24 November 2012


All of a sudden the end of the year is here. Though there are still more weeks of school, and work, the shift has begun. We've a few functions coming up at our place, including Christmas lunch for our combined families and it's as good a reason as any to get the garden in hand.

That is not long grass, it's weeds. I'm not a keen gardener, and Craig is too busy to really keep our garden under control. Our modus operandi is to have big intermittent attacks on the weeds and then let them reaccumulate. It is not a very effective strategy.

Today I spent nearly five hours pulling weeds. It was 32 degrees and the cricket was on the radio. I don't really care much about cricket, but I like the idea of it. And just as the sound of winter is the distant roar of 'baaaaaaall' from an oval, the sound of summer is the relaxed chatter of the commentators on the radio, and the intermittent 'tonk' of leather on willow. In the summers of my childhood, when I'd come inside from the glare and wait for my eyes to adjust to the dark of the house, the cricket always seemed to always be on the telly, with the sound down and the radio on. 'Who's winning?' I'd ask my brother and he'd explain in frustration that no one was winning, it wasn't that sort of game. Cricket for me then was synonymous with the absolute, unutterable boredom of childhood. Now it speaks of long lazy summer days with nothing to do and nowhere to be.

I didn't especially enjoy all the weeding, but it was very satisfying. There are large piles of weeds dotted about the garden now. By the end I was absolutely filthy. My shoes were full of dirt and my fingernails needed a scrubbing, though I'd worn gloves. It made me realise that I just don't get dirty anymore. Sweaty maybe, but not actually dirty, with dirt, the way you do every day when you're a kid.

20 November 2012

Nina, Maker of Small

It's night so the lights are on. But the back of the house is dark.  We share a delight in the small, Nina and I.

18 November 2012

The Irish

I can't lay claim to any Irish blood.  Plenty of convict blood, but they were all English as far as we know.

busker in Degraves Street

Still, the Irish festival at the immigration museum seemed like a good excuse to train into town with the girls before going out for dumplings (not that we really need an excuse to eat dumplings).  A friend of Ruby's joined us, wearing this awesome vintage dress.

The festival was pleasant but just being in the city was probably more fun for the girls.  Though I work here three days a week, the legal precinct is an unsurprisingly dull part of town.  I am always pleased to be reminded that Melbourne can be a vibrant, diverse place.

My favourite dumpling place isn't open on Sundays so we went to Camy Dumpling House which I used to frequent but haven't visited in years.  The food was alright  - not the best dumplings in Melbourne but you can't really complain when six of us are full to the brim and it costs $36.

The carpark next door has become a too cool for school outdoor bar;

 and Tattersalls Lane seems to be aspiring to become the new Hosier Lane as a centre for street art.

please do NOT leave your bin in front of our back door entrance

I liked the pop art Ned Kellys in particular.  I wish I knew which footballers and cricketers were represented.

Chopper was there too.

Gen, Ruby's friend, was particularly taken with this little girl.  At ten, she is collecting 'cool, meaningful quotes' (her words) to put up in her room.  Did you ever do that?  Remember when your room was the only domain in which to give reign to your personality and decorating style?

In the train on the way home an extremely muscular man was taken with the girls and insisted on giving me $10 to buy them treats.  He told me he was Russian, heading to Federation Square where there was apparently a Russian and Polish festival rivalling the Irish festival.  As he disembarked I noticed the swastika tattoo on his bicep.  I'm giving the $10 to the Jewish Holocaust Centre.

17 November 2012

Works of Grace


 The Playroom

When someone hurts themselves badly in our house, or a tragedy occurs (Lily smashing Ruby's china doll on the floor springs to mind) Grace rushes off and draws a little picture of it. It's like she's some kind of war artist, contracted to record the event as it unfolds. She offers the drawing to her stricken sibling who is rarely grateful for it, in the moment. Somehow these little snapshots of mundane outrages always vanish before I can capture them.

Here are some other recent works, including her rendition of our playroom, when it was still new and I was oohing and ahhing over it. She noticed and drew it for me; 'Because you love it so much Mama.'

16 November 2012

Instructions, and a Rose

Do not open please! You must find the keys.  The silver will help you and the gold will come in use later.  please do not ask us we cannot help. You must do this bit independent. when you open the chest you will use the gold key so please do not open.  You may think this makes NO sense but it does.

Trip up the mountain and back in 33 days.  That's a whole lot of growing.

My blanket, close up of my room (by Harriet)

At first I thought this read 'Respect vs Mice'.  But for mouse loving Nina, that would never make sense.

I often find funny instructions, diagrams, unfinished books and parts of games by Nina. This is the sort of stuff I throw away constantly, but I know that it is also the stuff that will define her in my memory more than, for example, school reports. Evidence of that quirky, interesting mind at work.

15 November 2012

Ruby Tuesday

Drawings of Ruby's I discovered whilst sorting out the playroom this Tuesday. She's been experimenting with different styles of drawing. I like how she always manages to capture a feeling so well - joy, or trepidation or annoyance.

10 November 2012

Little Women

I've never read 'Little Women'. Being one of four girls and having four girls I really should I suppose. I made these little women for Lily's third birthday. The dolls are vaguely inspired by this one from Sooz, and the bedding is vaguely inspired by a similar bed from here. The ribbons I bought in Hong Kong and online from Rose Pomar and the lining is from Heather Ross's 'Far Far Away Ch 2'.

I stitched them over the course of a week watching the Seven Up series that was recently repeated here. Did you watch it? Why we are so interested in the largely mundane lives of a group of strangers I don't know, and yet there is something deeply touching about seeing these people grow up.

Of course I'm watching my girls grow up right in front of me. Sometimes, though, I think it is only when I look back that I can see who they really are.

07 November 2012

Cup Fever

Lily's third birthday coincided with Cup Day this year. Turning three is an overwhelming occasion, not least because for Lily, it was Cup Day in a very literal sense; no more milk in bottles.  It's fair to say Lily was not thrilled by this turn of events.

But there were consolations - stirring the birthday porridge;

Friends and family for lunch;

My now traditional 'decorate in 5 minutes' icecream cake;

A play put on by her sisters, cousins and friends involving a peacock, a peacock trainer, a princess, Alfredo the spy/groundskeeper and a detective;

And at the end of the day, when everyone had gone home and the fuss had died down, there was some good hard play with her sisters. This morning she asked me 'Is it still my birthday just a little bit?'

06 November 2012

The first of the season

We had a barbie in a national park with friends and their daughters. My friend is the sort of person who brings a pot along for the billy (or in this case, small saucepan) tea. Doesn't everything taste better when eaten outdoors?

We found a patch of tiny wild orchids and had our first ocean swim of the season. Despite the warm day the water was bitterly cold, though perhaps I'm going soft. As my father always said, you never regret a swim.