28 December 2005

A new chapter

The day after tomorrow, we will move ...

... to here.

new house view

it’s pretty ... uh ... rustic.

new house brick floors

But it will be an adventure.
And a new chapter in our lives.

25 December 2005

Christmas Night



I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Christmas morning

advent xmas morn1

23 December 2005

Show and Tell Friday: Your coat.

Just sneaking in under the wire at 11.50 pm.

I cannot believe I’m showing my coats on a day of Total Fire Ban.
It’s incredibly hot and windy today, with a forecast of 36 celsius or something hideous.

Hence, my coats are displayed hanging on a hook, not on my bod.

coat plum blur

This is now several years old.

I had stopped work to have babies, and needed a coat that could be casual or faintly dressy, for wearing when pushing the pram to the shops (in the days several years ago when I did push a pram around), but capable of scrubbing up when necessary. It has a pleasing hood, and nice blanket stitching around the hem. The downside? It slides off my shoulders as the hood is rather heavy. So, not quite as comfortable as it should be.

coat snot green

This one was an op shop find this year.
It’s vintage, complete with groovy label (Renny of Melbourne it says), and is a wool and mohair blend. I adore it.

One must be very careful what one teams with it however, as the snot green colour tends to wash one out. I have found it works best when wearing it with black skirt/pants, black tights, black boots and black top. I added the $2 black fabric flower for a touch of sophistication. Ha. And because I like black.

Someone at work christened it my dead yak coat.
And the name has stuck.

Show and Tell brought to you by Say La Vee.

22 December 2005

a belated thank you

This arrived ... um, last week ... and I have been very slack in acknowledging it.
I blame Christmas, house-packing and a maternal visit.


Thanks mav, I love it!

a day at the mall, with my mother

Have I mentioned my mother is visiting?

The other day we did the mother-daughter bonding thing by visiting our local mall.

I am not a mall person, much preferring local strip shopping (and there’s one for the Googlers ...) but whenever my mother visits us, she wants to shop (cos heaven knows, they don’t have proper shops in Queensland?), and so I must Brave the Mall. Blech.

(After a Mall Visit I must also de-brief in urgent, horrified whispers to Mr Soup in the privacy of our bedroom later that night.)

So. On this trip to Lowpoint I discovered to my amazement and slight horror that it has expanded by about, ooh, a third. Eighty new shops and a whole new wing have materialised out of nowhere, the new wing being mostly full of hideous, gargantuan warehouse-style shops selling bestseller books or ‘French provincial’ furniture. And calendars featuring fluffy white dogs. Or Audrey Hepburn. (Seriously, there were three different Audrey Hepburn calendars. Now I firmly believe that every girl needs a little Audrey in her life, but ... really. I mean, come on.)

I fled to the more familiar end of the mall, with my mother trailing three steps behind me. This is a new habit of hers, one which I find very tiresome as one is constantly having a conversation over one’s shoulder. I remember Mr Soup’s mother bless-her-little-cotton-socks liked to walk three paces behind us, and it was irritating then. Like having a personal retainer in tow. And now my own mother is doing it? Is this something that kicks in when mothers hit 70? If I slow down to let her catch up, she slows down too. If I stop, she stops. At least she doesn’t bow low when I stop and turn round.

Anyway the familiar end of the mall beckoned. I quickened my pace, ignoring the little panting noises emanating from my mother, and headed for the sanctuary of the ABC Shop and Australian Geographic. And managed to do 80 percent of my Christmas shopping in one fell swoop.

We emerged poorer but full of the Christmas joie de vivre.
I shut my eyes tight as we passed the hideous Build a Bear Workshop, opened them and my nostrils as we passed the divine Dusk, and against my better judgement, fell into Starbucks for refreshment. And oh lordy, don’t get me started, that is a whole other post.

Suffice to say that I was so rattled by the Starbucks experience that I had to buy a calendar featuring Audrey Hepburn and fluffy white dogs to restore my equilibrium.

21 December 2005

Jacaranda blossom

Melbourne in December ...




20 December 2005

I'm it

A little bird tagged me, last week.
I am finally getting around to answering.

She wants my five weird habits, bearing in mind that habits are different from quirks.

Here goes ...

• I run my fingers through my hair obsessively, more and more, harder and harder, until I’m pulling it and I realise my scalp is hurting and it’s time to stop. Why? I have no idea. I think it’s a nervy thing.

• This one is for my American sister D (hey, have just realised D, is that you who made the anonymous "D" comments on my advent posts?!!) ... when eating Doritos, I check both sides of the corn chip to see which has the most cheese flavouring, then eat the chip that side down, so the more highly flavoured side meets my tongue. And every single time I do it, I think of you, D. And smile to myself. Recently I spotted Son #2 doing it.

• I never walk on the cracks, ever. The crocodiles might get me.

• Ditto hanging any limb over the side of the bed. Never ever.
I can work myself up into quite a panic in the wee small hours over this.
(Yes, I am 41 years of age. Pathetic, isn't it?)

• I am strangely addicted to this machine called an iMac, and all the things it allows me to do, experience, read, write, laugh at, commune with, and cry over.

I'm not tagging anyone at this crazy time of year, and I feel awkward tagging people anyway, but if anyone wishes to do this meme, leave me a note in the comments so I can come read your answers.

18 December 2005

Fourth Sunday of Advent

advent table week3a

advent candles #3

Tonight we will light the fourth candle and give thanks for the kingdom of mankind.

And say the verse ...

The fourth light of Advent,
It is the light of man.
The light of love, the light of thought,
To give and understand.

The Advent Fairy will bring a shepherd some time tonight, and later in the week Joseph and Mary will appear, and gradually make their way to the stable.

Someone asked whether I made these advent verses up. I did reply in the comments but I’m aware that it is unlikely that person will visit the comments section twice, so will answer again here.

Our advent tradition is Waldorf/Steiner inspired, with one or two touches that we have adapted for our family. The verses were found on a website several years ago, which now seems to have disappeared. It was called QuolKids (Quality of Life for Kids) and one of the two women who maintained the site was a Steiner teacher.

We have found that celebrating advent this way has helped to counteract the overwhelming materialist, consumerist nature of Christmas in our modern society, helping our children (and us!) remember the spiritual nature of this season. I also like the way it honours nature and the universe.

16 December 2005


Son #2’s class play was last week.

I managed to recycle last year’s costume, which was a sort of robe-type thing made out of an old white sheet with a woollen belt round his middle. He was The Little Sage on the Mountain in that play, which incidentally, filled him with anxiety when he first was allotted his role.

Oh Mummy, I’m playing a herb!

I made him a garland of sage leaves to go with the costume that year.
A witty touch, I thought.
And it looked cherubic, uh I mean ... wise and sage-like, with his long blonde hair.

Anyway this year’s play was a biblical story.
The story of Moses.
Son #2 played Aaron, Moses’ brother.
He got to bang a stick on the floor and shout Let my people go!
Seven times.

He also played his violin, quite beautifully, in the scene where the Pharoah of Egypt ponders the Israelites’ future.

I managed to re-use the sage costume by dipping it in tea until it turned a pleasing shade of beige, and sewing him a cloak from an old chenille bedspread.

He will use the cloak this summer as a pool and beach robe too.

Cos it’s fun to embarrass one’s small children sometimes.

cloak front

cloak close

cloak back

14 December 2005

another random post

Random stuff

• It feels so good to get two inches chopped off my hair
• Packing sucks
• So does moving house
• Why are they bothering to make Mentos in grape flavour? They don’t taste remotely like any grape I have ever ingested. Stick to the spearmint and peppermint, Mentos people.
• The queues at the post office are getting very long
• I am enjoying Creature Comforts. I think Nick Park must be the most brilliant man currently on the planet (after Paul Kelly and Elvis Costello, that is)
• My new keyboard inserts the letter ‘l’ at the end of every sentencel. Annoyingl.
• My children have invented an imaginary friend called Jake. He can be relied upon to take the blame for all sorts of things. Late at night when they should all be asleep, I can hear whispers and giggles as they recount Jake’s latest exploits to each other.
• Children come home from school camp dirty, bruised and exhausted, but very very happy. Despite bursting into tears when the bus departs, leaving a mother with the final image of a teacher consoling a weeping child, burnt into her retina for three long days.

• Extract from Son #1’s latest assignment, which was to create three scenes from a play about an ancient Greek myth. (He chose Jason and the Argonauts):

Jason: Pelias, now that you are old, I think I should take your place as king, seeing I am rightful king after you murdered my father.
Pelias: (thinks for a moment). You are right. Okay.

Later ...

Jason: Hey Orpheus, would you and your lyre like to be argonauts?
Orpheus: Yeah, okay.

(They walk around the village square and at the end they have a whole crew).


13 December 2005

self portrait tuesday: reflections


More self portrait Tuesday folk here

11 December 2005

Third Sunday of Advent


Tonight on the third Sunday of Advent we give thanks for the animal kingdom.

We will light three candles, the children will each choose a toy animal from their collection (preferably associated with Christmas, although last year a giraffe was spotted lurking at the rear of the stable) to add to the scene and we will say the verse:

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 in the first week …

and what it looks like this morning.

During this coming week the Advent Fairy will visit once or twice and bring another cow or chook. Later in the week two sheep will appear, just ahead of the shepherd who arrives the following week.

Verses for the first and second weeks of Advent here and here.

8 December 2005

Warning: sparse posting ahead

My mother has come* to take me to task.

But I'll be back by Christmas.

* All the way from Queensland, for two weeks.
Blogging will be spasmodic while we do the mother-daughter thing.

6 December 2005

Self Portrait Tuesday: reflections

self portrait tuesday: reflection

reflections of a domestic day
hanging out the washing
dawdling with the dog

Other self portrait Tuesday folk here

5 December 2005

A Sunday Outing

Have you ever noticed how on weekends, the only people who use public transport are … well …um … just different from weekday commuters?

On Sunday, Son #2 and I had to venture into the city for something, and as we had time to spare, decided against the train journey which is a mere boring three stops (inner city living at its best), and instead took the picturesque meandering tram-ride into the city.

Let me tell you about our fellow passengers.

Couple No. 1: American tourists.
Interestingly, they were not attired in the usual matching sporting outfits that always make me giggle. (Come to Melbourne, Australia, and run! Around our beautiful city streets! Or just look like you’re about to break into a sweat! Whatever,you fitness freaks, you.)
No, instead they were dressed as though they were about to climb to Annapurna Base Camp. Huge enormous clunky hiking boots, thick socks, shorts (cos it is summer here, after all), gortex jackets and state of the art backpacks. Maps in hand. Loud voices.

They looked around at their fellow travellers and instantly and correctly appraised me as the only person likely to be able to assist them, and asked me at which stop they needed to alight in order to visit the museum. (The one that is indoors. With smooth, rock-free surfaces to stroll about in. And a gifte shoppe to browse in after your ascent … er, stroll. No crampons needed, really, we are civilised here.) (I was sooo tempted, sooo very very tempted to tell them about the cram … oh no never mind, it’s rude and I didn’t). (Cos we are polite here, as well as civilised).

Couple No. 2: Japanese tourists.
The woman in high heels and tiny handbag, the man wearing Smart Casual, a look that can be troublesome to pull off successfully. I am pleased to report he did (pull it off with some aplomb). They were quiet, incredibly polite, and they giggled and pointed at my blonde child and made Isn’t that blonde Australian sproglet so cute and adorable and blonde? noises. And they took an awful lot of photographs. Of each other.

They looked around at their fellow passengers and decided that I was the one most qualified to take a photograph of them. (They must know that I have a blog! And that I specialise in dorky photographs!) And with much bowing and hand gesturing, they oh so politely requested that I do so. And with more bowing, they thanked me. Oh so politely. With a few giggles. And a few Stupid Australian woman, talk about technically dyslexic, can’t even work out the buttons on our state of the art whizz-bang digital camera type of noises.

Couple No. 3: Australian loonies.
Because the only people on public transport on the weekends are tourists and loonies. Oh yeah, and me.
She had wild hair and a torn skirt. Muttered a lot. He had a large collection of sandpaper with him. He proceeded to work his way through his not unimpressive collection, rasping and rubbing each piece to … what? Rate them in terms of rasp satisfaction? I know not.

They looked around at their fellow passengers and agreed that I was the one most eminently suitable to sit next to and ...

Son # 2 and I looked around, and decided …

This is our stop!

4 December 2005

Second Sunday of Advent


On the second Sunday of Advent we give thanks for the plant kingdom. Two candles are lit, the children each choose a pretty seedpod, leaf or flower to place 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.

Verse for the first Sunday of Advent here.

PS. Last week I said we put the candles on the advent table, but we ended up putting them on the mantlepiece this year. The stable arrived courtesy of the Advent Fairy this week, and it takes up far too much room. And yes, that's a picture from last week. It's still morning here, we don't light the second candle until tonight.

PPS. The funny story about Son #1 and the Advent Fairy. For your entertainment.

Son #1 is nearly twelve years old now. We keep our children as innocent as possible, for as long as possible. A couple of years ago he started saying that other children in his class didn’t believe in Father Christmas, said it’s your parents who buy all the presents, etc. I always sidestepped the question by asking him what he thought, and he used to say he felt sorry for them that they didn’t believe. Good, I thought. My babe is still wee and innocent.

So. Last year, when he was nearly eleven, he asked me again. But this time he asked me in private, out of earshot of his younger brothers, when it was just us, and I knew he was ready and was, in fact asking for, the truth. So I took a deep breath, and told him all over again of the story of Saint Nicholas, the bishop from long ago who gave presents to the children. And I told him how ‘Santa Claus’ is a phonetic derivative of ‘Saint Nicholas’. I told him the truth about Father Christmas, that no, he is not real, but I explained that he is kind of keeping the spirit of Saint Nicholas alive.

His eyes teared up, but he took it well, and I was relieved and saddened at the same time. It felt like a huge milestone in his childhood.

The next day, he came to me during one of those mad evening moments, when you are trying to cook dinner, supervise two smaller children in the bath, answer the phone and clean the lunchboxes ready for the next day. And he said, "Mummy, you know how Father Christmas is keeping the spirit of Saint Nicholas alive? Well, what about the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny? What are they keeping the spirit alive? Um, of?"

And I carelessly said "What, them? Um, nothing. They’re not real, sweetheart. Are you two OUT OF THE BATH YET? Oh damn, the potatoes are burning!"

As he gulped and the tears welled, and I thought Oh shit, you bad, bad mother.

Two days later. He comes to me again. Shaky, voice trembling. "Mummy? Um. You know how Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy aren’t real? (tiny voice)… What, um, what about … the Advent Fairy?"

I took one swift look at my babe. The babe who had grown up so very much in the last three days, and I realised in a nanosecond that he just couldn’t take any more.

And I said "Oh god, child! The Advent Fairy?! Of COURSE she’s real. LORD, yes!"

The relief on his face. Oh god, the sweet relief.

And I thought Thank heavens. I got it right. Ok. Good mother.

3 December 2005

Show and Tell: Car

Show and Tell theme: your car.

So. Here are two of the most boring pictures seen yet on my blog.

The 13 year old My-Owner-Is-A-Housewife green stationwagon,

and Mr Soup’s sexy work ute that I love to drive (see 100 Things About Me).

My fantasy car is a Volkswagon Karmen Ghia 1964, in pearly white. This is not going to happen as long as I have to cart around three children and a dog.

My car is not interesting, so although I’ve shown it to you, I will tell you about another car from long ago. The olden days, as the little croutons call it. When I first met Mr Soup, we had a whirlwind romance on a mountain top (see 100 Things About Me, again) and six weeks later, bought a beautiful twenty-year-old aqua-blue Triumph 2000, for $2000 and set off for a 3 month trip around Australia. As you do with a man you have only known for six weeks. As you do when you have one arm in plaster. (My mother was horrified.)

The car was a champion, and he was so upright, thoroughly decent and English, that we named him Roger. He looked fabulous against the shocking red sand of the desert. We have many photographs of Roger in the Outback, Roger at Uluru at sunset, Roger in tropical north Queensland, Mr Soup eating breakfast perched on Roger’s bonnet. It was on this trip, our honeymoon of sorts, that Mr Soup christened me Pea, and I returned the compliment by calling him The Soup.

Anyway, back to the car. We miss Roger. He came to a sticky end one day back in Melbourne a couple of years later when a Mercedes rear-ended him at a traffic light in suburban Malvern. He was taken away for organ donation and lives on in other elderly Triumphs around town. We hope.

Sometimes, as I drive around in my current boring stationwagon, I glance back and see with a kind of shock that there are three children, a dog, several schoolbags and a couple of violins in there with me, and I remember I’m a suburban housewife and mother.

But all I have to do is put on Midnight Oil’s Beds are Burning, and I am transported back to those days, hurtling along the red desert roads with the new man in my life, in an aqua-blue gentleman named Roger.

And all is right with the world.

Rest in Peace

I was too upset to post last night.

I don’t usually get into politics in my blog, but hey it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to. Yesterday, a young Melbourne man, who did a bad thing for a good reason, was executed in Singapore. Despite the pleas of the Premier, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister and so on. Despite the fact that Singapore is a first world country, and despite the fact that the death penalty is a clear breach of international human rights law.

Vigils were held, candles were lit, prayers were said. And the young man died.

Rest in peace, Van.

1 December 2005

it's not all a bed of [David Austin] roses

Thanks to some comments recently concerning how beautiful I am (fibs from a rather loyal friend), and what a stunning parent and housekeeper I am (ha, you should see this place today) I realised that it is extraordinarily easy to make one's life sound idyllic on one's blog. [With the exception of yesterday's post, which I suspect lost me some regular readers. But perhaps gained me a new one or two?]

Anyway if not idyllic, then at least filled with freshly baked muffins, roses, regular cultural visits to orchestras and galleries, opera clothes and amazing artworks, all accompanied by the sounds of delightful and talented (not to mention stunningly beautiful) children playing harmoniously together in the background while one hums the odd Handel aria. In tune.

This slightly warped representation of life happens without my really meaning it to. After all, who wants to write about (or photograph) the dead flowers in the vase, dustbunnies on the floor, obstreperous children whacking each other over the head because "he did it first", laundry and the weather? Not me.

So, in case anyone was foolishly under the impression that they should live vicariously through me, (because I sooo do this myself via others ... hi Jane! Hi!!), I hereby present to you the seedier side of life Chez Soup lately.

• the geriatric cat crapped on the front verandah immediately prior to an Open for Inspection. I trust you all know how vile cat poo is
• remember these curtains? How they drape richly and billow voluptuously over the floor at the bottom? Um, that's because they still have raw, unhemmed bottoms. I fervently hope that none of the prospective buyers viewing our home touched them and uncovered my shameful secret. I will get around to hemming them before the new owners move in. Honest.
• we had a cold snap, the heating clicked on, and I paid for my sins
• in a moment of weakness, I did the non-Steiner/Waldorf thing and let the children watch a (carefully chosen) video
• immediately following the video, they went feral, irrefutably proving once again that tv is evil and they should never ever watch it again until they turn 18
• dying lilies drop yellow pollen. This stains pale coloured carpet
• a cockroach ran across the kitchen floor this morning. Unlike those tropical, damp northern cities, we, in the southern Australian city, are not used to this. And so we find it disgusting and alien and we tend to shriek like fishwives. (Apologies to any readers who are married to fishhusbands.)
• I am wearing tracksuit pants, a misshapen brown cardigan, hand-knitted slippers and a flowery apron right this minute
• I am very tired and my head aches
• I spent a lot of last month crying. I think I had some sort of meltdown
• I just noticed Son #3's snot on my shoulder, which I believe eventuated from the "he did it first" incident (see above)
• the snails ate all my basil seedlings
• this really really pisses me off
• I have dear friends who live in faraway countries. I have no money for airfares
• thanks to Son #3 creeping into my bed during a nightmare and snuggling oh so close, as is his wont, I am now sleep deprived and cranky
• I have come to the sad middle-aged realisation that my cello and I will never be part of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
• ditto the Chorale (minus the cello. Obviously)
• I have split ends
• I am becoming very used to a regular, nightly glass of wine. Or two. Sometimes I think this shows in my blog (pics of the dog’s bottom and so on). And so, from now on? More pretty pictures, less crap. Okay?

Note to self: check diary. May be premenstrual?

30 November 2005

the power of invisibility

Amazing how quickly one finds one’s own little corner of cyberspace, and one’s own particular, eclectic little community.

In the six short months that I have been blogging, I have made some amazing friends.
There are many fellow bloggers with whom I would like to …

Clack some knitting needles and share a cuppa
Sit under an archway and gaze at a beautiful lake
Go househunting and stroke their baby’s plump cheek
Gaze at the swans on the Thames, g & t and knitting in hand
Talk about our choice of children’s schooling
Cycle along the Embankment
Stroke their embroidery (I said embroidery)
Cuddle their newborn and hand a bag of frozen peas to
Share a pinot and a laugh.

But there’s one who’s different.

We met at the airport. And became firm friends, fast.
And gradually, something more.

We are smitten.

We have made each other laugh and spray coffee (her) and tea (me) over our keyboards.
We have made each other cry.

And to our husbands’ and our own vast amusement, we have declared ourselves to be

Platonic Internet Lesbian Lovers.

Yesterday, she came out!
And so, I too, must gingerly open the door.

She reckons if I hear her, it will be over.
The illusion shattered.

But I know that if she sees me, it will all be off.

Ah, the power of invisibility.

29 November 2005

a joke and a self portrait

And now I will leave you with a joke I heard today. I don’t usually tell jokes, but this one tickled me, and besides, I’ve had a glass of wine tonight.

So here it is, for the two of you who will actually get it.

How many Steiner (Waldorf) teachers does it take to change a light bulb?
(One to light the candle, one to say the verse, one to investigate Steiner’s indications to see if really, natural light is better for the children, one to change the bulb anyway and one to lead the closing song.)

(Apparently there’s a whole series of them, including:
How many Steiner students does it take to change a light bulb?
None. That doesn’t enter the curriculum until the higher grades.)

Note: Yes, my children go to a Steiner school. Yes, I can still laugh about it.

Sensible self portrait tuesday post further down.

self portrait tuesday: exploration of identity



Other self portrait tuesday folk here.

27 November 2005

first Sunday of Advent

In an effort to counteract the relentlessly consumerist nature of Christmas these days, here in the House of Soup we have tried to bring back a focus on Advent and the nativity story over the past few years. Celebrating Advent is a lovely way to bring the gentle message of Christmas into our home and in a very short time it has become an eagerly awaited tradition.

We clear our nature table of its assorted seasonal paraphernalia such as leaves, birds nests, odd bits of Lego and assorted found objects. We lay a fresh cloth and arrange four candles. The beloved calendar is dug out of the special Christmas box, and all the little windows closed, with Blu-tak if necessary. (It’s a few years old now).

On the first Sunday of Advent we give thanks to the mineral world. The first candle is lit and each child places a special shell, stone or crystal of their choice on the table. (Last year Son #2 found a tiny bird skull ... ewww). And we say the first verse ...

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

Each Sunday leading up to Christmas we pause in respect for the various kingdoms, mineral, plant, animal and human, that combine to make up our world. And each week a new candle is lit, which stays burning while we read the children a chapter of their bedtime story. Which, in December, by popular demand, is usually The Little Donkey. Happily, it has 24 chapters! By the fourth week, all four candles are burning every night. On Christmas Eve, a special red candle mysteriously appears to join the others.

Every couple of days during this month the children wake to discover that the Advent Fairy has placed something from the appropriate kingdom on the table. So in the first week, the stable and sometimes a little stone path materialise, depending on the time and energy available to the Advent Fairy. (The stable used to be two fat sticks and a bark roof balanced precariously on top, until last Christmas when my father, who was hanging round the kitchen getting underfoot, was given the task of creating a new one. A more stable stable, hahahaha. He took this task very seriously and Mary and Joseph now reside in five star luxury at our place).

The second week some little plants appear; in the third week the odd sheep, chicken and cow arrive, as befits a pastoral stable scene. In the final week a shepherd arrives to muster the sheep into the stable, and towards the last couple of days, Mary, Joseph and a rather dodgy looking donkey appear. As the week progresses, they gradually approach the stable and by Christmas Eve they have arrived.

I am delighted to say that on Christmas morning, in addition to waking hellishly early to see whether Father Christmas ate his treat (mince pie) and the reindeer ate their food (oats and glitter) and what presents have been left under the tree, our children go straight to the advent table to see if baby Jesus is in the manger. (He always has been so far. The Advent Fairy has never been too drunk to remember her duty on this special night).

Note: if anyone notices the time stamp on this post and thinks to themselves, what the heck is she doing posting at 4.00 am? The answer is because I woke in the wee small hours with the sudden realisation that tonight is the first Sunday of Advent and I have not purchased this year’s candles. That and the growing horror that I splashed my children’s underwear all over the internet, have kept me from sleep. So what to do? Get up and blog, of course.

Oh, I also have a funny story concerning Son #1 and the Advent Fairy. Remind to tell you one day.

25 November 2005

Friday Show and Tell: special

She wants something special.

colour laundry

But sometimes the littlest things are special.

Even children’s knickers hanging on the line.

24 November 2005

the importance of women friends

The other day my good friend L and I took some time out, to improve our minds.

(As you do.)

I paused in my undergraduate studies and the fenging of the shui of my house (this was the day before the sale), while she took a break from her Masters studies and her high-powered consultancy business, (can you see how my friends make me feel inadequate sometimes?) and we set off for the Ian Potter Gallery at Fed. Square.

To see a Margaret Preston exhibition!

L knew all about this particular artist, while I knew nothing (being inadequate, and such) so she gave a running commentary and I slipped my arm through hers and gazed appreciatively at the beautiful paintings and lino cuts as we wandered around.

And we talked and laughed and soaked up each other’s presence, as women friends do. I also admired her shoes. Because we are sometimes shallow like that as well. Well, I am.

But we talked, among many other things, about the importance of having female friends in one’s life. Because the energy and nourishment you receive from other women is so different from that which comes from the menfolk in your life. A best friend can inspire you, mentor you, support you, challenge you and yet make you feel cherished and needed at the same time.

And we decided that life would be perfect if each woman could have her male partner (if she wanted to, that is, and we decided that yes we did) and also have her own special female partner for that emotional nurturing that women give each other. A cosy little threesome! Perfect!

One of the paintings we saw was titled ‘Thea Proctor’s Tea Party’. It was a vibrant, colourful painting of a vase of flowers and a table set for afternoon tea. L explained that Thea Proctor was another artist, and we imagined these two talented women, nearly one hundred years ago, talking and laughing and soaking up each other’s presence over tea and cake. (It was at this point we decided it was time for some lunch.)

Then we went downstairs to the gift shop and bought presents for the special women friends in our lives.

Thea Proctor's Tea Party

23 November 2005

op shop delights

My sewing machine has been packed away for a couple of months now, and I haven’t done much knitting either lately. So, no pictures of things I have made are currently available.

Instead, I will show you pictures of things I have purchased lately.
From the op shop.
I love it how you go in looking for, say, new trousers for Son #1 because he’s gone through the knees of every pair, and come out with

... vintage pillow cases ...


... a satchel in perfect nick. Just like the one I had when I was five years old. This one is now Son #3’s school bag ...


… and some gorgeous old books, complete with dustjackets.

old books

I also found two long black wool skirts, one Country Road one, and one with a fringe round the bottom! Very pleasing.

22 November 2005

a pretty picture and some words to match


And I
want to walk with you,
on a cloudy day.
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high …

- Norah Jones

21 November 2005

handy household tips

Things I have learnt from selling my house.

(Some household tips for the benefit of anyone contemplating selling their house. Because I have picked up quite a bit during the last month of keeping my house in a Martha-Stewart-Vogue-Zen-like state.)

• fresh flowers really do make a difference, both to the house, and to your mood. Especially if you can coordinate them to your name. My house is filled with lilies (purchased) and roses (homegrown), and I only realised yesterday the accidental significance of this. Because my name is Hebrew for a lily or a rose! (Apparently.) How clever and witty of me to do this, oh yes.
• it is important to make the beds the mother way very beautifully, not the boy way just pull the quilt up roughly
• the fridge/dishwasher/oven/washing machine make very convenient places to stash the newspapers and that stack of filing that usually lives on the end of the kitchen bench
• that list stuck on your fridge? The one that says Put chair in front of dodgy skirting board, and Fix gouge in wall, and Scrape cat poo off verandah? Make sure you REMOVE it prior to the first Open for Inspection
• when preparing for an Open for Inspection, if you live with another adult and three small children, work them like dogs until half an hour prior to the Open. Then MAKE THEM ALL LEAVE so you can do the last minute things without having to screech "Don't sit on that couch, the cushions have just been plumped!" and "Don't touch that fruitbowl, the fruit has been carefully arranged just so. I don't care how hungry you are. The pineapple is not for eating! Away, child!" Because screeching raises one's blood pressure. And doesn't sound good to those earlybird prospective purchasers who are milling around outside waiting for you to leave and the house to be opened up
• as you back out of each room during a final check and notice odd bits of fluff or dead flies on the carpet that were not present when you vacuumed a mere fifteen minutes earlier, drop them down the heating duct. They won't reappear until next winter when the heating comes on. And with a bit of luck if the house has sold, you won't be there to experience it.
• check the bathroom floor religiously. Small boys sometimes have trouble aiming and you can guarantee that one of them visited the loo after you mopped
• soothing classical music camouflages the sounds of the psychotic neighbours over the back fence dismembering one another slowly with a butterknife having one of their tiffs
• go back and check those beds again. Someone will have bounced.
• remember to remove newspaper and filing from dishwasher/oven/washing machine prior to use the next day


20 November 2005

100 Things About Me

I did it. In one hit! Okay, here goes.

1. I was born in London
2. I have lived in Australia since I was three years old
3. Every night I light a candle and one of the children sings a blessing before our meal
4. I believe it is important to eat together as a family every day
5. I have three boy children
6. I am not a cat person, unless it is a Burmese cat. Burmese cats are more like dogs.
7. I like dogs. We have a greyhound. He is not a retired racer, he is a reject racer. This makes me love him even more.
8. I was once an exchange student, at the age of 17. I lived in the US for a year.
9. Incense is important, but it must be vanilla, lavender, or citrus. None of that odd hippie crap like ylang ylang or patchouli.
10. I am a good knitter
11. I am not good in crowds or large groups. I go red and say nothing
12. I am good in small groups
13. In small groups, I can talk the hind leg off a donkey
14. My father used to say about me "she’s whittering again" (see no. 13)
15. Big, important things happen to me on mountain tops
16. I met my husband on a mountain top. Other stuff too, on different mountains at different times but I cannot tell you about them. One must keep something back.
17. I only go to the dentist every ten years. And I never need any fillings, just a bit of a clean and polish. I have good teeth. Bigger than I would really like, but healthy.
18. I adore being pregnant. I have easy, healthy pregnancies. I miss having a big round firm pregnant belly
19. I wear quite a bit of pink. I think this is a reaction to living with four males
20. Did I mention all my children are boys?
21. I was painfully shy as a child
22. I am very good at languages. I always topped the class in French, without even trying. I became so fluent that once or twice I even dreamed in French.
23. I now know that if you don’t use a language regularly, you lose it.
24. Lately I have had a recurring dream in which I am standing on the edge of a very high cliff, overlooking the ocean. I spread my arms wide, and cast light and love into the four corners of the earth. I love this image.
25. I am about to move On new year's eve, 2005, we moved from a stylish 100 year-old Victorian house in the inner city, to a rustic mudbrick house on one acre of land in the bushy outer suburbs
26. I think I am turning into a hippie
27. I do not wear tie-dye clothing
28. I promise I will never burn patchouli incense
29. I love Melbourne and think it is a sensational city
30. I didn’t realise this until I had lived in and/or visited other sensational cities such as London, Rome, Paris and San Francisco
31. I once climbed Ayers Rock (before we all knew it was culturally insensitive to do so) with one arm in plaster
32. I am small, and thin and yet I have cellulite. I believe this is unfair
33. My skin is not great
34. I took that Lloyd Cole & the Commotions song ‘Perfect Skin’ as a personal insult
35. I had my first child a couple of weeks before my 30th birthday
36. I absolutely love breastfeeding my babies
37. I was devastated when my second baby would not feed properly and stopped at nine weeks
38. I breastfed my third child until he was three and a half
39. I am kind of proud and kind of a wee bit embarrassed to tell people this. Mostly proud. But every now and then someone gives me a look of utter distaste.
40. I had a miscarriage just before I started this blog
41. This blog has filled some kind of hole that the miscarriage left
42. My dream job would be to be a cellist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
43. I can only play three songs on my cello. One of which is ‘Three Blind Mice’
44. I cannot draw, paint or sculpt. However, I am drawn to artistic endeavours. I take photographs, garden, write stuff as a creative outlet, knit, sew and take enormous pleasure in making little still life tableaux around my home
45. I cannot drink coffee. I feel jittery, jumpy and as though I’m about to have a heart attack if I drink coffee. English Breakfast tea is my weakness
46. I dislike housework, except laundry. I like hanging it out on the clothesline. Also, the folding bit pleases me.
47. I cannot decide whether I have manic/depressive tendencies, obsessive/compulsive tendencies or if I am just neurotic
48. I read voraciously
49. I dropped out of university twenty years ago
50. I love reading other women’s birth stories. I love my own birth stories.
51. I am now back at university as a ‘mature age’ student and am discovering that I love studying ancient history and classics. Useless but exhilarating.
52. I am fabulous at procrastinating
53. I will do anything to avoid getting out of bed in the mornings
54. I am extremely short-sighted. To the point where staff in optometry shops take an involuntary step backward when they look at my prescription. And then say "Wow, we don’t see scripts that strong very often." This gets tiresome. I mean, these people work with short-sighted people all day, every day, for heaven’s sake.
55. Dark chocolate is important. Also, Maltesers are helpful.
56. I have a deformed right thumbnail. It is unsightly and often painful. My other nine nails are quite nice.
57. I like driving manual cars. My car is an (old) automatic. My husband’s work ute is a (new) manual. I feel really sexy when I drive it.
58. I find it sexy when you’re in the passenger seat, and a man is driving, and he unconsciously puts his arm behind your seat when he swivels around to reverse or park.
59. I have started doing that thing with my arm when I reverse, in an attempt to be sexy myself. It works, I do feel sexy when I do it.
60. Yoga is important. See how the stream of consciousness thing is working here? (I was talking about the swivelling and the spinal twist, not the sex)
61. I never talk about sex (see no. 16)
62. Sometimes I swear, but there are one or two words that I would never say. Actually, only one I think.
63. I do not like organised religion, but I am drawn to the whole Gaia/Mother Earth spirituality thing. Mostly.
64. When eating out, I find it terribly difficult to decide what to order. This is a running joke with all our friends and they always tell the waiter to start at the other end of the table. I still have never decided when it’s my turn, and my friends all say "Get the fish. You know you always get the fish." And I get the fish.
65. I have an internal compass. I always always know, inherently, where north is. Recently I discovered that Son #2 has the same trait.
66. I can be a bit of a prude. When I once worked as a kitchen hand, the chef gave all the staff nicknames. Mine was Miss Priss (from the Foghorn Leghorn cartoon). As I was only 23 at the time, I was mildly affronted at this. But also strangely pleased.
67. Son #3 notices everything. Oh wait, this is meant to be 100 things about me, isn’t it? Ok, I am in awe at the way Son #3 notices everything. (Better?)
68. Candles are very important
69. I wear a lot of black (as well as the pink) (although rarely together)
70. I love to sing. I’m not sure if I’m any good, and I am too scared to ask anyone in case the answer is no.
71. I am very particular about what my children wear. I dislike clothes with pictures or logos on them. I prefer plain, bright colours, so the child’s spirit and personality can shine through without the distraction of advertising or busy illustrations.
72. I would love to have a daughter
73. I don’t think this is going to happen
74. I am obsessed with roses. Old fashioned ones, climbing ones, and David Austins. Hate hybrid tea roses (florist roses)
75. I am a very emotional person
76. I think I can be quite funny
77. Probably also a bit tedious sometimes (see no. 74) (See also nos. 1-100)
78. I hate talking on the phone. I will do anything to get out of making a telephone call
79. I like writing letters
80. I used to regularly pray to god(dess) that I would wake up in the morning looking like Audrey Hepburn
81. Sometimes I wish I had been born in a previous era when life was simpler, less rushed and women were expected to be able to sing, play the harp and execute a perfect running stitch. And read books (all day) with a straight back. And hoik their bosom up under their chin.
82. Then I remember that in those golden olden days, they didn’t have contact lenses, dishwashers, the internet, or digital cameras, and I am quite glad I was born in these times.
83. I adore my children with a passion that frightens me
84. I often wake at 3.00 am and cry when my imagination gets the better of me
85. I believe children should have a great deal of free time to explore, play, and just be.
86. My children go to a Steiner (Waldorf) school
87. I wish I had gone to a Steiner (Waldorf) school
88. I try and tread lightly on this earth. I recycle, compost, rarely use the tumble dryer, refuse to buy coffees or teas in paper/polystyrene cups or use paper serviettes and I have "3000 head o’ worm out in the back paddock" (trans. I have a thriving worm farm in my tiny courtyard one acre wilderness garden)
89. I like baking cakes, muffins, bread, puddings and desserts
90. I hate cooking dinner every night, night after night
91. I am amazed that I made my own wedding dress
92. I have a double-barrelled surname
93. I kept my own surname when I married. If I had taken my husband’s as well, I would have a triple-barrelled surname. Which is just ridiculous
94. I never vomit. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I have vomited.
95. My parents are English, I am technically English, and I married an Englishman. I adore him. Well, you know, most of the time.
96. I am a very cheap drunk
97. I like gin & tonic, scotch & dry, and wine. I dislike beer.
98. I have a finely tuned sense of irony and sarcasm
99. My women friends are hugely important in my life
100. I try and be an optimist, but it doesn’t come easily

19 November 2005

Show and Tell: red

My Show and Tell is a day late.

(Keep scrolling down and you’ll see why I waited …)

When I saw the request this week was for something red, I was dismayed.
I have no red clothes, I thought (I’m so shallow). I have no red in my house, in my life.

Then I looked down.


I looked around me.


I ventured out into the garden …


I walked the dog up to the park …


Pasta sauce for dinner! (Getting bored yet?)


The next day I woke up.
Saturday: an important day chez Soup. There was a big red flag outside our house.


A real estate mag landed with a thud on the doorstep. Actually, a whole box of them! Ready to hand out to the crowds.


An hour later, there had been a few chewed nails, much held breath and one or two tears,


… but it was over.

Oh, the sweet relief!

17 November 2005

Snippets on a Thursday

Scene: The Soup Bedroom, 7.05 am

Mr Soup is sitting up meditating, as you do at the crack of dawn if that sort of thing takes your fancy.
I open my eyes.
And spy a rainbow on the wall as the sun shines through the glass vase full of pink lilies on the chest of drawers nearby.
I whisper "There’s a rainbow in our bedroom. It must be a good omen."


Scene: The Soup Kitchen (ahahahaha), 7.20 am.

I am packing school lunches and the boys, who get up far too early for my liking so have to entertain themselves, are drawing and tracing knights from a book.
Mr Soup descends the stairs, fresh from his meditation. He kisses me good morning and a stray bristle stabs my upper lip.
I jump back, rubbing my lip. "Ow!"
Mr Soup: Did I zap you?
Me: No, you prickled me.
Mr Soup: That’s what happens when you kiss a man, baby.
Me: Well, I’ll just kiss little boys then. (Turning and kissing Son #1’s childish, soft, bristle-free lips).
Son #1: (Kissing me back, tenderly). You have a pimple, Mummy. Right there. (Gently touches my chin).
Me: Thanks for pointing that out, child.
Mr Soup: (smirking) That’s what happens when you mess with little boys, my sweet. Karma.


In other news,

I have been considering compiling one of those 100 Things About Me lists.
It seems kind of narcissistic, but I do so love reading other peoples’.
But I need help. Where do I put it?, bearing in mind that I am technically dyslexic and do not have one of those tech-whizz husbands to help with the fiddly bits. (Can you tell I didn’t meet my husband on the internet? Mr Soup’s view of the internet is gleaned from the media and so he believes it is populated solely by child molesters, serial rapists, white slave traders and wizards called Merlin. Oh yeah, and me).

So, do I just post it as a normal daily post and then put a link to it on my sidebar, or what? Help me, ALL of you, please. If hardly anyone responds I will assume you don’t want to hear another hundred crappy details about me and my predilection for roses and red shoes, or learn more about the minutiae of my suburban housewife life in the southern hemisphere.

And I'll just go hang my washing out and sulk.

16 November 2005

a gift from a faraway friend

Yesterday, the best thing happened to me. The postman arrived, bearing gifts.
A great big parcel, postmarked Tuvalu!

Hands trembling, I opened it, and found ...

... these divine little trinkets. Soap, lavender clippings, beads, funny paper clips, and a little dangly Japanese thing which Son #3 hung on his schoolbag immediately.


There was more!


Wee fabric scraps from Denyse Schmidt, a length of French officers' braid, and a smooth little rock. The rock has joined my three little rocks from Far North Queensland in pride of place on top of our artwork cupboard (along with the telephone, notepad, and a vase of californian poppies).

And then I found this.


Little tiny clothespegs on a string. For holding Christmas cards? For displaying postcards, children's artwork, hmmm ...

But the best thing was wrapped up in a copy of The Tuvalu Times (which I pored over later, and was shocked at the price of real estate ...) (being in a real estate state of mind these days, and all). I unwrapped the soft bulky paper. To find ...


... the most beautiful, soft, warm black cardigan with enormous shell buttons and a big floppy collar and elegant neckline. Made from tiny black Tuvalan angora rabbits. (Shorn, not killed, silly).

Oh blackbird, I think I love you.

Thank you, my faraway friend.