Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another day, another cake wrecks moment

So it's the weekend and the kid and I managed to do the shopping at Woden and I tidied up the house and the kid read Dilbert, Drowned Ammet and other stuff and I think the telly might be broken but I don't care and the kid hasn't noticed yet. It probably isn't broken, but with all the cords and things attached to it and the 'no picture' kind of thing when I turn it on and try out all the different remotes and buttons and switches and there's still 'no picture', you know, it might as well be.

I might have to ask a Young Person TM to come and help. Also I don't know how to do superscript in this blog environment.

For some reason that made me think of Jean Luc Picard, so maybe I am feeling a little tired.

I tried to ice the kid's birthday cake for his party tomorrow. It's supposed to look like this. It doesn't. The icing slid right off the little swiss rolls, so it looks like naked swiss rolls in a snaky short of shape, with a lake of lime-green icing around the botton of it. Perhaps it could be meant to be the train in Spirited Away when it travels over the flood waters. If the flood waters were lime-green and if the train were made out of eight mini swiss rolls. Which it isn't, really.

The snake was supposed to be a gesture to The Keys to the Kingdom. Instead, it is a gesture to lack of faith in my own judgement. I knew the icing was too runny, but I'd followed the recipe so I trusted them. And if that doesn't sum up my entire life, I don't know how to sum up my entire life in a cake-fiasco metaphor.

Tomorrow we will be off to Michel's Patisserie for a nice mud cake with 'Happy Birthday' written on it.

Also, we are supposed to be having the party at the local playground at lunch time. Storms and high winds are predicted for late morning or
noon. It seems likely the party will be in our living room, so I have cleared out some extra chairs and tried to make space. I think I will need to rely on Parlour Games for Modern Families to see me through.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

9.55 am, Day 2

The shine is starting to wear off. Mostly because of trying to go shopping at Woden, but I did pull off my first parking in a parking station effort. No damage to humans, concrete or paintwork. However, I can tell you a handy hint, which goes like this: it is quite helpful to take the hand brake off before you try to drive out of the car park.

It is not sunny today either, and I have been shopping for the kid's birthday party on Sunday and it's frankly a bit difficult and stressful and why can't you just buy an ordinary bucket at the supermarket any more? I still need to buy the sausages, which means I have to go to the shops again on Saturday and it's much harder to get mini-swiss rolls than it used to be and I had to buy the chocolate kind (but that's what I get from not being a birthday-cake-from-scratch kind of mum, now isn't it?)

I did give the man at the service station a bit of a chuckle when I bought 4 very large sponges though, and a set of P plates.

Coming up today, in my new theme of Me Me Me, I have personal training in the park with my lovely colleague, and later I am going to pick up a friend of the husband's to baby sit the kid tonight while I go out to a Trivia night with 300 of my closest friends from the Best Department Evah. I have never been to a trivia night before, so I am quite excited. We bought tickets to a kindy fundraising one once, but then we didn't go because of some disaster or other. You know.

As well as remembering to collect the kid from school, of course. This driving malarkey is just too odd for words. Tomorow I am going to the library to do some research after I drop the kid off. Because if I don't get some done my head will start oozing random bits of story ideas and it will look like a very nasty discharge because it is all still gooey in my head. I need some thickener in the form of facts.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Temporary stay-at-home Mum

I'm enjoying this at 10.18 am of day one. So far I have gotten the kid ready for school, driven him to school (with only one swear word), had a coffee and planned out some avenues for my research over the next few days, done three loads of washing, vacuumed the dining room and living room, cleaned up the kitchen and emailed the husband back at KLIA airport where he is presently waiting for his next flight to Hanoi.

The rest of the day will include chores, reading the latest Phryne Fisher novel, collecting the kid and cooking dinner (insofar as reheating frozen soup constitutes cooking).

All the work that usually goes towards implementing government policy is going towards implementing a nice life for the kid and me. Thus far, fun. I'll post again tomorrow and let you know how it's progressing.

Parlour games variations - Topper and On the Bright Side

So a while ago I raved about Parlour Games for Modern Families, which is full of fun games to play that are not attached to the telly or the computer. The kid got a Wii for his birthday, and he really loves it, but it's good to see that he is also enjoying the more drawing room style of entertainment.

This evening we have invented two variations to 'It could be worse'. In 'It could be worse' you have the first person say something bad, like 'the house burned down' and the next person has to say 'it could be worse, the cat could've been killed' and so on until it gets really ramped up to terrible things. I have a hard time stopping the junior from immediately leaping to 'the universe exploded' but we have a lot of fun.

One of our variations is based on a character from Dilbert, the 'Topper' who can always top a story with some self-aggrandising version of his own. Each player has to top the story of the last player. It's very funny. So you can start with 'I went for a really long walk yesterday' and end up with someone on the moon, or you can start with 'My ankle is really sore' and end up with, well, probably with 'the universe exploded', but maybe with shattered legs, body parts scattered over half of Switzerland and an urban myth about ski lifts.

The other variation is 'On the bright side', in which one player starts with a bad thing happening, and the next player has to come up with a bright side. I don't think there is any winning but it is very funny (and potentially good practice for certain kinds of discussions that come up with certain kinds of relatives over Christmas).

The other thing that happened today is that the husband departed for Vietnam and he won't be back for eight weeks. It's quite the thing, I can tell you. If you have a Topper or an 'On the bright side' for me on that topic, I would be happy to have them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We're all going on a something holiday

Something, something for a week or two. Or four or so.

So that means only fielding questions from junior for quite some time. No phone calls or emails asking questions about stuff, stuff and more stuff.

I already fear how many emails there will be upon my return.

But hopefully a few weeks of tooling about in the National Library and going to the beach in Sydney and eating cake on Acland Street and things like that will make me forget all the other stuff. Not forget it forever, though, or I will become an 'inefficient use of Commonwealth resouces' after my return to work. That would be bad. I fear that nearly as much as I fear causing my Minister to mislead Parliament through a moment of inattention. That would be really, really bad. The only thing worse than that is the fear of missing out on the sausage rolls at divisional morning tea again. That would be really, really, really bad. I haven't had one for weeks.

The life of a public servant, very tough, I tells you, very tough indeed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Books with girls

This week the kid is reading (with no guidance or recommendation from me) Anne of Green Gables and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. I am extremely pleased to see, at nearly nine, that he is refuting that old and hoary chestnut that boys won't read books where the main character is a girl. Both of the covers are extremely pink and coded 'girl' in terms of the design. He has read When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit before, but he decided he would like to buy it for keeps today.

Of course, his other favourite literature presently is Dilbertcomics, so he may not represent a 'typical' sample. On the other hand, very few children are typical and it annoys me when people make generalisations and then speak about them as if they are the truth and then they get annoyed when someone doesn't fit into their narrow little regime. Not as much as it annoys me when people tell a bookseller that their kid is a 'bad reader' in front of the kid, but nearly as much.

Junior's other purchase for the week, with his very own savings, was a new cricket bat because the old one fell to pieces. He has bashed a lot of cricket and tennis balls in the past two years, more than a stick of willow can stand, apparently.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

General thinkiness

Having lots of fun researching Melbourne in 1937. It is so familiar and so strange at the same time. I keep finding myself shocked about what is there and what is not there.

The ACT library has introduced this new automated system with a card-activated chute, so when you put your books inside the chute, they are automatically checked back in. The chute is slow - a little door opens up each time for every single book, and a conveyor belt sucks them inside. The chute will not accept books that are not checked out on your card, which results in eager-to-return-library-books patrons standing around looking foolish and confused. And angry and impatient. The library thinks I have about 8 books and 2 DVDs out presently, but it's not true. The husband who is very helpful tried to return them but it just didn't work. The books are in the library, but the library doesn't know. Disaster. Not a good incentive for high library patronage.

The kid got ready for bed too quickly.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

What I did on the weekend - a visit to the National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia has recently opened a new entrance and new Indigenous galleries. It's quite the innovation. Until the new door was completed, you had to kind of park at the back, wend your way through either a) a carpark or b) a sculpture garden then either up a) two sets of escalators, b) very steep steps, c) a very steep ramp or d) push a button and wait for a security guard to come and let you use a lift. Options a) to d) were all Very Bad Options should you be with someone a) in a pusher, b) in a wheelchair, c) using a walking frame or d) generally a bit rickety. Not helped by the attitude of the staff and volunteers of the gallery, who after you actually made it inside, would rush upon you if you happened to be assisting someone (eg carrying a child or having someone hold on to you) to tell you loudly and aggressively that you weren't allowed to do that in the gallery, because you might damage the Art. They say Art with a definite capital. At which point a fairly large part of my brain would have liked to, quite loudly and aggressively, tell them to take their Art and stick it up their A***. But I never did, because I do believe people generally should not fling children or people recovering from cancer at Art, because it does neither the people nor the Art any good whatsoever, unless you are an experimental performance artist but not a very nice one.

So today, the new door way was quite astoundingly at ground level, so you could park your car and, you know, walk to the door and then walk in. There appeared to be parking for people with disabibility stickers actually right next to the bit of footpath nearest the door. You'd almost be forgiven for thinking that they really actually wouldn't quite mind if some people went in and looked at the Art. So we did, and the new galleries at the front are really very fabulous, with such other innovations as Enough Light to See the Art*, Enough Space to See the Art, and Art that You Actually Might Enjoy Seeing. A+ to the person who told the gallery folk that Art can, in fact, be a Fun Thing to See and that people might like to actually see it.

I am willing to admit I have been utterly spoiled by the attitude of the Queensland Art Gallery and its new off-shoot the Gallery of Modern Art. I like old-QAG better than I like the new-QAG/GOMA art complex, ironically because I think the new set up has a teensy bit too much light on a sunny day. There's also the minor problem about how you either get wet or sunburned when walking between the two galleries, but that's a nice excuse to stop of and see what's going on in the kid's space at the Queensland State Library, so no biggy.

The thing about QAG is, they give every impression of wanting people (including children, rickety people and people who are not likely to speak in Hushed and Awed tones of the impasto or the impetigo or whatever) to, you know, look at the art. They also like to encourage people to make art, laugh at art, think about art, buy art in the art shop and generally be as art-friendly as possible. I suppose if you are a person who thinks that art is only there to be discussed in hushed and awed tones, this is probably very annoying. But for those of us who think that publicly funded art galleries have an obligation to include the public, it's definitely a plus.

*Before any of you get all curatorial on my bottom, I know that some art does need very low light for very good reasons. I applaud the care they take in looking after such art. But in other galleries such as the Musee D'Orsay or the Ian Potter Gallery you can generally tell if you are looking at flowers or a face. This being able to tell the difference oddly enhances the art-viewing experience for ignorant art goers such as myself. I also like knowing what colour of something I am looking at and being able to have a punt at what it might be made of without having to read the didactic panel. I also like being able to read the didactic panel. I love saying 'didactic panel' as well, in case you hadn't already noticed. It's didactic and it's a panel!

Friday, October 15, 2010


At least the abundant snails happily carry out their adventures outside. The slugs, it seems, like to come inside.

I don't much like slugs. They lack the cheerful curiousity of snails. And, well, they're slugs. I dislike them less than I dislike leeches. No, I fear them less than I fear leeches, I think I dislike them almost as much.

Generally, I never thought about slugs until I lived in a house in Fitzroy. Quite a lot of Very Big Slugs thought they lived there too, and they often seemed to think it in the middle of the night at about the same time I thought it would be a nice time to go to the toilet.

The toilet was in the backyard, so there were robust and outdoorsy snails as well, which I didn't mind until the night I stepped on one while my feet were only wearing my mum's old pink fluffy hockey socks.

I didn't have slippers because I was enduring rent stress, and preferred to spend any surplus on beer. Which probably explains why I needed to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.

Slugs. And snails. Our slimy neighbours.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stuck there in Melbourne again

In which I am surprised that there are not more Dan and Al videos on YouTube, and I am reminded of how recent this whole putting things on the intertubes thing really is (and how old I really am).

In which I wish I was indeed stuck in Melbourne again, although I was bloody glad to get out of there back in the day. And I made it all the way north to Queensland but I don't think Dan Warner's lyrics had anything to do with it.

In which the kid and the husband and I are all feeling slightly dismal being away from loved ones in other towns.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010





Saturday, October 9, 2010

News from France

We had news from one of the many bits of blood the kid left behind in Sydney when the rest of him came home. This bit has been to Paris, and Parisian researchers have had a dashed good look at it. You can imagine them looking like the young Alain Delon if you like, or perhaps like Julie Delpy. They probably don't look like that,but we probably won't ever meet them, so we can think what we like.

The blood has DNA in it. The DNA tells the researchers that the kid does have some kind of interruption in a gene. The gene is a gene that other children who have had rhabdomyolysis have a disruption in as well, but not the same kind of disruption*.

On the one hand the information is completely useless. Taking care of the kid does not change a bit, we need to make sure he does not get fatigued, does not get too hot or too cold, does not lack for carbohydrates. We need to make sure that if he becomes ill we seek help and maybe extra intravenous fluids. He will need a lot of patience with a lot more medical attention that a kid would choose.

But it tells us something we didn't know. It's not just a coincidence. It's a particular thing. They still don't know, I guess, if it's linked to other things, but this thing, this propensity to rhabdoymyolysis, needs to be managed independently. Which is useful to know. Also, if they keep doing research, we'll know if it's relevant to us, and to what extent, so that is potentially helpful too.

And it's one of the few clear bits of information we've had. So even if it's not helpful, it's still good to know something instead of guessing and surmising and wondering everything.

Also, it means that a little tiny bit of the kid has been to Paris recently, which can't be a bad thing now can it?

*For some reason this sounds to me like the lyrics to a Billy Bragg song.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Last Airbender

For a film filled with clunky, declamatory exposition, this turned out to be quite diverting. The kid found parts of it frightening, but wanted to keep watching.

The fellow playing the Fire Bender prince was frankly a bit too high quality for the rest of the action, but the others were pleasant enough to spend some time with. Not so much the water bending princess, who seemed to have popped over from gossip girls and had a more than unusually unfortunate hair style in her first scene. I did like the glowing fish - always a positive.

Another positive, the father in this film is so horrendous that it will make parents look really, really good to their children.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Things that mildly annoyed me today

A toilet roll hanging on the coat hook in the toilet at work so I had nowhere to hang my jacket.

People talking at the next desk when I had stayed back late at work to get work done without being interrupted by people talking.

The way my thigh muscle went 'twang' while attempting to sprint (aka lumber).

Feeling dead tired for no good reason (except for the beautiful spring weather).

Otherwise, a very sound day with a wholesome bread roll for lunch, lovely company and an occasional sense of achievement.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A bit of a cake wrecks moment (no photos, alas)

This weekend the family held a 90th birthday party for my Grandpa. I don't think he liked it much. Like a grumpy teenager, he hung around with his mates from down the pub and avoided cousins. But we all had a good time.

I pretty much strategically only spoke to cousins I like, so that was very nice. And to great aunts. Nothing like a bit of great-auntage to make an afternoon enjoyable, I say. To be frank, none of us in my generation are particularly clear how we are all related, so choosing who to be related to on the basis of entertaining conversation seems valid enough.

My mum organised everything, including copious afternoon tea catering, the bowls club location and so on. Decorations were provided by my brother (balloons, streamers, big silver number 90s), but put up by my mum.

My brother also ordered the cake. The woman who took the order told him in great detail all the great stuff that was going to be on there, including the words 'Happy Birthday'. When Mum went to collect in on Saturday it was a plain, brown rectangle. The woman's excuse for not doing a single decoration on the cake was "I'm not very good at cake decorating". Ahem.

Well, no. Not precisely good at customer service or honesty, perhaps, either, but she appears not to have noticed that. Luckily my mother (who has been practising fierceness on the Labor Party) insisted on a refund, and found another suitable cake and someone who could put stuff on it (white chocolate swirls, and a white choclate name-platey kind of thing with appropriate Happy Birthday messages). I wish she'd taken a photo of the plain cake.

Although frankly, after the mini-chocolate mousses and the individual pavlovas, birthday cake was frankly a daunting option. Luckily we ate some for dinner, so that was OK.

I gave a speech, which was neither amusing nor touching. Grandpa gave a speech which was droll. He's so frequently grumpy, it's easy to forget how funny he can be.

I think he was glad we'd all made the effort, but he would have preferred the whole thing to happen without him actually having to turn up.

When I turn 90, I'll meet you all down the pub, eh.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

For those days when you are feeling more sophisticated than a trifle eater.

But when you still feel the need for comfort blogging. This patisserie blog will also amaze, delight and occasionally horrify. I am addicted. It's lucky that all the pastries are in Paris, and I am not. I can't imagine I could afford very many of them, I suppose, anyway.

I found it via David Lebovitz, which is also a wonderful place to visit if you are feeling all Francophile and hungry.

I love food blogs.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Love is a battlefield

Apparently Pat Benatar is coming to Australia. Whoaoaoaoaoao. We are strong.

Do you think she still shakes her womanly bosom at men who threaten her in bars?