23 December 2007

Fourth Sunday of Advent, 2007.


advent 4

advent candles 4

The fourth light of Advent,
it is the light of man.
The light of love, the light of thought
to give and understand.


flowers for Hannah

There's a funeral in Airdrie today. Far far away on the other side of the world.

Rest in peace Hannah.

22 December 2007

random Saturday afternoon

• Apologies to my lone male reader for the gross generalisation in my last post (excuse: tired and emotional).

• Is my life complete without a salad spinner? I’m resisting but a certain relation is wearing me down.

• I just watched three ravens have an all-out barney on the steps outside the front door. They squawked and batted each other with their wings all the way from the bottom step up to the top (twenty-two steps) (yes it’s a lot of steps isn’t it?) (yes hauling seventeen bags of groceries from car to house down twenty-two steps in the pouring rain is not much fun thanks for asking) (yes we bought our house on a[n emotional] whim). Oh sorry. The birds. Well … at about the halfway point up the flight of steps, one bird kicked the other. I’ve never seen a bird kick before. (We breed ‘em mean here in the hills).

• (Too many parentheses)

• We still have wires hanging out of our kitchen walls. (See the date on that? July, people). If you live in outer eastern Melbourne and need an electrician I can tell you who not to get.

You’re welcome.

• This rain is too much. I know I know it’s good to have a soak at the start of bushfire season, but enough already. My garden is washing away down the hill and I want it back.

• The relief felt upon hearing the plop of forty-seven [handmade!*] Christmas cards landing in the postbox was quite out of proportion, really. I don’t think they’ll get there in time, but they will get there. (As in, "it won't happen overnight, but it will happen"). Any of you foreigners hoping for a card, sorry. I didn’t do international this year.**

* so proud and smug
** not so proud or smug

• Heard the CFA siren at the end of our road go off on Thursday afternoon. Vaguely thought oh dear, something’s on fire, hope it’s not serious only to learn the next morning when our friend turned up to collect our children for (last day of) school that it was at their house two streets away. No one hurt thank goodness but a lot of property damage and a good deal of trauma and tears. My friend said six trucks from three local CFA stations turned up and it was full on.

The kids got in the car, I gave her a [handmade!] Christmas card and a little knitted acorn decoration and felt woefully inadequate.

Might make some mince pies today and take some over. Also woefully inadequate but you have to bake in a crisis, don’t you?

• On a brighter note, Son #2 got a place in Class 6 at his elder brother’s school. So happy.

• Here, have a look at some tawny frogmouths.

tawny frogmouths

See the baby squished in between the over protective first-time doting parents? They perched there on the tree outside my bedroom window for about three hours, despite the antics of three excited boy-children and an overly large dog.

I always thought tawny frogmouths were owls, but they’re not apparently. They look like kookaburras in this shot, don't they?

• Dinner here last night. Ooh it was good.

20 December 2007

... had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap*

except it's summer. But I am so ready for that nap.

I could write a whole post about how Christmas always falls to the women to organise, cook, arrange, bake, shop, decorate, make, but you wouldn't want to read about all that. And I have to get back to writing the Christmas cards.

And then have a nap.

While I toil, please do enjoy this.

* Twas the Night Before Christmas.

17 December 2007

all is calm

Due to the raingloriousrain all day long on Saturday, the two social engagements we had planned were cancelled, leaving us with a quiet, unstructured day that was exactly what we all needed. We got so much done.

We missed Stir-up Sunday a few weeks ago, but that’s ok. I’m a traditionalist, but I’m ok with tardiness too. Oh, and this was for the Christmas cake, not the Christmas pudding. Oh well.

mix, Son #1

Everyone took a turn and made a wish.

mixing, Sons #2 and 3

I was alerted recently to the fact that Americans don’t do plum pudding, or Christmas pudding. Which accounts for the fact that whenever I write something about ‘pud’ (pronounced with the same sound as good, rather than food), someone writes in the comments What’s pud? I had no idea that Christmas pudding was not global. How can this be? Christmas dinner isn’t complete without a flaming pud served with brandy butter. (What do you eat for dessert on the big day, then?)

Every year I am determined to make my pudding well ahead of time (as in October) and let it hang and mature, and every year it’s a last minute mid-December effort. Which is fine by me.


The children wrapped some presents, the mister mortared a bit more of the firepit (remember the children’s firepit?. It’s matured too), and we all settled down for an afternoon viewing of Bridge to Terabithia and I sat on the floor and cut out a hundred triangles from the book of upholstery samples I picked up at Reverse Art Truck recently.

christmas cards wip

I knew they’d come in handy somehow. Every year I’m determined to make our own Christmas cards in plenty of time (like in October) and every year I end up buying a couple of packets of readymade cards from the post office. Except for last year when I didn’t get around to sending out cards at all and then was wracked with guilt all year long.

christmas cards

This year I actually made cards! (I’m so proud).* The whole exercise was prompted by the fact that I bought a box of cards and Christmas stamps last month but they’ve disappeared into the black hole that is the pile of paperwork on the kitchen bench and we can’t find them. (Not so proud).

Now I just have to write these and post them.


* I can’t remember whose blog it was on which I saw something like this and blatantly ripped it off was so inspired by. If it was you, thank you. You’re brilliant.

** Apologies to those of you who read me via bloglines. You know what I'm talking about.

16 December 2007

Third Sunday of Advent, 2007.

advent candles 3

Tonight we give thanks for the animal kingdom. The children will each place a small animal on the nature table/nativity scene. One year a giraffe was chosen, but as the children have got older they’ve got the gist of what’s expected. (I do like that scene in Love Actually where Emma Thompson’s daughter announces she has the part of the lobster at the nativity play and when her mother asks if shellfish were present at the birth of the baby Jesus, she rolls her eyes and says Well duh, Mum).

We will light the third candle and say the verse,

The third light of Advent,
it is the light of beasts.
The light of hope that we may see
In greatest and in least.

Each year someone asks in the comments whether I made up these Advent verses.

No I didn’t. Our Advent tradition is Waldorf/Steiner inspired, with one or two touches that we have adapted for our family. The verses were found several years ago on a website which now seems to have disappeared. It was called QuolKids (Quality of Life for Kids) and one of the two women who maintained the site was a Steiner teacher.

I find that celebrating Advent this way has helped to counteract the awful, omnipresent, consumerist nature of Christmas, helping our children (and us!) remember the spiritual nature of this season. I also like the way it honours nature and the universe.

Our boys run to check out the nativity scene every morning (ok, maybe not the thirteen year old these days) to see if anything has appeared, and in the final week when Joseph and Mary appear and move a little closer to the stable each day the sense of anticipation builds and builds. I’m delighted that most Christmas mornings they check out whether the baby Jesus has materialised in his seedpod crib before they look to the tree for presents.

And then just when you think it’s all over, a few days later the three wise men show up (too late to be of use during the birth and rather bizarrely bearing weird gifts of incense and myrrh rather than casseroles or a voucher for a month of nappy delivery) and you get a bit more bang for your buck.

Happy Advent.

14 December 2007

Friday dog-blogging

summer dog

See what the small people around here do to me on a regular basis?

I try to bear it with good grace - it does make them happy. And it's marginally better than all that chasing a mechanical rabbit around a track. Now that was humiliating.

12 December 2007

stuff. in dot points.


No time to blog properly so bullet points will have to suffice.

• work work work end of year work but not long to go now

• a fancy work celebratory dinner, evening dress [!], an unusual venue, speeches [mercifully brief], exquisite food, chocolates to take home and as we were leaving the 'events' chap thrust a beautiful flower arrangement into my arms

• still fiddling with my hair. I cut my fringe myself yesterday, very short (and slightly crooked I now notice). And although when I exited the hairdresser with the bouncy bob it was behaving itself, it now flips out at the ends instead of under. So the ultra short fringe kind of works. I don't expect all of you to follow that, so don't worry

• not doing so well with the buy handmade pledge when it comes to the boys. Because I cannot sew authentic soccer tops (Melbourne Victory) nor can I knit an i-pod dock

• any good vibes would be appreciated. Son #2 has a rather important (and exciting) interview tomorrow at 10.00am

• beach holiday is booked. Note to self: book the dog and cat into various accommodations

• anyone want to buy an acorn bookmark? I have several available at AU$15.00 each plus postage. Email me if interested at suseinthesoup[at]gmail[dot]com

acorn bookmarks wip

9 December 2007

Second Sunday of Advent 2007

2nd advent candle

The second light of Advent,
it is the light of plants.
Plants reach up to the sun
and in the breezes dance.

Previous years' Second Sunday of Advent posts here and here.

8 December 2007

holding my breath and waiting for the third - updated

1. Son #3 dropped an entire jar of 100s and 1000s on the kitchen floor. The round kind. The kind that roll far far away. In all directions of the compass.

2. The mister flooded the laundry so thoroughly that water ran under the walls and into the bathroom on one side, into Son #2's room on the other side and up the hallway almost as far as the end bedroom. I've used every towel and old cloth nappy in the house to soak up the sog.

It always comes in threes, right?

Here's a totally irrelevant photo. As a distraction aid, you know.

day grasses

And here is the same patch of grasses at night, a year and a half ago.

night grasses

Update: 100s and 1000s are also known as sprinkles. They come in round or stick versions, and you put them on children's ice creams. Or if you live in Australia, you make fairy bread with them. Yum.

7 December 2007

because there's nothing on tv tonight

This week's Friday Night Meme comes to you via Sorrow at Sills Bend, the Duck, Lorraine Crescent, Pavlov's Cat and presumably before that from a bunch of American teenagers. I'm greatly looking forward to Pav's Middle Aged Persons Meme.

1. Are you dating the last person you kissed?
The last person I kissed was my 13 year old son. So that would be no.

2. Pretend you've had 10 beers. What you would be doing right now?
Being unwell.

3. What do you want?
To see the bottom of the ironing basket.

4. Who was the last person you shared a bed with?
My husband. With whom you shared a bed. Get it right.

5. Do you talk to yourself?
Yes. I think it was the sound of me talking to myself that frightened off the kangaroo at the clothesline yesterday.

6. Do you drink milk straight from the carton?
Not usually, but today I did. Ick, how disgusting.

7. Who knows the latest secret about you?
You. Please don't tell the other members of this household that I drank straight from the milk carton.

8. How long is your hair?
Chin length.

9. Do you like Batman?
I'd run away with George Clooney in a heartbeat.

10. Who was the last person who told you they loved you?
See Q.1.

Hello? Questions 11 and 12??

13. Do you like anyone now?
I like a lot of people.

14. When was the last time you lied?
When I told Son #3 that drinking milk straight from the carton was an abominable habit and one in which you should never ever indulge.


16. Is your birthday on a holiday?
Yes. It's on International Women's Day every year, and falls on the Labour Day long weekend some years.

17. What instant messaging service do you use?

18.Last thing you cooked today?
Pork with grainy mustard. (What's the grainy one called? Not english, not french, not dijon ...)

19. Did you have a nap today?

20. Who's house did you go to last?
It's 'whose', ignoramus. I dropped off Son #1 at his friend A's house this morning as they were off to see a film (pupil free day). I met the labrador, the mother, and learnt that the cat was in labour.

21. What do you wear more, jeans or sweats?
I rarely wear jeans and I'm not 100% sure what sweats are. Sound ghastly.

22. Why is the sky blue?
Right now it's black so deal with that, kiddies.

23. Do you like green beans?

24. Do you swear a lot?
Define 'a lot'.

25. Where did you get the shirt you're wearing?

Where's question 26?

27. Do you use an alarm clock?
I use the husband mostly, except for the third Friday of the month when I have an 8am meeting on the other.side.of.town, in which case I put my mobile phone under my pillow and then sleep extremely poorly.

28. Where was your default MySpace picture taken?
I'm too old for MySpace. I do have a neglected Facebook account though and the photo was taken in the suburb where I live.

29. Do you ever snort when you laugh?
I sincerely hope not.

30. What's the first thing you notice on the opposite sex?
Is this the bit where I'm supposed to sigh dreamily "Their eyes"?

31. Is cheating ever okay?
Didn't your mother ever teach you this one?

32. Do you want someone you can't have?
Yes I want a cleaner.

34. Do you wear underwear?
Every day.

35. Do you wear a bra?

36. What Size?

37. Are you a social or an antisocial person?
Both. I don't like parties, but I enjoy being part of a small social gathering.

39. Do you have a tan?
No. Well actually, my feet and hands are pretty brown.

Questions 40-44, and 48 missing in action.

45. Are you afraid of the dark?

And 46!

47. Do you miss someone today?
I wish my mum lived closer.

49. Do you still have pictures of you & your exs?
Only of one ex I think, but lots of photos (of K and I. From my year in America. Americans photodocument EVERYthing).

50. Who's always there for you no matter what?
The dog.

PS. When he was brought home I heard all about how he and A witnessed the cat have four kittens and then she ate the placenta (which looked like a tongue) and that bit was gross. Son #2 thought he said "having echidnas" which led to all sorts of confused questions about whether they were spikey until realisation dawned.

6 December 2007

Getting into the swing of it

The mantlepiece is set.

Mum's cross stitch of St Nicholas is dug out, last year's trees positioned just so, and the Advent calendar in place.


Remember the angels? They're looking decidedly peaky after a year lying down in a darkened room box. Note to self: buy some Stiffy to perk them up.

angels in need of Stiffy

I like to add something new each year. This year it was three little Christmas gumnut gnomes.

christmas gnomes

Meanwhile over on top of the television cupboard nature table, the Advent Fairy has thankfully turned up with the stable. A little stone path might find its way tonight (still in the week of minerals), and next week some straw and a few more trees might appear (week of plants). The children love to see if anything has made an appearance overnight.

Oof, it's hot today. I went outside earlier to bring a load of washing off the clothesline and heard the familiar rustlethumpthumpthump as a kangaroo, who'd been lazing under a tree behind the clothesline, sprang to its feet and bounded away. Gave me quite a turn, it did. (Which I suspect was mutual).

3 December 2007

rather odd meme

Seen at blackbird’s and Telfair’s blogs and its weirdness made me laugh.

And have you noticed that now NaNoBloMo is over, I’m suddenly posting every day? Heh.

What kind of soap is in your bathtub right now?
Something homemade, grainy and kind of beige. Bought at the hippie market a few weekends ago.

Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator?

What would you change about your living room?
I'd like it to be cleaner. And less smoky in winter.

Are the dishes in your dishwasher clean or dirty?
Dirty. I did a lot of cooking today. See previous post and thank you for the amazing pork recipes.

What is in your fridge?
Left over pork. Milk, eggs, cheese (cheddar, parmesan and blue) apple juice, limp celery, a leek, yoghurt (vanilla and Greek), yeast, lettuce, zucchini, half an onion, a door full of condiments.

White or wheat bread?
This confuses me. White bread is made of wheat. If you mean white or wholemeal, well, I make a loaf that’s 2/3 white flour and 1/3 wholemeal flour. That was a longer answer than necessary, wasn’t it?

What is on top of your refrigerator?
A red folder full of school notices, timetables, receipts for excursions, and weekly school newsletters from both schools, all collected throughout the school year. This folder will be emptied on 21 December and the children are COUNTING DOWN. A jar full of Shakespearian insults fridge magnets. Dust.

What color or design is on your shower curtain?
We have a plain glass door. It needs cleaning.

How many plants are in your home?
Three avocado pips suspended over glasses of water, on the kitchen window sill.

Is your bed made right now?

Comet or Soft Scrub?
Another confusing question. This meme clearly hails from the other side of the planet where you speak funny. I have no idea what you want from me in this question.

Is your closet organized?
Could do better.

Can you describe your flashlight?

Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home?
Glass. Plastic is kind of scary.

Do you have iced tea made in a pitcher right now?
Definitely an American meme. NO.

If you have a garage, is it cluttered?
No garage.

Curtains or blinds?
Our bedroom has curtains, the other rooms have either nothing or blinds. In fact I just got rid of the living room blinds on Freecycle because they were so ugly I thought someone less fortunate than us could use them.

How many pillows do you sleep with?

Do you sleep with any lights on at night?
There’s a nightlight in the bathroom.

How often do you vacuum?
Once a week. Usually. Although it’s been 10 days now.

Standard toothbrush or electric?
Standard. Son #3 has an electric one – he got it for Christmas last year after begging and even writing it in a letter to Father Christmas. I was so embarrassed in January when he told everyone what his main Christmas present was. I was torn between standing behind him mouthing helplessly Third child! or just muttering defensively But it’s what he wanted!

What color is your toothbrush?
White and yellow.

Do you have a welcome mat on your front porch?
Yes. Black rubber in a kind of wrought iron fancy shape. Sounds naff I know but I like it.

What is in your oven right now?
Baked on gunk.

Is there anything under your bed?
Dust, Chinese embroidered slippers from the $2 Shop (abandoned because they don’t stay on), old copies of f*cking Donna Hay magazine.

Chore you hate doing the most?
Toss up between vacuuming the walls and ironing.

What retro items are in your home?
We have an ancient black bakelite phone (that used to work until lightning damaged it. Now it sits in my study, useless and dusty). An old armchair from the op shop. An op shop coffee table. Lots of old stuff but I’m not sure they count as ‘retro’.

Do you have a separate room that you use as an office?
Yep and it’s a pigsty but it’s my pigsty.

How many mirrors are in your home?

What color are your walls?

Do you keep any kind of protection weapons in your home?
Nope. But when Mr Soup went to England for a funeral some years ago I put his cricket bat under the bed.

What does your home smell like right now?
Rain! And mud.

Favorite candle scent?

What kind of pickles (if any) are in your refrigerator right now?

What color is your favorite Bible?
I have an old blue bible from when I was 6 and made my parents send me to Sunday School because my best friend went. It is my only bible so I suppose that makes it also my favourite, although I have never used those two words in the same sentence before and what the hell kind of a question is that.

Ever been on your roof?
No but the boys all have. Of course.

Do you own a stereo?

How many TVs do you have?

How many house phones?

Do you have a housekeeper?
Uh, no.

What style do you decorate in?
I don’t think it has a name.

Do you like solid colors in furniture or prints?

Is there a smoke detector in your home?
Three. The one near the lounge room has to be removed in winter or it goes off every night when we light the fire. Note to self: put it back up.

In case of fire, what are the items in your house which you’d grab if you only could make one quick trip?
Aside from children and pets? The folder containing our birth certificates, marriage certificate, citizenship certificates, passports etc (top drawer, filing cabinet, at the front already in waterproof envelope ready to go, hey we have our Fire Plan up and running, people), and the small but precious collection of home videos we started making when the firstborn arrived. Note to self: put all those videos in a bag to facilitate easier escape.

notes from a Monday morning

• It's cool and damp here finally after a couple of hot, energy-sapping days.

• I worked until after midnight last night and emailed documents off to a certain QC who will not notice the time stamp, just so I could have today "free".

• Well, free to catch up on household chores before my working week begins tomorrow. But also free to potter, make bread (done), bake muffins (half done before the lure of a cup of tea and blog browsing proved too strong), tend to an unwell teenager whom I suspect just needed a day of peace and quiet, lie in my hammock with Falling Angels and knit.

• The Advent Fairy forgot to bring the stable last night. Son #3 raced to the lounge room first thing this morning and reported back, indignantly. That Advent Fairy, I swear she's as slack as the Tooth Fairy.

• I have 500g of free range pork fillets thawing in time for dinner tonight. I have no idea what to do with them as I only buy pork once a decade. I need a recipe by 3.00 pm. Go to it. I'm relying on you.

2 December 2007

First Sunday of Advent 2007

advent first candle

The first light of advent,
it is the light of stones.
Stones that live in crystals,
seashells and bones.

Previous first Advent posts here and here.

1 December 2007

good things from the week

Walking unannounced into a hairdressing salon I've never been to before and asking if they can fit me in and chop off all my hair. Thirty minutes later I glide out with a chin length bouncy bob.


Decadent cupcakes (not made by me) baked in their own cups and saucers. A treat for the eyes and tastebuds.

sunlight on the hat basket

First day of summer. Wandering around the market buying sunkissed apricots and sweetcorn, while Son #1 earned his keep busking under a shady tree.

plum pudding

Finding a plum pudding knitting pattern on the internet. Liking the result but not thrilled with the seam up the back.

Another lovely crafternoon session with friends, good food and busy hands.

plum pudding

Creating my own pattern for a plum pud in the round (ie. on dpns so no seams). Rather pleased with myself.

purple flower hat

Finishing another little baby hat. This is basically the same pattern as the vegetable hats, but this time it's meant to be a flower.

purple flower hat from the top

I think it looks like a flower. Blocking it before photographing it for the world to see would've been good, yes?

The boys setting up the tree today. Followed by ...

... the traditional digging out of the advent calendar from The Christmas Box and refreshing the Blu-Tak on the windows (to keep them closed until the appropriate night - it's several years old now) in preparation for tonight's first opening. Followed by the first chapter of Mary's Little Donkey. Son #1 strummed quietly on the bouzouki over in the beanbag as the other two boys and I curled up on the couch and reacquainted ourselves with the little donkey of Nazareth. It was the first time in ages that all three children have had a bedtime story together (the eldest being a teenager and therefore too cool to usually remain in the room - note that he played the bouzouki so he could pretend he wasn't really listening).

Tomorrow we will set up this year's candles, the Advent Fairy will bring the stable and we will celebrate the first Sunday of Advent.

Note to self: must sew camel.

5 in a week

two in the car

three in the house

I hate huntsman season.