06 November 2015

Rottnest Island

things I loved about Rottnest Island :

  • no cars - the kids could safely ride everywhere.
  • the kids rode everywhere - on their own, with their cousins, in smaller packs.  Even Lily.
  • no one owns Rottnest - everyone is staying in similar fairly basic accommodation, no one has more of a claim on the island than anyone else, no matter how rich or poor they might be.  It lends a very egalitarian air to the place.
  • the beaches are unbelievable.  Really unbelievable.  I'm reminded again why it is really never worthwhile travelling overseas for a beach holiday  -unless you are going for super cheap massages and hair braiding, rather than the actual beaches.  The water was perfectly clear and so clean, the sand so fine and white, the scenery so spectacular and everywhere we went it just seemed to get better.
  • my (extended) family.  We went with my brother and his 4 boys and his amazing wife, Jodi, a local Perth girl who has been going to Rottnest annually since she was a kid.  Jodi is the sort of person who effortlessly plans a week's worth of meals and snacks for 12 people and thinks to pack a decent knife and a cleaning mitt.
  • the weather - perfect 23-25 degree days and cool evenings.
  • walking through the salt lakes, to the lighthouse, down to remote beaches where there was not a soul in sight, listening to podcasts and getting my steps up all in one fell swoop.
  • lino floors. The accommodation is basic and the fact that half the beach was brought inside each day mattered not a damn, when the floors are lino, everyone is wearing sandals and there is  broom that can be used every so often.
  • Lily and Jack making sand balls for hours.
  • the endless hunts up trees, in water, and in dunes, for the frisbee.
  • our proximity to the beach.
  • the way my 14 year old nephew spent hours fishing, rigged up some PVC piping to his bike so he could carry his rods, then filleted and cooked his catch for lunch.
  • the little baby quokkas in their mothers' pouches.  Less appealing was the way they went through your bag at the pub looking for food.
Such a great holiday.

03 November 2015

Tall skinny animals and other things

These were some of the things I made for the fete this year.  I probably made fewer items, but enjoyed making them more and was happier with the outcome than in past years.  Though I quite enjoy the challenge of seeing what has been donated and turning it into something, it's rather nice working with fabric that I really love.

The monkeys, rabbits and rag dolls are mostly fabrics that I bought back from Japan.  All dots and stripes are not equal.

I'm still not over tiny owls and mice in tiny beds.  When I was a kid I did a Saturday morning pottery course for years and years.  I made lots of different things, but I kept returning to dragons again and again, even though I was not otherwise interested in them.  I wasn't into fantasy novels at all (romance all the way) nor was I attracted to other representation of dragons (I had a pig collection).  I just really liked making dragons.  And it seems in my 40's I really like making owls.  And mice.  And possibly now, bats.  We shall see.  I think tiny bats in beds could be quite adorable.

Signs of Spring

I couldn't help thinking of that Michael Leunig cartoon - Awful Aspects of Spring - The new dog digs up the old dog when I was putting up this post. Our dear old Cairn terrier, Pablo went missing one July day last year when our rear roller door malfunctioned and he (presumably) went wandering out. He was microchipped and had a collar, and we weren't too worried for the first few days - he'd gone missing before and had always turned up nearby.

But this time he didn't turn up and after endless calls and visits to the Lost Dogs Home and other animal shelters we slowly started to realise that he wasn't coming back. It was a very sad end to a very long relationship. Craig and I got Pablo and Winnie about 17 years ago when they were just little puppies and we had no children and a tiny courtyard in North Melbourne.  To not be able to say farewell and see him off seemed a bit unfair.  Pablo, by the time he went missing, had lost both his eyes and was mostly deaf, but was still a happy, fairly frisky little fella. At some point around the 15 year mark, he and Winnie had had a major falling out. She'd kicked him out of the communal kennel and exiled him to his own basket. But in the months before he went there appeared to have been rapprochement.  He was allowed back into the kennel, and they shared the basket, and seemed to be settling into a quite old age together.  I can't figure out what could have happened to him.  Surely no one would just keep such an aged and clearly loved beast? And yet there were no reports to the council of dogs killed in our area and its hard to imagine he would have gone terribly far being completely blind.

Anyway, after a suitable period of mourning, we started to talk about the possibility of a new dog.  On the one hand, we weren't sure if now-seventeen-year-old Winnie would cope - she has only 3 teeth left, she's entirely deaf, mostly blind and intermittently incontinent.  On the other, she just keeps on keeping on, despite all of the above.

So - meet Basil.  He's adorable and we love him.  Winnie is not so sure.  He's a bit boisterous and he's twigged to the fact that she can't actually do much beyond make threatening noises.  So he jumps all over her and tries to play and she closes her eyes in resignation.  Poor old Winne.  Dear young Basil.

Dolls in Tins

Little Miss Muffet

The Princess and the Pea

Sleeping Beauty
I find little things in little boxes very appealing.

Sleeping beauty has a mattress and bolster style pillow, the inspiration for which came from a holiday I took with my family when I was fourteen and we were spending a year in England on a teaching exchange.  We rented gite in France - Normandy I think - for a week and the beds all had these weird (to us) bolster type pillows that were terribly glamorous and terribly uncomfortable.

I did make a little felted pea for the Princess, to go under several mattresses, but it didn't make it to the photo.

And I tried to make a tuffet for Miss Muffet but it was just too odd.

30 May 2015

Black and white

emoji rocks for mother's day

grace at the optometrist

nina playing the trumpet

ruby's 12th birthdya party

grace and lily at the underpass

Lil at my work

The kids have played a round robin of colds and flu.  This week was Lil's turn.  The first day she had a temperature and was miserable so I stayed home but the next day she was pretty chirpy so I took her into work with me.  How much did she love my whiteboard!  She's just hit that stage where she wants to write everything all the time.  This says Gols (girls) and, behind her head Bois (boys).  Sweet sweet sweet.

Nina gave up the piano and took up the trumpet.  I maintain that I don't care if they learn music or not, but that if they do they have to practice.  Piano practice with Nina was unbearable, for both of us.  As a child I was also an incredibly grumpy instrument practicer, but was blessed with a much more patient mother.   Nina is not so blessed and in the end it was not worth the insanely ridiculous levels of rage I would experience trying to get her to practice an instrument that she professed not to particularly care for.  The wonderful wonderful thing about the trumpet is that I know NOTHING about it.  I learned piano for about 15 years, but the trumpet I can't even blow.  I don't know how to make the notes and I can't help her, even should she want me to and I think this is a great thing for us both.  Because, however much I try, I am just not the sort of person who can listen to the piano being played without butting in with my ever-so-helpful suggestions and my little carping criticisms.  It's something I especially don't like about myself.  So when she plays the trumpet and calls out 'how did that sound?' I say 'great!' or 'much better', and when she says 'it sounds kind of wheezy' or 'the valves are sticking' I say 'oh dear' and 'remember to ask your teacher about that'.  Oh sweet relief of an absolution of responsibility.

Ruby turned 12. Twelve!  She got her ears pierced.  I took her to a crazy hipster tattoo parlour where her ears were expertly perforated by the most tattooeed and pierced person I have ever seen.  Even his eyelids were tattooed.  He had holes through his nose so you could see daylight from one side to the other.  He was an incredble looking man, with a gentle and professional manner and I would highly recommend getting ears pierced with a needle over a gun.  She has had not the slightest hint of redness, blood, infection or weeping from either ear in 4 weeks.  

Gracie (she wants to be Gracie now) got new glasses.  She wears a kilt with suspenders, a crocheted poncho and runners, like an escapee from the 70's.  Sweet sweet sweet.  Today in the car she asked me what a convertible was.  I remembered coming across that word in Nancy Drew book and never knowing what it was (but surmising it was some sort of car).  I explained and said, why do you ask?  'Well in my book, there's this girl called Nancy and her father gives her a convertible'.  Turns out she is reading Nancy Drew.  Ah the passing of time and all that. 


by Ruby

by Grace

by Nina

by Lily
Over the Easter break Kim got the girls to do a painting on canvas.  Thank god for Kim.  Once I was that mother who got the paints out more or less daily, made playdough weekly, did endless craft projects with the kids, sat them on my knee letting them guide the fabric through the sewing machine, displayed their work in an endless rotation on walls and on this blog.  And I didn't do it out of matyrdom or because I thought I should. I really liked that stuff.  I loved nothing more than hauling all the craft stuff onto the kitchen table and getting all the kids involved in some messy project.  It was my number one way to pass an afternoon.  When other kids came for plays it wasn't unheard of to sew bags or make potato prints, or stick bits of pasta onto cardboard and paint them.

Now it seems all my kid-crafting mojo has left me.  After more than a decade of parenting I just cant be bothered.  Painting seems like a lot of mess and hassle, and then what do we do with the finished products?  The art work on the walls has remained unchanged all year.  The idea of sorting through it fills me with ennui.

Maybe that is just the way it is - we are moving onto a new stage and lingering in the last one isn't so interesting (for me).  Unfair on Lil, who is forced to listen to chapter books when I'm sure the others still got picture books every night at her age, and who doesn't even get to watch half the favourite movies of the others because they've all grown out of them.  Movie nights on the whole are more difficult now - the tastes of a 12 year old and a 5 year old rarely intersect.  Do we just abandon the idea of a family movie and run it over two nights instead - little kids and big kids? I dunno.

I think I peaked too early, went too hard, too fast and left nothing in reserve.  

Easter Break 2015

My camera  - my proper digital SLR camera broke some time ago. I can't even remember when - was it before Christmas?  Actually it didn't break, I dropped it and after that I kept getting an error message.  Google tells me that this is a common problem with this camera and its a relatively easy fix.  I just need to drop it into a camera repair shop but months have passed - maybe even a year - and I haven't done that.  As a result, the only photos I take are on my phone, and I rarely get around to downloading them onto the computer.  So when I do occasionally decide to blog, I use the phone blogger app to put in the photos and then, at some point when I remember, I'll write the content on the actual computer, because I've got to the age where I now have to put my glasses on top of my head to use the keyboard on my phone.

The point of this rather lengthy introduction is to explain why, at the beginning nearly of June, I am writing about Easter.  I actually did put these photos into a post but they didn't upload and next time I visited the blog on the computer, there were no draft posts waiting and it wasn't until I bothered to go back to check the phone that I realised.

Because this blog has become an intermittent sort of journal for me, I feel an obligation to jot down, occasionally, what goes on.  Truthfully, at least part of this is pure guilt that my older girls will have a significant amount of their art work and odds and ends about their interests and lives recorded and, unless I make at least the occasional effort, Lil will have next to none....

So we went to Little Sheoak for Easter - Gracie and Lil wanted to take their old fashioned dresses, and though it was entirely impractical and they were bound to get muddy and dusty I let them, as I knew exactly that they wanted to prance around in the bushes and play orphans and other romantic games wearing them.  I didn't regret it.

We usually see koalas there and I'm always especially keen to show off 'our' koalas to visitng friends It still gives me a thrill to suddenly spy one in the crook of a treee.  Well friends did come and we saw 4 koalas!  It was nearly becoming old - oh there's another one. And another one.  I'm always so happy, though.

The insane kookaburra that dive bombs the windows came back after the first couple of days and this time we had our old dog Winnie with us, who, in her aged confusion, could not figure out how to get back in through the very door she had just exited, and instead would walk round and round the house, whining at the windows.

On Easter sunday we did the Otway Fly zipline.  It was a  considerably longer drive than we had expected, through the very windy Otway roads, with children who tend towards caresickness and some of whom had eaten way too many easter eggs.  Not naming names but let's just say I was very glad to have an old plastic bag handy.

Gracie and Lil spent hours drawing a zoo and then creating animal enclosures out of cushions and blankets and things.

Nina read the Diary of Anne Frank.  I can't even remember what I was reading then, but I just finished A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (oh how I love Anne Tyler) and My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrente which I also loved.

Autumn started slowly, then, just as the leaves turned, we had a hugely windy wet couple of days and they were gone, at least from our vine. It was a bit of a pity, they normally hang round prettily for a few weeks at least.

In other news I moved offices - just to the other side of the floor, but it means I look out west, over the big ferris wheel that is finally up and running in docklands.  Each day the city turns on something new for me  - lots of gorgeous sunsets, sometimes impressive storm fronts, and now that it is getting dark before I leave, the light show on the ferris wheel.  I find myself taking an insane number of photos of the view from my office, most of which look a bit crap.  Also my office window badly needs cleaning. There are these big pylon things in the distance behind the wheel which move about all the time.  I have no idea what they are  - I guess something to do with the docks?  But it's quite a lovely view. I've always been a bit partial to the industrial aesthetic.  For many years Craig and I lived across from the flour mill in North Melbourne that operated 24/7 (except for good Friday - we had so tuned out the constant humming that its absence seemed suddenly eerie).  I liked looking across at the big silos, with the sunset as a backdrop.