Monday, December 27, 2010

Ho Ho Ho (and as my friend Tanya would say- 'where, where, where?')

It probably speaks volumes that (ex events-waitress style) I had a three page ‘run sheet’ for xmas day food preparation that began with mango-sorbet making last Thursday, moved into gluten-free stuffing creation on Friday and ended with ‘water on for peas and roasting juices on the stove for gravy’ at 12.15 Christmas day when, thanks to my open plan dining-to-kitchen arrangement everyone laughed and took photos whilst my toddler screamed in terror (of the electric carving knife, and grandparents are cruel) and my husband bailed on his ‘gravy-stirring’ duties to calm said child. Dad stepped in to stir gravy, mum followed behind me with sadly shrivelled little peas, toddler was becalmed with his ‘Mr Potato Head’ and the turkey was served. A word on the turkey- massive. And also huge and floppy and difficult to wrangle with the stuffing and butter and the kitchen string then even harder to carve as my child caterwauled and people asked me to ‘pose again like Nigella’. Fuckers….
But after all that the bird was (insert vegetarian alert here) very yummy and has made great sandwiches for us and some stray neighbours for three days now.
Master Finn played with his many toys (yay for Tonka, Fisher-Price and the beautiful rocking Pony he has named Hoodi-ooey) but mostly Mr Potato-Head because I ROCK at picking presents.
We have been semi-drunk on leftover wines for three days, almost like those irresponsible adutls we used to be, and (insert spoiler alert for prim types here) I’ve been getting some sugar in my bowl, a little jelly in my jelly-roll etc etc.

Thank god the cleaners came today though; my mum has shaky arthritis wrists and we’ve been finding peas in some highly unusual places!

However you did it, I give you this sentiment: ‘merrily met, merrily set, now parted we, blessed be.’

Pics will be up later.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

monogomy is for marriage, not for blogs

I'm off this grid for a while, endulging instead in the cheap, fast and dirty world of flash-fic and tiddly-wikis.
It's all a bit like some frottage against a nightclub wall really.
anon for now!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

in sickness and in (sickness)

I was feeling a bit bragful yesterday that we were all on holiday as a family, everyone was healthy for a change, and we were about to head up to a lovely country town where our friends live opposite a river with their two kids, two acres, tow cats and a dog.
This was going to be real free-range time for Finn, pecking in the dirt with three-year-old Gil and five year old Hermoine. Chris and I were going to drink on the porch with Gabe and Andrew as we admired our (playing nicely of course) offspring.

But alas I felt bragful too soon. When I went into Finn overnight it was to find him lying in a pool of snot, tears and sweat. I gave him Panadol, put a fresh sheet under his poor damp little head, and went back to bed myself with fingers crossed. But this morning he has spots, and the kind Doc has diagnosed a ‘random virus’.

So no road trip this time round. But on the bright side perhaps I’ll get in some gardening, distress the very ugly sideboard that has good ‘bone-structure’ and cook a meal for some friends or neighbours.

And Finn is a calm bub when unwell. He knows the drill: stewed pears, cold porridge, raisins, cartoons, cuddles and warm baths. If only adult men would listen to their good nurses the dreaded ‘man flu’ could be stopped in its tracks…

Monday, July 26, 2010

a day off spent in sunshine is a soul-good thing

Oh my- what a shiny house and serious looking garden I now have.
I must have realized some time ago that the first brighter days would have me just gagging to Spring clean, cause I’d booked myself a day off sans Finn.

I have been Goddess of hard domestic graft today. My house is shiny thanks to Valerie Vac and her hard-working dust-brush attachment.

My garden is edged, mowed and looking surprisingly cared for thanks to two hulking (and handsome) Samoan men who came and conquered courtesy of Jim’s gardening services. Now that’s money well spent: brawn to work and brawn to watch.

One self-satisfied mistress of the house right here, I’ll post photos later!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A really very hard weekend.

Sometimes I long for baths with candles and oils. For afternoons where I work my way through a bottle of wine and reminisce with my man about stomping our feet to drumbeats or playing pool with travellers where three countries meet.
These days any bath I have involves a little plumply pale wiggle of boy-flesh called Finn. Fun but not exactly sensuous. My bath has squirty toys instead of ‘products’.
My man and I reminisce about sleep…

All this weekend our son has been battling sickness to try and walk. And more power to him-. It’s a Herculean effort and one I have full respect for. I feel extreme pride in watching his tenacity. But oh the misery that in applying it he’s cried every half hour for ten minutes for the last 72 hours. During which time he also wouldn’t eat.

I’ve always remembered the stress felt when my cats haven’t eaten as it’s seemed a precursor to Very Bad Things (like feline aids or cancer).
So add that to the fact that at 4 days old my son was near-starving without me understanding just how poorly breast-feeding was going for us and you might start to have an impression of how horrible it has been to watch my baby go without food for days.
People and ‘experts’ say a baby or child won’t starve himself or herself if food is offered. To them I say FUCK OFF AND WATCH MY SON DO A GOOD IMPERSONATION OF ANOREXIA.
Finally today, at 4pm after much crying from parents and bub there was some respite: a tired baby taken out for a very long walk, then bathed with some drops of lavender, then made to watch his fave TV shows, then sat down to eat.
And he ate- rice and stew then fruit and yoghurt. Then a cracker to top it all off. With every bite my shoulders dropped by an inch. Now he sleeps and I am having gin-tonics and nibbling olives. I have never been more deserving.

And I JUST DON’T CARE that I thought my next blog would be more interesting.
Next stop: reality, population 23, no camping, no fires, no dogs off-leash.

Monday, June 21, 2010

'Simple Pleasures at the Duchess of Spotswood'

As a local keen to support new ventures in Hudson's road I've been haunting this lovely new restaurant/cafe since its inception. The owners are earnest in their big dreams for the place and I don't doubt they'll bring them to realization. They work long and hard and treat foood with real respect and passion. The venue, an old block-fronted terrace, is loaded with potential and at present just charming with its glittery chandelier, old wood fittings and milk-white paint. I don't always get to eat there, but last Friday decided to do some 'work from home' which means getting away from the bootiful bub to work in a cafe. I was in luck.
Was there something new? yes. I asked for it, and lo, here was one chef-Andy had just prepared: a plate of typically English 'simple pelasures' brought together for their party in the mouth- a genteel but sophisticated house-party of the kind we might see some minor aristocracy at. A mouth-party 'Tattler' would photograph for its fashion pages: crispy fluffy diced potato, a generous mound of delicate lemony goats curd, soft but fleshy globe artichoke lifted with a briny pucker on the palate and then oh joy, darkly sweet segmemts of chesnut. Served with their beautiful toasted sourdough any of these treats would have pleased alone, but on Andy's advice I merged a few flavours for best effect- comforting, salty, heavy, lemony, sweet, crunch. yum.
Topped off with a coffee made to perfection by the glowing hostess Bobby.
Get over the bridge, it's worth it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

after a long day talking to a pre-verbal bub I'm feeling non- verbal

Here is Spotswood. At 6.10am to 7.30am two weeks ago.
It was cold. I'm not a photographer, and it really was VERY cold, and my camera is average.

But I love the bleak and graphic industrial lines juxtaposed with old softening homes and unkempt gardens. The homes and the parks came before much of the bleakness of economic downturn and disused industrial space but the majority of the factories came before the homes. Its just that the original factory architectue was often surprisingly pretty 'iced' red brick.The problem was what sprang up then fell down around it in the late twentieth century .
o hell- just see the film. It's called 'Spotswood' and was filmed all around my streets and stars Russell Crowe, Ben Mendehlson, Toni Colette and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Its old and very good.
and on that note:


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

one day I shall blog again

it might help if my regular-blogs-to-read weren't so long and so interesting that I feel I must comment. By the time I've gone-a-visiting and yapping on theirs the tea is poured, the cats are purring and the Man wants company. drat it. I'm off to read something from my beloved Norton's anthology of poetry. bugger blogging.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

(Not so) Random Acts of Selflessness…

When I was nineteen years old and in my first year of uni in Clayton I devoted a lot of time between classes to the care, comfort and good humour of my maternal Grandfather Ken Graham. He was becoming increasingly frail despite a tall frame, lantern jaw and pomp of white hair. I was sick of love as I then knew it, in all its manifestations of sweaty nightclub gropings or wild infatuations for people I’d never have to confront with said wildness.
So I made a fairly conscious decision, as well as the sentimental one of my pa’s little ‘ginger nut’, to dash off in Daisy Datsun to his home in nearby Keysborough while the other girls my age shopped at Chadstone or hit the uni bar to talk film-theory.

I was making a choice to try and learn how to love as I thought ‘real grown ups’ did, with responsibility attached. So I vacced his flat, made him lunch, organised his pills on the nightstand where a painting of the ballet Swan Lake gave view to my memories of a pastel-hued and violet- scented Nanna. Sometimes to be naughty we’d share along-neck of VB. When I left I believe he’d then have a few wee drams of Scotch and don the clan kilt he had made up at age 70 from a lady he bowled with.

Sometimes we get these moments of choice to be more selfless. Other times they’re thrust upon us. But it’s a strange word, ‘selfless’ because even when we can cast a fair bit of ego and internal angst to the side in order to care for another, the self never really goes. Its there ticking away, occasionally resentful even as we love, frustrated with its own needs as we tend to those of another, wondering when it will end, or indulging in the secret basement-level fantasies of how we could be relived of duty.

And really, who would want to be entirely selfless? How dangerous, how boring, what a cry from the crucifix: “oh look at me and watch me bleed so that I can absolve you of all your mucky human failings.” To live like that, in habit or out of fear of hell or just of bad press strikes me as pretty superficial really.

But it’s good to make the choice sometimes. And not good in some namby pamby or moral way. It’s good because it can temporarily create a different song against the drum, that ever-present noisy self that tocks away like Poe’s beating heart under the floor in the dark and the dirty stuff.

The random or chosen times of selflessness remind me that when its crunch-time, much can be dispensed with, much of the noise can drop away. Time can be found, and energy, and empathy.
The song becomes clearer and the lyrics very familiar, so that we can just sing along for a while in a fair harmony with another. The internal drum still beats, but it just has its place in bigger music, for a while at least.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Just a random aside

I have a mild form of Synesthesia (a much-debated neurological oddity) which mostly manifests as what’s called ‘grapheme to colour synesthesia; that is I see colours very clearly attached to many words, particularly numbers and days.
But whilst that’s my most prevalent form (and most common generally) I also get occasional odd little connections between words/sounds and taste. Some music can bring a flood of saliva and taste (of oranges or something else specific) to my mouth.
The other night on the news a reporter used in regards to a legal case the phrase ‘due diligence’. My mouth flooded with saliva in a foul metallic-tasting way as it does when I’m extremely nausea. It was a brief sensation and mulling it over later I recognized it as a strange reaction to the phrase, and searched my mind to see if anything else wanted to connect, a kind of Rorschach mind-game. The word ‘Antwerp’ and an image of a coca-cola can were circling like cartoon birds do on a fresh-banged head and then began to seem so logically connected that I chanted them like a mantra: ‘due diligence, Antwerp, aluminium, coke’ over and over.
Yesterday upon remembering this I thought it was just a silly thing that got into my head then stuck like a Spice Girls song can still sometimes do. (“I tell you what I want what I really really want!”). But then today it came back so I decided to punch those words into the all-knowing Google-Goddess. Was there a connection? Hell yeah! Underground in Antwerp is a factory that produced among other things aluminium, for among other companies, Coca-Cola. In the days when aluminium cans were still around Coca-Cola was faced with thousands of people around Europe becoming sick (nausea and vomiting) from drinking from aluminium cans made at the Antwerp plant. This occurred in 1989, and back then my family drank 1.25 litres of coke per day. I have absolutely no recollection of this news story breaking in Australia, and have never thought about a place called Antwerp until seeing a crazy dance sequence on Youtube where folks at Antwerp station all break into the song ‘Doe, a Deer’ from ‘The Sound of Music’. Yet I guess it was big news and I must have heard a mention of it and just filed it away in the ‘forget for now’ part of the brain, where it made this connection to a mouthful of metallic saliva. For I do recall a bad batch of coke (though we drank bottles) that made Mum and I sick at one stage. When we called the company they said over-syruping had happened on some batches and offered us a free case. On behalf of my teeth I‘d like to apologise for the fact that we accepted it…
So over twenty years ago I digested (along with some bad coke) a little news-bite about Antwerp being a place that made cans for Coke. Something got into my brain about people wanting to sue Coke for getting sick. And so now the phrase ‘due diligence’ brings a taste of warm sickly metal to my mouth. Brains are surely bizarre. I mean, how weird is that?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The thinning of the veils and the comfort of food.

I thought my next post was going to be about dear old neighbour Ray and how he holds the history of my home in his memory of living opposite it for forty years.
But on this grey autumn day my thoughts are turning, as a cake is baking, to other things domestic, ritualistic and fey.
Many years ago I called myself a ‘wiccan’ and practised with good friends some of the celebrations and rituals I believe are known to all women be they witch, Jew, Christian, of any faith or no religious faith at all.
At the heart of the magic I’ve practised formally or just in living is the idea that we can bless and make sacred our home and relationships through little offerings, little altars and kitchen magic.
Autumn is my birth season and the one I love most. But it is also the season of decay, of final harvest, of pulling in the produce to put away for winter. Autumn is the time of preparation against death, yet as the air grows colder it is also a time when many people die. In old pagan practises it was a time to invite in against the cold the spirits of loved ones, as the veils between life and death thinned to bring the spirit world nearer. You’d do this with bonfires, an extra table place set, and the glimmer of the fires and candles seen in your home from the dark world a world away.

I have two friends, Sharnee and Tanya, a couple in a fifteen-year-long relationship who refer to each other fondly as ‘wifey’.
Last weekend Tanya’s sister died of an asthma attack she simply could not recover from. Two years ago Tanya’s brother died in a motorbike accident, an event she is barely recovering from as this new pain brings its chill and gloom to her life and home.

So on this Autumn Saturday I am reminded that the best, the oldest, the only true magic is that kitchen magic all women know. When there is birth for a loved one we take food to nourish an exhausted mother. When there is sorrow for a friend we pour tea or wine or soup. We show our apologies in perfectly cooked favourite meals, and when there is death we do what women the world over do and have done for centuries. We arrive with a box or basket or bowl of things home-cooked or garden-picked. We visit briefly, hug, put away the things on the draining board, make tea, then leave, somehow consoled ourselves in the process of consoling.

So today I bake and boil, and I bless the chicken for the egg, and the cow for the butter and the pig for the pork in the meatballs. I stir and think of my lovely friend and her bruised self and imagine her reaching into the fridge, thoughtless in grief, to find something made by someone else with love. She should not think of me as she does so, she should only eat, and for a moment perhaps feel the hug that has been folded into the food along with every blessing I can find in the pantry.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

rebirth of blog

Friday morning sky from my rear porch.

Last year I spent a great deal of time at home being a new Mum to my new son. Whilst consumed by the minutiae and day to day of this strange new world of motherhood I was aware too of my home in entirely new ways. I was not at work each day, but instead seeing the seasonal changes slanting their light upon known places and objects in different ways. I was walking my streets with a stroller and with the literal capacity to stop and smell the roses, and the daphne, and the lilac and magnolias.
I love homes, and am a shameless voyeur into the ways in which people live with the things and colours dear to them.
Stay tuned as my blog becomes reborn into an expose of life in a lopsided but dear old weatherboard in Spotswood. There’ll be some tales strange and true of renovating on a shoestring, you’ll meet my Dad (also known as Grandpa Bang-Bang), some of the wild and woolly characters I meet on my rounds with the stroller and hopefully learn how not to make mistakes with stud-finders, hammer drills and power outlets that back onto leaking water lines.
The house was built in 1939 and is a side-entry three-bedroom dwelling that was extended at the rear to incorporate what is now a large lounge-room. Being old and loved by many before me she is full of character, foibles and capriciousness. In other words she came with baggage, and not all of it pretty…

'Grandpa Bang-Bang stripped out the old bathroom and found electrical wiring wrapped around the shower plumbing...

I love creating little altars (piles of things? collections?) and don't believe in clear surfaces. My husband says that's OK, they believe in me. This ode to old fashioned pretty is on a windowsill in my bathroom. The powder compact was my Mum's from the early fifties, and the tiny gold box is a sewing kit that belonged to my Grandmother when she was a young housewife.

I love this blurry image of another little altar. At christmas my parents gave me a tiny faux-art-deco record player that also plays CDs and radio. The sound quality isn't great but it looks so shiny-red and cute with its glowing lights and twiddly nobs. I use it to play just one thing really, my 12 album set ofswing and jazz. It sits in 'my' room along with a wall of bookshelves, a soft leather couch, and my rattan rocking chair.

When the hailstorm hit Melbourne last weekend my little family bunkered down in this room with mugs of tea, baby toys and the record player. I danced cheek to cheek with my baby while my man flopped out on the couch.
My home nourishes me enourmously, as does a good trife...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A day in the life

You start the day with a rumble, then a growl followed by a yowl. The red light on the baby monitor flashes its alert “Get up!”
I go to you and open the venetions singing an aubade from the ‘Hair’ soundtrack as I unpack you. ‘Good morning starshine, the earth says hello, you twinkle above us, we twinkle below.’
Dad has already fed you some hour or two earlier so you’re content to start the day with our little song. Giggle, rub eyes, the swag gets unzipped and you stretch out for bear. Tickles, kisses then up for bed-cuddles where you grasp at our hair and poke twiddly little fingers into our mouths (such interesting caves of treasures: tongue and teeth!).
Uppity up, rolls on the floor, weeties and banana or pear in your highchair then kiss Dad bye-bye, pull on his hat and tie and we begin our long and languorous day.

Little bug, one day you may learn all about science and maybe even quantum physics, but for now just now this. We trick time every day by keeping our world very small in space and distance covered. Before your morning nap it’s off in the stroller up and down and round and round the local streets, stopping in the village for my coffee and your flirty little smiles at strangers and local folks alike. Michael the Lebanese pizza man pulls faces and says he’ll steal you. The ladies in the newsagent grin and coo and sometimes can’t resist tugging one of your perfect little fingers. On our way home I give you a flower or leaf and point out the cats. I sing as I walk, completely unabashed in my wailing of blues or showtunes, and people behind fences are benign when they hear us pass with our song.
In the lounge again you roll or commando crawl, and Whiskey-cat eggs you on with her teasy little half-skips away: ‘come and catch me, yes you can’.

Back to bed for you Mr Finn, Finn-bo, Finn-de-do. Sometimes you resist and I have to sing “All aboard the sleepy-train, all aboard the sleepy train, all aboard the sleepy train, we’re going to Sleepy Ville’. While you snooze I potter about doing housework, perhaps whipping up your favourite mashed peas or fish stew meals to freeze. Its only 10.30 and we’ve already tricked time, so much day still ahead. There is your ‘wake-up poo’ that I sing to: ‘Let’s have a look at your bum chum, let’s have a look t your nappy, Pappy, cause your bum might glum chum, and we want it to be happy, happy happy, happy-happy!’

After your lunch we often take train trips: To Yarraville for faces and shops, or to Altona Beach for vast sea views and the smell of the pines. You love being out on the pier, the rumble of planks under the stroller wheels massages you into doziness and your eyelids soften against the glare of silver water and sky.

We spend a lot of time on th floor together as you learn to first grasp, then grab, then sit, roll, spin and finally do a high speed tummy crawl around the place. Cuddles and tickles and books are had. You love ‘Maisy’ and ‘Does a cat wear glasses’ but you hate ‘the Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and cry when you see the butterfly. You cry from tooth-pain too, and some days we just get by together cause your mouth is sore and you feel miserable. That’s when you get rusks and cold watermelon and your gums rubbed with Bonjella. On those days I get tired and sad that I can’t help and I’m grateful when your Dad gets home.
There’s another nap or two (lucky you) and each time you wake up happy and I am happy with you as I breathe in the gorgeous sweet smell your baby-breath has filled the room with. So the days roll on, small in the physical world we traverse, enormous in the learning and feeling and wonder. Time stretches out like a seemingly endless ball of string.

But there is an end, and this particular ball is at its.
Tomorrow I return to work part-time and hand you over into the loving hands of your Dad each day. With him you’ll play in new ways and learn new things.
And though I’m sad as I say farewell to this beautiful time spent with you I know we’ll always have had it, I will always be here to touch and tangle limbs with.
I am your touchstone, the giver of leaves and flowers, the maker of songs of games.
You will grow away and be fierce in your independence, but I will always be your singer of morning starshine, your Mum.