31 October 2006

i love my postman

october morn
‘twas a fine October morn and I had a paper to write, so after taking the children to school I did a load of laundry, took the dog for a walk by the river, checked my emails to see if anything exciting had arrived (it hadn’t), read some favourite blogs, made a cup of tea, checked emails again, and was just about to hunker down in my study to underake some serious research (honest john) when I heard the postman.

Up I jumped, huffed and puffed up the steps to the letterbox and lo! there among the bills was a notice saying a parcel awaited me at the post office. Abandoning all pretence at work, I leapt in the car to go and collect what I vaguely assumed was a case of wine ordered recently.

But no! Remember this pathetic whine some months ago? The very generous Christina at crash test dummies had the yarn in question in her stash and kindly took pity on me.

stringbean gifts
And see what she sent? Not only the said yarn (Trekking, bottom left), but another skein of hand-painted sock yarn, exquisite hand-felted angora squares, three beautiful silks and a divine bowl by a local potter. Has this woman got me pegged, or what? Now I just have to resist casting on until all my papers are written.

Thanks so much Christina. I hope you enjoyed your little parcel of trinkets and treats too.

Back to the study.

Must not knit, must not knit, must not …

27 October 2006

End of the week meme

Stjernesol tagged me, so here is my traditional Friday meme. (Is twice in a row not a tradition? Oh, shut up and humour me).

Actually I must ‘fess up. I did this meme on Wednesday and then attempted to jelly-wrestle Blogger into submission but failed miserably. So any of you in Melbourne who read this and think It wasn’t warm enough to do that today? or those of you who say You weren’t wearing that at lunchtime in the park today! - yes you’re right. It wasn’t, and I didn’t. But I did on Wednesday.

Enough. Herewith …

1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 - in the book closest to you right now, what does it say?

Hannibal set forth from his base at New Carthage, today known as Cartagena, some time at the end of May or early June 218 BC. Under his command he had a force of 90,000 foot soldiers and 12,000 cavalry. Livy records that it marched in three divisions, probably in three columns, each following in the footsteps of the other.

(Son #1 is doing a school project and is using my desk and computer. I love that he chose Hannibal as his topic. [Son #2 chose James Herriot]).

2. If you stretch out your left arm - as far as possible, what are you touching?

A Beatrix Potter alphabet cross-stitch, done by my mother when Son #1 was a year old. It is propped on the floor between my desk and the wooden filing cabinet, waiting to be hung on the wall of my study (the boys don’t want it in their room any more – too babyish. Sob).

3. What's the last program you watched on tv?

A documentary last Sunday night about ancient Egyptian tombs (tombs, not pyramids). I rarely watch television these days.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.

9.45 pm (it was 9.46 pm. Lordy I am so brilliant)

5. Except the computer, what can you hear right now?

The two spadoodles (sp?) who live two doors up, barking. Crickets. A frog. A car on the dirt road. Random insecty tweets and chirps. (Mostly blissful silence. I had to listen for two minutes [it’s now 9.48pm] to hear all those).

6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do?

Three hours ago, eating chicken and chips for dinner at the outside table. We slapped mosquitos and the cat and dog lurked in hope of tidbits.

7. What are you wearing?

I worked today so: dark brown skinny ankle length pants (from Savers), Jacqui E burnt orange linen shirt with three quarter sleeves (also from Savers), bare feet now that I’ve kicked off my new caramel slingbacks.

8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about?

I have no idea. But Mr Soup told me this morning that he dreamt he went to a factory to see the manager about a quote and a big black dog bit him. He struggled to free himself and ended up throwing a ball for the dog so it would let go; when it did, he refused to do the quote and drove off. (Freud, go to town).

9. When was the last time you laughed?

At dinner, as Son #2 stood on his chair and taught the greyhound to jump for chicken scraps. (Stop looking at me like that. We were outside.)

10. What's on the walls, in the room you're in right now?

Behind me - bookshelves.
In front of me - windows.
The wall on my left - a small noticeboard with odds and ends pinned on it.
The wall on my right – cobwebs and a picture hook in the wrong place for the Beatrix Potter which will go there. You know, one day.

11. Have you seen anything strange lately?

Yes. Tonight on the Ring Rd coming home from work at about 5.25pm I noticed the cars ahead of me were slowing right down although I couldn’t see a traffic jam further ahead. Then I spotted an enormous grey kangaroo bounding across the six lane freeway. It made it safely to our side and then proceeded along the fenceline, looking for a way into the scrub.

Needless to say, not a common sight on the freeway.

12. What do you think about this meme?

I like memes. Mostly.

13. What's the last film you saw?

At the cinema - 49 Up
Video or DVD at home – The Shawshank Redemption. Mr Soup has been trying to get me to watch this for years. Loved it. Powerful and moving. Also, Tim Robbins, mmmhmm.

14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money?

Pay off the mortgage, take the children and husband to Venice, donate to Amnesty International and The Red Cross and invest the rest. Oh and buy a new car, I think this one is on its last legs. Oh, and buy a new computer, I think this one is on its last legs. Oh and renovate the kitchen, bathroom and laundry as I know these are on their last legs. God I sound so mercenary and materialist. Oh dear.

15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

I have a blog.

16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt - what would it be?

I’d make it rain.

17. Do you like dancing?

Is the pope Catholic?

18. George Bush?

John Howard?

19. What do you want your children’s names to be, girl/boy?

Well I like the three we chose, but if they had been girls they would have been called Hannah. Other names include Pip, Kit, Noah, Jonah, Charlie, Ned or Rosie, Alice, Pippa, Isobel, Charlotte, Nellie, Jemima, Esther and Hester.

20. Would you ever consider living abroad?

I could happily live in France or Italy. Also on a Greek island. (I have lived abroad in England and the US in the past).

21. What do you want God to tell you, when you come to heaven?

I want Him to tell me where to go.

22. Who should do this meme?

Anyone who wishes to.

27th October, 2006

Remember this?

This year it was his turn to smack himself on the forehead.

I smiled. Smugly.

Even stevens.

26 October 2006

There's nothing quite like it ... simply messing about in boats - Ratty


My cunning plan to get work at the nearby university came to naught, and so I am back working at the old place (the university on the faaar side of town from where we now live). Thus my commute to work several days a week is a looong one. And it’s a car (this one, not that one) commute, as there is no train station near said far-away university.

(I work at one university, and study at another. Inconvenient? Why, yes).

To make the journey bearable, even enjoyable, I’ve been indulging in talking books from the library. I’ve listened to some wonderful stuff – Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, Down Under by Bill Bryson and something called Step Ball Change by Jeanne Ray which was gentle and pleasant and Stomper Girl, you might like it?

Anyhoo last week there I was at the library gazing morosely at the thin selection available. All I could get was Drylands by Thea Astley which turned out to have an annoying fuzzy fault and was unlistenable, and something called The Last Time I Saw Paris which looked innocuous enough. After giving up on the muffled tones of Thea Astley I pushed in the Paris tape (the first of six). Soon enough I was groaning out loud. It was pure chick lit – all jewellery, ladies’ lunches, divorces and You go, girlfriend! from the 45 year old protagonist. I persevered because you know, changing tapes on the freeway at 100 kph is irresponsible. And I listened again on the way home too because I am a glutton for punishment. Soon I was groaning even more but unable to stop listening because by now I had to find out whether she ended up with the high-flying arrogant cheating surgeon husband or the much younger blue-eyed hunk of a tradesman …

The next morning and three tapes into it, the fluffy chick lit turned into a full on bodice ripper. Suffice to say rosy-tipped nipples, creamy thighs and throbbing manhood featured, uh, prominently.

Hello, pervy Googlers!


It was all a bit much at eight in the morning. Fanning myself, I tried in vain to keep the steering wheel from wobbling. Finally (finally!) I arrived safely at work feeling a trifle flushed, not to mention in dire need of a cigarette.

Postscript: the next day I grabbed one of the children’s story tapes and listened to Wind in the Willows for my morning commute.

It was a much more serene ride.

25 October 2006

22 October 2006

Sunday catch-up

It’s been all go lately.

I had a market stall at the school’s Spring Fair last weekend and spent the weeks prior making stuff to stock it – playcloths, knitted items, little chenille pinafores for toddlers (lousy photo so not posted here but on flickr if you insist), and making another couple of these …

cape frontcape hanger

I was pleased with the way they turned out.

cape hood

Son #3 didn’t want to take it off, and has requested one of his own in blue (he already has a pale orange one, featured elsewhere on the blog – last year’s archives somewhere …)

cape back

This was an order for a wee boy turning three, and I also made a white one for the stall. Still knitting for a couple of orders – photos to come.

PS. In regard to the previous post:
The koala was fine and quite oblivious to the fact it was being swooped by territorial magpies.
Yes, a currawong is a bird.
And I forgot to add:

Wednesday evening: at a class play (a bunch of twelve year olds performing The Tragedy of Dido and Aeneas – imagine!) three possums ran along the exposed rafters of the ceiling above the stage, much to the amusement of the audience and the bemusement of the young actors who had no idea why everyone was giggling.

20 October 2006

wildlife encounters for the week

Tuesday: a koala ambling slowly across the road, being divebombed by agitated magpies

Thursday: a cat and currawong stand-off, over the bowl of dry cat food (the currawong won)

Friday: a scary, hairy bear of an angry man in a red ute on the Ring Road this morning

18 October 2006


I've just discovered, like many others in the blogosphere, that Bitacle has stolen my blog. To try and counteract this I've changed my feeds from full to short, so anyone reading my posts through Bitacle will have to click through to my real site to read the rest of the post. This will affect those of you who read me via Bloglines too I'm afraid. My apologies, but I don't know how else to deal with it apart from shutting down the whole blog.

Which I do.not.want.to.do.


13 October 2006

a meme for the end of the week

Kim tagged me with this
get-to-know-you meme.

Here goes ...

Target or Kmart?
Target, although I did find some beautiful silk/wool blend yarn at Kmart recently so they have gone up in my estimation.

Beef burger or chicken burger?

Faux or Fur?
Neither. Ick. Although I did make Son #1 a wolf suit (okay, wolf ears, paws and a tail) for a class play once. It now lives in the dress up box and makes the odd startling appearance when I least expect it.

Out of a can or out of a bottle?
Of what are we speaking? Beer, tomato juice, hair colour? I prefer glass over tin so will say bottle ...

Hotel or tent?
Are you paying? Five star hotel thank you very much.

Coles or BiLo?
Coles, for the petrol vouchers and their range of homebrand affordable organics.

Pasta or Pizza?
Homemade: either; takeaway: pizza.

Thongs or sandals?
Sandals. I think thongs are hideous.

Backyard pool or beach?
I grew up by the beach and I miss it. Mind you, I also grew up with a pool in our backyard and I miss that too. Okay, both.

Souvenirs or photos?
Photos. Althought I like to pick up a rock or shell from places I visit.

BBQ or foodcourt?
Barbecue. Foodcourts are nasty nasty places

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Vanilla perfume and candles, chocolate ice cream

Hair product or no hair product?
None, apart from a clip

Cats or dogs?
Dogs, unless we're talking Burmese cats who think they're dogs anyway.

Organised tour or do it yourself?
Oh my, DIY

Home cooked or home delivered?
Is this a trick question? If you offer to deliver food to my home, do you really think I'm going to say Thanks, but I'll cook?

Coffee or tea?
English Breakfast tea

The strength of an ox or the strength of a mule?
Sadly, I am as weak as a cardboard kitten. (Mentally I'm tough ... does that count?)

Love or lust?
Love every day, but a little bit of lust once a fortnight doesn't go astray.

Thought or action
Action follows thought

(so think nice thoughts and aveagoodweegend).

11 October 2006

down to the river we'd ride

What do you do when Spring ...

has well and truly sprung?

You go down to the river ...
a boy and his dog

with the dog
two boys and a beast

and the ducks.
#2 sept06c

And just be.
#2 sept06a

10 October 2006


(Upon coming home and being greeted effusively by the dog)

Son #3's friend: Did you see the dog sniffed your mum's penis?

Son #3 (scornfully): My Mummy doesn't have a penis. She has a Volvo.

8 October 2006

What I'm not reading

Rather than a post on What I’m Reading Right Now, I thought I’d do a What I’m Not Reading Right Now.

Because I’m flat out like a lizard drinking Doing Other Things Right Now. (I am however currently immersed in the complex, layered and thoroughly enjoyable A.S. Byatt’s Possession, stringing it out, willing it not to end.)

Herewith, a collection of books picked up at secondhand bookshops, Savers and assorted op shops over the last couple of months, none of which I have yet managed to read.

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah.
Picked up because I liked the cover. How shallow is that? Well also because it’s interesting reading about Asian cultures of which I have no experience whatsoever. (See also Amy Tan, the Wild Swans woman, etc).

The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates.
Because the BBC tv series all those years ago was such divine, lush viewing, featuring the nineteen year old Catherine Zeta-Jones. And it’s an English classic. And a line from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Which sonnet? No cheating by looking it up … be first to tell me and win! (Note, no actual prize).

The Joy of Travel by Susan Kurosawa
I do like travel writing, and have always enjoyed Kurosawa’s columns in The Australian. This one sounds like perfect summer reading.

Snakecharmers in Texas by Clive James
More summer reading from The Great Wit himself. Greatly looking forward to this one. Excellent beach reading.

The Virago Book of Women Gardeners edited by Deborah Kelloway
Gardening. With women. Vita, Gertrude, Beth, Edna! What’s not to like? Can’t wait to dip into this, hopefully while reclining in a deck chair with a g&t close to hand and children frolicking nearby in the (carefully tended) shrubbery.

Charades by Janette Turner Hospital
I’ve not read any of Turner Hospital’s (why no hyphen? I have a hyphen; why can’t she?) books but they usually get good reviews so I picked it up when I saw it. I have no idea what it’s about and I’m too lazy to go look at the blurb. Oh hang on, that’s what Google’s for, isn’t it? Okay, I’m back. Wow it got great reviews – apparently it is about how we reinvent myths in the age of quantum mechanics (gosh), is about a provincial Australian girl, is a love story, is about a search for a lost father, includes revisionist theories on the Holocaust, the Heisenberg principle … clever, lyrical, superb. Well, clearly that is why I picked it up all those weeks ago. Silly me. (Also, she wrote Due Preparations for the Plague - Babelbabe, is that one of your collection of plague novels?)

Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
Naff, but we can’t all be like Janette Turner Hyphen Hospital. Sometimes we need fluff. Fluff with Colin Firth, preferably.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Because it’s a classic and I’ve never read it. Nor seen the film. But Whoopi Goldberg made a wonderful Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. Does that count? (But I digress).

The Bone People by Keri Hulme
I grabbed this because it rang a bell. One of the women in my bookgroup is a New Zealander and she’s always banging on about how we should read some Kiwi lit. (So we read Cousins by Patricia Grace to appease her. It was good. The end). "The Bone People has themes of love, violence, national identity and social responsibility. The characters are both human and part of the complex symbolism that underpins the book and the post-colonial mixture of Maori and Pakeha culture." I’m not in a tearing hurry, but will get around to this one day.

A Small Place in Italy by Eric Newby
As I said, I adore travel writing. I was first introduced to the terribly British Newby when I read A Traveller’s Life which is a delightful book of extracts and short adventures with a great cover. I then went on to read A Short Walk Through the Hindu Kush, Slowly Down the Ganges, Round Ireland in Low Gear (this last one was a little dull I must say) and something about love in the Appenines.

The Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing
I read The Grass is Singing many moons ago in high school. I seem to recall it was, um, intense. Perhaps I just bought this to sit on my shelf and make me look clever?

Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
My children are horrified by the title. I haven’t seen any of Moore’s films (the shame, I know I know) so this will be my introduction. Ghastly cover.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Sounds scary but Alias Grace was mesmerising. Did anyone else see the one-woman show at The Malthouse last year?

As a Woman: Writing Women’s Lives by Jocelyn Scutt
Picked up because it sounded interesting. Not yet peeked at. Shoved on the Important Feminist Stuff shelf.

A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey
A classic I thought I should own.

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
Ditto. Although I bought Mr Soup The Zahir last year and he hated it.

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Possibly purchased just for show if I'm being honest? I don’t feel strong enough to read Rushdie. Maybe when I’m 45.

Ruth Park’s ’Harp in the South’ novels in one big fat book.
Lovely! Have read Poor Man’s Orange and I recall devouring the television series so now I have all the books awaiting me in one wrist-straining edition. Good hammock-and-a-cup-of-tea reading.

An Accommodating Spouse by Elizabeth Jolley
I love Jolley’s entertaining style. Yum. Is she from Perth? I always think of Perth when I see her name.

Fortune’s Rocks and The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
Pretty covers. Has anybody read her? Any good?

Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
Because I read that one set in Africa that everybody reads and enjoys. Google reminds me that it’s The Poisonwood Bible. Yes that’s right. I thought it was fabulous – so rich and meaty and I could feel the sweat and the humidity and oh, the flies and the dust. And that father! Can someone assure me that I will get past the unfortunate title of this one and it will be equally as readable?

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
I believe this should be on everyone’s bookshelf. And um, be read one day.

Wonderboy by Stephen Cummings
Well, he’s a great singer, and an evocative lyricist. So perhaps he’s a decent novelist also? He’s terribly sexy, anyway. Be still my beating heart.

the first stone by Helen Garner
Another should-read. I still think The Last Days of Chez Nous is one of the most powerful and poignant books I’ve read (the film’s not too shabby either). Monkey Grip is an Australian classic, although depressing, and I’ve also read Cosmo Cosmolino (which incidentally is the name of the band Son #1’s violin teacher plays in) and The Children’s Bach, all of which are very accomplished. Plus she’s from Melbourne, as is Stephen Cummings, so you know, gotta support local authors. Even great big famous ones.

Beloved by Toni Morrison
Yet another should-read. Although I did see this listed recently on someone’s Things That Are Overrated meme. Hmmm. I think it’s on the list for bookgroup next year anyway so I picked it up.

The Worry Box by Marion Halligan
The oh-so-delicious Marion Halligan. Has anyone else fallen in love with her children’s picture book The Midwife’s Daughters? I borrowed it from the library over and over (and over) when I was pregnant with Son #3 and read it to the older boys until they used to hide under the settee when they saw me approaching with it balanced on my enormous belly. If anyone ever sees this in a secondhand bookshop, please buy it. And send it to ME. And I will love you forever. Oh and there will be an actual prize for that.

As you can see, I’m very very busy not reading all these fine books. Oh, and these were just the books for me. There’s a whole other post in the selection of children’s books I found …

7 October 2006

in lieu of actual content

silly buggers

I have been super busy knitting, but just can't show you anything just yet. Soon, I promise!

In the meantime, please enjoy my boys playing silly buggers.

I found this on my camera. I have no idea who took it, or why the child is wearing a swimming cap in the shower, but there you go. Life's never dull around here..

5 October 2006

Show and Tell: musical instruments UPDATED!


I had the honour of choosing Show and Tell this week. Actually I think someone else suggested it and I merely said yes, yes! So, musical instruments it is.

Please excuse photo quality - this working lark means I don't get home in time to photograph things in daylight. *sigh*

We have a large selection of recorders, a triangle, maracas, a xylophone and two violins (one half size, one three-quarter size) to choose from at this house, but I went with the mystery instrument.

We picked this up, in appalling cond ition, at Salamanca Market in Hobart a couple of years ago while visiting my brother and his daughter for Christmas. The stallholder had no idea what it was or how old it was; he just wanted $50. After much deliberation we plunged.

Back home I did lots of internet research and we think it is a mandola, or mandocello. It looks like the old bowl-back A-model mandolins, but with the super long neck. Well, it's some kind of early 20th century European instrum ent anyway. A Maltese friend of ours saw it and called it a lute, and it certainly looks like something a medieval lady might thoughtfully strum.

UPDATE - It is a trichordo bouzouki. Thanks Kat and Shula!

It lay around the house for a year or two before I took it to a luthier. We were given the option of spend ing a thousand or so dollars on it to bring it up to museum standard, or one hundred dollars to do a few repairs and turn it into something that could be played and enjoyed.

We forked out the hundred bucks and had new pegs and strings put on (it's double strung!), the cracks at the back sealed and an antique bridge sourced and installed.

Son #1 of the amazing musical talent can pick it up and play anything on it, and the double strings make it delightfully twangy but not too countryish (or westernish).

Son #3's favourite song is:

I lululove to plalalay my ololold banjolololo,
and plalalace it ololon my kneeleeleeleeleeleeleee.
But nolowlow the stringalings are brolololokelelelen
and ilililit won't plalalay for melelelelelelee.

I tooloolook it toolooloo the melelender's shololop,
to seeleelee what helelee would saylaylaylayay.
The melelender helelee did fililix it wellellell,
and nowlowlow I plalalay all daylaylaylaylaylaylay!

(Every time he sings the word shololop I get the giggles)..

4 October 2006

We were wrong

I have just viewed my blog from work using a new-to-me browser and find I must apologise for the extreme close up of gory toothless gum, freckles and gobs of Milo over the smallest boychild's face. (see below)*

You may resume your lunch now.

*Woohoo, I can do italics and bold without that pesky confusing html code! Blogging for the technically dyslexic!

Now I'd better go do some ploicy work.

3 October 2006

a milestone

first tooth at last

This has been a long time coming.

Son #3 has found it humiliating still having all his baby teeth at the ripe old age of seven (his older brothers both lost their first teeth when they were four or five). He and one other boy in his class were the last two to lose a tooth; they have each had a wobbly one for weeks now. Every morning at line-up they would rush to compare wiggles until finally Son #3's came out, and the next day so did the other child's.

I got to write 68 on the board, Mum! It was soooo cool!*

*The class tooth tally.

2 October 2006

Note to self

It is not advisable to gloat.gloat.gloat when you pick up a divine dove-grey laceweight pure cashmere cardigan at the op shop. For a song.

Because there’s this thing called karma. It gets you when you are feeling smug and greedy and gloaty.

And you might just come home from work and find that your husband has put said cardigan through the washing machine.