Saturday, November 29, 2008

She Don't Keep No Secrets

My clever friend Jazzy has posted an interview with me on her blog, about blogging, including sharing personal information online. It's long. It is looong. Memo to self - employ internal editor.

"As a writer it was never really an option for me to blog anonymously, since my blog is an extension of my professional identity. I knew from the outset that I wanted my blog to have a strong visual element and be personal rather than an ‘expert’ blog, which is why I post pictures of the girls and my home, among other things."

But enough about me, I'm curious to hear from what do you think about me? Ha ha. Seriously though, I know some of you blog anonymously and some are more open - have you changed your methods at all? How did you decide what your boundaries were? If you do blog anonymously, have you ever been outed?

When you've finished reading it, go and do Jazz's new creative challenge, deadline Sunday 21st December. You can win prizes AND help raise money and awareness for a fantastic, inspiring cause. What could be wrong with that? I love, by the way, that Jazz's generosity has another level, inspiring people to think and act creatively. Everyone needs a little nudge along in that direction once in a while.

Friday, November 28, 2008

soft rain falling

I write this as rain falls and the first of two homemade pizzas cook in the oven I do not love (electric, hélas, and half broken), a kid's pizza with cherry tomatoes, ham and basil. Later, when the children are tucked up, I'll make another for Martin and I, perhaps a caramelised leek, white bean and more basil and perhaps some silverbeet, because our garden is bountiful, hooray. Or I may use up the eggplant, and we have some green olives cunningly stuffed with parmesan which are from heaven.

Anyway, yesterday we were camping and today we are home again as if the beach almost didn't quite happen but we have brought some of it home with us and I'm not just talking about the ratio of sand to foot tucked inside Una's natty canvas yellow sneakers (acquired in haste from the cleaner in a closed op shop, because we forgot to take shoes for her. Could not have bought better shoes for her). Martin and the girls are making a wooden country mansion on the table beside me as I write, also acquired from an op shop (an open one), which seems a terribly wholesome indoor, rainy day activity. Last night as we ate our fish and chips on the beach the first rolls of thunder boomed across the sea. By the time the paddlepops were gone, we'd decided to come home. The girls were home in bed by 9, and it turned out to be a good decision since the girls slept all night in their own beds for the first time in many a long while, like years. Seriously.

Now it is hard rain falling, a good sound on our tin roof, when we know our tank is filling up and the pizza in the oven is filling our house with warm, comforting smells. I should get up and start caramelising the leeks, but I feel like sitting just one minute longer, listening to the rain.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Because I don't have any ideas of my own...

Sally Goes to the Jungle, by Fred
(aged five and not quite three quarters but more than a half)

Once upon a time Sally was taking her dog for a walk (Picture of Sally, with ruby red lips and her orange dog)
when she saw a man. He said. "How do you do?" "Very well, thank you," she said. (picture of Sally, man, both with red smiles, and her PINK dog. Possible inconsistency, possible unremarked upon capacity of dog to change colour at will. Frederique, please see me re foreshadowing/internal logic/consistency issues.)
Suddenly she stepped into a rock and when she stepped out of the rock she was in a jungle. When she touched the leaves they fell down and made a river. (I just touch typed all that - woohoo. Go me. Picture of Sally, a bit smooshed to the edge of the page, pink dog and green leaves and green river. Where does she come up with this stuff? The leaves becoming a river. I'm a bit jealous. Damn her and her unsullied access to raw Freudian imagery.)
Then she saw a friendly alligator. (You know it's friendly because it's red and it hasn't got any teeth. I must admit I thought Sally's dog had undergone another colour change until I realised it had seven legs. Dogs don't have seven legs of course, but possibly alligators do.) "How are you?" she asked. (Sally is a very thoughtful girl.) "Achoo!" he said. "I have a bit of a cold." (picture of a red alligator. There is a big scribble where his head should be, no doubt because the sneeze is of a particularly severe magnitude.)
"Crocodile, do you know the way back to my village?" "Yes, I do. Go back into the rock and come out in 15 minutes." (picture of a house, with a window and a disembodied head but no door. Despite the floating, featureless head, it is really quite sweet. Hmm, looking again it strikes me that perhaps it is a door, albeit rather high off the ground and with no steps, and the head is a door handle. Must check with Fred tomorrow.)
"Daddy, Mummy, I'm home!" (I like the way she used dialogue to imply action, also this is a good example of clever use of narrative time, where not everything needs to be told. Well done, Fred. Picture of Mum, Dad and Sally. Mum is very prominent, Dad has a jaunty smile. Sally's eye is outside her hair, which indicates a possible breach of containment, but does not concern me. After all, her smile is bigger than her body.)
And she went to bed after a nice dinner. The End. (A very tiny Sally in bed, her smile almost covered up by the blanket but you can tell she is still smiling. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the dog. I'm rather worried that it might be still in the jungle. And I have my concerns just how friendly the alligator will be without Sally around politely inquiring after its health. After all, just like Sally, it has Appetites, it might want a Nice Dinner too.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Christmas Goodness - etsy and homemade

I know it's still only November, but I've got the Christmas angst early this year.
Village by mummysam So cute! My girls would love this.
city mini blocks by fidoodle I want to sit down and play with this
nature babies by Baby Robots Don't you just adore them? On a similar note I CRAVE the custom families by Goosegrease
Pippi Longstocking by Isabella's Art Oh I love thee, how I do, and your little monkey too.

I dread to think how much of my life has been spent on etsy. Sometimes I think that on some level I am shopping all the time. *Shudder*. Oh that reminds me, better check my ebay auctions. Anyway, my trick with etsy is when I find something I like, I look at that sellers favourites and so on. It's a deliciously labyrinthine way to search and I've discovered heaps of little beauties I might not have otherwise found.

I find Etsy inspires me to make as much as buy (in fact I've never bought anything off etsy and now that the exchange rate is so ouchy, it probably won't happen this year either.) But I am very inspired by the beautiful things I find on there. I've actually bought some little wooden dolls to have a go at painting my own. And I've been knitting some toys for the gels from this book:
The patterns are incredibly cute (simpler and more 'stylish' than some knitted toys), and actually pretty easy. I've made a dog, which Fred has already claimed (so much for Christmas), and I've finished the knitting bit of a horse, just have to sew and stuff it. To give you an idea of how simple the patterns are, the chickens above are actually made from knitted squares, the shaping comes in the making up. Chickens are next on my list, when I've finished the sausage dog I'm making now. And big bonus, I got my copy from the library! So far I've been using yarn I already have, but I might have to get some fuzzy yellow yarn for the baby chicks. Though the thing I like about using 'stash' (craftlingo for stuff what you've already got from when you didn't knit other things you were going to) is that you end up with interesting variations.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beautiful Things - dolls

I've been busy online shopping for the girls. Or Notshopping. If the Internet was a shopping centre I'd have been drummed out by now - I keep filling up trolleys and then abandoning them. I think I have a problem. I'm a nonshopaholic.

There are so many lovely things online and I have quite expensive tastes, in that I like well made items with character as opposed to the mass produced stuff. While some of the below are probably more my taste than the girls, I am always surprised by the things they love. In particular I find that the Waldorf style dolls are immensely popular with my two, we have one of these and both of them love it. Anyway, I thought I'd share some of my favourite things here over the next few weeks. All the prices are Australian dollars and the links are mostly Australian sites, though I think the Lark doll is the only locally produced item - not sure about the twins. I am actually busily knitting away to make some toys and we're bidding on something for Una on ebay, but we'll buy a couple of special things too.

Fred has asked for a clothesline again, which we, er, santa failed to buy her last year and she hasn't forgotten so today we bought her some dollypegs, sturdy string for a washing line and a very sweet tin bucket to wash in (which probably won't do at all), and doll clothes to wash, presumably with a doll. We do have Feral Baby, but she's happier in the nude. So perhaps it's time for Fred to have a new friend. Though Fred is notoriously fickle in her affections.Lola by Esthex $53.50 (Do have a good poke around The Princess and The Pea while you're there). I adore Lola, but I have to admit, I want her for ME. She would be a good companion for Phyllis, Una's beloved present from Paris. Where does a 3 year old find a name like Phyllis?
Alexandra and Josephine $31.50 Aren't they sweet? Una would love these two. They come in their own little carrier with nappies and bibs.
Kathe Kruse Mini It's Me Doll about $100. Yeah well, I wouldn't spend that either, but if money were no object (ha!), I'd love to get one of these each for my girls. They are just so adorable.

Under the Nile Doll, buy in Oz here $49.95AUD. Very sweet and actually not too expensive for a well made doll that comes with two outfits, much nicer than a plastic doll.

Lark Mrs Rabbit $64 I love her. I had to email and check whether their clothes are removable (there's a Mr too) and the answer is yes. I must admit to having a slight aversion to toys with their clothes sewed on. I am not sure she would entirely be Fred's taste. Una would love her. So would I. Sigh. I love Lark. How great is that wallpaper?
Ana and Isobel $41 big $21 small. I love these Maileg dolls. Sigh. They just make me happy. I want the tablecloth too. And a big bright breezy house.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Last week we went camping to Balnarring. Koalas ahoy, right next to the tent (or our cubby as Fred and Una call it). Noisy growly things that they are, switching between insane bear cub noises to evil genius maniacal laughter (the koalas, not Fred and Una. They have their own brand of maniacal laughter, that falls more into the creepy possessed child category). We even saw a baby koala clutching his mama's back and I was as excited as Fred (for you international readers who may not know this, there are no koalas in Tasmania where I grew up, and this was my first encounter with them in the wild). It was a surprisingly relaxing trip, camping is getting easier, perhaps as the kids get older, or perhaps as we gain more experience about what works and what doesn't with little kids (what doesn't work is expecting the kids to entertain themselves indefinitely with sticks and stones, as much as the idea is picturesque, what does work is lattes from the shop). Balnarring isn't exactly a wild frontier, it's a coastal town that is really kind of a suburb (as a Tasmanian it took me a long time to get my head around the Mornington Peninsula as a 'holiday' destination when it still really feels like another part of Melbourne), but the camp site is huge and was deserted - we had it entirely to ourselves and the beach too a lot of the time. We're going back next week hopefully - and this time we want to go down to the beach at 5am (groan) and watch the racehorses practice in the water, with the dolphins diving around them (for serious).

Anyway, Fred has shown some interest in her bike lately and has been terribly frustrated since training wheels are crap on gravel, which we have a lot of around here. So Martin took the training wheels off and we took the bike down with us. She had a few goes on it, reminding us all the time in a very calm voice that she was just practicing. Mostly we held on to her, but once or twice we let go and she'd coast for a few seconds until she turned around to look if we were still holding on, get the wobbles and slam her feet down.

Yesterday, using this momentum, we went down to the school and this time Fred did it, 'all by herselfus' (as Una likes to say). Watching her pedal freely, round and round the basketball court on her almost too small bike made tears well up in my eyes, and I saw, clear as a bell, Fred's baby face when she first learned to walk, and remembered with a jolt how I felt that day - how excited I felt for her lying awake that night, too wired to sleep, thinking about the possibilities the world now offered, the freedom and independence that walking represented.

For what is a bike but freedom? I was later to riding than Fred (about 10, on my sister's hand me down which dad spray painted gold for me). In my twenties a bike was my main form of transport. Now particularly I look back at me, completely contained on my bike, and marvel at how free I was, how little I had to carry around with me, just whatever would fit in my pockets, or in a small bag on my back, coasting between my house and the other inner city landmarks that mattered to me: various venues and cafes and friends' places and parties and Allen & Unwin's Carlton office and RMIT and the supermarket (to buy 600ml of milk that would last all week - ha!).

What impressed me most was Fred's dogged determination. She was so sure of herself, so sure that she'd get it eventually that she was willing to take her time, remindng us that she was 'just practicing' if she sensed we were going to push her further than she was willing to go. And I knew I had to blog about it, because I wanted a record kept somewhere of 'This is you, this is what you did, and this is how I felt about it. Signed, A Proud Mum.'

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Oh the lolz (or, more on digital narratives)

First for the SVH fans (and I know some of you are):
Best. Recap. Ever.
Prefer Shakespeare?
Here's Hamlet.
People rock.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ah, the eighties

So this popped up in my searching yesterday, and I thought it deserved an entry of its own. Australian readers might remember this, the rest of you can just revel in the sheer eightiesness of this clip. Could it actually be any more eighties?

From the TV show Sweet and Sour.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top 10 TV shows from my eighties childhood

A while ago I did a post on my personal top ten books from my eighties childhood, and it's my most visited post. At the time it did cross my mind that a similar post on television would be interesting. Keep in mind that in Tasmania we had two channels for most of my childhood, ABCTV and TVT6. SBS existed when I was in primary school because I remember Five Times Dizzy by Nadia Wheatley (who I utterly shamed myself in front of when I said in a completely fannish moment whilst working on reception: 'You don't look ANYTHING like I imagined you!' because I sort of expected her to be yiayia from the books, though I didn't admit that much) was made into an SBS miniseries in about 1983. I couldn't watch it because our two televisions - a small black and white and a big coloured clunker - couldn't pick up SBS. Seriously, if you holidayed on the mainland you were obliged to come back and tell everyone what was going to happen in Country Practice in three years time. I remember how excited my sister was when Bethany finally appeared on Tasmanian TV and she could get the resolution to the storyline. When I was 19 and living in Adelaide they introduced a second commercial channel, so I hurried back home to watch it. Well, I had been planning on leaving Adelaide anyway.

Anyway, so my 80s tv watching was probably heavily 70s reruns. The links are mostly youtube videos, so there's a warning for you. Argh. (That's pirate). (I don't know why I'm being a pirate but it seemed appropriate with the whole warning thing, and I guess also goes nicely with the whole illegally uploaded video thing as well.)

1. The Butterfly Ball - this was an obscure little time filler on ABC Kids. I was simultaneously in love with it and terrified of it. One of the reasons I am in love with the Interwebz is being able to reclaim this curious little object and insert it back into my life. I was quite fond of the filler as a genre. I also remember a local filler of footage of old people walking aorund Hobart mall with either the popcorn theme or music box dancer as the music. I adored both these pieces of music as a child so they've kind of blurred together. Anyway, that funny little two minutes always filled me with an aura of intense peace. Hooray for fillers.

2. The Famous Five This music fills me with such a rush of nostalgia, I can feel Mrs Dillon's warm honey crumpets in my belly (I often went to the Dillon's house after school and they were the closest thing to the Famous Five I ever met in real life - English and quite proper to me, with a dog. My friend Joanna could have almost passed for Anne and her older brother Michael definitely had Julian qualities). I wanted to be George, mostly because I wanted to have her special affinity with Timmy, but I loved Anne's swishy hair and I remember trying to emulate her poodly girlish running style. And Julian in those muscle tees. He was so manly.

3. Chocky I blogged about the book before and my mate Zose sent me this opening. It was deliciously spooky and all the better because I loved the book so much. I have dim memories of other books being turned into ABC dramas, like perhaps Carrie's war by Nina Bawden, but they never overwrote the book - this one the book and the show are kind of enmeshed in my mind.

4. Metal Mickey An amazing insight into the role computers would play in our daily lives. Not. Actually (and I'm fairly sure my brother doesn't read my blog on a regular basis) there's something about Metal Mickey that reminds me of my brother. Can't quite put my finger on it. But there you go.

5. HR Puffinstuff This show was so lame. But I loved it. I have fond memories of The Banana Splits too - same puppeteers? I recall watching The Splits with an expression of bemusement on my face.

6. I'm going to cheat and roll Sesame Street, The Muppets and Fraggle Rock into one. If I had to pick a favourite now it would be Fraggle Rock, but that's a bit cheaty since I was in high school by the time that started. As a kid, it was Sesame Street, pre-elmo, way back when no one saw Snuffy and I almost wet my pants with frustration and disappointment every time he walked off set and Maria and co walked on. But then he was revealed (which I've just realised coincides with the appearance of elmo! which seems psychoanalytically portenteous), and Sesame Street kind of jumped the shark for me.

7. Young Talent Time Before there was Aussie Idol there was this. Remember back when Kylie was just Dannii's sister? I dreamed of being discovered on YTT, or even of a boy like Vince looking into my eyes and singing earnestly at me (gawd, socially awkward much?)

8. Grange Hill or Degrassi? I can't pick. Maybe Degrassi because I followed it all the way through, even when they were the oddly melancholic Kids on Degrassi Street and Wheels was called Gryph and was being beat up by his brother which was weird because by Degrassi Junior High he was adopted with nary a brother in sight and his name was Derrick Wheeler. But my first vagely erotic dream was about Stu-pot from Grange Hill and I remember running home from swimming lessons (around the corner) every day one summer to watch it.

9. Well, of course The Goodies. And a quick nod to Bananaman, voiced by the threesome.

10. Dr Snuggles Ah, more crumpets. I had a music casette of the music from this show, and I remember one particular song that started 'we are the travelers and we're going somewhere, to the end of the rainbow...' and there my memory fails me. It is the best song ever by the way. This was another cartoon that vaguely unsettled me, despite the love it inspired. I am a many splendid thing.

Oh geez, that's ten already? But I haven't even mentioned The Magic Roundabout, Rentaghost, Worzel Gummidge, Catweazle (okay I admit I was a bit scared of Worzel Gummidge and utterly petrified of Catweazle), Little Blue (no link!), Morph, Danger Mouse (whole episodes await your viewing pleasure on the tube of you), Qua Qua (? a paper animation thing about a duck, kind of pointless but oddly soothing, ungooglable apparently), a cartoon called Ulysses, based on the Greek myth but set in the future with robots, Jem (truly outrageous), Astroboy, Happy Days (speaking of jumping the shark), The Wonderful World of Disney (best description ever of the sensation aroused in one whilst watching TWWoD at the beginning of The Secret History by Donna Tartt), not to mention all the American sitcomes, like the Brady Bunch and Different Strokes and some other one where the big sister was actually called Sissy. I bet I think of a million more (I didn't watch that much tv, promise!), but it's over to you now - what shows did you love as a kid?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Zombies can't run

Sarah Hazelton from Random House Aus drew my attention to the BEST ARTICLE EVER about Zombies, written by the hilarious Simon Pegg, creator of Shawn of the Dead. His notes on why 'the fast zombie is bereft of poetic subtlety' follows:

"However (and herein lies the sublime artfulness of the slow zombie), their ineptitude actually makes them avoidable, at least for a while. If you're careful, if you keep your wits about you, you can stave them off, even outstrip them - much as we strive to outstrip death. Drink less, cut out red meat, exercise, practice safe sex; these are our shotguns, our cricket bats, our farmhouses, our shopping malls. However, none of these things fully insulates us from the creeping dread that something so witless, so elemental may yet catch us unawares - the drunk driver, the cancer sleeping in the double helix, the legless ghoul dragging itself through the darkness towards our ankles."

This article actually reminds me why I love Simon Pegg's movies. He's a smart and empathetic writer, his subject in his movies is really the most essential elements of humanity - he understands vulnerability and while he can be funny about it, he doesn't take the piss out of people for being afraid of things like death and love. He is a compassionate writer, a kind of film-making, funny Raymond Carver - heightening the everyday to the point where everything is bizarre. And really, everything kind of is bizarre, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sunday, November 02, 2008