28 December 2005

A new chapter

The day after tomorrow, we will move ...

... to here.

new house view

it’s pretty ... uh ... rustic.

new house brick floors

But it will be an adventure.
And a new chapter in our lives.

25 December 2005

Christmas Night

xmascandles

xmasnight

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Christmas morning

advent xmas morn1

23 December 2005

Show and Tell Friday: Your coat.

Just sneaking in under the wire at 11.50 pm.

I cannot believe I’m showing my coats on a day of Total Fire Ban.
It’s incredibly hot and windy today, with a forecast of 36 celsius or something hideous.

Hence, my coats are displayed hanging on a hook, not on my bod.

coat plum blur

This is now several years old.

I had stopped work to have babies, and needed a coat that could be casual or faintly dressy, for wearing when pushing the pram to the shops (in the days several years ago when I did push a pram around), but capable of scrubbing up when necessary. It has a pleasing hood, and nice blanket stitching around the hem. The downside? It slides off my shoulders as the hood is rather heavy. So, not quite as comfortable as it should be.

coat snot green

This one was an op shop find this year.
It’s vintage, complete with groovy label (Renny of Melbourne it says), and is a wool and mohair blend. I adore it.

One must be very careful what one teams with it however, as the snot green colour tends to wash one out. I have found it works best when wearing it with black skirt/pants, black tights, black boots and black top. I added the $2 black fabric flower for a touch of sophistication. Ha. And because I like black.

Someone at work christened it my dead yak coat.
And the name has stuck.

Show and Tell brought to you by Say La Vee.

22 December 2005

a belated thank you

This arrived ... um, last week ... and I have been very slack in acknowledging it.
I blame Christmas, house-packing and a maternal visit.

cheers1

Thanks mav, I love it!

a day at the mall, with my mother

Have I mentioned my mother is visiting?

The other day we did the mother-daughter bonding thing by visiting our local mall.

I am not a mall person, much preferring local strip shopping (and there’s one for the Googlers ...) but whenever my mother visits us, she wants to shop (cos heaven knows, they don’t have proper shops in Queensland?), and so I must Brave the Mall. Blech.

(After a Mall Visit I must also de-brief in urgent, horrified whispers to Mr Soup in the privacy of our bedroom later that night.)

So. On this trip to Lowpoint I discovered to my amazement and slight horror that it has expanded by about, ooh, a third. Eighty new shops and a whole new wing have materialised out of nowhere, the new wing being mostly full of hideous, gargantuan warehouse-style shops selling bestseller books or ‘French provincial’ furniture. And calendars featuring fluffy white dogs. Or Audrey Hepburn. (Seriously, there were three different Audrey Hepburn calendars. Now I firmly believe that every girl needs a little Audrey in her life, but ... really. I mean, come on.)

I fled to the more familiar end of the mall, with my mother trailing three steps behind me. This is a new habit of hers, one which I find very tiresome as one is constantly having a conversation over one’s shoulder. I remember Mr Soup’s mother bless-her-little-cotton-socks liked to walk three paces behind us, and it was irritating then. Like having a personal retainer in tow. And now my own mother is doing it? Is this something that kicks in when mothers hit 70? If I slow down to let her catch up, she slows down too. If I stop, she stops. At least she doesn’t bow low when I stop and turn round.

Anyway the familiar end of the mall beckoned. I quickened my pace, ignoring the little panting noises emanating from my mother, and headed for the sanctuary of the ABC Shop and Australian Geographic. And managed to do 80 percent of my Christmas shopping in one fell swoop.

We emerged poorer but full of the Christmas joie de vivre.
I shut my eyes tight as we passed the hideous Build a Bear Workshop, opened them and my nostrils as we passed the divine Dusk, and against my better judgement, fell into Starbucks for refreshment. And oh lordy, don’t get me started, that is a whole other post.

Suffice to say that I was so rattled by the Starbucks experience that I had to buy a calendar featuring Audrey Hepburn and fluffy white dogs to restore my equilibrium.

21 December 2005

Jacaranda blossom

Melbourne in December ...

jacarandablossom3jacarandablossom2

jacarandablossom1

Lovely

20 December 2005

I'm it

A little bird tagged me, last week.
I am finally getting around to answering.

She wants my five weird habits, bearing in mind that habits are different from quirks.

Here goes ...

• I run my fingers through my hair obsessively, more and more, harder and harder, until I’m pulling it and I realise my scalp is hurting and it’s time to stop. Why? I have no idea. I think it’s a nervy thing.

• This one is for my American sister D (hey, have just realised D, is that you who made the anonymous "D" comments on my advent posts?!!) ... when eating Doritos, I check both sides of the corn chip to see which has the most cheese flavouring, then eat the chip that side down, so the more highly flavoured side meets my tongue. And every single time I do it, I think of you, D. And smile to myself. Recently I spotted Son #2 doing it.

• I never walk on the cracks, ever. The crocodiles might get me.

• Ditto hanging any limb over the side of the bed. Never ever.
I can work myself up into quite a panic in the wee small hours over this.
(Yes, I am 41 years of age. Pathetic, isn't it?)

• I am strangely addicted to this machine called an iMac, and all the things it allows me to do, experience, read, write, laugh at, commune with, and cry over.



I'm not tagging anyone at this crazy time of year, and I feel awkward tagging people anyway, but if anyone wishes to do this meme, leave me a note in the comments so I can come read your answers.

18 December 2005

Fourth Sunday of Advent

advent table week3a

advent candles #3

Tonight we will light the fourth candle and give thanks for the kingdom of mankind.

And say the verse ...

The fourth light of Advent,
It is the light of man.
The light of love, the light of thought,
To give and understand.


The Advent Fairy will bring a shepherd some time tonight, and later in the week Joseph and Mary will appear, and gradually make their way to the stable.




Someone asked whether I made these advent verses up. I did reply in the comments but I’m aware that it is unlikely that person will visit the comments section twice, so will answer again here.

Our advent tradition is Waldorf/Steiner inspired, with one or two touches that we have adapted for our family. The verses were found on a website several years ago, which now seems to have disappeared. It was called QuolKids (Quality of Life for Kids) and one of the two women who maintained the site was a Steiner teacher.

We have found that celebrating advent this way has helped to counteract the overwhelming materialist, consumerist nature of Christmas in our modern society, helping our children (and us!) remember the spiritual nature of this season. I also like the way it honours nature and the universe.

16 December 2005

recycling

Son #2’s class play was last week.

I managed to recycle last year’s costume, which was a sort of robe-type thing made out of an old white sheet with a woollen belt round his middle. He was The Little Sage on the Mountain in that play, which incidentally, filled him with anxiety when he first was allotted his role.

Oh Mummy, I’m playing a herb!

I made him a garland of sage leaves to go with the costume that year.
A witty touch, I thought.
And it looked cherubic, uh I mean ... wise and sage-like, with his long blonde hair.

Anyway this year’s play was a biblical story.
The story of Moses.
Son #2 played Aaron, Moses’ brother.
He got to bang a stick on the floor and shout Let my people go!
Seven times.

He also played his violin, quite beautifully, in the scene where the Pharoah of Egypt ponders the Israelites’ future.

I managed to re-use the sage costume by dipping it in tea until it turned a pleasing shade of beige, and sewing him a cloak from an old chenille bedspread.

He will use the cloak this summer as a pool and beach robe too.

Cos it’s fun to embarrass one’s small children sometimes.

cloak front

cloak close

cloak back

14 December 2005

another random post

Random stuff

• It feels so good to get two inches chopped off my hair
• Packing sucks
• So does moving house
• Why are they bothering to make Mentos in grape flavour? They don’t taste remotely like any grape I have ever ingested. Stick to the spearmint and peppermint, Mentos people.
• The queues at the post office are getting very long
• I am enjoying Creature Comforts. I think Nick Park must be the most brilliant man currently on the planet (after Paul Kelly and Elvis Costello, that is)
• My new keyboard inserts the letter ‘l’ at the end of every sentencel. Annoyingl.
• My children have invented an imaginary friend called Jake. He can be relied upon to take the blame for all sorts of things. Late at night when they should all be asleep, I can hear whispers and giggles as they recount Jake’s latest exploits to each other.
• Children come home from school camp dirty, bruised and exhausted, but very very happy. Despite bursting into tears when the bus departs, leaving a mother with the final image of a teacher consoling a weeping child, burnt into her retina for three long days.

• Extract from Son #1’s latest assignment, which was to create three scenes from a play about an ancient Greek myth. (He chose Jason and the Argonauts):

Jason: Pelias, now that you are old, I think I should take your place as king, seeing I am rightful king after you murdered my father.
Pelias: (thinks for a moment). You are right. Okay.

Later ...

Jason: Hey Orpheus, would you and your lyre like to be argonauts?
Orpheus: Yeah, okay.

(They walk around the village square and at the end they have a whole crew).

Priceless.

13 December 2005

self portrait tuesday: reflections

selfportraitreflection2

More self portrait Tuesday folk here

11 December 2005

Third Sunday of Advent

adventcandles#2

Tonight on the third Sunday of Advent we give thanks for the animal kingdom.

We will light three candles, the children will each choose a toy animal from their collection (preferably associated with Christmas, although last year a giraffe was spotted lurking at the rear of the stable) to add to the scene and we will say the verse:

The third light of advent
It is the light of beasts
The light of hope that we may see
In greatest and in least


Advent table in the first week …
adventweek1

and what it looks like this morning.
adventweek2

During this coming week the Advent Fairy will visit once or twice and bring another cow or chook. Later in the week two sheep will appear, just ahead of the shepherd who arrives the following week.

Verses for the first and second weeks of Advent here and here.

8 December 2005

Warning: sparse posting ahead

My mother has come* to take me to task.

But I'll be back by Christmas.



* All the way from Queensland, for two weeks.
Blogging will be spasmodic while we do the mother-daughter thing.

6 December 2005

Self Portrait Tuesday: reflections

self portrait tuesday: reflection

reflections of a domestic day
hanging out the washing
dawdling with the dog

Other self portrait Tuesday folk here

5 December 2005

A Sunday Outing

Have you ever noticed how on weekends, the only people who use public transport are … well …um … just different from weekday commuters?

On Sunday, Son #2 and I had to venture into the city for something, and as we had time to spare, decided against the train journey which is a mere boring three stops (inner city living at its best), and instead took the picturesque meandering tram-ride into the city.

Let me tell you about our fellow passengers.

Couple No. 1: American tourists.
Interestingly, they were not attired in the usual matching sporting outfits that always make me giggle. (Come to Melbourne, Australia, and run! Around our beautiful city streets! Or just look like you’re about to break into a sweat! Whatever,you fitness freaks, you.)
No, instead they were dressed as though they were about to climb to Annapurna Base Camp. Huge enormous clunky hiking boots, thick socks, shorts (cos it is summer here, after all), gortex jackets and state of the art backpacks. Maps in hand. Loud voices.

They looked around at their fellow travellers and instantly and correctly appraised me as the only person likely to be able to assist them, and asked me at which stop they needed to alight in order to visit the museum. (The one that is indoors. With smooth, rock-free surfaces to stroll about in. And a gifte shoppe to browse in after your ascent … er, stroll. No crampons needed, really, we are civilised here.) (I was sooo tempted, sooo very very tempted to tell them about the cram … oh no never mind, it’s rude and I didn’t). (Cos we are polite here, as well as civilised).

Couple No. 2: Japanese tourists.
The woman in high heels and tiny handbag, the man wearing Smart Casual, a look that can be troublesome to pull off successfully. I am pleased to report he did (pull it off with some aplomb). They were quiet, incredibly polite, and they giggled and pointed at my blonde child and made Isn’t that blonde Australian sproglet so cute and adorable and blonde? noises. And they took an awful lot of photographs. Of each other.

They looked around at their fellow passengers and decided that I was the one most qualified to take a photograph of them. (They must know that I have a blog! And that I specialise in dorky photographs!) And with much bowing and hand gesturing, they oh so politely requested that I do so. And with more bowing, they thanked me. Oh so politely. With a few giggles. And a few Stupid Australian woman, talk about technically dyslexic, can’t even work out the buttons on our state of the art whizz-bang digital camera type of noises.

Couple No. 3: Australian loonies.
Because the only people on public transport on the weekends are tourists and loonies. Oh yeah, and me.
She had wild hair and a torn skirt. Muttered a lot. He had a large collection of sandpaper with him. He proceeded to work his way through his not unimpressive collection, rasping and rubbing each piece to … what? Rate them in terms of rasp satisfaction? I know not.

They looked around at their fellow passengers and agreed that I was the one most eminently suitable to sit next to and ...

Son # 2 and I looked around, and decided …

This is our stop!

4 December 2005

Second Sunday of Advent

advent#1

On the second Sunday of Advent we give thanks for the plant kingdom. Two candles are lit, the children each choose a pretty seedpod, leaf or flower to place on the advent table, and we say the verse ...

The second light of advent,
It is the light of plants.
Plants reach up to the sun
And in the breezes dance.


Verse for the first Sunday of Advent here.

PS. Last week I said we put the candles on the advent table, but we ended up putting them on the mantlepiece this year. The stable arrived courtesy of the Advent Fairy this week, and it takes up far too much room. And yes, that's a picture from last week. It's still morning here, we don't light the second candle until tonight.




PPS. The funny story about Son #1 and the Advent Fairy. For your entertainment.

Son #1 is nearly twelve years old now. We keep our children as innocent as possible, for as long as possible. A couple of years ago he started saying that other children in his class didn’t believe in Father Christmas, said it’s your parents who buy all the presents, etc. I always sidestepped the question by asking him what he thought, and he used to say he felt sorry for them that they didn’t believe. Good, I thought. My babe is still wee and innocent.

So. Last year, when he was nearly eleven, he asked me again. But this time he asked me in private, out of earshot of his younger brothers, when it was just us, and I knew he was ready and was, in fact asking for, the truth. So I took a deep breath, and told him all over again of the story of Saint Nicholas, the bishop from long ago who gave presents to the children. And I told him how ‘Santa Claus’ is a phonetic derivative of ‘Saint Nicholas’. I told him the truth about Father Christmas, that no, he is not real, but I explained that he is kind of keeping the spirit of Saint Nicholas alive.

His eyes teared up, but he took it well, and I was relieved and saddened at the same time. It felt like a huge milestone in his childhood.

The next day, he came to me during one of those mad evening moments, when you are trying to cook dinner, supervise two smaller children in the bath, answer the phone and clean the lunchboxes ready for the next day. And he said, "Mummy, you know how Father Christmas is keeping the spirit of Saint Nicholas alive? Well, what about the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny? What are they keeping the spirit alive? Um, of?"

And I carelessly said "What, them? Um, nothing. They’re not real, sweetheart. Are you two OUT OF THE BATH YET? Oh damn, the potatoes are burning!"

As he gulped and the tears welled, and I thought Oh shit, you bad, bad mother.

Two days later. He comes to me again. Shaky, voice trembling. "Mummy? Um. You know how Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy aren’t real? (tiny voice)… What, um, what about … the Advent Fairy?"

I took one swift look at my babe. The babe who had grown up so very much in the last three days, and I realised in a nanosecond that he just couldn’t take any more.

And I said "Oh god, child! The Advent Fairy?! Of COURSE she’s real. LORD, yes!"

The relief on his face. Oh god, the sweet relief.

And I thought Thank heavens. I got it right. Ok. Good mother.

3 December 2005

Show and Tell: Car

Show and Tell theme: your car.

So. Here are two of the most boring pictures seen yet on my blog.

The 13 year old My-Owner-Is-A-Housewife green stationwagon,
greenwagon

and Mr Soup’s sexy work ute that I love to drive (see 100 Things About Me).
redute

My fantasy car is a Volkswagon Karmen Ghia 1964, in pearly white. This is not going to happen as long as I have to cart around three children and a dog.

My car is not interesting, so although I’ve shown it to you, I will tell you about another car from long ago. The olden days, as the little croutons call it. When I first met Mr Soup, we had a whirlwind romance on a mountain top (see 100 Things About Me, again) and six weeks later, bought a beautiful twenty-year-old aqua-blue Triumph 2000, for $2000 and set off for a 3 month trip around Australia. As you do with a man you have only known for six weeks. As you do when you have one arm in plaster. (My mother was horrified.)

The car was a champion, and he was so upright, thoroughly decent and English, that we named him Roger. He looked fabulous against the shocking red sand of the desert. We have many photographs of Roger in the Outback, Roger at Uluru at sunset, Roger in tropical north Queensland, Mr Soup eating breakfast perched on Roger’s bonnet. It was on this trip, our honeymoon of sorts, that Mr Soup christened me Pea, and I returned the compliment by calling him The Soup.

Anyway, back to the car. We miss Roger. He came to a sticky end one day back in Melbourne a couple of years later when a Mercedes rear-ended him at a traffic light in suburban Malvern. He was taken away for organ donation and lives on in other elderly Triumphs around town. We hope.

Sometimes, as I drive around in my current boring stationwagon, I glance back and see with a kind of shock that there are three children, a dog, several schoolbags and a couple of violins in there with me, and I remember I’m a suburban housewife and mother.

But all I have to do is put on Midnight Oil’s Beds are Burning, and I am transported back to those days, hurtling along the red desert roads with the new man in my life, in an aqua-blue gentleman named Roger.

And all is right with the world.

Rest in Peace

I was too upset to post last night.

I don’t usually get into politics in my blog, but hey it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to. Yesterday, a young Melbourne man, who did a bad thing for a good reason, was executed in Singapore. Despite the pleas of the Premier, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister and so on. Despite the fact that Singapore is a first world country, and despite the fact that the death penalty is a clear breach of international human rights law.

Vigils were held, candles were lit, prayers were said. And the young man died.

Rest in peace, Van.

1 December 2005

it's not all a bed of [David Austin] roses

Thanks to some comments recently concerning how beautiful I am (fibs from a rather loyal friend), and what a stunning parent and housekeeper I am (ha, you should see this place today) I realised that it is extraordinarily easy to make one's life sound idyllic on one's blog. [With the exception of yesterday's post, which I suspect lost me some regular readers. But perhaps gained me a new one or two?]

Anyway if not idyllic, then at least filled with freshly baked muffins, roses, regular cultural visits to orchestras and galleries, opera clothes and amazing artworks, all accompanied by the sounds of delightful and talented (not to mention stunningly beautiful) children playing harmoniously together in the background while one hums the odd Handel aria. In tune.

This slightly warped representation of life happens without my really meaning it to. After all, who wants to write about (or photograph) the dead flowers in the vase, dustbunnies on the floor, obstreperous children whacking each other over the head because "he did it first", laundry and the weather? Not me.

So, in case anyone was foolishly under the impression that they should live vicariously through me, (because I sooo do this myself via others ... hi Jane! Hi!!), I hereby present to you the seedier side of life Chez Soup lately.

• the geriatric cat crapped on the front verandah immediately prior to an Open for Inspection. I trust you all know how vile cat poo is
• remember these curtains? How they drape richly and billow voluptuously over the floor at the bottom? Um, that's because they still have raw, unhemmed bottoms. I fervently hope that none of the prospective buyers viewing our home touched them and uncovered my shameful secret. I will get around to hemming them before the new owners move in. Honest.
• we had a cold snap, the heating clicked on, and I paid for my sins
• in a moment of weakness, I did the non-Steiner/Waldorf thing and let the children watch a (carefully chosen) video
• immediately following the video, they went feral, irrefutably proving once again that tv is evil and they should never ever watch it again until they turn 18
• dying lilies drop yellow pollen. This stains pale coloured carpet
• a cockroach ran across the kitchen floor this morning. Unlike those tropical, damp northern cities, we, in the southern Australian city, are not used to this. And so we find it disgusting and alien and we tend to shriek like fishwives. (Apologies to any readers who are married to fishhusbands.)
• I am wearing tracksuit pants, a misshapen brown cardigan, hand-knitted slippers and a flowery apron right this minute
• I am very tired and my head aches
• I spent a lot of last month crying. I think I had some sort of meltdown
• I just noticed Son #3's snot on my shoulder, which I believe eventuated from the "he did it first" incident (see above)
• the snails ate all my basil seedlings
• this really really pisses me off
• I have dear friends who live in faraway countries. I have no money for airfares
• thanks to Son #3 creeping into my bed during a nightmare and snuggling oh so close, as is his wont, I am now sleep deprived and cranky
• I have come to the sad middle-aged realisation that my cello and I will never be part of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
• ditto the Chorale (minus the cello. Obviously)
• I have split ends
• I am becoming very used to a regular, nightly glass of wine. Or two. Sometimes I think this shows in my blog (pics of the dog’s bottom and so on). And so, from now on? More pretty pictures, less crap. Okay?

Note to self: check diary. May be premenstrual?