31 December 2011

To finish off 2011 ...

30 December 2011

The Many Days of Christmas

Whew!  Christmas this year was a mammoth effort, with many different celebrations with different groups of people on different days.  The saving grace was that all the days were low-key and we didn't go overboard with presents, food or anything else.  It was just the absence of Nanna Naps each day that made me so exhausted.

The weather in our part of Australia has been much nicer than it was this time last year.  We've had some showers at night but the days have been warm and sunny, and the children have wanted nothing more than to be outside enjoying it.

Apart from that, there's not much to report.  Just trivia like:

  • Mr de Elba shaved the dog again.  She's remained tick-free since September, and she looks nice with her sleek Number One hairdo.
  • If you choose to move Christmas festivities to a park, you're likely to get your photo in the local paper.
  • If you stand lop-sided in the photo for the paper, you may end up looking like you're an A-cup on one side and a DD-cup on the other.  Most people wouldn't notice this though: it would serve you well not to mention it to anyone and you may just get away with it.
  • Kids are nice to have around.  The six-week Christmas holiday is really an endurance event, but it is nice to have the little guys around.
  • Soon they will all be fighting and I may retract that.
  • Afternoon naps for everyone are great ... until bedtime blows out and everyone is up late.
  • I keep thinking I should get on Facebook but I'm just not making the leap.  It does look like fun though.
  • My desk here would be a whole lot tidier if I didn't go to bed so early.
  • Waking up early doesn't translate into a clean desk.
  • I need to watch more TV so that I actually get the folding done.  I just hate watching TV, that's all.
  • Jessie may be the perfect nativity "Mary" in all the practices but end up crying and pouting through the performance due to a wardrobe malfunction involving her headpiece.
  • Your blogs are all interesting and wonderful, and I may not have anything interesting to blog ever again until things start going wrong or falling apart again.  Not that I'm complaining ...

Nice to chat with you again.  We should do this more often.

19 December 2011

Legs Eleven! Knees Zero-Zero!

I was playing keys at church yesterday.  There would have been 700-800 people there, and when I play I try not do anything that would make a spectacle of myself.

After much joking among the band regarding how bad/good/fantastic it would be if one day, someone would fall in the baptismal tank while negotiating their entry or exit from the stage, and also after choosing some extremely unwise wedges that hurt my legs and feet, made my toes numb and made walking difficult, I managed NOT to disgrace myself in this manner.

I curbed the worst effects of my Bad Hair Day, I wore a red shirt and I chose a straight denim skirt that came to just above the knee.  I was certain that up on stage there was no danger of flashing anyone, even when the skirt rode up a little as I perched on my stool (I can't stand and pedal because of this.)

I thought I was safe until the pastor, having delivered his message from the stage, moved down onto the steps at the front to say something very serious and important just before the final song.

Hang on, I thought.  I am always quite aware of the line of sight from the video recorder, through the spot where the pastor is standing, to the band behind.  It seemed that after he moved, I was in the danger zone.

I turned and looked at the screen (the brand-new WI-I-IDE screen!) behind me.  There was the pastor, saying his final thing and beside him, like a bright shining number 11, were MY LEGS with their knobbly knees and white nearly-35-year-old skin.  And they were HUGE on the big screen!

To me, they were more noticeable than the pastor in the middle of the shot.  If you were there, leave a comment to say they were NOT.  If you don't leave a comment, I will assume they WERE.

(I know they were.  Long black trousers next time.)

18 December 2011

Red Cards all round

Jessie has a little writing desk in the corner of her room.  She often sits there creating lovely drawings for us, gifts of love for a family she adores ...

... on her good days.

However, she has recently started drawing us "punishment pictures" for when "people are mean to her."  This can mean when her brothers fight with her or when her parents discipline her, and now that we're one week into our six-week school holidays, that means ALL of us, ALL the time.

She gives these pictures out the way a soccer referee gives out red cards.  They involve a violently-orange, angrily-scribbled portrait of the offender designed to insult and humiliate us.  Gone are the intricate drawings of smiling family members with careful hands and feet and nice hair.  Here are some examples (I blurred out Mr de Elba's name in the top left):

We've all been red-carded.

17 December 2011

Call me "Fat G."

These days, Jessie is presenting me with lots of pieces of paper with little writings and drawings on them. She addresses them all to me, and she is now calling me "Fat G."

The "F" is actually a "K" and the "g" is really an "e." But in my mind, I call myself, "Fat G." You are permitted to do the same.

05 December 2011

Ur doin it rong

If your kids take communion in a church like ours, you want them to be suitably reverent.

It's great when they learn to quietly say "Thankyou God for Jesus," and "Sorry for the wrong things that I do," before they quietly eat their bread and drink their teensy bit of juice.

But if after drinking the juice, your six year old boy lets out a burp and says, "C'n I 'ave some more?" it may be time to retire him from communion for a bit.

28 November 2011

What DID I just say!!!

Me:  You've had your shower!  Why have you got gravy on your face?  I hope you didn't put your head down and lie in your gravy!

Woody: (puts head down and lies in gravy)

Me:  I give up.

21 November 2011

Now what did I just say?

Woody was sitting quietly at the bench, watching me grate cheese.  He had eaten the few little bits I had given him but I didn't want to spoil his appetite so I decided not to give him any more.

As I moved on to a new task, I placed the block of cheese on the bench in front of him, trusting him not to eat any.  He is quite trustworthy, in an erratic, two-year-old sort of way.

He looked at the cheese, but didn't make a move towards it.

"Wow Woody," I said to him after a pause.  "I really love that you're the sort of kid I can trust not to sink his teeth into that block of cheese right there."

Then Woody leaned forward, opened his mouth and went to sink his teeth deep into the block of cheese.

Sometimes, I think I am just giving him ideas.

14 November 2011

The Inspiration Train to Platform Three has been delayed

I've been thinking recently that I have quite possibly ceased to be A Blogger. I've comfortably slipped into being A Lot Of Other Things instead, e.g., I've become more of a Mum, Mum-who-works, Mum-who-does-the-house, swimmer, poet, Sunday School teacher, babysitter, etc, etc, and also the unthinkable: A Person Who Goes To Bed Early.

I don't know about you, but I can't be both A Person Who goes To Bed Early and a Blogger.

But not only that, I used to think, "Wow, I could blog that" all the time where now I think, "I'm pretty sure I won't be able to summon the Care Factor necessary to blog that ..." and I don't.

Pathetic, hey?

Honestly, I blame Scrabble.  The Scrabble App on the iPad lures me the way that my blog used to lure me.  The main difference is when I get so tired that my eyeballs feel like they are about to fall out and roll away, I now switch off my iPad and go to sleep.  Back when I was a Blogger, that feeling would hit while I was in the study.  I'd think, "I'm probably too tired to walk to bed now.  If I stay here for ten more minutes, maybe the tiredness will go away."

And lo, a blog was born.  (Because the world needed more directionless blogs.)

So if you wonder where I am - I'm still alive.  I'm probably just wondering if I can get a Q word to start on a Double Letter tile and extend onto the Triple Word tile.

Or if I can get ZA and ZO horizontally and vertically simultaneously, with the common Z on a Triple Word tile.


But here are my kids, yay:

01 November 2011


Thank goodness I don't rely on my writing for an income.  Sometimes, like the last fortnight, I just simply don't feel like writing.  I've preferred to read what all my friends are writing and leave a few comments, which has been much better than trying to squeeze something out onto my blog that didn't want to come.  It requires a lot of Intellectual Metamucil to digest the pleasant-but-mundane into something of interest to the General Reading Public.

For this reason, and also because of the repellent nature of the digestion-related metaphors above, I am glad I don't have ads on my blog.  Earning just enough to buy a packet of gum each quarter would be quite demoralising.  Instead, I prefer to treat my writings as "free for all, because you cannot put a price on art."  Then I laugh.

But I haven't been not writing.  I've been burying myself into a poetry project that I like to call "26 People I Have Known - an alphabetical double dactyl project."  Its title is a lie - none of the characters in my poems are real, although some are based on real events, e.g.,

C is for Caitlin

Crissety Crossety
Caitlin McCormack
Commanded her children
to fight and to vent.

Caitlin said, "Sure, it is
But the compliance?
One hundred percent!"

My double dactyl on "F" was also based on real events and was written for Tracy, who requested a double dactyl including the word "fantasmagoria."

F is for Felicity

Frighteny Nighteny
Dear sweet Felicity
Called to her Mum on a
Dark stormy night.

Forecasting fearful
Mum realised "funder" just
Gave Flit a "fwight."

My favourite was "O." I found the cheeky ideas tumbled out after being convinced I never could find any topic that provided such potential around the letter O.  However.

O is for Ozzie

Obbledy Obbledy
Ozzie O'Sullivan
Though eighty-seven
Was darn good in bed.

Heart failure was this
Downfall they said.

I was proud of that.  I don't know if I'll ever get to present it anywhere, not being sure if any audience is quite ready for Ozzie.

That was fun.  Now in lieu of a proper ending for this post, I'll just say good night as I'm off to get more sleep than my poor little cherubs allowed me last night.

15 October 2011

Keep Out, and other writings

I love it when kids' written language skills get good enough that they take themselves off and write their thoughts.  Buzz started doing that earlier this year.  His first piece of writing made us so proud.  Our son, taking himself off and writing a commentary on life!  It was truly wonderful.  It read:

"I dont Lic you nAAw mum that you yeld at me and That you smacd me DAD"

Needless to say, we were both tremendously proud.  Since then, Buzz has filled the world with his writings, even going so far as you write a stern Instruction To Self regarding the self-administration of an asthma puffer during his recent struggle with an asthma-related cough.

"nat tace 2 pufs at forst bac and secnd do or no plae"  (Take 2 puffs at first break and second.  Do, or no play.)

And the most recent had me in stitches.  I walked past his door the other night and saw this stern warning to all:

"Keep out.  Privacy.  No enter.  Snakes."

That's enough to keep me out.

11 October 2011

Ass. U. Me.

Scene One:  Buzz's classroom, Monday morning before Sports Day.

Me: Hi Jen!  Have you heard much about Sports Day?
Jen: Not much.  Hey, is Buzz in Evans House?
Me: Yeah, sure, he's in Evans.  And Elijah is too, isn't he?  I remember because we lent him a yellow shirt last year on Sports Day.
Jen: Oh, that's right, you did.  He's okay this year - he has a yellow shirt this time.
Me: Cool then.  Well, Go Evans, hey?
Jen: Yeah, Go Evans!  See you on Wednesday!

Scene Two:  In car, killing time after postponing a swim on finding the swimming pool full of older women doing aqua-aerobics.

Me, to self: Hmm, actually Buzz doesn't have a yellow shirt.  I wonder if I should get one before Wednesday.  I wonder which shirt he wore last year?  I can't even remember what he wore last year.  He must have had that old long-sleeved yellow shirt.  Huh.  Well I'd better pop in somewhere and buy him a new yellow shirt.

Scene Three:  Home

Me:  Hey guess what?
Mr de Elba: What?
Me: I was talking to Jen this morning about Sports Day and when I mentioned that I'd lent Elijah a yellow shirt last year, I realised that Buzz doesn't have one for this year.  So I just got this great yellow polo shirt for Buzz!  It was only $9.00!  Would it be funny or kitsch if I put lettering on the back with Buzz's name?  Glad I thought of it actually.  It would have been bad if we'd got to Wednesday morning and he didn't have a yellow shirt to wear, being in Evans House.
Mr de Elba:  Rudd.  Red.  Buzz is in Rudd House.

- pause -

Me: Uh, yeah.  So he is.  Rudd.

Moral:  Just because you lent someone a yellow shirt doesn't mean your own kid is in Evans.  Ass.  U.  Me.

08 October 2011

Four lines of silliness

I used to have a toothbrush
‘Twas coloured bright lime green
I saw it last I brushed my teeth
But now it can't be seen.

(Just in case you thought I was going all posh and poetic on you.)

06 October 2011

Double Dactyl

The Double Dactyl - what a cool poetic form!  I was made aware of double dactyls by the lovely Cath at The Picket Fence, who admitted that it sounded like a strange sort of dinosaur, which is what I'd been secretly thinking myself.

The rules of a double dactyl were difficult for me to grasp:

  • dactylic meter, meaning that the 'feet' are made up of three syllables in a 'strong-weak-weak' pattern
  • two verses of four lines each, each line having two of these dactylic feet (although the fourth and eighth lines usually have one dactyl followed by a single stressed syllable ... once you've understood this pattern of syllables, it's a piece of cake, I promise)
  • the first line of the poem is a rhyming nonsense phrase - the hardest part for me, as I am just not that into writing nonsense phrases
  • the second line is a name
  • one of the lines in the second verse is a six-syllable word, and Cath kindly sent me a list of 1,500 six syllable words to choose from  Some poets add a rule that no single six-syllable word, once used in a double dactyl, should ever be knowingly used again.
  • the ends of each verse rhyme, and the whole thing is usually humourous.

That's a lot to take in, but once you've read a few double dactyls, you get an 'Aha!' moment and understand the structure.

My friend Cath posted a double dactyl written by her friend, poet Will Mackerras.  Will's poetry blog, The Banjo Bible, is well worth a read and it includes a few superb double dactyls.  Read Cath's own double dactyl, which came with a short lesson in art appreciation.  Both were brilliant!

I wrote my first double dactyl in the comments on my sister's blog in her recent poetry posts while I was sleeping in the dorm at the campsite where we had our recent beach holiday.  When I came home, I realised another whole double dactyl was needed to fully explain my plight (as if a 2kg gain on the scales wasn't explanation enough.)

Does this make it a Quadruple Dactyl?  I am not sure.

Camp Food – Two Double Dactyls
Holey Kamoley
At Seabreeze Apartments
The weather was wondrous,
The cabins were close.

But I'll be needing some
Anticoagulants -
Though they did feed us,
The food was quite gross.
 - - - - - - - - -
Yuckity Pyuckity!
“Week-long camp nourishment”:
Mass-produced, deep-fried stuff,
Battered or canned. 

Cholesterol-laden with
Oil spots on napkins! Such
This should be banned.
 - - - - - - - - -
(The name of the campsite, although dactylic, needed to be replaced with a fictitious campsite name.)

How much fun was that?  Not the eating the food, writing the poem!  I know you're itching to give it a try, so here is an A-Z of hopefullypromising six-syllable words, hand-picked from my list of 1,500.  This list is without an x-word.  A six-syllable dactylic x-word.  Sigh.  Clearly, that was too much to ask.


This poetic form is growing on me.  I particularly love feeling the cantering meter and then getting flattened with a six-syllable word of sheer brilliance!  I haven't mastered that yet, but I'm going to enjoy trying!

05 October 2011


I wanted to write a Villanelle.  This was crazy.  I'm embarrassed to post it because it's not really a 'performance piece.'

The Villanelle has a tricky pattern of rhyme and repetition.  It has 19 lines and really, you could predict that nothing good comes in 19 lines.  People who know their poetry 'schematise' a Villanelle thus:

A1bA2  -  abA1  -  abA2  -  abA1  -  abA2  -  abA1A2
where 'a' and 'b' are the two different rhyme endings used, and where A1 and A2 are the two different refrains.

I read that most modern Villanelles are in pentameter, and I tried for iambic because some of the phrases I wanted to use fell into iambs.  I took the liberty of varying the refrains a little bit each time, which I think is called 'breaking the rules'.  I'm not sure whether it's a winner or not.

Girl Collecting Shells

Collecting shells is every girl's delight
To her dismay, her parents will forbid it.
Her parents say they know that crabs can bite.

Mum and Dad said, "Leave the shells, alright?"
But this young girl, she went ahead and did it.
Collecting shells is this sweet girl's delight.

She found a beauty, large and smooth and white
Buried in the sand which almost hid it.
Her parents warned they know that crabs can bite.

She picked it up and held her treasure tight.
What parent would so callously forbid it?
Collecting shells is this sweet girl's delight.

Predictably, this girl received a fright
When learning that an angry crab lived in it!
It's customary for crabs to give a bite.

She screamed "It bit me!" moaning in her plight!
She dropped the frightened crab and madly skidded!
Collecting shells once was this girl's delight,
But now of course, she knows that crabs can bite.

04 October 2011

Circular Sleep-Wake Haiku

If I know where this vicious circle started, I might be able to stop it.

03 October 2011

Circular Washing Haiku

Sometimes known as cirku, the circular Haiku has no fixed start or end point. 

02 October 2011

Circular Kitchen Haiku

01 October 2011

Payoff - Five Haiku

Payoff – Five Haiku

Young boy thumb-sucking
Tonsillitis, runny nose,
Scratching itchy eyes.
Conjunctivitis. Then more
Antibiotics. Then more
Bout of oral thrush.
Bout of oral thrush. Then more
Bouts of oral thrush.
No more thumb-sucking!
I thought he’d never stop that!
Thankyou, oral thrush.

29 September 2011

Mind your step

Long-time readers will remember that when we moved to our new house two and a half years ago, I was heavily pregnant with Woody.  At that stage, I knew that if I put in some effort to teach Bullseye where to 'do her business', it would pay off and we'd be happy in the long run.  But I was too large and uncomfortable to put the effort in, so first one then another 'number 2' went on the back lawn.

Before we knew it, Bullseye had designated pretty much the whole lawn as a Dog Toilet and we've been picking up or avoiding the area ever since.  Her two favourite places are under the swing set (very bad) and the spot where I stand when I do my gardening (also very bad.)


Six months ago I formulated a plan to re-designate the Dog Toilet through an elaborate routine of:

  • giving Bullseye to my Mum and Dad for the September week we were going to be away
  • watering the lawn to minimise Dog Toilet smell
  • spraying the lawn with that smelly stuff that's supposed to deter dogs from doing their business in that spot, and finally
  • when the little hound came home, keeping her at the side of the house for a few days to re-designate that as Dog Toilet.  It's the best spot in the yard, I figure.

Crazy?  Yeah, but it was my best shot.  I don't care if you don't believe it would work, or if you tried the smelly stuff without success, I HAD to give the plan a go.  You understand?  It was either try it or don't.  Pull out all the stops, using a week where Bullseye was scheduled for a holiday away anyway, or just give up and keep stepping in the Dog Toilet. Okay?

I was prepared for it to fail because of a number of factors.  The dog going lame wasn't one of them.

Her stay in hospital was a diversion I wasn't expecting but I took it in my stride, sighing a deep sigh for the outcome of my Grand Dog Toilet Re-Designation as I did so.  Still, I was hopeful that I could continue with the plan once she was home.

And now - oh joy of joys! - the dear thing is home, much less fluffy and certainly less steady on her feet, but she's home!

And what did she do once she got back on her turf?

She went out to the spot under the swings, and did a celebratory dump.

It seems that the universe is laughing at me.

28 September 2011

The Hound is Home

Three days and MANY dollars later, Bullseye is back home.  She's still a bit slow on her feet and it will be a few weeks before we can take her for walks again but she's alive and we're all thankful for that.

She's looking quite funky her hew new summer do.  She's short from the neck down, showing off her Dalmatian spots in her white bits while her black is pure black.  I love her short coat, which is the sweetener for the fact that we'll probably have to clip her every August and keep her hair short until Autumn each year.  This way, we'll be able to feel ticks on her skin before they cause her too much trouble.

The paralysis tick that caused all the heartache (and cost) is languishing in prison.  There is no hope of rehabilitation and therefore there is no recommended parole period.  If she lays a trillion eggs now, they can perish in prison with her.

26 September 2011

Lame is the new black

Bullseye was sequestered from the family last night.  We had a makeshift gate blocking off part of the yard because we wanted her to stay there for a few days for long involved reasons that don't matter here.  She didn't like being further from her people, but I planned to take her for a walk (her favourite thing) every morning of her isolation, and we played with her all yesterday, throwing the ball for her to fetch (her second favourite thing) and slipping her treats whenever we passed (her third favourite thing.)

Last night, a few hours into her incarceration, I saw her at the back door.  She had escaped from her fence and come to join us and this made me feel sorry for her, but not enough to give up and let her back with us just yet.  I put her back in her fenced area where I'd put her kennel, sleeping mat, and food and water bowls and told her I would be back to walk her early in the morning.

Poor Bullseye.  As I lay in bed later, I heard it begin to rain.  I worried that she might find that particularly depressing, but assumed she would recover from that as soon as she heard me coming with her lead to walk her in the morning.  I went to sleep and didn't think much more about her.

I woke up early in the morning and went out to her, thinking she might be at the gate already, but she wasn't.  She is a deep sleeper and she's not really a Morning Dog, so sometimes the waking and stretching takes a little time.  When I rattled her lead, she woke up and poked her head out of the kennel.

Instead of her usual leg-extending morning stretch, she staggered out of her kennel and fumbled towards me.  Thinking she must have been wrenched from a deep dream, I told her to take it easy until she'd properly woken up.  But the next few metres of staggering told me she wasn't okay.  She was lame.

Now at this point, the fact that she'd never been sequestered from her people before matched up pretty neatly in my mind with the fact that she'd never been lame before.  I remembered how she'd been so desperate to rejoin us that she's escaped the night before, and I remembered my concern about her mental health once it started raining.

A big psychosomatic sook causing her legs to cease working, I thought.

We gave her a nice place to rest, plenty of water to drink, and lots of love for the next few hours.  But instead of getting better, she started getting worse.

It was then that we suspected that she may have a paralysis tick, and the rest of the day proved that she did.  Adding humiliation to insult, the vet shaved her from head to tail in order to find the tick that had attached to her neck under her collar region.  Tonight she is recovering in hospital and we are all feeling a little easier about the poor little hound.

But is it any surprise to you that Little Miss Jessie, she of the never-ending drama, awoke from her nap this afternoon moaning and complaining and grumbling, "Oh no!  I'm lame!  My legs don't work!"

She has been clambering about on her knees, grabbing furniture and walls for support and asking to be lifted up onto chairs because of her lameness (when she remembers she is supposed to be lame, that is.)

It seems that Lame is the New Black.

It started off quite cute, but now it's getting on our nerves.  What are the chances that next season, Mute is the New Black?

24 September 2011

Crustacean: 1 - Jessie: nil.

On the final morning of our time at the Sunshine Coast, Jessie begged me to have one more swim at the beach.  We had bought a Skim Disk the day before and she didn't want to leave without testing it out.  Although the final morning of a beach holiday is a tricky time to get wet and sandy, I decided to take her and Woody for one last visit to the beach before we packed and went home.

Things went wrong before we'd even decided where to set our towels and bags.  We were walking over the sand towards the flagged area when Jessie saw an interesting shell.  She had been collecting shells all week and carrying them around, worrying when she couldn't find her collections and getting cross when her brothers touched them.  So when she saw that she had stepped on a very large smooth shell half-buried in the sand, she bent to pick it up.

It bit her.

On the thumb.

Reportedly quite hard.

The 4-inch-wide crab, for that is what it was, grabbed her tiny thumb in its pincers, gave her a cautionary nip, and scuttled off across the sand trying to find somewhere to hide.

Jessie lost her mind.


Her eyes were dilated wide with fear and her little heart was pounding beneath her swimming shirt as she let out a series of panicked screams and started an odd skipping dance across the sand, trying to make the least contact with what she believed must have been the wildly crab-infested sand.

Woody, who shares a special bond with Jessie, saw the panicked crab racing away and heard his sister's screams of panic.  Believing that this was The Done Thing in such situations, he followed suit.

So together, they lost their collective minds.

"IT BIT ME!  IT BIT ME!  IT BIT ME!" they both screamed, skipping around me in random circles.  First Jessie and then Woody decided that they needed to get their feet as far away from the sand as possible, so they started climbing my body like a ladder, begging and pleading to be taken home and never forced to return to such a dangerous place.

Poor Jessie was absolutely terrified so I had been placating her since the ordeal started, telling her that the crab had just given her a pinch and there was no blood and no actual injury, and that the crab had got a terrible fright because he got stepped on ... but it was no use.  My soothing words were falling on deaf ears and Jessie as Woody kept up their screaming protests.

Now I am sorry about this, but at this point, I started to laugh. Perhaps the funniest part of all this was that Woody was copying everything Jessie did and repeating everything she screamed although he hadn't had any contact with the crab himself.

Perhaps it was the fact that if Jessie could stop going crazy for a moment, she would hear what I was saying and realise she didn't have to continue going crazy.  Perhaps it was that two children were climbing my body like a ladder, or maybe I was slightly hysterical myself.

Perhaps it was just that after a whole week of us pleading with her not to collect shells, it appeared that a random crustacean was going to have more luck getting through to her than two grown adults.

Whatever the reason, I started to laugh the sort of laugh that keeps going even when your lungs are empty and tears are pouring down your face.  I sat on the sand with two small children clinging to me screaming, "IT BIT ME!  TAKE ME HOME NOW!  I HATE THE BEACH!" and I laughed like a fool.

Then I noticed that although there were only a few families on the beach at this time, they were all looking at us.  Let them look, I thought.

Our new Skim Disk was the perfect thing to take Jessie's and Woody's minds off the abuses rendered by the crab and I spent a blissful hour pulling first one then the other child along, sliding along the sand and then hydroplaning in the shallow water.  The morning grew warmer and the sun started beating down stronger and hotter, so by mid-morning we packed up and headed towards the car.

Then it started again.

"THERE ARE CRABBIES (seriously - 'crabbies'?) IN THE SAND!  CARRY ME!  THEY WILL BITE MY TOES! LIFT ME UP! CRABBIES!" Jessie and Woody screamed as I lugged towels, bags and a Skim Disk towards the carpark.

Our path took us right by the lifeguard's hut.  As we got closer, the noise of the crying and screaming brought the lifeguard to the window.  He may well have assumed that my children had been badly stung all over their bodies by bluebottles or had perhaps lost some limbs to sharks.

"Uh - the little one got nipped on the thumb by a crab.  Thought it was a shell.  No skin broken.  Just ... a bit of drama," I sheepishly admitted as we trudged by.

As I packed children and accessories into the car, I thought about our much-anticipated beach holiday coming up after Christmas.  Will Jessie remember about the crab, and will she agree to try the beach again?  And more interestingly: will she ever collect any more shells?

As I drove off, I predicted that seashells might be safe from Jessie in the future.

21 September 2011

Always room for another phobia

We're at the beach this week, staying in cabins.

I've slept on many a bottom bunk in my life, but never before have I been scared that the top bunk would somehow fail in the middle of the night and crash down onto my sleeping body below.

Funny how things change.

15 September 2011

A bus ride with friends

Here is what the children got up to when Mr N and Miss L came to play today while Buzz was at school.

07 September 2011

joke.doc - File Not Found

Tonight my sister and I were on the Google Talk, discussing how Dad was so awesome to think about putting fertiliser on our roses for us.  Unnecessary for her, because she had already done it; necessary for me, because I'd spent weeks being sick and hadn't got around to it.

I knew that Mum and Dad had visited Crazy Sister yesterday, but when I saw her say that Dad had made the trek out to visit her, I couldn't resist the obvious retort.

Sadly, this joke appeared to "go through to the wicket keeper" and I was left with no recourse but to post it on my blog.

05 September 2011

Thookenspiel - you're doing it right

Today was Thookenspiel Day.  We have worked out that it is probably better used as chimes with each length of pipe suspended with string and struck with a hard mallet.  There is definitely an element of 'ching' there.

In order to suspend the lengths of pipe, I needed to put a hole through one end of each of them.  I only broke one drill bit in the process. Either I needed to use the masonry drill bit, or my bits are a little on the breakable side, given that it's the second drill bit I've broken.  The end of the first still resides deep within my back fence.

I couldn't find anything cooler to suspend them from than an old drumstick, and with than red 8-ply acrylic, but it works well.

Both Buzz' class teacher and music teacher proclaimed it a success, so I need to thank all my readers who voted to call the thing a Thookenspiel and carry on with the original plan!

[Insert photo of finished product here.  Oh that's right, I forgot to take a photo.  Silly me.]

04 September 2011

Google Talk message from my Dad

Dad sent a message via Google Talk to me last week.
"I used all of that awful-smelling rose fertiliser today and treated all of your roses to the east of the driveway, and it ran out after I'd done only the top rose on the western side, the one closest to the prickly bush that looks attractive with lovely sprawling branches that resemble waves washing down a lovely little mountain stream at the onset of spring before the flooding rains come which turn a humble little stream into a savage torrent that carries all before it and digs up the banks and pulls large trees away from the spots where they grew up starting from tiny seeds a long time ago when petrol was only 44c per gallon which is just under 10c per litre. That bush - picture the right one?"
I love my Dad! Happy Fathers Day!

31 August 2011

The Other Jessie

Jessie sat in the back seat of the car cuddling her doll Maisey, holding her hot pink pen poised above her scrap-paper notebook.

"I'm going to write a story," she said.  "It's called 'The Little Girl Called Jessie.'  And it goes like this.

"Once upon a time there was a little girl called Jessie.  She was four years old.  And she had a Mum called [my name] and a Dad called [Mr de Elba's name.] And she lived at [our address.]  And she went to kindy.  And she had some dreadful brothers.  And she also had a little baby called Maisey.  Jessie and Maisey had matching pyjamas.  They ..."

"Back up a bit," I said.  "What sort of brothers did she have?"

A big pause.  Then Jessie said, "Awful."

Silence in the car.

"Actually," she admitted, "it was a different Jessie.  Not me."

30 August 2011


So the big boy Buzz brought home a note from school saying that they will be starting a unit on musical instruments next week, and it would be good if we could start collecting objects that can be used to make an instrument.  I assumed that many little kids will come along with a box and some rubber bands to make a guitar, and I started wondering what we could do that would be a little bit different.

Mister Google gave me many ordinary ideas, and two good ones.  One was to make a tambourine from a round lid and some jingle bells.  Buzz thought this idea was terrible.

The other idea was to make a glockenspiel from different lengths of metal pipe (electrical conduit was mentioned) and both Buzz and I thought that was a great idea.  I knew it would take some time and effort and probably cost a bit more, but how cool would it be to be the only kid making a glockenspiel from electrical conduit?  We would be awesome.

Today after the school and kindy dropoff I took Woody to the hardware store to buy the conduit, and hopefully get a nice man to cut it to size for me. My approach was to ask if someone could cut it to size or sell me "a hacksaw that could do the job," and the two gentlemen headed off to do the selection and cutting of the pipe.  This was no mean feat, because the instructions detailing how to get the notes of the major scale require that the pipe is cut to lengths involving eights of an inch, but they did it for me, correctly assuming that if I tried with a hacksaw, I'd lose not only the major scale tuning, but also some digits as well.

I was delighted.  I certainly cost more than a cardboard box and rubber bands, but it cost less than I'd imagined so I gleefully paid my money and came home.

It was then that I realised that the material the men had selected didn't so much go "ching-ching-ching."  It went went "thook-thook-thook."  Wrong stuff.  Glockenspiel fail.

Ching-ching-ching is really the minimum standard in a glockenspiel, I think.

So. I need you to tell me what to do next.

28 August 2011

The post I never got around to writing

(...and it's too late now.)

Oh!  My gentle readers!  I have been SO sick!  It was like ElbaPlague2009, but Mr de Elba and the children didn't get (quite) as sick as they did then, I got much worse, and the whole thing has dragged on much longer.  At least Buzz Lightyear didn't get vomited into.

All week, I was composing a blog post in my mind, mainly apologising for missing Swift Jan's splendid Birthday Party last Saturday.  But alas, I spent the whole week groaning or sleeping and the blog post never came to be.

I remember I planned to get someone to take a photo of me sleeping, while wearing my giant Cat-In-The-Hat hat.

I also planned to write something in anapaestic tetrameter about the sorry state of everyone's health.

I was going to mention the medicine shelf in my fridge.

And I was going to say something about this:

Something like
"Come and behold our dosing devices:
All sorts of shapes and various sizes!"

And yet, it never happened.  The upshot:
• Sick
• Sleeping
• Many medicines
• Various dosing devices.

Hope that will suffice.

18 August 2011

My Kitchen

17 August 2011

By way of thankyou

I dressed in the hat and you thought you were pranked,
But look at these lilies - consider me thanked!

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

16 August 2011

Part Three

Part Three was a challenge.  I knew from the program that I was following the main speaker's second message, her "call to action" and a time of prayer and reflection.  I didn't want to prance up on stage in my hat and bow tie, wheeling my squeaky wheelbarrow full of blessing boxes and prizes, to deliver some insensitive hilarity.  I think I struck a happy medium by starting seriously with content on the theme, then transitioning to some funny bits half-way through.

Part Three

In everyone’s lives are prob’ly examples
Of times when life strangles and squeezes and tramples
On mind and emotions, and then you might find
You’ve gone off the road, and your home’s far behind.

How long will you stay there? It can be a while
For one to escape from this lonely exile
One way or another you get on your track
And face towards home, and you find the Road Back.

And God gives to us those who make it their mission
To trudge every step of our tough expedition,
And these ones are keepers – they’re precious and treasured
Their words are so wise and they’re gentle and measured.

For me, some are Jodie, Priscilla and B,
In my darkest hours, these girls have helped me.
And in thanks for their comfort, their love and concern
I’ve given them plenty of laughs in return.

They laughed pretty hard when at work one day
To fix broken toys, so the children could play
I managed to fuse all my fingers – these four
With superglue to a toy dinosaur.

My cousin and I shared the great gift of mirth
When during my wedding I thought “What on EARTH
Is that on my seat?” I was really quite stricken:
I’d nearly sat down on her prank rubber chicken.

And I gave to my friends this great gift of laughter
When one day I taught Sunday School, and then after
I noticed the rip in my pants – plainly seen!
Black undies? Of course not! That day: tangerine!

What blessing to have those who share your hard road:
Those women with whom you can truly offload.
Reading these blessings is great and therefore
I think that it’s time now to pick out some more.

Part One
Part Two

15 August 2011

Creative response

When I saw my sister sitting with pen poised above her paper and a faraway look on her face during morning tea, I just knew that she was composing a "blessing" that was going to be in rhyme.  As yet I hadn't read out the bit about "You get double points if you've done it in rhyme," but I could tell that she was going for gold anyway.  Mum declared her handwriting not fit for the final copy, and she kindly transcribed it.

I asked the audience to give her a round of applause for her effort, but told them I couldn't possibly read it out because it was a blessing for me, and it was so outrageously kind that I wasn't even sure if it was true.  The audience wasn't at all pleased with that and our host stepped up to read it out.  I'm still not sure if it's true, but these 2 stanzas of perfect anapaestic tetrameter are so wonderful that I'm glad this piece got its day.

Our sister and daughter's the one we want blessed,
She's here at the conference - unusually dressed
In a tall stripy hat and a big red bow tie
We're so blessed by Kate, and there's the tale why: -

She opens her home to all sorts, and she'll feed 'em,
She gives other mums kid-free times when they need 'em,
She'll unburden your woes with a nice cup of tea.
And so there you have it: "A Blessing on ME!"

In the next session, I did have many rhyming blessings to read out, all in different meters requiring some quick pre-reading and some even quicker thinking before opening my mouth and launching off into the rhythm that the writer had intended.  Many blessings, rhyming or otherwise, needed to remain unread because of time.

In all, I had about 120 blessings that didn't make it, either to be read out as an honourable mention or as one of the 4 prize-winning blessings, and that was quite gut-wrenching.  Not one of the blessings in the "No" Pile deserved to be in a "No" Pile of any sort.  On the following Sunday morning I asked the organisers if there was any way to hand as many blessings as possible to their intended recipients.  We hope they each can find their road back home.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

14 August 2011

Part Two

Part Two

Welcome back ladies, you’ve had Morning Tea
I hope it was good cos it sure was for me.
We loved Lauren’s song and also Deb’s talk
I could listen to Evelyn until six o’clock.

I’m here to remind you we’ve something quite pressing
We’ll get this neat box and we’ll draw out a blessing
But first I should like to briefly detail
Those who’ve stood by me through trial and travail.

My mother should feature and she should be first
She’s seen me at best, and she’s seen all my worst.
She cheered in the good times and calmed me in bad,
Perhaps most of all, she has put up with Dad.

My mother does things others wouldn’t, for quids
She cleans out my bins and she cares for my kids
And if I should leave all my folding, and run,
I return and I find that it’s magically done!

My sister and I – there’s five years between us
But those who we meet who never have seen us
Don’t know who is older – it makes me quite happy
When she was a babe that I once changed her nappy.

When we get together, oh we laugh, she and I!
We laugh and we laugh until she makes me cry
Or until one or other discover, surprised
That our continence somehow has been compromised.

So those are two women who I’d like to bless
But who you have thanked is what we now address
Well guess what’s in here? I am now confessing
This box is just bursting its sides with the blessing!

I’ve had a quick look, I sorta pre-planned ‘em
We find that that’s better than picking at random.
I’ll read some out now, it’s finally time!
(You get double points if you’ve done it in rhyme.)

Part One
A Creative Response
Part Three

13 August 2011

Part One

I think that it's only fair, since I shared my stress with you when I was in the throes of writing this anapaestic tetrameter, that I share the end product.  Our womens' conference is called "Seasons", and we have a segment involving a "Blessing Box" where women are asked to write out little notes to others who have blessed them on their life's journey, and put them in a box.  Twice during the day some honourable mentions are read out, and then some winners are also read out and the ladies who were blessed by their friends are provided with little prizes.  This year, it was my job to lead the segment, which I did dressed in a ridiculously enormous Cat-In-The-Hat type of hat and a silly giant red bow tie.  My first installment is below, and the others will follow.

Part One

Welcome to Seasons, we hope you’re enjoying
The day-out with friends and we trust you’re employing
The grand opportunity Seasons created
To network with friends, as we have demonstrated.

More interesting sessions you’ll prob’ly not get
Than today’s talks from Deb, and of course Bernadette
And included in your Seasons entry fee payment
There’s coffee and lunch and of course entertainment.

There’s something to do here before the day ends
I hope I remember, it simply depends
On if I forget, and I will, I’ve a hunch,
After our morning tea, and again after lunch

To come and to save all you women from guessing
What goes in this box – why this box is for blessing!
You write out a note that will bless cotton socks
Of a woman who’s blessed you – and into the box

You place it and within a few hours hence
We read out a few of these kind sentiments
And to her whose blessing is read out at random
We take some small gifts, and to her we hand 'em.

Who will you bless here? If my turn would come,
I’d bless all my friends and my sister and Mum
But who you will bless now is quite your decision
I’m sure you can see with the clearest of vision.

So pick up your paper and writing device
And write a short note that will make them feel nice
And pop the note into our neat Blessing Box
We’ll read some out later to bless their sweet socks.

And soon we will head out to have Morning Tea
And write out our Blessings so generously
I’ll ask you to bless, while you munch on your snack,
A woman who’s blessed you on your own Road Back.

Part Two
A Creative Response
Part Three

12 August 2011

The Hateful Ladder

Jessie sat eating breakfast and between bites of egg-on-toast she casually mentioned, 'That ladder outside?  It hates me.'

I was absently buttering something for someone but managed to say, 'Mmm?'

She swallowed, took another bite of toast and explained, 'It whacked me.  It whacked me in the eye.'

'Oh no,' I replied.  'That doesn't sound good.'

She swallowed again.  'It whacked me in the eye when I was climbing up it.'

'Really?  How mean of it,' I said.

Then she nonchalantly remarked, 'See?  It hates me,' and went on eating.

11 August 2011

The Rainbow Fower (sic) and The Bad Debt

This morning over breakfast, Buzz announced to Jessie with gleeful excitement, "Hey Jessie, I'm gonna get chased today!"  That was weird, so I decided to eavesdrop.

"I didn't want to make you pay a dollar out of your Pig Box to the girls so I didn't.  And now they're gonna chase me today!"  It sounded ominous, but he was grinning from ear to ear.

Yeah, we call the Piggy Banks "Pig Boxes."  It started way back here.

At this point I had to backpedal in my mind to a few days ago.  Buzz had brought this lovely picture home from school.  It's a picture of a "Rainbow Fower" (sic.)

I was amazed at his penmanship, his spelling, his drawing and his colouring.  Could this be my six year old boy, who, above all other things, is a SIX YEAR OLD BOY?  Drawing and colouring are not his forte.

I asked him who drew and coloured this spectacular Rainbow Fower.  "Lulu's sister," came the immediate reply.  I then dropped the subject, secure in the assumption that Lulu's sister had drawn this magnificent Rainbow Fower and donated it to this poor Rainbow-Fowerless boy in her sister's class.

Except I do have one vague recollection of a conversation I paid a small amount of attention to after this - something about if Jessie wanted to keep something, she was going to need to pay someone $1 from her Pig Box.  And there was much kerfuffling around, presumably to access the Pig Box and to procure $1 from it.

I didn't pay any further attention to this, because I was somehow sure that Pig Box access wouldn't be possible, and until I was asked to assist, I didn't need to worry about this problem.

NOW I see what was going on!  Lulu's sister drew a "Rainbow Fower" at school, sold it to Buzz on approval for the exclusive enjoyment of his younger sister Jessie, Buzz promised $1 in payment for goods provided but failed to come up with the money and agreed to suffer the consequences - being chased by Lulu's sister at school today.

I just find that really funny.

09 August 2011

Anapaestic Tetrameter - Part 2

Sometimes, the words just flow.  I get on a roll and then after a while I write something clever, like rhyming longer words, or rhyming a word from posh language with one from not-posh language like in my Christmas poem: "Celebrating, we’re all munchin’ some expansive Christmas luncheon," and I know I'm in town. 

I had a moment like that the other night when in my current poetry project I rhymed "draw out at random" with "to her we hand 'em" and I got that "we're in town" feeling.

Unfortunately tonight the creativity has left the building.  Buoyed by my last two very productive days and feeling a bit of a slump tonight, I dashed out and bought a bottle of Baileys.  It's been ages since I've had a bottle of anything nice, and I thought it was time.  It turns out that a wee bit of alcohol, while relaxing my shoulder muscles and making me let go of my concerns and my mental lists-of-things-to-do, also stifles creativity. 

First, I begin to suspect I have lost my nouns.  Then I notice that creative adjectives and adverbs are gone.  Pretty soon all those clever turns of phrase and posh-language words are absent and all I'm left with is my brain fluttering around like a butterfly in my cranium singing, "la la lahhh" to itself.

I suspect I may give up tonight, pour myself another Baileys and go to bed to la-la-lahhh away to myself with my butterfly brain.  (I should clarify that this is quite a small amount of alcohol involved, and only a small physical effect is noticed.  The major effects are noticed in the creative side of my brain, which is currently skipping along holding a daisy, and wearing only one shoe.)

Blind panic will resume tomorrow.  There are only three more writing days until the conference.