30 November 2005

the power of invisibility

Amazing how quickly one finds one’s own little corner of cyberspace, and one’s own particular, eclectic little community.

In the six short months that I have been blogging, I have made some amazing friends.
There are many fellow bloggers with whom I would like to …

Clack some knitting needles and share a cuppa
Sit under an archway and gaze at a beautiful lake
Go househunting and stroke their baby’s plump cheek
Gaze at the swans on the Thames, g & t and knitting in hand
Talk about our choice of children’s schooling
Cycle along the Embankment
Stroke their embroidery (I said embroidery)
Cuddle their newborn and hand a bag of frozen peas to
Share a pinot and a laugh.

But there’s one who’s different.

We met at the airport. And became firm friends, fast.
And gradually, something more.

We are smitten.

We have made each other laugh and spray coffee (her) and tea (me) over our keyboards.
We have made each other cry.

And to our husbands’ and our own vast amusement, we have declared ourselves to be

Platonic Internet Lesbian Lovers.

Yesterday, she came out!
And so, I too, must gingerly open the door.

She reckons if I hear her, it will be over.
The illusion shattered.

But I know that if she sees me, it will all be off.

Ah, the power of invisibility.

29 November 2005

a joke and a self portrait

And now I will leave you with a joke I heard today. I don’t usually tell jokes, but this one tickled me, and besides, I’ve had a glass of wine tonight.

So here it is, for the two of you who will actually get it.

How many Steiner (Waldorf) teachers does it take to change a light bulb?
(One to light the candle, one to say the verse, one to investigate Steiner’s indications to see if really, natural light is better for the children, one to change the bulb anyway and one to lead the closing song.)

(Apparently there’s a whole series of them, including:
How many Steiner students does it take to change a light bulb?
None. That doesn’t enter the curriculum until the higher grades.)

Note: Yes, my children go to a Steiner school. Yes, I can still laugh about it.

Sensible self portrait tuesday post further down.

self portrait tuesday: exploration of identity



Other self portrait tuesday folk here.

27 November 2005

first Sunday of Advent

In an effort to counteract the relentlessly consumerist nature of Christmas these days, here in the House of Soup we have tried to bring back a focus on Advent and the nativity story over the past few years. Celebrating Advent is a lovely way to bring the gentle message of Christmas into our home and in a very short time it has become an eagerly awaited tradition.

We clear our nature table of its assorted seasonal paraphernalia such as leaves, birds nests, odd bits of Lego and assorted found objects. We lay a fresh cloth and arrange four candles. The beloved calendar is dug out of the special Christmas box, and all the little windows closed, with Blu-tak if necessary. (It’s a few years old now).

On the first Sunday of Advent we give thanks to the mineral world. The first candle is lit and each child places a special shell, stone or crystal of their choice on the table. (Last year Son #2 found a tiny bird skull ... ewww). And we say the first verse ...

The first light of advent
It is the light of the stones
Stones that live in crystals
Seashells and bones.

Each Sunday leading up to Christmas we pause in respect for the various kingdoms, mineral, plant, animal and human, that combine to make up our world. And each week a new candle is lit, which stays burning while we read the children a chapter of their bedtime story. Which, in December, by popular demand, is usually The Little Donkey. Happily, it has 24 chapters! By the fourth week, all four candles are burning every night. On Christmas Eve, a special red candle mysteriously appears to join the others.

Every couple of days during this month the children wake to discover that the Advent Fairy has placed something from the appropriate kingdom on the table. So in the first week, the stable and sometimes a little stone path materialise, depending on the time and energy available to the Advent Fairy. (The stable used to be two fat sticks and a bark roof balanced precariously on top, until last Christmas when my father, who was hanging round the kitchen getting underfoot, was given the task of creating a new one. A more stable stable, hahahaha. He took this task very seriously and Mary and Joseph now reside in five star luxury at our place).

The second week some little plants appear; in the third week the odd sheep, chicken and cow arrive, as befits a pastoral stable scene. In the final week a shepherd arrives to muster the sheep into the stable, and towards the last couple of days, Mary, Joseph and a rather dodgy looking donkey appear. As the week progresses, they gradually approach the stable and by Christmas Eve they have arrived.

I am delighted to say that on Christmas morning, in addition to waking hellishly early to see whether Father Christmas ate his treat (mince pie) and the reindeer ate their food (oats and glitter) and what presents have been left under the tree, our children go straight to the advent table to see if baby Jesus is in the manger. (He always has been so far. The Advent Fairy has never been too drunk to remember her duty on this special night).

Note: if anyone notices the time stamp on this post and thinks to themselves, what the heck is she doing posting at 4.00 am? The answer is because I woke in the wee small hours with the sudden realisation that tonight is the first Sunday of Advent and I have not purchased this year’s candles. That and the growing horror that I splashed my children’s underwear all over the internet, have kept me from sleep. So what to do? Get up and blog, of course.

Oh, I also have a funny story concerning Son #1 and the Advent Fairy. Remind to tell you one day.

25 November 2005

Friday Show and Tell: special

She wants something special.

colour laundry

But sometimes the littlest things are special.

Even children’s knickers hanging on the line.

24 November 2005

the importance of women friends

The other day my good friend L and I took some time out, to improve our minds.

(As you do.)

I paused in my undergraduate studies and the fenging of the shui of my house (this was the day before the sale), while she took a break from her Masters studies and her high-powered consultancy business, (can you see how my friends make me feel inadequate sometimes?) and we set off for the Ian Potter Gallery at Fed. Square.

To see a Margaret Preston exhibition!

L knew all about this particular artist, while I knew nothing (being inadequate, and such) so she gave a running commentary and I slipped my arm through hers and gazed appreciatively at the beautiful paintings and lino cuts as we wandered around.

And we talked and laughed and soaked up each other’s presence, as women friends do. I also admired her shoes. Because we are sometimes shallow like that as well. Well, I am.

But we talked, among many other things, about the importance of having female friends in one’s life. Because the energy and nourishment you receive from other women is so different from that which comes from the menfolk in your life. A best friend can inspire you, mentor you, support you, challenge you and yet make you feel cherished and needed at the same time.

And we decided that life would be perfect if each woman could have her male partner (if she wanted to, that is, and we decided that yes we did) and also have her own special female partner for that emotional nurturing that women give each other. A cosy little threesome! Perfect!

One of the paintings we saw was titled ‘Thea Proctor’s Tea Party’. It was a vibrant, colourful painting of a vase of flowers and a table set for afternoon tea. L explained that Thea Proctor was another artist, and we imagined these two talented women, nearly one hundred years ago, talking and laughing and soaking up each other’s presence over tea and cake. (It was at this point we decided it was time for some lunch.)

Then we went downstairs to the gift shop and bought presents for the special women friends in our lives.

Thea Proctor's Tea Party

23 November 2005

op shop delights

My sewing machine has been packed away for a couple of months now, and I haven’t done much knitting either lately. So, no pictures of things I have made are currently available.

Instead, I will show you pictures of things I have purchased lately.
From the op shop.
I love it how you go in looking for, say, new trousers for Son #1 because he’s gone through the knees of every pair, and come out with

... vintage pillow cases ...


... a satchel in perfect nick. Just like the one I had when I was five years old. This one is now Son #3’s school bag ...


… and some gorgeous old books, complete with dustjackets.

old books

I also found two long black wool skirts, one Country Road one, and one with a fringe round the bottom! Very pleasing.

22 November 2005

a pretty picture and some words to match


And I
want to walk with you,
on a cloudy day.
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high …

- Norah Jones

21 November 2005

handy household tips

Things I have learnt from selling my house.

(Some household tips for the benefit of anyone contemplating selling their house. Because I have picked up quite a bit during the last month of keeping my house in a Martha-Stewart-Vogue-Zen-like state.)

• fresh flowers really do make a difference, both to the house, and to your mood. Especially if you can coordinate them to your name. My house is filled with lilies (purchased) and roses (homegrown), and I only realised yesterday the accidental significance of this. Because my name is Hebrew for a lily or a rose! (Apparently.) How clever and witty of me to do this, oh yes.
• it is important to make the beds the mother way very beautifully, not the boy way just pull the quilt up roughly
• the fridge/dishwasher/oven/washing machine make very convenient places to stash the newspapers and that stack of filing that usually lives on the end of the kitchen bench
• that list stuck on your fridge? The one that says Put chair in front of dodgy skirting board, and Fix gouge in wall, and Scrape cat poo off verandah? Make sure you REMOVE it prior to the first Open for Inspection
• when preparing for an Open for Inspection, if you live with another adult and three small children, work them like dogs until half an hour prior to the Open. Then MAKE THEM ALL LEAVE so you can do the last minute things without having to screech "Don't sit on that couch, the cushions have just been plumped!" and "Don't touch that fruitbowl, the fruit has been carefully arranged just so. I don't care how hungry you are. The pineapple is not for eating! Away, child!" Because screeching raises one's blood pressure. And doesn't sound good to those earlybird prospective purchasers who are milling around outside waiting for you to leave and the house to be opened up
• as you back out of each room during a final check and notice odd bits of fluff or dead flies on the carpet that were not present when you vacuumed a mere fifteen minutes earlier, drop them down the heating duct. They won't reappear until next winter when the heating comes on. And with a bit of luck if the house has sold, you won't be there to experience it.
• check the bathroom floor religiously. Small boys sometimes have trouble aiming and you can guarantee that one of them visited the loo after you mopped
• soothing classical music camouflages the sounds of the psychotic neighbours over the back fence dismembering one another slowly with a butterknife having one of their tiffs
• go back and check those beds again. Someone will have bounced.
• remember to remove newspaper and filing from dishwasher/oven/washing machine prior to use the next day


20 November 2005

100 Things About Me

I did it. In one hit! Okay, here goes.

1. I was born in London
2. I have lived in Australia since I was three years old
3. Every night I light a candle and one of the children sings a blessing before our meal
4. I believe it is important to eat together as a family every day
5. I have three boy children
6. I am not a cat person, unless it is a Burmese cat. Burmese cats are more like dogs.
7. I like dogs. We have a greyhound. He is not a retired racer, he is a reject racer. This makes me love him even more.
8. I was once an exchange student, at the age of 17. I lived in the US for a year.
9. Incense is important, but it must be vanilla, lavender, or citrus. None of that odd hippie crap like ylang ylang or patchouli.
10. I am a good knitter
11. I am not good in crowds or large groups. I go red and say nothing
12. I am good in small groups
13. In small groups, I can talk the hind leg off a donkey
14. My father used to say about me "she’s whittering again" (see no. 13)
15. Big, important things happen to me on mountain tops
16. I met my husband on a mountain top. Other stuff too, on different mountains at different times but I cannot tell you about them. One must keep something back.
17. I only go to the dentist every ten years. And I never need any fillings, just a bit of a clean and polish. I have good teeth. Bigger than I would really like, but healthy.
18. I adore being pregnant. I have easy, healthy pregnancies. I miss having a big round firm pregnant belly
19. I wear quite a bit of pink. I think this is a reaction to living with four males
20. Did I mention all my children are boys?
21. I was painfully shy as a child
22. I am very good at languages. I always topped the class in French, without even trying. I became so fluent that once or twice I even dreamed in French.
23. I now know that if you don’t use a language regularly, you lose it.
24. Lately I have had a recurring dream in which I am standing on the edge of a very high cliff, overlooking the ocean. I spread my arms wide, and cast light and love into the four corners of the earth. I love this image.
25. I am about to move On new year's eve, 2005, we moved from a stylish 100 year-old Victorian house in the inner city, to a rustic mudbrick house on one acre of land in the bushy outer suburbs
26. I think I am turning into a hippie
27. I do not wear tie-dye clothing
28. I promise I will never burn patchouli incense
29. I love Melbourne and think it is a sensational city
30. I didn’t realise this until I had lived in and/or visited other sensational cities such as London, Rome, Paris and San Francisco
31. I once climbed Ayers Rock (before we all knew it was culturally insensitive to do so) with one arm in plaster
32. I am small, and thin and yet I have cellulite. I believe this is unfair
33. My skin is not great
34. I took that Lloyd Cole & the Commotions song ‘Perfect Skin’ as a personal insult
35. I had my first child a couple of weeks before my 30th birthday
36. I absolutely love breastfeeding my babies
37. I was devastated when my second baby would not feed properly and stopped at nine weeks
38. I breastfed my third child until he was three and a half
39. I am kind of proud and kind of a wee bit embarrassed to tell people this. Mostly proud. But every now and then someone gives me a look of utter distaste.
40. I had a miscarriage just before I started this blog
41. This blog has filled some kind of hole that the miscarriage left
42. My dream job would be to be a cellist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
43. I can only play three songs on my cello. One of which is ‘Three Blind Mice’
44. I cannot draw, paint or sculpt. However, I am drawn to artistic endeavours. I take photographs, garden, write stuff as a creative outlet, knit, sew and take enormous pleasure in making little still life tableaux around my home
45. I cannot drink coffee. I feel jittery, jumpy and as though I’m about to have a heart attack if I drink coffee. English Breakfast tea is my weakness
46. I dislike housework, except laundry. I like hanging it out on the clothesline. Also, the folding bit pleases me.
47. I cannot decide whether I have manic/depressive tendencies, obsessive/compulsive tendencies or if I am just neurotic
48. I read voraciously
49. I dropped out of university twenty years ago
50. I love reading other women’s birth stories. I love my own birth stories.
51. I am now back at university as a ‘mature age’ student and am discovering that I love studying ancient history and classics. Useless but exhilarating.
52. I am fabulous at procrastinating
53. I will do anything to avoid getting out of bed in the mornings
54. I am extremely short-sighted. To the point where staff in optometry shops take an involuntary step backward when they look at my prescription. And then say "Wow, we don’t see scripts that strong very often." This gets tiresome. I mean, these people work with short-sighted people all day, every day, for heaven’s sake.
55. Dark chocolate is important. Also, Maltesers are helpful.
56. I have a deformed right thumbnail. It is unsightly and often painful. My other nine nails are quite nice.
57. I like driving manual cars. My car is an (old) automatic. My husband’s work ute is a (new) manual. I feel really sexy when I drive it.
58. I find it sexy when you’re in the passenger seat, and a man is driving, and he unconsciously puts his arm behind your seat when he swivels around to reverse or park.
59. I have started doing that thing with my arm when I reverse, in an attempt to be sexy myself. It works, I do feel sexy when I do it.
60. Yoga is important. See how the stream of consciousness thing is working here? (I was talking about the swivelling and the spinal twist, not the sex)
61. I never talk about sex (see no. 16)
62. Sometimes I swear, but there are one or two words that I would never say. Actually, only one I think.
63. I do not like organised religion, but I am drawn to the whole Gaia/Mother Earth spirituality thing. Mostly.
64. When eating out, I find it terribly difficult to decide what to order. This is a running joke with all our friends and they always tell the waiter to start at the other end of the table. I still have never decided when it’s my turn, and my friends all say "Get the fish. You know you always get the fish." And I get the fish.
65. I have an internal compass. I always always know, inherently, where north is. Recently I discovered that Son #2 has the same trait.
66. I can be a bit of a prude. When I once worked as a kitchen hand, the chef gave all the staff nicknames. Mine was Miss Priss (from the Foghorn Leghorn cartoon). As I was only 23 at the time, I was mildly affronted at this. But also strangely pleased.
67. Son #3 notices everything. Oh wait, this is meant to be 100 things about me, isn’t it? Ok, I am in awe at the way Son #3 notices everything. (Better?)
68. Candles are very important
69. I wear a lot of black (as well as the pink) (although rarely together)
70. I love to sing. I’m not sure if I’m any good, and I am too scared to ask anyone in case the answer is no.
71. I am very particular about what my children wear. I dislike clothes with pictures or logos on them. I prefer plain, bright colours, so the child’s spirit and personality can shine through without the distraction of advertising or busy illustrations.
72. I would love to have a daughter
73. I don’t think this is going to happen
74. I am obsessed with roses. Old fashioned ones, climbing ones, and David Austins. Hate hybrid tea roses (florist roses)
75. I am a very emotional person
76. I think I can be quite funny
77. Probably also a bit tedious sometimes (see no. 74) (See also nos. 1-100)
78. I hate talking on the phone. I will do anything to get out of making a telephone call
79. I like writing letters
80. I used to regularly pray to god(dess) that I would wake up in the morning looking like Audrey Hepburn
81. Sometimes I wish I had been born in a previous era when life was simpler, less rushed and women were expected to be able to sing, play the harp and execute a perfect running stitch. And read books (all day) with a straight back. And hoik their bosom up under their chin.
82. Then I remember that in those golden olden days, they didn’t have contact lenses, dishwashers, the internet, or digital cameras, and I am quite glad I was born in these times.
83. I adore my children with a passion that frightens me
84. I often wake at 3.00 am and cry when my imagination gets the better of me
85. I believe children should have a great deal of free time to explore, play, and just be.
86. My children go to a Steiner (Waldorf) school
87. I wish I had gone to a Steiner (Waldorf) school
88. I try and tread lightly on this earth. I recycle, compost, rarely use the tumble dryer, refuse to buy coffees or teas in paper/polystyrene cups or use paper serviettes and I have "3000 head o’ worm out in the back paddock" (trans. I have a thriving worm farm in my tiny courtyard one acre wilderness garden)
89. I like baking cakes, muffins, bread, puddings and desserts
90. I hate cooking dinner every night, night after night
91. I am amazed that I made my own wedding dress
92. I have a double-barrelled surname
93. I kept my own surname when I married. If I had taken my husband’s as well, I would have a triple-barrelled surname. Which is just ridiculous
94. I never vomit. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I have vomited.
95. My parents are English, I am technically English, and I married an Englishman. I adore him. Well, you know, most of the time.
96. I am a very cheap drunk
97. I like gin & tonic, scotch & dry, and wine. I dislike beer.
98. I have a finely tuned sense of irony and sarcasm
99. My women friends are hugely important in my life
100. I try and be an optimist, but it doesn’t come easily

19 November 2005

Show and Tell: red

My Show and Tell is a day late.

(Keep scrolling down and you’ll see why I waited …)

When I saw the request this week was for something red, I was dismayed.
I have no red clothes, I thought (I’m so shallow). I have no red in my house, in my life.

Then I looked down.


I looked around me.


I ventured out into the garden …


I walked the dog up to the park …


Pasta sauce for dinner! (Getting bored yet?)


The next day I woke up.
Saturday: an important day chez Soup. There was a big red flag outside our house.


A real estate mag landed with a thud on the doorstep. Actually, a whole box of them! Ready to hand out to the crowds.


An hour later, there had been a few chewed nails, much held breath and one or two tears,


… but it was over.

Oh, the sweet relief!

17 November 2005

Snippets on a Thursday

Scene: The Soup Bedroom, 7.05 am

Mr Soup is sitting up meditating, as you do at the crack of dawn if that sort of thing takes your fancy.
I open my eyes.
And spy a rainbow on the wall as the sun shines through the glass vase full of pink lilies on the chest of drawers nearby.
I whisper "There’s a rainbow in our bedroom. It must be a good omen."


Scene: The Soup Kitchen (ahahahaha), 7.20 am.

I am packing school lunches and the boys, who get up far too early for my liking so have to entertain themselves, are drawing and tracing knights from a book.
Mr Soup descends the stairs, fresh from his meditation. He kisses me good morning and a stray bristle stabs my upper lip.
I jump back, rubbing my lip. "Ow!"
Mr Soup: Did I zap you?
Me: No, you prickled me.
Mr Soup: That’s what happens when you kiss a man, baby.
Me: Well, I’ll just kiss little boys then. (Turning and kissing Son #1’s childish, soft, bristle-free lips).
Son #1: (Kissing me back, tenderly). You have a pimple, Mummy. Right there. (Gently touches my chin).
Me: Thanks for pointing that out, child.
Mr Soup: (smirking) That’s what happens when you mess with little boys, my sweet. Karma.


In other news,

I have been considering compiling one of those 100 Things About Me lists.
It seems kind of narcissistic, but I do so love reading other peoples’.
But I need help. Where do I put it?, bearing in mind that I am technically dyslexic and do not have one of those tech-whizz husbands to help with the fiddly bits. (Can you tell I didn’t meet my husband on the internet? Mr Soup’s view of the internet is gleaned from the media and so he believes it is populated solely by child molesters, serial rapists, white slave traders and wizards called Merlin. Oh yeah, and me).

So, do I just post it as a normal daily post and then put a link to it on my sidebar, or what? Help me, ALL of you, please. If hardly anyone responds I will assume you don’t want to hear another hundred crappy details about me and my predilection for roses and red shoes, or learn more about the minutiae of my suburban housewife life in the southern hemisphere.

And I'll just go hang my washing out and sulk.

16 November 2005

a gift from a faraway friend

Yesterday, the best thing happened to me. The postman arrived, bearing gifts.
A great big parcel, postmarked Tuvalu!

Hands trembling, I opened it, and found ...

... these divine little trinkets. Soap, lavender clippings, beads, funny paper clips, and a little dangly Japanese thing which Son #3 hung on his schoolbag immediately.


There was more!


Wee fabric scraps from Denyse Schmidt, a length of French officers' braid, and a smooth little rock. The rock has joined my three little rocks from Far North Queensland in pride of place on top of our artwork cupboard (along with the telephone, notepad, and a vase of californian poppies).

And then I found this.


Little tiny clothespegs on a string. For holding Christmas cards? For displaying postcards, children's artwork, hmmm ...

But the best thing was wrapped up in a copy of The Tuvalu Times (which I pored over later, and was shocked at the price of real estate ...) (being in a real estate state of mind these days, and all). I unwrapped the soft bulky paper. To find ...


... the most beautiful, soft, warm black cardigan with enormous shell buttons and a big floppy collar and elegant neckline. Made from tiny black Tuvalan angora rabbits. (Shorn, not killed, silly).

Oh blackbird, I think I love you.

Thank you, my faraway friend.

15 November 2005

self portrait tuesday: identity

slices of me ... 15 years ago, 6 years ago, yesterday, today.
Wife, mother, worker, student, friend, me.


Other self portrait tuesday folk here.

14 November 2005


I love language. Dialects, pidgins, creoles, accents, regional variations ... you name it, I'm addicted.

I have a Jewish colleague who likes to teach me Yiddish words, which I then have to use in a sentence before the end of the day. (Yes, she checks up on me at the end of the day. Nebbish was my most recent acquisition).

You know how the Inuit people are said to have 11 (or something) different words for snow, and the French multiple words for love?

Well I learnt this week that the Albanians have 27 different words for eyebrows.

But never mind that right now.

Because, the Shona people of Zimbabwe have many different words for walking!
See ...?
chakwair (walking through a muddy place and making a squelching sound)
dowor (walking for a long time on bare feet)
svavair (walking huddled, cold and wet)
minair (to walk with swinging hips)
pushuk (to walk in a very short dress)
shwitair (to walk naked)
seser (to walk with flesh rippling)

The last one intrigues me. I suspect cellulite plays a part here.

These came from Adam Jacot de Boinod's new book The Meaning of Tingo nd Other Extraordinary Words From Around the World which was published today and is now firmly on my Christmas wish list. Along with The Adventure of English, Death Sentence, The Dictionary of Weasel Words, and Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue which I have given numerous times as a gift to likeminded friends, but never received.

I really, really like that the Indonesians have a word for the feeling of being sad but not knowing what to do (termangu-mangu), and that the Czechs call someone who finds it difficult to take a hint, a nedovtipa.

PS. The word wamadat is Persian for the intense heat of a sultry night.

daily fix


Our menfolk are gone, our children despatched to school. I am 'working from home' today, which, deliciously, means I can complete my paid tasks now or at midnight. It doesn't matter.

I know she is vacuuming and doing laundry. I put the kettle on, and pull the muffins out of the oven.

And call over the fence ...

"Em! E-em ... are you there? Kettle's on! Come here!"

And so we get our fix.

13 November 2005

a cultural excursion, and a dog

Last night, Mr Soup and I went to see (hear?) the symphony orchestra. It was the usual rush, feed and bath the children, organise snack for the babysitter, race out the door to get there before the ushers are ringing the bells and we have to disrupt the entire row U of the stalls, squeezing past knees and tripping over old ladies' handbags.

We subscribe to the MSO and thus have to select our six about a year before we actually go. So the conversation in the car usually runs along the lines of
What are we seeing (hearing?) tonight?
Lord knows. Something classical. The men will be in penguin suits and the women will be in black, and the German conductor has left and it's that new balding guy now.
Stop it NOW with the penguin references. You're addicted.
Oh nooo. That ain't my addiction.

The last few times we've been have been ... pleasant ... but really, after the interval we would be quietly hoping the second symphony would only have three movements, not five. Because you know, being in your own lounge room with a nice cup of tea takes some beating some nights.

But last night? Last night was great! (And that's a pun because one symphony was by Schubert and it was actually called Great.) And although it was five movements long, we were really into it, you know? Also at interval I had had a glass of red wine and so I listened to Great while holding Mr Soup's hand and every now and then whispering silly things into his ear. And I got the giggles when the old lady next to me started snoring.

Then they played the melancholy movement, which is always dangerous when you've had a glass of wine (I am such a cheap drunk). I got all maudlin and wished that instead of the snoring old lady beside me, that my friend was there and I was holding her hand too, and her husband was on the other side of her, holding her other hand, sort of like a long human chain of love and affection. And a tear ran down my cheek but Mr Soup didn't notice which was just as well because I didn't want to have to try to explain. What with the whispering and the wine breath, and all. And then the upbeat movement started and the wine kicked in again and I had such fun!

But what I really wanted to tell you about was the other piece, which was a Bach cantata and the Chorale was there and four (!) soloists. And the two women soloists, a soprano and a mezzo soprano, looked like jewels up there on the stage in their best Mariana Hardwicks. The dark haired one wore a strapless red gown that positively glowed, and the blonde one wore a strapless teal coloured one which matched exactly with my teal op-shop opera coat that I was wearing.

And that was when I realised why the intervals are only ever 15 minutes long. Because if they were long enough for a person to have two glasses of red wine, that person might be tempted to get up on stage with the soloist to see if their teals really matched. Or if it was just a trick of the light.

And really, that wouldn't do.

Totally random.
Because it's now the next night and I've had TWO glasses.
Here's a picture of the dog. He likes to hide, when sleeping.

hiding dog

12 November 2005

a story

Once upon a time, a young girl from a big city somewhere in the southern hemisphere, decided upon an adventure.

So she went to live in a teeny tiny rural town, a village almost, somewhere in the northern hemisphere.

She was seventeen. And she went for a year. On her own. As an exchange student. She didn't really know what she was getting herself into. I mean, a year! She left her parents, her friends, her school, her life, and went to live in a foreign country. Her friends thought she was mad. After all, she was a shy little thing, a bookish sort, not sporty, not adept in small talk. They feared for her.

But do you know what she did? This young girl?

She re-invented herself. Because she could.

No one knew her in the new country. She had not been labelled or stereotyped as the clever but shy, slightly dorky one, the one who was always picked second last in PE when the captains were picking their teams.

She was free to be whoever she wanted to be.

One of the things she did when she arrived at this new family, in this new town, at this new school, in this new country, was that she introduced herself to people using her full name. Not the shortened one that had been thrust upon her by her schoolmates. And that felt important, for her new beginning and all. And although it was hard, she talked and talked until it came naturally, easily, and she lost the shy label. (She had a head start after all, as she was labelled the exotic, foreign exchange student.)

This young girl went from a big city, to a tiny rural town. From being the eldest child of two, to the baby of four. From being the quiet tongue-tied one, to the whole town knowing her name. She grew up that year.

She bonded with her new wonderful, loving, accepting family. Especially her new sister, as neither of them had ever had a sister before, but as they confessed to each other at the end of the first week, each of them had always wanted one.

She made wonderful, lifelong friends. Two in particular. One who comes and goes in life and who she worries about, all these years later. And another, with whom she has been in constant, regular and loving contact ever since. Who is still one of her dearest friends.

And she fell in love for the first time. Halfway through her year there, he broke her heart. And at the end of the year when it was time to leave, she broke his. She nearly stayed, but she didn't. He nearly came to her, but he didn't.

Twenty years later, the tiny graduating class of 40 students, of which she had been a part, held a reunion. The young girl, who was no longer a young girl, gathered her pennies, and flew across the ocean.

She talked and talked and talked (because it came naturally, easily now) and hugged her friends, and her beloved sister and brothers. And she talked with and hugged her old love, and spent a day with him.

And lo, it was good.

And then she flew back across the ocean. She ran off the plane and into the arms of her husband and three little boys.

And lo, that was really really good.

11 November 2005

Show and Tell Friday: favourite cup

So. Show and Tell for today is your favourite mug or cup.

I'm in my element here.
I drink tea all day long, and I am very fussy about what I drink it out of. I dislike, intensely, chunky china or pottery mugs.

I suffered the horrible mugs in the kitchen at work for a few weeks before deciding I would bring my own. I searched high and low, then found the perfect cup. Bone china, with pink roses.

My work mug. Brought home every now and then for a run through the dishwasher and photographic assignments.

cup pink

My second favourite. A proper cup and saucer. Royal Doulton. It was bought by my mum, for my nana, when she was dying in hospital, as she detested the thick hospital china. She died when I was 6 weeks old, and Mum gave her cup to me a couple of years ago when she heard that I had the same predilection for thin, translucent crockery. I love it.

cup nana

Next in line. Op shop cup and saucer purchased a few months ago. Looks pretty but doesn't hold enough. Also the tea goes cold too quickly. Pretty though.

cup green

And finally, Mr Soup's favourite mug. Decorated by Son #3 for Fathers' Day last year. Featuring an angel, flying past the sun.

cup child

10 November 2005

it's just not cricket


Cricket training in the park after school.

That's Son #2 in the pads and helmet.

Every time he hit the ball, he yelled "Yes!" as he raced to the other wicket.
I could almost see the triumph in his eyes from across the park.

He loves it.

Dateline: Pea Soup, 12.58 pm

So, tell me Suse, what's been happening lately?

Huh? Oh it's you again. Are you stalking me or something?

Nothing quite so sinister. I just thought I'd catch up again, see if anything fascinating has been happening in your life. You know, our last chat was so RIVETING an' all. Any more baked beans?

Ha bloody ha. Actually, if you'd read my blog, you'd know that I've been cooking.

I've also been finishing and handing in essays, madly keeping my house clean and doing odd decorative thingies like floating roses in glass bowls because that will surely add $10,000 to my house on auction day, doing my tax, and acting like a teenage girl.

Could you elaborate on the teenage girl business?

Celebrity crushes. I need to add Sean Kelly, but I suspect your readers, seeing they are American mostly, (you're from humble, right?) won't know who he is.

Uh huh. Anything else?

Yeah. I made a friend cry yesterday. In a good way, mind.
And today she made me cry.
But she's far far away.
On the other side of the world really.
Which sort of, sucks. You know?

Yep. I know.

8 November 2005

two more things

Oh, and adding to my list ...

Nigel Havers and Hugh Laurie.

self portrait tuesday: exploration of identity

I haven't participated in self portrait tuesday for a couple of weeks, but I have an essay due in 25 hours and 40 minutes so it's time to bake a cake (date and walnut 'Five Cup Cake'), play with the ping on people's email, and mess around with the camera.

The dream ...
write dream

... and the reality.
write reality

Most of the paid jobs I have held have involved writing. But not quite the kind of writing I dream about.

I have written ads for a winery, copy for K mart catalogues ("nice and cheap!"), window blinds, skin care products and radio ads for soap operas.

I have produced reports, newsletters, articles, and done the desktop publishing for a small feminist literary magazine.

Currently, I write essays for my degree, nonsense for a blog, and minutes from meetings to earn a buck or three.

I dream that one day, I will write like Mr Bryson.

More self portrait tuesday folk here.

7 November 2005

Lemon Cordial

For Robyn who requested the recipe.

(Is this turning into a food blog?)

Lemon Cordial

(makes 1.5 litres)

2 kg caster sugar
1 litre water
30 g citric acid
30 g tartaric acid
juice of 6 lemons, strained
finely grated zest of 2 lemons

Dissolve sugar in water over heat in a stockpot. It's best to close your eyes so you don't see just how much sugar two kilograms actually is. Open eyes again once sugar has disappeared, and continue. Add citric and tartaric acids and stir well to ensure all is completely dissolved. Cool. Stir in zest and juice, and bottle. Dilute to taste with water, lemonade, soda water or mineral water.

Apparently it gains 'added sophistication with the addition of bruised mint leaves or a measure of gin and soda.' Keeps well. Although not with three children in the house.

Recipe from Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion.

5 November 2005

citrus wonders


A friend brought me a huge bag of lemons from her tree last week. So it's been a citrus frenzy here lately.

• Lemon & poppyseed muffins (already in the freezer, ready for weekday school lunchboxes).
• Lemon cake for Friday's afternoon cake stall at school (Son No. 3's class were on duty this week).
• And lemon cordial. Recipe from the Bible. Where else?

And because it was so much fun hearing what a sartorially elegant crowd you are (well, a couple of you at any rate), I'd now like to find out how well fed you are.

What did you have for dinner tonight? (Or last night, for the people across the Pacific, for whom it is currently morning?)

Again, I'll begin.
Spag Bog, followed by peach & banana crumble with vanilla yoghurt.

A bit o' boring business. New visitors and ex-lurkers have left comments lately, and I have tried to follow them up and return the visit, say a polite hello, and so on. But for some stupid reason there are many sites I can't access without my computer having a meltdown. Just ask Dani and Jak ... I rarely get to their blogs successfully. Last week I couldn't even get to Susie or Irene. So if you have commented and I have not replied, it's not for want of trying. Sorry! Hint ... those blogger popups for comments often crash me, I have more success with the other kind.

Put it somewhere, anywhere! Just get it out of sight!!!

Conversation between Mr Soup and I as we vacate our house (recently renovated to a high standard, a delightful family home, a fusion of old and new, close to shops, train, tram, city and all amenities, inner city living at its best) ten minutes prior to today's 'Open for Inspection'.

Me: I hope no one looks inside the oven.
Him: Why?
Me: Because the bread dough is rising in there.


Him: I hope no one looks inside the fridge.
Me: Why?
Him: Because that pile of paperwork that usually lives on the kitchen bench is in there.

seven things

Seven things I plan to do before I die:
live on top of a hill in a mudbrick house
visit Venice again, this time with my husband
see my three children become healthy, happy and settled adults
find a job I love
finish my degree
stop worrying about money
stop procrastinating

Seven things I can do:
produce beautiful boy children
make a garden
make a house look nice on a wee budget
cook risotto

Seven things I cannot do:
listen to conversations about blood/operations/wounds without my knees going funny
donate blood (see above)
produce girl children
make a waldorf doll
do maths without a pen or calculator (if forced to do so, I have to write in the air with my finger)
grow rhubarb

Seven things I find attractive in others:
a smiley face
them finding something attractive in me
unusual yet stylish taste in clothes
a gentle voice
good manners

Seven things I say most often:
Use your words
Thank you
Out of the kitchen (to the dog)
Did you have a happy day?
Wash your hands and sit at the table NOW please
Hello gorgeous boy
I love you

Seven celebrity crushes:
John Hannah (lives in Scotland, which is too damp and far away, so it's not going to happen)
David Hyde-Pierce (gay? so probably also not going to happen)
Keanu Reeves (too moody, but I could help him to be happier)
Cate Blanchett (dream on Suse. You and she are both married. And straight.)
Robert Benigni (he is a good hegg. And so funny. In that Italian way. But lives too far away, so again, not gonna happen)
Gwyneth Paltrow (see Cate)
John Hargreaves (gay AND dead, so that's really not gonna happen)

Oh, and I'm going to add Sam Neill. Divine.

4 November 2005

Show & Tell: addiction

When the shout went out that Show & Tell was addiction, I knew I'd be fine.

I am the Queen of Addictions. That sort of personality, I'm afraid.

But what to show? How to arrange the photographic evidence tastefully, artistically? I tried pictures side by side like many of you do. Failed miserably. I didn't even attempt to do beautiful artsy mosaic images like some clever people.

So, here they are, boringly arranged one on top of the other. My addictions.


Blogging. I'm addicted. (Aren't we all?)
Blog shown is in honour of The Show and Tell Mistress.


I'm addicted to this stuff. Buying it. Hoarding it. Feeling it. And occasionally knitting it into jumpers, scarves, hats, flannels and so on.


I need several of these to get through my day.


Ooh look, I think I did it!

Hopeless sucker for old fashioned and/or David Austin roses. Picking them, smelling them, filling my house with them, burying my face in them.

But my real addiction?

The one I am not allowed to indulge in any more because really three is plenty so they say and I suppose I suppose I suppose it is ...




... a newborn babe.

My newborn babes.