27 December 2006

belated Christmas wishes

advent table Christmas morn

Better late than never.



I hope you all had a beautiful and safe Christmas with your Best Beloveds.

We're off for a while so I'll see you next year. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment this year - it's been great and I appreciate your visits. I'm sorry if I didn't get around to responding to all comments and new visitors in the last month but life kind of overtook me for a while there.

21 December 2006

endings and beginnings

My firstborn finished his primary school education today.

The graduation ceremonies were last week; one with his old Steiner class and another with his current class. The Grade 6 Big Day Out is over and done with. The photographs are taken, autobiographies completed and displayed, addresses exchanged and promises made.

He came home today with his red school t-shirt covered in black texta autographs and issued me with strict instructions never to wash it. (Some children didn’t use the permanent pens).

He confessed to a little sadness as he headed off to bed tonight. But his eyes were gleaming at the thought of the long summer holiday stretching ahead of us.

life is

19 December 2006

busy as a bee

making little decorations to slip inside the teachers’ Christmas cards,

mini stockings

and wee gnome folk from a Korknisse pattern via Siri.

korknisse with trees

18 December 2006

Third Sunday of Advent, 2006

third sunday of advent candles

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 week 3

The children chose some animals to join the scene on our Advent table, including a giant knitted bullock.

angel tree

17 December 2006

and they always stick

One can cast wide the shutters

fling open the casement

and throw up the sash.



But one must wind out the mission brown 1970s aluminiums.

13 December 2006

in which we discuss the weather

Crazy mixed up weather.

A couple of weeks ago we had the coldest November days ever in Melbourne. Wind, rain, sleet, hail, even snow on the nearby hills.

Then back to summer.

And the hottest December day in 53 years.

star

Which sends everyone a little troppo.

stars and moon

Too hot to knit, too hot to think.

where there's smoke

That’s the view these days. An eerie smoke-filled glow fills the sky.

The weather reports say we’re in for another scorcher tomorrow and then milder weather so the fire behaviour will be somewhat moderated. They reckon it’s still going to burn all summer long though.

The siren at the CFA station up the end of our street has been going off at all hours of the day and night. When we first moved here our neighbours told us that if the siren goes off at 5pm on a Sunday, not to panic, it just means there’s a barbecue at the station, BYO beer and come along.

These days there’s no jollity.

When the siren sounds, it’s business not pleasure.

11 December 2006

Second Sunday of Advent 2006

advent candles, 2nd Sunday

On the second Sunday of Advent we light two candles.

The children choose something from the plant world to put 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.


stable with trees

Some items on the table this year are new. The old stable (four logs with a roof of paperbark) did not survive the house move, so a new one was quickly pressed into service.

The Advent Fairy also decided some trees were in order for the week that celebrates the plant kingdom and so Stephanie’s soft tree pattern was put to good use. It’s addictive. I’m up to twelve trees so far. I love their funky naïve homemade look. Although that could be my amateurish sewing skills. The Advent Fairy likes to wind down with a merlot in the evenings.


christmas mantelpiece

The angels are new too. The paper chain angels used for the last few years were way past their best and anyway they weren’t long enough for the enormous mantelpiece in this house. So a new chain was in order; made from an op-shopped cream wool blanket for superior durability.

Christmas mantel

Look! More trees.

The evening concludes with Mr Soup reading the next chapter of Mary’s Little Donkey. The children demand he reads the donkey bits with an Eddie Murphy accent. He fails miserably.


Last year’s Advent posts here, here, here and here.

soft trees in white & green green and white soft trees

I told you they were addictive.
Soft tree flickr group here.

9 December 2006

Robin ran away

This meme is doing the rounds so like a sheep, I will follow. I got this from Janet who took it from Penni and changed it. I’ve fixed the split infinitive because I’m just like that.

We are not religious, but I figure if we’re going to celebrate Christmas, we need to acknowledge (and teach our children who after all, live in a predominantly Christian culture) the reason why. So we celebrate the nativity and the birth of Jesus Christ, and I feel no conflict about it. I can believe and appreciate that JC was a great prophet-like special person, without necessarily buying the saviour of the world and son of God immaculate inspection stuff. I want my children to know what Christmas is about, apart from the rampant consumerism and greed promoted in the shops and the images of Santa everywhere exhorting children to write lists of stuff they want to just get in December. In our house Santa is known as Father Christmas, and he arrives and does the stocking thing and eats the treats we leave for him. I think I would feel more of a hypocrite if we just did the reindeer and Santa thing and presents presents presents and ignored the whole nativity. That’s my take on it, anyway. (Born-agains, don’t start on me. Peace and joy and all that).

I also have no sympathy for those who say Oh it’s not a proper Christmas without snow and cold. It just doesn’t feel right. We are bombarded with images of snowflakes and bundled up children breathing steam as they brave the dark night to go carolling; why? I don’t think it snowed in Bethlehem on that fateful night a couple of thousand years ago. In fact, I think Israel is a kind of arid, desert climate, no? So. Forget the US-Eurocentric snowy goodness and celebrate Christmas the way it was meant to be! Hot! Or at least, warmish.


Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Neither. It’s hot here (see previous rant). At Christmas lunch the adults drink champagne and the children get ginger beer. Also, lots of tonic water and ice.

Does Father Christmas wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Wrapped definitely. Most of the presents under the tree are from us and friends and family, but Father Christmas does leave one gift for each child under the tree on Christmas morning. He also leaves little trinkets and treats in each child’s stocking. In return he gets a mince pie and a glass of milk, and his reindeer eat the carrots and magic reindeer food (oats mixed with glitter) sprinkled on the front verandah.

Coloured lights on tree/house or white?
White on the tree. Nothing on the house.

Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope. (Mistletoe is a weed, people).

When do you put up your decorations?
We have developed the tradition of putting up the tree on the 1st of December. Only because the children used to nag and nag to put it up the minute the decorations appeared in the supermarkets (September) and I had to arbitrarily set a date. It’s now a fixed tradition and the children do the whole tree themselves while I decorate the mantelpiece with the angel paper chains, the string for the cards, and the Advent calendar and candles. The children have perfected the art of spreading the decorations evenly around the tree after the fateful year they put everything on the front (so you can see them all!) and the tree promptly fell over.

What's your favourite Christmas dish?
A huge platter of tiger prawns. Served with rocket, asparagus, avocado and smoked salmon salad.

Favourite Christmas memory as a child?
One year my brother and I received bikes for Christmas. When we got up on Christmas morning there were two envelopes on the tree, attached by string, and containing instructions to follow the string to our presents. We each gathered up our strings, following them along a long convoluted path around the house, over tables, under beds and eventually out into the back garden where the strings wound around trees and bushes. My brother’s string did several particularly spectacular loops around the apricot tree, while mine lay in a tangled pile at the bottom of the tree before continuing on toward the shed. We opened the door to the shed and there were two beautiful shiny yellow bikes. It was a complete and utter surprise, and great fun.

Mum later told the story of how she and my eldest cousin had crept outside in the dark on Christmas Eve to lay the string trails.
My cousin had climbed the apricot tree to mischievously tangle her string around its branches, and Mum had stood at the bottom laughing, forgetting that she was still paying out her string into a huge pile on the ground.

It was the most fun I’ve ever had on a Christmas morning.

When and how did you learn the truth about Father Christmas?
Around the age of nine or ten. I remember the deflated feeling.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Once when I was a child, my brother and I, totally hyped up on Christmas anticipation and fervour, nagged and nagged and pleaded until we drove my mother crazy on Christmas Eve and she eventually allowed us to open one gift, on the condition that she chose them. She handed us each a rectangular box from under the tree, and we opened them to find jigsaw puzzles. They kept us happily occupied for the rest of the day.

I am mean though and don’t allow my boys to open any presents until Christmas morning.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
With lots of glittery stuff collected over the years. Each child gets a new decoration in their stocking each year too, which gets added to the collection. There are lots of homemade decorations too, made from icypole sticks and bits of cardboard. Last year a friend gave me a tiny string of miniature Tibetan prayer flags which adds a bohemian air to proceedings.

Snow! Love it or dread it?
Love it. But it’s totally alien to an Australian Christmas. It’s usually hot hot hot.

I did have a white Christmas in Idaho once, and we spent the afternoon outside making snow angels and hooning around on old tyres tied behind the snowmobiles.

I also had a cold (but not white) Christmas in London as a 21 year old. The decorations in Regent Street were a sight to behold and brought tears to my eyes.

Can you ice skate?
Badly but I can stay upright. However I haven’t skated since I was a teenager. Is the Oakleigh skating rink still in operation?

Do you remember your favourite gift?
Orinoco the womble was pretty special.

What's the most important thing about Christmas for you?
Being with family. Seeing my children’s faces as they give their little homemade gifts to us and the grandparents and each other. Creating traditions for my children that they might take with them into their own lives.

What's your favourite Christmas dessert?
Pud. With vanilla ice cream.

What's your favourite Christmas tradition?
In the lead up to Christmas, I love our Advent tradition. A window of the calendar opened each evening and the candle lit as we read a chapter of Mary’s Little Donkey, and the decorating of the Advent table each Sunday. The Advent Fairy secretly adding little bits and bobs to the table every now and then when she feels like it. Baby Jesus arriving in the cradle on Christmas morning. The three kings appearing on Epiphany, hopefully with a camel this year.

On Christmas Day itself, the children bring their stockings to our bedroom (rule: the sun must be UP) and open them together, all over our bed. My brother and I did the same thing as children. My parents always said when the year arrived that they woke up first and sat up in bed eagerly waiting for us to arrive with our stockings, only to realise we were great big late-sleeping teenagers, was the year she knew we’d grown up.

What tops your tree?
A big dorky gold star.

Which do you prefer: giving or receiving?
Oh, both!

What's your favourite Christmas song?
Once in Royal David’s City, sung by the lone boy soprano who opens the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols performed by the Kings College Choir each year. Makes my spine tingle.

I’m also quite partial to Greensleeves.

As you can see I’m a traditionalist – I like Christmas carols. It annoys me when I hear people say "Oh I hate Christmas carols. If I hear Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer one more time I’ll scream." Ahem. Rudolph and Jingle Bells are Christmas songs, not carols.

The orchestra that Son #1 joined this year is playing at Carols by Candlelight this year on Christmas Eve.* I wonder how many cheesy Christmas songs will be in amongst the carols.

*local, not the big one at The Bowl.

Candy canes?
Yum.

7 December 2006

little blue and green planet

Well the sky is a searing, intense blue, but there ain’t much green around here. The land is tinder-dry and the colour of milky tea. Hot winds send leaves scudding across the bricks outside and the forecast tells us the weekend will be brutal. Forty-five fires are burning out of control in Gippsland and will most likely join up into one terrifying all-engulfing blaze on Saturday. And it’s only the beginning of the fire season.

God help us all.

***********************************

Today over at Educations R Us, I was interviewed for my own job. I was later informed with a grin that I was the only preferred applicant. Thus the ‘Acting’ bit of the Ploicy title will soon be redundant.

However, YESTERDAY (ie. the day before the interview for this job) I saw an advertisement for the job I really really want. I think. Oh dear, I hate complications and secrets.

***********************************

Here. Go read this. It’s a reminder that even though we already recycle and compost and donate and choose green electricity and buy local and grow our own and use energy-efficient light globes and install a rainwater tank and solar hot water and consciously choose less consumerism, we must do more. And we must nag others to do more.

So I just did.

4 December 2006

things making me happy today

green 'fetchings'

Another pair of ‘fetchings’ from Knitty. Heading across the seas this week.

Meeting up with two wonderful bloggers for tea, cake and conversation around a kitchen table.

Sunshine and warmth this morning.

A walk with Mr Soup down the steep cliff of our property in the late afternoon. Exploring, planning, dreaming.

Listening to Hornblower on audio tape in the car.

Blooms on Fair Bianca.

Watching Son #1 busk at two markets over the weekend.

busker extraordinaire

3 December 2006

First Sunday of Advent, 2006

advent candle 1st sunday

I love the build up to Christmas.

On Friday night the children put up the tree and we dug out the basket of Christmas books. The current favourite is Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas Goes on Holiday.

Yesterday we cleared the nature table and set up the Advent candles and calendar on the mantelpiece. (The calendar is on its fourth year I think, and some of the windows need blu-tak to keep them shut until the appropriate day). The grown ups of the house tried in vain to remember where the stable and nativity pieces were put when we moved house during the year. Hopefully the Advent Fairy will remember after a glass or two of cab sav tonight. (If she’s promised a g&t and a night out, she just might get around to making an Advent calendar one day).

Tonight we lit the first candle and sang the song:

Advent, Advent, a candle burns
Advent, Advent, a candle burns
First one, then two, then three, then four
Then stands the Christ child at the door


We read the now rather familiar first chapter of Mary’s Little Donkey to the children. We can almost recite it word for word these days.

The children each chose a stone or shell to place on the nature table (no one mentioned the glaring hole where the stable should be) and we recited the verse for the first week of Advent.

This week’s verse gives thanks to the mineral world.

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



In the past two weeks I’ve had several visitors to my Advent posts from last year, and a few comments requesting information and all the verses. These can be found in last year's archives, here, here, here and here.


A happy first week of Advent to you all.

2 December 2006

weeds

We have a lot of weeds.

weeds and wood

In addition to the obvious ones like blackberry, fennel, boneseed and English ivy, the brochure from the local Council has helped me to identify a few others. For example, around here willows, sweet pittosporum, prunus, hawthorn, gazania and broom are all noxious weeds.

weeds and a fence

In our inner-city garden we had agapanthus, iris, freesias, nasturtiums, arum lilies and honeysuckle, all of which are weeds in this area. Funny how plants I used to grow and enjoy now appear threatening. I tut-tut when I see neighbours growing nasturtiums on purpose. I whistled in amazement when I saw (courtesy of old trashy magazines in the doctor’s waiting room) Princess Mary’s wedding flowers included agapanthus, presumably to make her feel at home in snowy cold Denmark.

quaking grass & web

We are gradually taming the blackberries and ivy, with the assistance of a Council weed removal scheme.

pretend snake

The boys and I have spent two weekends pulling out and chopping up the boneseed.

feathery weed

And every time I set foot outside I pull up a few grasses.

weeds

This week I glanced at the calendar and noticed that we were on Flower Duty for Son #3’s class.

I wonder if the teacher recognised that half the bouquet gathered from my garden was made up of weeds?

28 November 2006

Knitted item of the week

pouch

Son #2's latest creation.

A wee knitted pouch to hold his 'thinking stone' (a gem stone he purchased at the market last week). He has worn this non-stop all week. Under his clothes, under his pyjamas, naked, you name it.

Vital Statistics: 8ply Cleckheaton 'Tapestry'.
Twelve stitches, knitted on two pointy sticks, size unknown. Unswatched.
Cast on one evening, completed the next morning by one ten year-old boy.
Worn with pride.
Contains: a piece of hematite.

27 November 2006

An exchange of goodness

I’ve been a bit slack in showing these earrings which arrived last week. The delightful LK from Gryphon’s Feather Studio sent them to me. Are they not exquisite? (Like all her work). I love and adore these things.

LK earrings

LK spied some red wrist warmers on my blog and professed a liking for them, and so a swap was born. Unfortunately, the first parcel LK sent was broken into by some horrid postal worker and the jewellery stolen. Leaving these little Halloween treats all alone.

halloween treats

Can you believe this generous woman posted a replacement parcel (containing the earrings cunningly taped to a page of a knitting magazine) two days prior to giving birth to her third babe? I am forever grateful. Not to mention impressed.

I hope your littles enjoy their knitted goodies, LK, and I hope you are revelling in post partum Baby Bliss. Thanks again for a lovely swap.

LK's swap

Ah, the goodness of the blogosphere. It’s too good to be true some days.

halloween circles

26 November 2006

Unconscious mutterings

1. Rhyme :: nor reason
2. Substantial :: meal
3. Instant :: gratification
4. Greed :: y pig
5. Brad :: Pitt
6. Season :: ’s greetings
7. Accomplished :: finishing school
8. Invite :: party
9. Sparkle :: twin
10. Rainbow :: cake

You can play too.

23 November 2006

around here lately ...

the secret naughty-guilty feeling of working from home when you place a call to the Chancellor and he doesn’t know that you’re wearing trackie daks and slippers rather than stockings and a skirt;

beautiful earrings arriving in the post, photos to come;

the dog head-butting the window twice in an attempt to get a fly stuck between the glass and flyscreen;

Son #2 leaning down to examine the fly and accidentally head-butting the window too before collapsing on the floor giggling helplessly;

the children asking how many days until 1st December (the day we put the Christmas tree up) (sorry: the day we put up the Christmas tree. Aah that’s better. Pedant);

a solid hour of knitting in the sunshine during my lunch break;

split pea soup and home made bread for dinner last night, leftovers for lunch today;

calculating what time I need to get up to arrive at a meeting in the city at 7.00 am and who the heck wants a meeting at that time there had better be plenty of caffeine available I am not a morning person and am getting anxious about alarm clocks already and who am I kidding I need caffeine NOW just thinking about it;

the tinkling feeling that one day I might just say I'm baking a cake and I'll meet all you Melbourne bloggers (LC and Sooz and Janet and h&b and Helen and Stomper and Poppalina and Laura and Shannon and Di and Nichola and Jorth and GirlPrinter and Penni and Jo and everybody else) on the Oak Lawn in the Bot Gardens go on come I'll bring cake you bring a thermos just come along and let's all meet and lie in the sun;

burning the batch of lunchbox bran and molasses muffins;

the first Sunday of Advent is looming. Dig out the verses and clear the nature table. We need a new stable and the donkey requires a repair job. I never did make camels;

bananas down to $10 per kilo - we’re getting there oh so slowly;

why do I write all this nonsense here?;

Son #1 has his first formal concert this weekend. He has to wear black and white and (I think) a tie. He does not own the latter two items. Off to Savers – don’t find either but do manage to spend $26 on seven bags of assorted wools and yarns (several old ladies must have died last week, something in the water? Must check). I know I will sob throughout the concert – I weep into my knitting every Wednesday evening as I sit in the corner at rehearsal listening to him play (note to self, buy tape for camcorder and try not to cry on it);

The booklist arriving for Son #1’s first year at high school. Things to be purchased over the Christmas holidays – staples including a dictionary, atlas, maths book with cd (shock horror – this is a Steiner school) compass, protractor, pencils, paints, fountain pen and ink cartridges. He’s never had a booklist before. "It’s just like Hogwarts!" he says;

Reading Jane Austen’s Emma for book group. Have seen the film before (Gwyneth, acting with her neck again, why?) and now must see Clueless;

Listening to Girl with a Pearl Earring in the car. Wanting to drive on and on out into the country, lost in Tracy Chevalier’s glorious, elegant description of seventeenth century Holland. Must watch the film again to see what was amended and omitted in the screenplay and to revel in the beautifully lit images;

Don’t forget to vote on Saturday.

22 November 2006

My bonnet is in the wash.*

When it's clean, I bequeath it to Sooz, the only Pollyanna pure soul amongst us.

I read the diary.

And now we shall never speak of it again.

Here. Have a look at some more books.

russian literature & babushka

The collection of Russian literature (and the occasional other Penguin black spine I now notice) from my first unfinished degree twenty years ago. This collection contains some of the world’s most tedious reading (Oblomov) and some of the world’s most fabulous (Crime and Punishment). See how the babushka stands guard? I am so witty, yes?

orange shelf

The orange shelf. Calm, orderly. Orange. Good, interesting literature; a few classics thrown in.

overflow

Starting to look a little overcrowded. Books piled horizontally, hoping a space will miraculously appear.

out of control

Totally out of control. There is just no more room for the books I manage to bring home from the op shops every couple of weeks.

I keep telling myself that once we have a shed, all the stuff in the storage room can go in that, then all my craft supplies can come off the bookshelves in my study and go into the storage room, and the overflow from these bookshelves in the dining room can go in my study.

Like that’s going to happen soon.



*Actually the washing machine broke the day before yesterday and the repair man can’t come until some time next week. At great expense, of course.

Which I guess is my karma.

21 November 2006

Thanks for the sock compliments, but really ...

Oh you are a bad, bad bunch of internets.

Forty seven comments (!), beginning by assuming I have read the diary, then suggesting I edit it with a red pen before returning it, and finally escalating to the suggestion I set up a PayPal account so you can all provide incentives for me to publish it. (Very entrepreneurial, that one).

You deserve to be sent to bed without any supper. Yes, you know who you are.

And instead of diary extracts you get another sunrise picture. Not even of the sunrise, but an interior shot, glowing with wholesome, sunny goodness.

sunrise with bookshelf

That’ll teach you.

Now if you’ll excuse me I going to don my bonnet and take a cloth-covered basket of muffins to the poor.

19 November 2006

purls before whine

behold the sock

And now the whine.

Feel free to click away now. I probably shouldn’t use this forum to bitch about family but hey it’s my blog and I need to vent.

They’re gone.

Who knew two weeks could feel like five? Poor Mr Soup is mortified, as they are his relatives. As he said once or twice out of the corner of his mouth, Now do you see why I left the country as soon as I came of age?

These truly were the Houseguests from Hell. In two long weeks, they didn’t cook a single meal, offer to buy takeaway to give us a break from cooking for them, wash the dishes, empty the dishwasher, contribute a cent towards the groceries, offer to do any housework apart from a bit of ironing on Day Two, or get off their backsides when at the end of a long day at work we would come wearily home, wash last night’s dishes and prepare another meal for us all.

One morning as we were all in the car taking the children to school, me to work and dropping them off at the station so they could go into town (never a please or thank you either), they leaned back in the car window and said "Are you doing any laundry today?" I pointedly looked at my work clothing and said through clenched teeth "No. I will be at work all day. You are welcome to use the machine though." Him: "Oh we’re going to be out all day too."

Right then.

On their penultimate evening with us (which was spent as usual with us sitting in our own lounge room listening to them bicker and whine) (I got a lot of knitting done. See picture), I said "Are we doing anything tomorrow night for your last evening?" thinking this might prompt them to take us out for a (preferably slap up expensive) Thank You Meal. And so we arranged a night out at the local Asian restaurant. No mention of whose treat it would be.

Can you guess what their "gift" to us was (apart from the calendar from the Two Dollar Shoppe, that is)?

They offered to "go halves" on the bill, even though there were four of us (Son #1 was away at camp) and only two of them. Never mind the fact that we all drank water and they drank beer after beer after beer, all of which went on the final bill.

Clench clench clench.

This morning, instead of waking to bickering and overwrought children who, surprise surprise, have picked up on the stress levels around here, I found Son #1 making french toast and the other two sitting quietly knitting.

We all looked at one another. No one said a word. We smiled. I unclenched.

Peace reigns again.

And we are very thankful.

sunrise with large dog


Postscript: She left her personal diary here. Several frantic phone calls have been received by our answering machine.

We are not picking up.

Karma, baby.

17 November 2006

friday procrastination meme

Explain what ended your last relationship?
He went home to New Zealand. Last I heard he was a merchant banker in London. Hmmm.

When was the last time you shaved?
Don't remember.


What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.?
Taking the minutes at a meeting with the Vice Chancellor and Council members.

What were you doing 15 minutes ago?
Reading blogs. Procrastinating about taxes.


Are you any good at math?
Nope.

Your prom night, what do you remember about it?
I was living in America that year so I did go to a prom! My date was Sueeeus' best friend's twin brother.

Do you have any famous ancestors?
Nope.

Have you had to take a loan out for school?
No. The HECS debt just continues to grooowwww ...

Last thing received in the mail?
A postcard from Son #2, which arrived after he returned from camp.

How many different beverages have you had today?
(Beverage! Sooo American! Ha! Trans: drink)
Two.

Do you ever leave messages on people’s answering machine?
Well der.

Who did you lose your CONCERT virginity to?
Billy Joel.

Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach?
No.

What’s the most painful dental procedure you’ve had?
Cleaning.

What is out your back door?
A smallish lawn, then a big drop and a glorious view. Also, about an acre of feral blackberries that we are finally managing to tame.

Any plans for Friday night?
Bed. I was at work at 7.30 this morning and I'm tired.

Do you like what the ocean does to your hair?
Nope.

Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns?
I have no idea what you are talking about.

Have you ever been to a planetarium?
Yes, three times.

Do you re-use towels after you shower?
Yep.

Some things you are excited about?
A cool invitation I received the other day. Playing with the big kids.

What is your favorite flavor of JELL-O?
Jelly? Port wine.

Describe your keychain(s)
Lots of keys and a long piece of fingerknitting done by Son #3.

Where do you keep your change?
In my purse in my bag.

When was the last time you spoke in front of a large group of people?
At the end of last year. I made a speech on behalf of Son #3's class community to say farewell to their beloved teacher who was leaving to have a baby.

What kind of winter coat do you own?
Snot Green Dead Yak.

What was the weather like on your graduation day?
Warm.

Do you sleep with the door to your room open or closed?
Closed.

Pardon my silence ...

... but my mother always told me

If you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything.*

So, I give you this photo.
In which the inside seems to meld with the outside.

And it looks as though I'm pressing the iron to my head.

wip study in the sun

Which just kind of sums it all up, really.


* also:

Peg the socks by the toe
Not with the good scissors
Don't play with matches


and

Houseguests wear out their welcome after three days.

13 November 2006

In which I keep my promise

You've probably all seen this before. It did the email rounds a while back and gave me a giggle.


Systems of Government: a bovine demonstration

Feudalism
You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

Pure Socialism
You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.

Bureaucratic Socialism
You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and as many eggs as the regulations say you should need.

Fascism
You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

Pure Communism
You have two cows. Your neighbours help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

Russian Communism
You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

Dictatorship
You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

Singaporean Democracy
You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment.

Pure Democracy
You have two cows. Your neighbours decide who gets the milk.

Representative Democracy
You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

American Democracy
The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair "Cowgate".

British Democracy
You have two cows. You feed them sheep brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do anything.

Bureaucracy
You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. After that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

Anarchy
You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbours try to kill you and take the cows.

Capitalism
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

Hong Kong Capitalism
You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax deduction for keeping five cows. The milk rights of six cows are transferred via a Panamanian intermediary to a Cayman Islands company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the right to all seven cows' milk back to the listed company. The annual report says that the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Meanwhile, you kill the two cows because the feng shui is bad.

Environmentalism
You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.

Feminism
You have two cows. They legalise their partnership with a handfasting ceremony and adopt a veal calf.

Totalitarianism
You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

Political Correctness
You are associated with (the concept of "ownership" is a symbol of the phallo-centric, war-mongering, intolerant past) two differently-aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender.

Counter Culture
Wow, dude, there's like... these two cows, man. You gotta have some of this milk.

Surrealism
You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

12 November 2006

Sunday Best

Best surprise: Coming home and finding the sister-in-law (who is 63, not 53, but I never got back to fix that typo) has done nearly all of my ironing. Thinking, hmmm, maybe having international guests for two.whole.weeks isn’t so trying after all.

Best sound: Toss up between Son #2 burping the alphabet for his brothers’ edification, and Son #3 singing ‘Morning Has Broken’ at top speed. (Morninghasbrokenlikethefirstmoooorningblackbirdhasspokenlikethefirstbirdpraiseforthesingingpraisefortheetcetcetc …)

Best communication: A note, left on the kitchen bench for me. Dear Suse, would it be possible for you to do our washing today, as we are running out of clothes?

Best op shop find: A set of twelve no. 27 glass Fowlers Vacola preserving jars. I stopped in at FV headquarters at lunchtime the next day and purchased twelve rings and lids, and I am so going to be doing heaps of domestic housewifey bottling this summer.

Best dummy spit: Exhausted and feeling like a freaking domestic slave (see dot point three), overwhelmed with all there is to do while others sit around on holiday, reading books and watching me cook and do laundry, I opened the dishwasher to put the dirty mugs and cups in, (as in, inside, not next to), the door sprang shut on me, grazing my wrist, drawing blood and generally being the proverbial straw, camel, etc. I swore viciously, opened the dishwasher door, slammed it shut as hard as I could for good measure (cracking a glass and plate within), burst into tears and went and sulked childishly in my room. The only people to witness my meltdown were my poor traumatised children.

Best blogging effort: I am not participating in this NaBloPoMo thingie, but you may have noticed that I have actually posted every single day in November thus far. This is because blogging is what is keeping me sane right now. Thank you, internets.

[/rant]

Tomorrow, another recipe.

Or cows.

Watch this space.

11 November 2006

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

170g dates, pitted and chopped
1 tsp bicarb of soda
60g butter
170g castor sugar
2 eggs
170 g SR flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix dates and bicarb. Pour 300ml boiling water over dates and leave to stand.
Cream butter and sugar until pale, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gently fold in flour, stir in date mixture and the vanilla, and pour into a cake tin. Bake at 180 degrees for 30-40 mins until a skewer comes out clean.

Make the sauce:
150g brown sugar
150ml cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
50g butter

Combine everything in a pot and bring to boil, then simmer for 5 mins. Set aside to cool slightly until it's nicely warm, not hot. Discard bean and pour over squares of cake to serve.



No photos. It's all gone.

10 November 2006

Friday meme: works in progress

A slightly different tack for my Friday meme this week.

Jumping on that craft bandwagon, playing with the big kids. Lots of craft bloggers post their WIPs on a Friday – I think Fiona started it …

A pair of slippers. Still to be blocked, otherwise wipped done.
wip slippers

Fingerless gloves for an order; pattern from Knitty. Love that picot cast-off, and the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino is a dream to work with. Still to be popped in the mail, along with a chocolate pair.
wip fetchings

One paper still to be finished started. (Another one is wipped and in, baby).
wip frogs

Socks. I couldn’t help myself.
wip lolly sock

9 November 2006

My son the pre-teen

The scene: In the car, on way to orchestra rehearsal

The cast: Suse, Son #1


(Disclaimer: Please note I hate the word cute. We do this tongue in cheek).

Suse: Oh look, a flock of baby goats! Brown! Cuuute!

Son #1: Hummmph. Yeah.

Suse: Oh look, a rabbit! Black! Cuuuute!

Son #1: Hummmph. Yeah.


Pause. The car rounds a bend and we come upon a lithe, tanned blonde nineteenyear old, complete with pink iPod, jogging. (Effortlessly).


Son #1: Oh look, a jogger! Blonde! Cuuuute!

8 November 2006

Washday

I have admitted elsewhere (no. 46) that I don’t mind doing laundry. I’ve also claimed somewhere in the past that I would never blog about it. (Although I did).

But really, I spend an awful lot of my time at the clothesline. Pegging, unpegging, folding, sorting.
It’s meditation of a sort. A chance to snatch some fresh air and respite from others.

I used to get a warm fuzzy glow from the sight of a clothesline full of fluffy white nappies a-flapping in the sunshine. These days it’s school uniform, and lots of it. Also cricket whites (don’t forget the Sard), muddy socks and Mr Soup’s work clothes.

I still get a sense of satisfaction from a full clothesline. When you leave full time work to be at home with babies and children, your world shrinks. Feelings of achievement come from unexpected angles; small domestic goals met. Pride at feeding and clothing your little family for another day.

My mum has strict rules about the washing.

Socks must be pegged by the toe, so as not to spoil the cuffs.
mum's way of pegging

I hear Mum’s voice as I rebelliously peg my socks from the tops.
rebellious sock pegging

I find I have my own rules about laundry.

Pegs must be wooden.
washday

Either style. Just not plastic.
dolly pegs

And baskets must be wicker.
clean towels

Today’s a Good Drying Day, my mother would say and I hear her voice as I strip the sheets.



(Dame Washalot was one of my favourite characters in The Magic Faraway Tree).

7 November 2006

Community service: Chocolate Anzac Biscuits

Anzac biscuit recipe found here. Replace 1/4 cup of the flour with cocoa powder et voila, you have a chocolate version. Use the second recipe on the website as the first includes coconut which is heresy.

Mind you, I suppose Chocolate Anzac Biscuits would be considered heretical in some quarters.

Horses? What horses?

The house is blissfully quiet.

I am alone.

I sleep late; recovering, rejuvenating. Refreshing.

I could never live by myself. Three days of it is enough to show me that by the end of a week I'd be in my jarmies until three o'clock, eating peas straight from the saucepan and pulling clothes from the unfolded laundry pile on the rare occasions that I needed to leave the house to buy milk.

Maybe I'd just buy a housecow and become a total recluse. Stay home, raise chooks and keep bees.




Today is the day when on the other side of the city, they do this.

I don't miss it a bit.

6 November 2006

multi tasking, seven year old style

have accordian will dance jig

The small boy paused in the midst of the baking of biscuits to play the accordian harmonica* and dance a little jig.


* I was very very tired, alright?

5 November 2006

Hostess duties 101

Of all the housework duties, I generally don’t mind doing the washing.

But hanging out the lacy thong of your 53 year old sister-in-law, whom you met less than 36 hours ago, falls into another realm altogether.

4 November 2006

useful procrastination tools

You can make a batch of lemon cordial, bake a sticky toffee cake, a loaf of bread AND a batch of chocolate Anzac biscuits.

You can scrub the bath and clean the toilet. Empty all the bins and rearrange the pantry jars. Consider the ironing basket.

You can take a wander around the garden, admiring the new spring growth …
spring growth

pull out masses of weed grasses (not forgetting to place them in a black plastic bag in the sun to kill the seeds) …
quaking grass

and stop to admire the good (native) grasses growing in the path …
native grass

and the Valencia orange tree your husband bought you as a late anniversary present.
anniversary guilt

You can make a pocket tissue holder.
tissue holder innards

You can make three. Spring can be a bugger for runny noses.
tissue holders

You can photograph some of these stalling techniques for future reference and then blog about them to prolong the dilly-dallying a tad further.

But eventually you will have to turn around and face the demon. And hereby promise not to go near the party side of the computer until the 3000 words are spewed.