Friday, February 27, 2009

Tellingly ...

Lucy and I are playing with her dollhouse, with Lucy scripting as usual:

Well, now that we've finished the biscuits, let's have a conversation.
So, what shall we buy next week?

I fear we have not opted out of the consumerist society quite as much as we think we have.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bringing up baby

I sit on the couch and watch it, alone, with Al in Hobart for work. I am frozen with horror at the 1950s approach. It doesn't ring true, this pitting of baby against parents in a battle for control, and it seems very cruel to me.

But more distressing is the mother of twins, weeping at putting her newborns out in the cold for hours, to 'blow the cobwebs off them', weeping because it seems so wrong and being told by partner and nurse to do as she's told. When both my kids were born, my self was disassembled, my confidence gone. But there was no-one standing by to tell me I was foolish, that I needed to back off, shut up, and let go of any last shreds of belief in myself and my knowledge. I was surrounded by people who trusted me.

It was painful to watch that woman so firmly put in her place.

Potato lead recovery

Last night I went to hear Henry Reynolds, Peter Cundall and Buck Emberg talk about survival in a recession. They were charming - Reynolds is truly all that a public intellectual should be; even his hair is exactly right - and sometimes thoughtful (except for H.R. who is always thoughtful, never anything but).

Pete's main point: plant potatoes. And build more community gardens to foster connections between people and counter racism. Gardening can save the world. You'd expect nothing else from the classic materialist. I was at peace with my decision to grow more flowers but after listening to the praises for potatoes, my inner peasant has emerged and I'm wondering if a bed of purple sprouting broccoli would do a better job at recession-proofing our household than roses ever could.

Both P.C. and B.E. were so individualist in their proposals to something that will alter whole communities. Plant potatoes, help each other, get rid of debt, live with less. Yep, yep, yep and yep: it all sounds very possible. But then I talk to a friend, a financial planner, ironing his shirt before he goes to sit behind a desk and tell people to invest in gold, and he mentions scenarios that make me feel cold inside, cold for the people who are waiting for the axe to fall, and for those who've already got the chop. (And all the while his kitten bats at the striped shirt).

And I think perhaps that for many people, planting potatoes is not going to be enough.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I am wrinkling, greying, thickening and losing my hearing; and I am okay with these changes.

But yesterday Al bought me a cord for my specs. And I accepted it. And my mortality loomed before me in a way it never has before. All those changes to my body are the marks of experience, but a cord for my glasses, well that just seems old.

Friday, February 20, 2009

There is a bee in my office

Normally, I leave such critters alone. I like bees: their roundedness, their boldness, their sound, the way they look against the purple of the backyard artichokes they are mining for pollen.

But one floor up, in an office that looks over cars and asphalt and has no real opening to the outside world, this bee is out of place and threatening.

I cannot gently hustle him out. I fear it is about to end badly for one of us.

And it has.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Strangely distracting, and beautiful

This is how Lucy described a painting she had finished.

Not 'a tree' or 'an ocean' but 'strangely distracting, and beautiful'.

Not 'strangely distracting, and oddly beautiful. Not 'strangely distracting, but beautiful'. I think she got it just right.

I love the elegance of my daughter's phrase.


Three days ago Nell told me a story of swimming in the ocean, fighting off a shark which had bitten her hand, and traveling to the doctor on the bus (we don't let the girls watch the news - they're both crazy for sharks and drama).

I love that two months ago Nell had only a very few words and now she uses them to invite me into a world that I will only ever see through a glass darkly.


I love that Al and I have offered the girls words and now those words are all their own.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Wychwood is, I think, a very good name for a garden at the end of a lane at the foot of the central plateau.

It is a good name for a place with a labyrinth and a creek at the bottom of the garden;
it is a good name for a place that is quiet and elegant and intriguing.

I have no garden, really, at the moment. The dry and lack of time means I've some islands of brave plants soldiering on in an expanse of dust and, in the better places, mulch.

Sometimes I feel gardening is about being humble in the face of my own failure; sometimes I think it is about being fatalistic about those failures (but then I walk past an old, old woman bending down to pull up dandelions from her driveway). Sometimes, though, it is inspiring and exciting when I walk through a place that is loved, where plants are valued and trusted to seed and spread, and I see a gardeners' grace in the time, cost and care taken to nurture a piece of land that, of course, can't belong to them forever.

The stories of old people planting trees, knowing they'll never see them grown, are lovely for their message of faith in a long future that can't be claimed. But equally beautiful is the thought of building something for the time being, knowing it may not last out the decade - or the year - or even, quite horribly, the week - and doing so anyway because what there is today matters as much as the possibility of the future.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A place for everything

In the glove box:

2 x parking permits
1 x sunscreen
1 x knife
1 x sea urchin

I think the car needs a clean out.

So does my in-box. My work is piling up, quite literally, into a tower that threatens to fall and crush me. I miss blogging. I miss the fun writing but seem unable to find space in my head and in my timetable to think about Things.

Life has become a matter of keeping on top of it all. I seem unable to balance my life with any grace or consistency.

And now, instead working the way I need to work, I keep reading about the fires and crying. My mind bounces back from what happened to people, to animals, to communities. I am truly thankful to be living where I live - I understand the hobbits.

Monday, February 2, 2009


I am uncool. It's true, and it's okay. I'm a thirty-six year old mother of two with a house in the suburbs and a generally harried air and (I'm almost sure) the wrong sneakers; I'm not aiming for cool. So I'm not embarrassed to say that I love to visit the Launceston Horticultural Society's flower shows at St Albie's Hall down the road from Brickfields. I love it in a non-ironic, really looking forward to it, I'd like a lamington and a cup of tea kind of a way.

Two dollars gets me an hour to wander between of row after row of colour and form, funny horticultural names, and stalls with seriously cheap perennials. I am always the youngest person in the room, and I win the love of every older person who fears the art and science of flower arranging and growing for exhibition are being lost: I am the future of their passion, and I think I wear that mantle with some grace (but no cool). And lately, I have learned to become a dahlia fancier.

I think dahlias must be one of the most uncool of flowers: all soldier rows and elderly men pre-occupied with size and rigidity. But, check it out:

They're like little manifestations of mathematical formulae. Plus, it's easy to tell a good story in a dahlia show: Devon Carnival, Devon Temptation, Devon Caress, Devon Seduction ... and then the sad ending to the tale: Devon Citation. (Who new Devon was such a hotspot for licentiousness?)

Oh, the youth of today with their hair gel and those night clubs - they don't know where to go for a good time. But I do.