Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Joyeux anniversaire

I am doing no justice to any of the experiences I am having here, but my goodness, I am living.

My French hosts are a philosopher and a historian. My French is terrible, but so far nobody has been rude to me because of it. The blackbirds in the trees this morning were singing 'a sky of honey', just like Katie.

Is there any more beautiful place on earth for a morning run than Jardin du Luxembourg?
I met FJ and B and baby A under the Eiffel Tower and spent the day with them. It is incredible to me to be actually in this city that I know the layout and the landmarks of so well. Here it all is. Here I am.

In the afternoon we bought stinky cheese and Beaujolais and baguettes and pastries and took them back to the Embassy where FJ and Bill are staying, and had ourselves a little feast looking out towards the Tower, before F came home from work and off we went to dinner.

We ate a very spectacular, very French, very expensive meal, with excellent wine (and Ricard to start!), and then because they are wonderful friends - and it was already my birthday at home - B refused to let me pay for any of it.

I cannot quite believe that this time here is mine. I miss and love my boys, and I speak to them every day on FaceTime, but to have these weeks of my own on the other side of the world is kind of a dream come true. It's not a birthday I'm going to forget in a hurry.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Gute Nacht, from Berlin!

I am so freaking exhausted. I have walked for hours and hours, every day since I got to the other side of the world, and it makes me incapable of doing anything like pithy blog posts. Or even blog posts at all.

London was utterly splendid, of course. But that's old news now.

Today I crossed paths with Aung San Suu Kyi. And a squirrel. So that's pretty much untoppable.

The squirrel was faster than Ms Kyi.
Also, I ran 12 km.
Everyone dresses very well here. Many streets are named after women. My high school German is... adequate.

Maybe tomorrow night I will feel less like I have cotton wool (Wattebausch!) for eyeballs?

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Peaks and troughs

I have not posted in so long that I cannot even begin to remember what has been going on. Actually, wait, yes I can:
  • The kid turned 3. We had a party in the park around the corner, which basically involved turning up and putting on some picnic food, and not doing much supervising of the kids on the play equipment. (That's what friends are for.) It was a gorgeous day, and we were there for four hours and everybody came, and the kid got one thousand cool presents and people were completely dazzled by the rabbit cake even though I actually thought it looked a bit crap.
White Rabbit, immortalised in cake
  • My dad left my parents' car running with the keys in the ignition for the whole time they were at the picnic. Good thing nobody nicked it. Shame about the part where my dad is losing his mind.
  • I have gone back to running. For realz. Proper training twice a week, and a regime that includes another run squeezed in on Mondays and creeping out of the house before six for yoga on Tuesday mornings. Registered for the Great Ocean Road 14 km in May. That is one mountainous son of a bitch. I think I can.
  • My pelvic floor is not entirely in agreement.
  • I am going to the UK in, erm, four weeks' time. Work have locked in the Book Fair bizzo, London accommodation is sorted, Paris for my birthday shaping up to be a riotous affair with a pack of school friends, culminating in another school friend's wedding in Poole over Easter. Mama does Europe, sans family. I am going to miss them terribly and also cannot freaking wait.
  • The part where A and I were going to hang out in Florence might not happen. There may be a little more solo time than I am really prepared for.  Probably it will be good for me. There's also a small chance it won't.
  • We almost, almost bought a house. Almost. But then we didn't. Lordy, it was close. (Actually, The Boy did the almost-buying part. I was with the kid at another 3rd birthday party that involved a jumping castle in the back yard and a spectacularly great roving ballon artist.) 
  • Glad our chilled out soiree came before that one.
  • I really, really like where we live. I like walking the kid to childcare. I like the people in our building. I like that the coffee guy waves to the kid as we go past, and that The Boy and the kid rides their bikes around the neighbourhood together.
  • Pretty sure we're not going to be here pretty soon. I'm also not sure that three days a week at childcare is a great situation for the kid.
  • We cut down the ugly trees out the front of the farm house in order to make room for the 'orchard' (one pear, one apple) that I have been pining for forever. (Finally spurred on by my parents' decision to get rid of their deep freeze, where the kid's placenta has been stored for the last three years. Get in the ground, weird frozen organ!)
  • We are looking into bees. The native ones without stings can't cope south of Byron.
  • The kid is pretty into 'Singing in the rain', even when the sun is shining.

  • The sun shines an awful lot these days!
  • An American friend who moved back home realised her Qantas frequent flyer points were about to expire and couldn't get anything posted to an address outside of Australia, so she sent the kid a lego fire station that took The Boy two hours to build and is totally brilliant.
This is not the half of it.
  • My enormous cyst has not resolved itself, and is now filled with something other than fluid. Back to the gynaecologist's tomorrow.
  • I think... I'm pretty sure... I'm almost certain that we are going to be a one-child family. 
  • I think I'm pretty sure I'm fine with that.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Horsing around

I have been sick. Nothing too terrible. An ear/throat/head kind of thing that isn't killing me, exactly, but is making me take advantage of the approximately 13 million sick days I have accumulated. (Nobody needs 20 sick days a year. But I'll fight anyone who tries to take them from me!)

I have done literally nothing besides dozing and looking at crap on the internet and picking tomatoes.

Yesterday's yield
The kid and The Boy did an excellent job of cheering me up on Friday afternoon. I sat on the couch while they re-enacted the dance moves in these two videos:

(Let's not discuss the unsuitability of the Get Lucky lyrics for two-year-olds and feminists.)

Also, what the fuck is this?
Significantly less gruesome-looking here than in reality
I saw it in the shower on Friday morning, and it wasn't there when I wore a dress to work on Wednesday. Given that I basically didn't get out of bed on Thursday, I am a little baffled. Do I have ebola? Late onset haemophilia? Weird.

It's the year of the horse, at last. So long, stupid snake. I did not enjoy you. We spent the morning at the market following the Chinese lion around, and learning some dance moves from a woman with a whole lot of ribbons on sticks to share.

When the core family we bumped into had to bail because twins, they invited us over for dinner. God bless friends with swimming pools. Essential when it's so hot you can't get through the walk home without a quick soaking.
Getting completely drenched means going home completely naked. Ulterior motives from our resident nudist?
New year. New adventures. New attitude as well, I think. Giddy up.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

'Mum! I've got something for you...

...It's something that's alive!'

Well, hello there, Mr Witchetty.
We did not tell him they are edible. It would have gone against the 'Don't bite your friends' policy.

Also, are we hothousing him? I went out with the core mamas for dinner on Saturday night, and when I got up to have breakfast with the kid on Sunday morning, I asked him how his evening with Dad was. 'Pretty dood. We had a dood conbersation about medical conditions.' And then he gave me a pretty passable explanation of epilepsy, diabetes and MS. Excuse me, are you 12 or are you 2?

And thirdly, there is nothing on God's 39 degree earth better than a post-work beach swim. I am not even really sorry that my coaxing to get the kid home on The Boy's timeline was half-hearted this evening. I was on his side. 'Let's stay at the beach forever!'

Thursday, 23 January 2014

2014. I like you already.

The Boy goes back to work next week. I've been back for almost two. Five days is utterly exhausting. Although partly that could be because I'm still living like it's holidays. They're over, but summer has been good. Last night, for instance.

We were here.

Arcade Fire did this to our hearts.
Picking your own raspberries makes it ok to eat a kilo of them in two days.

Farm kitty looks down.

Farm kitty looks up!

Styled by the kid. Having his teenage foot photo period early.

Made some art.

Obligatory water-wall shot.

Tiny fearless zookeeper at a completely over the top 4th birthday.

We have danced to a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band in the living room of a share house. (Kid stole the show. May also have sustained permanent hearing damage.) We have swum and swum and swum. (Kid taught himself the underwater doggy paddle. Goes like a wind-up bath toy, except that he never runs down.) We have farmed and friended and had a lovely holiday at home, while every other bozo clogging up the roads has been down the coast. Brilliant.

Something else brilliant... I'm going to London in April. By. My. Self. Holy jet lag, Batman, I can't wait.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Be brave

I've been thinking a bit about Bunny's tough vs strong question. About the difference between the two concepts, and about why it is that difficult circumstances bring out one or the other of these traits. Tough, to me, is all talk. Bravado. Swagger. This, basically:

But strong is something else entirely. There is no google image search that can show the resolve and determination and resilience that strength is. Strength is on the inside. Strength means living through the shit that my brother and I lived through and not drowning in the psychological rip tide. Strength is living, even when living is the last thing you want to do. My brother is tough. It is not at all certain that he is still living. (Of course, the implication here is that I am strong. Sometimes I think I am. And sometimes I know I'm building walls of tough to keep the world very squarely out.)

Strength is what I want the kid to have. The kid, who's name means 'brave'. Which is something that The Boy's dad used to say to him and his brother when they were little. 'Be brave.' Not 'Be tough'. Not 'Don't cry'. Be brave. Be brave enough to try something you think is scary. Be brave enough to be yourself. Be brave enough to stand up for what is right. I am torn by the knowledge that only way for him to find this strength and bravery is to come up against turmoil and live through it. I can't bear the thought of his warm red heart in pain. I believe in him, though. He is brave.

I hope that in becoming strong, he doesn't get too tough.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Touch wood

Faaark, it's hot. Say it with me, people, 4 days of 44. 

Every fifth front yard festooned with faded sheets draped over tomato bushes and lemon trees. Buckets of water on porches for the birds. No one at the tennis.

We are still ok without air-conditioning. Only just. I walked to a childcare committee meeting last night and found 36 degrees at 8 pm positively cool.

Reminds me of Luxor. Aswan. Those fiery days where my fingers swelled and we drank litres and litres of water, slamming it down icy cold from hotel fridges before the air turned it blood-warm. (Too late, always.)

The trains stopped working this afternoon. People sheltered in the tiled interchange tunnels. Not willing to stand on platforms, iron-hot with the absorbed heat of so many baking days. The staff handed out water. I changed tactics: squeezed onto a Frankston line and got off at South Yarra. Caught a W-class rattler tram down Chaps - the kind that were the only ones on the tracks when I was riding them to school. They used to run with the sliding doors rolled out on both sides on days like these, bottle-green vinyl blinds drawn on the right, and the left wide open to let the breeze through. Probably against the rules now. I don't think they still have blinds.

We are glued to the FireReady app. Willing 'Advice' notifications not to become 'Watch and Act', 'Emergency', 'Too late to leave'. We have cleared and slashed and cut back fuel. We brought in doormats and moved furniture off the verandah before we left last week. There are fires 6, 4, 7 kilometres away. So far, ok. Touch dry, flammable wood.

Stay safe, little farm house

Saturday, 21 December 2013


At last, the heat. Metal bench warm through my dress, even in the shade. Oven on in the cold bunker of our kitchen. Gingerbread and almond bread and panforte. Stupidly hot to be baking. It begins to feel like Christmas.

The last day at work. Boozy lunch. Chocolate piling up as people do the rounds with bags and baskets. Loose ends, untied. Out-of-office on. I walk away, unburdened by unfinished business.

Hanging motley decorations along the mantlepiece. Lifting the kid to poke cards over the ribbon on the picture-rail. Sufjan singing carols. A pine switch in a vase, salvaged from S upstairs. No room for a tree, but one branch, the scent, I'm six years old again.

Farmhouse snug with captive warmth in the cooler evening. I sleep alone, feeling womby. Wake late to sounds of breakfast disco. The black cows fat and shiny. Raking long grass green last week, now cut and yellow, into piles knee-deep. The lunette fills to overflowing twice in as many hours. The air somehow pink. Blue mountains, sagey scrub.
Knobby hands of bottlebrush,

 flowering gums,

 kangaroo grass.

Busy days to come, but right now, peace.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Joie de vivre

I went to D's hen's on Saturday night. In a magical twist of timing, The Boy had a philosophy camp on, so he took the kid down to the coast, with the aim of letting me have a proper sleep-in after my Big Night Out. Which it turns out I needed very much. After meeting for dinner on the river at 5.30, we walked up to the casino and spent two hours in the company of a hundred other women screeching at men taking their shirts on and off. (So not my bag, but most definitely the matron of honour's. Wow, she was having the time of her life. And actually, although the term 'male stripper' fills me with skin-crawling revulsion, these men were pretty funny. It was less strip-show - two bare buttocks in two hours - and more Rock Eisteddfod meets Business Time. Very entertaining, against my better judgement.) Afterwards we had a couple of drinks at one of the bars, and then some life-saving food-court chips, and then somehow it was 9.30 am and we were blinking in the sunshine. For serious. I got in a cab for a two-minute ride to Flinders St with a lovely kid from Upwey because I couldn't work out which direction to walk in from the labyrinth of Southbank, and was on a tram home by 10. The Boy and the kid arrived home precisely three hours later. Hooo-boy, I've still got panda eyes.

We did actually make it outside at one stage, D, her sister, her fiance and I. After the dancing in the poxy nightclub, when all the other girls had the good sense to go home to their beds. I think it was maybe 2.30-ish? They had a hotel room booked in South Melbourne somewhere and we tried to figure out which was the best way there (again with the Southbank labyrinth), before finding ourselves outside casino entry #75 and deciding that one more drink was in order. (I still cannot believe we actually went back in. Aside from this epic 15-hour stint, I have only been there once in my life, when it first opened about 15 years ago, to see a film. It was Jurassic Park 2, and I saw almost none of it because I was too busy making out with a boy.) We talked to an old guy who was a Gallipoli tour guide and only came home once a year to hang out with his mate. They were talking to the kid from Upwey who was there with three of his mates who turned out not to be the utter bogans I had pinned them for (despite the 'Haters be hatin' neck tatts). The casino turns off all booze from 5 till 7, and even that was not enough to call it a night. A motley crew we were, not all that drunk, talking about wool classing and YA fiction and I don't even know what for hours and hours and hours. It was a very good hen's.

I have been married for four years. The Boy swung by the tiny grocer's with the kid on the way home from childcare the other day, but they were out of flowers. They met me at the station and the kid nearly jumped out of his skin with excitement. 'Mum! We bought you a present!' Indeed they had.

Anniversary pineapple
 In a weird coincidence, turns out Hallmark says four years = fruit. Bingo. It was freaking delicious.

We went to the end-of-year party at the kid's childcare place during the week. The kid had his face painted like a lion and someone's mum made balloon animals and the fish and chip shop around the corner fed everyone delicious, delicious grease. There was a graduation ceremony for the older kids going to school next year and it was adorable bedlam. I have no photos.

I have chucked the pee sticks in the bin. They were making me crazy. Baby, no baby, whatever will be, will be. Que sera sera, man.

Thursday, 7 November 2013


The Boy is beavering away, day and night on the PhD. I am working 'five' days a week. In between it all, we are zoo-tripping...

and garden-making and dinner-outing and hammock-lazing...

 and helicopter-flying...

 and milk-drinking...

and rural show-visiting...
Special category: Sponge made by a gentleman
Rural shows are the best. Baby animals and lame-arse circus tricks and steam engines and obscure highland dancing competitions and snake safety and real jam doughnuts.

The pull of a teenager with a pink guitar lead belting out a Katy Perry track was stronger than a shed full of sheep. To the kid, at least.

He has had zero Katy Perry exposure. I only knew that's whose song it was because the girl introduced it so, but man, they've got the earworm formula nailed on that one. I was humming it the next day, and the kid joined in with the 'Roar-ar-ar-ar-ar-oar' bit. (You're welcome.) 'That's the song that lady was singing at the Whittlesea Show!'

Busy days. Happy nights. Blessings counted. And so to the elephant...

Four! babies born to friends in the last two weeks. Another three steadily baking. They make my heart hurt. I am so happy for them and so sad for me. There is nothing wrong with me. Doctor's orders are to screw like crazy and come back in six months. Also to pee on ovulation sticks. Which so far show me resolutely single stripes. There is nothing wrong with me, they say, and yet there clearly fucking is. 

Best to think about the kid tracing shadows on the footpath instead.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Things I did this weekend

  • Yum cha at Red Door with one of the core families and the kid and I. The kid and their E have a killer little bromance going on. They wandered around the restaurant looking at all the antiques holding hands, and held hands again when they went together to the counter to pay the bill. After we had said goodbye and turned to go our separate ways, the kid shouted 'E!' and ran the 15 or so metres back to towards him for a hug.
  • Did the Toy Library and supermarket run in one single-handed epic trip, toddler in tow. (Survived.)
  • Fed orange goop to my dying grandfather with a teaspoon.
  • Kissed him on the forehead when The Boy came to pick me up.
  • Put on a yellow dress and red lipstick and went to a fancy restaurant in the city for dinner. 
  • Caught the last tram home.
  • Slept in until 9. (Which was really only 8 to the clock in my body. You confuse me, daylight savings.)
  • Yoga.
  • Walked beachwards with the kid and The Boy to meet a few of the Usual Suspects from the night before for lunch.
  • Tried to put the kid to bed. He didn't sleep, but I did.
  • Woke up to a message from my mum.
  • Wandered quietly through the evening, cooking dinner, cleaning teeth. 
  • Tried to find the feelings for the death of an old, old man.
  • Got tangled.
  • Didn't cry.
  • Slept.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


The weather is wild here. Four seasons in one hour; five if you count gale-force winds as a separate entity. Which I do, when they're shoving furniture along the balcony and overturning pot-plants.

My head is keeping pace with the elements. I am morose and exhausted one minute and brimming with vitality the next. The balance is shifting, though. I've stopped bleeding. It's getting warmer. I'm getting lighter.

I've been going to an intensive yoga class every morning this week. The alarm goes off at 5.40 and I sneak out of the house as the sun comes up and the rain pours down. There are 8 or 10 of us, quiet and sleepy and stiff and soon we are working and breathing and moving together. It is fucking hard. It is exactly what I need. There are little round bruises on my kneecaps and the tops of my feet. Today is the first day I've been able to walk around without every muscle and some of my bones on fire. Tomorrow is the last one. I don't want it to end.

The Boy has sensed my weirdness. We've been ships in the night. I'm going to bed at 8. He's going out with teachers or philosophers. I don't know what's happening with the PhD, but our house looks great. The car gleams. He gets the kid up and fed and dressed and they're waiting on the doorstep when I swing by, jelly-legged, to collect him.

Next week is back to normal. School holidays are over. Back to house-hunting. Baby-making? Traffic and noise and loads of washing. I'll have to dig myself out of my brain. But not yet. One more day. Night, night possums.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Gif me

There are a great many things very wrong with my world right now.

Having one of the usual suspects capture the gleeful moment in A's living room two hours past the kid's bedtime on Friday night when he finished his impromptu sugar-fuelled nursery rhyme medley and the motley crew of honorary aunts and uncles he had ordered to dance burst into applause is not one of them.


Next up, pictures of our cat in a shopping bag.

Thursday, 12 September 2013


Surgery yesterday. In a dinky little hospital a few minutes from home. Everyone was utterly lovely, and I spent the whole time being called 'lovey' and wrapped in warm blankets. Even the reception woman when I first arrived didn't mind at all that I had no ID and tried to pay with the wrong pin number on my husband's debit card. (Excellent timing it was, to leave my wallet at the farm last weekend.)

I woke up speaking Japanese, which I don't really remember, and which must have been a string of phrases like 'Isn't it a lovely day?' and 'Which way from here is Shinjuku Station?' That, combined with extreme sweating - like, I think the drip in my arm might be leaking fluids, but actually I am lying in a giant, salty puddle of my own making - and the inability to sign my name on being discharged meant that I have been forced to stay in bed again today. Hooray! It is just what I needed. Also, double hooray, the most critical bits of my job are being taken care of by other people, so I won't even have that hideous backlog on my return that comes with time off.

I don't know the results of the investigation, other than a hazy memory of the surgeon saying that everything went fine and that she'd call me today to talk about it. Other hazy memories include finding a carrot cake on the doorstep dropped off by a core mama, and having the kid line up all of his 'friends' to keep me company in the bed. (Stripey cat, Pocket cat, Neko cat, Tiny Spot, puffin, puffin, puffin and Percival Penguin.) (Cute alert: I call the kid 'my best boy' quite a bit. While he was setting up the toys, he had Percival looking after the baby puffins, saying, 'Oh, you're my best penguin.')

The Boy's mum drove the 40 minutes from her place to ours to collect the kid this morning, and The Boy has gone to work. I've got a tough day of dozing with the medicine cat and watching crappy TV ahead of me. Best get cracking.