Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday morning poem making

Fred had a play with this fun online toy on Sunday morning and made the following poem:

I see a thousand computers

Millions move here

Four are late now

Follow the thirty sounds

She was sad when the nature of the tool meant that eventually other people began to break apart her poem to make their own. I told her I'd put it on my blog and then it would be on the internet "forever and ever".

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Home by Marilynne Robinson

I don't think it has ever, in my life, taken me so long to read a book (that I have finished, technically I am still reading The Famished Road by Ben Okri, which I started in about 1992.) I have been reading Home for six months, I started in January while camping in Tasmania. I had to keep putting it down to read other things, books for the uni subject I was teaching, books for work. Before kids, I always used to wolf books down in a sitting, or at least over the course of a few days, and it is rare that I capture the time to do that these days. And anyway, I am really really glad that I lived with Home for so long, dipping in and out of its meditative spaces.

Home is a follow up to Gilead which I read a couple of years ago, and also took some time over according to my blog. Home deals with the same characters (from a differing point of view, somewhere between the character of Glory and omniscient), in the same period of time, and even touches on the same thematic material and yet it is its own entity. It is not entirely an experience of narrative which is not to say it's not immersed in story. But the tension doesn't essentially come from character or plot, but from somewhere else, from the confluence of ideas, from the meeting of opposites, from questions of grace and family and love.

When I finished reading it, I sat reclining on the couch with it resting on my chest for a while, looking out the window, not ready to put it down. It was almost as if I wanted my chest to open up and swallow the book, and use it in place of my heart. I was grieving it - six months is a long time to live with anything, and these characters and their cares had entered my self and my consciousness. As I sat with the last notes of the book still ringing in my head, I heard Martin and the kids come back from a walk and thought 'they are my people who belong to me' with renewed astonishment and took deep pleasure in the sounds of them, out of my line of sight, on the other side of the gate.

If you have read Gilead you must read Home. If you have read neither you must read both, in whichever order you choose. I am not a book reviewer and it is in loving a book as passionately as I do Home that I realise why - true love renders this reader inarticulate, except to say, 'take this book and love it like I do.'

Monday, June 14, 2010

You Fat Chicks Should Stop Taking All the Credit

So this weekend in the Sunday Age magazine there were two articles about mothers.

The first wasn't so much about mothers as it was about fathers. Basically fathers who also balance housework, childcare duties and paid work aren't getting enough recognition in the media and for some reason implicitly that is the fault of mothers who do get recognition. One of the men interviewed pointed out that there are any number of women's magazines telling women how marvelous they are for doing it all, whereas such magazines don't exist for men. There was no analysis of the political motivations for framing women as the ones who have to 'do it all.' There was also some rather suss statistic rolled out that suggested men do slightly more in total than women when it comes to a combination of those three duties - paid work, childcare, and housework. There was no indication of: how this was divided up, what constituted "work" (making sandwiches for kid's lunches, remembering doctor's appointments, knowing which toys belong to which kid), or how they evaluated the amount of work they do. My guess is men work longer hours professionally than women overall, and that this is the biggest factor in dividing up "work" hours, since studies like these indicate women still do most of the housework. I know which, out of paid work and housework, I personally find more rewarding in terms of personal satisfaction, peer recognition and financial acknowledgment (though I enjoy all my various teaching, writing, speaking and editing jobs).

I am not suggesting men don't do housework (our household is definitely divided fairly in all three areas, with me doing a little more childcare and cooking, and Martin doing more cleaning, our work hours are probably pretty even for the time being, though when the baby comes I will care more and work less I suppose), nor do I think anyone should be deprived of a pat on the back, god knows otherwise housework is fairly thankless (apart from the yay factor of living in a non-grotty house). But when it comes down to it, is an article about "superwomen" who "do it all" actually contributing value to women's lives? Or is it setting the bar higher, is it actually aimed at undermining our self-esteem? (And probably ultimately at making us want the laundry powder/lipstick/pole-dancing classes/"how you too can be a yummy mummy" edition of the magazine.) All I am saying, blokes, is that maybe you don't want that kind of recognition. Maybe a happy, well functioning household that works according to your own family's needs and values is recognition enough for all of us.

On the next page - the very next page - was an article about how women in love, and especially married women with children, get fat. And we all know how bad that is.

Any men lining up to complain about how no one writes about them getting fat after they have kids?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sunday, June 06, 2010


Lots of people are doing this, but Simmone thought of it

What is your most marked characteristic?
Martin says I'm either strong-willed or pigheaded or single-minded. I am not sure exactly which. I'd have said analytical.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
No bullshit, no game-playing, what you see is what you get

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

No bullshit, no game-playing, what you see is what you get

What do you most value in your friends?
A highly developed sense of play.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?


What is your favorite occupation?

Reading, researching a topic that interests me.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Champagne, fish and chips, on a balmy summer night at Kate Constable's house, watching my children deeply involved in some complicated narrative game that involves Una traipsing past in various outfits. Or exploring a new country with Martin.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When someone stops talking to you and won't tell you why.

In which country would you like to live?

Australia. (With a holiday house in a Mediterranean country.)

Who are your favorite writers?

Marilynne Robinson, Helen Garner, Anne Tyler

Who are your favorite poets?

Simon Armitage, Adrienne Rich, Margaret Atwood, Gwen Harwood

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Who is your favorite heroine of fiction?

Who are your favorite composers?
Bach, John Adams.

Who are your favorite painters?

Matisse, the Australian impressionists (Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton), Geoffrey Dyer

What are your favorite names?

Eglantine and Marmaduke (unfortunately Martin also shares naming rights).

What is it that you most dislike?

Lack of empathy.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I'd love to be able to run really, really, really fast.

How would you like to die?
Without fear.

What is your current state of mind?

Sunday afternoon lethargy... fuzzy pregnant ennui... mmm, mandarin.

What is your motto?
Everyone has a story.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

And a few days later

Still strangely fascinating.