Thursday, August 09, 2007

bums on seats

there's all sorts of upheaval here at the moment. I've been talking to gas people, electrical people, wall people, furniture people...

Our old club lounge was slowly sinking to the ground so i advertised it in the paper thinking no-one would want it. Well it sold and i immediately regretted it because i loved that old lounge. Then i bought a new one and i was lucky because they had the exact one i ordered actually in stock so there was no 3mth wait for delivery (which is apparently what happens when you buy a sofa). When it came though it wasn't the one i ordered but a bigger one which has completely scuppered my plans for moving it into the 'sunroom bit' when that's built. So now i don't know whether to send it back and get the size i want made up (3mth wait) or to keep it and learn to live with the size of it (it's fecking huge) or whether i even like it at all - it's so new. And big. And 'contemporary'.

And as you can see from the middle photo the guy who bought the old lounge suite hasn't picked it up so we're in a turmoil furniture.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

hello, where've you been?

Phew, that's another school holidays over with.

We had sleep-overs, friends over, the movies, the museum, swim parties, playdates, the library, shopping expeditions and rollerskating at the Rollerdrome where i almost shattered my kneecaps.

I'm not sure which is harder - making lunches, getting them to school and tackling homework , music practice and the bath every day or trying to stop them from killing each other during the holidays. Of the 13 hours a day they're together they get along really well for about 9, which is great but there's always that other 4 hours. *Shiver*

And my old cat who's about 18, flatly refuses to go outside any more for anything and she's a bit too old to learn new tricks. So she steps into a kitty litter tray but doesn't realise her arse is hanging right off the back and poops and wees all over the floor. Every night. But at least she steps into it now - she used to squat next to it.

Last weekend i was making a stuff for friends who've had a baby and my six year old decided to make one too. She designed and cut out the shapes, stuffed and sewed up the stuffing hole and cut out a face. I sewed on the face and added the hair for her but i think her stuff is a winner.

Friday, July 06, 2007

illness, death and destruction

it's been a week of mini catastrophes. My little one's just recovered from viral bronchitis and the wind's been a howling gale setting my nerves all a jitter.

A few streets from us lives an old italian couple who, over the last 45 years, have cultivated one of those typical old italian couple gardens. Full of amazing and unusual succulents that grow to triffid sized proportions. I walk past it every day and always stop to marvel. There's the Tractor Seat Plant whose leaves are the size and shape of - yep - a tractor seat and the Kalanchoe Felt Bush with giant stiff velvety leaves. There's a cactus that stands twice as high as the house with a trunk two foot in diameter and branches that weave and curve in all sorts of crazy directions in the sky and directly underneath that is a perfect Dracaena Draco which is one of my all time favourite trees. You can probably see where this is going, especially when i say there were all these wonderful things - on Sunday night the mighty wind ripped the cactus out of the ground and it crashed down crushing everything under it. The beautiful Dragon Tree is decimated and the old man was telling me that last year someone knocked on their door and offered them $10 000 (i'll put that in words - ten thousand dollars!) for it but they weren't interested in selling it.

Anyway, they kindly let me take what i could of the draco because they'd called rubbish removalists and it was all just going to be cleared away. Most of it was underneath the cactus and impossible to get to but i did manage to salvage a few stem cuttings which are about as big as me. I've got no idea if i'll be able to get them to strike, i don't think it's easy - they're prone to rotting. If anyone's got any tips let me know.

And finally this week, we woke up this morning to find our guinea pigs dead and gone. One's dead, the other's gone presumed dead and the big heavy cage had been knocked around and the wire rolled up. The incriminating evidence at the scene suggests a black and white cat (which is often in our garden) but how the fuck a cat can roll up chicken wire and have the strength to move a box that big and heavy i guess we'll never know.

Maisy and Popcorn we'll miss you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Not much happening around here lately. I had to go for a brain scan which was a novelty and now i've got one of those amazing sets of images of cross-section shots of my brain which is at least proof i've got one. Nothing else was revealed though so the mysterious visual effects (like an amoeba crawling across my field of view) followed by a two-day headache go unexplained. Most likely a migraine i think but i've never had one before in all my 44 years and hardly ever even get regular headaches. Still i'll happily suffer a migraine if it means i'm not having a stroke.

It's well and truly winter here now and this is when my garden starts flowering. I've had aeoniums for years because they're indestructable and the first time i saw one in flower in someone else's garden i was really
surprised. Who'da thought it? Well after growing them for over ten years one of mine has finally produced its huge yellow conical flowerhead and it's a marvel. They must need to be a respectable age to flower - mine all grew from cuttings but i've noticed they're back in vogue because even the garden centres are stocking (and charging crazy prices for) them. Fashion is a drag but at least it'll mean people will be keen to buy them at the fete.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


last weekend i flew an hour and a half north of this winter afflicted town and entered a parallel universe. Same state, different flora, different fauna, different colours. There was turquoise, aqua and a gazillion shades of white. Snorkelling, we saw angel fish, parrot fish, butterfly fish, rays, seasnakes, big coral bombies, sponges, urchins, anemonies, a huge octopus and so much more!

We were out for about an hour in the darkish patches at the back of this photo then we came in for something to eat and a beachcomb. About 5 minutes after this photo was taken this guy below cruised past in about 2 feet of water. And he wasn't a reef shark, he was big! About 2 metres long! And Fast!

After that i was happy to just sit on the beach.

There are more blue and white photos here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I was pleasantly surprised by three wild cards from the video store last weekend. First up we watched Tarnation - Jonathan Caouette's doco of spliced together super-8 film, video, short art school movies and other bits of memorabilia stored up from throughout his life. All these remnants come together to paint a bleak picture of dysfunctional family life. This movie's been criticised for being self-indulgent but seriously - what movie isn't, and at least it was made on a budget of a couple of hundred dollars rather than several million. One critic's complaint was that 'the filmmaker makes little attempt to comment or find meaning' and to that i say 'thanks filmmaker - i prefer to find my own meaning (if there is any ultimate meaning to life's labyrinth)'.

I prefer these types of small personal stories anyway. Head On was a German movie about two Turkish immigrants who meet in a mental institution. It's about Turkish culture in German society and the different forms it takes. At first i thought this movie was straying dangerously close to romantic comedy but Fatih Akin the director is likened to R. W. Fassbinder on the jacket and the film accordingly packs a realistic, painful punch.

The third movie we watched was 21 grams and while i didn't like it as much as Amores Perros, the director IƱarritu's earlier film (and one of my favourites), i didn't think it was at all bad. The chopped up timeline is becoming a pretty popular device but i guess this film is 4 years old. Mr M opined that the mangled timeline was used because the story wasn't much chop on its own but i don't think a riveting storyline is necessary to make a good film (Mike Leigh's Naked is another of my all-time favourites and not much happens at all). I don't think movies are about telling stories but about how you tell the story so while this particular story was very uncomfortable viewing for me (a woman loses her husband and two daughters in a car accident) i thought the telling was worth watching.

I'm flying up to Exmouth tomorrow for a weekend of sun, surf and snorkelling (gulp) with Mr M, who's already there. It will be the first time i've ever spent more than one night away from the girls. See you when i get back.

Monday, June 04, 2007

the sleep files

when you have your first baby you think they're a clean slate but you soon realise they come hard-wired with all sorts of likes and dislikes and preferences that have nothing to do with you. My first daughter wouldn't sleep unless she was on me until she was 6 months old. By then she was rolling over and the first time i managed to get her to sleep in her cot she'd flipped onto her belly and i patted her to sleep like that, full of anxiety because of all the sids warnings about putting babies to sleep on their back. She didn't sleep through the night until she was one and even then she woke at 5 o'clock every morning to start her day. She had two twenty minute naps a day, on her belly, until she was 2 and then gave them up all together. I was a wreck and figured it was all my fault somehow.
She's eight now and reads in bed until nine every night and gets up at six. And she still sleeps face down.

My second daughter saved my sanity and self-respect by sleeping like a dream, but at about 6 months she took to hugging a cot sheet when she slept. When she was about one she discovered all the extra pieces of the sheet i'd torn into hugging sizes in case she lost one and started sleeping with all of them. For the last five years she's gone to bed with an enormous bundle of ever disintegrating rags she calls her huggies. This is what excessive hugging can do to a piece of flannelette.

And this one sleeps when and wherever she likes.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

another day

Mr M got all excited last weekend and went out and bought a 2m wide retractable movie screen so that we could watch the FA cup final with a data projector borrowed from work. The game was terrifically boring and became known as the Sweet FA cup. The screen was a great success though, especially with the chillun.

Unfortunately the second time we used it we made a movie choice mistake and ended up sitting through a pile of poo billed on the cover as "the best rock and roll movie ever". Well i guess it could be, if you're 12 and the only other 'rock and roll' movie you've seen is 'Hilary Duff - All Access Pass'. Then again, i hated Amelie so don't take my word for it.

The six year old got her hands on the camera and decided she needed to catalogue every one of her Littlest Pets. Where do they get these ideas from? (She didn't photoshop them into a mosaic though, ehem, i did that)

Thursday, May 17, 2007


well that's sorted - it was just a matter of disconnecting the keyboard from the computer and plugging it back in again. Very technical, and now i'm back where i started with no caps lock.

Running around the lake this morning, relieved to see it finally full of water and birds again instead of doing it's impression of a desert, i randomly chose an album to listen to on the ipod. It was Mermaid Avenue - Billy Bragg and Wilco singing songs written by Woody Guthrie probably in the nineteen forties or fifties. These are the songs that Woody, when he was dying in hospital in the late sixties, offered to Bob Dylan telling him to go and find them in the basement of his house in Coney Island. BD made the trip out there but because he didn't find Woody's wife there only a babysitter he left without searching the basement and forty years later the songs fell into the hands of Billy Bragg. Woody had a way with words and i can't even imagine what beautiful songs Bob would have made of them but still, i like this album and Billy Bragg singing (sans cockney accent) Walt Whitman's Niece and Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key are a couple of my favourites.

When i got home there was a package and it was a prize for my bone picture
for whiplash. Thanks Kath lots of fun stuff to make in there.

Saturday, May 12, 2007





plodding on

I've been pretty busy lately with many and varied pursuits. I've been chasing around after a builder or company who'll add a kind of glass/alfresco/conservatory type room to the front of our house extending out into the garden. Didn't realise it was so hard to get people to do stuff but i think i've finally pinned someone down who understands what i'm on about.

I've also decided that i need to learn website design so that i can set up a site to show the graphic/conceptual drawing type work i do. I've been producing lots of scientific/enviromental diagrams for Mark's environmental consultancy and he reckons if other companies and agencies knew i did them, i'd be inundated with work. Not sure if that's right (he's a pretty optimistic guy) but i reckon it's worth finding out and if i don't get that kind of work i can always design websites with my new skills. I'm not sure how i'm going to go about it yet - sign up for a crash course or teach myself - but i've started trying to find my way around Dreamweaver and getting a handle on html. Mark seems to think that the all the technobabble is going to completely bamboozle me (it's not my strong point) so i've got something to prove and it's about time i learnt something new again.

Another of my pastimes at the mo is potting up plants. I've offered to run the garden stall at our school fete this year and although it's still 6 months away! i know if i don't start now the stall will be an embarrassing failure. Last fete the plant stall, which i did a lot of work for but didn't run, made over two grand so i've got a big job to do. I'm pillaging my garden and anyone else's who'll let me.

Today i potted a couple of banana pups which i dug up but i've got no idea if they'll take or not because they came away without any roots at all. I love these kind of experiments though.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Whenever there isn't a lot going on around here like now (well there's a bit going on - home renos and i'm doing some work and getting paid for it woohoo!) i tend to talk about the garden. I'll never get sick of it even though the same events happen year after year. We've finally had some rain here in Perth so everything's looking great in this window between deathly heat and being completely covered in a solid blanket of fallen leaves. This is the one pumpkin i managed to grow this year with seeds saved from a much bigger harvest a few years ago.

Back then i had a lot more space to sew pumps but now i've planted most of the garden out so this plant is winding its way between the trees and shrubs. I can watch the progress of the pumpkin through my kitchen window but i know when the time comes i'll hardly be able to bring myself to eat such a beautiful thing. As you can see they're a gigantic variety of butternut and even taste great too.

Monday, April 23, 2007

we are returned

actually Dunsborough isn't glorious at all. In fact it's a dump - the town planning is all over the shop and overdevelopment's rampant. And if you're silly or desperate enough to wander into town all you'll find is Coles and carparks as this sleepy surf hamlet grows to accommodate city millionaires who use their holiday mansions a few weeks a year. Even the endless luxury resort apartments seemed mostly to be empty and it's not really surprising - there's absolutely nowhere to eat out in town. What self - respecting millionaire wants to cook on holiday?

The old part of the town still has its charm though - this is the cottage we stay in and the view from the front room - we saw dolphins from the lounge room a couple of times. The bay is shallow and perfect for kids and the natural beauty is beautiful (naturally).

but this is very close and getting closer every year.
This is one of the beaches you pass on a walk along the headland. I walked a 10 kilometre round trip most days through blackboy scrub and banksia groves and i'll never get over how nature can produce such spectacular masterpieces that aren't even for our benefit.

The highlight or our week though, apart from dinners with friends were the caves. This one below was fully lit and boardwalked and like walking into a natural shrine or temple. I couldn't stop thinking about the guy who discovered it a hundred years ago and first entered with ropes and candles. The main chamber (they called the amphitheatre) 35 metres below ground was enough to make you believe in a god.

The other cave was a completely different experience. It was a self-guided, unlit, un boardwalked adventure. We went in alone carrying our own torches (and the kids got to wear headlamps) and descended 83 metres into the ground down rocky steps and over rocks steadying ourselves with ropes and chains. At times we had to climb ladders into tiny chambers then use other ladders to climb out of them into new spaces. At one point in an enormous cavity they call the ballroom we all switched off our torches. The light faded for a millisecond before Romany quickly turned hers back on. I don't blame her. The cave covered 800 metres underground and we were all sweating when we finally scrambled up the last boulders to the surface. It was a blast.

We came back Saturday and got ourselves organised for Rom's 6th birthday party on Sunday which we all survived. Today it was back to school and because it's my birthday i'm neglecting all my usual monday chores - food shopping, washing, putting away and just taking it easy. Back to the millstone tomorrow.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

chesty bonds

i drew these little figures for toy shapes and when i came back to them later i found my daughter had added some extra features. Those cute little faces have just got to find their way onto something.

i've been jazzing up some of my old t shirts lately by stitching silhouettes on them of things i fancy - bullsheads and cactuses mainly - and now i think each one of those critters is going to end up on my chest too.

we're off down south tomorrow to glorious Dunsborough for a week in a beach shack (a very comfortable, cozy beach shack). I'm worried about the cat and the garden and the guinea pigs and the fish and the drive but i'm sure i'll manage to enjoy myself somehow.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

happy feaster

I've been spending a lot of time awake lately in the small hours stressing and fretting about my shortcomings. I know i'm not the most useless person to walk the planet, i have some minor talents and a few learned skills but i can't help feeling there's so much more i should be doing. I'm struggling a bit under a weight of guilt and underachievement.

I know i should organise lot more physical activities with my girls, bike riding, rollerskating, swimming, scootering, and then there's educational games - board games, cards, maths websites instead of barbie websites - should i be a lot more active in that too?

There are things i would like to be doing for myself too - mastering guitar, drawing more, learning to surf, playing chess, using my languages, finding more work - and although i've never subscribed to the 'you can be whatever you want to be' school of thought (the human psyche is complex and less under our control than we realise) - i would at least like to do the things i like to do.

Yesterday, i found an old horoscope i'd torn out of the West Australian a few months ago because it obviously resonated with me. It still does and it's strangely cheering:

"There is a chasm between what you desire and whether you can achieve it. In principle you have some good ideas but in practice they might be rather wishy-washy. Be creative but not overly ambitious."

I find it rather comforting to be told to accept lack of achievement - it's almost buddhist, i think this might become my mantra.
Happy Choc Fest all!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

blooming bromeliads!

This beautiful plant is a species of aechmea - i don't know its full name but it's also known as the Torch Bromeliad. I bought my first one about a decade ago at a Swap Meet and i think it was my first bromeliad, i didn't even know what i'd bought at the time i just liked the foliage for a couple of dollars. Then it sat neglected for a few years not doing much until one day it decided to stun us with its spectacular flowers.

Each plant only flowers once then slowly dies, but while it's going it produces new plants called pups so that eventually the whole pot becomes full and you can start to pot them up into new pots. It's a never-ending supply. The pups take a few years to flower but because i've got so many now there are plants flowering every year. A few months ago i potted up 3 fully grown pups - you just cut them off the parent plant without roots or anything and stick them in a new pot. One flowered a month later and i brought it into the house to enjoy the flower. The flowers don't last long - a couple of weeks - but when it had finished the next one went into flower so i brought that inside. Then after that one, the last one obligingly flowered so i've had the flowers in the house for a month and a half. I have various clumps around the garden too which are also flowering - all from that one original plant. That's why i love bromeliads.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Cactus Salvage Inc.

Things have been pretty interesting around here for the last couple of weeks because the Great Six Monthly Council Verge Collection has just wound up. Fondly referred to by locals as 'bring out yer dead', it's a great time of year to meet your neighbours and rummage through their junk. It's also a good time to get rid of stuff you've been too lazy to give to charity because you can be sure anything you leave out that's not complete rubbish will be picked up by somebody who can use it. I think it's a great tradition.

I found old cases and bags, vintage fabric, antique scales and pressed wildflowers and i'm still trying to find places to put everything. As much as i get a thrill out of this treasure hunting sometimes i wonder what's going to happen to all this crap i collect when i'm gorn. I suppose it'll all end up in one massive pile on the verge and hopefully give someone else a thrill.