Saturday, March 30, 2013


1. My Sprocket, concentrating in the garden. He's opening up a bandaid to play Doctors with Poppet.  I'm still working on how to get the settings right with the camera...

2. My Poppet. 'This is like pink-sugar!' as she drinks her pink milk. Enter mummy-guilt... Anything pink is good in my Poppet's books - pink-sugar-drinks are the best of the best! She's still a little pale as we've all been sick this week. The kids now seem much better but my Beloved and I are mournful Easter is passing in fevers and chills. We have stuff to do and places to go... or maybe just wrap up in quilts and watch the kids on the trampoline...

Joining with the wonderful Jodi at Che and Fidel for a portrait of the kids once a week for 2013.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Every Night

Every night, in the golden glow of a room enclosed in night, just before lights out, my Poppet and I curl up together, face to face.
Every night when teeth are brushed, curls are still damp from her bath, jammies are on and stories are read, my Poppet delays sleep for five minutes more.
Every night my Poppet reaches over and slings an arm around my neck.
Every night my Poppet whispers, "Goodnight, Mummy, sleep well."
Every night I reply, "Goodnight, darling."
Every night my Poppet whispers,"Sweet dreams, Mummy." And every night her face is alight with joy and soft spoken secrets.
Every night my Poppet says "I love you, too, Mummy."  She always says "I love you, too," not just "I love you."
And every night I tell her, "I love you so so much, my Poppet. I'm so happy you're you."
Every night she takes my face in both her hands and gently pats my cheek with one hand. Every night she will whisper again, "Goodnight, Mummy, sweet dreams."
And every night I tell her, "Time for sleep, my little one. Eyes closed now."
Every night she whispers, "Alright, Mummy."
And every night she rolls onto her back, closes her eyes and begins fake-snoring. Fake snoring so loudly and enthusiastically you can hear her in the next room.
And every night I hope she isn't copying me.
And every night I think how lucky I am, that every single night my little girl takes my face in her hands and tells me that she loves me. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tea With Me

Come, sit down, I've got the kettle on. Make your choice, peppermint, earl grey, hot-chocolate, a coffee? Sugar, milk?

The candles are lit, and if you come on one of the cooler days this week I'll light the fire.
Do come over, I'll bribe you with cake. Store brought, as the kids have been sick and I don't want to risk infection, but the fruit and veg shop do a great sponge.
Settle in, watch the flames. My Sprocket's taking his robots on a grand adventure and my Poppet's putting her dolls to bed.

Easter is one of my very favourite times of year. I love this time to reflect, to remember, to come together as a family. I love the weather - so often there are clear blue skies and a briskness in the air and the deciduous leaves are turning. I always remember my Grandfather at Easter. So often we'd be down at the beach with him and he would take the service at one of the nearby churches and his whole being would beam as he talked about grace. I'm looking forward to cooking hot cross buns with the kids and cooking a big Sunday dinner. The kids have already given the Easter bunny detailed instructions.
What are your Easter plans?

My Poppet had her first cup of tea this week.
Well, really, hot water and milk, but we called it tea. I used the tea set my prep teacher gave me so many aeons ago and it felt  ... momentous. I come from a tea culture. Growing up the kettle was nearly always on or we had a cup of tea in our hands, or both and it's lovely to see my daughter becoming part of it. Already she knows that tea makes (most) things better and Mummy-Needs-Tea. She often brings me 'pretend' tea cups.

And it made me think back to my first cup of 'tea.' I can't recall the very first cup, but it would have been at my Great Aunts', Eve and Margs, house. Most Sunday's we would catch the rattling green tram out of the city (and later when we moved we would walk the forty minutes) and have Sunday Lunch at my Great Aunts'. Come mid-afternoon I would be sat at the little table in the wood-panelled living room and the tea trolley would be wheeled in. There would be cheese biscuits and lemon slices and 'tea' served in a thick earthenware mug, and I would feel so grown up and important. After tea I would look at the curios collected from all around the world in their curio cabinet, or would be allowed to carefully leaf through their first edition of Ida Rentoul Outhwaite's Elves and Fairies, which was pure magic. And then there was their garden...

My Beloved, the med-student, has started his 'Women's Health' Rotation at the hospital. In the next six weeks he has to 'catch' three babies. I am a little jealous. I love the promise and excitement of birth. Each week we watch The Midwives and One Born Every minute and we pretend it's for my Beloved's studies, but really, it's just for me to ooh over the babies and sticky-beak! But ... this is also our first experience of 'almost-real' doctor hours. My Beloved starts at the hospital at seven in the morning and finishes about seven at night. He's rostered on nights and weekends as well ... including this one ... Easter. And while I know many families do this all the time, for us, it's a first and I'm not entirely sure how we'll go. My Poppet started My Beloved's rotation yesterday by waking up and promptly throwing up. Luckily, she stopped after a few hours, but her poor little pale face and big eyes as her body did this to her, was haunting.

Next week (on April Fools day, talk about auspicious starting date!) I start Camp Nano - which is when (like last November) I'm going to attempt to write 50,000 words in a month. This month is going to be more logistically challenging than last November, seeing as my Beloved is going to be MIA for most of the time, so I foresee much coffee and midnight writing sessions. But I'm so looking forward to it. I'll be starting my novel Overly Caffeinated Werewolves (Are Not Pretty) and just thinking about it makes me want to do a happy dance. With Camp Nano, I've been asssigned an (online) cabin of other writers and we'll all egg each other on around the (online) campfire. Most of my six cabinmates are teenagers, but there is one other person my age so I don't feel too much of a doddering misfit!
What are you excited about this week?

Joining with the lovely Em at teacups too for 'tea with me'. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekly Stills

 1. Coffee Candles. Last week while washing the dishes the kitchen was suddenly full of the heady smell of coffee. Some detective work showed me my Sprocket had got into the coffee and made an aromatic mountain on the kitchen floor. I decided the time had come to finally put a pinterest idea into play and voila coffee candles! They smelt divine!

2. My Poppet adores a cartoon called Peppa Pig and on the hotter nights last week she begged for 'muddy puddles' to jump in while I watered my poor, dried out garden. It's nice to be able to bring so much joy so easily!

3 & 4. See above! Lots of fun in muddy puddles!

5. A promise Autumn is truly on the way. Raindrops on oak leaves!

6. My Poppet running on the beach.

7. My Sprocket with a smoothed stone.

8. My Poppet rugged up for Autumn!

Joining with the wonderful Em at The Beetleshack for Weekly Stills. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013


1. My Sprocket with the Daddy-Monster in the midst of a tickle-fest.
2. My Poppet, dancing. Ole! You can see there is now a very pleasing briskness in the air!

Joining with Jodi at Che and Fidel for a portrait of my children once a week in 2013.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


1. My Sprocket looking forward.
2. My Poppet. "My no want my photo taken, mummy! Enough photos!"

My Sprocket still loves having his photo taken and immediately wants to see what it looks like. My Poppet is increasingly not a fan of the camera. We're hitting the terrible twos and hearing a lot of "My no want"s, also "My do it myself!" On the other hand, my Sprocket is becoming sweeter and sweeter!

Joining with the wonderful Jodi of  Che and Fidel for a portrait of my kids once a week for 2013.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

In Defence of Libraries and the Truly Horrible Author

I don't know if you've come across it but Terry Deary, author of the Horrible Histories, has recently said that libraries are obsolete and should be shut down. 
The controversy started when Deary supported his local council about Libraries Facing Closure saying “Libraries have had their day. They are a Victorian idea and we are in an electronic age. They either have to change and adapt or they have to go." (Sunderland Echo, 12/2/2013.) In an article in The Guardian, Deary was further quoted as saying: "This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that." 
It's taken me a few days to finish gulping like a grounded fish. 
I actually have a few of Deary's books in the house. I thought they'd be fun for the kids when they were a bit older. But now... I'm not entirely sure what to do with them. Ritual burning? 
Of course, I'm biased. I love libraries passionately, madly and unreservedly. 
I believe they are completely crucial to... well... civilisation as we know it. 
To many of the values I hold most dear - equality, democracy, analytical thinking, life-long-learning, wisdom.
I love public libraries, school libraries, state libraries, national libraries, hospital libraries and university libraries. I've worked in a fair variety of them and I know all the hundreds of services libraries offer and heartily appreciate each and every one. 
Yes, the world is changing quickly, yes digital books and articles are wonderful, but libraries will always have their place. The busiest, most fast paced library I ever worked at was mainly digital. It had a teeny-tiny collection of books, about half as many as my parents, but subscribed heavily to online databases. As a librarian I gave up to six hours of classes a day on how to use the databases (each one had different tricks and search strategies) and how to assess information. And did you know that when you join your public library you also gain access to dozens of online databases? They're brilliant. Use them. And if you don't know how - ask your friendly librarian!
As a librarian it is gratifying that so many people are coming out in defence of libraries. As a reader who experiences a shiver of anticipatory delight when entering a library, it engenders a lovely feeling of solidarity. As an author I can truthfully say I would prefer not to make another dime from writing rather than witness a wholesale shut down of libraries. 
Yes, there's a lot of information out there, but a lot of it is just plain wrong. The onslaught of information today is one of the reasons libraries and librarians are so important. Everybody should know how to check the validity of information, to know to check the sources, the original studies, to look for bias and skewing. And yes, schools should play their part in this, but it's a joint effort.
Deary is - surprise, surprise - also an opponent of both schools and historians. (Um, history degree here, and... Grad Dip in Primary Teaching- seriously, the man is so anti-me I might just have a big placard saying 'shoot me now, I'm obsolete'.)
I strongly believe in a world where everyone has equal rights to information, education and books. Not just the rich, not just established middle-class folk. Everyone. I believe homeless people should be able to sit somewhere warm and dry on a miserable day and read a book or a magazine or go on the internet. Or hey, just sit. I believe migrants should be able to read books in their own language and borrow books on writing and speaking english. I believe kids from unstable homes should have somewhere safe and (reasonably) quiet to sit and do their homework. I believe people without money should be able to walk into a library and access great literature, escapism, job information, transcendent joy. Books offer hope, they offer pathways to better things, they open the imagination to new ways of thinking and better ways of being, they contain solid, life saving information and clues for amazing breakthroughs. 
And in the egalitarian society I fervently believe in, books and libraries should be accessible by everyone, happily funded by everyone who can and enjoyed by all. 

Sunday Stills

1. Trying to make more room in my bookshelves, I offloaded a lot of childhood favourites into the kids room. I still read them all every year...
2. My Poppet's new doll (courtesy of the Sunday Market, no I didn't crochet the dress!) all tucked in...
3.  Vanilla and Elderflower ice-cream. Heat waves = lots of ice-cream.
4. My sandy Sprocket, happy by the sea.
5. Long weekend crowds at The Cove.
6. Addicted to the play of light and water.
7. My Sprocket playing in the sand in the shadow of the tall trees.
8. I love seaweed (except when it's wrapped around my legs...)
9. Poppet running along the beach in late afternoon light.
10. My Poppet and the rock tower.

Joining with the lovely Em at The Beetleshack for Sunday Stills. I'm loving looking at little windows into lives from all over the world.

Friday, March 8, 2013


1. My Sprocket through the trampoline mesh. We've just confirmed my Sprocket has long term fluid in his inner ears and massive hearing loss. He's getting grommets in a few weeks, but it breaks my heart to think he's hearing the world so indistinctly. This photo seems to me to sum up his hearing loss- this is how blurrily he hears the world. It explains a lot and we hope for great things when he gets his grommets. But... his first operation... my little boy...

2. My Poppet and I in summer light, just back from the pool. This summer is dragging on, but there are some wonderful moments.

Joining with the lovely Jodi of Che and Fidel for a portrait of my kids once a week for a year. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dreams Come True

I had one of those birthdays recently that make you take stock.
If we still went by mans allotted years being three score and ten I would be smack on middle aged. (Gulp) Luckily, I believe the average lifespan of woman in Australia is presently about 84 so I’ve still got a good seven years. My parents assure me that 60 is actually the new middle age, the prime years, in fact. So I’ve that to look forward to as well.
Anyway, it’s one of those birthdays that make you look around and go hmm.
And it was sweet to reflect that I have everything my younger self dreamed about.
When I was 15 a small, now defunct, publisher called moondrake, were talking about publishing one of my books, and one of the editors invited me to come and check out their offices. Their offices were in a terrace in Carlton, one of Melbourne’s inner suburbs, and I was incredibly excited.
While I was there a very chic looking women asked me about my future plans and I rather naievely told her the truth; ‘I want to live in the country and write.’
To which she obviously tried (and failed) to hide a laugh and a sigh and said, no but what will you do for a career.  At which I looked somewhat (more) blank.
Twenty years later I’m living in the country and writing. 
It’s not quite the way I’d vaguely imagined it. I’m fairly sure I was thinking of remote and craggy wilderness type country, with massive breakers rolling in on a long and deserted shore in the near vicinity, not dairy land and power plants.  But it is the country. And I am writing.
And while I have a backup ‘career’ as a librarian, I do see it all as being part of being around books and writing and people who love books and stories and writing and knowledge.
I also have the children I always dreamed of, so unimaginably more wonderful, more heart-grabbing and deep-gt-chuckling funny, not to mention more challenging than I imagined, and a husband who loves me exactly the way I am: mess, ditziness and all.
There are things that didn’t enter my mind when I was younger. I seriously believed (if I thought of it at all) that as soon as I had kids I would transform into the Queen of Clean and Miss Organisation. Not.  I’ve certainly read a lot about cleaning. None of it has made its way into the practicals.
I don’t know if I suspected I’d be part of a student  family in my 30s. But… my dad was working on his PhD when I was in primary school and I remember my immense pride when he came to my school to show me the newly bound copy of his thesis (I’m fairly sure I’m one of the few people who read a PhD thesis on a revolutionary Irish guy in primary school). So adults doing long-term study is something I grew up around and something that feels normal… almost right  to me. It's an honour and fascination to see my beloved’s mind shift and grow as he learns so much stuff.
So I’m joining with Bron at 52 Weeks of Grateful today, grateful for taking stock, for childhood dreams, and for dreams coming true.

Tea with Me

Over at teacups too, Em had the lovely idea of virtual cups of tea – a cup of tea and a drop in. I’ve been meaning to take part for a while – this week I’m finally organized!
If you were to drop around I would try to talk you into a coffee or a spiced tea, as they’re fun to make, and I’m a little spice and coffee obsessed at the moment. In this heatwave, iced teas and coffees would also be strong contenders.
Failing that you would chose from my tea collection. My fall backs are Earl and Lady Grey, with Liquorice Legs and Peppermint tea the favs from the herbals, but there's at least a dozen more to tempt you.
I recently discovered the joys of baking with kids (they have a longer concentration for cooking than nearly anything else) so with luck there would be cupcakes or biscuits, failing that fruit and  cheese. 
Teas brewed or coffees made, we would wander into the garden and sit and talk about our dreams for the future, books and music, travel, philosophies of life and stalking happiness.
The weather is warm now, but the garden is shady. (And believe me, this bizarre heatwave would come up in conversation. This is supposed to be autumn - what’s with two weeks over 30 degrees? I was promised sock-wearing and open-fires - I want a refund!) We would watch as the parrots came to steal my apples and walnuts and the leaves murmured in the breeze. My dog would sleep at our feet and the children would squeal and squabble.

Who's for another cuppa?

Monday, March 4, 2013

I believe you talked me into it (one more cup of coffee...)

On Saturday I bundled up my beloved and met up with a friend and we had coffee in the big smoke.
I tried not to look too much like the country bumpkin I now am, after all, Melbourne CBD was my stomping ground for many years, but there were a few times I had to close my gaping mouth, and not just at how aggressive city drivers are.
Now, we didn't just have any old cup of coffee.
We were all snooty like and went to a coffee tasting.
I might have mentioned (a few hundred times) that I'm about to stop dilletanting around with backstory and start writing my next book, Overly Caffeinated Werewolves (Are Not Pretty), and in aid of this I have begun serious research into The Coffee World. (O, the hardships! Does not your heart bleed for me?) Unfortunately, recent trials have proved that drinking too much coffee makes me ravenously hungry, so I've been trying to cut it down to one cup a day. However, in the interests of research, I sometimes make it two. Or three. Occasionally four.
Purely for the sake of research, you understand.
Anyway, researching places I could test really good coffee in Melbourne both Campos coffee and Seven Seeds Coffee came up on google, and I chose Seven Seeds on the basis of.. well, it was free,  while Campos charge $30.
Seven Seeds Cafe is tucked into an industrial-ish street near the Queen Vic Market and very easy to miss. We arrived early for a coffee (the kind with milk) and it was bustling and thriving and looked very cool with lots of exposed bricks. I am a sucker for exposed bricks.
The actual tasting was in a little glassed in room they use for training and was... brilliant. To be honest I thought they'd have us in and out in five minutes, but it went for nearly forty five minutes and Casey, the teacher, was wonderful. She was just back from a coffee buying mission to Burundi and full of knowledge, stories and passion.
The table was laid with 6 different coffees from various countries and we all had impressive clipboards and sheets to note our impressions. First off, we circled the table smelling the ground coffee. I completely failed to smell any of the notes of caramel, spice, woodsmoke or anything else I was supposed to. I did get a repeated smell of maybe... roast tomato? And one coffee totally smelt of tea-rose. After we'd all (very seriously) made our notes, hot water was added, and we smelt again. The smells were completely different.
And I am totally not a super-nose.
I did not smell any aromas of black-currant nor of roast beef. But never mind, my protagonist will be a super-nose. I will live vicariously. Fiction is good like that.
We waited awhile, while Casey told us about what they look for in beans (a clean, fresh, fruity or florally taste) and how a lot of ordering is done on big online coffee auctions and then we 'broke' the coffee (disrupted the crema on the surface) and tasted it again. And it was totally different. (More so to people with more refined palates than mine own) Some tastes had intensified, some had gone, some had come...
And then finally... when the time was right, we tasted.
And it all just tasted like coffee to me.
We were supposed to slurp it off the spoon and half the time I had a coughing fit, but it all seemed... very coffee like. Some were quite pleasant. All could have done with lots of froth.
I am not a sophisticate. But never mind, my character is, and I now know how she needs to 'cup' (taste) her coffee samples and what she's looking for and what she intends to avoid. (Potato tasting coffee is bad, very bad. Who would have thunk it!)
And now?
Well, I am a massive Seven Seeds fan. (No, this is not a sponsored post... giggle!) And my beloved and I intend to 'cup' all of the numerous coffees we have in the house to try to develop our noses. And I think, I think I need to go to more coffee tastings.
So much fun!

                                         My coffee at Seven Seeds. A lovely caramel aftertaste.

                                      The roaster at Seven Seeds
                                          Coffee Plants at Seven Seeds in a little glass room.
                                                The 'cupping' table
                                             Coffee Poster
                                            A fellow taster. Okay, the friend I dragged along (My beloved is anti-having his photo online) Also displaying the exposed brickwork.
                                             Unroasted coffee beans

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Weekly Stills 9/52

1. Flowers at the Queen Vic Market.
2. My Sprocket looking down on the Yarra River.
3. At a coffee tastings at Seven Seeds Cafe. I regret to say I did not at all taste (or smell) what I should have been tasting or smelling -except once a scent of tea rose - but it was a heap of fun.
4. Impossible (for me!) to go to the Queen Vic market and not get a jam donut!
5. My Poppet blowing a plastic trumpet.
6. Baking. I have only recently realised how quick and easy it is. I had no idea. I thought it was really hard and complicated.
7. My Sprocket at his Nana and Grampa's house - inspecting a robot-with-a-button.

Joining with the wonderful Em of The Beetleshack for Weekly Stills. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013


1. My Poppet playing kitchens in her Nana and Papa's garden. Would you like a cup of tea?
2. My Sprocket asleep on Nana and Papa's couch. It's busy work being a kid!

Joining with the lovely Jodi of Che and Fidel for a portrait of the kids once a week in 2013.