30 January 2007


The firstborn started secondary school today. How the hell did that happen?


I remember when he started primary school it threw me totally (it’s all about me, you do know that, don’t you?). All of a sudden I was a mother of a school-aged child, not just a mother of babies who spent her days pushing the pram to the local shops, the kinder, the maternal-child health centre and to Mothers’ Group (the latter being my lifeline in those days). I became one of those Mothers At The School Gate. A real grown up. For some reason it hit me harder than just being a mother. A Mother At The School Gate was not how I envisaged myself.

I wanted to hang on to the nappies snapping in the wind on the clothesline, the smell of a baby’s head as I breastfed late at night, the tiny singlets and cardigans, the innocent trusting eyes.

For the past few years now I’ve had all three of my boys at primary school and so it gradually became the norm. But now I’m a parent of a high school kid. And in a couple of weeks, the Mother of a Teenager.

He is growing up so fast. And as much as I get nostalgic for the baby daze, and struggle with the realities of the burgeoning independence he shows, I am so very very proud of him. He is becoming a fine young man who is sensitive towards others, curious about the world around him, creative, enthusiastic about learning, and full to bursting with ideas and promise.

My Number One Son.

growing up

28 January 2007

22 January 2007


by Sooz with the six weird things meme.

I seem to remember doing a meme like this before (I'm sure I've written about my bizarre but hugely useful internal compass before, and the eating of chips upside down [just bizarre, not the least useful]), but I'm too darn lazy to go look for it.

Anyway so six weirdo things, redux.

1. I can happily have several knitting projects on the go at once, but reading more than one book at a time stresses me immensely. I finished the Bill Bryson book this morning and am enormously relieved as I can now concentrate on The Book Thief and not feel compromised or strangely adulterous.

2. I like to cook sweet things but not savoury.

3. I have a rule regarding my blog wherein the only pictures are photographs I've taken. There are some bloggers I greatly admire who regularly include pictures of artworks from various galleries and museums, or products they've discovered and want to share. But it's not for me. (I don't download audio or visual clips either, but that's more to do with my technical ignorance than any kind of moral superiority thing).

4. I can wiggle my ears. My children find this very weird but distinctly funny.

5. I don't do blood. I cannot donate blood, have a blood test, or even talk about visceral matters without my knees starting to feel strange. My mother thinks this is not weird but pathetic and is something I should just overcome with positive thinking so I can go and donate blood like any responsible civic-minded citizen. But I just can't. When we were at the beach the other week with our friends, one of the children (NOT MINE PRAISE THE HEAVENS) hit his head on a rock while boogie boarding and ohmygodthebloodandgorepouringdownhisface was incredible. The wound turned out to be quite tiny but ohmygod do you know how much foreheads bleed, it was like a horror movie. Now I hasten to add that while the crisis was unfolding I was fine and I swung into action with the other adults, grabbing hankies and clean tissues and so on and herding the other children back onto dry land and stopping them gawking or making unhelpful comments to the poor boy regarding the amount of blood and so on, and generally being useful and grownup. But once the crisis was over I fell in a heap and sat on a rock with my head between my knees feeling really rather ridiculous, while the child himself giggled and talked about how it didn't really hurt at all (despite the fact that he looked like an axe murder victim) and the child's mother who is a nurse and midwife and so you know blood is an everyday occurrence and what's the big deal and for heaven's sakes why is Suse hunched on a rock looking pale and clammy how pathetic and god does this mean we now have two invalids we have to carry up the gazillion steps from beach to carpark oh great we've enough to carry what with six boogie boards and an esky and beach bags and towels and six children including one who is bleeding profusely ...

Okay, maybe not weird, more pathetic.

Just typing all that has made me feel woozy. I think I need a lie down.

6. Before I go, number six: I like to knit weird little things like these.

PS. Have just seen the comet and am greatly impressed. Go outside and have a look!

PPS. I am supposed to tag six people which I don't feel up to (lying down, and all). So, I tag the first six people who a) comment and b) want to do it.

19 January 2007

in the blink of an eye

baby feet

The golden boy turned 11 today.

He is

the middle child of three boys
quite beautiful
very smart
witty and quick
a talented sportsman
academically able

18 January 2007

socks like brach's like siri's like alicia's like

I did finish some socks I did I did.

Remember I finished one quite some time ago? With the yarn sent by Christina?

It finally has a partner.

I first saw these beautiful lolly concoctions over at the queen of socks, which in turn led me to these short ones and finally to these pretty ones.

I had grand plans of happily plagiarising Siri’s photo which cheerfully copies Alicia’s, but my parents are staying with us and the idea of standing on a chair and leaning out to take a picture of my pink striped legs and explaining what a blog is and why is it called Pea Soup and aren’t they all paedophiles and axe murderers anyway didn’t appeal. Plus we don’t have those Brachs sweets here so the photographic accessory would have to be a bowl of neopolitan ice cream. Again, there would have been much wrinkling of brows and muttering about what the strange offspring is up to now.

Plus it’s 40 degrees every day currently (over 100 in old money) so the donning of socks, even socks as beautiful and ice creamy as these, is just not on. And ice cream melts fast.

neopolitan socks off

So they lie quietly, awaiting the onset of soft autumnal breezes.

Even this photoshoot elicited bemused looks from the wrinkled ones.

Jeeez. Parents.

17 January 2007




Can you write about what it was like to be a new mum?
Yes I can. But that’s a whole post. In fact, it’s a whole blog. But I’ll try and oblige as it’s something I’ve been pondering a lot recently as all three of the children’s birthdays are imminent and the eldest is about to become a teenager.

Watch this space.

Do you have air conditioning?
No, but today I bought two ceiling fans. So did many many other Melburnians apparently.

Who taught you to knit?
My mum. That’s her in the picture up there. Minus her needles.

Are you native Australian, or born elsewhere?
If you read my 100 Things over there on the sidebar, you’ll discover I was born in London. We were Ten Pound Poms.

You know I'm here, right?
No, I was never sure if you read or not as you’ve not commented. I’m delighted to learn that you are! (Y’all).

What is your favorite color combination?
I’m quite partial to duck egg blue and chocolate brown right now.

Tell me a couple of crafty shops I should see next time I'm in Melbourne.
Erm … depends what kind of craft. There are heaps of good yarn shops (my favourite). Wool Baa, Sunspun, Marta’s Yarns … Are you a quilter? If so, Patchwork on Central Park is good.

Are you finding it too hot to knit? And what do you do when it is?
Currently I’m knitting sixteen special mystery items of which I must not speak. They’re in cotton, which somehow feels easier than wool in this godawful heat. If I can’t face knitting, I read. [Currently: ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak. I gave up on Orhan Pamuk’s ‘Snow’ as I just couldn’t come at political and religious conflict, not to mention blizzards, in this heat. I’m also still giggling my way through Bill Bryson’s ‘Thunderbolt Kid’ memoir. Lovely stuff, as Son #2 would say].

G & T vs. Cosmopolitan. Which is the most delightful when sipped under the jacaranda on a hot afternoon with your feet in the paddling pool?
I don’t believe I’ve ever had a Cosmopolitan. I shall report back.

Can we see that view from your house you keep showing us again?
Sure. When the smoke clears I’ll be obsessively taking pictures once more.

Do you miss anything about living in the city?
I miss our old but beautifully-renovated-with-our-own-blood-sweat-and-tears-house. I miss being a five minute drive from the theatre/ballet/opera/galleries/Vietnamese restaurants. I miss being a five minute drive from work and a ten minute drive from uni. I don’t miss anything else. Oh, hang on. I miss my Californian Tree Poppy. I must plant one here.

How are you going to have time to answer nearly 300 questions?
I figured only 30 or so would respond. I was about right. I think those site meters lie.

Does knitting while under the influence affect the end result?
Probably. But I wasn’t knitting last night, I was fooling around on the computer, blogging under the influence. I apologise for any incoherent, misspelled comments I made on all your blogs.

Bombay Sapphaire or Tanqueray?
Gordon’s. All.the.way.

Does promising to visit Melbourne and then failing to show up count as a lurk of some kind?
You bet, slacker.

So, where do you buy your needles?
Op shops for old wooden ones and bright plastics. I did succumb to the pale smooth beauty of a 99c pair of bamboo 4.0mms last week at Lincraft. Gosh that was a terrible sentence. But it's midnight so that's all my brain can manage.

Thanks to everyone else who de-lurked without a question. It was fun to see some new names.

16 January 2007

international de-lurking week

Except it's not any more. It was last week.

But please do.

I know there are 300 of you out there and only about 30 of you comment, leaving a grand total of 280 skulking out there in the dark.

So here's your chance. De-lurk and ask me a question.

I'll do my best.

(It's 40 degrees today. This is the ginandtonic talking. Ask me before it wears off).

14 January 2007

new year's resolution

Does it count if you print out the timetable, highlight the yoga and Body Balance classes in fluoro orange, and use it as a bookmark?

Pssst wanna buy a watchJPG

5 January 2007


Upon returning from holiday, we have

Played cricket
Watched the cricket
Bought bunk beds at Ikea
Gazed bemusedly at the allen key accompanying the bunk beds
Sweltered in the heat
Watched Elvis fly overhead
Swum in the river
Read books (Bill Bryson’s Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid)
Done lots and lots of washing


and are about to go away again.

This time to our friends who are once again staying at their holiday house (the one with the curtains).

I shall return next week.

3 January 2007

2 January 2007

2006 Lit. Review

I’ve done an annual tally a la those intimidating book blogs out there and come up with my own round up for 2006. In addition to magazines, newspapers, children’s books, academic journals and numerous books for uni, I managed to read the following.

For book group:
Ulverton by Adam Thorpe. Read this twenty years ago and loved it. This time, not so much. Neither did anyone else in the group so I felt a bit bad. It’s still one of the most unusual books I’ve read.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Received rave reviews but I felt it drifted along and several months later I can’t remember much about it. A journey, a son, some religion? Ho hum.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Not very good writing and although I cried all the way through it and the characters engaged me, the ending was stupid. I have no intention of reading Picoult again.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville. Wow. Reading this immediately following the Picoult merely highlighted the superior deliciousness of Grenville’s writing. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this much as I hated Lillian’s Story and barely tolerated Idea of Perfection so it was a wonderful surprise.

Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees was next and although some in the group were not interested, I really liked this book. The three sisters’ characters were beautifully drawn and the protagonist was very real. I wholly lived in this book while I was reading it, and I liked that I learnt stuff about beekeeping too. A sweet bonus.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. We read her collection of short stories (Interpreter of Maladies - isn’t that the best title?) the year before for book group and loved them. This debut novel was readable and enjoyable, but I think short stories are Lahiri’s forte.

Shadow Boxing by Tony Birch. Gritty, working class, inner city Melburnian. 1960s school of hard knocks memoir stuff. Spare, simple writing about brutal times. His photo on the back cover is exactly as you would expect (boxer’s nose and hard eyes) – apparently he teaches creative writing at Melbourne Uni these days.

Eucalyptus by Murray Bail. Another one I just loved. Dreamy and evocative, and oh so visual. I am cross that the filming of this story was stopped – I spent the whole book picturing Our Nic as the speckled beauty, floating quietly across a landscape like that of the national park at the end of our road. The book annoyed some of the more pragmatic of our book group, and Murray Bail is quite weird sometimes (Homesickness, anyone?) but I went with it and was swept away. The word ‘lyrical’ springs to mind.

Emma by Jane Austen. Mixed reaction from the group but with most people appreciating the writing from afar, if that makes sense. (As in, stylistically fixed in a specific time long long ago). I enjoyed it and plan to read Persuasion some time soon.

On audio tape:
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan. I was mesmerised by this, once I learnt to tune out the sounds of the narrator licking his lips and sucking in air. I had read McEwan’s Atonement the year before and been underwhelmed, but this one gripped me from its startlingly visual opening lines. The man can really write. I refuse to talk about the film version which got the beginning just right, but then, well, no, I’m not going to talk about it.

A dreadful bodice ripper that got me all hot and bothered on the freeway. Blogged about elsewhere but I can’t find the link.

Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish - unlistenable. Great premise and it sounded intriguing, but I just couldn’t take it for more than two cassettes. I found it overwritten and pretentious, but did enjoy Death of a River Guide the year before so will try Flanagan again, if only in deference to the lyrical writing of his brother Martin.

Step Ball Change by Jeannie Rea. Light and lovely, not terribly memorable but pleasant enough at the time. I liked the way the author wrote so very convincingly about her total obsession with dance. I’ve never been the least interested in tap dance, but I’ve done a lot of modern dance in my time and understand the feeling of totally losing my body in music.

Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx. Very stripped back, spare prose as per usual for Proulx. Some stories were better than others and there was much brutality and violence; the collection ends with the starkly beautiful and poignant Brokeback Mountain so I had to get the film out on DVD. It lived up to the book.

Girl with a Pearl Earring Tracey Chevalier. Will definitely look up more of her books. I loved loved loved this. Absolutely exquisite. Possibly my book of the year. I want to get a print copy on my bookshelf as soon as possible so I can read and savour it at my own pace. The film of the book was gorgeous, but the book even better. Loved loved loved it.

Down Under by Bill Bryson. I’ve read this, and although it passed the time in the car, I didn’t like the overtly nasal American accent of the narrator. I kept wishing for the dulcet tones of Bill himself to take over. Also, Americans canNOT do Australian accents (not even Meryl) so they should not try. Cue neat segue into …

my current audio book in the car … Collected Stories by Janette Turner Hospital, read by an Australian actor who canNOT do American accents and keeps putting r’s where they don’t belong (ie. Honder and idear and Mamar). Apart from that, I’m enjoying these stories, some more than others. And only a few feature Americans [and thus the need for the accent] so it’s bearable.

Other books read throughout the year. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but here’s what I remember:

Possession by A.S. Byatt on babelbabe’s recommendation. Loved it – so rich and layered and intelligent and detailed and erudite and eloquent and unlike me right now [or ever]. Will read this again and again I suspect. I’ve put it on the book group list for this year and am making everyone else read it so I can talk about it some more. I want to marry Roland and live in the BM. Of course I did make the mistake of watching the film version.

Rohinton Mistry’s Family Matters which was nearly as good as his brilliant A Fine Balance (one of my top ten all time books) but not quite. I’m definitely going to chase up his other books though.

Emergency Sex [and other desperate measures] by Cain, Postelwait and Thomson. Not great literature but a ripping yarn about twentysomethings in scary places. Warning: makes one very cynical about the UN.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Another scary one, featuring an opening scene that grabs you by the collar and reels you right in. Incredibly visual – they must have made this into a film, yes? I also enjoyed Atwood’s Alias Grace a few years ago, and her new one Oryx and Crake is on the list for book group this year.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Fabulous historical crime fiction, featuring those pesky Plantagenets. Finished a couple of days ago, on the beach at Inverloch. Followed immediately by …

A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute. I’d seen the BBC tv series starring Helen Morse and Bryan Brown many years ago and enjoyed it, but had never read the book. The first half of the book was gripping, particularly with the knowledge that the cross-country march of the women and children prisoners was based on a true story. But I was shocked by the blatant racism in the last half (it was written in 1950 when it was apparently quite okay to say abo and boong according to Mr Shute and his nice English gel) and I felt the story went off the rails. Finished the next day on Venus Bay beach, leaving a nasty taste in my mouth.

I’m now reading Snow by Orhan Pamuk but struggling to maintain interest. Reading about blizzards while lying on white hot sand just feels wrong.

So, my top book of 2006? I can’t pick just one, so will go with Girl with a Pearl Earring, Possession, Eucalyptus, and The Secret River. All fabulous and I’m pleased to say two of them are Australian authors.

(Top all time books: those above, plus A Fine Balance, Life of Pi, Year of Wonders, and The Time Traveller’s Wife).

In 2007 I’m looking forward to reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Alice Pung’s growing up in Footscray memoir Unpolished Gem and Salley Vicker’s new one The Other Side of You (I absolutely loved her Miss Garnet’s Angel and quite enjoyed Instances of the Number Three). I also plan to tackle The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, Listen by Kate Veitch, and Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson which was generously flown across the oceans to me by dear babelbabe along with several other books this year. I’d like to re-read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera and then move onto his Memories of My Melancholy Whores possibly just because the title appeals to me. Persuasion and The Name of the Rose are also on the TBR shelf along with Stones from the River and numerous others. I would hate to count how many unread books I own.

Too many books, too little time.

Sigh …

Next up, my knitting round up?