green and I get that. I also get that people vote Liberal, or national Party even, I just don't get this many people voting Liberal. From under my northern suburbs rock, I just didn't see it coming. We've been working pretty hard in the lead up to the election on the high school issue and we had great local press and some good coverage in The Age but this result is a game changer. Oh well, I guess we just keep on going. But I was sad. And then there is Christmas. Over the weekend, I realised that there are some things I need to do that involve negotiation and I woke up with a big knot of tension across my shoulders. But I'm going to crack the shits and get organised. Yes I am.

just ten things

Because I haven't blogged in a while. From Felicity.

I like to bite off more than I can chew and then procrastinate about doing it. Urgh.

Cherries. Cherries are my favourite fruit. Even more than peaches, mangoes or raspberries. Grace finds this hard to believe - she can't choose. We've been making decadent tropical fruit salad a lot for Monday night dessert. With mango, passion fuit and pineapple. And blueberries. Yum. I love how Grace goes wild for passion fruit. I think we'll plant one over the shed.

Oh and other food related things that are good now - grilled artichokes, asparagus and caramel ice-cream with bananas and cherries.

grilled artichokes

Oh lord, it's wonder I'm not as big as a house. Oh wait, I am pretty big. So, whatever. Bite me.

My recent eye test revealed that I really can't read the fine print anymore. Apparently crafters are amongst the first to turn up at the optometrists. While I wait for my new occupational glasses, I'm using the cheapies from the chemist when I fixing mistakes in my knitting and it feels like I am in an arty photo with a very shallow depth of field.

Hate how cynical this election has made me. The high school in Coburg issue has caused me to look closer at things like state education funding than ever before. I'm just not sure I can vote Labour any more and besides having nothing to offer me, the Liberals just make my skin crawl. Looks like I might have turned Green. Not sure how I feel about that. Suspect I might need to write about how I feel about political identity at some point. Maybe after the election.

Ebay is my new secret vice. Awesome canvas tent, soft footbed birks that are the most comfortable sandals I have ever worn, even if the top is birkiflor rather than leather (serves me right I should read product descriptions better) and maybe a party dress for Grace (bummer, missed out - but 50 bucks is too much for a second hand dress even if it did have sequins, butterflies and elephants).

Driving makes me unbelievably tense and anxious. So much so that I avoid doing some things because it involves a driving on a freeway or roads I am unfamiliar with (luckily I can cope with the Tullamarine - there is only one point that makes me sweat). Apart from the fact it would make aspects of my life somewhat inconvenient, I could easily become one of those people who doesn't drive. Must get over that one methinks.

the light that night was lovely

I really, really love knitting. More than I expected I would. Long boring bits of knitting. It seems to do something very pleasant to my brain. Kind of like what birkenstocks do for my feet after a day in other shoes.This is interesting to me, because it is as much about the process as the result and as a consequence, I don't mind ripping if I decide to do something different.

Just the other day, it came to me that I could plant fancy dianellas amongst the irisis in the front yard. Sort of like Monet meets the bush. I think I would like that.

the funniest introverts I know

Weekend before last (oh look, I am so behind in my blogging - sigh) was the last craft weekend for the year. And what can I say? I've loved hanging with all the women who've come to our craft weekends this year. We've talked and laughed and made stuff. There's been great food made and eaten, wine drunk, underarm hair compared, much knitting by the fire and far too many late nights. Which I have finally learnt to balance with a sleep in next morning. And despite the sometimes intense nature of a craft weekend, it's been pretty introvert friendly. In a funny outgoing sort of way. I think convivial is the word I would use.

cup weekend craft holiday

This weekend I made some soft toys, sewed a couple of t-shirts I had cut out, made a knitting bag, cut out some yoga pants and more t-shirts and began a knitting project. I always start of with this huge list but it really is much more fun if I relax. And I don't make mistakes. I'm liking my new black t-shirt (the other one has long sleeves and has been stashed for next winter) and Grace and her friend seem to love their girlie bunnies. And, despite being too busy to be a good blogger, I feel quite refreshed and re-vitalised by the whole experience.

So thank you to all those who came with us to Sewjourn this weekend and indeed, to all you lovely women who've come to a craft retreat this year. It's been awesome. Let's do it again shall we?

have you seen my unicorn?

Am wading through photos of craft weekend just past - half re-living the delight of hanging out with the funniest group of introverts I know, and half being a bit miffed that it's a good five months until the next one. Luckily most of those months will be summer, which in itself is something to look forward to. Unless it's stinking hot and dry. But I have a feeling we are going to have another wet green summer. 


Work is crazy busy. Big new office. After four weeks and three desk moves am just starting to feel like part of the furniture. But it's great, at the end of the day, I can do desk to couch in 30 minutes if I put my mind to it. By foot. Are you impressed with that? I am. OK dog tired, off to knit before early bed. Another big (non work) day tomorrow. Craft weekend pictures and post tomorrow or the day after.

spring lift

We haven't had the heater on for more than a week. At least.

In the morning, I automatically go to put on sandals.

We haven't dried washing inside for ages (yay!).

Porridge feels wrong, so I am making bircher muesli.

The house needs a really good clean, drawers gone through, shelves sorted, furniture moved and windows done. Everything.

And I might even actually do it.

But then again, I might just play in the garden. Like we did yesterday, until it was nearly dark.

The sky is often soft bright blue and the cedrella are out (am torn as to whether I want one in the garden - lovely though they are, they do sucker - even through cracks in concrete).

a bird on the wire

Footy is finished for the year.

Dinner in the park is back on.

Nights have been chilly or balmy. Pleasant either way.

The garden has been going off.

And is calling me to come and look, come and plant, come and pull weeds, sit and admire.

I think I found a self sown rannunculus lappaceus (Australian common buttercup) which is indigenous to our area in the front yard. I am possibly wrong but excited nonetheless.

There is the sweet scent of jasmine everywhere.

I have no colds, flus or other ailments. Winter doesn't really suit me (although heating makes it bearable).

The mornings are lovely, as are the evenings. And the days in between.

I feel quite happy, really I do.

caterpillar dreaming

It's all happening in the garden right now. I'm cursing my laziness over winter as we rush to get the new bed along the fence ready for a mass planting of indigenous shrubbery. Really, I should have got moving a month ago. But I guess as someone around here said, the best time to garden is when you actually get out there and do it. Lots of good things are happening in the garden, but the two things I've been thinking about most have been the oxalis and the caterpillars. So the caterpillars, they are eating the gum tree out the front, a two year old dwarf variety Eucalyptus leucoxylon with pink/red flowers that I am yet to see.

more caterpillars

When I was surveying the damage with mum, she said oh you will need to spray them with something. Or the tree might die. I thought to myself, maybe I would pick them off. But there are rather a lot of caterpillars. With new ones hatching every day. I started examining the tree every time I went past and as I went about the neighbourhood noticed that nearly every other tree also has patches of brown foliage and little caterpillars. I consulted Ms Google (image search is so handy) and identified them as a skeletoniser caterpillar. Further googling revealed that the moths are poor fliers, they lay their eggs on the lowest available leaves - possibly why my young tree is so infested. Anyway, apart from a spray which sounds horrid, there seems to be not much one can do. And if I spray them they will probably just come back because these caterpillars, they are everywhere. And who knows perhaps the caterpillar is food for another species or feeds into the local ecosystem in a way I couldn't possibly know about? So I'm going to take a similar approach to a neighbour and merely observe the caterpillars. He said that in his experience so far, the trees come back as good as ever once the caterpillars move on. I like that approach and I think it was the way I was heading anyway. Possibly from a combination of indecision, being busy and inertia rather than from a particularly in the moment sense of calm, but whatever. The worst that can happen is that the tree will die and then I will just have to plant another one. And the caterpillars are kind of cute and interesting in a don't touch sort of way.

another type of eggs?

The other issue I have been having is the yellow oxalis that is everywhere. It's in our yard, in our neighbours yards, down by the creek. When I pull it out, no matter how carefully I dig, I never get every single little bulblet and it always comes back. So again, I've consulted Ms Google and I'm going to try the heavy mulch approach again. And more planting because they seem to like disturbed and vacant soils. Although maybe I'll also try some hot water. More hints here. To be honest, I'm finding the garden pests pretty interesting this year. Maybe the garden is starting to grab hold once again.

no, you're mr poo-poo!

At the last craft camp, I spent some time in the bookshop* looking for a book for Grace. She's been very diligent about reading her reader every night and a while ago reached the one hundred readers mark. It's a pretty big milestone for her and I wanted to buy her a book she could read herself, for pleasure. But I have to say, I was pretty unimpressed by a lot of the books at her level on offer. We already have quite a few Dr Seuss beginner books which she loves and I thought there would be more other choices with simple vocabulary and layout that were fun to read.** Perhaps something with fairies, sparkles and poo?*** As it turns out, we can ditch fairies and sparkles. Library Girl sent us this....

the story of the little mole

the funniest book ever

but luckily it wasn't a cow poo

Getting a parcel in the post was pretty exciting in itself. Grace liked the other two books, but the book about the mole whose head got pooed on, well it's the funniest book I've ever read mummy. Much hilarity has accompanied the reading of this book and I'm being urged to take it school to read to her class. It is exactly right for a five year old beginner reader who is somewhat obsessed by poo. Thanks Librarygirl

* as opposed to the ops-hop which is where I find a lot of our books.
** I did get a Frog, Duck, Pig and Hare book on Librarygirl's recommendation and that is great too. Especially since it features a flood which was somewhat topical at the time. Also the new Bob Graham which we are reading together.
*** too many books about things like brushing teeth or other messages. Not fun. Reading for pleasure is really, really important I think.

men, mohair and rose the kangaroo

Gerard often brings funny things home from the school. Old things that have ended up in the dumpster, old things that could do well at a school fete. We've had books, a seriously vintage black board ruler, unused scrap books and someone else we know has a dead cute wall clock. I like this picture of men.


We also have the letter "D". Love the plain stylishness of it. Also shown is Rose, the wonky kangaroo who I whipped up at craft camp with much swearing. Her tail was not nearly as easy as I would have thought. But she was well received by Grace so I think there will be a few of these toys made for the present box. I'm not sure whether I thought this up myself or picked the idea up somewhere from the soup of the internet or a mix of both but I think it's a great way to use up all those tea towels and table cloths with animals on them. And there's my knitting. The beginning stages of the epic mohair rug from the reclaimed jumper. I would have knit tonight but I have a sore finger from stumbling round in the dark looking at the place where the small shed used to be. It bled so much I needed four bandaids. Ouch. Grace said she would cry and I said that grown ups tend to cry when they are sad rather than when they hurt themselves. And she said, like when you had the baby that died. Indeed. Enough already. But the box has been opened. We are probably going to be talking about the baby that died a lot for the next couple of weeks. Sigh. I would rather not but anyway. Moving on.

men, rose the kangaroo, the rug in progress and I think I'd like another cup of coffee please

The knitting is going fabulously. It's much bigger now than what you see above and nearly covers my lap as I knit. Much too big to carry around with me. However the border is showing some wonk. Perhaps I should have been counting the stitches. Never mind, it will be very soft and snuggly. And quite big. I will keep going until I run out of wool I think. Not sure about the random stripes, perhaps they aren't random enough. Or maybe I could have thought of a pattern. I like the idea of lots of stripes, transitioning to not very many stripes. Maybe next blanket. 


There is wattle out everywhere. When we finally plant the native bed we have been preparing, I must put some wattle in. I love wattle, it makes me think of late winter and spring and going cross country skiing when I was younger.

Have much more to blog about - we received a poo book in the mail (thanks librarygirl!) last week which has caused much hilarity - so must share that with you. Oh, and the crumble recipe is coming too. Soon. Poo and crumble. Not together, but soon. I promise.

mummy, can you tell me the story about your baby that died again?

Last Monday was sad day. I was wary of it because although I'm not sad that much any more, it has come upon me in unexpected ways in previous years. As a sharp jab, or a bitter fragment of grief, perhaps of sadness remembered and sorrow about the family that might have been. But this year played out differently, in another totally unexpected way.   

peach blossom after the rain

The Wednesday before sad day was a really, really happy day, our friend and neighbour gave birth to a gorgeous little girl and I managed to get home early so we could make a quick visit as a family to greet the new arrival - on her birthday as it was. It was great, so happy and joyful. I got to cuddle Bronte and take in some of that precious new baby spirit. Anyway, on the way home Grace asked if we could have a new baby too. She's asked before and we always tell her that I'm too old now (which is true) and that we're happy with our little family as it is. But this time, I had this thought, I really need to tell her that she had a brother, that there was another baby before her. Not because it will make her feel better about being an only child but because it is part of her family story and besides, little Frank's name is on her birth certificate. So after Grace was in bed Gerard and I had a little chat.

peach bud

So, on Monday night, which was sad day but as it happened had been mostly quite a good day, we were sitting on Grace's bed and I told her the story of our other baby. I started by telling her that mummy has been a bit sad today because she has been remembering that eight years ago she had a baby boy, your brother, but he was born too early and he died. And everyone was very sad. Grace asked questions, how big was he? Very little, I answered and held out my hands to show how little a baby born at just over twenty weeks is. And why did he die? she asked. I find the true answer to that question to be a complicated and very morally difficult story and I think we're a long way from talking about that with her so I said, he was too little to keep living. And he lived for a little while after he was born and then he died. And everyone was very sad. She took that in for a while and then she said, then you had me and I was alive and then you were very happy! To which I replied, oh yes! and we had a big, big cuddle.

spring sun

It feels right that we should have told her now. She's at a stage where she hovers between empathy for others (comforting me in my sadness) and it being all about her (being excited that she can be the happy ending to the story - she's five, she pretty much demands a happy ending ). A couple of nights later she asked me to tell her the story of your baby that died again and asked pretty much all the same questions. Ending up with her being born alive and everyone being happy. Which is true. We are pretty happy most of the time. 

* * * * * * *

On a side note, this time last year the quince was in blossom. Not so this year. Maybe I pruned it too late and too harshly.

a dark and stormy night

A long time ago*, in a far distant land**, it was a dark and stormy night. Two women, heads bowed down against the horizontal rain made their way cautiously across the bricks through the black night. Thoughts of the night when Pa Ingalls nearly didn't make it home for Christmas and when Esther only made it through the snowstorm on the steppe because her mother was waiting for her on the road flashed through the bigger woman's mind. Even though it was only rain, only dark and not very far at all really. Inside the house it was warm and dry and cosy. There was a blazing fire, hearty food to eat and excellent company in which to eat it. And afterwards there was to be wine and knitting. Who could wish for more?

Well, the stork could. She wished for her bottom back. Until recently she had been naked but now she was resplendent in legwarmers, a scarf, and a delightful new bonnet. She even held a fish in her beak. Her friend the cactus was sporting spiffy looking new attire. She couldn't help thinking that her glorious attire might have come at a great price. Perhaps during the fitting of the cactus hat, the ground might have rippled like water, like mud sliding and slopping and caused her concrete arse to shatter and fall to the ground.*** She knew she was getting old and that her arse was full of cracks and therefore she really shouldn't be blaming anyone, but really she wouldn't have minded holding onto her bottom.***

father's day craft weekend 2010

Hey, (shrugs off complicated third person narrative voice) once again I had a great time at craft weekend. Thank you to all the lovelies who made it such a pleasure. It was one of the most relaxing weekends I've had in like forever and as a result I have very little to show for it. A vest which I like, some bad tracksuit pants that I can barely bring myself to wear, some knitting that needed to be ripped and redone (serves me right for knitting under the influence, you would have thought I would have learned from the three sided granny square incident of 2008) and a toy kangaroo made from a tablecloth print which was meant to be quick and easy but wasn't. Kangaroo is now called Rose and has been lovingly accepted into the tribe of the five year old. Oh, and I finished the turn a square baby hat with the not so jogless stripes and it now belongs to the lovely little Bronte who was born on Wednesday. And as Grace says, she's so adorable.  

*why yes, I am a bit behind in my blogging.

** not that far, but it seems a long way off now and why limit yourself to one storytelling cliche when you can have several?
*** in a roundabout way, I'm looking at you Ms Tania!

take me to my happy place

Every time I look at this top photo, I feel happy. I remember stepping off the plane at Maroochydore airport and feeling warm air and sunshine on my face. I remember the moment of absolute joy at seeing Betty and Ruby-Lee and Maeve as they walked into the airport. Oh the excitement, and the lovely feeling that we hadn't really not seen each other for months. That we can just slot back into being together. 

at mooloolaba on the first day

But and there is a but. It's not really a big but in the scheme of things, but it's still a but. There was a whole lot of talking we hadn't done because we don't do the series of small visits like we used to. Nothing earth shattering, just the usual family stuff, but it's a bit intense when you have those conversations all over a couple of days rather than a few months. While staying in the same house. Actually being family house guests is bit intense too. We're getting better at it, but it's not like going for an afternoon visit. Grace found it hard at times too. She loved seeing her cousins, but by the end of the week she was ready to see her Dad, her friends from school and sleep in her own room again.  Oh, and I managed to score an overnight visit in Nambour hospital being filled with morphine on account of my gallbladder deciding to give me grief for the first time in about ten years. Apart from being massively inconvenient and painful, that was a side of the sunshine coast I hadn't planned on exploring.



But really, it was a good holiday. Late winter on the sunshine coast is glorious, especially when contrasted with late winter Melbourne which is vile. On the sunshine coast it's warm enough to go swimming and not wear shoes but not so hot you'll get burnt to a crisp. Grace adored going to the beach, indeed on the day we were at Mooloolaba, she declared it the best day of my whole life and alternated between rolling in the sand, dancing on the beach and going in the water. I wasn't going to go for a swim but changed my mind at the last minute and it was great. The water wasn't even cold - well, I guess I'm used to swimming in Bass Strait which is freexing even in summer. We held hands and jumped through the waves. Excellent fun. Grace loves the water and pretty much the key to keeping her happy was to slot in as many swimming situations as possible. Even a bath with the cousins was a winner sometimes. Grace and I spend a lot of time together and slept in beds right next to each other, waking to big cuddles every morning which kind of balanced out the less thrilling aspects of early rising (for a holiday).


It was awesome hanging out with Ruby-Lee and Maeve. Ruby has this amazing laugh, you could say she is a handful at times but she is also really caring and full of joy and spirit. Maeve is into everything and still likes a baby cuddle, not for much longer though I suspect. It was great to be in their life for a week and even if kids dinner was a bit chaotic some night, it was always followed by mellow hanging out with Betty and Cam. Now I just miss them all terribly. But we'll see them all again soon. And it will be intense, but whatever. 

knitting in the time of astronauts from Mars

I've started editing our holiday photos and when they're done, I'll write about our holiday. It was great but somewhat intense and I think I'm still processing it. Or recovering from it. As well as recovering from my third major (as in requiring time off work) cold for the season. I suspect I'll be counselled in terms of my attendance when I return to work. Oh, yay me.

While we were away I didn't read one book and hardly saw any election coverage. In between much family time and lazing in the sun and being driven along sunny freeways I knitted. A beret. This beret. Even though I wasn't sure that I can wear a beret successfully. Swatched and cast on during the flight up. Not the ideal plane knitting, but it meant that once I arrived and some time for knitting appeared, I was ready to go. I love this beret - the pattern is great, and now I understand something about beret construction. It's also really warm, something I thought I might not need until next winter. Yeah right. On the way home, I started swatching for a hat for Grace. I'm using this pattern, but without the stripes because she liked the look of yarn held together better. For some reason I couldn't cast this on during the flight, I kept trying to do the very stretchy cast on but couldn't get it to sit right. But I did enjoy the play of light from the airplane window of the red and pink wool against my new black and white knitting bag from my sister. I wish I'd taken a photo but we were jammed in tight and I couldn't easily get to my camera.

grace wears the mohair jumper

I voted before we left Queensland at an interstate polling place, which was separate from where the locals vote. Which was inconvenient, but whatever. As it turned out, I probably would have made it to the local one but I didn't want to run the risk of missing out. On the plane I sat next to someone who went to school with Julia Gillard's partner and we gossiped and talked politics and she looked strangely at my knitting. Re-entry to Melbourne was a shock, particularly the Tiger arrivals area which after a long cold walk turns out to be an even colder tin shed. Ugh. 

We ordered pizza and chicken salad and stayed up to watch the election coverage and I alternated between cautious optimism and a sense of impending doom. Then the doom set in. Only to be lightened next day by the greenslide and the possibility that Mr Rabbit might not have won either. Grace is quite disappointed that Julia Gillard has not won and I explained it like something this - the team that wins by having the most elected players, well they get to choose the leader but we still don't know which team has won and it's so close that the teams might have to try and convince people not on their team to join them. I think she got it. This morning as I lay in bed (dreading calling work) she was getting G to chant Julia Gillard with her - kind of as a wish/prayer/barracking. However, although the soap opera of Australia politics is all very interesting at the moment, I do not feel particularly optimistic for the longer term. I suspect that once one of the teams wins, then all niceness will be off.

grace is adamant that I am making her a blanket from this wool

As well as her new interest in Australian politics, Grace is also learning the language of knitting. She talked to me the other day about my stitches! And made serious comments about two different swatches. She has also claimed the light blue mohair I salvaged from an opshop jumper. And is adamant, despite my suggestions of jumpers, vests and no-sleeved dresses that I knit her a blanket. Because it will be very soft and snuggly. So that may well be my next project. It was my second go at salvaging wool and it went pretty well, although I would only do mohair again if it is a fairly loose knit. My first salvage was some grey wool but I didn't undo the sides very well and it's very bitty. Maybe it will be the basis of a crochet stripe blanket I have in mind. For a double bed. Yikes.

In other knitting news, I completed a baby hat for a new arrival due very soon and took some slightly disturbing photos of my vest (now with white spot cloned out). And I will model the beret once my face has lost the sinus puff because I think one the big the joys of ravelry (and oh aren't there many) is seeing what garments look like on real people. Oh man, I love knitting. I wish I could say the same for politics.

the tree, she came down

I know, I should possibly be outside enjoying the Queensland sunshine but I've got some uninterrupted quality  time so I might catch up on some blog posts and ravelrying. Just so I can get straight into the Queensland photos when I get home.

Anyway, a fortnight ago Gerard chopped the big old plum tree in our back yard down. He quite liked the tree and would have been inclined to keep it, had it not been so obviously dead and full of rot. It was also looking like it might start to drop limbs. I'm delighted. I've wanted to get rid of this tree for ages.

gerard ponders the tree

We now had lots of kindling and wood in the yard. And a perfect opportunity for a stump burning.

gerard and eamon

gerard does love a fire


Complete with expected and unexpected guests, marshmallows, home delivered pizza, and children running around in fairy dresses. Much to my concern. If we have a big solstice bonfire, I think we'll have to ban fairy dresses. Too flammable. The weekend after that we had another stump burning just the three of us. With corn chips, guacamole and other snacky things. Oh, and more marshmallows. There's enough stump left for a couple more before summer is upon us.

OK. Time for some vitamin D and knitting.