Saturday, November 30, 2013


- My Sprocket, on the train in the early, early hours of the morning. Shortly after this both my Sprocket and his daddy were sound asleep again. Can't you just see the sleepiness rolling off him, o those big tired eyes! 
- My Poppet. Also sleepy, waiting for the train. Just after 5am. Poppet and Sprocket were both so good. A 4.30am wakeup, two trains a bus and a plane and they were like little angels!  

My Beloved took the kids up to Queensland this week for an impromptu holiday. The house has been very quiet without them, but they've been having so much fun. They've been admiring Christmas Beatles, swimming at Bribie Island and hunting for cane toads. I've warned my Beloved to check our Sprocket's bag, and his shoes, and his pockets, and under the car seats to ensure he doesn't try to smuggle any of his new 'pets' home. It would be horrible if we were responsible for introducing Cane Toads into Victoria!
They flew up to Queensland, but they're driving back down again with my Beloved's dad. So far they've done the first leg of the journey, and should be arriving at their Great Uncle's farm any moment now.  It's still another few nights till my little ones are home and while it's been a lovely holiday I'm missing them so much!

Joining with the lovely Jodi of Che and Fidel for a portrait of my children once a week, (nearly) every week in 2013.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Leaving the Nest (Feathered Heart Ache)

The first time I heard about Angel was about fifteen years ago, in a nightclub, at two in the morning.
After a friends gig another friend and I had literally run (and hidden) from an ex-boyfriend who didn't get the 'ex' bit, hopped in a taxi and ended up in one of the basement places in the Melbourne CBD.
When a sweet, soft-spoken guy came up and started talking, it was soothing after all the hurtful drama of the last year and a bit.
We quickly got onto the subject of pets (at the time my family had two dogs, a cat and a score of chickens, mostly roosters, but in the past we'd had ducks, a sheep, and a goat as well) and before long it was agreed that we'd meet again, and he'd introduce me to his cockatoo.
Nhan had found Cocky in a gutter in a road by the zoo with another cockatoo. When Nhan had stopped the car the other cockatoo had flown off, but Cocky hadn't been able to fly. Cocky was presently living in a cage in Nhan's parents shed, being fed meat pies and white rice. Nhan's family had been refugees from Cambodia, spending a long time in camps in Malaysia, and didn't quite see animal welfare the way I did.
A week or so later Cocky came to live with my family. I think we'd both intended it from that first conversation.
As soon as Cocky's cage was placed on the back verandah, we opened the cage door, and never shut it again. We aren't big believers in cages. Cockatoos are as an intelligent as two or three year olds and need stimulation and company.
It took Cocky three days to get up the courage to leave the cage, except on someone's arm.
While Cocky loved Nhan, he was wary about everyone else. While he'd sit on shoulders and forearms, his claws dug in, drawing blood, and he was likely to make sudden bites at people passing, or the person holding him. Within the week Mum and I were covered in scratches and bite marks from times we'd carried him down the garden to show him fruit and wattle trees.
Slowly, Cocky began to explore. He left the cage - he started roosting in the fig tree surrounding the back side of the house over night, peering in the kitchen window to watch Dad cooking, the living room to watch us all talking. Nhan and I took him for trips to the beach, to the country, and while he was cautious of other cockatoos (they tended to swoop him) he loved spending time with Nhan and would cuddle up to his chest and coo.
We took Cocky to the vet, to see if they could mend his damaged wings, but the vet said it was impossible. Cocky could glide twenty metres or so, in emergencies, but couldn't fly. Mum and I started crying when we saw other cockatoos flying, especially in flocks, thinking of what poor Cocky was missing.
Within days we discovered just how destructive cockatoos are. Any time anyone left the back door open, or the dogs opened it to go in or out, Cocky would march in as fast as he could, head straight for the computer keyboard, rip all the keys off, pull apart the mouse and then begin de-covering books, destroying cameras, throwing around heirloom vases and generally creating mayhem.
We got new closing mechanisms for the sliding doors.
We'd been working on a new name and 'Diablo' was a strong contender, but we decided to try a name for Cocky to live up to.
We re-named him Angel.
When he laid his first egg a couple of years later, racing into the house and up the hallway to produce it on dad's pillow - he'd transferred his deep devotion to Nhan to Dad by then, firmly believing they were pair bonded and being very jealous of Mum - we discovered Angel was a girl.
Over the years we tried to find better homes for her, with cockatoo companions, but every time we checked, we discovered that she'd be kept in a not particularly large aviary. Seeing cages jammed with cockatoos, their chests bare from self-harm, none of them realising they were cockatoos, broke our hearts. Sanctuaries had no interest in yet another cockatoo-that-doesn't-know-it's-a-cockatoo. After awhile, we stopped trying.
Over the years Angel mellowed. She stopped scratching and biting and destroying so much stuff (after she ate a couple of holes in our house, trying to get in, and the neighbours house, because it was there) and began exploring more.
Until the last year she didn't leave our garden, having breakfast with my Mum each morning, roosting in the wisteria outside Mum and Dad's bedroom each night, going down to the back of the garden with Mum to do the washing, spending most of the day in the fig tree.
This year, Angel has been more unsettled. During her nesting season she's started wandering up the street, accosting strangers, looking for a mate.
She'd be about seventeen now, a teenager. With luck she'll live to eighty. Who knew birds had troubled teens?
My Mum started going online, searching for a companion for Angel, thinking about a (very large) enclosure. Instead, Mum found a woman with a male cockatoo, looking for a female.
Angel is going to Tasmania, to get married.
The family have a young male cockatoo, who sleeps inside the house on a log, who has a large enclosure outside that includes a fifteen foot tree. Other cockatoos and kookaburras come to visit. The family have a large property, with alpacas and fruit trees, near a river.
I don't know if Angel will fall in love with the young male. So far she's shown no signs of realising she's a cockatoo. But we're hopeful.
We're also heartbroken.
No more sweet 'hello, hello dear' as we come in the front door, no more thoughtful claw held out to be picked up as we pass, no more light, floral scent of clean feathers as we scratch under her crest. No more little general running after us as we wander down the garden path, wanting to be picked up. No more hilarious courtship dances as she tries to impress Dad.
Our Angel-Bird is leaving the nest. Hopefully for a better life. Hopefully to find True Love.
But we'll still miss her.
Goodbye Angel.
It's been a wonderful fifteen years.
Good Luck.

Sprocket & Poppet's Big Adventure

Somewhat idly, in the midst of exam-madness last Thursday, my Beloved said: "Maybe I should take the kids up to Queensland next week. We could drive back down with dad when he comes. Be a bit of company."
My eyes lit up like a thousand Christmas Trees. "What a brilliant idea. What day? You can't go before Monday because Poppet has the dentist. Tuesday. Let me look at the flights for Tuesday. Talk to your parents. The kids will love it."
While my Beloved was still stuttering I had the flights worked out and the kids packed and ready to go. So yesterday we woke at 4am and by 5.15am we had our bleary kids dressed and at the railway station.
Despite the early start, the kids behaved beautifully, excited by the idea of the plane, of Queensland, of seeing Grandpa and Aunty Bec and Sheba… and all the thousands of frogs and toads and beaches. The train eased smoothly towards Melbourne as the sun rose, illuminating the rolling green hills of home. In the city, we caught another train, then the sky bus, and finally, six hours after we woke and tumbled into clothes, I was saying goodbye to my kids at the gate and, hand-in-hand with their rather shell-shocked Daddy (who was still protesting it had just been an idle comment and um, what was happening) they were crossing the tarmac towards the plane.
And of course I cried a little, sitting in the cafe watching the plane take off, because it's the first Big Adventure the kids are having without me. The kids and I have been on many adventures together, caught planes and trains and gone visiting by ourselves, but this is their longest Daddy-Adventure.
After their time re-exploring the beaches of Bribie and the Sunshine Coast, they'll be driving all the way  from Queensland back to Victoria. And of course we drove there and back last year, so they're old hands. But… it still seems strange to be missing The Big Adventure. To know that this is likely something they'll remember for ever and I'm missing it. We've already skyped a handful of times. But to be honest the kids are too busy re-exploring their Queensland World. "In a moment, Mummy." At 7.30 this morning my Poppet was already packing to go to the beach. They're having a blast.
And me? I miss them and miss them and miss them.
But… if I'm to finish the 50,000 words of Nano on time I have 12,000 words to finish by Saturday. (It was 19,000, but I wrote 7,000 yesterday after I dropped them off.)
And a house to deep clean that hasn't been cleaned properly in at least three months as we've been sick and then sick and then sick some more, and then sick with exams. It would be nice to see the floor of the playroom again.
I've a bump to talk to I've been severely neglecting. Walking through the city yesterday I was completely, joyously, overwhelmed by the thought of the little person, growing and kicking within. Hello my littlest one. Who are you? O I can't wait to meet you! Up to now there hasn't really been time to think about it.
I won't feel quite complete until my little ones are home, and my bed feels very empty, but I am so incredibly grateful for this time to catch my breath, to stretch my brain, to write, to play with the house.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Sprocket - Telling us all about it.
Poppet - on the Swing. I want to go higher! 

Joining with the lovely Jodi of Che and Fidel for a portrait of my kids once a week (nearly) every week for 2013.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weekly Stills (with hints of silk & cream)

- Silk Worms at my Sprocket's kindy. They have started making cocoons and one particularly precocious caterpillar has emerged as a white butterfly. It seems the butterflies don't really fly. You really would need an awful lot of silk cocoons to make any garment!
- Thrifted silk baby petticoats, eagerly leapt upon at a church fete. All baby clothes were one dollar or fifty cents and there was a complete treasure trove of home knitted and hand stitched baby gear - including three of the most gorgeous little silk petticoats with lace edges. My Beloved asked what I'd do with them if our baby was a boy, to which I just rolled my eyes. Our boy will be wearing silk petticoats, obviously. On pinterest recently I came across a gorgeous boys pink velvet romper with lace from the early years of last century and was all inspired. Let us stand up for our boys right to silk, lace, velvet and pink!
-The silk petticoats. True love. I feel almost like I robbed the church fete though. A dollar each? Surely that's robbery?
-My Poppet, admiring some ants on her hand in early morning sunlight.
-A sleepy Poppet awaking tousled from a late afternoon nap. No, she didn't sleep for ages that night!
-Roses from 'the beast'. When we first bought our house there was a massive bramble patch (completely smothering a cherry-plum that had given up the good fight), about the size of a shed. Enduring great bloodshed we slashed it back to manageable height, and awaited the blooms. Here they are. I think they were worth our savaged flesh! I am unsure my Beloved would agree.

Joining (belatedly) with the lovely Em over at The Beetle Shack for moments of still from our week. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Exam Stress & Nostalgia

I should be desperately writing my novel, and I am, I am.
Sitting by a window in the deserted university cafe, all the kids students in Swot-vac or exams, coffee beside me (have I mentioned how much I love being able to drink coffee again? a few times? Let me mention it again). I've got one computer window up on my manuscript, one up on a word count doc, one up on the Nano site to enter my word count, and I'm all set to pound out five or six thousand words. But instead I'm staring hazily around, getting all nostalgic.
And stressed. Let's not forget stressed.
You see, my Beloved is sitting his exams somewhere in the building.
You know, the exams that are the make-or-break. The barrier exams. The exams worth more than any other of the whole four years. Next year is pretty much just a matter of turning up and applying for internships.
This is it. The do-we-have-to-do-this-year-all-over-again time.
Deep breath.
He can do this. We can do this.
But you know exams. And examiners. They're tricksy and mean and completely random. (In my completely unbiased opinion. I'm only talking med exams here. I only had about three exams in my three degrees, and my main exam memories are of pleasantly writing an essay about Byzantium in the sixth century. Something about Malalas?  Okay, the Latin one sucked. Even if I'd understood the Latin bit, I hadn't a clue about 'grammar talk' - past participle? what the heck is that? Med exams are a completely different kettle of fish.)
Anyway, my Beloved is on day two of five. We dropped him off at 7.45am and we'll pick him up at 5.00pm.
Unfortunately, in exam stress, we ordered pizza last night and my Beloved ordered chilli. Extra hot. 10/10 on the heat scale. He's suffering today.
It's almost de ja vu-y, because three years ago (give or take a few months) when he was doing his multiple-mini-interviews to get into the course, he suffered similarly. We'd all flown down from Queensland, then made the drive out to the country, staying in the cheapest motel for the night, our six month old Poppet sleeping on a makeshift bed on the floor, our Sprocket curled between us, and my Beloved decided to break six months of no wheat with… a pizza. And garlic bread.
And suffered for it.
My main memory of  his interview is of taking the kids to a completely wonderful wooden-fort-playground and the Poppet having one of those nappies that just explodes. It went everywhere. And I mean everywhere. And for some reason I didn't have a change of clothes on me (stupid mama) and had to make the trek to Coles with the not quite two year old and the six month old who was…in an interesting state.
But I remember the excitement of driving out the day before, heading through lush and gently rolling hills of green, and gushing over how this could be our home. Can you imagine? This could be our home. For four years.
That amount of time in the one place seemed inconceivable.
And now that time way in the future is now. All going well we'll be on the final stretch soon.
And we're full of the same nerves and stress as we were then, and I keep stopping to tap my fingers on the table. (I should have made sure he got more study time. I should have sent him to the library more often.)
Tap. Tap. Tap. Taptaptap.
Back to writing.
Maybe another cup of coffee?

Saturday, November 16, 2013


My Sprocket - on the Thomas the Tank Engine Train out at Emerald. An early treat for his birthday. 
My Poppet - on the Thomas the Tank Engine Train, her cousin next to her. My Poppet is (momentarily) reflective, her cousin laughing.

Joining with the lovely Jodi over at Che and Fidel for a portrait of my kids, once a week, every week in 2013.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Back on (the NaNo) Track

I'm finely back on track.
Nearly half-way through November and I'm finally settling into writing mode to finish my fifty thousand words by the end of the month.
If you'd asked me yesterday I would have said there was no way in the world I could possibly finish the fifty thousand words in time. Today, it all seems possible.
Have I mentioned before that cafe's are wonderful things? I might have?
Let me re-mention it. Cafes are wonderful things. In fact, I might go further and say that cafes - away from all the distractions of home - the washing to do, the floor to mop, the dishes - are a writer's best friend. Or maybe a working mum's best friend. Today after the Kindy drop my Beloved and I both went to the University, me to sit in the cafe (with a coffee, a real, live -okay, not so live, coffee, yay for second trimester!) and write, him to work in the library with his study group. It's oddly companionable to know that we're both frantically working in the same building, although my Beloved obviously has far more at stake.
Anyway, in the cafe, away from distractions, I've managed to put six thousand words under my belt and double my word count.
The cute little Nano graph that tells you how you're going is still looking very behind, but I now only need to write a little over two thousand words a day to catch up. I can do that.
The most annoying thing is the words I wrote pre- Nano, when I was prepping. I wrote about four thousand words before Nano started, just outlining what happens in each chapter, so the story doesn't become too derailed. Now every time I do a word count (roughly every five hundred words, ahem) I have to minus those 4,970 words. It only takes a few seconds, but it's irritating, and the first figure looks smug and respectable and then I minus the 4,970 words and it looks so much less smug and respectable.
But I'm finally back on track. The words are flowing. Those hard, stuttering first chapters are over and I firmly believe (touch wood) that it's all go-go-go from here. The adrenaline is back.
My Beloved has told me I need to write, not least because I am a far nicer person when I am writing. I tend to believe him. And now the story has me firmly in it's grip it's all smiles (and coffee) from here.
Ahem. I hope.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Things that Make you go Hmm... Self Publishing

Today I read a blog post, 'A Tale of Two Royalty Statements' that had me going 'hmm.'  It was by a historical romance writer called Courtney Milan, whose novels and novellas I've greatly enjoyed for their intelligence, intelligent heroines and family dynamics (okay, and let's not forget the romance!)

The post was about the difference in income between a story she had in a collection with two famous writers and published by a major publisher, and a self-published novella.

Before reading the article I would have assumed that to be a no brainer. Surely the story published by the major publisher made more money? Um. No. Not by a long shot.

Now, the figures alone had my pupils dilating. That much for a short story? That much for a novella? Hoosh!

Let me just say here that Milan writes brilliantly, playfully and thoughtfully, and deserves every cent. But the other notable point about Milan is how reasonably she prices her books - most are about $3.50, and every so often one will be free or 99c or something like that. So her intake is based on the quantity of books she sells, not the price, although I'd strongly suggest the two are at least a little linked.

Self Publishing is not a route I'd ever truly considered - simply because of the kind of person I am. Dis-organised. The nitty-gritty, the fine details, are not my thing, and I would be too afraid of sending something shoddy into the world, to consider it at this time.

Another thing would be the cost - to self-publish properly the start up cost for editing, layout, covers, promotion, etc would be more than I could get my hands on. I wouldn't even begin to consider it without a good editor (or two or three) going through my work. Milan's straightforwardness on this strengthened my resolve. While I'm definitely not ruling out self-publishing in the future, when time and money are not in such short supply, it's definitely not a viable option - for me - at present.

While Milan's finished products are flawless... that's because of the type of person she is. I will be leaping for joy (and surprise) if I get my Christmas cards out on time, and as for really tricky things, like getting matching socks on the kids? I think I deserve a medal.

But still, I think it's something all authors are thinking about at the moment. For a clever, meticulous writer, there are clear financial benefits to self-publishing. For those of us who are not so meticulous there are clear logistical drawbacks to self-publishing.

And then there's the whole issue of pricing... How publishers are pricing their new authors out of the take-a-chance-on-this category and how a clever author (or a thoughtful publisher) can entice readers to new authors through pricing... or not.

As a reader, it seems most self-published e-books are a reasonable price to take a chance on. I definitely took a chance on Milan because of the price. Books published by bigger publishing houses? Well... for that price I'll go with a tried and true author. One I can rely on. Or the library. Although admittedly being able to read the first chapter of a book makes a big difference. I have often been hooked by a good first chapter.

Anyway, I'm still going 'hmm'.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekly Stills

-My grandmother. We haven't been able to get to Melbourne for awhile, so it was doubly precious seeing her. Hopefully it won't be so long until our next visit. 
-Sprocket and Poppet on the slide. 
-A beautiful rose in my parents' garden. Now it's rose season I doubt I'll be able to resist a rose photo (or two, or three or four) a week! 
-Poppet at the drinking fountain. Both kids have been entranced by the drinking fountains we have found this week! 
-My papa, holding my new nephew. 
-My Poppet with a hoop at the Melbourne Museum.
-My Sprocket with my mum's microscope, studying worms. 
-Poppet, hiding in the Exhibition Gardens.

The kids and I have had a wonderful week in Melbourne. We meant to just go in to see the Musuem, but then the thought of two big train trips in a day overwhelmed me and we decided to stay a night with my parents, which stretched into two, then three, then four nights. It was wonderful catching up with friends and family I haven't seen in far too long, hopping on trains, visiting op-shops and church fetes.*
It was hard seeing how many more children my kids played with (outside of kindy, playgroup and childcare) in Melbourne than where we live. They had more playdates and adventures in four days in Melbourne than in four months in our home town... and that's not counting the times they climbed the fence to play with the neighbours kids. My Beloved and I have a lot to think about and reconsider.

Joining with the wonderful Em at The Beetle Shack for moments from our week.

*I think I'll have to have a 'goodies' post later in the week. I'm still blinking over some of the things I picked up! Wow.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Spring has brought some lovely weather and we've been outside playing. It's also brought a lot of rain!

My Sprocket - up the slide at the park, having a great time with friends. 
My Poppet - On the train and clutching her doll, looking out at the rain. 

Joining with the lovely Jodi of Che and Fidel for a photo of my kids once a week, every week in 2013. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

At The Playground

The kids and I are staying with my parents at the moment, in the green and leafy suburbs of Melbourne City.
I am deep in hedge-envy. (What, you haven't heard of hedge-envy? The deep covetousness of orderly lines and flows of bounteous leafiness, bordering lush English and Italian style gardens, the whole whispering 'established'. And let's not get to 'oak-envy' - the desire to transport the shady, oak lined streets of my childhood, to my own, not so shady present hometown, whose more obvious features are broken windows and power plants, although we do do a nice line in roses.)
Anyway, I met up with one of my best and oldest friends. We went to primary school, high school and uni together, holidayed in Scotland together and had kids around the same time.
And it was strange and gave me a little bit of a heart-melt to see our kids playing together - giggling wildly over kindy-humour, running across the oval, climbing up the slide - in one of the parks we used to go to as teens, not so very much older.
I don't know if the kids will stay friends. I don't know if their kids will play together, and if so in what city, town or state it will be, but I like to imagine that they will be friends, wherever they end up.

Caro & Nano & Green Dragon Waking

My National Novel Writing Month has stuttered to the next thing to a halt.
While for weeks I've been looking forward to the first of November when I could finally, properly, start, itching to get pivotal scenes on screen, now the time has actually arrived I'm only puttering along, second guessing, third guessing and frowning a lot before turning to a light-weight novel or pinterest.
I suspect I know why.
It's my main character. My protagonist.
As with the first two books in the series - Dragons' Nests and Firebirds and Overly Caffeinated Werewolves (Are Not Pretty), I'm writing in first person.
While first person tripped off my tongue, or rather, flew from my fingers, in the previous novels, this time it's a lot harder.
And it's all caught up in the character of Caro.
Caro has a big secret. One that has shaped her life down to the minutest detail. It's made her pretty OCD. It's also made her very good. Annoyingly, perfectly good.
I hope she doesn't put readers off, because really she's very endearing and loveable and flawed when you get to know her, but first take? She's just too damn perfect. And did I mention she's stunningly beautiful? Yes, she knows it. Little annoys me more than heroines who have guys salivating around them and not having the brains to realise they're drop dead gorgeous. Half-wits.
No, Caro knows it. But she doesn't care.
She's vegan. She's pretty much tee-total. She only ever eats organic, fair-trade goods and only sells completely fair-trade organic stuff in her shop. I suspect she doesn't eat sugar. Let alone deep fried stuff. She only has about nine sets of clothes. She only wears sensible shoes, and only has three pairs. She has NO clutter. She actually does her yoga every morning before breakfast, and meditates every day. She walks or catches public transport everywhere.
Do you hate her yet? I'm feeling irky just thinking about it and she's my baby.
Writing from her head-space is harder than I thought it would be. She holds to the beauty in the small things and routing, in simplicity and order. To write properly in her voice I think I need to slow down and concentrate on details, she observes carefully. But I tend to want to race along into the story. (Well, okay, with a lot of description.) I want to get to the part where she and The Guy start sparring, to where she enters the Lands of the Sleeping Dragon... But Caro doesn't race.
I'm pondering skipping the first getting-into-the-flow-and-setting-the-scene chapters and just writing all the fun bits. You can do that in Nano and not feel too guilty.
I don't know.
I feel like I should slog it out to make sure I get the voice right. Introverted, intricate, careful, deeply appreciative of the beauty in the ordinary. Maybe I need to read some very Zen poems. Haiku. Sip green tea. Actually do the Salute to the Sun a few times in the morning. To get into her head span. Maybe that'll work.
Or maybe I can just imagine it.
Maybe I can just stare at the screen for awhile longer. And hope. Maybe if I just find the right tea to inspire me. Oolong? Green? Rooibos?
Or maybe I should just sit done and right whatever comes.
Hmm. That's a novel thought. Stop procrastinating. Hmm.
Caro would never procrastinate.
Damn, she's annoying.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Of trains & trams & the Big Smoke

Two sleepy kids watching Peppa Pig on the train to the city

The kids usual pursuits were cancelled because of the Melbourne Cup Day, so I bit the bullet and decided to brave two hours on the train with the wee ones and take them to the museum for the very first time.
In order for my Beloved to be able to drop us off before work we had to get the 7.30 am train, which meant we were all bleary eyed as we waited for the Big Train. It's been awhile since I made the trip into the city with the kids. The last time was... interesting.
This time they were perfect angels, pointing out things like trees and hills, cars, horses and cows. They were very impressed when the train overtook the cars on the freeway 'we're winning! we're winning!'
The breakfast I packed was not such a winner. It turns out chocolate croissants look very suspicious to a four year old. "This doesn't have veggies in it, mummy?" my Sprocket asked. I was able to assure him it would be a very peculiar croissant to be stuffed with veggies and he reluctantly tried it. I should have stuck with apples.
My parents met us at Southern Cross station and we caught the tram up to Parliament - further excitement! A tram! The kids looked around with country kid eyes - and let's be honest, I did too.
Wandering up the paths of Exhibition Gardens, the long archway of deeply green trees, the graceful buildings with their french style towers and lovely windows, there was much sighing going on. Melbourne, I do love you. I miss you!
The Museum itself was wonderful. My memories are mainly of the old building in the heart of the city, where everything looked solid and worthy and time-touched. The new building is all glass and reflections and quirk - and entirely kid friendly. There's a special kid section, including an outdoor play area with hoops and skipping ropes. The dinosaur bones were what we really came to see - but the Bug House caught my Sprocket's heart with its many millions of creatively displayed bugs. I regret to say the moving stairs were probably my Poppet's favourite thing. I'm still a little amazed that the rain forest had live lizards and birds.
And now I wonder, will the kids remember any of their Big City Day? And if they do, will it just be the moving stairs? Or the cases full of bugs? As a child my parents used to walk me through the Fitzroy and Botanical gardens to go to the museum, but my memories are hazy - the beautifully intricate weapons, Phar Lap, the stuffed horse...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weekly Stills

-Rose Blossom Flowering Tea - it looked amazing and I watched enraptured for at least five minutes while it unfolded. But... my taste buds are not sophisticated enough to enjoy the taste. I was going to go thrifting for a glass tea-pot - but it turned out the bottle-in-a-glass glass my sister in law gave me for Christmas was perfect! Onwards with the search for the perfect tea!
-Happy happy joy joy! I can eat again! In the early weeks of pregnancy I used to wake in the night starving, as I couldn't think of anything that seemed remotely edible. Now all it seems I can do is dream of food. For breakfast I made a massive fruit platter - melons and mangoes, nashi pear, nectarines, walnuts and yoghurt and the kids and I went out onto the verandah and indulged.
-Poppet - eating mango. Even my Sprocket reluctantly tried it when I declared it a special Queensland food. "It's good!" he said in surprise. Mangoes - mm summer is definitely on the way! Sprocket seems convinced we're trying to poison him. He looked at us very suspiciously when we suggested that he really might like to try maple syrup on his pancakes this morning...
-Sprocket, looking so grown up.
-No more photos, mummy! Poppet hiding under the bench so I don't take any more photos of her...
-A rose in my garden. Me and roses? True love.
-Prunes and walnuts. Yep. The delights of pregnancy. Those of you who have been there might know why I ate these till I felt bloated. Those that don't? I'll leave you in blissful ignorance.
-Poppet running in the Rose Garden.
-My Sprocket - smelling one of the roses. He loves finding bees in the roses, and smells them sweetly when I rave about the scent.
-The Super -Villain in action. Every day every. single. one. of my edging bricks is moved. The children tell me it is a 'super-villain' who does it.  Oddly, they also come to show me a variety of slaters, millipedes, centipedes, grubs and spiders they find under said bricks. As soon as my Beloved finishes his exams we are concreting these bricks in place!

Joining with the lovely Em at The Beetle Shack for moments from our week. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Poppet - taking advantage of the lovely spring weather to eat breakfast on the verandah. Still with bed hair. 
Sprocket - in the slide at playgroup, held at the school he'll go to next year.  He's beginning to look like a school boy. Gulp. 

Joining with the lovely Jodi over at Che and Fidel for a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tea for Caro (and me)

National Novel Writing Month has arrived, but I'm still pondering my beverage of choice for the Month of Writing Madly. 
Particularly as coffee still seems to be out. 
My favourite herbal tea, Liquorice Legs, is also out, as liquorice is on the no-go-in tea-list for pregnant women. As is, surprisingly, spearmint. I might double check fennel. 
I'm stuck looking at the traditional. And... they're just not inspiring me. 
This is particularly annoying as the protagonist of the novel I'm presently starting is All About the Perfect Tea. 
She owns a tea shop, is very particular about her tea, and has never so much as tasted coffee in her life. I also suspect she has never put milk in a tea. Or at least milk of the dairy variety. It's possible she's tried some kind of almond or soy. 
I can't make a decent green tea to save me. 
And let's not even mention white tea. Maybe I scald the tea? I don't know. It always tastes bitter. I fear Caro has far more refined and sophisticated tastes than I do. That's the wonderful thing about writing, you can make your characters go all sorts of places you wouldn't with a barge pole. Including green tea at breakfast every morning. 
I love the tea you get at Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants and happily drink gallons. (I've have a few sleepless nights as a result - the caffeine is suprisingly potent) But when I try to make it myself... nah. (Latest craving, Vietnamese spring rolls, wrapped in crisp lettuce, and then vietnamese mint or coriander, dipped in the sauce... we needs it…Nearest Vietnamese restaurant? I believe that would be two hundred miles...) 
I'm wondering if I can cheat with some tissanes. A nice Turkish Apple...? Which is really sugar with flavouring, but yummy flavourings. 
But... no. Caro drinks tea. White or green. With romantic names involving dragons. That tend to taste like hay when I make them. 
Get me all those good health benefits. Just make it so my nose doesn't wrinkle while I drink it! 
While I search for the perfect tea-type beverage, I'll savour my rose blossom flowering tea - which at least looks beautiful and reminds me of Caro in it's elegance.* It tastes bleah, but it looks divine. 
But for actual drinking tea... that spurt of inspiration in a cup? 
I'm going to try for a spiced tea- I've found a new recipe and I do love blending spices... but... I really want something more... zen? (I overdosed on lemon-water/lemon-lollies/lemon slices in the early craving weeks and now... not going near lemon tea or lemon grass.) 
I can't stand chamomile. Not a fan of ginger... Deep sigh. There has to be something
Brow furrow. It's possible I need to seek out a tea tasting session... 
Any recommendations? 

*Although as I'm not entirely sure what the tea is - my mum recommends just admiring the look of it, at least while pregnant. I took a few sips and wholeheartedly agreed with her. This tea is not going to get me through a month of passionate writing! Anyone want some simply beautiful but bleah tasting tea?