Blog-vember or NoNoNaNoWriMo

No No NaNoWriMo for me. I have come to a sad realisation that I cannot participate in NaNoWriMo this year. As much as this decision pains me, it is the right one for this year. I just cannot commit the necessary time and my experience last year taught me exactly what that commitment looks like. Of course, I am not willing to give up altogether. Too easy to do that.


Instead of NaNoWriMo this year, I give you Blog-vember!

A blog post every day for the month of November. At least that way I have a target and a writing goal. Feel free to leave pull-your-socks-up comments if I start writing about what I had for lunch – unless of course the lunch was at Tetsuya’s then you’ll just have to suffer through a blow by blow description.

For added interest, I will also give myself the end of November as the deadline for my long overdue book reviews that I keep promising and failing to deliver.

Join me! If you are NaNo-ing then go you. But if you are not join me for Blog-vember.

A post a day for November. Who’s in?

When the boot tied to the washing line swings your way …

The other day I had a little chat on twitter about family.

My literary buddy James said ‘Sometimes family is like a boot tied to a rotating hills hoist: it just keeps hitting you in the head if you don’t step out of the way.’

A little while later I replied.

No matter who your family are, they are the ones that land the body blows. There are the ones that catch you in the back of the head when you are quietly just getting on with things, like hanging out the washing. As much as they love and support you, they can also knock you for six. Well mine do. Almost daily.

When my darling toddler wakes up at 10-30pm and has a big roll over and cries; when will that stop distressing me? It undoes me, every night. He is fine, of course, just resettling. But he cries, breaks my heart, turns over and unaware, just goes back to sleep. I stand pathetically at his door, listening.

Family, they can do that to a person!

I could step out of the way. I could avoid that boot. I could re-adjust my thoughts about the roll over. After all, it’s just a sleeping pattern. He’s not really awake. He’s not upset. And yet I can’t bring myself to beat down the instinct that says, he needs me. He doesn’t. Or that a cuddle would make him feel better. It wouldn’t. Or I could think, this happens every night, he’s fine.

But I can’t.

I can’t duck the boot marked family aimed at my head.



My perfect life

This past couple of weeks have been the toughest my family has endured for a long long time.

I am not going to discuss the specifics.

When everything is going to total crap I have one coping mechanism – it is perverse, because it involves a complete mind fuck.

I imagine my perfect life. Not the life I am living, but the life I want to have. This is perverse because it brings into sharp relief how my actual life is going and its manifest physical defects. Read More

Moscow mules for all…

This week it finally cracked 20 degrees! To celebrate I made my first Moscow Mule of the summer.  It’s simple really, vodka, lime, ginger beer and mint. Like all the classics it has a long history, it was created in 1941 in Manhattan but was particularly popular in the 50s during a vodka craze in the US – particularly the East Coast, or so my extensive *cough* research tells me. Originally it was served in copper cups, apparently the famous Cock ‘n’ Bull bar had goblets engraved with the names of the celebrities who drank there. LA Weekly tells me Greer Garson drank hers in a ‘glass of alarmingly huge proportions.’ The Sunset Strip institution closed in 1987 after 50 years.

Anyway back to warmer weather and great drinking opportunities. Last summer I became slightly obsessive about this fantastic cocktail. There were many instagram moments, and even a hashtag #moscowmulesallround

I said on Friday afternoon that I would blog a recipe, so here it is.

Lay your hands on the tallest glass you can find. Smash the mint into the bottom of the glass with some ice.

Add two shots – 60mL – vodka

Add fresh lime -15 to 20 mL (about one per glass)

Top up the glass with ginger beer.

You can use alcoholic ginger beer or soft. If you use ‘beer’ then be sure to have prepared the dinner first – you only need one of these before you won’t want to do anything else for the rest of the day, which is just as it should be.


I’m not going to be Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel, 90, and still looking amazing


I bought new sunglasses today and in the process I had a shocking revelation.

At no time soon, am I going to come close to being Iris Apfel.

That is to say, I tried on some frames approximately 50% of the scale of those pictured above and rejected them immediately they made contact with my face. ‘But they are so ‘IN’ said the optometrist. ‘I have a pair like that’. I re-shelved them as fast as I had picked them up. Essentially I am a chicken. I have my moments of ‘look at me’ but this was not one of them. I came away with modest, tortoiseshell, ordinary sized frames. Before you give up on my completely, I painted my nails blue this afternoon. OPI. Hardcore bright blue. That will last for two days, till I catch myself and it will be gone. (I know, it’s just blue. And it is absolutely nothing to do with the Cutex Blue Opal we used to wear at school.)

Fashion daring, I do not possess. Fantastic at 90? It is debatable whether I will ever get there. I mean, I freak out if I am wearing too much print. By too much, I mean, any, at all.

I will however, have my own hair. I can, at least, whether through sheer laziness, or aversion to the endless wasted time at the hairdresser, claim to have my natural hair colour. All the grey achieve through hard work and ageing. Just pray that when I get my eyes tested on Wednesday that I don’t need reading glasses, or else I shall have to choose ghastly boring reading glasses and disappoint myself all over again.

Are you courageous and fashion daring? Tell me your tricks.

A hole is to dig

Sometimes you don’t know what you want, you don’t know what things are for and you certainly don’t know what you are actually doing. I have been in this place. I’d been working and writing, with some mothering on the side, but none of it was going well, except the mothering, that was pretty good. I wasn’t working at full capacity and I’d convinced myself that it was freeing me up to write. Except I wasn’t. I wasn’t writing at all. My heart wasn’t in it. I hadn’t felt like it. Such a cop-out. It is a disciple after all. It is a calling after all. It had called me, and I had turned my face into the wind, to drown the calling shout.

The philosophical view of this could be that my purpose wasn’t clear. There was a lack of clarity about what I was becoming. There are many philosophers for whom this is an entire life’s work and writing. There are many people for whom this never becomes clear. For me, I wasn’t sure it wasn’t clear. I thought I knew. I was entirely wrong. As a philosopher, and after a month’s reflection, I now know this isn’t good enough. I can’t halfheartedly do anything.

A hole is to dig

Buttons are to keep people warm

Children are to love

A book is to look at

Ruth Krauss’s work A hole is to dig with Maurice Sendak’s beautiful illustration has stayed deep inside my mind since childhood. It is sub-titled ‘A First Book of Definitions’. From a philosophical point of view, this beguiling children’s book provides a breathtakingly simple and elegant example of what are called ‘artifacts’ and their functions. ‘A hole is to dig’, ‘a face is for making faces’. What something is for, what it is good for, is sufficient to explain what it is. This is, a rather computational, rational and logic based sort of philosophy. However, this little book is the perfect example of the theory of ‘artifacts’, or things are defined by their function. I have been unable to shake the fragment ‘a hole is to dig’. It has been rising to the surface of my mind almost daily.

It has caused me to wonder over and over, what am I for? What is my purpose? What am I doing?

I had found myself boxed in. Unable to see how my own thinking was limiting me. This is the great value of philosophy, and of children’s books, whether written by philosophers or not, they show you what you are. They also show you that your own nature can be concealed from yourself, but only for a little while.

Hands are to hold

A hand is to hold up when you want your turn

I am in danger of dislocating my shoulder my arm is so far up.

All references in italics from,  A hole is to dig, Ruth Krauss – words and Maurice Sendak – pictures, 1952. You can buy a copy for the child within who needs reminding of what holes are for here: - Australia's #1 online bookstore

End of an era … good buy red stripey thing

End of an era

My red and cream Remo stripey thing has been my constant companion for the past 16 years. I was wearing it when my first nephew was born. I wore it soon after my own baby was born, it was the first piece of clothing I wore at home after Benedict was born. I’ve worn it for all occasions, almost, for all of those years. I own a Remo stripey thing bought during the “Good Buy Sale” of 1996. I’d wanted one since 1988, but before 1996 I was too student poor to own one, as modestly priced as they were, if you price them per wear.

Now both elbows have worn through, just in the past week. First one, and then the other.

The tragic part is that during the past three years I bought two new blue and white versions, one regular size and then one larger size to accommodate my expanding pregnant self, but I don’t love them nearly as much. I’ve tried but they are just not the same. The wearing of the red and cream one was rationed, judicious during the first year of Benedict’s life, as I saw it ageing, it wearing thin. I did break out from my own strictures occasionally.

Stripey and stripey show

I tried to routinely wear the blue and white versions, to wear them to the same stretch, to the same amount of ‘lived in’ as the red and cream, but the blue two were never the same, no matter how much I wore them. They were never exactly the same size, length or weight as the original. They were great, but not the same, the weight and the length were not quite the same as the original ‘one size fits all’ version. The red felt like a second skin.

Now it is so worn, its seams are coming apart. Its elbows worn out by leaning, by resting on tables, while reading the paper, drinking coffee, cooking the dinner and much more besides. It was always my weekend garment of choice. It was my after work first choice. And now it is worn out. Soon, it will just fall the pieces out of the wash. I will pull it out of the machine and it will just rent, from the sheer exhaustion of being loved to collapse.  I can’t get a new one. Remo General Store is now no more.

That’s it for my favourite piece of clothing of all time. It’s now to be retired in case it tears any more. I will keep it, carefully, stashed away, because sentimentally, I can’t part with it.



Nevermind the blogging, I’ll be at work

It is Friday again tomorrow. I will be going to work, again.

Footpath Closed

The full time working gig is still in progress. There is still another week to go.

So far the tally is one last kid at child care pick up, two blackouts, three lots of takeaway, four million coffees and about fifty seven personal freak out moments, and one shamefully self-indulgent cry-baby melt-down about stationery (yes really). I have spent the month at the very bleeding edge of my comfort zone. For me work is all about competence. Actually my whole life is about competence. I like, no I love, being good at stuff. I hate feeling less than on top of my existence. Feeling like I know what is happening, what I need to do, what is expected, who everyone is, what they know and how to get stuff done. That’s my comfort zone, that’s what I like.

When stepping into someone else’s job in an organisation not my own, I have none of these things. I have my inbuilt qualities, my learned patterns, work experience, personal traits; but little of the complete competence which I like to always show the world. There is no time to learn how, there is only action and completion of tasks. There is no time to find out the history, work with the issues, there is only one option, just do it. And then do some more and then on top of all that doing, the phone will not stop and email will flood in and it will only sometimes make any sense and yet, I have to write, well, and quickly and check other people’s writing. And talk about issues, with command of detail on topics I have only had the merest whiff of a briefing on in passing while in the lift on the way to the meeting, where I will be doing the talking.

And the part I actually like about all this, is that everyone knows who I am, but I have only a hint of who they all are. Makes it simpler. At least the confusion is only in one direction. They know what I can do for them. At least for the short time I will be there.

It has been testing. I have flexed all my emotional intelligence. I have been exercising the full extent of my capabilities. Using skills I have been in touch with for a few years at least. And I am better for it.

What do you like to be good at?


On disappointment and insouciance

Disappointments have been creeping in. Stealing quietly through the cracks and taking up residence. Under my skin.

The chicken is a bit boring. The tea tastes ordinary. Will the sun ever bloody shine this winter? Can we have a decent political debate in this country? The work’s a bit too hard. The washing never ends. My god it is cold. Could I really be sick again? Really?

Even though I have tried to foster insouciance, cultivate it, nurture it; it won’t come.

Read More

On the sick list: where too much snot is barely enough

We’ve been on the sick list this week. It’s been a joyous week of coughing, sneezing, snot, tissues and chasing a two year old around waving a vial of medicine he won’t take. It is about as much fun as it sounds. Actually, it’s not. It is totally and utterly like beating your own head against a brick wall, while a two year old shows you his bottom, which as we all know, is lovely when it stops.
We have had an ok run since the last lot of childcare bugs descended. I, myself, managed to remain unscathed through the plague of April. But I felt this one coming for me from a long way off. So, so tired, and then down like a bag of spuds.

There was one tiny piece of joy in all this gloom and snot. I managed to start Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears, I am about to finish it and then write to a review for Australian Women Writers Challenge.

Farewell then, on a pollyanna sort of note. My silver lining was an excellent book.


There are no accidents

I don’t believe in fate, in destiny, but I do believe there are no accidents.

This week there were a lot of blog posts written about the troubles in blogworld. Posts about the jealously and the waves of hatred emanating from strangers, hiding behind their laptops. Other posts approached this question from an appreciation of the work that goes into blogging. How hard writing is. Read More

Filled with wrath

I have spent the past few days full of anger. Literally, brimming over with wrath.

It is not directed toward anyone. There is no smiting of enemies to be done. I have been furious in a way I haven’t felt for a while.

It started on Monday night. I watched 4 Corners. It was about people smuggling. It was about people having their loved ones taken away from them, about men, women and children dying, it was about criminals robbing people of their futures and all their money. At one point during this story, it became apparent that one of these smugglers had sought asylum in Australia, and was detained. During the detention, this person continued to conduct his business. Then suddenly Robert said, I bet they end up in Canberra. I couldn’t believe my ears. What do you mean? I asked him. He explained that all the behaviours added up to amazing audacity and the most audacious place you could end up after entering the country in this manner, was the National Capital, seat of power, and place where the policies and legislation were made.

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