27 February 2007

a short story about white rugs

brick floors

Brick floors are hard.




We need rugs. You know, to soften the harsh edges of our modern, unforgiving lives. Heh. And to reduce the spending on bandaids.

We already have a few rugs. Patterned. Coloured. Pretty! But we need more.

(Bricks are hard).

So. We purchase pleasant woollen ones. White. From Ikea so we don’t have to remortgage the house.

The dog runs into the house.

And vomits.

Onto the white rugs.

He manages to hit both white rugs, his aim is so fine.

He misses the patterned rugs completely.

And the bricks altogether.

26 February 2007

knitted gnomes

knitted gnomes

For forthcoming arrivals.

thumper's gnome

This one has already met its new owner.

23 February 2007

So. Read any good books lately?

Why yes, actually.

I finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak a couple of weeks ago. At first I didn’t like the rather mannered writing. The initial few chapters smell of the lamp, as the French say. (Apparently). You can feel the (young, Australian) author working really hard to come up with yet another clever metaphor to cram into the already very crafted sentences. Some paragraphs felt forced in their wistfulness. Much of it is beautiful but there are only so many artful lines one can take in one short paragraph before one becomes fatigued. But after a time I fell into its rhythm and the overworkedness of it lessened and I became engrossed by the story. And you have to love a story narrated by the character Death.

Next I picked up Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Such an ambitious book, but man, he pulls it off. This book includes several narratives set in Teh Olden Days, the 1930s, 1970s, 1980s, the future, and the way far off future. Each story breaks (at a cliffhanger usually) then continues later in the book in reverse order until you finish with the bit you started at, sort of. Links and common threads run throughout each story, and the writing matches each character and era which is a lot of fun. Lots of themes of beginnings and endings, and love and truth. It’s the kind of book where you can’t wait to get to it again, but don’t want it to finish. I had to digest this book for two whole days before picking up my next book (Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson). (Which I am thoroughly liking so far and she’s only just been born on page 43).

Oh, I’m also listening in the car to The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru. I read this a couple of years ago but am enjoying it even more on audio tape, especially as it’s read by the honey-voiced author himself. You know how you picture someone from their voice? I have this fantasy that this guy is a young hip London Indian who is absolutely truly madly deeply gorgeous. I read on another blog recently (can't remember who, sorry) that they, the blogger, listened to something read by 'some Brit called Simon Callow', and she had built up a beautiful fantasy of a Hugh Grant lookalike. Ahem. Simon Callow is a great actor but he does not resemble HG. Made me giggle. I wonder if my own fantasy is equally as far fetched? Must google.

Speaking of books, this was the scene on the dining table the other morning.


Have I mentioned before that Son #1 has an obsessive personality?

In other riveting news I’m knitting gnomes, sewing pumpkins and enjoying the break from baking birthday cakes right now.

20 February 2007

whirlwindy times


The blog craft-swap-meet was fun. Organised by Justine and Nichola, and held in the beautiful and inspiring surrounds of Amitie, we met, nattered, laughed, swapped gifts and admired. I even got to hold the most precious package of all – a six day old baby.


It’s a cliché, but it is always lovely to meet people whose blogs I read or have exchanged the odd email with, or even viewed from afar (the twin goddesses of Backtack were present). Good to put real life people to those words and pictures on the screen.

Since then it’s been a whirlwind of activity here getting Son #1 off to camp for a week and making birthday preparations for the littlest member of the house (8 years old today).

birthday cape

For various reasons Son 3#’s school class didn’t get their own birthday cape and crown when they became a class last year. So the other day I put my hand up (why, oh why this week of all weeks did I do that?) to make the cape, and another mum made a beautiful felt crown adorned with beads and ribbon and felted ‘gems’. Excuse the dodgy picture of the cape but it was finished at midnight last night (of course), and this morning I had to photograph it in a rush before it was whisked off to school. Kind of nice that my child gets to christen it, as I made it.

14 February 2007

7 February 2007



You’ve probably read elsewhere in blogland about the big Melbourne craft bloggy get-together that’s looming. Yes? That’s right, that one in which each person makes fifteen clever crafty beautiful identical things to distribute at the gathering, and thus gets to go home (after suitable refreshments, stimulating conversation, much oohing and aahing and the odd smoosh of a new baby) with fifteen clever crafty beautiful different things to keep for their very own. All handmade by their new local (and interstate VIPs) bloggy friends.

I’m not quite sure how I ended up being included in this (ok yes I am, it was all Sooz’s doing) as I don’t really consider myself a bona fide ‘craft blogger’,* but invited I was, attending I intend to, and nervous I appear to be. Not only is there that whole thing of coming face to face with many of the people whose blogs I stalk visit and admire, but there is the decision of What To Make. Not too fancy or convoluted (I have to make fifteen, let’s remember), keep it simple, but not too mean. Will it measure up? Will people like it? Will I be equal to the task? Have I got performance anxiety? Hell yes.

In the end I did what I do best. I picked up my knitting needles. Time consuming, but hey, I had weeks to prepare and I can knock one of these, my signature item, off in two evenings in front of the telly. So, that’s, oh god, a whole month of knitting. Every evening. Er, and then the weaving in of ends and the blocking. And the matter of packaging. Sheesh.

You see how fraught it all is. I feel a swoon coming on. Shoot.me.now.

* I don’t identify as a ‘craft blogger’ as such. But nor do I feel I qualify as anything else in particular; not literary, not philosophical, not godforbid a ‘mummy blogger’. It’s a soup of many ingredients over here. A Heinz 57 varieties as my mum would say.

6 February 2007

stage 3

Showering with a bucket between your feet is a bit of a circus act.

As is hauling the full bucket out of the house and lugging it up all.those.steps to the newest seedlings, trying not to splosh it all over your shoes and skirt. Attempting to get small boys to remember to do so after their own showers is futile so I end up doing multiple bucket runs per day. Not that I mind. The act of nurturing each individual plant through this relentless summer is a small pleasure that appeals to my sense of stewardship, and of course gives me all those smug fuzzy feelings. I take it as a personal insult when a plant turns up its toes. So far I’ve lost one Helichrysum petiolare and one Grevillea Honey Gem (a seedling, not strong enough yet to withstand harsh conditions). Not bad. I pulled back a lemon-scented tea tree seedling from the brink of extinction recently and the euphoria I felt at this wee success was really quite out of proper proportion.

These hollyhocks are not mine. I adore hollyhocks, lupins and foxgloves (I can take or leave delphiniums) but they are quite ridiculous for this bush garden and this climate. Nevertheless they are from Montsalvat, which is nearby.

Trying to remember which day ‘evens’ are allowed to water (and at what times) is challenging. Twice a week, and only then between the crack of sparrows’ fart dawn and 8am, and no lawns at all not ever no way Jose. So, I haven’t watered with a hose or mains water for many many weeks now. It’s greywater or nothing. Luckily we are a clean living family who shower frequently.

sunflowers at montsalvat

I recently purchased one of those connecting hoses for the washing machine to try and catch the final rinse water, but I can’t get it to connect firmly enough and the sight of the hose flailing around the laundry, soaking me in (valuable! precious! Planet Ark-enriched!) water amused the children no end. The mister is the only one strong enough to jam the pipe properly on so I can recycle the water only if he and his superior strength happen to be home when I do the washing.

(Mr Soup is banned from the laundry as there are some things he just.can.not.grasp [correct separation of lint givers and lint collectors, dirty overalls and cricket wear not in with the smalls and delicates, etc]. Fear not, he does take the rubbish out. Oh hang on, I do that too. Okay, he changes light globes and unsticks windows and makes school lunches and does important things with power tools).

late afternoon sun

Next up when the bank balance allows: a rainwater tank. Assuming it will rain again one day.

5 February 2007


reading corner

It has been a productive summer break.

We’ve put up a shed, filled a shed, erected a new clothesline, built bunk beds, and laid a couple of paths and pulled up others.

I also went to Ikea to get red doona covers for the bunk beds in the new ‘red room’ inhabited by Sons #1 and 3 (#2 is having a turn on his own) and found that the covers I had planned to buy are now discontinued. There was one king size doona left in the whole of Australia in that colourway which they sold to me for a grand total of $9.95 so I turned it into two single doona covers.

And had enough left over for a large floor cushion to make a reading nook.

dangerous reading

Dangerous stuff.

4 February 2007

phrases from books and tv shows that have entered our family lexicon (updated as I remember more)

... and Wombat beamed.
The final line in Mem Fox's Wombat Divine. Spoken quietly and in a satisfied manner when a member of the family does something especially fine. Or whenever something is proclaimed 'divine'.

I won the shiny red car!
From an episode of Cheers. A dumb blonde in a low cut dress wins a competition in the bar. Always pronounced with a bubbly wide-eyed voice.

Shrieked at top speed in near-hysterical anger, with a psychotic gleam in the eye, by the policeman in Withnail and I. That actor only had one line in the entire film. He made the most of it. You can buy the t-shirt here or listen to the line over here. In our family it is utilised when children are dawdling and the ringing of the school bell is imminent.

Howdy sports fans!
Another quote from Cheers. From Norm this time. Gosh I miss Cheers.

Otto in A Fish Called Wanda when he and Jamie Lee Curtis open the safe and find it emptied of cash. Spoken softly and deadpan.

Not happy, Jan.
Much of Australia quotes this on a regular basis, as do we. From a rather funny ad for the Yellow Pages. Go here to learn how the ad then morphed into a political campaign (not happy, John) and even a book about Howard's failures. Watch the ad too if you so desire.

Not beans again? No nuh-no!
I've mentioned before that I came this close to being the poor unfortunate (but well paid) thirteen year old sod who had this line in the ad for Rosella Savoury Rice. It was in fact my audition line but I ended up in the Vesta ads in my school uniform, so that every couple of days in 1977 eight hundred schoolchildren from Mentone Girls' squinted at the telly, Ohmigod is that our uniform? Mum, there's someone on tv wearing our uniform! Who is it? Is it someone I know? I think it's that little kid in Year 7. Are you sure it's our uniform? Gees she's speaking so fast I can't work out what she's saying. etc etc My lines were not nearly so memorable. Thankfully.

Oh my god, I've killed a hippie.
Mr Soup's favourite. Rik Mayall's line when he accidentally injures his best friend Neil in The Young Ones. Trivia learnt recently: did you know Vyvyan's surname was apparently 'Bastard'?

You're welcome.

Violet and Rose reminded me of the Uncle Sam deoderant ads (yes, V&R, I'm old enough to remember those. Do you also remember the wonderfully deplorable show Aunty Jack (refresh your memory here if necessary)? We still sing You need Uncle Sam, you need Uncle Sam, let's get together with the spray in a can ... regularly. I also remember a joke that did the rounds in the 70s -

What do you get if you cross Aunty Jack with Uncle Sam?
A deoderant that will rip yer bloody arms orf.

Boom boom.

This leads to me another quote I must include.

Orf with his head!
Miranda Richardson spouted this every 3.2 seconds as the Queen of Hearts in the film Alice in Wonderland. In fact I think she also did as Queenie, in Black Adder. Anyway, shrieked occasionally in our house when one of the children misbehaves.

And of course ...

I have a cunning plan.
Baldrick. In Black Adder. Doesn't everyone quote this at least biannually?

Mr Soup reminded me we have three regular quotes from the movie Down by Law.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
Not original to that film, but the scene is so funny it'll make you, um, scream.

I am a good egg. He is a good egg. We are all, good eggs.
Pronounced HEGG. A la Robert Benigni.

It is a sad and beautiful world.
Said sorrowfully and wistfully. Again, a la Robert Benigni. I am secretly in love with Robert Benigni.

And on another note entirely ...

and the other person sings out loud Deep in the heart of Texas!
From Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure.

Oh, and a Mr Soup favourite:
Just another waffer-thin mint?
Monty Python. We're not big Monty Python quoters - there are enough of them in the universe already but we do like the common garden-variety You think you were poor? We lived in a cardboard box in the middle of the road, got up before we went to bed, licked the road clean, etc etc.

I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Star Trek/Wars/Space Invaders/Buzz Lightyear pathetic sci fi nerdy geek film.
Used whenever the children make some ridiculous request.