Thursday, April 30, 2009

Don't panic, don't panic

I found the pictures on the Guardian's 'It's in poor taste to panic-monger about swine flu, so we are just keeping you informed at a highly,highly sensitised level' blog.

Well, they made me laugh anyway.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In which AS Byatt saves me from thinking about things

By making me think about other things and there is gratitude.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Long weekend

Last day off for the Noodle before school tomorrow. Last public holiday for a long, long stretch here in the ACT. The husband back tutoring this week as well. Crunch back to reality again.

Spent the long weekend rearranging the Noodle's bedroom so that he can sleep better. Since he decided to face the other way round his sleep has been amazing. It's disconcerting to realise how tired he must have been feeling before. No need for leeping now, because with the lack of over-tiredness there is (thus far) nothing to forgive.

The house is also more-or-less clean. More clean than it was, possibly less clean than it could be. But clean enough to invite someone in for coffee without internally making that Marge Simpson anxiety sound and grimacing like a capuchin monkey in fear of its life.

Yesterday I also went shopping for new work clothes and maybe became a little carried away in David Jones. I blame the 25% off signs everywhere. They obviously work a treat on the susceptible. But I do have some very smart looking new clothes, which I will have to pep-talk myself into believing that I deserve to wear. Maybe I should do my nails.

Horribly I am between books, having finished diverse murder mysteries and having ground to halt with A.S.Byatt. I like her stories that are half a book long. Just right for me. In the Guardian she says that all her writers are wreckers. It wasn't how I had been thinking of her characters. Perhaps I have stopped reading because I need to ponder a bit more. If I think about that as well, though, I'll never get back to it. Unlike the rest of the people on the planet, I really didn't enjoy Possession very much. But it wasn't the characters as writers, it was the turban that did it for me. I loathe that turban with a bitter and unreflecting hatred. I don't mind Simone de Beauvoir's turban, though, so it's not a generic problem.

Today the Noodle and I are going to make a cardboard pirate ship, and see if we can do it without acrimony and destruction. Either that or scones.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Low blood pressure

I went to the doctor today for various check-ups and to get my repeat prescriptions for my asthma medication (medicine? Does anyone say medicine any more?) and it was only a few days after I ran out, which surely counts as some kind of victory. And I have low blood pressure, which is normal for me. But I was very pleased, because I have been a bit stressed lately, thank you very much. If I was talking it would come out more like this, 'I have been a bit stressed lately, akshually'. I was so cheered up by the low blood pressure that I felt pretty relaxed for the rest of today. 'Ha ha,' I thought to myself (like Piglet), 'ha ha - throw at me what you will, heffalumps of work-related anxiety, I have low blood pressure - you cannot make me steam or stew!'.

But it did get me thinking about the things that make me stressed, anxious and worried. And here they are:
1. writing stuff that has to be referenced
2. referencing stuff
3. letting other people read stuff that I have written and referenced.

So you can see what a happy character I was when I was a research student. Oh natural fit. Being a columnist, on the other hand, was a piece of badly-researched cake. (Bad metaphor, since badly researched cake probably wouldn't taste very nice, and I don't think my columns were particularly dreadful.)

But recently I have been writing stuff at work, and the anxiety friends have been having a wonderful time, clustering together and chatting about all the possible bad outcomes. Deadline-what-deadline has made great friends with But-what-if-it's-all-horribly-horribly-wrong. The like to hang out together at three in the morning, the little scamps.

But yah boo sucks to them, I have low blood pressure. And I spent this afternoon colouring stuff in with highlighters. I never, ever got to do that when I was a postgraduate student. Take that, Dean of Research! (You have to imagine me taking a bit of a Wonder Woman stance at this point, but without the lariat and shorts. Maybe with the bustier though. I like the bustier.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009


The kid is sound asleep, and looks so beautiful in his stripey pajamas that you'd never believe he could [insert mild-moderate episode of poor behaviour here].

Yesterday he decided he wanted to sleep with his head facing the other way for a change. Not in a Pippi Longstocking, head-under-the-blankets kind of way. I just made the bed facing in the other direction. Funnily enough, no bad dreams, no snoring and no trouble getting to sleep.

Maybe it's time to rearrange some furniture.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Manana Manana

Many years ago I was at a bit of a loose end, so I moved to Brisbane, because everyone I'd been sharing a house with scooted off overseas and I couldn't be bothered staying in Melbourne. I blame Weddings Parties Anything. If it wasn't for that damn song I possibly would've stuck around.

So I was in Brisbane, living in a house that defied the picturesque to be just plain old rotten with some people that I didn't know very well. And the overseas people (well two of them anyway) sent letters from all over the globe, from Vietnam and Hong Kong and Russia and Romania and it was very exciting.

And I would sent letters post restante to wherever I thought they might be soon-ish, and sometimes they'd get the letters and sometimes they didn't and those letters would turn up back in my letterbox having had great adventures in the world.

Today I got a letter from my brother, written while he was on a boat between some places, one of which was Spain, but he had many hours to go before he got there. And there've been emails and photos and facebook entries, but that's entirely not the same thing as getting a piece of paper from another country.

And now my travelling friends from those old days are in Brisbane and I'm here in the heart of the nation and no one much writes letters any more anyway.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Old soul

So when people say this about children I'm always thinking of wisdom and gentleness and an awareness of the world around and a sensitivity to others and all those kind of good things.

With perhaps the merest overtone of 'was probably Gandhi in a past life'.

But when the Noodle comes out with comments like, 'eh, there'll be five thousand people in the queue for the movie' or 'oh, that's a nice cardigan' or 'why don't we just stay home, we didn't plan to go out today' or 'she should put some more clothes on, that young missy*', I think he has an old soul all right. He has the old soul of a grumpy old Nana. And yes, he does like scones.

*Oh all right, I made up that last one, but it's the same tone, it's all in the tone you know. Oh, and while I'm adding notes, it's also difficult to find a person from history who was not famous for doing something horrendous or stupid. Or is that just me? My first thought was Aethelred the Unready, for reasons that remain happily buried in my subconscious. My second was Queen Margaret who was married to King Malcolm in Scotland at the time William the Conqueror invaded England, which tends to indicate that I'm thinkng chronologically. Except then I thought of Governor Macquarie. Who may well have been a perfectly decent person, probably, but you know, not landmarkish enough for my point. I mean, who would want to be a governor of Australia in their past life? It's ridiculous to even contemplate. And then various tyrants and mass-murderers popped into my brain. Irritating. So Gandhi was a compromise. Perhaps I meant Jane Austen all along.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Apparently that thing that I thought might be finished kind of soon? Nuh.

Apparently the non-working, manly section of the family is questing to Kingston for gourmet hamburgers. Apparently they come in a red caravan. Apparently they taste good. But I guess I'll never know, because I'll be at work. Working. And eating leftovers.

Apparently my whining and self-indulgence aren't finished yet either. Sorry everyone.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Roast dinner and appreciative audience

The husband invited a group of my fine co-workers around for a roast dinner today. While I have to quibble with Stephanie's chefly insistence that gravox gravy is a bad thing, I cannot criticise her technique for well-cooked but tender pork. We didn't have any gravox anyway, so I suppose that's a victory to her. Roasted meat was accompanied by perfect potatoes, soft and tender with crispy bits. Luvverly. No luck with crackling again. I do what people say - salt and oil, salt and lemon, just salt, start with a hot oven, finish with a hot oven. No luck ever.

We followed the roasty stuff with chocolate mousse from the Perfect recipe book and strawberries.

There is nothing like the pleasure of feeding people who give every evidence of enjoying their food. As well as telling funny stories and laughing lots.

We sat out in the backyard in the autumn sunshine with our glasses of rose, watched the rosellas and cockatoos flying by and ate and laughed ourselves into a standstill. Some of the girls are off to watch the footy, but I think I'll be taking myself to an early bed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Silly things about me

Myrope tagged me with a meme. I'm not convinced that her things are actually silly enough. Most of them sound quite sensible to me. And I'm not convinced I can stop at just seven. But there it is, I shall restrain myself in order to obey the rules.

1. Once a telephone research person rang up to ask me about cheese. He asked me to name all the kinds of cheese I could think of. So I did. It took quite a long time and included many cheeses that were not on his list, but would possibly be familiar to Monty Python fans. It just occurred to me that perhaps what he was looking for were brand names. It's quite likely that no company on the planet commissioned research on how many different kinds of cheese the population know about. Oh well, it's too late now to go back and say Bega and Cracker Barrel instead of tilsit and raclette. Now that I have been to Providore over in Manuka I could probably name even more.

2. I felt embarrassed the first time I read I Capture the Castle when one of the characters describes the narrator as consciously naive.

3. I like the Muppet Show more than I like Heart of Darkness.

4. When I was about five I imagined that I would grow up to have dead thick dead straight dead black hair. At the time I had slightly wavy very blonde hair. My mum tried to persuade me that it wouldn't happen that way, but I just didn't believe her. I believe her now. Even though I am no longer blonde at all.

5. I also wanted to have eleven daughters with names like Gwendolyn, Guinevere and Galadriel. I myself wanted to be called Sarah, like my idol on Dr Who.

6. I don't doodle as much as I used to.

7. Even though I've given up on writing fiction, I know what my character is doing quite a lot of the time. So far she's been locked up in a train carriage, stuck on an island set up as a leper colony, walked along a dusty road leaving bare-footprints in the bone coloured dirt, ridden a raft in a flooded creek, experienced snow in the mountains for the first time (with snow gums) and found an empty house where her home should be. If only she showed any signs of narrative progression, what an interesting story she could have. She's also got holes in her jumper, but I don't know where she managed to find boots and socks between the dirt road and the mountains. Once she found a farm house with two people living in it who would have preferred to live somewhere else.

That's enough.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

China rabbit, disinherited princes and even more cricket

The Noodle has been busy.

Today he read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. He has not been communicative about it. He agreed it was sad. I almost wish he hadn't picked it up, because he might probably enjoy it more in a year or two, and now he'll miss out on the pleasure of it being the right book at the right time. But then there is a pleasure to be had in figuring something out later as well, I suppose.

I am now reading him Prince Caspian since he read The Horse and His Boy over Easter. I always liked reading Caspian as a wee kidlet, but I'm finding it quite dull to read aloud. I hope it picks up once we get away from Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. What are they even doing in the story? Caspian is a much more interesting character. At least until he becomes weirdly priggish after his death. I guess a life of anxiety and then finding yourself resurrected from the inside of a river will do that to a person. I don't quite have the life experience to judge, but I'll be sure to advise you all if ever I do.

But mostly what the Noodle has been reading is all the Glory Gardens books, over and over and over again. If I have to hear about Obert's crazy capers one more time I may run away to a non-cricketing country never to return. These books are to cricket as, well, as cricket is to cricket. Cricket, cricket, cricket, cricket, cricket.

I, on the other hand, am slowly relishing A.S. Byatt at home, and rapidly distracting myself from the ACTION bus network with P.D. James while commuting. No cricket. Not one bit.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

One of these things is not like the other

Here is an article about the benefits of having a school nurse. As you see, it has a photo of a friendly woman poking a cute liddle feller on the nose (possibly some life saving technique they learn at university these days).

At the bottom of this page is the link, under Essential Baby, to the article.

The article above the link is about how (oh lordy lordy) women like to use the interwebs to talk about parenting and stuff.

Not quite sure who they think they are targetting with the parent article, the link or the article on school nurses. Apart from them being a Benny Hill fan, obviously.

Easter Bunny joins forces with Tooth Fairy & Father Christmas in the developent of double-think

So we had Easter away, except that we had to return to the national capital before lunch time today so that the husband could go to work to earn enough money to pay for the holiday by getting astonishing levels of public holiday extra rates. Or something like that. Those of you out buying books today, thanks for that. If you didn't feel the desperate Sunday-afternoon need to stock up on quality novels and insightful political commentary, the writers and artists of Canberra would be stony broke, I'm sure.

The Noodle received his eggs with a lack of interest this morning, that can only be attributable to the familiar sounding comments about the lack of existence of the Easter Bunny, and the high-level smuggling skills of the parents. Given that he never, ever contributes to packing anything, even his own books and toys, I can't imagine why he thinks we are tricky at being able to conceal presents or chocolate eggs in our luggage. Frankly I could dance around draped with shiny foil-covered eggs, singing the Polish national anthem and he would not notice, provided my immediate preceding sentence was 'what do you want to take with you?'

He claims that he was unexcited by the delivery method of the eggs, which should've been distributed hidily around the cottage and/or garden. Well, I thought to myself, the Easter Bunny appreciates a little bit more faith and belief. A bit more 'Oh yay, the fluffy Easter Bunny is coming with shiny eggs, hurrah!' kind of thing. The Easter Bunny is not wowed by 'I know you and Dad and just bring the eggs'. If that is the attitude, then the eggs will just be brought. You have to be able to not-believe and believe at the same time.

Although he did come up with a theory later in the day that the Easter Bunny lives on an uncharted island in the Pacific. Introduced, no doubt, by the Normans, as per our earlier discussion while watching many bunnies near our cottage verandah. And foxes, though pleasingly not at the same time and place.

Otherwise a fine holiday, with nothing to do at all at any time anywhere.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


We are off for our Easter break to the countryside and/or bush. We are taking lots of books, comfortable boots, tracksuit pants and a few bottles of decent-ish Shiraz.

We may never come back.

Spoke to soon

Hideous Narnia nightmares have kept the family awake all night. The kid is exhausted and queasy.

Oops. Bad mama after all.

What does CS Lewis have against stones anyway?

We've made it past the stone table, stone knife conjunction with minimal tears and appropriate levels of gasps and outrage.

We have left Aslan, Lucy and Susan romping.


Kid wants to know how anything, even magic, can exist before the dawn of time. Philosophy saves us from sentiment yet again. Thank you Mr Philosophy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Children's Book Sequels That Never Were.

Which is a pretty funny idea that I wish I'd thought of. But if you scroll down to the ones by Greg W you will laugh a lot.


Liking training at work

I don't know if other people enjoy training at work. I don't know if the cynical comments and eye rolling are sincere or not. Obviously, the cool kids must not seem to like training.

But I like it. All I ever want from life is to turn up in a room, have people tell me stuff I didn't already know and then get to talk about it.


Not so much the one on filing, though. That was just scary.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Escape fantasies

Since the people from Berlin have proved to be uncooperative over many, many years, is anyone keen to share a nice cottage in Normandy for a week or two?

Or maybe somewhere on the South Coast.

Walk in the park?

Long look out the window?


Friday, April 3, 2009

Well bred

So tonight I had a low-key, but vivid for all that, demonstration of the difference between well-bred behaviour and the kind of superficial politeness that leaves a person feeling anxious about fluff on their shirt.

If I was Jane Austen I would tell you all about it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The end is nigh

Or perhaps more the light at the end of the tunnel is nigh.

It looks like our mammoth task at work might one day be complete. I think I may have to sponsor a parade, or hire one of those hot air balloons they enjoy so much in these parts. Or organise the air force to do a fly-by with fuel dump and burn off. Or something else spectacular and wasteful.

I am honestly not entirely sure what work I will be doing after that. Life is such an adventure in the public service.