Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Home, where the potatoes are growing

Having learned many things on our Christmas journeying, and having had a substantial amount of fun with friends and relations (losing none in the process, not even Small), we are returned to the domestic regions.

Where, in our absence, the garden has gone wild. I believe it may have rained a drop or two while we visited southern climes. All the plants are twice the size they were a week ago, and many are festooned with large blooms. Especially the hydrangeas which have the most festoony flowers of all. Ranging from mauve to another shade of mauve, we are lucky to have them across the dull, grey wall of our brick home. Huzzah! I shall omit mentioning the agapanthus after guilt brought on my reading Eglantine's Cake.

The Husband not previously known for his vegetable expertise, unearthed the first home-grown potatoes. We will eat them tonight partly because they look very tasty, and partly because the cupboard is pretty much bare of everything except Whizz Fizz and chocolates (although most of the chocolates are already inside the stomachs). Returning home the day before a public holiday is only a good idea if you are sure you will have the energy to go shopping as soon as you get there. Which we didn't. I think seeing the submarine at Holbrook may have been just too exhausting.

I feel rather odd to be home. It's strange spending such intense time with people you love, and then they aren't available any more. I wish we could all manage to live in reasonable proximity for a while. Not the same city, necessarily, but less than a four hour drive, say.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Things learned on Christmas journeys

  1. You don't really learn all that much about what it's really like to live in the country by reading the Billabong books. Or by driving down the Hume Highway.
  2. The Noodle has a heretofore undiscovered ability to read in the back seat of the car for many hours without experiencing any nausea.
  3. While hills are more interesting scenery to look at than flat land, if the flat land contains substantial gumtrees and the occasional, unexpectedly large 19th century domestic and/or industrial architecture it can be quite appealing.
  4. Chiltern is a town worth a short visit.
  5. Family is quite tiring when collected in one place.
  6. A family of three can live in two rooms quite happily if they only have enough books to fit in a single shopping bag.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Off we go

This year Christmas is happening in Melbourne. For us, obviously. I believe the rest of you are entitled to celebrations in other urban or rural locations as well. Or in space, if you are a cosmonaut working on the international space station.

Whatever you are up to I hope it is a suitable amount of fun. May the presents you give spread the joy of the season, and the presents you receive not end up in the garden shed (unless they are gardening implements).

Friday, December 19, 2008

On birthdays and the nature of work

So here it is, another year gone. I guess it's lucky to have a birthday at the time of year when everyone else is reflecting upon the year-gone-by so that I can have reflective synchronicity. Perhaps people with birthdays at other times of the year have bigger getting-older-and-what-do-I-have-to-show-for-it crises because they have to do it all in isolation.

Anyway, this year I have to reflect that I am in the same career position as people ten to sixteen years younger than me. They are single and spend all of their disposable income on clothes and drink. Which is what I did at 21, of course, I just had less to dispose of than my youthful co-workers do. I don't know if they are happier, but they certainly have a lot more stuff.

The upside is that this point is still a career peak for me. Having a grown-up job is quite the astonishing thing. For one thing, you get paid better and also the work is more interesting. Which is much more important for me personally (partly because if I start thinking about the whole breadwinner thing my head will explode). There's a big part of me that thinks if I'm worrying about getting paid, then I'm insulting the work. Crazy, I know. I think I am fundamentally missing something about our whole economic system (no news there, though). When I used to work at Safeway as a 15-year old I hated lining up for my pay every week. I thought it was rude to ask to be paid. I felt like this particularly because I hated that job so much it made me want to be sick every week, which you'd think would make me keener to get the pay than not, but not.

I was sick once, but that was because I had a thorn in my ankle. Tragically I did not manage to projectile vomit into anyone's actual shopping. I wish I had a better developed sense of narrative and less honesty. No memoirs from me.

For my birthday I got ace presents including a bike (every child and Mum's dream), some books to read on our trip to Melbourne and some bath things from Perfect Potion from my Dad. If you live in Brisbane you should try their things if you are a bathy person. Or just go and stand in their shop for a few minutes to calm your shopping headache. Mum sent me a Judy Horacek shopping bag which made me laugh. And the lads made me pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. And tonight we will eat laksa at the Dickson Asian Noodle House. I will now stop endorsing things.

Restrain your envy, gentle readers. One day it will be your birthday, and I will be doing the vacuuming.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Genius in the family

Although a person knows how intelligent and creative and capable the family members are, it's always nice to receive confirmation from the experts.

On Friday the Noodle brought home his school report. Genius.

Today the Husband received his marks for his Masters research project. Genius.

I, on the other hand, spent the afternoon in the park watching my co-workers playing 'extreme frisbee'. Last week I too was a high achiever. This week, not so much.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas envy

I am suffering a terrible lack of festive spirit overkill this year. Despite Boney M.

The Husband feels that a Christmas tree is unnecessary, since we will be away for Christmas. And I have been too tired and preoccupied with work to assert my natural Christmas nazi-tude and either demand or obtain one. So we have no tree, and no decos. Which is putting me not in the mood for carols, gift-wrapping and general foolishness. Which is what I like doing at this time of year, because it's an excuse to sing loudly, get overexcited and boss other people around a bit but sound not totally horrendous while doing it. So I'm feeling robbed.

The Husband did design highly amusing (to us anyway) Christmas cards, featuring Julia Gillard as an angel of the Lord, or Parliament House with star above and wise men arriving.
But I am so dissatisfied with this whole climate change announcement that I don't find them quite as charming as I did last week (although I refuse to believe that Julia is responsible).

Yesterday I was dumped out of the novel I was reading with a nasty imaginary bump because I realised I didn't like it no, not one bit. Even though many of the settings were familiar, which usually makes a person forgive quite a bit in a book. And I was on the bus, because I am always on the bus, and all I wanted to do was sing Christmas carols, and I couldn't because I was on the bus, and I've been feeling quite peevish ever since.

And tomorrow is the work Christmas party, and only one person has put decorations up in the office. I haven't put any up either, because I don't care, but I find I only don't care so long as someone else does.

Or otherwise I'm just tired and cranky and half my brain is already on holidays and it's got nothing to do with Christmas at all.

Plus I'm nearly 37, which feels like a lot older than 36.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Exciting Times

Because yesterday, after eating well-marinated meat, I was presented with the Boney M Christmas album!!!!

The perfect end to an already lovely afternoon.

So Feliz Navidad to you all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Too tired to blog

That's all really.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Art, high art?

Last night was the school concert, Broadway Style! Perhaps I blame the Simpsons. But it wasn't really Broadway style, even though very musical.

The Noodle's class provided highlights from the Lion King, complete with lions (Noodle was Mufasa), zebras, leopards and diverse birds. They sang along to excerpts of The Circle of Life and Hakuna Matata. Confusing choreography, but naturally delightful.

Other highlights were grade 3/4 doing bits and pieces from The Pirates of Penzance. They essayed the whole modern major general thing with aplomb, and one of them even managed to enunciate all the words. Audience of doting parents (and less doting parents of children not in grade 3/4) all impressed.

Grade 5/6 did snippets from Grease. One young lassie sang up a storm. Definitely has a future on Australian Idol if she wants it. Or a career in music, whatever. The kids looked like they were having a wild and crazy time. It was like something from the movie Fame except completely acted out by kids with normal singing and dancing abilities. One girl looked authentically 1950s, which is very un-Grease in my opinion. Her mother must have done some serious research into hair styles and so on.

Certainly the concert was much more exciting than the ones I used to do at primary school. I remember a lot of Jingle Bells and the occasional Frere Jacques. And once, maybe, singing along to a cassette of Sailing. But I hope that's just a fever-dream.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Further proof that I am living in the 1970s

And so is my entire suburb.

If you go and look at the Weston Creek Labor Club Christmas Menu you will see what I mean.

They should have that kind of salad with the rice, pineapple chunks and jelly though. That would be awesome.

We are going to Melbourne for Christmas. It should at least have reached the 1990s down there.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nerves of steel

The Husband and I had our nerve conduction studies this afternoon. Nothing at all wrong with our nerves. Which does nothing to explain why we are frequently highly strung. But there you go. Perhaps it is a wandering womb or somesuch.

I suppose this means more testing for the poor old Noodle. And more thinking for the neurologist, but that's OK because she likes doing that.

I had really, really hoped that if one of us adult types had the same problem with our nerves then it would mean a nice simple diagnosis for the Noodle from here on in. You'd think I would have given up travelling down that there primrose path by now, wouldn't you?

Also, the nerve conduction study feels really quite nasty, so if your kid is ever having one and you think they are creating out of proportion, then they probably aren't. I had to look out the window at the nice scenery and breathe very firmly to myself.

Also I had my first ride on my new bike today. I may have nerves of steel, but I definitely have muscles of jelly, or possibly chocolate mousse.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Brisbane Bands

Thanks again to That Striped and Sunlight Sound, you can watch stuff about Brisbane bands in 1988 on You Tube, without having to bother to look for it. It's the Rock Arena special. And Rock Arena was very special indeed.

Because what else would a person ever want to do with their time?

Father Christmas or some old human

Last night we ventured into the town centre to observe the lighting of the Christmas tree. Carols were sung by a choir of women who were more impressed by artifice than melody. Which did not excite the audience of toddlers, primary-school aged children and parents looking for a night out of thought-free celebration. But it did sound pretty.

The Noodle also became a little bored by Monica Trapaga after a while, so we sloped off to find sugary sustenance somewhere in Civic. A little cafe just off Garema Place had the most astonishing cookies and cream cake. It was like rubber, but sweet and surprisingly enjoyable.

Upon returning to the Christmas Tree precinct the blond announcing person claimed that Santa was coming immediately. But he didn't. They lit the tree - pretty - and went into an odd period of packing up microphones. So many of the families packed themselves up as well. Oddly, as we repaired to the car park, Santa was actually coming in a red convertible.

The Noodle said, 'that's not Father Christmas. That's an old human dressed up in a red suit and a beard.'

The journey home was filled with questions about who Santa is really. The Noodle conjectured that he could find out by a) staying up all night on Christmas Eve or b) leaving a video camera running all night and watching it the next day.

The husband asked how the Noodle's presents appeared on Christmas morning if Santa didn't bring them. The Noodle replied 'this is starting to sound like pseudo-science'.

I laughed before I could stop myself. Pseudo-silence from the back seat.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Villette

So I'm reading Villette by Charlotte Bronte, and enjoying it with much enjoy.

I am reading it little bits at a time, because I know I am going to be sad when I have to leave Lucy Snowe behind. But I did skip to the end to make sure she was going to be OK. Even though I knew she was going to be OK, because she is Lucy Snowe. Note I didn't say happy. I doubt her capacity for happiness as much as she does.

I adore how she claims she is a cool and even person, when she is passionate and sensitive. I love how she just can't help talking of her unrequited love, even though she obviously considers it to be poor form to do so. I am inspired by her constant efforts to do what she believes is right, even though she is sometimes not convinced that what is conventionally 'right' is actually what she wants or even should do. And she sometimes gives herself quite massive get-out-of-jail-free cards when she feels like it, but still manages to hold onto her integrity.

And I love how she is frequently so wound up that you can quite easily imagine her taking a carving knife and hacking gleefully into Ginevra Fanshawe without a moment's regret. But doesn't.

I don't mind the odd coincidences of meeting the same characters in different places, but I have been a little distracted by the way they change their names so that their identity is hidden for a while. But it does give Lucy Snowe the additional pleasure of keeping things secret, which she likes. Great narrator.

I think Lucy Snow can make the best of things. Not in a milky, weak, resigned sort of a way (although she claims that from time to time). More in a holding the things underwater and shaking them until they promise to be good sort of way.

Charlotte Bronte really did not enjoy teaching, though, did she?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Comfort food

So now I am full as a googins with lasagne and pavlova and also with chocolate coated fruit and nuts. And slightly full, but not skin-full, of Redman Coonawarra Shiraz.

All of which makes me think two things:
1. Don't consult the Noodle when catering birthday dinners for adults
2. I am still living in 1976, except now I am a grown-up instead of a tiny moppet.

The husband known as a better cook than everyone on the planet except Maggie Beer has suggested Beef Bourgoignon (cannot spell it or say it either) plus chocolate mousse for my birthday, so he must be living in the seventies as well.

A person no longer gets an effort-free belly laugh whenever insulting Malcolm Fraser, though.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nine years is not long enough

Happily really, since it is our ninth wedding anniversary this week.

Getting married was great. The whole standing up in front of people saying vows, celebrating, eating cake process was terrific.

Being married is better though. Although if I accidentally found myself married to someone other than the Husband Who Knows More About the AFL Draft Than Seems Humanly Possible I would clearly form a different, indeed a violently opposed, view.

While I sometimes worry about the future happiness of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, and remain unconvinced about the wisdom of actually marrying Mr Rochester, I have never entertained any doubts about the wisdom of marrying the Husband (despite his high levels of interest in Clint Eastwood). Lucky, because we are only partly fictional.

We never quite seem to celebrate our anniversaries with the kind of wild abandon and hang-the-expense enthusiasm that seems warranted though. I wonder what other people do?

Monday, December 1, 2008

In which I had something interesting to say at lunchtime

But don't have anything interesting to say any more.

It may be the combination of hay fever and caffeine withdrawal. It may be the work. It may be the resulting shocking headache.

Or it may be that I just can't hold on to a thought for more than 53 seconds at the moment, whatever is going on.

Also, I missed my bus.

On the good news front the Noodle had a nice friend come to visit yesterday, and the nice friend has nice parents who deliver ice cream along with their daughter. Extremely well brought up parents. Tasty cookies and cream icecream.

Dimpled thighs, but.