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Archive Category: Pix


      In between trying to think of the ‘themes’ of my project (am not going to type my topic because then my boss might google it and discover [miaow] which would mean I would instantly detonate) *groan* I have been playing with the ‘sketch’ Corel plugin and the photo I took this morning of the State Library.
      click me to see the bigger version

      Birds & Cats

        This is the the super-fat magpie that M is going to eventually kill with love.
        how its legs are holding it up is a marvel of physics

        And the cat home, looking a bit perkier than it used to.

        (Just got my camera working on this computer – as if I don’t have enough distractions.)

        Love is in the Air

          Another engagement!
          Congratulations to my lovely friends Jock and Stephanie on becoming engaged!!

          He finally popped the question.....
          I’ll buy you guys a drink when I get down to Melbourne!

          Meanwhile, I continue to battle nature with my weapon of choice…the whippersnipper, fuelled on rooster-caused lack of sleep and rivers of perspiration.

          don't think for one second that I'm enjoying myself....

          Bits of Today

            The view from my desk:
            Sunflower from the garden

            M being stalked by the banana bird (formerly known as the Blue Faced Honeyeater):
            Does it think M is sweet?

            The little capsicum that I grew, which ended up in last nights ill-fated salad meal.
            I grew it! I grew it!

            Finished Them, The Bastards.

              There's ten. I have done inside and out. Weep for me.l


                On Round island, yesterday afternoon...



                  The Plague


                    This is our female guests leg. It and she just returned from a harrowing visit to Fraser Island – where they were assaulted by sandflies. She has had something of an allergic reaction.


                      Oh the pinnacle of cuteness. Quokka and baby.


                      The very well positioned Dome Cafe on Rottnest Island (where the Quokka pic was taken).


                      I Miss M


                        Good At Research

                          Somebody did it before I did. This is in Redfern. Impressive.


                          (If you voted Liberal I will hunt you down and KILL YOU…I don’t know where you live but I am very good @ research.)

                          Photo Friday – Pattern

                            Queenslander Window

                            Photo Friday – Silhouette

                              Noun: silhouette ‘siloo’et
                              1) An outline of a solid object (as cast by its shadow)
                              2) A drawing of the outline of an object; filled in with some uniform color


                              More From the Green Tree Frog

                                First of all our friend the Green Tree Frog hopped through the dining room.


                                Then M, saviour and carer of all creatures frog, swooped down with carefully dampened hands and sat frog in a bowl of lovely water; where he stayed for the next few hours. He’s still there, despite M’s carefully constructed a frog faux-habitat that he just put within hopping range.


                                Update 11/01/05: M couldn’t help himself and moved Frog into his carefully constructed habitat and Frog has been asleep in there all day! We are going to try and catch some flies for him later.

                                Happy ‘Straya Day

                                  Here are some pictures from today…


                                  And from a few days ago, we have Frog – my photographic muse:


                                  Motoring On Beelbi Creek

                                    Today we tried out the new outboard motor. We need to run it in at low speeds, and take it in for a service after ten hours of use. It got a bit too hot in the boat – Oomoo needs a bimini.


                                    Attack of the Alien Pumpkins

                                      One of our friends from Rosebank (I have to say that, as they let us crash their NYE celebrations and then hang around their house for two more days) mentioned that he had cruised out the mall at Alstonville and stumbled on The Plaza Giant Pumpkin Competition. It seems that pumpkins grow more vicious as they get bigger – thus they had to be fenced in, to protect spectators from a seedy demise.


                                      We have vision!!

                                        Dylan and Rachael are our current houseguests and they have just improved my existence by about 150% and blown my tiny mind. They have donated me their MC3 camera (which shoots stills, plays mp3s, and makes movies), a USB 2.0 All In One Card Reader, and a 1gig card!@#$%^&! It’s not great in lowlight, but here I am, gleeful under the loungeroom light five minutes ago. Wacka wacka wahoo!
                                        Me on MC3Me on MC3
                                        I have always wanted one of these – so once I sort out some extra webspace, look out! Have camera, will shoot!

                                        Sketch by Dylan


                                          It Rains

                                            Our tank is full. Our little creek started flowing this morning.


                                            This is both good and bad. If it hadn’t rained, the tank wouldn’t be full and I would not have been able to do three washing machine loads and six hand washes and rinses. However. If it hadn’t rained, my three bags of clothes that I left in the shed by mistake wouldn’t have got wet and been a whisker away from irretrievable mould – they wouldn’t have NEEDED washing. [sigh] More tomorrow on the Great Dress Disaster of 2005.

                                            The Dress Disaster of 2005

                                              The other day when M began (began…) working on the Humber, I was trying to help, and retrieved trimming and radio housing from the boot. To do this, I removed the three bags of clothes that I store in there. I sewed the bags from an old op-shop doona cover, having learnt from sad experience that clothes stored in plastic, rot. Ten years worth of dresses and work clothes were safe in these bags. It can be legitimately stated that I have too many dresses. Most of them have not been worn more than twice. However, as I was sorting through them, I counted only three that had been bought new; the rest were secondhand. But still good! So why, why, why did I leave them on the ground in the shed near the boot? It rained like Noah for two days before M found the bags, gently steaming. I did seven lots of hand washing and three machine loads. Naturally, since I hung everything on the clothesline, it has barely stopped long enough between rainstorms for anything to dry. Frocking up in Melbourne is beginning not to be an option!


                                              View From My Room: 01

                                                A glimmer of Port Phillip Bay

                                                A day in pictures


                                                  As I went walking

                                                    I saw a big black dog, leaning out the top storey window of a Carlton terrace house, just watching the world wander past – including me.


                                                    Breaking, Entering & Boating

                                                      After a nice sleep in this morning, and twenty minutes of impromtu babysitting, I wandered out into the day, thanking god I didn’t drink more than two beers last night. (We began at the Hen’s Night, but crashed the Buck’s later on…). The sky was blue, the sky was sunny; and I headed to Williamstown via the train…


                                                      Got to my sister’s place. She hadn’t left the gate open as promised, so I had to acrobat myself (after almost getting my wrist stuck in between the palings, which really would have written off the rest of the day) and scale it. Why is this always happening to me? Once I’d gained entry, I prowled around, looking for my neglected bike, which I haven’t seen for almost two years. I found it in the back shed, it’s front wheel unattached and tyres down :o After fossicking (stop groaning MAP, it’s important, I need a cheap means of transportation), I found some WD40 (all kneel) and a pump. After channelling the part of my genetic make-up that has a bit of my dad’s bike mechanicness, my bicycle was back! Woo! I got so excited that I rode all the way to the Boat.


                                                      Sunday Stroll

                                                        On Sunday I went down to Hampton where I’m going to be living from the 6th of July – over the road from the beach. Such hardship ;-) We took E’s sister’s 10 month old chocolate labrador Harvey with us, and did a huge walk. It was perfect weather for winter walking. These are the first photos I have taken with my new phone.


                                                        Hoo-Ray! Pictures!

                                                          The hills are alive with Hoo-Ray!
                                                          M & Dad in Hoo-Ray!
                                                          Boat from the back

                                                          Here is my (dad’s) lemon tree

                                                            Quiet please. I'm lemoning.

                                                            I knew I took this photo for a reason…

                                                            I picked a Canon A85

                                                              My days sans camera are at an end. After agonising as to whether I should order one from the US and get my mother to schlep it back, I decided that;
                                                              1) I couldn’t wait that long,
                                                              2) I don’t know how long ‘that long’ is,
                                                              3) I don’t know IF she would have brought it back…
                                                              So yesterday I went out and got the Canon Powershot A85. I was after the A95 – but it was $200 more than I paid with the only differences being one megapixel and no fold-out-and-pivot LCD screen – both of which I can [gulp] live without. On the plus side, it takes AA batteries, which I prefer, and compact flash cards – one of which I already own (thank you D & R).

                                                              So last night, when M and I went on a date to the Astor to see Coffee & Cigarettes and Maria Full of Grace, I took my first little movie. We were sitting underneath a speaker…

                                                              On Easey Street

                                                                Rosemary on Easey Street

                                                                Sunday Afternoon


                                                                  My Housemate – The Pimp


                                                                    What 1970′s cop show did he escape from?
                                                                    (I hope that as I’m typing this he has gone upstairs to shave off his creation. This is the kind of thing that can happen when you don’t have to work on a Friday.)

                                                                    The Soft Furnishing Workroom

                                                                      M - the industrious soft furnisher

                                                                      Soft Furnishings = Done!

                                                                        The King of Maritime Soft Furnishing

                                                                        The trimaran now has all it’s cushions done, custom sewn by M over four days last week. A sterling effort. They love him down at the sewing machine shop, they even gave him a copy of their newsletter. He’s their new pet.

                                                                        Pictures from Grand Final Day

                                                                          The New Kitchen
                                                                          M's Grand Final Dancing.

                                                                          The Sea Adventure: The 1st Day

                                                                            The Journey

                                                                            We stayed the night at the home of Hoo-Ray! in South Gippsland and woke bright and shiny to check out the weather forecast. M looked at it dubiously. He was silent during porridge. He was in ‘decision-mode’. The forecast was for about 15 to 20 knot winds, increasing to 25 knots later on. And thus a little bit iffy.

                                                                            M had provisioned for the trip like Jamie Oliver. He’d taken care of it all, and didn’t want to venture out in weather that would make his newly minted First Mate swim for home. I think he’d had nightmares about me stepping aboard and instantaneously vomiting straight over the side. Gunwale. Whatever.

                                                                            So it was crunch time. If we were going to launch, we needed to get to the ramp at Newhaven by about 8.30am to get underway. If we left it any later we would be battling the tide, which would be concentrating on sucking us out into the unfriendly waters of Bass Strait.

                                                                            “Right B,” said M, “I don’t think we’ll go. It will be too rough. We’ll just have to bash our way through. It’d be wet, and in no way a relaxing sail.”

                                                                            I looked moodily at my porridge. My father wisely stayed silent.

                                                                            “I don’t care if we have to bash our way. I want to go today. I’m not a princess. I can handle waves.”

                                                                            M shook his head and cautioned me again.

                                                                            “B, it won’t be much fun. We can just hang around today and go tomorrow instead.”

                                                                            I shook my head. No.

                                                                            And so it was that we turned up, after a forty minute drive, at the Newhaven boat ramp, which is right next to the Newhaven Yacht Squadron, and it’s very sexy yacht basin. I then assumed that we could back Hoo-Ray! down the ramp, into the water, and set off. But no. It was all going on with the rigging and the getting the mast up and the shackling of forestays and finding the jib. It seemed to me to take an interminable time. And the shackles. Who would have invented such a thing? What could be worse than with ice cold hands on rolling waves, trying to put a shackle on a stay or take one off?

                                                                            A shackle is a bit of metal shaped like a ‘U’ with a pin that screws across, kind of like a screw on earring. Here’s what one looks like. Beyond fiddly. I can barely admit it, but even while M and I were rigging Hoo-Ray!, the boat was bouncing around on the trailer suspension and made me feel a little bit ill. However, I did not tell a soul.

                                                                            The calm before the storm...

                                                                            Anyway, finally we got Hoo-Ray! sorted out. She slipped off the trailer (after some vein-popping pushing) and into the water. We tethered her to the jetty and dad and M went to speak to the people at the shop where we were going to leave the van and trailer locked up for the next three days. I was Master of the Boat. I tried sticking my head down below where we were to sleep. Instant quease. I tried a few more times, with the same result. I settled this by staying in the cockpit with my eyes fixed firmly on land.

                                                                            Once they returned, M then had to spend what seemed an age setting up the mainsail and more rigging stuff. My dad stood on the jetty, holding the boat steady with the patience of a cow. Finally we were ready to actually leave. Go. Sail away. Vamoose! We sailed away from the jetty, waving to my dad, and M took the reef out of the sail, as we didn’t seem to be moving very fast. That only lasted for about ten minutes. Then the wind decided to visit. Big time.

                                                                            Waving goodbye from Newhaven

                                                                            Very soon there seemed to be an increasing number of Large Waves, and the wind was getting towards about 30 knots*. M felt that he may have removed the reef in the sail somewhat prematurely. So, as I took the tiller, he wrestled with the mainsail. As I hadn’t yet learnt the art of navigating the boat gently over waves, Hoo-Ray! and M both took a bit of a bashing. We furled the jib (all hail the invention of the furler) and were generally basted in brine. The direction in which we needed to head was directly into the wind… er… malestrom. The waves were very close together and about six feet high. Think of very big, liquid green corrugated tin.

                                                                            Our aim was to go Rhyll for lunch and then to continue on our adventure by sailing across to French Island, and tucking under Tortoise Head for the night in the deep water that ran along the beach. However, the weather thought otherwise. After about forty minutes of seafaring battle, we fired up the outboard and began motor sailing. About four or five times M had to go to the front of the boat to tie something down or fix something that had snapped. I steered mutinously onward. Drenched and desperate to wee.

                                                                            Where's the jetty?

                                                                            Rhyll materialised like some kind of wondrous figment. We aimed for the jetty at which M and my dad had tied up a month before. Bits of it were there, but the rest of it had sunk. It was quite perplexing. Then we aimed Hoo-Ray! at a far more rewarding structure. The public toilets. We pulled up on to the beach (after raising the rudder, the motor and the centreboard) and M and I jumped ashore.

                                                                            Beaching the boat at Rhyll

                                                                            “We did it!” M danced at me. “We made it to Rhyll!”

                                                                            “I’m so glad!” I shouted into the widening gap between us. “I can’t talk anymore, I’m concentrating on bladder control.”

                                                                            I loped in bladder controlling leaps to the public toilets and weed like the world’s most thirsty camel. It was heaven.

                                                                            By the time I made it back to M, I was capable of conversation. M, in an indication of what life was going to be like for the next few days, made a sandwichy sensation of buttered bread, pesto, cheese and cherry tomatos. And a cup of Earl Grey tea. We licked our wounds and felt vastly improved.

                                                                            I decided to stay with Hoo-Ray! while M went to have a look around. We were anchored so near the beach, that the boat was relatively steady. I curled up underneath in my sleeping bag and read a bit, snoozed a bit, and read a bit more until M came back and began ‘doing things’ on deck. Whatever he was doing seemed to involve a lot of walking about, and each time he moved, the boat bobbed in response. As did my stomach. The quease returned.

                                                                            As it was a Friday, M reported that most of Rhyll’s five or six shops were open, and that he had found a lovely place for a drink… and maybe dinner. The thought of dinner did not excite me, but I had vague feeling that a stubby of Stella Artois might banish my sickness. We secured the valiant Hoo-Ray! and took a walk up the hill. The more I saw of Rhyll the prettier it seemed to get! We decided to be extravagant and eat at the fancy place. My thoughts about the Stella were correct. They had a lovely woodfire. The owner came and chatted to us and we told him we’d just sailed in, feeling slightly smug.

                                                                            The menu was absolutely amazing, the prices were ridiculous and the food didn’t measure up to either. But it was nice to be out after our battle with the sea. We left at about 8pm to go back to Hoo-Ray! where we put on our slippers and settled in. After we’d lain there for about three hours, M groaned.

                                                                            “I can’t take it anymore. I haven’t been able to get to sleep. That bit of the broken jetty keeps hitting the pole and keeping me awake.”

                                                                            And so, if you had been there, you would have seen us at about midnight, motoring with great trepidation, to the other side of the little harbour. I stood on the bow with our Dolphin torch lighting our path and praying, while M steered valiantly through the night air. We found a spot. Checked that the anchor wasn’t dragging. And snuggled down again, this time for the rest of the night.

                                                                            *What is a knot?
                                                                            A knot is the seagoing equivalent of a kilometre. It’s how you measure wind and distance on the water. However – one knot is equal to 1.8 kilometres. The odd thing is that as the wind blows stronger the power of the wind gets ridicuously stronger. Quite simply, you square the wind speed to get the power of the wind. Which is why 30 knots blows off your socks and twenty’s nearly plenty.

                                                                            The Sea Adventure: The 2nd Day

                                                                              After our midnight adventures it was exciting to wake up in a part of the harbour that we hadn’t seen before (because we arrived in the dark). It was gorgeous. The houses of Rhyll surrounded the little sheltered bay, and there were big green hills a little further around, away from the township. M made cups of tea and his breakfast wonder dish ‘Egg in a Hole’. If you have not experienced Egg in a Hole, you should. It’s particularly good when camping.

                                                                              How to make ‘Egg in a Hole’
                                                                              Get a bit of bread. Bite a hole in the middle of it. Eat the bit you bit. Put bread in frypan with some butter, garlic (if you’re that way inclined), and some salt and pepper. Put ‘egg in hole’. Fry both sides. Stick it on a plate. Eat it.

                                                                              With breakfast done and dusted, I washed up in the bucket. (Not the one reserved for wee.) M chatted to a few passers by on the shore, and then we set off for French Island. I hadn’t realised quite how protected we had been in Rhyll. As soon as we got a fair way from land we where again hit by the Mega Wind. I’d texted my dad to ask him to text me through the latest forecast for Westernport Bay. Naturally 15 to 20 knot forecast we had read online just the day before had disappeared into the ether, only to be replaced by 25 to 30 knot winds – strong wind warning. Perfect. Not.
                                                                              Again we reefed the mainsail (i.e. didn’t have the entire sail up, just most of it) and after a while decided to again rely on the motor as our destination was exactly where the wind was coming from. We had to tack to get there, which was going to take us a ridiculously long time in such strong winds. Of course M had to do battle with bits and pieces again. Throughout our trip there were only two things he did that drove me crazy. One was telling me to steer for ‘that tree over there’.

                                                                              “Which tree?”

                                                                              He would point, as the boat flailed from wave to wave, at what looked to me like a whole plantation of trees in the distance.

                                                                              “That one!”

                                                                              “Um. Ok.”

                                                                              Whereupon I would just try and continue in the direction that we were already going, but would inevitably, in my efforts to ease us through the waves, fall off course until the boat, going sideways into the tumult, would encounter several large waves. The waves would fall on M, who would continue with whatever thing he was trying to fix while managing to point me back in the direction of his ‘tree’.

                                                                              The other thing that disturbed me (although it shouldn’t, as he replicates his actions on dry land with doors) was his inability to remember to close the hatch. The hatch! The only thing keeping all our food and sleeping bags dry. As I do on solid ground, I would just close it myself every ten minutes or so, but because I kept losing track of the tree, it became imperative to keep the hatch shut. At one point I looked up, saw it open again, closed it, and one second later it was submerged under a big dumping of green water. M and I looked at each other with Tweety-Bird eyes.

                                                                              It was a tewwible stworm. The bowt wocked and wocked…
                                                                              The wind was going nuts, although the waves weren’t quite as big as the previous day.

                                                                              “Don’t worry,” M kept shouting reassuringly, “Once we get close to French Island, it will be all sheltered. It will be much calmer!”

                                                                              I, salt chafed, squinted toward the shore. It really didn’t look any calmer there. We motor sailed onwards, M and I both singing that Rolf Harris song in tune with the engine…
                                                                              Sun-a-rise, he come in the morning
                                                                              Sun-a-rise, he come with the dawning
                                                                              Spreading all the light all around…

                                                                              (…at that point we would do didgeridoo noises, which complemented the tone of the motor quite well.)

                                                                              It took us what seemed like a couple of hours to reach French Island. The wind completely disregarded our wishes and blew even harder. Thankfully the waves got smaller as we got close to land. We nosed our way along the beach. Anchored. Too windy. Pulled up anchor. Moved along a bit. Anchored. Too near the remnants of an old jetty. Pulled up anchor. Moved right into the beach. And anchored again. We had found a ‘good spot’. Windy but ‘offshore’ so no waves at all.

                                                                              High and dry on French Island

                                                                              “Once the tide goes out, we’ll be up on the sand you know,” said M, ever knowledgable about the whens and wheres of the tide.

                                                                              “Will the boat flop on to it’s side?”

                                                                              “Probably not.”

                                                                              “Then it doesn’t matter, does it? I mean, as long as the tide is high when we want to get going.”

                                                                              And with those words I tempted fate. But more on that later. M went for an exploratory wander and I stretched out on the boat in the sun, while trying to stay out of the wind. It got quite hot. We drank a cheerful glass of red wine each (yes – from a glass – we are so styley) and decided to go on a Walk.

                                                                              Hlafway through a long walk

                                                                              I wanted to go and coo at the lambs that were sharing a paddock with older sheep and some cows. Of course once I got too near the fence, they all scattered. I was, again, happy that I gave up eating them. Less guilt. Our walk continued. I was looking for treasure. I found two tennis balls – only needed one more for M to be able to juggle. It was only five minutes until I found the necessary third ball, and M obliged me be juggling jubilantly. We found two more tennis balls after that.

                                                                              The shores of French Island (or the part that we were on) were odd. It seemed as if there might have been a forest right down to the water, because the sand was full of little dead tree trunks. And areas of the sand that looked like rock, were actually some kind of rock-looking squishy bouncy stuff. It was strange. Maybe chicory comes from trees…

                                                                              [Minor tangent: I just googled and it appears that 'The island's mangroves were burned in the 1840s for reduction to barilla, a plant ash rich in soda and potassium which was used in the production of glass and soap. However, heavy rains washed away most of the ash and the endeavour was abandoned.' ]

                                                                              OK. Glad I sorted that out. Here are some pictures from our walk.

                                                                              French Island Rockpool
                                                                              French Island eucalypts
                                                                              Sticks in the sand
                                                                              French Island: Old chicory kiln

                                                                              It was quite hot, although still fairly windy, but by the time we made it back to the boat everything had slackened off. I went back to my book, while M went on a solitary jaunt toward Tortoise Head. But not before some tea.

                                                                              Making tea.

                                                                              It began to get dark. And this is where I come back to my marvellous idea of mooring the boat high and dry. Because as the dusk set in, so did the MOSQUITOS. Not normal small urban mosquitos, but large, swamplike creatures that had been waiting ten years for flesh. Not hordes, just a small, SAS-like battalion. They were ruthless and determined. I dressed myself so that the only things touching the air were my hands and face. I ran up and down the boat in a kind of perpetual motion. We had no insect repellant. I cursed the lack of Bushman. I stood looking down at a nearby little rock, willing the tide to give me some indication it was coming in. Never had a tide taken so long.

                                                                              All I had with me that I thought mosquitos woundn’t like was some lavender oil. So I lit our little candle lantern, dabbed oil on the top and huddled over the fumes. I became miraculously mosquito free! We then basted M and the boat in lavender oil, so much so that if anyone had stumbled upon us, we would have been mistaken for feral aromatherapists. And still we waited. It was like watching a kettle boil. M tried to haul us out using the anchor, but the boat would not budge. So we both went for a dusky walk toward Tortoise Head. Keeping a nervous glance up our sleeve for the nearly floating boat.

                                                                              OK, by now it’s dark. M had taken a compass bearing on the far side of the deepwater channel that began about five metres out. We aimed, when we finally floated free, to anchor in the channel so that we wouldn’t wake up high and dry all over again. FINALLY the tide came in enough for Hoo-Ray! to float. We each grabbed a plastic oar and paddled. Paddled hard. M kept and eye on the GPS and after 100 meters dropped the anchor over the side. The anchor rope played out a long way, which seemed to indicate that we’d been successful.

                                                                              Further away from the beach it was a trifle more breezy and the mosquitos dissapated quickly. Such relief. M cooked up some pasta and added in the pesto he had made before we set out. With the addition of cherry tomatos, it was the most divine dinner of our sailing adventure, and blew the restaurant meal of the night before out of the water. We drank some red, ate some tim-tams and went to bed, hoping we would still be afloat in the morning.

                                                                              We were…

                                                                              Waking Up

                                                                              Return & Recovery

                                                                                Returned yesterday afternoon. I was instantly struck by sore throat bug. Today that morphed into… well, I am reluctant to say flu, but let’s just say a ‘fluey thing’. Gah. Shivery, headachey, nauseousy. Horror. Am trying to update [miaow] with the exciting story of our Grand Seafaring Adventure, but it’s going to take me a little while. It will appear further down the page from this entry – you have been warned. Now I will go and expire a bit more.

                                                                                Here’s where I was a few nights ago.

                                                                                Rhyll on Dusk

                                                                                In the garden by the broccoli

                                                                                  Spring sunshine
                                                                                  The cross he has to bear

                                                                                  Now I am off to move the boat trailer on my own so I can get Small Brother’s car out. I would have asked M to help me this morning, but he had hit his head on the van and couldn’t find the stove lighter – so it was best just to pet him gently and let him go. Wish me luck!

                                                                                  My wheels for today

                                                                                  Cat me out of here!

                                                                                    Savage yawn

                                                                                    Sunday Driving

                                                                                      Secret path to the beach
                                                                                      View of sea through sunglasses

                                                                                      We Love This Cartoon

                                                                                        It’s Up! – A Christmas Tree Meme

                                                                                          The Christmas Tree

                                                                                          D and E brought home a tree last night. Much rejoicing! We don’t have much in the way of pretty lights or decorations yet, but we’re working on it. Oh god. I just had a flashback to making paper chains and popcorn strings. What else lurks forgotten in my brain? The lyrics of Madonna’s 1980s back catalogue? Eeeek!

                                                                                          Stick a picture of your tree online and post the link in the comments. This might be the start of a Christmas Tree Meme! (…or not, as the case may be.) Of course, we’re probably pretty early. But as none of us have had a proper sized tree since moving out of home, we don’t care. Deck the malls with plastic holly!

                                                                                          Meredith 2005 – Pictures

                                                                                            Friday Night
                                                                                            The Tent. The Eye.
                                                                                            Okkervil River
                                                                                            I made him sit there with my umbrella
                                                                                            Asleep on top of the van

                                                                                            An Absence of Pictures

                                                                                              There is a rather large gaping hole where pictures of M’s pride and joy should be. Unfortunately the camera got left on the boat, and, as the only way to get to and from the boat at the moment is on a very tippy surfski and someone (M) keeps forgetting the waterproof bag – the camera remains on the boat.

                                                                                              Last night we attempted to have our first boat picnic with E and DJ, who were very keen to get aboard. Welcome to weather dependency. E made a gorgeous picnic. M paddled out. E and DJ drove to pick me up from Newport train station. Suddenly, we were in Kansas. The weather went psycho. DJ actually works at the BoM and had told us on good authority that this was not supposed to happen until about 11pm at night.

                                                                                              It was impossible to get out to Boat, and thus we picnicked in the park instead, which was almost as good. We toasted Boat and Christmas with champagne and lay on the grass. The boat visit was postponed for another, more amenable day. We spent an anxious night listening to wind howl and thunder boom, wondering whether Boat was tethered properly or was chafing through the mooring rope and poised for flight…

                                                                                              Boxing Day

                                                                                                After a large lunch at my mum’s place, M and I scooted down to Williamstown in the van, and met up with Chris. We went for a jaunt down the Yarra River – which is not something we’ll be able to do (for a while, anyway) once we’ve got the mast on.

                                                                                                The Shot Tower
                                                                                                Southbank foot bridge
                                                                                                One of many bridges
                                                                                                Our mooring is a long way away

                                                                                                Sailing Holiday – Day 03 – by M

                                                                                                  Big chilly swims in morning. E goes in nude and can’t get back onboard. Much hilarity. A clifftop Portsea person raises the Australian flag. E and B serenade them with the national anthem in cat voices. Fully reef sails as forecast is for 25 knots and am not sure how things will be with 4 onboard. Turns out that E and Dave are naturals and are a hoot to have onboard.

                                                                                                  Sailing away from Portsea

                                                                                                  Go out to smell the seals again. Then up along coast the Heads. Across to Queenscliff and back to our own little trimaran shaped nook. About 20nm in total. This time its low tide so we set about getting all the rocks out of the way so we can sit on the sand next to the park. Long walks in town and all meet at pub. As you do.

                                                                                                  Our nearest companion at Queenscliff
                                                                                                  Tied up at Queenscliff

                                                                                                  Sailing Holiday – Day 04 – by M

                                                                                                    (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                    A south easterly breeze at 20knots. Lazy lovely sail around spy island (the ASIS base) then along beaches and coast downwind to Port Arlington. Ran aground… as i like to noodle right next to the shore (and I wasn’t paying attention). Rudder a bit sad. Nevermind. Get to Port Arlington and the promise of fresh mussels. Drop anchor off the beach.


                                                                                                    It’s a good spot. Wind offshore. Snorkle and jump off the pier for a while.

                                                                                                    Getting ready to check the damage

                                                                                                    Big walk around town and up hill. Drinks at a cool bar. Buy 3 kilo of mussles off a boat and cook em up with some white wine. The ‘slurp for the cook, slurp for the pot’, recipe. Good sleep.

                                                                                                    Sailing Holiday – Day 05 – by M

                                                                                                      (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                      More south easterly winds at 20 knots. Tacked all the way back to Portsea. Back at Portsea pub and we blow a bomb on a yuck seafood thing. An extravaganza of batter, good scallops and dodgy prawns. The brown feast. The guys leave mid arvo. B and I decided to go to Westernport the next day. We stay the night at anchor in Portsea (near the exit to Bass Strait) even though we know there is an onshore blow going to hit that night. What a yuck night. Some sort of NASA sensory training hell. Got both anchors down and hung on. B went green, but managed to cook a curry without indulging in any hurling. A night of little sleep. It’s hard to wee when you can’t get your balance.

                                                                                                      Sailing Holiday – Day 06 – by M

                                                                                                        (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                        Our first north easterly. 10 to 15 knots. Left for the heads at 7am. Aiming for high tide on the rip bank. Still 2 hours of flood. Swirls and eddies were huge and scary. A big SW swell was running. Also a SE swell. However the combination of the high tide and flood stream make it tame.

                                                                                                        Bass Strait

                                                                                                        We did around 6 knots all the way to Westernport. Wind left us for an hour and we motored. B slept. Boom of swell crashing onto beaches and headlands. Went close to Cape Shanck. Past Bushranger’s Bay. Wild being out there. Felt like we could tackle anything. I keep looking across the blue swells, out to sea and an endless horizon. Dolphins hung around and swam with us.

                                                                                                        Me waving at dolphins

                                                                                                        Wind drops out at entrance to Westernport motor up to Cowes. Drop anchor on the beach. Do washing. Meet Ray! (Father of B, loitering on the beach with camera. Highly suspicious.) Hot. Sail off to Rhyll. Nice sail. Anchor in front of the overpriced pub. Ignore pub and hit the fish and chip shop next door. Flathead tails and chips for dinner. Great sleep.

                                                                                                        Sailing Holiday – Day 07 – by M

                                                                                                          (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                          Breakfast aboard. Meet Ray at Newhaven at 1.30pm. Low tide. Sailed off to Tortoise Head. A fast hoot of a sail. Boat whizzes along. B stays below, sleeping and reading Chandler.

                                                                                                          Dad steers to French Island

                                                                                                          Anchor up close to shore. Close-ish. Ray and I stroll up the headland. Wild beach wild views. We were going to stay the night but decide to tack our way back to the conservation park between Ryhll and Cowes. Sail off toward Sandy Cape then into a beautiful quiet lagoon near Rhyll. Rains all night. Curry. Snug. Fun with Ray hanging around. Wine and beer.

                                                                                                          Sailing Holiday – Day 08 – by M

                                                                                                            (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                            Back to Rhyll. But not before an exploration of the lagoon, which turns out to be horseshoe shaped.

                                                                                                            Exploring the lagoon

                                                                                                            Ray shouts us organic scrambled eggs for breakfast! [Awesome chai latte - Ed.]Sail up Settlement Point at the eastern side of French Isalnd. Surprised at how lovely and wild the area looks. Will have to come back. A fast sail to Newhaven. Ray steers a lot of the way. He is a good sailor and seems to enjoy getting amongst the rough stuff. A couple of days of really fast sailing. Drop him off at Newhaven at 330pm dead low tide. Hit pier… wah. More repairs for when we get home. Sail back to Rhyll. Go for long walk. Visit the general store. We have flathead tails and potato cakes again. Yum! Have to wait for tide around at front beach. Then scoot to the side beach in front of the pub. We tie up in such a way as to be able to pull ourselves up to the sand. Very nice. Good sleep.

                                                                                                            Sailing Holiday – Day 09 – by M

                                                                                                              (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                              A long walk up the hill at Rhyll and across in front of the lagoon. Unusual nature trail. We vow to return. Back via general store and coffee in café. Goodbye Rhyll. Set out toward Cowes. Quiet easy sailing. Lovely day. Didn’t know where to stop at Cowes as we wanted to explore and try to get some navigation light bulbs. Ended up anchoring off the sailing club beach south of the town. An F 28 was in the club grounds. Outer Limits. Wah. We walked around town. Went to op shops and had a coffee. Went to hardware shops for the bulbs. No luck. Bought new sunglasses and op-shop shorts. B got a good deal on a bikini.

                                                                                                              Back to boat mid arvo. It’s stuck. We push and push. No one helps. I winch us along the anchor line, which loosens us a bit. After about 25 minutes, we float free. We decide to scoot over to Flinders to save ourselves travelling time to the heads in the morning. Hopefully it has shelter for a south wind. I punt that it does. We set off up the channel. It is open to Bass Strait and the wind kicks in. Tide is against the wind and soon waves get to around 2mtrs – stacked close and messy. I power up the boat and she slices and flys thru but it is a wild ride. Poor B gets a tad pale. I head off track and beat up toward the straight inside Cat Bay. I have surfed Flynns Reef inside the bay a few times. So I knew it. It is way calmer. One last rough ride across the entrance to Westernport and we arrive. Flinders is calm and totally beautiful.


                                                                                                              We anchor off the beach and step ashore in 12inches of water. A big wander through town and coffee. B still green. Back at the boat at sunset we cooked up a tuna tomato thingo. I set up all the pilotage needed for a boisterous return to Port Phillip Bay. A night start. Sectores to turn by. Dawn by Cape Shanck. Etc. I put a a bunch of waypoints in the GPS as back up. I won’t rely on a GPS ever. But if it’s not broken and hasn’t been dropped overboard then it is good to double check my pilotage.

                                                                                                              Flinders - a vacant block.

                                                                                                              Sailing Holiday – Day 11 – by M

                                                                                                                (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                Boat a shambles. Go off to breaky, coffee, op shops and an art show… as you do. Got back just as Chris and Jodie get into town. A wild clean of the boat and here they are.

                                                                                                                Jody - She hates to sail.

                                                                                                                A trip into town via car to get mossie coils and some beer/ice. Then out through the mythical cut and into a sunny 15knot south wind. Hello Popes Eye, hello albatross colony and hello seal colony. Phew. Jodie goes into shut down as she doesn’t get the boat thing at all.

                                                                                                                I tack us across to Portsea and we step off onto the beach and scurry up to pub to have medicine. Beer and chips. Jodie comes to life. A nice and cruisey sail up the heads along the national park where we see some lazy dolphins, and then downwind back to Queenscliff. Jodie chatting and having a hoot untill she trips into the cabin and bangs her poor head. Ouch.

                                                                                                                Back in our nook and she retreats to the car to chill. I hand her a wine an hour later and the party begins. B and I had run out of cruising funds and out of cooking gas so we tweak all our guest’s nibblies and conjur a surpring array of tasty bits. Add beer and awesome wine and we call it a dinner. We chat and laught for a few hours then bed.

                                                                                                                Sailing Holiday – Day 12 – by M

                                                                                                                  (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                  Had to say see ya to the girls as we had a 30th birthday to get to mid arvo in Melbourne. A 5 hour downwind sail. B reads books. I dream. The waves got bigger close to the city and the tri went into surfing mode. B hooted. Wind got up to 15/20knots and we decided to reach across for a while even tho it would make us late. The boat flew along a 12 knots steady. The pop top was up and spray was getting in but we couldn’t stop. It is addictive to go fast! End of trip mid arvo. Boat on mooring and us bundled into a car by B’s parents and the Grassy Noel.

                                                                                                                  We survive. Boat performs as I had hoped. Top speeds are a hoot to sit near. Nothing breaks. We didn’t throw up… what more could you want?

                                                                                                                  First day of school – ever!

                                                                                                                    First day of school - ever!

                                                                                                                    This is our lovely friend Claudia all frocked up for her first day at primary school. Suddenly she looks so much older, even though she’s still only five. Am loving those pigtails.

                                                                                                                    It doesn’t seem so long ago that she was almost one whole year younger and had just caught a fish that was almost as big as her own head. She named it ‘HeadChoppedOffEaten’ and M fried it up for her delectation.

                                                                                                                    Congratulations Small C! Keep dancing to the Ramones – although rock, rock, rock, rock, rock’n'roll PRIMARY school doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, I’m sure you can make it happen.

                                                                                                                    The lease is signed…eeek!

                                                                                                                      The proof of the trailer

                                                                                                                      The towbar of adventure…

                                                                                                                      The back of the trailer
                                                                                                                      B, M and the Towbar
                                                                                                                      Pit Pony and Ostrich

                                                                                                                      There are a few more pictures of the Pit Pony and the Ostrich over on Flickr






                                                                                                                        And before breakfast I…

                                                                                                                          Decided to do a different kind of work out. We collected a trailerload of firewood a few days ago, and M chainsawed it into fire-sized bits. I decided to stack it…
                                                                                                                          Trailer full of wood...

                                                                                                                          …and it was pretty much as good as having a personal trainer!

                                                                                                                          Soggy Sunday

                                                                                                                            Another dreary weather day. We all noodled around and then went to Point Leo beach via the Bittern market (which has too much new stuff and not enough junk IMHO).

                                                                                                                            I can jump
                                                                                                                            Seaweed on a stick

                                                                                                                            Sunday Rainstorming

                                                                                                                              Waiting for the rain
                                                                                                                              Sunday rainstorm

                                                                                                                              Cold mornings and sunset nights…

                                                                                                                                It was so cold this morning that I was awed. Awed until it thawed! Icy.

                                                                                                                                Cold Tuesday morning.

                                                                                                                                The evening cranked out a sunset that made up for the chill…

                                                                                                                                Clear Tuesday night.

                                                                                                                                Saturday. No shed work today.

                                                                                                                                  The weather was intermittently gorgeous. We returned a car and a trailer to Loch, making the trailer (the one that we live in) surrounds look a bit less like a secondhand dealership. I removed my lcd screen from dad’s computer and replaced it with his antiquated 14″ CRT [groan]. That computer knows me. It senses when I am near. As soon as I swapped monitors it ceased to recognise it’s hard drive. I breathed in deeply through my nose, counting slowly in many dialects.

                                                                                                                                  Had lunch. And fortified by red wine, I took the case off for the bazillionth time, poked everything hard, and voila! It deigned to boot up. How kind. I’m never touching it again. Our relationship is one of mutual loathing. Pinched some firewood, and debated on borrowing my sister’s car, having just returned Small Brother’s hot rod. Why? Because the Humber needs some tweaking. M and I decided to ponder over the manual and see if we could put it to rights.

                                                                                                                                  We noodled home in the late afternoon sun, kept driving past our driveway and continued down to Warneet…

                                                                                                                                  Warneet Pier

                                                                                                                                  I, strangely, forgot how pretty things can be at the end of the road that we live on.

                                                                                                                                  Warneet Pier

                                                                                                                                  A Yak with a view

                                                                                                                                    A Yak with a View?

                                                                                                                                    We encountered this woolly thing on today’s Sunday drive. We took in Corinella [bleugh], Tenby Point [interesting], San Remo [good for pulling in on the boat] and Rhyll [love it]. It was the first time we’d visited Rhyll by car instead of sail.

                                                                                                                                    A weekend of birthdays

                                                                                                                                      It feels like we haven’t stopped since the day we flew to Queensland about ten days ago. We left the house on Saturday morning to go to our friend Jack’s fifth birthday.

                                                                                                                                      I am 5. I am in a tree.

                                                                                                                                      The day began with what seem like masses of four and five year olds refusing to partipate in musical chairs,
                                                                                                                                      “It’s like herding cats,” sighed father of Jack.
                                                                                                                                      The day ended after a grand BBQ dinner with a screening of Napolean Dynamite, which was largely hysterical. We followed it up with the Comic Relief episode of Little Britain, and went to sleep feeling full. Oh the sleeping! The wonders of a foam mattress that boasts some actual density! I spent at least ten minutes lying awake wondering why I couldn’t feel my hip driving into the floor the way it does when we sleep on our mattress in the van. Three words. Dense. Foam. Rubber. Three more words. Buy. One. NOW.

                                                                                                                                      After a lovely sleep, we headed off to midday strawberry daquiris at Al’s 18th birthday party – where people bashed pinyada’s, and in the 15 hours that the party went for, blew the stereo speakers and drained a keg. There was mad dancing and one requisite spectacular spew. Bed at 3am and awake at 9am to help eat the fablous breakfast that was concocted as if by magic.

                                                                                                                                      18! Yeah, baby!

                                                                                                                                      We limped home to trailer oasis in the mid afternoon. M had a lot more energy than me and went off to shedland to do some boat building. I languished on the couch with a book. I can hardly bear to think about going to work in the morning. Ack.

                                                                                                                                      Buy me a ring

                                                                                                                                        Today’s score from the op-shop was this ring that actually fits on my most fattest finger in the world. I don’t think it was always so fat, but years of netball around the age of 12 took care of that for me. After having a lovely catch up lunch with E today, we hit the op-shop, which is where I left her, happily sifting through odds and sods.

                                                                                                                                        Todays op-shop score

                                                                                                                                        Lang Lang Op Shop. Watch out!


                                                                                                                                          This is a sign from the Lang Lang Op-Shop (photo is dodgy because my phone is dodgy – hurry up and send me new phone Small Brother!). It reads:
                                                                                                                                          Tampering and removing goods left at front door for Op Shop use is Un Australian and Not in the Spirit of the community. Grrrr! Forget about flag burning, op-shop pilfering is the new ‘children overboard’. Have I just given Johnny another election angle?

                                                                                                                                          Little Birdy

                                                                                                                                            When we arrived at Faye’s house in Hervey Bay a week or so back there were two little hatchlings in a hanging pot plant on her back porch. They were fed in shifts by the parent birds, one of whom would sit on them to keep them warm each night. I got a great little movie file of the parent birds that I’ll put up when I’m not at work, but in the meantime, this is a picture of a little one…

                                                                                                                                            Brand New Bird

                                                                                                                                            Post-It notes come in handy…

                                                                                                                                              When there’s little things you think you’ll forget… like this.

                                                                                                                                              Glowy Friday Afternoon

                                                                                                                                                Friday Afternoon G&T

                                                                                                                                                This is what happens when you can’t be bothered finding your digital camera because it takes too long to hook up, and then you spend way too much time playing with PhotoBooth on the macbook. And the ‘glow’ filter. And I hadn’t even started the G&T.

                                                                                                                                                Bushfire sunset

                                                                                                                                                  Bushfire smoke sunset

                                                                                                                                                  This is the sunset tonight – all smeared up with bushfire smoke. Tomorrow is going to be a bad bushfire day. Matilda the Horse was quite interested in my camera.

                                                                                                                                                  Matilda likes the camera

                                                                                                                                                  A smoky morning

                                                                                                                                                    Bushfire smoke haze.

                                                                                                                                                    It’s heating up. As someone who works for a bushfirey organisation I feel rather impotent. Here is a good place to see what’s burning. Have just been receiving texts from someone who is at Meredith Music Festival where we were this time last year. I am thinking it’s probably Kartar with a new mobile number that my phone doesn’t recognise.

                                                                                                                                                    I’m not too sorry that we’re not there this year – it’s too hot for me, and I’d probably either get grumpy or pass out from too many cold beverages. I’m happy to save up for the Pixies!! My finger was poised on the button to buy two tickets to the V Festival on the Gold Coast yesterday, as we’ll be only two hours away from it when it happens. Am still musing.

                                                                                                                                                    New Year’s Eve 2006

                                                                                                                                                      It began under a mosquito screened umbrella out the back. All class.

                                                                                                                                                      NYE-06 Trailer trash style

                                                                                                                                                      The morning after…

                                                                                                                                                        It began with a laden table and a couple of welcome blow-ins. It ended at 4am with people taking photos of their nostrils.


                                                                                                                                                        And very early on, the keg was drained. We estimated that it had contained about 102 pints.

                                                                                                                                                        The amount of pints in our keg

                                                                                                                                                        There was general surprise that the hangovers weren’t more severe. Opinions of “How many charades can we fit into the last ten minutes of the year?” were mixed and thankfully blurry.

                                                                                                                                                        Birdhouse in your soul…

                                                                                                                                                          Not to put too fine a point on it,
                                                                                                                                                          Say I’m the only bee in your bonnet,
                                                                                                                                                          Make a little birdhouse in your soul…
                                                                                                                                                          (And while you’re at it,
                                                                                                                                                          Keep the nightlight on inside the birdhouse in your soul…)

                                                                                                                                                          A birdhouse for our soul

                                                                                                                                                          These are what we were making on that hot day before Christmas last year. And if you want to read all the lyrics of that most excellent song by TMBG, then just look below.

                                                                                                                                                          My Little Pony

                                                                                                                                                            Our landlord has been away on a caravanning holiday for the last ten days, and during that time I have been the guardian of Blossom the Horse!! I love feeding Blossom – big scoops of oats, barley, some hay looking stuff – and I pat her as she muses over it. But tonight our landlord came back [gulp]. I think I’m going to pretend I didn’t notice.

                                                                                                                                                            Sunset and Blossom the horse

                                                                                                                                                            Rockwiz – some pix (thanks Margie!)

                                                                                                                                                              Rockwiz - elimination round!

                                                                                                                                                              The elimination rounds.

                                                                                                                                                              Panel of winners!

                                                                                                                                                              Yes. That is actually cute Dugald – the scorecard holder – to my left.

                                                                                                                                                              The end - lots of lights!

                                                                                                                                                              The finale – lots of lights!


                                                                                                                                                                High tide

                                                                                                                                                                The tide tonight is SO high that water from Cannons Creek is visible from the trailer, like a silver snake sliding through the paddock.


                                                                                                                                                                  I have no time. And there is a lot of stuff on this page that needs fixing – my little picture over on the left has gone, and I know not where. However, I barely have time to scratch myself – so it will have to languish in the ether as I try and make it through the week. What has this to do with Qoop? not much, except that it’s a kind of cool thing (I’m hoping) that I used for the first time today.

                                                                                                                                                                  It’s affiliated (kind of) with Flickr and enables you to print your photographs on calendars, posters, photobooks, mugs etc. etc. Of course, this is completely useless to Australians, unless, like me, 50% of yer rellies are in the US. Then it Becomes Handy. Particularly as it’s my Nan’s birthday on 29 April and I only just pulled my finger out. I sent her a photobook, and on making my paypal payment, was so unusually and pleasantly surprised at the oddly healthy state of the Australian dollar, that I paid extra for snappy delivery.

                                                                                                                                                                  Hopefully Qoop are as good as they look. The only other Flickr affiliated service I’ve used is Moo – which, although they lost my order for over a month and a half, their little minicards are excellent. And they have global shipping. That’s all I have to say. Time has run out.

                                                                                                                                                                  Happy Birthday to ME!!

                                                                                                                                                                    A splendid day! I am THIRTY-FOUR bazillion years old!! Of course, I didn’t worry about that until about 2.55pm, which is when I was actually born. I woke up, and M made me tea and porridge – pointing out our polished-for-the-birthday appliances:

                                                                                                                                                                    Shiny birthday appliance
                                                                                                                                                                    Shiny kettle

                                                                                                                                                                    Note the birthday shrine and the gorgeous roses from my mum, who also made me a cake – and not only that, but entrusted me with her Tupperware cake traveller on pain of being written from the Will if anything happened to it.

                                                                                                                                                                    Birthday shrine
                                                                                                                                                                    My mother's favourite possession

                                                                                                                                                                    Then I began tearing open delicately removing the wrapping from this excellent looking book, and a lovely necklace and swag of magazines – and of course the impeccable card from my five-year-old friend Jack. And then in no particular order I got a fabbo Coty vintage cosmetics case that I’d had my eye on (since the hinges of my current one did not survive three weeks at sea), an fabulous InEssence travel vapouriser/oil/candles set, and voucher to the Paperback Bookshop. And then I got to M’s gifties. And oh, did he win some serious points!

                                                                                                                                                                    I love it when I am a victim of successful subterfuge. It’s very satisfying being successfully deceived for good and not evil. Thus, I had been gagging to get a tour T-shirt when we went to see Wilco play a few weeks ago. M got up a few times before the show started, saying that his dinner had upset his stomach. The first time he left, I had a sly girlish hope that he was going to come back with a T-shirt for me as a surprise, but he just came back with a I-have-a-petal-stomach face, and when he dashed off for the second time I thought no more of it. But he secretly hid the following under his jacket, and now it’s MINE!

                                                                                                                                                                    The birthday Wilco tour t-shirt!!

                                                                                                                                                                    All wrapped up in freak cat paper. The next present blew my tiny brain. I schlep around the place with my old Palm T3 with a 512MB card in it, and I have to put on only four or five Harry Potter mp3 files at a time, and it’s battery life is crap. Imagine my wonder when I totally unexpectedly unwrapped a…

                                                                                                                                                                    My New Best Toy

                                                                                                                                                                    Tres EXCELLENT!!! I was so horrified and overwhelmed by the wonder of the present that I took ages to get it out of the box. No more endless transfer of files to my Palm! I can listen to the next two Harry Potter books read by the imitable Stephen Fry and they only take up about five percent of my Pod!!! *squeaks*

                                                                                                                                                                    So now the bed was demented with wrapping paper, and cats that thought they should be on the wrapping paper;

                                                                                                                                                                    My view of the bed - birthday carnage

                                                                                                                                                                    Note the faux wood walls – M and I were hysterical that this time last year we were homeless, but awoke in the Hydro Majestic in the Blue Mountains and this year we live in trailerland. Ha!

                                                                                                                                                                    I plugged in the IPod to charge it up and Dad and T came over for a cup of birthday tea – I scored the first series of At Home With the Braithwaites and a contribution of funds towards the Auslan course I’m keen to do. I got a Happy Birthday text from my old friend Bridget, whose birthday was yesterday, which was an excellent surprise. M and I then set off – he chauffered me in the Humber – to the Merricks General Store for a splendiforous lunch.

                                                                                                                                                                    Merricks General Store & Humber

                                                                                                                                                                    I extravagantly ordered House made gnocchi in a light blue cheese, spinach and chardonnay cream sauce with toasted pinenuts and Grana Padano which I topped off with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and finishing with a chunk of Turkish Delight and a piece of my favourite pistachio, cherry and cranberry nougat.

                                                                                                                                                                    Did I have to include a blow by blow description of the food? Absolutely. It was divine. We went for a noodly drive to Balnarring Beach, and then checked the post box on the way home. Didn’t get home until after 4pm and just kicked back for the rest of the day, biding our time until candles and cake!! I can’t remember the last time I’ve had the combination of a Melbourne birthday and T-shirt weather! My trailer birthday, while different to last year’s in Katoomba, was kickass!

                                                                                                                                                                    So no one notice?

                                                                                                                                                                      No one really noticed the appliance pR0n that I posted on my birthday? I bet M is really disappointed. And the kettle’s never been the same…

                                                                                                                                                                      Nasty weather in Newcastle!

                                                                                                                                                                        Sorry mum…

                                                                                                                                                                          I am houseminder from hell

                                                                                                                                                                          Um… Two weeks ago it appeared to be thriving? It died a natural death? I’ll get you another one next season? By the time you get back from overseas you will have forgotten all about it as I will have hidden the remains?

                                                                                                                                                                          A few shots from the weekend

                                                                                                                                                                            Cooking up breakfast…

                                                                                                                                                                            Cooking up breakfast

                                                                                                                                                                            Saturday afternoon shower.

                                                                                                                                                                            Sunshine and rain...

                                                                                                                                                                            Beanbag the dog. Prince of the posers.

                                                                                                                                                                            Beanbag. Posing...

                                                                                                                                                                            The creek at the bottom of the paddock.

                                                                                                                                                                            The creek at the bottom of the paddock

                                                                                                                                                                            I think this is just the beginning…

                                                                                                                                                                              My mother is back from almost four months away, and of course is jubilant about the prospect of PartyPie. So guess which pile of presents is mine…

                                                                                                                                                                              PartyPie vs. Beth

                                                                                                                                                                              Bear & Cat

                                                                                                                                                                                I made these!

                                                                                                                                                                                Cat and Bear


                                                                                                                                                                                  Saffy's secret sleeping spot.

                                                                                                                                                                                  We wondered where Saffy had been hanging out during the daytime – in the $20 baby capsule I bought by mistake on Ebay that I’d stuck in the shed. Comfy for a cat.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The Mia Cushion

                                                                                                                                                                                    It is almost a year since M and I were appointed as godparents to M’s (wait for it…) Great Niece – a small child called Mia Grace. We had not a clue of what being a godparent entailed, sent up some champagne for the christening and hoped for the best. We have never met, which is sort of odd, because Mia Grace hangs out in Hervey Bay, Queensland and she turns One on 12 December.

                                                                                                                                                                                    M and I were pondering one what a one-year-old would like, until it got too hard and we were at a market in Mornington and saw some gorgeous cushions, one of which said ‘Mia’. They are handmade by Emma and Me – two enterprising mothers. I love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The Mia Cushion

                                                                                                                                                                                    SB, UFO – Arrives!

                                                                                                                                                                                      The title translates as Small Brother, Uncle From Overseas – Arrives! Actually, that should be ‘arrived’ ashe flew in this morning. His style can only be described as ‘casual chic while visiting the colonies’. Sweat from being chauffered in a non-airconditioned Humber added to the whole authenticity.

                                                                                                                                                                                      He met his new (and only) niece, and deemed her worthy of the loot ge had brought with him – EXCELLENT bib with her name on it and one of my cat drawings that used to grace these pages, a long sleeve t-shirt emblazoned “PARTYPIE”!! A very cool long armed and legged pink and green suit and TWO pairs of what must be the cutest and softest little leather shoes on the planet…

                                                                                                                                                                                      The Loot from The Uncle!
                                                                                                                                                                                      Look! My cat is on a bib!
                                                                                                                                                                                      Shoes for Baby from London

                                                                                                                                                                                      He is going to spend some time at the Trailer, and will no doubt be helping M return to the Land of Beer. Mmmm. I faintly recall that amber fluid.

                                                                                                                                                                                      A day out.

                                                                                                                                                                                        On Sunday we took a trip to Mornington to get out of the Trailer and blow the cobwebs from our collective brain. M and I have been seething at each other for weeks now, and it was nice to shake it all off and go wandering through shops and nibbling in cafes. PartyPie loves riding in the sling facing outward or being carried by M – but when it was time for her to sleep she faces inwards, and the day was cold, so M buttoned her up in his coat. All you could see was a small, lifeless looking foot hanging out of the bottom…

                                                                                                                                                                                        Headless M with small dangling foot.

                                                                                                                                                                                        And no. M has not gone mad and lost his head, he just didn’t wholly approve of the photo. And god forbid I should annoy anyone else on [miaow] even if only by including a photo of the BACK of their HEAD. As everyone knows, Interpol have satellite tracking based purely on craniometry where they simply scan the shape of your skull and pull up your most intimate details on screens simultaneously in offices around the globe. Watch out! YOU could be next.

                                                                                                                                                                                        (Slaps self for being evil. Shakes head for being unable to post without mentioning it. Sighs, and goes off to bed.)

                                                                                                                                                                                        Stick it out

                                                                                                                                                                                          Whales, Harry Potter, and winter mornings

                                                                                                                                                                                            Spent last night sobbing over the baby whale in Sydney Harbour. It got left behind when its pod swam off to their next destination. Oh gosh. It was trying to suckle on boats – it just drinks it’s mother’s milk for the first year. It’s making me cry to TYPE it :( It had to be euthanised. For some reason, lots of people dying in a plane crash just doesn’t affect me in the same way.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It is for this reason I am glad I haven’t watched television all year. Of course, M had to come home and tell me about it – I would much prefer not to have known. Consoled self by watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – and now I am up to date with the Harry films. I have to say that Order of the Phoenix was probably my most favourite of the books. Watching the latest two films is odd. For me they are like the shorthand version of the books, but I imagine they would be great if you hadn’t read them and didn’t know how much they’d had to leave out for the sake of brevity.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Here’s a photograph from this morning – currently my favourite one of M and Small Z. They are on their morning walk and M always lets Small Z smell and grab the trees…

                                                                                                                                                                                            Z and her Dad. Under the eucalyptus.

                                                                                                                                                                                            And another shot from this morning, also taken by M on their walk…

                                                                                                                                                                                            This morning

                                                                                                                                                                                            The weather during the days is pretty crap at the moment, but the mornings and evenings just look sublime. Chilly, but picturesque.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Galah Galah

                                                                                                                                                                                              First galahs in M's birdfeeder!

                                                                                                                                                                                              We finally got some visitors to our bird feeder!

                                                                                                                                                                                              Spring’s doing its thing

                                                                                                                                                                                                OK. So now I feel more like I’ve been ridden over by a, um, [pause to think of appropriate vehicle] chunky new model Vespa motor scooter. Like the one Small Brother abandoned when he left London behind. The throat that felt like I’d been gargling razors has now downgraded to gargling coarse grade sandpaper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                All in all, am generally improving. And this has been helped by showstopper spring weather, which I have been SO thankful for. I fully believe in Seasonal Affective Disorder – not that I have it (der) but day after day of cold, grey, manky, skanky, galeforce windy weather would drive most people a bit spare. God knows how you people with snow cope. Snow is good to visit, and that’s about it for me.*

                                                                                                                                                                                                The last few days have been those zingy spring ones with a bit of heat in the midday sun. Although I had to work all day today, I had the door of the study cracked open to let some of the afternoon in. And went out and took a few pictures as well. PartyPie has been getting into grass in a big way – and also has been enjoying riding in the bucket on the clothes basket trolley. See the grass? That’s stuck on there with snot. She is a classy little thing…

                                                                                                                                                                                                Button in the Bucket

                                                                                                                                                                                                And here is my garden of pots and crates. It’s been getting a lot of rain – which is good, because I can’t find where the fertiliser has gone, but it probably doesn’t matter seeing as it’s all planted in about seventy percent horse poo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                My garden of pots and crates

                                                                                                                                                                                                *Note: It’s pretty funny, but in the middle of writing this I wandered over to the blog of Long Lost Cousin, and she is similarly jubilant at the change in our meteorological scenery. Not that she needs to be, as she’s just buggered off on another adventure…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                Old tech

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I began cleaning out the study a little bit – starting with a crate of stuff I had taking up all the room at the top of the cupboard. Chucked out old network cards, graphics cards, leads, and am looking for somewhere to recycle a couple of dead mobile phones. I saved a few old hard drives, as I’m sure there are photos and stuff on there that might be fun to investigate sometime down the track.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I stumbled on my old Palm IIIx. It was this item that began my evil credit card spiral. I would even go so far as to say that I got a job, so I could get a credit card, purely to get myself the Palm IIIx – which at that time was over $600 *goggle* I loved it SO much. And over time I got a collapsible keyboard for it and the fabulous Pocketmail attachment. I could use it to blog and email wherever there was a payphone or mobile phone. It was seriously ace – particularly for boating holidays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Wikipedia entry for Pocketmail is quite hilarious, stating with apparent amazement that ‘it works with any phone, EVEN OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES’!! Good god! How extraordinary. It then adds sadly that the Australian Pocketmail has given up and now spends it’s time owning uranium mining prospects in Queensland and South Australia. Of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Super. But superseded. Woe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  There is no way I can get rid of this thing. I have given it permission to take up unnecessary space in my existence. Possibly there will be some lucrative future recurrence of interest in the Palm IIIx, and when there is I will be able to dig it out with a flourish – while PartyPie looks on uncomprehendingly…”But mum, where’s the colour on the screen gone?” And I will have to tell her that, once upon a time? There was this thing called monochrome…

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hung out to dry

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Washed and dried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hello Jasmine Barbara!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      My very good mates, J&S had a baby girl this morning! [cue spontaneous applause]

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Little Jasmine Barbara turned up at 9.34am and she is super cute. I had earlier said that I thought it would be a boy, but then I had a dream (yes, just like Martin Luther) two nights ago that it was a girl. Should have had confidence in my dream!! Jasmine is a beautiful name and she is going to be such an ace addition to our lives! I am really looking forward to a camping trip in a year or two where we have all these two year olds running around. By then we should have them trained to get us beers from the esky. What could be better than that!? Ha! We have had a bellyful (how’s that for a collective noun?) of babies appear in our lives in the past twelve months – Chloe, Elijah, Marco, Axel, and now the beautiful Jasmine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jasmine Barbara
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Congratulations to J&S – especially S, who did the very hard yards. We knocked back a glass of red for you guys tonight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Happy Hay

                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is just part of the reason I want to move north. Our friend Ian saw this on his way to work this morning:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Happy Hay
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Happy Hay

                                                                                                                                                                                                        He wrote, ‘Lismore art activists struck this paddock last night – hay will never be the same again!’
                                                                                                                                                                                                        It has given me some ideas…

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Goodbyes and Grass

                                                                                                                                                                                                          We went to Loch on Sunday to put Mow in the back paddock. Dad had dug the hole – which involved a lot more effort than the previous one, as the earth has hardened in the warmer weather. M put Mow in and we said our goodbyes. We drank a little glass of port each, to speed Mow on his way. And there it was. We’re catless. It kind of feels like we’re in a constant state in which we have something missing from our ensemble, like a left sock. Odd. We’re still trying to get our heads around it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Our goodbyes were followed by a splendiferous lunch, after which most of us passed out on the grass, full of roast chicken, roast potato, D’Affinois cheese, kangaroo salami, sourdough bread and lashings of champagne. Very classy. Small Z loves grass, and there is not a lot of the good gear in Trailerland – it’s all dry, brown and pokey. So she was in her element. I took some photos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Last Sunday - in Loch
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Last Sunday - in Loch

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Please note all the Humbers in the background – mine’s in the middle and I cannot WAIT to hook up the caravan to it and…oh, I don’t know, just drive it around like a pimp wearing red lipstick, and stopping at intervals to make cups of tea in picturesque locales.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yawn…time for bed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Much ado about nothing much

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Happy Birthday Baby!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Small Z celebrated her first birthday with all her relatives and a couple of friends (Grassy Noel and Christine). We had salad rolls, cake and champagne. Small Z felt the day was very successful. M made her a fantastic birthday cake, which she was allowed to poke with her chubby little starfish hands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Zoe the PartyPie turns ONE!
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Zoe the PartyPie turns ONE!
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Zoe the PartyPie turns ONE!
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Zoe the PartyPie turns ONE!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              We toasted Small Z, and then M made a toast to the efforts of my boobs, and all that they had achieved over the last twelve months. Small Brother took Small Z on rides on her Big Dog all around the backyard and we listened to kid-music until we couldn’t take it anymore and turned on the Audreys.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              A motor in ‘moo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Today was the most sublime day in existence, yet again proving that 26 degrees is truly my most ideal temperature. At around 6pm this evening we put Oomoo on his trolley and went over the road to the tiniest nearest homemade ‘boat ramp’ in amongst the mangroves. Here is myself and Small Z making our way offshore – it’s the first time she’s ever worn her little lifejacket. I love how the sun hits the water in this shot. It’s the first time we have all been out in Oomoo together…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sparkling our way toward my small boat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Small Z and me. First time out in my small boat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                After we got back, I went for a quick noodle on my own – but when I came back, M said that Small Z had not particularly warmed to the sight of me disappearing by boat out through the mangroves and into the ‘open sea’. So I came ashore, and he went for a solo manly motor…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                M out in Oomoo just over te road from our house

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just a small sample of our torture…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How hot it got the other day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The suit. And the…walking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Cancer Council, after I telephoned and harrassed them about how long it was taking, finally deigned to send the sunsuit and hat for Small Z that I ordered a while back. The woman spoke to me like I was lucky she had even found my order, let alone contemplated posting it. It arrived today. The tide was high around 3pm and Small Z and I went over the road for a splashdown.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The sunsuit arrived in the post today!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The sunsuit arrived in the post today!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The sunsuit arrived in the post today!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And the walking? I think that we can date the walking as beginning from today. Small Z’s confidence has been building…with the help of Baa! The WonderSheep. It’s bizarre how much growing can happen in 13 months…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Fruit Guru

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My dad, who has been living exclusively in the country for…who knows, about six or seven years or so now, has been planting various trees throughout that time. There are plum, lime, orange, chestnut, persimmon, peach and apple trees. And I have definitely left out a few others. There are more apple trees than the other fruits, and not just the normal apples, but ones like the Gravenstein. They make amazing applesauce – one of my top five favourite foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Most of the trees, in the last couple of years, have become quite mature and have started producing serious amounts of fruit. After extensive prompting, a few weeks ago he began tentatively becoming a fruit-pimp, asking around at a few different places to see if they would be interested in selling his apples. Der. He has since made over a hundred dollars in apple sales – and the apples are amazing and ‘organic’ – i.e. grown without any chemical anything – the trees are fed with manure and covered with bird net.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Spoils of the Fruit Guru
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Small Z and Apple

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So the fruit-pimp has re-labelled himself Fruit GURU. Particularly as he is also now selling something he didn’t plant, but continues to grow there regardless. Blackberries. Back when we moved to the house in the country for a couple of years when I was in primary school, the place was choked with blackberry. Now it remains in blobs around the property, and, although it is an evil weed, I am glad. Because blackberries are tasty. There are kilo bags of blackberries in his freezer and still more growing outside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This afternoon Small Z and I went down for a late lunch, and as I languished over a Coopers, followed by a cup of tea, Man With Beard (my dad has not taken to the ‘Grandad’ title) took Small Z for a forage. She returned blacklipped and shrieking “More? More!?” We all went back out and she picked some herself. As did I.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And now I’m looking for a simple blackberry muffin recipe. Oh YUM.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Saturday in South Gippsland

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We went to Loch for a goodbye-we’re-going-oversease-for-five-weeks lunch today. And I played avidly with dad’s completely awesome camera – a seriously sexy Nikon D300.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        These pictures are so small because I took more than thirty – too big to email all of them to myself at any great size. But whatever. We had a lovely feasty foody day. Small Z tried avidly to tempt Splodge the cat with offerings of leaves and ‘stickys’ (sticks) and fed the fish that live in the bathtub. Everything is lush, all the trees are mulched, but confused. The olive tree is olive-ing, the mandarin tree is mandarin-ing…the drought has buggered their timing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        On her way out the gate today
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The view I see a lot
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Two of the four Humber Supersnipes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The mandarine tree

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        At the end of yesterday…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The moon - Warneet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Warneet Winter Sunset

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Backyard weather

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I’ve been hanging at home a bit more with Small Z this past week. WIth the new sleep practices at night, timings of the midday nap have changed… and I’ve also thought it is a bit more settling to hang about at home while the nights can be fraught (yes – I did jinx myself with that post…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The weather has been making things easier, with big spates of sunny afternoons. We draw on the concrete with chalk (a habit we picked up in New York), run around under the clothesline, and hunt for dandelions to blow…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chalk cats - the Grumpy Mow, and the Happy Mow in a Bra

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (Note the ‘Grumpy Mow’* and the ‘Happy Mow in a Bra’)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A puffy dandelion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A tiny daisy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            *Mow rhymes with cow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Happy Father’s Day M!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I bought him breakfast. Z ate it. He drank the coffee.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My uncle (I have three – two in Massachusetts and one in Binginwarri) looks after the Gay Head lighthouse in Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard, and has done for over 20 years or so. He takes people through on tours during the summer months – if you click that link, there’s a picture of him down the bottom of the page.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So, he’s the man – the lighthouse keeper, the guy with the keys to the large glowstick. About three weeks ago, Meg (his sister and my aunt) wanted to go away on a camping trip. This meant that someone needed to be around to keep my Nan company – my Nan has lived with meg for a while now, and Meg didn’t want to leave her own for four days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                She was originally going to go over and stay with Richard and his wife, Joanie, on the Vineyard, but this didn’t work out. Instead, Richard went over to Marblehead and stayed with Nan. While he was gone, Joan got a call from someone saying that they wanted to take a tour of the lighthouse… she said Richard wasn’t available, but that she would be happy to do it. The person did not say who it was that was going to be coming through – but I’m assuming Joanie started to suspect, after the area around the lighthouse was locked down and made secure over a few hours…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Joan then, on her own, got to take Barack and Michelle Obama and their daughters on a tour of Gay Head Lighthouse!! This calls for an OMG! I felt so bad for Richard, longtime lighthouse carer and guru, missing out on taking the PRESIDENT that he voted for on a tour :( But – woo! Joanie!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Two things about this made me happy – one was that Barack Obama asked where Richard was, and on being told that he was looking after my Nan, sent his Nan some presidential best wishes and love… And the second thing is that he even WANTED to go and look through an old lighthouse – there is no way I can imagine George Bush ever wanting to bother doing such a thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Joan and the Obamas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sunshine and Spring

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Today has brought the kind of weather thet used to make me want to weep with frustration whenever I had to work in an office – it is sublimely perfect spring day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It is Spring...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It’s impossible to remain indoors, and who would want to? My tiny friend, Small Z and I have been pottering for the last few hours. Me pulling weeds and hacking them with the mattock, and she playing with two bottle tops she named ‘Thomas’ and ‘Lowly’. (I have to admit only learning to call that aforementioned tool a ‘mattock‘ this morning, when I heard someone else pronounce it. Prior to this I have blithely gone though life telling people that I have been hacking away with a ‘maddock’. Which is, apparently, a US city and the surname of several people. Sigh. Still, it’s not as bad as addressing large corporate meetings using the word ‘echelon’ on several occasions and pronouncing it ‘Eck-a-lon’. But I’m getting off track…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The mozzies are bad and so we are smothered in citronella. Small Z is wearing a great shirt for the conditions, bought for her by She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Blogged. I have found some seeds that we will plant later, post-nap. I will miss this house when we have to leave, regardless of the insect and possum issues. This weather has improved my mood, and instead of feeling like a creatively barren unproductive nothing, I feel…um…better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ever since Z saw a particular episode of Thomas the Tank Engine on YouTube she has been obsessed with flat tyres. And fixing them with a spanner, or seven. When they are flat…tyres go ‘clunk’.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Kongwak. We went back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I’ve been wanting to go back to Kongwak Market for what seems like aeons. We awoke in the caravan at Loch at about 7am, and left at around 8am via Korumburra.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here is a minor tangent. When Small Z and I were coming back from northern NSW about a year ago we sat in front of a woman I had met once before, and her two daughters. I had met her when going with J to pick up Not-So-Small C from a playdate. Anyway, while we were on the plane I asked her where she was going. She told me I wouldn’t know the town, it was too small. Try me, I said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bena, she said, and waited for me to look blank.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, I said, that’s right near where my dad lives, I know exactly where it is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    She then told me about friends of hers there that they were going to stay with, and how they were opening an organic cafe in Korumburra. I was floored. The words ‘Korumburra’ ‘organic’ and ‘cafe’ had never before sat together in my head. But it’s true! We drove into Korumburra at 8.30am, missed our turn-off, did a u-turn – and in doing so spied the ‘Green Door’ cafe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They weren’t open, but inside were about 10 people all filling cardboard boxes with fruit and vegies. One of them saw my pitiful face at the window – it was pouring with rain – and said that we should come in anyway. We tucked ourselves down at a little table at the back, ordered scrambled eggs and coffee, and basked in that glow that comes with finding somewhere unexpectedly excellent. And the eggs and coffee did not fail us…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We got another round of coffee, which left me like an amphetamine reptile (I hardly ever drink it, but the soy-lattes were SO nice), and I picked up some Madame Flavour tea and some decent bread. Drove on to Kongwak Market, where M was kind enough to take over all toddler wrangling and leave me to rifling through all the clothes, bags and trinkets that were there. I regret not getting a pair of shoes, but did score a clock for the caravan and a vintage-cool sleeping bag, both for the caravan and both within my $20 budget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kongwak Market
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kongwak Market
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Haircut Caravan at Kongwak

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Grand Final and Flooding Rains

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We had planned to return to our favourite West Preston driveway to observe the AFL Grand Final in the company of our friend Mr H, but guiltily reneged in order to go to Loch, where Harley the Humber Whisperer was visiting. M had to talk to him about some pulley thingys he needs made, and Harley is the man. If I am somewhat like him when I am 80, I will be pretty well satisfied.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The caravan came with us. And the weather. Holy hell – Winter has returned! Thankfully the wood heater was doing its job. The farm is a lovely place to be in inclement weather. Over a lovely lunch M and Harley discussed pulley things and then I got to plumb his brain for information about installing my gas stove in the caravan. Harley, amongst many manny other things used to recondition gas stoves. Ha!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We had the television on to see the game from about halfway through the first quarter. It was muted so we didn’t have to listen to the commentary, but instead provided our own. I disposed of a stubby of Coopers Red as I was sucked further and further in. It was the best grand final I’d ever seen, down to the wire. Was SO disappointed to see Geelong win. Gah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      After the angst of the football, we went for a head-clearing walk outside. I used Dad’s supersonic digital Nikon SLR and took a whole lot of pictures. That camera can make anyone look like they know what they’re doing. Mostly…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bucketful of rainwater
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rugged up
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Purple and yellow
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Quince tree blossom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A pair

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The night was finished off with baked trevally and homemade chips. Small Z and I hit the bed in the caravan at 8.30pm, tucked in with our hot water bottle with the intermittent tapping of hail on the roof. It was our best night in the caravan yet. I need to sort out some permanent lighting, though…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Daisy Daisy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A work day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A work day. M commented that Small Z has been very chilled, sweet and happy today. Maybe some of that is a reflection of me. I am trying to knuckle down to my work and be less distracted. I find that I’m less frustrated at the end of the day if I really set myself little deadlines – i.e. work solidly without checking email for one hour…and then have cup of tea!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The other thing is that M has really been a domestic god today. I hate to be some kind of neurotic neat freak, but it really drives me insane when the house disintergrates into piles of unwashed dishes, wet nappies and more than the normal operating clutter… Not today! Dishes are all done, washing has gone out and come in, and pumpkin and beetroot are roasting in the over. Huzzah, M!! Cute as well as functional! Ah well, everything has to have two uses… ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Afternoon - my work room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The afternoon light

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In between rain storms this afternoon, the light did that thing it does in between the clouds. I wished fervently for my dad’s kickass camera, but made do with the iPhone…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This Afternoon


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            On Sunday night M’s cousin Margaret came to stay over. She lives up near Lake Macquarie in NSW. She’d driven down in her new silver diesel ute to stay with friends in Melbourne for a week, and also to see another one of her cousins over in Greensborough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I’d almost forgotten she was coming, as M had mentioned it once or twice, but I never had any idea who he was talking about. I had never heard of cousin Margaret – although it turns out I have met her brother, who I liked very much. Anyway, she showed up on Sunday afternoon. She’s a few years older than M – although it has to be said, M is fairly famed for not particularly looking his age.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The first thing I thought of was how much she looked like M’s mum – Faye – who is no longer around. After sitting at the table with her over several cups of tea and coffee I became more and more fixated. I couldn’t get over it. Her mannerisms, the way she said things. I secretly got up and composed myself a few times because I just found it quite unsettling – in a good way. She is lovely, lot’s of fun – and like me, loves her macbook and writing. She works as a subeditor on a daily newspaper, and I looked at her with envious eyes – I’ve always thought I might like to do that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Here’s a few pictures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            M, Small Z and Cousin Margie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Me, M and Cousin Margie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And here is one of my favourite photos – taken probably around 1999 or so. M and I took Faye out to breakfast the day that we were leaving to drive back to Melbourne. She thought that ‘going out for breakfast’ sounded like an extremely foreign and decadent thing to do…. We went to a little cafe by the beach somewhere around Budgewoi, I think, and I jumped into a rockpool for a swim. Lovely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            M, me and Faye at the beach

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Barwon Heads

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The evening following our foray to Emerald, Small Z was hard to get to sleep. We tried. Then she was back up at around 8pm. M and I looked at each other. We had been invited away to Barwon Heads for Mung’s birthday weekend, but weren’t going to go as it seemed too far for just one night and my back was s-o-r-e.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A text came through from Mung asking whether we would be arriving that night or the next morning. M – who usually hates driving distances, tentatively suggested we drive down right then, arrive at around 11pm and wake up there in the morning – thus giving ourselves two nights away. I jumped on this plan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We made a pact not to dither around getting ready and were out of the house, packed, with caravan hitched, thirty-five minutes later. I think that’s some kind of record. All hail the soothing power of the automobile – Small Z slept the entire way. *boggles*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As we drew near Barwon Heads, and the super cool 1950′s style holiday house that they had rented, M said that he was sure everyone would be asleep by now. No way! I told him, it’s only about 11′o’clock – they’ll be up knocking back a few beers. We drew up, got sorted, and M grabbed his four remaining beers like a Frat boy, and hared off to party. Returning five minutes later, mournful. They were all in bed…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fishing near the Barwon Heads Bridge
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Luka. Running.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The morning after the night before

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mud and puddles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Went up to visit the paternal parent in the country. He is the shape of a crab, or a pretzel, due to ongoing lower back pain and sciatica. Something Has To Be Done. He is hampered by his location and immobility. Argh! It is so frustrating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                However, we took advantage of the hospitality and dined on honey soy free range chicken drumsticks, potato salad, and, best of all, Windfall Pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Windfall Pie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Windfall Pie? A dazzling combination of blackberries and apples – the apples that have been collected from under the apple trees.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Noun: windfall – fruit that has fallen from the tree

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Small Z, who has been going through a phase which consists of her saying “Wipe your HANDS?” after she touches food and almost anything else (she means ‘Wipe my hands’ but remains a bit confused about ‘I’ and ‘Your’), rallied from her cleanliness. We were outside and she was investigating a drip…which led to investigating some mud, smearing mud over her tummy, face and tongue, and finishing it off by stepping in what she and I both thought was a shallow puddle…that turned out ankle deep. I hosed her in the shower. Kid fun!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Catching drips
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pondering the puddle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Meanwhile, M filled our shed with all the things we have divested from our lives since moving house. That created a good feeling. So why is it that our shed at home still looks like it’s at bursting point? Declutter fairy, are you out there?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This was our first foray to the closest swimming beach. Next time I’ll pack more snacks…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It didn’t go too badly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Goddamn! Here I am posting something on the same day it happened! I feel that something has slightly shifted. Is this progress?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Somers Beach, this morning...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  SLAM Protest Rally & Sleepers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I haven’t left this side of town for what seems like an a-g-e. Yesterday, this changed. M, Small Z and I drove into Northcote in the morning, and were gratified to discover that it took exactly an hour. An HOUR! An hour to civilisation, trams, coffee, chai made with leaves and hot milk, and…our actual destination. The first Sleepers Publishing CryBaby Salon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was glad to have had M there acting as my Manny, as I doubt Small Z would have stayed in the toddlers room for the entire session on her own. As it was, I was practically the only person in the room without an incy-wincy baby draped over me or crawling at my feet. Lawrie Steed interviewed Rachel Power, author of The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood – a book I would have bought except for a cash deficit. Am now going to request it for birthday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There was much discussion over the guilt involved with trying to pursue your artistic endeavours while still feeling like a worthwhile mother. A few times it was suggested that you have to try hard to just down tools, put your partner in charge, shove the expressed breastmilk in the fridge and JUST LEAVE. Something I have whole-heartedly aspired to, but am really really not good at doing. In question time I wanted to ask…but what about those mothers who have babies that don’t sleep without being breastfed and who won’t take a bottle? The sleep deprivation and the sheer brain deadening fatigue?! What do they do?!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the response would have been ‘do whatever you can’. If you can grab 30 minutes a day to write or dance or paint, just do it. It’s good enough. It’s better than nothing. And it’s no crime that if, when those 30 minutes are there for the taking, all you can do is slump with a few chocolate biscuits and a cup of tea. Things will always improve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wondered also about the levels of difficulty – if you have come up with a non-fiction topic that you can focus on and research – is that easier or harder than writing fiction? Does the time you lack for contemplation weigh equally heavily on the fiction writer and the painter and the dancer? I suppose it all depends on the person, and what you allow yourself to do. Time to immerse yourself in your chosen artform shouldn’t feel like an indulgence, and shouldn’t feel like you are doing it at the expense of something else…the washing, the dinner… It’s this hardwired, burnt-chop mother thing that I think a lot of people identified with yesterday – the ongoing struggle to separate yourself as artist and mother.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And as Rachel Power said – the triumvirate of art, motherhood and WORK is the real killer. She spoke about the harmony that can come of the motherhood and art combination. When work is thrown into the mix, that’s the thing that sends it all off key. Just thinking about this makes me want to go and buy a Powerball ticket…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    After visiting the nasally impaired, but mending Dr of Grass, we took the scenic route to Carlton via Coburg as Small Z slumbered in the back. And then moseyed on down to the front of the State Library for the Save Live Australian Music protest rally, where we met LIBRARYMAN (aka Mr H in work attire) and marched from there, through the city, and up Bourke Street to Parliament House. It was fabuloso!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    At the end, after a rousing rendition of ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top if you want to ROCK & ROLL’, there was a little too much speechifying – a great deal of which was generally indistinct to those further back in the crowd. I think they should have got people up to make a few pithy statements, got ‘em off, and had a few more songs. But, whatever… We took our leave with the hungry small one, and headed home after a stop for lemon lime and bitters, some spuds and some pesto bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SLAM Rally

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Note Small Z on M’s shoulders to left of banner…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SLAM Rally

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Saturday in training

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another Saturday morning. Oh dear, the more Autumn’s and Springs’s I have, the more I edge toward somewhere like Tasmania or New Zealand as somewhere to live. It seems that 24-26 degrees with a tiny breeze is my ultimate day. Like today. After M chef-ed up some superior scrambled eggs we left the house with Small Z in tow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We took her to Hastings Station for a joyride on a diesel to Stony Point. Some kids would fail to be impressed by this, but Small Z, being a trainspotter in training (sorry), is not one of them. She had told us we would probably be travelling on Gordon. As the train pulled up, the only other child on the platform, who was a good four years older than Small Z, shrieked “It’s Gordon! It’s GORDON!!” Is there some kind of conspiracy?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Saturday morning train ride

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Naturally we travelled for free, as we are mykey virgins and didn’t know you couldn’t buy a ticket at the station anymore. Good one, Victorian government, you’ve done REALLY well with this! We journeyed to Stony Point, where we disembarked, checked the timetable, decided that there was not enough fun there to fill to two hours until the next train, and got back on the train we had just vacated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Saturday morning train ride

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The train was only one carriage and was filled to popping point, mostly by a mass of bright young things escaping the naval base. We got off at Tyabb and wandered around the Packing House for a while, mostly for the coffee in the old red rattler and the slide. There is also a pottery place there – and as someone who has always wondered what they could do with clay and a wheel, I got a brochure for classes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Saturday morning train ride. Reflecting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Back home for the nap and then, after some bubbles in the backyard, down to Balnarring beach for the rest of the day. The weird thing was, we avoided the main carpark and went up through some streets, found a secluded spot where there was ONE other car. Parked. Got out. Our neighbours said “Hello!” Apparently it’s their hangout. I think they felt like we were stalking them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The morning became the day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We began at a garage sale where I bought excellent roof racks for five dollars, took in a crappy market, and then drove to summon a nap out of Small Z until we hit Somers. We bought the paper and hung on the beach for a couple of hours before hitting the cafe there. It reminded me a bit of Martha’s Vineyard…and I’m always impressed by a classy, shabby chic bathroom – this one had crystal door handles, chunky square basins and antiquey looking mirrors…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And the banana smoothies were sublime.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Somers - the cafe


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          An impromptu caravan trip yesterday afternoon after encouragement from L&D saw me waking as it got light this morning…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Asleep. Caravan. 7am.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Point Leo, this morning...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I’d thought I’d had my last swim two weeks back, but not so! I jumped in yesterday. it was divine. Cold. But divine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And after a tanty-filled drive from Hastings to Oakleigh this afternoon we got to the RSL, met up with D, E and Small E to see the Little Stevies. They were great. Small Z insisted on me dancing in the ‘new boots’ and was thrilled by the music. We discovered that out of everyone in Melbourne, D&E had beat us on a particular single bed with a trundle on eBay…we bought a little hook on high chair from the same seller. So we both met the family in Ringwood who was flogging off some kid-stuff. Bizarre.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Little Stevies @ Oakleigh RSL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Here’s the current favourite Little Stevies track of Small Z and I…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Axel Turns Two

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Saturday saw us at Axel’s second birthday party. His parents are both olive skinned and dark haired, while he is a cherubic fire topped redhead. Beautiful. There were SO many small children at this party that you basically had to kick yourself a path through them on arrival…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Small Z had a great time – she and Axel had a small meltdown in stereo towards the end, over the sharing of a Thomas the Tank Engine calendar. It was mercifully brief. The lure of someone elses toys was so thrilling that it generally overode any kind of angst. There were people there (older ones) who I used to see SO often and now I’m lucky if we catch up once every six months. Weird. People are establishing there own little networks, often through their toddlers via playgroup and mother’s groups… We have to get out more often before we become submerged in the brand-new-baby blur….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Happy Birthday Axel - You're TWO!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Birthday parallel play.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Axel's bedroom at night
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Small Z and someone else's toys


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One of the blogs I tend to regularly check up on is Pickle Pepper, kept by Karen Erasmus. She’s an illustrator. She regularly posts her work and I love to see what she’s up to. When she mentioned recently that she won a competition last year and the prize was an exhibition at Oak Hill Gallery in Mornington, I was surprised.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don’t know why, but I had assumed she was based in South Australia. (Of course, now I’ve actually bothered to check out her ‘about’ page, she lives on the Mornington Peninsula, as do I.) But anyway, we found ourselves driving through Mornington for the first time in ages on Sunday, in an effort to see if Small Z would sleep in the car. Ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Put it this way, she ‘rested’ for about an hour with heavy little eyes and her favourite ‘Sleepy Bee’, but there was no sleeping. After a wander around the shops we headed to the gallery. This adjoins a gorgeous formally laid out rose garden that I’ve always wanted to wander through. Luckily. Because we got to the front door of the gallery and saw this…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oak Hill Gallery

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              BUGGER. Anyway, Small Z was as keen as me to see different kinds of roses, and brought along Sleepy Bee so he could smell them too. Obviously it’s the wrong time of year for some crazy rose frenzy, but there were more in bloom that I had thought. There were even some of what I call ‘painted roses’, which I love, and had bought for my mum now and again and L, when Small C was born. They are white and blush pink with splatters of hot pink over them. Lovely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The rose garden in Mornington
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The rose garden in Mornington
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The rose garden in Mornington
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The rose garden in Mornington

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have a feeling that the rose garden is entirely maintained by volunteers. One of them was hard at work in the middle of a flower bed and gave Small Z a rose of her very own, after de-thorning it. Small Z had a lovely time smelling all the different coloured blooms and found a waddle of ducks to chase. We heard her saying, as we got nearer to her, “It was nice to meet you, ducks.” Very polite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I hope to get back to the gallery before the end of the exhibition, but kind of doubt I’ll make it as it finishes next week. Humph.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oak Hill Gallery

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Time out…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A few weeks ago my dad asked both myself and She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Blogged whether we would be able to come and either do a drop in feed of their cat or stay the weekend while he and Mgs went away. This happened to coincide with M saying that he would like to go on a solo manly sailing adventure. He does this every now and again to nurture his bearlike soul…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So we organised that these two occurrences would coincide. On Friday after lunch Small Z and I set off for two nights in the country. It was sunshiney…up until about half an hour after we arrived. However… We had a lovely time. I spent what felt like an hour standing next to the step ladder as she climbed up and down it. And then another chunk of time doing the same thing when we rounded a corner and found another ladder ready for her delectation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I managed to keep the woodfire going, and thanked the goddess that they no longer have a hot water service that requires lighting with BRIQUETTES every morning (which was the case when M and I lived there for six long months circa 1997…). On Saturday morning we headed to Korrumburra op-shop for an outing and I bought what I hoped was the perfect sized Pyrex bowl to put inside my slow cooker for overnight porridge making… (can you imagine how thrilled I will feel if I can pull this off and then have my Teasmade set up next to it? It will be like I’ve created my own domestic ‘help’. *swoons*)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                With the purchase of a few kid books, a pair of kid tights and another tiny Pyrex bowl with a lid to match the one I use almost every night when inventing foodstuffs for Small Z – we got back in the car and drove 20 seconds up the hill to Korrumburra’s anomaly – an organic cafe. Small Z scoffed a sausage roll and I did chai and fruit toast. Excellent. Our outing was punctuated by dashes to the loo – Small Z’s toilet training is going really well – we are using the approach suggested by the parenting guru (she has FIVE kids) at Clover Lane.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Once we got back to the house we stoked up the fire and had a wander around, picked autumn leaves and did not much more than that. I made a few cups of tea and told Small Z to wander at her leisure – she had the run of a few acres, but generally stays nearby. Mostly she required me to chase her with a ‘pirhana’ – a small piece of bread with some avocado dip on it. I have learnt not to question…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For some reason she slept like a champ – two 13 hour nights. I, meanwhile, tossed and turned like some kind of human rotisserie and cursed the visco elastic mattress M made us buy that has ruined me (during pregnancy, at least) for any other sleeping surface. Sunday morning we got up late and I cleaned up a bit – thank goodness – as dad and Mgs turned up a few minutes after 10am. Small Z and I made an exit and headed to Kongwak Market. This thrilled Small Z, whose other obsession is Conger Eels – she looked around the whole market in vain for a conger eel to take home. I ate dhal and lusted for items that I didn’t have the funds for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On the way home we stopped in Tooradin and Small Z had her first ever bit of vanilla slice. We cruised the book sale shop until our browsing was cut unceremoniously short by Small Z’s need to poo. Poor thing; we galloped the length of the shopping strip to the public toilets…and were a bit too late… Our drive home to a bath was short and aromatic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Weekend in Loch
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Weekend in Loch
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Weekend in Loch
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Weekend in Loch

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On Saturday night I cooked up some rhubarb. Small Z has only really had it once or twice before, mixed with stewed apple in a crumble. I like it quite tart and was doubtful that her interest in it would survive the first mouthful. Soooo wrong. She inhaled the lot, begged for more, and then licked the bowl clean. It’s the first time I’ve ever really looked at her and seen a small dog in place of a two-year-old…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rhubarb Trifecta
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Weekend in Loch

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                James. The red engine. Pimped.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Happy Father’s Day 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I took this last Wednesday when M went out for a couple of hours. Ran around like a loon. Small Z was such a trouper. I only just this second realised it appears that she has one leg. This is not correct.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    After eight or nine poses she said gently, “No more photos please.” And we stopped. After hiding all the evidence and changing clothes again, there was a knock on the door. I was so wiped that the real estate agent standing on the door step (whom I had never seen before, and will now most likely never see again) didn’t even say hello, he just looked at me and said, “Are you alright?” Gah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not sure if the shape of Pikelet will help anybody in their boy/girl votes… As well as this in a frame, M also received The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds, a book Small Z and I thought he might appreciate…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M's Father's Day Card 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    End game

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think our attitude of amused tolerance to the small brown mouse that calls this place home is about to change significantly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A weekend of beautiful weather

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ah, Spring. If there was ever a weekend to showcase perfect Spring weather, this was it. We had our first big social outing with Small D yesterday. Dropping past L&D’s house to introduce Small D and then continuing to a fantastic Grand Final – The Rematch BBQ with very old friends. We had a lovely time. The place was crawling with kids – with Small D being the youngest – followed quickly by Small O.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There was much yelling at the television and many chats outside in the sunshine. Small Z had a ball – there was a garden with lots of interesting nooks and a big trampoline. We lazed on the hammock and spent some time inside taking in the game. Very cruisy. We didn’t leave until 5pm…which to me, felt like almost midnight. Strangely, we had all had such a nice time that even getting to bed was relaxed!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Walking in the sun

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Today, we went for a stroll to an overpriced garage sale a few streets away. There are not many lovely houses in this area, or gardens. BUT…we passed a showstopper on the way, and Small Z was beside herself with the colours and shapes. It made us so happy to walk past and look at it all – Spring in riotous colour! We need to plant more flowers at our house (and we did when we got home – seven sunflower seeds into a pot to plant out as seedlings).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The most beautiful garden in Hastings
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Small Z and flower border
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Planting out some beans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And this afternoon, we were invited next door for snacks and birthday cake in the front garden of our neighbours – their two year old, Jack, was celebrating. We had a lovely time…everything is easier in the sunshine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mission – failed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Saturday morning I became obsessed with going to Balnarring. M was unable to come with me as he was committed to go and pick up a $50 pram I’d bought on eBay, that was in… Pakenham. It had a toddler seat – which I have belatedly realised is imperative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For so many years I have inwardly sneered at enormous looking children being pushed around in, er, enormous looking prams… but the first time I went around the block with Smalls D&Z in the late afternoon (*mistake*) sleep deprived Small Z made it three quarters of the way, and then became unbearable and floppy and had to ride the rest of the way semi-draped over my beloved Emmaljunga

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Have I mentioned that parenting is a process of becoming more and more humble as karmic payback for being judgemental? Now I crave to have the option to push around my enormous child, just so she won’t be melting down on the footpath. And I’ll cheerfully ignore all those non-sleep deprived childfree people who may appear to be inwardly cringing…like I used to do. Ignorance is bliss. But I digress…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I got obsessed with going to Balnarring as the butcher there has excellent free-range meat and I have recently heard that Lilydale ‘free range’ chicken, that I’ve been buying at the supermarket, is really barely free-range at all. So I bundled both Smalls into the car and headed out. I took the Hug-a-Bub sling to transport Small D. And no pram. MISTAKE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Once the car stopped when we got to the car park, Small D began to scream. If you have read this blog for any length of time, you will know that I have very little ability to cope with crying babies (not other peoples so much, but definitely my own). And particularly in cars where it’s impossible to comfort them. So I had to calm her down, while placating Small Z with a game on the iPhone, and then I had to do the origami that is putting on the sling because I hadn’t thought to bring the pram.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To cut a long story short, it was a nightmare. I couldn’t get Small Z to go with me where I needed to go. I got more and more stressed out as Small D wouldn’t settle. Then Small Z spied the library truck and had to go in. In fact, that gave me a chance to sit down and reconfigure myself. And after that, we crossed back to the car park and I told Small Z she had to hold it together – that we weren’t going to do all the things we had planned because I couldn’t cope, hadn’t brought a pram and I very much needed to go home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To her credit, Small Z listened to me, and although she didn’t like it, she got in the car. I promised her that M would take her out later that day. I started driving home. Small D began screaming about halfway home. Honestly. There is not a more disturbing sound to me than a newborn screaming and not being able to do anything. Small Z whimpered when I snapped at her. At one stage we were all crying. By the time we got home I was a complete wreck. Small D was out of sorts for the rest of the day. Now I have car fear. Again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          After the hideous outing, we were lucky to have Mung come for dinner and stay the night – a fleeting visit, but appreciated for an injection of adult conversation and a window into the outside world. Small Z was quite thrilled to find that someone other than her nana had stayed in the caravan over night. She and M took Mung to the station before 9am the next morning, which was icing on the cake for the train obsessed!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Last day of two…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Small Z’s last day as a two-year-old. Gosh. We began with a scintillatingly timed visit to the Somerville Farmer’s Market. The timing was to do with a nap for Small DB – and it all would have gone swimmingly… had the market actually been on. However we then drove to Balnarring instead on the quest for decent fruit and vegetables, and things were a little dicey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It was hot. Small DB did not sleep, and clocked in three hours of awake time – the longest so far in her little life. I became exhausted from carrying her in the sling…and then she finally did slumber, so I had to keep going with it until she got in her regulation 40 minutes. On the positive side, we were in the car and leaving (much to the disgust of Small Z) when we saw that there were people crawling over the op-shop. There was a SALE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We went in and purchased a new summer wardrobe for Small Z (at fifty cents a piece), M got some work clothes, Small DB some odds and sods and we also got a screw-in base fitting for my retro beach umbrella. Scoresville. Small Z holds fond dreams of being three. She has been requesting a ‘Henry’ cake for the past year – Henry being the number three train in Thomas the Tank Engine land.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tomorrow she is to go on a train ride with immediate family plus her nana and T. We’re keeping this year low key, as we are in tantrum-land – particularly when it comes to sharing toys and space. She’s already had her life changed by the arrival of her small sister, and I think she is not keen to give any more ground. So it will be an intimate gathering – and she will undoubtedly be happier that way!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Last day as 2-year-old

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Under the trees

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We had a gorgeous morning at the Balnarring Market, which is held out the back of Balnarring at the racecourse. There are huge beautiful gum trees everywhere, and although there is no ‘junk’ (i.e. secondhand clothes) there is fruit, vegies, some interesting crafty stuff and some secondhand books. And a park in the middle of it – much to the joy of Small Z…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Small Z in the 'web'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The spider has a face...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Small DB tried out her Christmas sunhat…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The new sunhat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Heaven in Tyabb. Who knew?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hysterically, I clicked into the past, and found myself in an identical slipstream. That is, being given the day off childminding by M on a Non Work Day. Oh the bliss. Oh the ridiculousness of that old post – my list of things to achieve [eyeroll] The fact that I thought PartyPie was allergic to persimmon, when she actually freaked out because she woke up in the care of someone she didn’t know. Ah. I was so naively unaware… but I am digressing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The point is, today I made no plans (having learnt the hard way) and decided to accompany M and his two offspring (not mine, remember?) to the relocated Tyabb Farmer’s Market. Oh the joy, when I realised that not only was it on the site of the Vintage Shed, and not only was there a Sassy Cakes stall – there was a shop there FULL OF VINTAGE FROCKS, AMAZING SHOES, RETRO HANDBAGS and JEWELLERY and NUMEROUS HATS that Small Z tried on. And did I mention the very cute secondhand kids clothes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I could have spent double the time in there, but it was also quite full of other females in similar states of awe… And so I pledge to return. The Vintage Shed itself was pretty fantastic too – not too badly price – but worryingly full of things I recalled from my own past. Vintage? Me? So soon? Please no. Anyway – then M took us to a cafe in Hastings, where they were getting all ready for Australia Day…


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of those hot summer days where it didn’t get unbearable until after lunchtime. We spent some time in the garden during the morning. Small Z had some blue gloop…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A hot summer's morning
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  She looks like an extra from Avatar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You say tomato…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just after Small DB was born, M and Small Z went to a church fete. And as well as picking up a swing set for forty dollars, M also got a whole stack of seedlings for about five bucks. There was bok choy, some leeks, and many many tomatoes. They planted the lot. We ate the bok and the leeks. And waited…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We now have more tomatoes than we know what to do with!! And I have found myself feeling somewhat zen – twice in the last four or five afternoons I have taken Small DB out with me and fossicked for tomatoes. It is REALLY like hunting for Easter Eggs (minus the chocolate – which is fine by me, because those little Easter Eggs are always cacky cheapass milk chocolate…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yesterday I chopped up a bucketful of tomatoes for the second time and chucked them in the slow cooker with some red wine and fried up garlic. The slow cooker, although not in season, is the fatigue-laden person’s friend – because stuff HARDLY EVER BURNS! Even when you forget it. Awesome! So I had that bubbling away, and then I went out on the hunt, passing by Small Z who was standing like a small thrilled monkey, in her very first ‘treehouse’….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tree house!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Small DB and I proceeded into the weird fenced off (for dogs we don’t have) section of the garden. It’s good for keeping the paddle pool in – there’s a gate. M has noticed lately that Small DB becomes very chilled when you lay her down outside on a rug, leaving her little feet and hands able to touch the grass. So that’s what I did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Have I mentioned that M neglected to ever stake the tomato plants? His method of gardening is kind of ‘if it doesn’t grow untended…let it perish’. So the tomato plants have gone totally apeshit. Helped along by being directly on the other side of the fence from the pile of lawn clippings M has been making for almost a year. The thing is, you have to assume ‘mission impossible’ style yoga positions to extract the fruit without crushing the plants…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Secret tomatoes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tomatoes in the grass!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have to reach my leg over to balance. One foot on the fence, and one on tippy toes trying not to squash anything important. And then I chuck the tomatoes out behind me, trying not to hit Small DB by accident. I got another bucketful…and she was happy…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My mother picked a bucketload...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Although, as I type this, my eyes are heavy and the kitchen/dining room looks like a bomb has hit it, the day up until now has been a good one. Astonishing, as Small Z has a snotty nose and last night had little sleep, and Small DB is just recovering from the same cold, however – this is how our day went…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Small Z came into the big bed during the night. At one point I awoke with her feet near my ear. There were many hissed imprecations for her to rotate. She eventually did. That actually hasn’t ever happened before – the upside downing….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Small DB woke at 6.30am and I got up with her. Changed her, made porridge, did my exercises (really!!) put on the washing. M was already up, but I couldn’t find him. Realised belatedly that he wasn’t up, but had escaped to the caravan at about 6am to sleep…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Small Z awoke at about 7.15am. She couldn’t go back to sleep, so I took her out to the caravan, where we both woke M. By the time breakfast was had, and Small Z was dressed and had done her Morning Wee – it was time for Small DB to go back to sleep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Small Z was snotty, tired and clingy – so I put her in the pram and Small DB in the sling. (And yes, Small Z looks pretty ridiculous in the pram – like I’ve stuffed a gazelle into it, but it’s easier than dealing with whingeing…especially when not feeling well…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M & the girls. Early morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We walked to the main street. It was still only 8.30am – too early to get good bread from the Health Food Shop – so we went to the supermarket. Small DB conked out. We bought incidentals – snail bait, laundry powder, tissues, chicken drumsticks, a bag of passionfruit that were on sale (Small Z’s favourite), some liver (for my iron), cream cheese and pepitas…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hit the Health Food Shop for two loaves of bread. Small DB awoke – her naps are usually only 40 minutes. We walked home, Small Z clutching her bag of passionfruit and James the Train. Home at about 9.30 – put stuff in the fridge. Ate some pepitas. Made a cup of tea and gave Small Z yoghurt with two passionfruit – she was in heaven. Let her watch Five Minutes More


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Put out some of the washing. Small Z played on her swing and in the treehouse. Small DB hung out, watching everything, from the pram. I dug out some compost from the back garden and shovelled it into the wheelbarrow. The day was heating up. Took it to the front garden. Pulled a few weeks. Changed Small DB. Sat Small Z down to listen to an audiobook while I fed Small DB to sleep in the big bed. I was surprised when it worked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Night sky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Came back out, finished hang out washing. Small Z and I made ‘The Night Sky’ using black paper, glitter, clear contact, sprinkles and silver foil… I had to go and resettle Small DB about three times, but it paid off in the end – she slept for almost two hours. I attempted to make tzatziki dip, but instead ended up with cold soup. I even tried to (I know this is bad) thicken it with cornflour, but to no avail. Small Z ate some with a spoon and called it ‘soup’.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      She thrilled to reintroduction of cream cheese. We mixed it with avocado – this was a more successful ‘dip’. I ate some leftover pasta and had washed up everything by the time Small DB woke back up, with another audiobook back on. Thank you Postman Pat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Headed back outside with Small DB and planted out a couple of passionfruit seedlings Dad had bought us – Small Z stayed in the shade on the porch eating frozen blackberries. Today was hot. I was redfaced and sweating by the time I’d dug them in, moved some bricks around them and put down some snail bait – we’ve been resisting doing it for a year, and lost every sunflower seedling that Small Z and I grew… so it’s time to leave the beer behind and go with the hard stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Passionfruit. Planted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was being lenient with Small Z and her screentime today – she sat down and watched an episode of In The Night Garden – her new obsession. Two shows in a day doesn’t happen to her very often. Small DB and I sat next to her, snacking and joining in now and again. I ate the cake left over from the weekend…and it was time to coax another nap out of Small DB.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There was no feeding her snoozy this time – we both gave up on that, and I hissed at Small Z to bring in some books and threw Small DB in the hammock. Small Z and I invented the ‘Wonder String’ – a bit of wool attached to the wooden part of it that enables me to sit back and read to her, while comfortably bouncing Small DB.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Happy Hangup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It was a lovely way to pass about 45 minutes – that’s how long it took us to get through the stack of books Small Z had brought in – it meant she also got a rest. I’ve been so close to getting rid of the Happy Hangup on several occasions, but I’m always glad I haven’t – it’s that one extra option for getting Small DB to sleep that is great to have when I can’t cope with the thought of her weight on me in the sling – she still sleeps on her tummy normally, but if the hammock keeps moving, it seems she naps well there now too! I have to remember that everything keeps changing and evolving – me included…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      She was still asleep in there when M got home. Small Z and I were making yoghurt, and I was also putting together some ‘button burgers’ (kangaroo mince, egg and spinach in bite sized burgers) for her dinner. And that was the day – by our standards, it was super-zen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Party Down….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Saturday night we ate dinner in the caravan, just to do something different….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Saturday night dinner in the caravan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Saturday night dinner in the caravan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And guess what?! I finally got my caravan seats upholstered! By a seriously awesome seamstress. They look like the business. I will devote a separate post to them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Two nights of familiarity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We got back today from spending two nights down at my Dad’s place in South Gippsland. Friday and most of Saturday, myself and both siblings were present – that hasn’t happened for a considerable time, and I think Dad was surprised that we got it together to synchronise ourselves, if only for 24 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Smalls both developed colds while we were there. In fact, Small Z even lost her voice for a few minutes – a startling wash of unexpected silence. It did not go unappreciated. Her appetite was not deterred, and she ate her body weight in raspberries and cream, hazelnuts (fresh roasted off the trees), porridge, chicken, rice… and more raspberries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Small Z and sunbeams

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dad has a glut of heirloom apples, which kept Small D quite happy. I use my apple corer to make cylinders of apple – the perfect size for her to hold and gum on. They have to be hard apples, or she just chomps them into chunks in about two minutes. Mgs was off kitchen duty, although she still managed to provide dim sims and a puddingy sort of cake that included apple, plum and (I’m guessing) pear – all fruits from the back paddock.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Small Brother, SWWNBB, myself and Small Z hit the Korumburra Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and then we dragged Small Brother to an op-shop. He lasted about five minutes, which is possibly some kind of record. At the market I bought some beautiful grapes, some leatherwood honey (produced by the family of an old primary school friend – the Wolswinkels) and smoked barramundi and cream cheese dip. It made for a good lunch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The verandah

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mum had requested photographs of the three siblings together, and…we actually complied. Heaps of photos were taken, which means that there are probably one or two that we might all agree don’t suck too much. I have the freakiest teeth in the family, if she ever was blogged SWWNBB might say that she got the family eyebags, while for some reason, Small Brother suffered neither braces or bags…but did get his ankles chomped in the back wheel of a bike that one of us was dinking him on when he was about three or four. So maybe that’s natural justice…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dad & Small Brother

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Have I mentioned how sublime the weather was last week, all the way through to late Saturday afternoon? Perfect sunny days, about 26 degrees. Each time this happens I feel like it’s the last gasp of a very mild Summer and try to soak it all in, just in case it doesn’t happen again until October or so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Here’s Small DB and her uncle – who is only here for a few more days, when he heads back to the US and straight to Coachella. I miss him already.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Small Brother and Small DB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mother’s Day IIII

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ah – the day put aside to spoil mothers. I don’t care who invented it – it’s a great idea. My great hope, which I had failed to communicate to M, was that he would grab Small DB at her first peep in the morning, and let me sleep in a little bit. And…as if by magic! It transpired!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Small Z and I slumbered on until around 8am. It was utterly delicious. Inside Ian plied me with tea, while Jen continued sleeping. The kids had breakfast, we whiled away a couple of hours and I booked us a table for breakfast at the Poinciana Cafe in Mullumbimby. M took on the majority of the kid wrangling and I felt like I was having a holiday…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jen and I drove with her offspring in the Mother’s Car to the cafe, while my Smalls travelled in the Father’s Car. The cafe was full. Breakfast took an hour to arrive. They ran out of sweet muffins. And when they did arrive, my pancakes were woefully petite. Despite all of this, it was excellent. We read magazines, called our mothers and nattered on about the hopelessness of real estate in NSW (unless, of course, you have stupid amounts of money).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Our lovely friends
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Small DB - Mother's Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It was after noon when we left and drove to Federal to take the kids to the park. After a quick whizz down the hill on a scooter, Jen sat with me and Small DB – we left the others to their more physical pursuits. I was feeling pleasantly uplifted, having been counselled by Jen during our car ride about pulling my finger out and doing some writing (other than blogging and my work reports). She has the ability to make things seem possible…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Once we got home, the boys took all the kids (minus Small DB) for a walk near the Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park. I got the baby to sleep. Jen and I had some tea, some talks and some magazine reading. No one demanding anything from us. No one needing anything. It was like a deep breath…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When they all returned, the noise level increased, but M remained his malleable Mother’s Day self – he had pretty much stuck to this for the whole day. It was awesome having someone just nod, agree, change nappies and distract Small Z for 12 hours! And my gift? I had bought myself the most divine cup for drinking tea with some of my birthday money – and M bought me…another one! (As a back up, in case mine is accidentally annihilated.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Comfy Cup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It is matte porcelain on the outside, and glazed on the inside – with dimples in it for comfy holding…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Today. Game, set, match.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Laps swum? 40

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Liver consumed for iron levels? Yes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Vitamin C eaten afterward to make it absorb? Yes – kiwi fruit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Vitamin D? Today we had SUNSHINE! I sat in it with my tummy bared.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Small Z Major Meltdown? We tried to leave the house without getting her toy turtle ‘dressed for the day’. Oh the screaming. The door slamming (that’s a new element). The stamping. Whatever. We survived. And moved on…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Washing done, hung out, dried, sorted? Oh my god. It really is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Small DB? Two naps today. The first, a normal 40min – the second? EIGHTY MINUTES! This enabled me to have a lovely lunch with Small Z in the sun and read books on the couch. Bliss.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Both Smalls bathed (I don’t bathe them often, particularly the littlest one, but it’s lovely to put them in together and watch Small DB splash hysterically) and asleep by 6.45pm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Did I mention the sorted washing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Big people’s dinner made. My half consumed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A blog entry. Hola!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The only thing left to do are my back exercises, and then I can go to bed. I love it when it all comes together. It’s ridiculous how much better a sunshiney day makes me feel!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A star sculpture
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A Daisy in the garden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (And I just have to say – put down at 5.45pm – Small DB is still down TWO HOURS LATER. This is a big deal for me – particularly after the past month of FOUR TEETH…)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bloggers in stripes!! I read about this a day or two ago – and it just so happened that I’d bought the only stripey top I’ve ever owned last weekend. And here it is. (I’ve accessorised with Small Z…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stripemania - Bloggers wearing stripes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The whole thing is happening at the Stripemania post on Decor8. There’s a great Pinterest board too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Weigh In

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I continue to be a size nine stick insect. And this fearless and hardhitting investigation illustrates why.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I change Small DB’s nappy once in the night. But last night, this didn’t happen. I forgot to bring a spare one into the bedroom and was too tired to get up and get one. I figured that the worst that could happen would be a leak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This morning I took off the nappy that had been on Small DB all night. It contained a nights worth of wee. It was a weighty tome. I decided to investigate (and if you’re offended by the site of a wee’d in nappy, leave now)…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Here is a brand new unused nappy (yes, I use disposables at night, and when we’re out and about): .046kg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The start of the night

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And here is a nappy with a full night’s worth of wee.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The end of the night. Morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It weighs OVER HALF A KILO. Five hundred and eighty grams. That is all coming out of me. Into her. And out into the nappy. [shakes head] Admittedly I do drink 3/4 of a litre of water during the night, but I always wake up feeling like I’ve spent a week in the Gobi Desert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  With my body working this hard to make at least half a litre of milk a night, I think my stick insect status is a given until she weans. Yikes. (Head also now boggling at the thought of breast feeding twins – yes L, that means you.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  wordless wednesday : swingset!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Can you see the kite?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Small Z & the Big Sky

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And also, on our way to fly our kite, we saw this being readied for a trip. I love my caravan, but an AMPHIBIOUS CARAVAN? Almost too good to be true!!! It honestly had fenders…and wheels!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The long and the short of it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I took off this morning to see Kerry. A hairdresser and awesome lady who has been sculpting my hair on and off since I was about 14 years old. I tend to avoid her when my hair is long, because she doesn’t do foils; she does tips. This fascinates the women I tell, some of them don’t even know what tips are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For those who are ignorant – ‘tips’ (think early Shane Warne) are when you have a plastic cap pulled down tight over your hair. The hairdresser then stabs at your scalp through it with a crochet hook and pulls little bits of hair through. The longer your hair, the higher the pain. So today wasn’t going to be a problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hark!? What’s that?! A photo essay of my de-hairing. Sorry I don’t have a before-photo – well, I kind of do. My hair – cut by a local hack (I use that word advisedly) and then bleached horribly by my own self, has lived under a hat for the past three weeks, so this is as good as you’ll get…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And that is the hat I wore to see Kerry. Who looked under it and just shook her head, muttering something like, “You’ll never learn, will you? You’ll never learn…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The horrors that I had wrought included patchy bleaching, meaning that she was unable to get my hair to be just one colour. She tried though! First she hacked it all off. I had taken her some photos I’d googled up. We chose one and she worked from that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here is the bit where she has done the whole cut and then shoved the hat down over my head. You can see she has pulled heapso hair through, because it’s about to become blonde-o-rama…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        End result. Me looking rather bashfully at bathroom mirror. Feeling much better about myself. Because a change is as good as a holiday – and I’m about to have one of those too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Keep this temperature fixed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Today the weather was sublime. We visited a new playgroup in Balnarring that Small Z adored – lots of equipment, shade, outdoor activities, and books on the inside. She loved it. The rest of the day was spent at home in and out of doors. It hit about 4pm and I decided to bust out of my girly-ignorance and figure out How to Use the Barbeque.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hooked up the gas bottle, decided to go with its suggestion to use the self-igniting dial things. I figured it out in the end. Cooked up a whole lot of chicken drumsticks, spuds and red capsicum. Dinner for the Smalls – it was a HIT!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BBQ Dinner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Then it didn’t look like bedtime was going to happen any time soon, so we played Lions in the Meadow…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lion in the Meadow
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Grass crawl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Laughing in the long grass

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was between 25 and 27 degrees today. My perfect temperature. Gosh it was gorgeous. I just went and looked at the Bureau of Meteorology – holy crap – they now have a percentage ‘chance of rain’ on their site – I had to research this topic for far too long, back when I worked at RMIT. Took them a while…better late than never.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Point Leo in Caravan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I was lucky enough to have M sort out the caravan for me – hooking it on to the car, getting out on to the street, adjusting the towing mirrors and topping up the water tank.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            He left for the Very Large Catamaran and I finished sorting out what to take – relishing the minor packing involved for a one night getaway. Small Z was very excited and helped pack the caravan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We took off. It always gives me a little buzz to be towing the little home away from home behind me. We stopped in Balnarring for supplies and hit Point Leo at about 10.30am.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Our favourite spot was free. I was SO thrilled to see a real Airstream caravan nearby – I plan to go and have a closer, more Labrador-like look at it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I entertained the other campers for ten minutes or so, reverse parking the van, and then positioning it with my puny arms. The Smalls were stunningly well behaved durin this time. I put up the little shade tent for them and then we ate a civilised lunch at the caravan table – Small Z chomped her way through THREE dinner rolls, and Small DB ate her first proper sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            L&D and Small C and the TWINS(!) arrived later on in their new Defender and their little caravan with the ratchet jockey wheel (that didn’t actually help a great deal on the grass). I forgot they have an annexe, and may position my caravan a little further away with the help of M, when he shows up in the morning (although this may not occur as he may die from happiness at having a whole night to himself on the Very Expensive visco-elastic mattress), spread like a starfish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I took Small Z and C to the creek, where they splashed and jumped and had a ball. After Small DB’s nap L and I took all Smalls on a walk (to get the TWINS! to sleep) to the playground followed by the cafe. Where Small Z’s day was made by a chocolate milkshake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I made the Smalls a cooking-free early dinner of rice paper rolls with tuna, brown rice and avocado and then took them to the beach. I made Small Z run and run and run, and Small DB stagger and totter and falter – all in the name of utterly exhausting them. They both went to sleep like lambs!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am posting with my phone and will try to include photos from today. I don’t think I get any choice about the order of them, but hopefully it won’t matter. It’s time for me to have a snack and collapse. A lovely day!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When I look down…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is often the little face that I see. She is currently obsessed with Small Z’s cd player. And drink. At least in this picture one of her limbs isn’t blurred – because, omg, she’s actually still.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When I look down...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              …and our night away in the van was great. I was exhausted this morning, as Small DB does not sleep well in the caravan and as well as waking all night, started her day at 5.30am. But M turned up mid-morning and I was able to nap. Didn’t get a swim in – the tides and the weather did not align to my liking!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hanging baskets

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh wonder of wonders! Small DB is abed before 8pm!! A whole hour and a half earlier than the past five nights! Is my relief not dancing out of that screen you’re looking at and whacking you about the head?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A short recap. I began November like an awesome person and posted for many days – maybe even 15, in a row. But I have to tell you. It was a HARD month. The teething and the walking and the sick older child? None of those things was conducive to me managing to blog every day for a month. [Sigh]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                …or put something on eBay every day – though I was more adept at that and sold quite a lot – goodbye baby hammock, baby capsule, cot, nappies, too small kid shoes, more nappies… Anyway. The month is over. It is now Summer. Christmas is trundling toward us on a downhill run – the only reason for my composure in that regard is that we are Kris Kringling this year, and so I am only sweating on a few presents instead of many.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yesterday? We went to a clearing sale – some older guy was clearing out his Big Old Shed full of Big Old Stuff. M bought a fender. The boat kind – not the guitar. The friends we went along with bought a wooden dresser. Me? I dropped ten bucks on four aged cane hanging baskets. They needed repair and new hanging apparatus…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                …and today the Smalls and I went to Bunnings and came home armed with potting mix and seedlings with which to do them justice. (Yes. We may be moving out soon. But if I allow that to rule my existence, nothing will ever be beautified…) It took a lot of wire. As we were working in the front garden, Small DB kept escaping down the street…running on her gleeful little legs. So cute, but so ANNOYING…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Once she was down for her nap, Small Z and I got stuck in. There was a fair bit of coconut fibre still in each one, so I kept it and added in newspaper for insulation purposes. We planted each one with a combination of cherry tomatoes, snow peas and lobelias…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The new (to me) hanging baskets

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hanging baskets - the contents

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I am very happy! I used to have a lot of such things when we lived in Seddon – but having moved frequently since then, I haven’t really bothered too much. I did record back here about my aspirations for something better than plastic hanging pots – and actually, as I mine the archives, I did have a little pot-garden thing going on at the trailer…the remnants of which I still have!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry about that tangent. We finished our horticultural duties and I got the Smalls their dinner. M came home early, and so my going-to-bed burden was eased…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bedtime books

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It’s been a little difficult with Small Z recently. She’s been sick, not getting enough sleep due to coughing, and also getting a bit lost in the mix with the attention that has been focussed on Small DB (I NEED to be focussed, or she runs off somewhere…). M and I made a particular effort today with a bit of extra TLC, and it was very much worth it. Her sunshine came back :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My Twig Tree

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (It looks better in real life…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Solo urban guerilla

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Today I used one of my Mental Health Cards. My friend Jen was in town for Fair@Square over the past weekend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is what I woke up to…so cute!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Time to get up!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    She no longer looks quite so peachy – she split her lip at the park today :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I drove – alone – into Collingwood via freeways and the back streets of Toorak and Richmond. It was brought home to me how long it had been since I had driven through those places that I used to go several times a week when I saw many well established trees…growing down the middle of Coppin Street. I suppose that’s what eight or ten years can do! I had never even seen them before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Central Club Hotel - Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rach's house. The new paintjob

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My lovely Jen was waiting for me and I took her out to Bluebird Espresso, about which I had read good things. We nattered and nattered and in the middle of that noshed on sublime food. After about 90 minutes I was given a further free pass by M, who called to say that Small D had fallen asleep and not to hurry back. Wooo!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Check out the brunch!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Divine brunch - Bluebird Espresso

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I helped Jen get her myriad of boxes together, we took them to the post office and then I slalomed her through the city and deposited her out the front of the Skybus building an hour before her plane was due to leave. All good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    She is a wise friend. I may have mentioned this before once or twice. Her main pearl on this occasion? In response to my often mentioned whine about me having kidfree time means the boat build is prolonged…she jumped in where Karen and M have already been and said;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    How are you even existing? Take one day a month – at LEAST – for your own time. Go to a park and read a book or hang out with a friend WITHOUT any kids around. You will feel better, and as a result, the family will function better – and the boat will probably get built faster, because there will be better energy buzzing around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Basically, if mama ain’t happy – nobody’s happy. I’m going to do it. Why it has taken three different people to tell me this in various different ways, I am not sure. I have to focus more on the present and let the future take care of itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Small Z was gifted some gorgeous arm warmers:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Zoe's wrist warmers...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I miss you Jen – it was ace to catch up!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Half Moon Xmas Lunch

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I missed my work ‘do’ last year because Small DB was only three months old. Not this year! I was so excited to go along!! M looked after Small DB all day (huzzah!) and I took Small Z with me so she could hang out at her Nana’s house – which happens to be about two minutes from the lunch venue. She had a lovely day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      She worked on more Christmas cookies and also went to the beach.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Making more Xmas cookies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I had been told that the lunch was at 12.45pm – so there I was. At the Cerberus Beach House – fifteen minutes earlier than the others. It wasn’t a bad place to wait ;) This is the view from my table…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The view from my table

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Half Moon Bay – that’s the water I was looking at, was the beach we went to all the time when I was little – it was almost at the end of our street. I have a picture that I’m going to try and dig out, of little me with my grandad sitting on the beach wall. As I’d been told the wrong time I ordered a glass of expensive white wine to keep me company…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There was the cutest smallest little sailboat…(picture’s not great due to the zoom I had to use)…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A tiny sailboat on Half Moon Bay

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The others arrived at about 1pm and it was lovely to see everyone – I go for months and months without seeing my co-workers and boss, as I mail my files in. I haven’t yet posted my work gossip bombshell of a week or so ago – they sacked made SoFrenchySoChic redundant. So she wasn’t there. Which was unfair, but it did mean things weren’t at all tense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Me? I ordered spaghetti marinara. I desserted on chocolate creme brulee – and concluded that creme brulee should not be chocolate. But the ice-cream that it came with was the BOMB. We had done a Kris Kringle to the value of $10 and I had drawn my boss – I got him a gorgeous tiny terrarium from The Vintage Shed – and he seemed to like it very much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A lovely outing – and once we got home, I found a very happy Small DB and M. It was the longest that I’ve left her and there were no dramas. Yay!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Boxing Day: Loch 2011

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Boxing Day. My Dad is, it seems, happy to sit out on Christmas. We usually attempt to descend on him the day after, hopefully with Small Brother in tow. He is here this year for a scant nine days, but just slots into everything with a comforting normality: washing up, occupying the baby, heckling M…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I got on a bus this morning In Tooradin with Small DB. I was tempted to stay in the car and drive the extra 40 minutes to Loch, but was glad I did not. Small DB went to sleep immediately on the bus, which winded its way through all the greeness… far more soothing that trying to entertain the baby whose mouth is a warzone…four teeth on their way through.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Small Z and M are in the Merc pulling the caravan and Small Brother is leading in the brown Datsun…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Datsun & Merc - on their way

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ah! Homemade croissants and strong tea greeted us. I was comforted because I had been walking the streets at 6.45am and drinking the only tea Hastings had to offer – something called ‘Paddington’ – it did taste a bit more like bear than tea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We have now been here for about six hours and have lunched. M has imbibed an irritating amount of expensive champagne and is now, as I type, high up in a black wattle tree with a bow saw talking with loud animation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dad and Small Brother (their plans to chainsaw more wood for winter derailed by Small DB asleep in the caravan) are giving him direction, and Small Z has climbed up a stack of something and is bleating for help. I sit, here in my caravan, with the breeze creeping through the door, feeling relatively content. I will now away to my Kindle and see what it can do!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Longest nap of the year - pretty much

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Top of the heap...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Small Z is F-O-U-R

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I suppose that every birthday of Small Z will come as a particular shock to me. It shouldn’t. Time passes, right? But, oh dear, a four-year-old? It somehow sounds so much bigger…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We – and most importantly she, had a lovely day. We were going to go to the beach, but the weather was too windy and cool so we stayed home. I’m so glad – because it was easier for everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Four Year Old!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Small Z did not want a big party – she had her two small friends from playgroup. Both girls have little sisters, so they came along as well. There was strawberry raspberry jellies, mango icy-poles, pikelets, party-bags, trampolining, billy-carting, big high swings and playdough. It was kind of like playgroup on steroids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Triceratops Birthday Cake!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Blowing out the Triceratops
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The tiny party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My mum and T came along. We missed SWWNBB and Small Brother. I cracked a bottle of champagne, and we ate some Balnarring bangers, potato salad and cupcakes. It was a good day. Happy Birthday Small Z – big love to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Birthday riding
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Him, her and my caravan. Love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (I can already hear her a few years into the future, looking at this, saying, “So what did I get that year? What were my presents? What did you and Dadda give me? I don’t remember…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, future Small Z. From me and your Dad you got a really great bicycle helmet that should last a few years – a Humber of a bicycle helmet – you also got The Incredible Book Eating Boy and The Way Back Home, both by the amazing Oliver Jeffers. You should dig out those books Small Z, they’re gorgeous…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A year on

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A year ago, less one day, we journeyed to my Dad’s place in the country. Small Z was just three-years-new and Small DB was zero and had her first taste of food – an heirloom apple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This time, I took the Smalls myself. It’s not that we only visit once a year, but we usually only make it up once during the time that the blackberries and apples are ripe. I had intended to take the caravan, but the electrics for the indicators packed it in as I left. Here’s a pic of Small DB vigilling by the window as M tried fruitlessly to fix them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Waiting by the window with apple

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The good thing about our bad luck was that by the time we got going, it was nearly nap time. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here (probably so as not to jinx it) but we have recently had a breakthrough on the I-hate-the-car thing with Small DB. Improbably simple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We tell her where we are going.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It seems that if she’s keen to go to the beach, or to playgroup, or to visit MWB, Mgs and their cat in the country – she’ll endure the car. Our trip there was nothing short of heaven. Any of you who have tiny children who don’t mind the car have no idea of how amazing a scream-free trip is. So much less tension! I know that she has also had a big growth spurt, and this has helped as well. It was worth all the non-sleeping involved…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It had rained during the morning upon setting out, so I had to pack extra toys…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Packed for one night away

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We plundered blackberries, plums, apples and some truly beautiful pears (that are gargoyle-like, but angelic after peeling). We climbed into the treehouse a few times, made much fuss of Splodge – the snakebite survivor, went to the local park and cafe, and to the Loch market the following morning. I was gifted a rhubarb plant (something I’ve wanted for just about ever) and some Leatherwood Honey (my favourite kind).



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Across the way

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Old Humber. Old tree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Underneath the apple trees

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "We're going to pick some blackberries..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yum. Blackberry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Peaches and Plums

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A hot day out

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As M worked all weekend, today was his day off. We had planned to go to the Sculpture Park but I was daunted by the thought of being out in the heat and having to drive home with no air-con. Blergh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We went to Somers Beach instead. Hit the cafe first for M’s coffee fix and were on the sand by 9.30am. There was ONE other person on the beach. It was gorgeous, the water clear and clean, the sky blue…and we had our shade tent. There were snacks in the cooler.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Small DB has not done a lot of beaching in her 17 months of existence, but there’s been a bit lately. Today I could tell that she’s warming to the whole notion of the ocean. She lay facedown in the wet sand and blew bubbles in the ripples, rode on the boogie board and enjoyed being whizzed through the water by M.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Somers Beach

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Small Z had her ‘rock feet’ on (water shoes) and loved investigating all the rockpools, as well as being pulled around on the boogie board. She is not really water confident yet, but I’m about (you read it here first) to start taking her to swimming lessons – I do not want to live aboard a boat with a kid that is not confident in the water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              By midday it was naptime and the wind kicked in. There was going to be no sleep had in a flat tent. Small DB conked out as soon as the car started (YAHOO!!!!) and M thoughtfully drove us to Balnarring, where he parked in the shade and set me free into the op-shop. It’s like he knew there was a ‘$1 All Men’s Clothing’ sale on!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We stuck around there for hours – the garden at the back of the op-shop and church is shady, beautiful…and was deserted. M whipped in and bought a ball and ‘goals’ and started off soccer with the Smalls – teaching them the ‘Shirt’s Up Victory Dance’. It was bloody hot, but very pleasant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The new addition - Dog.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Aiming for goal...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              GOAL! Shirts up!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tangling with Dadda in the shade

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And M and Small Z found some perfect sea urchins. I could hardly believe it! I’ve found about ONE in my whole life!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Somers sea urchins. Perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Happy Happy Watermelons

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I took this about ten days ago. They have since doubled in size. We are puzzled as to when to pick them – how to tell if a watermelon is ripe and ready?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                happy happy watermelons
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                happy happy watermelon


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We went back to our old playgroup at the church today. The one I went to before Small DB was born. The one I went to after she was born – it was my lifeline. Someone would hold her, someone would hand me a cup of tea and someone else would assist Small Z doing something or rather and I could just…sit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Haven’t been there for months. There were kids there who had grown half a foot in the interim and turned from babies into little people. Both mine were probably included in that…


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ginger cats look best in Autumn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tiger. The cat next door.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And a few other pictures from the week…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Look who's on the back steps
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hillbilly. Eatin' tuna from the tin on the back steps. #saturday #20mo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And something Small Z came up with entirely on her own while I spent half an hour convincing the other one to nap…. “Look mama – I wrote my name in Lego!”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A few days back I left Small Z on her own for 30min & she wrote her name in #lego #4yo #unprompted

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Swings. Farm. Worried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The beginning of June. I continued through this month as I began – trying to escape the house and get out and DO stuff. Winter – drives me bonkers, and our house is small. I got up one morning and thought of the free pass our lovely friends had given us to the Rayne, Hail & Shine Farm in Balnarring. We’ve been there twice before, but Small DB had learned one of her first more descriptive words there: ‘worried’. This was used to describe any animal larger than a rabbit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      However, she had been enjoying her farm animal book and I thought that was a good enough reason to return. It was raining. I didn’t care – we were going to DO something. We asked our friends in the next street to come along. Small DB remained ‘worried’ and this time actually climbed up me like a scared monkey at – yes, again – all animals larger than rabbits and chooks. We had fun regardless, ate our lunch, and all felt a bit thrilled that we had gone out and it hadn’t been to playgroup or the library… :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wednesday was farm day. We all loved it. #farm #chicken #balnarring #outing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A few days later we hit the new park in Balnarring and gave the ‘basket swing’ a workout. Smalls were in heaven!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The new swing at the park

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      One little duck went out one day…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Small Z’s first night staying away from home. She has been talking about staying over at her Nana’s for almost the last year and finally decided it was time. I don’t know who was more excited – her or my mother. Together they wrote a little list of things that she would pack…the necessities:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I love how Stomp – her trusty dinosaur – is at the top of the list, before the toothbrush and undies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I had imagined that she would sleep on the floor next to my mum’s bed, or in her walk in robe – but no – my mother, ever keen to have my children weaned, sleeping alone and then sent off to school – had her sleep in the study. Which Small Z was fine with – hardly surprising seeing as she usually sleeps the first half of her night alone in a caravan in the front garden. No, the issue was with ME!! Her first night away from home and I’d been imagining her whereabouts in totally the wrong place!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        First night away from home

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of course, she had a blast!! It was just a shame that my mum left a few days later to go OVERSEAS FOR THREE MONTHS… She thoughtlessly planned a holiday without any concern for her grandmotherly duties ;) I’m sure there will be more frequent sleepovers once she gets back. It’s a lovely thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A wee bit of PartyPie…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Two small friends of Small DB came over to celebrate her birthday, along with a Nana, a MWB and various siblings and parents. The flooded front path was a hit – as were the big bubbles…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Paddling in a line...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nana. Queen of the couch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Birthday snacking


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Paddling. The beginning of many wet clothes...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The path provided hours of fun...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Puddle Jumping...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bubbling over...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DB and her Nana

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Matchstick head.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh whatever. Here’s a photo that my vanity deems acceptable for the interweb. Let me state that one of my parents failed to comment on it whatsoever (the other one is on a c-r-u-i-s-e, but would have definitely shrieked in horror) – and my office manager said nothing either (although I did look pretty annhiliated from almost zero sleep – maybe she couldn’t see the red hair because of the red eyes and bags? Michelle, my partner in file slavery – if you are out there, say NOTHING.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It has thankfully faded a bit and the Smalls haven’t blinked an eye. Rawr. I still have no good hair product, but that has to change. STAT.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Today. And last September.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don’t know what it was – but we were walking past the bus stop and I remembered the photo I had taken last year. A photo that I love. So I took another. It turns out that Small Z was wearing the same top?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bus Stop. September 2012

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bus Stop. March 2013

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Happy Birthday M! The big FIVE ONE!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                No weekend extravaganza this year. A quiet day. I took the Smalls to the op-shop yesterday and they were allowed to pick whatever they wanted that they thought M might appreciate. It was slightly hysterical. Small Z chose a respectable cup with the word COFFEE on it – singularly appropriate. Small DB, on the other hand selected quite a nice silver picture frame and a small glass bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The picture frame had the picture of some kid in it, and she wouldn’t let me remove it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Oh please DB, dadda would love to have a picture of YOU in there! Let me take it out?”


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “But dadda doesn’t even know who that kid is…what if we put a picture of you and Zoe in there? It would be really cute!”



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                By then she was shouting. “NO! I like it. It is mine. It is very sthpecial to me.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I couldn’t argue with that. Sadly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yesterday we wrapped our presents and made our cards. I made M a chocolate mud cake, having heard him mention one wistfully a few weeks ago. Our oven is so unpredictable that I was very careful…it took more than TWO HOURS to cook. It was great, but I think it ended up a bit too dry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This morning we did presents and I made M a cafe breakfast of backyard eggs and a pile of free range bacon… (the hens haven’t been laying a lot lately and I’d used up four eggs in his cake, so the Smalls and I had…porridge).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I made M another photobook – I know he likes them, and they are lovely to have a record of the past year. But…I am behind. So I gave him the pictorial version of 2011… And 2012 will follow before June (when my photobook voucher runs out). You can have a look here… My mum and TD arrived a little later and embarked on Easter Activities with the Smalls. M and I went for a drive to Balnarring and then on to Somers General Store and had a fantastic lunch…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Happy Birthday M!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Then we went for a walk along the beach. We both found the absence of Smalls somewhat exhilarating. “Look!” I said to M, “I can walk as fast as I want to and no one is grabbing at me, wanting to be carried. No one is asking me to slow down!” M agreed. He had noticed too…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Somers Beach - M and I taking an extremely rare kidfree walk... #birthday #beach #friday #us

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We got home and I prettied up the cake (that had been hidden in the bottom of the laundry basket) with chocolate ganache, strawberries, vanilla sugar and candles…. TD cracked some champagne… and there was singing. I’d forgotten how much Small DB loves a birthday!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Small DB helps M to kill those candles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There was a bit of French cricket in the front garden, a dinner of homemade gnocchi with pesto and tomatoes from the garden and then M took his Smalls in the bike trailer off for a ride down to the boat ramp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A good day. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Crafty. The countdown begins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I’ve got out of the organising-an-activity loop. Lazy. Tired. I operate in fits and starts. Most mornings Small DB stands over at the little table and busies herself with sticky tape, paper, paint and scissors, in equal amounts. Small Z puts her head in a book, or makes things as well – beds for her toys, hats for Stomp-the-Dinosaur or whatever she can think of.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It feels like ages since I’ve SET SOMETHING UP! So I finally pulled my finger out when I was inspired by Tinkerlab making suncatchers with contact. It was a hit…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had both Smalls at the table cutting out their bits and pieces, and then they had a ball making their suncatchers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Working on the suncatchers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had planned to follow how they did it on Tinkerlab, but the Smalls had made them in such a way that we would have only seen the back of their work once we stuck them to the window. So we stuck them on the outside of the windows, facing in… into Small Z’s cubby (in her case).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Zoe's Suncatcher
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Daisy's Suncatcher

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Of course they then continued with the activity in the their own way – Small Z made more tiny suncatchers for the window – Small DB wielded her scissors, paper and tape and added them to the window where they flitter with the breeze…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now I just need to find something similarly simple but awesome.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The countdown? I nearly forgot. Exactly thirty days until forty. You read it right… EEEEeeep!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Point Leo. Birthday redux.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We had wanted to go camping for M’s birthday, but…as we have realised so many times before and then immediately forgotten – the rest of Australia books in their Easter break at least a year ahead…and every campsite in the world was booked out. So we postponed it to the following week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We were SO glad we did! The weather, for the whole weekend, was nothing short of sublime. Again, it took me a BILLION years to pack…for two nights away. Oh god… I was determined to spend as little money as possible – so I was making pesto, baking muffins, finishing the caravan curtains, packing food, clothes, towels… the works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Meanwhile, M was in the front garden attempting to fit a new windscreen into the back of our 1980 Mercedes station wagon (we’ve been driving it around with a plastic sheet gaffer-taped over it for about three months…). Not a one-person job, but he persevered…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Anyway, I arrived with the Smalls at about 2pm and secured my FAVOURITE SPOT, beachfront, under the trees…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My favourite campsite

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For the first time both Smalls are super confident on their bicycles – Small Z is riding training-wheel free, and Small DB shoots around on a pedal-free bike – this weekend helped her hone her skills and she improved a lot. So they whizzed about while I got the van in order, made tea…we ate muffins…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Spot the Small…


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Small Z has been asking about the first time I went out ‘in the world’ on my own. I can’t really remember, but I told her that I thought it was probably when I was allowed to walk to my grandma’s house. We lived at number 36 and she was at number 17 (it’s weird how I used ‘number’ in that context, but that’s how I’ve always thought of it). So I would have had to cross the street to get there – I imagine that by about age five I might have been allowed to go forth alone…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    She asked if she could go up to the playground on her own or with her friends and Small DB. I try to let her be as free ranging as I’m comfortable with, so after I’d walked them there on my own and told her where to get on to the grass if a car was coming…I set her free. It was only a two minute walk – and the playground was actually right above our caravan – but the slope was just too steep to climb.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Our longlost neighbours (who callously moved away last year) joined us just before dinner – hooray! The adults actually had a few hours to sit about and drink wine under the stars…until we almost froze to death and had to go to bed. It’s always great to spend a couple of days with people, rather than just visiting for the afternoon…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here is somewhat hungover M, after being plied with just another ‘cheeky little red’ by C.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Slightly hungover Dadda and excitable Smalls

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We really did very little, but hang about, keep the Smalls fed, and drink cups of tea in the sun :) D&E arrived late the next morning with their three Small ones. We all marvelled anew at the tiny, but evolving little Lucinda. M did a dash home to feed the chickens and brought back my slippers and a woollen blanket, in case we had another cold night…he also brought a brazier, and we had a campfire – which made everything a little more authentic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was not alone in being a bit entranced with the cob ovens that our long lost neighbours had brought along – putting your meal on to cook at about 4pm and then not having to DO anything about it for a few hours seems like an excellent approach. They use a long burning coconut husk fuel thing for it…M thought one would be a great addition to the Very Large Cataraman…while I was thinking that the caravan might like one too. Being able to cook outside when the weather is warm is useful and stops you melting, and getting the caravan full of stinky cooking smells…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sunday morning. An utterly isolated thunderstorm entertained us for an hour or two before the skies returned to blue and the sun came out. The cafe at Pt Leo has been taken over by new owners – we mourned this, because there used to be comfortable couches and good cheese and tomato toasties. The coffees are now $4 or more…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Point Leo creek
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some quiet time. 'The Wishing Chair Again'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Olivia and Milly, snacking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The rest of the time was spent playing in the creek and paddling…lunch…and lounging until people began to depart. Long lost neighbours had to drive all the way to Kinglake and E had to return to Emerald. We were in the happy position of a 15 minute drive home. Small DB slept, and we left her in the car in the garden as we threw on loads of washing and settled the caravan back into its spot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Geekery. Laptop rescue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A while back we were given an old laptop. As a result of me moaning about the Smalls using mine to watch iView…and also play a few games. It is a Toshiba Satellite A85. The ‘A’ is for ‘ancient’. But regardless of its antiquity, it does the job. It has a souped up install of XP. Unfortunately we keep it under the dining table and it has fallen or almost fallen a few times…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This led to the power-jack (where you plug the power cable into) becoming loose. We didn’t know if it had died and I was going to order another jack (eBay: $20 from Australia / $3 from the US & China – surprise!). M encouraged me to have a look inside it. If I had known what that entailed before I began I never would have tried…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It turned out that to get to the power-jack, you have to take the laptop apart. Literally. Screen off, keyboard off…the works. Thankfully I had a step-by-step guide for this (I love you, Interweb). It took me TWO HOURS and cost me a tidy house…as the Smalls had to entertain themselves…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is where I try to keep the bazillion screws organised. And fail. That’s the screen, sitting on the jars of water with creepy Easter Eggs…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The screws and the screen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I finally get it all apart and discover (gleefully, but ruefully, as I don’t imagine I’ll be able to ever put it back together again) that the power-jack has just snapped from it’s holder, but is still connected. Yay – I don’t have to learn to solder! So I use bits of cork and hot glue. Obviously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Power-jack. DIY fix with cork and hot glue. Classy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I painstakingly put it all back together. At one point Small Z comes over, hugs me, and says, “Deep breaths, mama, deep breaths.” And then, “Why do grown-ups say ‘oh GOD’ all the time?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nothing has given me a headache like this since I tried to do my own tax-return.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We test it. It works beautifully and I am thrilled. So thrilled that I just can’t leave shit alone. No. I have to embark on an Extra Thing to make it Extra Awesome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M had said wistfully a few days before, “If we get another computer, this time we should put it on a wheeled trolley, under the table, so it has somewhere to live and doesn’t need to be moved around all the time.” The kind of thing you say knowing it will never happen…until…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yesterday I bought a set of four wheels from Crib Point Op-Shop (where I made L hang with her THREE children and one of mine for FORTY-FIVE minutes while I had a doctors appointment, but I digress…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I found my set of $2 drawers that have been gathering dust in the shed. One drawer is being used for a dinosaur bed, but no matter. I turned over the drawers – of course the sides are too narrow for me to attach the wheels. So I have to improvise. I rip parts from an old wooden shower mat thing, saw the ends off (hand-saw people, a HAND SAW) and then, with my trusty drill, I mod the drawers into a laptop trolley.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Extra wood to base of drawers to add width so wheels can be added.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And here’s the proof (Small Z seems to focus unnecessarily on my ear here, and that is not a bad dye job, it’s just the light…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Me and my friend the drill. By Zoe - 5yo.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is where it lives. Gaffer taped to the top.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      New wheeled drawer unit for laptop. Yay me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am beside myself with smug, DIY exhilaration. M comes home and is appreciative. I make sure he knows I had to dismantle the laptop IN IT’S ENTIRETY. I set it up for him. Gliding it out on the TROLLEY. Click over to iView. Everything works beautifully…except the sound. It’s totally silent. I clutch my head and begin rocking catatonically. I mustn’t have connected up the speaker cable properly…and it is UNDERNEATH THE KEYBOARD.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Unless you personally went through the fifty-seven (I exaggerate, but still) steps to get UNDERNEATH THE KEYBOARD, you will not have a true sense of my anguish. Thankfully – when I plug in some headphones, the sound is fine – so until I can face it – I’ll be plugging in my little travel-speaker…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The End.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (And god knows how long it’s been since I posted in this category!)

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