Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Kris: That guy next door, he intrigues me. He drives home every day, in his work clothes, and then he goes again. What does he do in there? He's not there for very long at all, he doesn't have time to do very much, and every day I see him I wonder what he's doing. What do you think he's doing?

Al: He works at the Coles on Wellington St. He comes home for lunch.

Some days, life in suburbia is a real let down.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Say them aloud

It's not all misanthropic pharmacists ...

We went back to Liffey Falls this past weekend, and visited my favourite nursery on the way. It's in the bush, silent but for the birds, and with the possibility of sighting a wombat in the far reaches, down near the creek.

But mostly I love it for the names of the plants, which read like a list from a book of fairies:

Weaver's delight
Tunbridge buttercup
Bushman's bootlace
Eastern whorled cheeseberry
Creeping dustymiller
Pretty grassflag
Running postman and
Winter beardheath

And for those who prefer to garden in the shadow of the cauldron:

Knobby clubsedge
Swamp fescue
Kidney weed
Shiny swampmat and

Some days, I garden with words, not plants. Because is there a backyard anywhere that wouldn't be more lovely for some sweet holygrass in the corner?

Friday, October 24, 2008

On the less than stellar service at the pharmacy

I am pissed off, incandescent with rage, speechless ...

I went to the pharmacy to get a prescription filled. As I handed the paper over to the chemist he said, "You keep an eye on those kids, would you". And not in a nice way. Weird, and I shrugged it off. The girls wandered about touching and looking but never opening, never breaking and never running, and I stood beside them, making sure they didn't oh, you know, drink poison or eat soap.

Then this guy came out from behind his counter grabbed Nell and speaking to girls, with his back to me said to them, 'You go sit over there [in a seat next to a pile of cardboard boxes, at the very back of the shop]. It's not place to wander about unsupervised". And not in a nice way.

Well, I was brought up all WASP-y and the cold shoulder, the dirty look are my weapons of choice in times of crisis. But I lost it. I whirled about (and how often do we get to whirl in a chemist?) and went at him: "hands off my kids; how dare you!; how rude!; never once were they unsupervised!; they have opened nothing, broken nothing!; just who on earth do you think you are?; never in all my life ... ". And then I demanded back my prescription and stormed out in such a blaze of righteous fury, I melted the organic honey and beeswax lip balm, with Lucy saying her clear and carrying voice, "He was such a very rude man, Mummy"; my but she does enunciate well when I want her to.

Am still furious.

Really, can I be the very first woman with kids in the shop? Surely women are the key market, what with our taking responsibility for our families' health and loving all that lavender scented crap that lies around these stores. Or has every other woman allowed their children to systematically strip the place down, so that he only now, with me, finally learned his lesson?

Here's another couple of lessons: if you don't want kids touching stuff, don't leave illustrated boxes of chocolate and mint (!!!) face masks lying in a basket on the floor, and don't leave shiny lipstick tubes at kid eye-height, and offer somewhere to chain up the children (preferably with a bowl of water nearby). Stop worrying so much about finger marks on your marked down $5 crap, and stop acting like my kids' fingers are somehow nastier than all those people who walk around using the testers and never buying a thing.

And don't piss off a woman who comes in for birth control pills. Because if I don't get them, I'll have more rugrats and I'll bring them back to your store and let them run amok. And I'll hiss at you as you cower amongst your pills and cheap perfume, "You brought this on yourself, you angry fuck".

And to anyone who reads this and even thinks, "But some children are poorly behaved", let me say this: well, who isn't, sometimes? And also, shove it up your arse.

So, have a nice day, everybody.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sky high

I live with this reality almost every day:

Lu is a climber. She will climb trees, rocks, indoor climbing walls, chain link boundary fences, the top shelf in the linen cupboard, ladders and anything else that offers itself. We are often discussing at just what age she will be allowed on the roof (fourteen and that is final, even if Daddy is up there with her). And Nell, being the younger sister and a big fan of Ucy, climbs too, pulling herself up the same trees, rocks and fences - not as high as Lulu but with just as much skill and determination. They are proud, rightfully so, of their climbing. And so am I.

But I am not a climber. I've never been brave and since my second pregnancy I suffer severe vertigo. The thought of being on a ladder makes me want to topple over backwards. When the girls want to run amok in the library, they pitter patter to the second floor in the gleeful knowledge that I can't follow and will be reduced to standing five steps up from the ground floor, calling at them to Come. Down. Now. (I find this to be not at all effective.) So I stand and watch with a tremor in my heart and oftentimes, my body.

It's not the climbing, it's the falling. And it's not that I won't catch them, it's trying to stand by, not hover with my hands just behind their backs and under their bottoms. It's the letting go.

Talk about a metaphor for motherhood ...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pop Quiz

What is Eleanor, aged 1 year and 11 months, saying?

a) Why yes, Mummy, I am happy to do as you request. I love you and respect you.
b) While I acknowledge the legitimacy of your point of view and the wisdom you have gained from many years of experience, I have a different perspective on this particular issue. I hope we can keep the dialogue open and work together to find a mutually acceptable solution.
c) No.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New season

My broad beans are higher than the apple trees. I spent so long looking up, watching the tips race to the sky, I missed the beans down below until I stumbled upon them today when I was searching for snails. And so the first of the much anticipated seasonal treats has arrived. Soon there will be tomatoes, corn and basil, peaches and the flood of produce from the garden, where they currently grow quietly stuffed in between the flowers.

Despite my overlooking them, the beans are still small, small enough to avoid the double peeling that stops me making full use of the bushels of beans I collect. I boiled them up and we had them over risotto, with grilled asparagus on the side. Jackie French has written that you'll never feel poor with a vegetable garden filled with luxuries - this was very true tonight.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I leave the op-shop with a tantruming kid under each arm: Nell screams for a baby and Lucy screams for a wedding dress.

Feminist mothering : 0
Patriarchy: 2

Monday, October 6, 2008

The weeding

Once upon a time, our house was owned by someone who knew how to garden. We have curved beds, expensive edging, some 'garden rooms' and other evidence of careful planning. And then in some later era of the pre-us history, a new owner moved in, someone whose planting criteria were ugly, invasive and just plain inappropriate. I have spent four years now arranging for the removal of trees that have ruined our foundations, fallen on the neighbour's house and sent up a forest of suckes that give me welts. I have spent a summer standing on a tin roof dragging some unnamed vine out of the elegant old apricot tree. I have spent a fortune on knee-deep mulch. I have sent Al out with a crowbar to do battle with unwanted and unproductive blackberries and root systems the size of a small city. And this past weekend I dug and burrowed out bulblets of some nasty plant, doing so imperfectly, with a sore back, and knowing that they'll all be back as soon as I put in the tomatoes.

Sifting through the soil and thinking of the forest of sticky-weed I've yet to face, I thought about all those well-meaning de-constructions and re-interpretations of 'weed': a plant out of place, a successful competitor, a too successful competitor, an as-yet un-identified resource, a victim of gardening fashions. Or maybe, a weed is a plant that brings with it a deadened despair; it is a destroyer of weekends, an embitterer of souls.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Alternate realities

Things I thought I would never say #20067:

"Keep you toes out of the biscuit mix, please" [requested while the mixmaster was beating]


Lucy constantly demands I play Speed Racer with her. She is Speed, I am a baddie and I do things like throw her out of her bed, beat her up and put her in jail so that she won't be able to compete in the trans-desert/ trans-jungle/ trans-arctic race. Three weeks ago she demanded constant Cinderella role playing; as wicked step-mother I would yell at her and make her do the housework.

Generally speaking I hate role plays but I find these to be cathartic.

Now, a return to an old favourite: Skippy. But whereas in the past I was Skippy to Lu's Sonny (very relaxing - I just clicked my tongue every now and then), now I am Ranger Matt Hammond. This is proving to have great possibilities for psychic space. I am currently graphing wombat migration patterns as Sonny and Flight Ranger Jerry (Nell) save a possum in the backyard.

Al is Mark, the awkward and ineffectual older brother, played by a young man who over-acts and is never quite sure how to hold his body in moments of dramatic tension. This makes me smirk - even when casting decisions are made by a three year old, it's nice to win the lead.