Tuesday, December 8, 2009

teething bub

A very quick post with plenty of tags! Hopefully some needy parents will find this and perhaps find it useful.
Our baby boy at eight months seems to have been about to cut a tooth forever.
His symptoms are:
flushed cheeks, a scaly rash under his chin from drooling, a lot of drooling, lethargy (some days) irritability (other days) occasional cold symptoms (without a temperature)chomping on everything and 'gluey' poos. Do always check your baby's temp is normal and there are no rashes, as teething symptoms can be unfortunately close to those of more serious illnesses.
Things we find that help are 'Bonjella' ointment rubbed on his gums, lots of extra sleeping opportunities, rusks to chew, a little liquid baby panadol at night and very cold food good for sucking. In Coles in Australia you can buy a little gadget that is a small mesh bag with plastic lid attached to a ring. They are in the baby-food section. Very cold soft fruit and veg shoved into this works really well- he can suck and chew on the treat in the bag, top up his hydration and the mesh fabric seems to rub his gums and alleviate the pain. We find cold watermelon to be a winner, but also cold soft-boiled veg or other fruit work too.
Good luck!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The ghosts I know

Walk with me. Take that warm coat off your hook, for it is chilly and dusk sets in. We are in Windsor, almost at the corner of Hotham and Dandenong roads. Opposite the beautiful old red-walled cemetery are two white art deco blocks of flats. I don’t want to frighten you, and you may hold my hand, just to keep warm mind, but the left of the pair has ghosts aplenty. It’s best if you go on alone now.

If you walk down its driveway you’ll see at the end a two story flat. It’s new but tries in vain to repeat the swollen ship-curves of the original block. Can you feel it? There is an overlay that sits above and within this new structure. An old two-car garage has entries so narrow only a mini could fit, but there is Lisa’s turquoise valiant with its whitewall tires. She is a drummer in surf-rock band and has painted her damp flat in deep burnt red. On her shelves sit Barbies without heads, sparrow skulls, lizard skins, buttons and cans and chip packets from the seventies. She is a curator of detritus, a collector of what gets left behind: the ghosts of products, creatures, stuff.
Walk past the garage to the right. Here are the stairs, and at their end a wooden door. Emerge into the barnlike washroom, where an old copper and wringer appear as strange to us as medieval torture devices. Women may yet live who remember their red and chapped hands wringing out the baby’s nappies. Did they sing as they worked, or purse their lips with the effort? Through the door onto the garage roof. Ancient concrete and a lone hills-hoist strike a sombre bass-note against the treble of rooftops, antennas, elms and ivy-strangled grey walls.
This place where I would leave the world behind with beanbag, book and glass no longer exists, it is a ghost place. But you see it too.

In the same block of damp old deco flats: my first home out of home. One enormous lounge with a semi-circular window wall, and a narrow kitchen that always made people feel they were in a train car: wire fronted cupboards, an ancient aga-style cooker with gas-marks and a built in breakfast nook. Off the bedroom the mildewed, frayed and falling down glamour of a bath the size of a lap-pool, a Chrysler-building pattern of red and black tiles and a showerhead the size of a dinner plate. One morning as I lay in bed she emerged from the bathroom, an image of neat skirt suit and dark hair in a bun, an expression tired and a bit baffled to see me. Then I blinked and she was gone. Poof.
The new buyers ripped apart the kitchen to modernize, and removed the bath to accommodate a laundry. I wonder if the rising damp took the hint and retreated too. And doth my lady still linger?

Stroll downhill, perhaps along Alexander Ave and alongside the cemetery. On Inkerman Street you will find the Kimberly Hotel and beside it a large Jewish convention centre. The red brick flats that still pulse within its walls were completed on V.E. day. All six of these mansion apartments of two, three and four bedrooms with separate dining were already promised to returned veterans and their wives.
When I lived there amidst falling tiles, rising damp and threadbare rose-print carpet, June still lived there. The husband had left, but left her with four rooms, rent-controlled ‘for life’, and furnished in the calmly sparse and elegant pieces of the late forties. Whilst her flat was an understatement of olive and walnut, June wore sarongs, red lipstick and dyed her hair black on her back-step once a month. She swore like a trooper when her guaranteed home was sold out from under us. She’d never been told that the promise given her as a war bride was only valid if the husband lived there. You’d think they’d mention that. But she was still glad she’d kicked him out and emptied the teak liquor cabinet.
So now the Jewish community sings there within new walls, and my old neighbour Kerstin, a witch if ever there was, flits be-cloaked amongst her herb garden, calling to the corners and bedazzling the Autumn moon with her purely female smile. And in a gloomy central room I lay more logs into the tiny corner fire and pull my old red-velvet wingback chair closer in. The lover and I will drink Morris Pressings, eat pot-chilli and read. The kitten ‘X’ will soon jump on my lap, unknowing that after another twelve years of terrorizing small creatures and my hair elastics he will die peacefully in his new home, west of the water.

Sometimes when I walk these old places in my mind it seems my existence is being torn away behind me as structures tumble and are churned into the new. Then ‘I have fears that I may cease to be’.
I will cease to be. I will go. The Skipping girl may go, the Rialto, the clown-face of Luna Park, all may go. The icons, buildings and pathways of a personal history that trail behind me like a lost narrative seeking its author, all of this could go. And should my mind go, as well it may, even these tattered skirts of story trailing behind me will go too.
So take it all away. Stand me on the brink of the Western water. I can see the Dandenong ranges. I will find the known view and start walking towards my childhood, passing ghosts with every step.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I call this house my home.

Having had (at my own behest) the Loving Hubby home a fair bit lately celebrating his abundance of annual leave, I’ve become increasingly aware that whilst we tread the same creaking boards and use the same loo, we have vastly different versions of the home.

I did not know til this last week that in the mornings and on autopilot I mosey round the rooms adjusting the blinds to achieve a kind of dim glow. Or that I will not play the radio for fear of bad music creeping in; I play only CDs and they tend to the ambient side now.

I have a bug up my bum about starting each day with the dishes cleared, but I don’t mind toy-strewn floors or neat piles of laundry-to-put-away.

Feeling at times out of sorts and fractious with the L.H at home I started to fear I was selfish about ‘hogging’ our baby, or just selfish about sharing space.
Then it started to dawn, as post-dawn the bright light would stream in, making any Finn-cries seem that bit sharper. The radio would go on, making my ears confused; do I tune in to it or the every-nuance-of-bub-talk that enables me to pre-empt Finn’s hunger, boredom or fatigue?

Finally I had the source of my angst. In this house lies many homes; those past with their extra walls, less walls, piled up carpets and layers of wall-paint, their outdoor loos and freestanding kitchens.
Then there are our versions as a DIY couple: carpet up, boards polished, lace curtains off, blinds up, bathroom out, bathroom in, concrete gone, veranda up.

Then the more routine daily ones. My home dim and near silent. His home sunny and throbbing with sound. A great many homes within a little bit of space.
And fair call I guess, the old lady whose weathered arms encircles us all each day is seventy. She’s allowed to be a little capricious, or demented.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dream feed

Around 3am there must be the first snuffles that alert me to begin waking.

I enter the room quietly in slipper-shod feet. I am still asleep but have drifted from bed to kitchen to nursery. The cats snore, entwined together on the leather couch, a warm fur-mountain of tails and paws.
In Finn’s room I pick him up, sleep-limp still and heavy, a little caterpillar cocooned in his duvet-thick swag.
We sit in the lamps dim glow and he looks at me with trusting seal-grey eyes.
The bottle-teat enters his eager ‘o’ of a mouth, instantly stopping another whimper. His plump lips close round it, then back he goes to sleep, sucking so hard the bottle emits a faint whistle as the air valve does its thing. I let my thoughts roam, and they are pleased and contended thoughts. I am careful not to look at the clock, and have strategically placed a toy in front of it. To look at the clock is to think of sleep hours remaining, to not look is to sit heavy and suspended in a glowing bubble of time-proof matter, a candle-lit cabin at sea, the Tardis in deep space.
Finn slurps at a steady pace, his eyes mostly closed, but occasionally opening to check the Goddess (she who giveth and taketh away) is still attached to the sweet and warm drink
Five minutes, eight, ten, not really counting but measuring out heartbeats in mls of milk. The house ticks faintly with snuffly possums that’ve come back in after an early forage.
Replete, he allows a fine dribble of milk to escape his lips on each side, his ‘milk fangs’ we call them.
I pull the bottle back and dab his lips, glazed like plump doughnuts with a slick of milk.
When I pick him up for a burp his heavy head lolls onto my shoulder and he goes as soft as a kitten.
Ergghh. He says. Good boy, say I.
I fold him into the cot and tuck him tight as tight can be. Snug as a bug in a rug, my Dad used to say.
As I turn to flick off the lamp I hear his gurgling and satisfied snores.
The house closes in again around this little moment, this dream feed, like a shell round a nut.
I return to bed and am soon, again, asleep.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

For Sharon and Allie

A good old friend is losing a loved one.
I know a wise woman, an old crone-carer soul, who all her life has been what I call an animal crooner. One of those people who speak to animals and is heard by them, who refuses, as we all should, to eat meat on the grounds that she cannot partake of a friends flesh, and who has rescued animals to change their lives with her love and companionship.
As I write this she as at home with her beautiful old dog Allie, settling her and calming her into death.
Allie has golden fur like the softest velvet, a sweet and motherly nature, a body warm and made for lap-cuddles. Yet she is old and frail and may be in pain.

All those who know Allie and her wise companion, her fur-mother, hope that Allie can move peacefully into the quiet. There, she will feel no more pain. She will be all: the space, the light, the stars, the earth, the chase, the tickle, the wag of the tail and the dust that hangs in a sunbeam. As she moves into this every-ness she will hear the soft voice of her best friend and Mum telling her she is a good girl, a good girl, a good old girl.

It is our hope, all of us who know these fine friends that this passing will happen naturally. And if it shouldn’t be so, if one has to decide to free her friend from further pain, then know this, that we can dignify a life held dear by crooning out a loved one as we assist them to die.
There is no shame in this, only the deepest compassion of one being for another’s pain.
Softly, softly, you loving friends, may your end song be sung as sweet as your life together.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Farewell to an old Tivoli dancer who hung with Squizzy Taylor’s molls…

Mavis was my great Aunt, or FABULOUS aunt as she would say.

From my earliest memories she was an old woman in my life. Old but never dull or invisible. I fondly remember times in various Stkilda flats where we’d feast on dim-sims and tim-tams, then she’d hop on the singer and make it sing as she rennovated or remade my latest opshop find or retro dress pattern.

If Mavis liked you, nothing was too much trouble and her generosity knew no bounds.
If she didn’t like you, look out! This old lady could be full of scathing wit, but she was also full of vim and vigour.

She gave me my first pair of clogs: red straps with cork heels, hand me downs that stopped fitting me at age nine.
Every time we re-met she’d laugh and measure herself against me as I shot past her diminutive self that seemed all corseted waist, voluptous breasts and dainty little feet in heels. She always set her hair, wore lipstick and beads and beautiful clothes that she often made herself.

Her many homes around StKilda were always warm and brightly feminine as no matter how basic they started out that singer-machine would soon be running up ruffles and covers in pretty pastel hues. She had a fondness for peach, pink and minty green and she knew how to make things over, but more importantly how to make things beautiful.

Aunty May loved StKilda with a passion we shared: its Russian shops, its orthodox jews in furry hats, but also the knowledge of its seemy underside intrigued her too. No matter how high the rent prices became, Stkilda was where she longed to be, and she would return there like a homing pigeon, or a magpie drawn to shiny things. I think she was proud when I began managing StKilda’s library, and we’d gossip about the more colourful local characters, often older drag queens she’d seen around for years.

At the many jazz afternoons I shared with her and my Mum Pam, Aunty Mavis would immediately befriend and soon know all the secret business of anyone in the vicinity. She was fascinated by people, and this curiosity was attractive to the people she met.
She would flirt with her eyes and her laugh, and call for requests and dance in her teensy-tiny shoes.

She taught me as a teenager not to fear being a woman over fifty, saying and showing that it allowed you to be as audacious and vivacious as you wanted, or could get away with. It’s a lesson I’ll hold dear as I two-step down the next few decades.

They say that heaven has good weather but the company’s better in hell.
Mavis, I hope that wherever you are the band is playing some hot New Orleans stomp, the crowd is going wild and the handsome man playing clarinet asks you to dance.

Cause dance you would.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Slowly, slowly, little seed.

A few years ago I read one of those books that actually revolutionized my thinking in the same way that Kate Millet’s ‘Sexual politics’ did, the same way that Anais Nin’s ‘Little Birds’ did and the same way that E.E. Cummings’ poetry did.

And it was bloody pop-philosophy!
But it engendered that moment of ‘A-ha’, of recognition of something previously felt but unarticulated. It was Carl Honore’s book ‘In praise of slow’, a (remarkably succinct given it’s title) discourse on the merits of slowing down: in our sex, our cities, our cooking, music and parenting.

The book is not brilliantly written, but-
My slow-soul, the one who sings ballads, grows herbs, cooks pot-food and likes nothing better than the vast uncharted terrain of an unplanned afternoon, responded to the slow philosophy with a sigh as grateful as if sinking into a warm bath. Finally something articulated that tremulousness that hovers at the brink when we drink in air deeply, touch the food we cook lovingly, and rediscover the deliciousness of our lovers’ back beneath our hands over an entire afternoon.

Carl Honore is also the author of “The Power of Slow: Finding Balance and Fulfilment Beyond the Cult of Speed,” and, more recently, “Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting,” which has been recently re-released.

I’ve actually not read these, but from other reading about the ‘cult of slow’ established with my husband a kind of philosophy as to how we want to parent our little seedling. And the best way I can summarize is to say we want to stretch time, every day, for as long as possible. We want time like sticky-taffy, time like pink chewing-gum, time like in the Tardis, time like it felt on the first day of summer school holidays.

This means resisting the pull of scheduled activity to instead observe then wallow in the rhythms of what the body and mind wants on that particular day.
This could be rest, but it could also be mad joyous play, music, dancing or drumming.
Slow parenting does not mean non-stop calm and quietude.

If I have plans, I feel I must stick to them so as not to let people down.
Plan-less I can observe my boy being twitchy, or dozy, or curious or bored. I can observe myself wanting to stimulate him, or just cuddle up with him. Plan-less, I am left to my own resources to satisfy this experience-insatiable little person.

It helps that my home is full of books and instruments and things growing in the yard. But the best discovery is that my mine, oops, mind is resource-rich, veined with fine fissures of gold, silver-ore and sapphire. All the accumulated wealth of years of imaginative play with my Mum as I grew up in her slow home. Wealth aplenty!

Enough to dazzle the eyes of a four-month old anyway…

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thinking about unconditional love

When I was pregnant with Finn complete strangers would gush to me “oh you’ve no idea, it’s the most amazing thing, and the most powerful love you’ll ever feel.”

Finn is now three months and I’d have to disagree.
For Finn is easy to love wholeheartedly, unconditionally and completely.
The more powerful love, purely by dent of the work it takes, is the one I feel for my husband or my parents.
Finn is indeed hard work. But he is also tiny, smells like the best thing the world has ever come up with, doesn’t give me sass, and when he tires me its through no fault or manipulation.
The love I feel for him is the easiest love there is to feel. It’s the way we should love our friends, our lovers, and our family.
As a young feminist I ‘learned’ an awful lot about sexual politics and that all love between a man and woman is based on at best an exchange of power (for money, protection, security) and at worst female sublimation to the ‘patriarch that dwells in all men.’
I’ve since had to unlearn much of this notion for my own marriage to work. Sacrifice, when both parties make it in regular small doses, does not in any way belittle me. It instead is the cornerstone of trust, for I’ve learned to trust that I can also make withdrawals from the sacrifice piggy bank when my own resources are running low.

I don’t believe I will ever be able to love a complex adult like my husband or my Mum in the same ‘no holds barred’ fashion that I love Finn, but I do believe that trying to will make me the best lover of people that I can be.

There is a marvellous short story called ‘A tree, a rock, a cloud’ about a man who teaches himself to love anything or everything by meditating upon it until its beautiful ‘self ness’ is apparent and loveable to him.

Perhaps if I held (or was allowed to hold) a fully realized adult bundled in my arms for an hour at a time ten times a day, just staring into the amazing ness that is their eyes I could add to that title the most important word:
‘A tree, a rock, a cloud - anyone

Monday, April 27, 2009

How we know ourselves from sociopaths

The beloved Oxford English Dictionary has variously defined a sociopath as
"Someone with a personality disorder manifesting itself chiefly in anti-social attitudes and behaviour"; the newly edited definition (March 2009) is "Originally: a person who performs criminal or antisocial acts as a result of a moderate degree of mental deficiency (disused). In later use (also hyperbolically): a person affected with sociopathy; a psychopath".

What neuropsychologists now know is that a sociopath seems to be hardwired differently, missing (and this is my simplification) a response of distress or anxiety when seeing other creatures in pain.

That we are generally hardwired to experience a distress response makes perfect sense. Humans though lacking many predators are fundamentally (and comparatively within diverse species) underdeveloped to protect ourselves well. We therefore need to fend not just for ourselves but also for each other. A reaction of extreme anxiety to one of our fellow tribe (and this could include the animals we shared floors, work and companionship with for centuries) is our way of knowing to wake up and check, to protect each other from danger and ensure our lone and group survival.

A baby particularly is woefully underdeveloped to fend for itself upon birth, and in fact does much of its useful development (strengthening its neck, being able to roll, being able to direct arm movement) in what some call “the fourth trimester’, or it’s first three months post-womb.

But still it’s not much in the way of survival tools, so my baby is programmed to program new responses into my brain through its cries.
There are many baby cries:
HUNGRY! In my bub this has a lament wa-wa-wa-wa sound
POO- how dare there be POO in my nappy? This sounds outraged beyond belief!

And many more….
But there is one that we all fundamentally know.
It is the cry of a beloved human in deep sadness, the cry of newborn animal we’ve taken into the home as a pet or a distressed older animal that is sick.
It is the cry that says “help, I feel very alone and scared and confused". It is the cry that calls for immediate touch, though sometimes we don’t realize that as immediatley as we should.

It is the cry that sets a flash of hot electric blue light pulsing round our head. It is the cry that hurts! We can’t ignore it, we must wake up, get up, attend.
Parent or not we all know that cry.

And in our response lies the essence of being both human and humane.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Birthing Finn

I thought I wasn’t going to write about it, but now feel the urge to push out the experience, probably because now that my son is here and sleeping soundly as I write I can make the space to ponder my labour.

Facts: all was doing well after two days of false labour. This involved regular close contractions that would start to come the requisite five minutes apart that warrants heading for hospital. But then they’d suddenly stop for a few hours so loving husband and I would do stuff.
We finally went to hospital late night Saturday March 28th, because I’d had a bright bleed, and this can be of concern to Doctors. In hospital the contractions continued and they gave me some painkillers. Chris and I drifted off and awoke to again realize labour had stopped. We made the decision to head home again to sleep in our own bed…
Four hours later on early Sunday morning we were back, admitted to the birthing suite, and as planned I asked our lovely midwife Esther, a warm Jewish woman, to run me a huge bath.
I spent much of the day working through contraction in that bath, and then as things progressed began sucking back on the gas I was using as pain relief.
In early evening it seemed I was getting no further along, and a Doctors check indicated I’d stopped dilating at 8 centimetres (you need to be at 10 to start the pushing part). Finn was still inside but becoming distressed with a slight drop in heartbeat. The doc attached a clip to his head that allowed them to monitor his heart rate, and this is where more intervention began.
He was slightly tilted against my cervix and struggling to move further down, a midwife was called to rupture my waters to try and speed up birth, to no avail.
The docs kept checking, Finn and I kept struggling to move into the next phase, known as transition, and people started to get concerned.
I was then given an Oxytocin induction, and not five minutes after it labour really began- I heard myself grunting like a wild animal and finally called for Pethidine pain relief but it was too late- had I been given it it would have passed right into Finn’s system and further risked a slow heart-beat.
We were on.

I grunted and panted and clamped down on the gas- it was taken away as it was making me too groggy to push. I shut my eyes and we went deep under.
I was a huge bulb trying to push forth that one shoot towards light. All was pressing down on me, I was not in a room (though occasionally opening my eyes I saw more and more people as Doctors and midwives rushed in to help) but I was under heavy earth. Death and life were alongside us- the only other human connection my husbands voice: “it’s ok, he’s coming, push love, push, nearly there…”

I was not scared. I had a job to do and it was very hard work bringing us both up from the earth to the light. I heard animal noises- was that me?
They helped us by using the vacuum suction cup on Finn’s head- still I had to push us forth into being.

Then finally the strange slithering sensation- the gasps around me. Then silence.
“Where is he? I can’t hear him! Bring him to me now!”
Then this tiny wet-rag of a being was laid on my chest as I pushed again to birth the placenta. There was stitching being done because I’d had an episiotomy.
There was this blood-covered being wailing against my breast. He was here. My husband weeping over us and whispering in my ear. “ I love you so much, well done, well done”.

Do not be scared by this tale, though it be all true.
I am recovered, all is healing well, we are here and we are three.
And Finn sleeps as I write.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

and baby Finn makes three...

about birthing I'll say nothing, thus joining the great conspiracy amongst women to protect one another from the most primal and animal experience one can conceive of...

Finn was born at about 8pm on MArch 29th. When they put his slimy wriggling little self onto my chest for the first time all the pain made complete and perfect sense.

Now we're one week in and just starting to find some rhythms and not live in a constant state of terror!
All control, all 'knowledge' and all assumptions have been rolled up with the dirty nappies and thrown in the bin as we tussle with a highly scheduled routine of preparing for feeds, feeding, burping away Finn's hiccups then getting him to sleep. Just as this routine ends its starts again. It's compelling, all-consuming, exhausting and yet marvellous...

Somehow in there we find the time to feed ourselves and enjoy little moments: congratulating each other on good work and slight successes (like dressing a squirmer!), lying on the couch listening to Goldfrappe's 'Seventh tree' as a sunbeam falls over the face of my little boy and his mouth curls in a mysterious Mona-smile, tucking him into a crisp-sheeted cot and hearing him sigh as his eyes rolls back and sleep starts, or watching his eyes take in the huge morning sky as I take him outside for air-time.
The house moves to new rythms, breathes in smells of baby and glows with nightlights as we grope about learning. My cats twine around my feet, delighted with the smell of rich breast-milk that clings to me.

A house of love.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

the waiting game

Just six days now before I'm officially due to do some birthing.

My brain is like a hand minus its opposable thumb. It goes: pat (soft) pat (kitty) pat (tummy) etc, but cannot hold on to a coherent thought. Constructing sentences is like groping in the dark for the light switch; my language synapses have broken giving me a glimpse of some darkling future dementia...

All this though helps protect the brain from SHEER PANIC at the thought of labour and dealing with a newborn. Its like being on a nice little cocktail of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, valium and a glass of red wine.

la, la, la,


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Departures from the Isle of Work...

Yesterday marked my last day in my library job for some ten months as I go on maternity leave.
I still can’t quite believe I won’t be heading into StKilda every day and talking up a blue streak with my colleagues.
It was a crazy week too, with some big changes to my team (to be revealed soon) meaning I actually interviewed (ask me no questions I’ll tell you no lies) to go back to work in a different position come end of year. I was so hyped up I thought my waters might burst and the bosses would have to get me off to the labour ward!
But its done now and yesterday left me feeling strangely sentimental. After so many years trying to conceive, suffering three miscarriages and believing I’d never leave to have a baby, it now becomes real: when I return it will be as a ‘working Mother’.
I’ll miss everyone, particularly Bunny-man, Wize-Womon, Stig, Noreen the Possum, Curly-Kat and Gypsy-Chic. Hugo the Cat will also have to find himself a new milk-bowl monitor...
Until this business of labour begins I plan to spend my days visiting the lovely Sun cinema in Yarraville to see all the Oscar films, and dawdling around the permanent collections at the National Galleries in town.

I suspect there will be some polishing too, and maybe some cleaning of cornices with a toothbrush or fixating on cobwebs with broom in hand…
Why clean I do not know as everyone keeps warning me of a new bub’s scary capacity to turn itself into a Catherine wheel of faecal flares!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

slowing down and taking stock on our day of mourning

Sunday morning and I've got the TV on in the background picking up footage of the mourning service for bushfire victims. Even though there's bound to be plenty of organised religion involved in today I hope the huge gathering of people sharing their support can act as a catalyst for the necessary grief to really begin. It must be difficult for those victims to 'find time' for their emotional needs when their basic physical needs are still so far from being met, but great stories are already emerging of the community efforts to start rebuilding. Crap stories too, of looters and cheaters, but these are still far outweighed by the good in people caring for each other and animals.

I'm slowing down, and gosh it's hard. The garden beckons but my back says go easy. Sleep no longer is enough to ease the general backache of carrying this extra little being around, so I have to rest a lot more and enjoy warm baths. I miss being able to rub heating oils into the tesne places, but its not allowed. I miss seeing my pubic hair (odd I know) and being able to cut my own toenails...

I miss hugs with my husband where our groins touch and rub, but its impossible with such a big belly!
but I like this pregnancy business most of the time, and remind myself to enjoy it.
A beautiful dinner last night- sitting at a Greek restaurent in Williamstown with a view of the water and City beyond, savouring my saganaki and calamari with 'himself' and companionable in a quietude together as we prepare for the future onslaught of 'the boy'...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sunday morning

6.30: reclined in bath with book easing away the night's sore back.
book starts sliding into the water. Realize I had fallen alseep...

7.30: eat a fibre-full breakfast of muslei with brain and stewed peaches. Have an espresso.

8.30: stand outside the two toilets in the foyer of Coles in Williamstown, belly huge and gurgling, bladder the size of a pea.

8.30 and fifteen seconds: sound of female voice fills the foyer with a long and loud 'noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo'
(the toilets are out of service)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Great (fabulous) Aunty Phyliss

My Great Aunty Phyllis was born in 1918 and has just died at age ninety.
She worked like a Trojan, cooked like an angel, and protected like a lioness.

As my Da’s Aunty she was also Aunt to the Wilson mob, that rabble of eight unshod kids my Da belongs to.
She always treated them: with shoes, knitted socks and scarves, and their favourite cake. Each kid would get a day with her for lunch and a treat.
All her family remember her knitting and baking: roasts, flummeries, chocolate ripple cakes, trifles and plum-puddings.

She worked as a public servant in the defence department and lived her life with great Aunty Sissy, her sister and companion. They bullied each other, minded each other’s manners, kept each other in line and between them were fabulous aunts to (from the Wilson mob) 8 siblings, Great Aunts to 23 cousins, and now Great Great aunts to around thirty (with two on the way between cousin Kerry and me).

I recall Aunty Phil as a series of tastes, smells and textures:
Her own scent of some soft floral talc.
Choc-ripple cake all creamy and crumbly, the light sour-sweetness of pale yellow pineapple flummery, a house that smelt of lemon beeswax, lavender and tea tree, those old cleaning smells of a generation of women who took care that things would last.
The heady perfume of gardenias for the tree in the yard was always in flower.
The crackled yellowing and musty pages of the Mills and Boon collection dating back to the fifties that lined the walls of one shady bedroom. Aunty Phil lent me, aged twelve, my first Mills and Boon romance. I had forgotten that and now know how I can reconcile those books with a Literature degree. It is in the comfort of the books skins more than their narrative, the comfort of the extended family that made a child’s world sensible and safe.

She is survived by Aunty Sissy and lots of family who between them will keep her recipes alive. In her honour I’m making flummery this weekend for my friends’ visiting children. If they have never had it before I suspect they will want it again after a taste!