Monday, January 30, 2012

Frangipanis in the Rain

Yesterday was a bit of a bleah day. 
The holidays all finished. Caput. Gone. Vanished. No more. You get the drift. 
The temperature all muggy and hot. My brain all frizzled and the to-do list all undone. 
So I thought I'd write up a memory for you, my Sprocket and my Poppet. 
A moment in time when magic came close.
A time I hold in the palm of my hand on 'bleah' days. 

My bags are packed. 

I'm ready to go. I'm leaving the Solomon Islands. Leaving our lovely Green Dragon House at White River, with it's sea views and breezes. 

My volunteer stint is over and I'm returning to the every day in Australia. 

Your Daddy and Issy are staying for another few months. A few months might seem to have raced by when you get to the end of them but looking at them lined up in front of you they feel like forever. We are mournful. Clingy. 

We go for a last walk. Taking Issy on a piece of string, walking along the side of the road through all the lushness and the greenness. The houses that were all burnt out during the Tensions, the woven houses. The children waving. 

We walk along to a beach that skirts the road. We could have gone in swimming right from our Green Dragon house - but it was straight onto coral reef, and at low tide it was less than pleasant as you tended to get pounded getting in and out. 

This was a small beach looking onto the volcanic island of Savo, with many large dark pebbles. We waded into the water with our clothes on out of respect to all the eyes watching. My denim skirt and cotton top clung and still felt strange in the water, no matter how many times I'd swum in them.
The sky was darkly grey and the sea was that beautiful luminous green that comes with storm clouds. Rain started to fall as we swam. Great silver drops of it forming concentric circles on the surface of the ocean. 

I dove under the water and watched my bubbles rising silver through the green and when I surfaced I was surrounded by floating frangipanis. Lovely fragrant white frangipani in the intense green of the storm sea, the rain hazed horizon and the silver circlets of the raindrops. 
And it was magic. 

(*There might have been some kissing involved as well - but only behind waves - it was quite choppy) 

Our house at White River - seen from within the sea - hence the water blur. With leafhouse. One day we will have another leaf house! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Moon to Play With (Lullabies)

We've been singing a lot of lullabies recently as my kidlets are under the impression that their bedtime should be after the suns bedtime and I am not under a like impression. So I lie in bed with a kid tucked in each arm, the Poppet busily nursing, and I sing. 
I do not have a good singing voice. It's thin and weak. I once asked a boss if I could have singing lessons (I was singing to kids four times a week at the time) and his response was 'some things are beyond help.' 
But the singing always calms me, if not the children. I sing the same songs my mama sang to me when I was a little girl  (and in my earliest memories of lullabies the sky is unfairly bright and passionfruit vines surround the window,) and my mama sings the songs her mama sang her. 
But we have each added some along the way, and maybe lost some I need to reclaim.
I sing Hushabye Baby, Mama's going to buy you a mockingbird, You are my Sunshine,  Love is Come Again,  Lavender's Blue and All the Pretty Little Horses.  I sing 'At the Gates of Heaven' - which some googling tells me is a Spanish (Basque) lullaby - originally A La Puerta del Ciel

At the gates of heaven little shoes they are making 
For the little barefooted angels that dwell in
Sleep darling baby, sleep darling baby, 
Sleep darling baby, aroo, aroo 

God will bless the babies so peacefully sleeping
God will bless the mothers whose watch they are keeping
Sleep darling baby, sleep darling baby, 
Sleep darling baby, aroo, aroo 

I sing an almost unknown song by the great Scottish songwriter, Ewan McColl (who wrote First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, if you've ever heard Roberta Flack sing it so magically) Kiss the Children for me Mary. 

Kiss the Children for me Mary, 
Don't let them cry nor grieve
Tell them its hard I'm working for them 
Though it breaks my heart to leave
Building dams and fields and factories
Shifting mountains by the load
I'll be with you in November
When I'm finished on the road

I sing a song which (again from googling) I have only just discovered is a song the great American Singer Paul Robeson used to sing My Curly Headed Baby. I've only ever sang the chorus before but I think I'll try to learn the rest of the words now my Poppet has a good head of curls. 

Lulla lulla lulla lulla bye bye, 
Lulla lulla lulla lulla bye bye
Go to sleep darling baby
You shall have the moon to play with, 
You shall have the stars to run away with, 
If you don't cry. (Lulla lulla etc)

I love these songs and it makes me so happy that I am sharing them with my own children. That one day, they will hopefully sing them to their own children.  And they will sing them to their own children. And the words (and maybe even the tunes) will change, but the kernel will remain the same. 
So today I'm linking up with (Maxabella's) GratefulSaturday to say thankyou for lullabies, traditions and family. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Our holidays are nearly over. (Playgroups. I have missed you!)  

My beloved starts 2nd year Medicine on Monday. This year he is in the Hospital all year. He will have real patients to examine every single day. He has no more use for me. I am all unchecked and unstudied. I could have anything

We are trying to reconcile all the stuff still on our to-do lists with another day trip to the beach...

I still don't love the beaches on this Eastern Side of Victoria as much as I do our beaches around Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road. So far they do not make my heart sing. Maybe it takes time? Maybe I haven't found the right ones? But the kids love them. And they are very pleasant. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Southern Summer

Is Driving 
Me Demented

Sure I love the long days, the sunshine, the beautiful light. 
But these photos
were taken
at 7.00pm

These are dined, washed and storied children, 
but do these look like sleepy children to you? 


They don't look sleepy to me either. And in fact, they didn't sleep until very very late. We lay in bed in the great unsleep.
Tonight we are putting up blockout curtains and hiding under the sheets (at 6.30pm) and saying

"We are very sleepy", "It is time to sleep", "Sleepy", "We are all very sleepy".  A few hundred times. 


(But we did have fun...)

Girl Talk

I had a girl’s night in recently. Which is not that common in Toddler-World and truly appreciated.

The plan had just been for a Canadian friend and I to help move some furniture at my sister-in-laws after she had her carpets cleaned– but my beloved made the excellent suggestion that, as he would be back at the house on kid duty for the evening, my friend and I should bring a bottle of wine to celebrate the successful moving. When everything was back in place we drank that wine (my first South African) and started another bottle which became another bottle.

When we returned (by taxi) my beloved asked me what we’d talked about.

You know, on a girl’s night in.
So… I thought about it.
And we had talked about:

·      the differences between the Canadian and Australian government
·      whether there is any point to the royals or whether they are, indeed, merely random, somewhat inbred rich people
·      Canadian literature
·      is it really only Australians who can understand the true glory of tinned beetroot in hamburgers and salads
·      the 2006 riots in the Solomon Islands
·      the (very sad) libraries in the Solomon Islands
·      Pacific Island culture
·      family skeletons (and why so many firstborns in all our families were born suspiciously close to their parents weddings)
·      my nana-in-laws journey through Europe as a teenager during the second world war
·      the conditions in English Prisoner of War camps (my grandfather-in-law, a Latvian, fought on the German side of the war.  I keep having to remind my beloved when he talks of his grandfather’s daring escape from the POW camp that well, he was fighting on the side of the baddies. ) The conditions in some of the British Prisoner of War camps were supposed to be very bad in some places. This is a very different perspective for me and one I will read up on
·      where my Sister-in-law picked up all her amazing treasures (PNG, Solomon Islands, South America, junk shops, relatives…)
·      are turnips inedible or is it swedes that are inedible and turnips delicious – or vice versa
·      the tragic death of the food-on-the-table-when-you-come-in and dirty-clothes-left-on-the-floor-magically-appearing-washed-ironed-and-folded-in-the-closet fairies when we left home
·      the improvement in this generations men compared to three or four generations ago when it comes to involvement in childcare and household management

“You know, just girl stuff,” I told my beloved.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Story of 'Sizz-ee"

O my Sprocket and O my Poppet, 
You are beginning to squabble over who gets to hold our dog's lead. (Which is not happening as she may pull you over and then pounce upon a random small creature, say a cat or a toy poodle). 
Poppet, you follow our dog around going 'Sizz-eee', 'Sizzy', 'Sizz-ee', feeding her your cake and trying to put sunscreen (or yogurt) on her. You give her big hugs and affectionate pats and kisses and open your mouth wide so that she can kiss you in return. 
My Sprocket, you run with her and involve her in your (wilder) games. 
So here is the story of the dog of your early childhood... 
Long, long ago, when your Daddy and I were first going out (and Daddy was still on his bestish behaviour - I know, I can't believe it either!) we were living on a tropical island called Guadalcanal. 
One day I had to go to another island called Isabel for work, so I hopped on a little plane with my workmate. 
On the island of Isabel I was checking out the condition of some of the libraries, which were mostly very sad.

                                 (Sad school library on Isabel, tucked into a corner of the Canteen) 

One day when I had finished checking out the libraries, (which had meant going up and down the coast in a motorboat - funfun) I went for a walk along the shore and saw some children throwing something into the sea. 
Walking closer I saw that what they were throwing was a tiny, gingery puppy. 
The kids threw the puppy into the sea, the puppy swam back to shore and then the children threw it back into the water.
I asked the kids what they were doing and they explained that there were too many dogs and they kept everyone up at night by barking. 
I sighed - O poor puppy. And picked the puppy up and dried it off and set it down. 
My workmate said that the kids would just drown the puppy as soon as I left. And that I should take the puppy home, poor  sad little thing that it was. I wondered how to get it on the airplane but my workmate said 'No worries, everything goes on the plane, chickens, pigs, what is one small puppy?' 
I tried being very hard-hearted because even if I brought the dog back to Guadalcanal I would still need to get it home to Australia. 
But... the little puppy was so small and defenceless. 
So... I phoned your daddy and we talked. And he left it up to me. 

                                         (Sad little Puppy)

And I thought. And thought, and then just as the canoe was leaving to take us all to the airport I popped the puppy in my handbag to bring her home. (I put a t-shirt under the puppy to prevent leakages.) 

(You can just see the puppy's nose poking out of Mummy's bag. This was the airport. The beach was the runway.) 

And I took the puppy home with me and many unkind people said that it was the ugliest puppy they had ever seen. But I loved her and she was very friendly and loved everybody. And cried mournfully whenever she was left alone. 
And the puppy grew and grew and had many adventures 

And we called her Isabel, after the island she came from. Issy for short. Or Sizzy as you say it, my Poppet. 
Later she got some problems. The vet who de-sexed her was incompetent and she got a giant cyst that needed to be cut out. Two months in quarantine at a young age was not the best for her. She got mange and had to wear a coat for awhile. My old dog taught her many, many bad habits.  
But she is still the same affectionate puppy who really does like most people. (With the exception of post-people on motorbikes... and other people on bikes or scooters or skateboards or wheelchairs. Sigh)
And she walked the shore with your Daddy and I when you were heavy within me, my Sprocket, and sniffed you the day you came home from the hospital and gave you a little lick. She was in the photos at our wedding. And she is with us now, in our first little house. 
So that's the story of 'Sizzee' kids, the dog of your early childhood. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

They're in the Bag

On our holiday we retrieved some more of our things that my hap-hazard packing style meant we left behind when we moved. (One day I will be organised. Truly.)And one of those things was our PNG bilum that my mother in laws workmates made for her first grandchild. I love having things that are hand made using natural materials and time old traditions. 
A bilum is the handiest bag ever. It expands to fit everything. As a shopping bag it will fit a weekly shop (if you can carry it...) As a beach bag it will fit four towels a bucket, spade, sunscreen, water, snacks, nappies, spare clothes and the kitchen sink. 
And of course... one of it's traditional uses... carrying babies! I never got the knack of carrying my little ones in a bilum - around the forehead just plain hurts for me, I think it needs years of practice. But I love the way my babies look inside the weaving. We took the photo of our Sprocket in our green and white bilum when we were still living in Vanuatu, and the one of the Poppet in Cabooulture, Queensland. She's in another bilum of my mother in laws. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

One Hour

One hour doesn't seem like a lot of time. 
In fact an hour can slip past without me noticing. 
Which is exactly the problems. 
Not only are we all out-of-routine with the holidays. We have jet-lag from our miserly one hour time difference from coming back down to Victoria from Queensland. 
And daylight savings. 
Let's not forget daylight savings. It is still light when it should well and truly be dark. Ask any parent trying to get a toddler to bed before the sun has set. 
I love our internal body clocks. I think it's amazingly cool that the body just knows what time it is. That you can say 'I will wake up at 6.43 tomorrow morning'... and you do. 
I love the way birds always migrate on a certain day of the year. 
So now when we're all out of wack and our body-clocks are skew whiff (again!) I'm reeling a little bit. 
Okay. A lot. We accidentally had dinner at 8.00 last night. Thinking it was our usual 6.00. So our bedtime was a lot later than I would like. Our waking is a lot later than I would like... etcetera.
But on the plus side... we slept in our very own beds last night. The Sprocket even started off the night in his very own bed. (After I explained he could sleep in his own bed with his plastic rake or mummy's bed... without his plastic rake and he chose the rake) After nearly 4 weeks sojourning we are back in our own ramshackle little cottage. 
We are home
We weren't broken into. All (most) of our plants are alive and burgeoning with fruit. Our trees are full of apples, walnuts, plums, figs, cherry plums, persimmons. Our house is a mess. But that just makes it seem more homely. It smelt deliciously of fir when we first stepped inside from all the Christmas decorations. The kids have re-discovered all their Christmas presents - particularly the 'jumping castle' (trampoline) from nana and grandpa. 
Even if we don't have a clue what time it is. 
It's so so good to be home.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spicing It Up

So - have I found me a Sugar Daddy? From the look on my face I don't think so! However our trip up to the Ginger Factory at Buderim was great. 

The kids loved going on the little train 

although the Poppet wasn't so sure when the horn blew and the engine started! 

As we were going around the factory/gardens on the train we had many debates about which plant was actually the ginger - and decided upon this one... However I didn't think I could get the cutting back to Victoria... and they might not like our winters!

And there was a chocolate factory too....

Chocolate shoes anybody? 
I know. I want them too. The closest one - as you can see - is milk chocolate - the far one is white chocolate. Yummy in so many ways.

Sigh... we did not get any chocolate shoes, but the gingerbread men were lovely... as were the frozen bananas coated in chocolate which we will soooo try at home. (Probably sans chocolate!)
And best of all Aunty Bec came too.

Friday, January 13, 2012

All Those Hours

O my Sprocket, my joy and my heart, all those hours you thought that you spent watching Shrek and Toy Story (One, Two and Three). They didn't happen kiddo. Nup. A figment of your (very good)imagination.
You were outside climbing trees. 
Honest. Your memories of your best friend Buzz Lightyear and your role models the Grasshoppers? (Bugs Life) Just your mind playing tricks. The vagaries of memory.
You were not inside curled in your daddy's lap, eyes glued to the screen. You were outside climbing trees like all children should spend their childhood. 
And I have the photos to prove it. Ahem.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Loving Her

I didn't always love her. 
In fact, to begin with I thought her too in-your-face, too tacky, too brassy. I thought she might have been good once. But that once was not now. 
She definitely suits some lights better than others. 
But then she grew on me. 
Over time. And many visits. She began to get to me. 
Her lovely views of the Glasshouse Mountains through Pumicestone Passage. 
Her safe swimming beaches for kids. Her laid back vibe. Her white sand beaches. Her little fibro shacks tucked in between monstrosities. Her brilliant beachside playgrounds.
And now I'm hooked. 
Bribie Island - it took me awhile, but now - I think I really love you.