Monday, August 29, 2011

Odd Numbers

A kilometre away, I hear the bell ring for recess, or snack-snack as the girls call it (to differentiate it from fruit-snack).

Who did you play with today? Martin asked Una a few weeks ago. She said No one. He asked Fred the same question. She replied: Bedda.

Last week the teacher rang me to tell me that Una's pants were loose in the waist and Una was worried they might fall down. I walked down with Avery in the pram and new pants. I happened to arrive at recess. A group of four or five girls, grades 2 and 3, ran around the school building arm in arm, conspiring about something.

Una! One of them calls and sets off running back in the direction they'd come from. I follow her. I find Fred and Una together, drawing with chalk on the pavement. The girl who had set off to find Una kneels down and joins in the drawing. Una wants to draw so I wait with Avery, hanging back a little.

At the periphery skulks Emily (not her real name). I gather that Emily has done something to Fred and Fred is upset. The group of girls I'd encountered before are looking for Emily and they find her. What's wrong Em-ma-lee? Emily runs off, shouting: Just leave me alone. It is not exactly bullying, but there is an undercurrent. We only want to help, say the group of girls. I feel awkward and out of place, not sure where to position myself in this political landscape - a mother in the playground doesn't belong. Luckily the bell goes and they are back under their teacher's jurisdiction. The kids crowd outside the classroom all trying to get a wave out of Avery. Look at this little guy, says one of the boys to his friend. He's awesome. Avery who is so talented at waving he often does it with both hands at the same time, stays absolutely still, staring with wonder and awe at all these faces, which though a small class (13 children including my girls), must seem a tidal wave of children to him.

I take Una inside to the toilets to put on her new pants. Her old pants are a little baggy but fine. That's funny, she says. Before they were falling down. Anyway, I promise her we will throw away the old pants, which are old - they were a hand me down from one of the grade two girls. As I help her dress, Una tells me that Emily threw away some kind of flower arrangement that Fred had been working on for days. She just picked it up like this Una demonstrates and scattered it over the basketball courts and Fred cried and I looked after her. I am glad. I am sad. Fred cried about it again on Friday night, feeling left out, that the kids are all pairing up, there's an odd number of kids in her class. But the up side of this is that Fred and Una are playing together at school, sticking up for each other, also enjoying each other more at home. I point this out to Fred and she agrees. But she longs for a best friend.

Last week on the walk to school, Una ran ahead so she could cross on her own with the crossing guard. Fred and I dawdled. I reminded Fred of all the friends she has that don't go to her school. Fred said sadly that she thought we should move to the city, closer to our other friends, tugging a sensitive nerve in my own heart. But on another day she looked around at the trees, the sunshine, the dazzling sky and said: I am lucky to live here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


So on Sunday Only Ever Always was launched into the world with the help of Kate Constable and my lovely girl Fred. Karen from Miscmum put a video of mine and Fred's bit on youtube (apparently it cuts out midthanks, so if you don't see yourself getting bethanked, you can be assured that YOU did, of course YOU did, YOU were integral to the whole business.) Readings were wonderful hosts. Every time I turned around I saw another lovely face of someone I really like, friends, families, writers, readers. It was a WHOLE ROOM full of people I really liked. So worth doing, for that reason alone. I haven't had a wedding (or an engagement party or a kitchen tea whatever that is) and having Christmas birthdays, Martin and I don't throw many parties. So it was actually really nice and a little unusual, just to see all these people gathered, a crowd made up of likeminded friendly book people, all their for me. *SOB*. And many people who didn't come sent lovely thoughts and messages of support, so all in all I felt...liked. It's a nice feeling.

So, in case you missed it or want to relive the good times:
Kate blogged the launch here
Megs blogged it here
You can read the anatomy of Only Ever Always at Simmone's blog (what a lovely project, how fascinating to till the foundations of people's imaginations)
Misrule reviewed it here
Alphareader reviewed it here
And you can buy it here or here or at your local independent bookseller in Australia and NZ.

And here's the video:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Easy Cupcakes

This is a recipe I found on the Taste forum, lost and then bashed a whole lot of combinations into google to find it again, so I am recording the recipe here for future procrastibaking. It's an odd method, but there is something oddly satisfying about it and the cakes looked lovely (they did shrink a little but I forgave them). I made them for my mother-in-law's birthday, along with the mini flourless chocolate cupcakes also on the plate. I decorated the white cupcakes with a marshmallow dipped in white chocolate and then hundreds and thousands and stuck to the cake with more white chocolate melted with a touch of cream, which is also what I drizzled on the flourless cupcakes. They were so cute and I wish I'd got a close up but I only took the quick snap above. (I felt like a bit of a dill standing in my sister-in-law's kitchen photographing the food.) I did the marshmallow thing because I wasn't sure if my mother-in-law (who has to avoid fat for health reasons) would eat a cupcake but I knew she wouldn't resist a marshmallow.

2 eggs
vanilla essence
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup SR flour
  1. Into a 1 cup metric measuring cup break your eggs and fill to the top with thickened cream.
  2. Beat 1 minute.
  3. Add a splash of vanilla essence and the caster sugar.
  4. Beat 3 minutes. It will go lovely and thick.**
  5. Sift the flour in and fold into mixture.
  6. Spoon into 12 patty pans (about half full). Bake in moderate oven until light golden and cakes spring back when lightly touched in the centre (I think this took 12 minutes in my fanforced oven).
*Scout is the user name of the person who first posted these cupcakes. They seem to be somewhat legendary on the Taste forum.
**I actually timed this and realised I was quite bored of beating after one minute and thought it MUST have been AT LEAST THREE MINUTES OR OMIGOD FOREVER, so it was good to user the timer.