29 November 2011

Send in the Clown

Luckily we have one available. When I got the fabric I had a skirt in mind which wouldn't have been quite so - loud. Nevertheless, I adore these outrageous pants on this hilarious girl of mine. I followed this excellent tutorial.

27 November 2011

Miss Australia

Ruby's writing journal

Written and illistarted by: Ruby

When I was little I always would go to the backery with mama or darty and bye bread and the lady at the counter was very nice and she would give me a free roll every time, and say "you really are little Miss Australia". Or something like that.

But you see, her boss did not like to give away those lovely rolls so when she served I did not get one.

Now the lady had had good talkings to, and was worried that her boss would fire her. Now mama was pregnent with Nina at the time.

Soon mama had Nina and I wasnt the only one for anything anymore.  Mama and Dada were mine! But they were Ninas as well.  When we went to the boat park Mama and darty played with me!  But they played with Nina as well.  But worst off all, I wasn't the only one who was beautiful Miss Australia anymore, and I wasn't the only one who got a lovely roll.  And she didn't say "now would my little Miss Australia like another little lettuce and chicken roll". She would say "would my 2 little Miss Australias both like another little lettuce and chicken roll."

Any way, she had babys and went to look after them and we didn't get rolls any more and I suppose thats just the consaquense of being so selfish.  But now I'm not 2, now I'm 8 and I'm not selfish over those things anymore.
by Ruby
the End

25 November 2011

Eight Hours

Supreme Court from hot air balloon - photo by Craig

I never liked rollercoasters.  The first time I went on the Big Dipper at Luna Park I thought I was going to die.  I reassured my sister that "God would save us". She found this hilarious and promptly told my other siblings who used it as the family phrase for extreme over-reaction and hideous piety for years after.

I also don't like conflict. Everyone would say that - I suppose no one likes conflict. But I, I am a chronic conflict avoider. I am not the person who speaks up in a restaurant if the service is bad or the food diabolical. I'll likely stew over something rather than bring it up. I'm even more likely to rationalise it so that there is nothing to bring up (I'm totally fine about that appalling transgression of yours, don't mention it).

As I don't like rollercoasters and I don't like conflict, it has frequently given me pause that I have spent more than 15 years as a litigation lawyer, involving, as it does, constant conflict and an upsetting number of highs and lows.

Sometimes I would like to withdraw to a place that is a little more, something,(comfortable?) and a little less something (full on?). So why don't I?

Maybe it's because:
there is intellectual stimulation aplenty;
sometimes it is thrillingly exciting;
there are smart smart smart people to work with;
there are inspiring people;
there is a sense that taking this case or that case is the right thing;
there is a sense that I am helping someone;
there are lovely clients;
there is a certain status to which I am not immune;
there is an easy answer to the question 'what do you do?';
there is decent money;
there is the ego boost of being right and winning;
there is a sense of being at the cutting edge;
there is a lot of being outside my comfort zone;
there is a sense of satisfaction in managing, even way outside my comfort zone;
there is time away from home and the kids;
there is security, familiarity, safety.

But then again there's:
stress that I don't enjoy;
sometimes it is unspeakably boring;
there is a terrible crap feeling when we lose;
there is anxiety about whether I am really any good at this or whether I've just fooled the people around me all these years;
there are sometimes long hours and hard days;
there is a desk and an office that are bland and not creative;
there is a lot of sitting down and a lot of reading and a lot of looking at a computer;
there is nothing tangible as a result of my labour;
there is sometimes nothing that I can do to help, even though I want to;
there is disillusionment with the legal system;
there are not-so-lovely clients;
there is sometimes too much time away from home and the kids;
there is fear of change;
there is fear of the unknown.

Also playing into the mix is my own desire to model something to my daughters, and I'm not exactly sure what that is.  I don't want them to equate a working mother with a grumpy stressed mother which is probably what they see more often that the empowered, enthused, energised-from-her-work mother I aim to be. I think that a mother who does not work outside the home can be an awesome feminist role model to her children. But I am pretty sure that for me, for my family, outside work is right.

Every day I cycle past the monument to the eight hour day outside Trade's Hall.  A golden orb tops the plinth  with "888" and the words Rest, Labour, Recreation, banded around it.  Imagine if we really did eight hours work (whether paid or not) each day. Imagine if we got eight hours sleep each night. Imagine if we each had eight hours to play with in every twenty-four. Imagine if this ideal could be realised for everyone, across the world. It was something worth fighting for, once.

Anyway it's way too late to be up when I've work tomorrow. My theoretical eight hours sleep are constantly eroded by my play on this blog... More thinking to be done on this.

17 November 2011

Taking Care of Business

If your job requires you to wear shirts and suits, eventually you end up with a lot of worn out collars and seats.

My skills are not up to replacing collars on business shirts and when the second saddle wears out on the pants, it's time to give up.  Lucky that a man's shirt yields enough gorgeous fabric for a longish girl's nightie.

I used the button hole placket (is that what it is called?) for the straps.

The back of the shirt became the front of the nightie (with the addition of some box pleats).

And, partly because I liked it, but mostly because I couldn't actually unpick the pocket (it was sewn on with such perfect tiny stitches), I left the pocket on what is now the back of the nightie.  How very deconstructionist of me.

Our smocks are all ex-shirts. I like to think that these shirts are happy to have broken out of their stuffy lives in chambers and court rooms and are living it up amongst the paint and clay.

I usually make a casing at the sleeves for elastic and sometimes for the neck, otherwise I stitch on a bit of velcro.  Although there are the shirt buttons already in place, it's a pain to have to button up smocks.

Even the best suits wear out.

Unpicking the legs and joining the fabric together meant these old pants could become this new skirt.
The fact that I had to stitch pieces together to get enough fabric meant that the seam is not quite centre. But, you know, when it's on a six year old, no one notices and, if they do, I don't care.

This fabric is the softest, loveliest wool.  The photo doesn't do it justice, but it is really gorgeous. I topped it with a piece of double gauze from Japan. The pattern is from here.

15 November 2011

There is power in a Union

I went to the book launch of "The Attitude of Cups" this evening, an anthology of poetry put together by the Melbourne Poet's Union. My sister had a poem in the collection. I like her work: it's evocative, honest and short.

On the way to Collected Works, where the launch was held, I passed a noisy demonstration. A small but vocal group, some dressed as chickens, were marching. They held signs deploring the conditions in which they are employed by a large poultry processing company. They were shouting and I stopped to hear their chant. "Whadda we think's outrageous? Paltry/poultry wages. Whadda we think's disgusting? Union busting".

Unions of poets and poets of unions. We need more of both.

14 November 2011

Check Up

Lily at 3 days old (photo by Ruby)

I went to the maternal health nurse for Lily's two year old check up. Mostly it was guilt that drove me there. We hadn't been since she was 8 months old. I missed Grace's 4 year old check (and Nina's I think....). I have never filled in a baby book, or a memory book for any of them, but they do have their yellow or blue health nurse book, with their weights and heights - except Lil.
By the time she came along, they'd computerised the system at our local branch, and no longer filled out the books.

So I went to the nurse and she weighed and measured her and asked a few questions, questions which, to the new mother, can seem so laden with judgment even when none is intended ("does she eat well?", "how many words does she have", "when are you going to start toilet training?") and I realised something. I actually know what I'm doing.

I know that she could be eating more vegies, and that I let her have a whole Cornetto to herself tonight because everyone else was having one and I knew she'd kick up a fearsome stink if she missed out. I know that, for the fourth time, I weaned a child off the breast and created a bottle addict.  I know that I've only just begun regularly reading to her and singing to her and I often just read whatever book I read last night because it's in the room, and I know that sometimes I don't brush her teeth because I've forgotten and then I can't be bothered dragging her back to the bathroom. I know that I've given her lollipops and let her watch TV with the other girls and transgressed in all sorts of ways that once I would not have countenanced.

And, mostly, I know that all these things really don't matter, and that she will be just fine. She'll get toilet trained at some stage, and she'll talk fluently sometime. She'll read and write and jump and run, most likely, and fight and whinge and bicker and laugh. She'll share reluctantly, and think things are unfair, and she'll get scared of the waves and then get confident again, and she'll sometimes be anxious and sometimes brave. She'll figure out she has it harder than some and easier than most. She'll learn about people and things and confront a different world than the one I know, and she'll make her way, some way or other. And she'll be loved, all her life, she'll be loved.

11 November 2011

At the Arty Party

Nina wanted an 'Arty Party' to celebrate her sixth birthday. For various reasons, not least amongst them a lack of parental organisation, the party didn't occur until, ohh, six months after her birthday.

It was worth the wait. She chose Aussie Homesteads as her theme, eschewing the princess/fairy/treasure box options.

Nine children were taught by the lovely and patient Frida how to roll out their slabs, cut out the walls and assemble their houses. They added their own details - water tanks, a rocking chair, an owl. One boy made Hagrid's cottage, another made a tumble-down ruin with a decrepit person hanging out the window. Lily didn't quite make a house but managed to sit for an hour and a half and roll and cut and play with the clay. Afterwards we had icecream and cake.

It was lovely - a low key, productive, interesting, fun. Much like Nina herself.

06 November 2011

On the Line

I'm pretty sure that if I didn't have kids, I'd never have a clothesline this colourful.

03 November 2011

On picture books

Have you seen this?

I've got a great idea for a children's book. It goes like this:

one day x baby animal was hungry.
x baby animal went up to y grown up animal?
'can I eat your z?'
'no' says y grown up animal, 'baby x's don't eat z'.
so baby x goes to yy grown animal
'can I eat your zz?'
'no' says yy grown animal, 'baby x's don't eat zz'.
so baby x goes to....

the best thing about my idea is that you can slightly adapt it and make heaps more children's books. Like x baby animal could be a duck, or a pig, or almost anything. And instead of being hungry, the baby animal could be lost or lonely or almost anything. And because each page just repeats the same sentences they could be written by almost anyone. And because they are so formulaic they can be illustrated by almost anyone.

Give me a Reckless Ruby or The Tiger who Came to Tea or Fox and I'll read to you all day. Force one of these interchangeable, poorly illustrated and mind-numbing crapola books on me and I'll fall asleep before you, you poor child.

02 November 2011

Questions I was asked today (and some photos)

why do we have two arms?  why not three or four or more?

noughts and crosses in the 21st century

why do people have to be something-handed? why can't we just do everything with both hands?

Lily and Craig at the ice rink

why don't ants seem scared of us, even though they must know that we can kill them?

split point

why don't adults know that war is bad when kids already know that?

pyjamas with parrot

is the Eiffel Tower made of iron or bricks?

what I saw when I turned off the light.

I'm not really interested in questions like "why is the sky blue". Why is the sky blue?