Sunday, March 31, 2013

13/52: A Portrait Project

An attempt to capture the spirit of my smallest baby Georgette, by documenting her in a photo every  week  for a year. See more at Jodie's 52 Project.  

At your first Easter egg hunt, you did unexpectedly well. I think you might have inherited your mothers ability to sniff out chocolate from from any hidden place within a square kilometre. I'm so proud. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Could You Vote For Me?

I have entered the Australian Writers Centre blogging competition. If you would be so kind as to vote for me in the Peoples Choice Award, you can click on the button to the right to vote: it only takes a sec and you will find mogantosh on the third page.

Chances of winning the big benjamins: slim.

But thanks anyway!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Community Service

At my visit to the dentist this morning I found out that apparently I am brushing my teeth like the village idiot. I have worn away teeth at the back with enthusiasm and yet still failed to clean the ones at the front. It's only been about 37 years I've been doing it twice a day though, so I'm confident I'll get it right really soon.

I accidentally bit the dentist. 'Sworry,' I mumbled and 'Hazard of the job!" he replied brightly. The poor bastard.

When I got back out to the waiting room an elderly Greekish man patted the seat beside him encouragingly.  'Yes, sit! Sit!' he said. 'I have you here!'

I didn't want to be rude so I sat down next to him while I transferred money on my phone and he launched into a strange seduction. 'We have cappuccino now, ' he began forcefully. 

I declined politely. 'Yes!' he insisted, a bit angry.   'It take ten minute! Just take ten minute!" 

'I can't,'  I said. 'I have to get to my at' 

'You have a hat,' he observed, changing tack and shifting closer. I agreed that I did. 'Your face is good on it.' I thanked him. 

'I have a big one, ' he confided. 

'Oh yes?" I said, an octave higher than my normal voice. 

'A really big one. I have a very big one. For garden.' 

I didn't manage to escape before he laid a sloppy kiss on my hand and said 'I see you tomorrow! For cappuccino!" 

Bite a dentist, reject an old man, for one more day, my work in the community is done. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Shiny, Happy

This week,  I feel like I'm riding high on top of the wheel of fortune - we are well, the sun is out, and this morning I even managed to clean the dessicated flies out of the windowsill in the kids room. I've been managing to get up early to write and put the bread on, and I'm feeling the happiness and contentment that comes from an ordered routine.

I'm on borrowed time though. We could be moments away from a bout of extreme naughtiness or necrotising fasciitis, though. Who knows? Family life, it's all a phase - the good, the bad.

Yesterday morning we managed a family band version of the tearjerking classic 'Angel of The Morning', with Keith on guitar, Ivy playing the bass line on piano, Teddy rocking the tambourine and Georgie on my hip helping me bring down the power notes. (Ted had a little moment over the sad lyrics, and then he recovered his rock equilibrium.) Best session ever.

Ivy told me about the 'olden days' this morning. 'You know, Mum, when the monkeys turned into women.'
Under 7's soccer training starts tomorrow (Ivy's first year playing, and first with her Dad as coach. I sense a lot of orange-cutting in my future.)

Life is good.

This good.

And this good!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

12/52: A Portrait Project

An attempt to capture the spirit of my smallest baby Georgette, by documenting her in a photo every week for a year. See more at Jodie's 52 Project.  

Your favourite spot this week is on top of the dining table, emptying the stationery box, while Ivy draws next to you and Ted does his 'sections'. Here,  you found the glue-stick.  Treasure! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Living With A Four-Year-Old is Good For The Soul

Teddy found my new back-rest.  'Mum!' he shouted with delight. 'When did you buy me this cowboy hat?'

Four-year-olds. They are hilarious! 'Oh, I think I did a fart,' my very precise one one said, perched on Keith's lap having a piano lesson. 'Actually that is right because all my nose can smell is poo.' 

He likes to sing to me while I cook. 'Lady, lady, turn on the oven,' his song goes. 'Lady, lady, get in the oven.' This he regards as such champagne comedy he can barely get the lyrics out. 

He loves to cook and plans to open a cafe called Teddy's Yum Yums. His sign reads 'Watch Him Decorate The Cakes!' Watching My Kitchen Rules with him last night, I asked what his signature menu would be. 'One hundred cold sausages and a cake made of icing', he said. 

Yesterday, Ivy told Ted that her friend Izzy wasn't going to marry him anymore. Ted has been planning this event for about a year so he was surprised. 'Why not?' he asked. 'Because you're not handsome,' Ivy said, then laughed loudly. 

I was immediately defensive  'What? What?' I said. 'He's the handsomest boy in town!' 'No, he's not handsome, ' Ivy insisted. 'And also, he's stupid.' 

Laugh? She nearly fell off her chair. 

'Stop it, Ivy!' I said. 'Why are you saying these things?'

Ivy rolled her eyes. 'It's opposite land, Mum,'  she said. 

Teddy had been eating Weet-Bix and watching the whole exchange. He was unperturbed. 

'Well, I don't like that game,' I said. 'Teddy, do you know what handsome means?'

He thought about it. 'No', he said finally. 'It means good-looking, ' I said. He nodded. 

'Do you care whether or not people think you're handsome, Ted?' I asked. 

He thought again, a little longer. 'Actually, Mum,' he said 'I don't care about that at all.' 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Siestas, Crazed Composers and Carers Rights.

From my earholes to yours, here are three great podcasts I have listened to lately while washing up or folding laundry. Have you listened to anything interesting lately? Let me know, I'm always on the lookout.

Winston Churchill used to start work at 7am, then have a nice long nap in the afternoon. In the evening, he would have dinner with all his staff, after which they would watch a movie together. A Western, perhaps. Then they would spread out the war maps and work until one or two a.m. Winston, of course, was full of beans after his siesta. His poor staff didn't have that luxury. Ah, it's good to be the king. Listen here. 

Beethoven's symphonies are set to an incredibly fast tempo. Why? Was his metronome broken? (Nope, that theory was debunked when it was discovered, remarkably preserved and keeping good time.) This podcast explores the fascinating theory that Beethoven wanted his music played incredibly fast - impossibly fast, in fact. He wanted his musicians to be falling over the notes, unable to keep up, in order to imbue his music with a sense of wildness and insanity. It's totally rock and roll. Listen here.

Helen Sage became her daughters carer after a car accident left Jane with an acquired brain injury. Helen tells her story and advocates for Jane with a calm, measured intelligence that is profoundly moving. Her thoughts on carers rights are heartbreakingly practical. Carers need a break after an eight hour day, she says. They need two days off a week, and they need annual leave. It seems so little to ask as a baseline, but shamefully,  this is where we are.  Listen here. 

Happy listening. x

Monday, March 18, 2013

11/52: A Portrait Project

An attempt to capture the spirit of my smallest baby Georgette, by documenting her in a photo every week for a year. See more at Jodie's 52 Project.  

Recovering from a week of illness.
Spiky beach kisses from Dad help. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spot The Difference!

There's a downward spiral of illness and injury going on around these parts and I feel my reputation is slipping south as well.

Here are Jessica Alba and her daughter Honor in Paris. Honor does not appear to have a disfiguring skin infection. 

Yesterday I had to go to the chemist to refill Georgie's antibiotics prescription. She has school sores, and the lingering end of a virus we think was hand, foot and mouth. Both of these illnesses have a Dark Ages vibe and poor Georgie has not been looking her finest, what with the weeping pustules and the angry demeanour.  

At the doctor paying our bill,  George said 'Bye!' in her little chipmunks voice and then she blew the receptionist a kiss. 'Oh!' the woman said. 'That would have been the most adorable thing ever, except for the...' She gestured at the baby's spotty chin. 

'I know,' I said. 

This is Victoria Beckham with her daughter Harper. Victoria seems to be wearing no spilled  food, milk, or random human protein on her clothing at all.  

George was still supposed to be in isolation, but when you have three kids, what can you do? Sometimes you cannot avoid hauling them around the joint. They require an obscene amount of shopping and managing and administration. So I strapped her in the stroller, which she hates, and I waited at the chemist amongst the drooping, elderly and flu-blown for our turn to be served. 

George wailed and fought to get out of her stroller, gesturing angrily to me at all the colourful boxes begging to be swept off the shelves. Teddy was covered in the detritus of a busy day at pre-school. Also, the night before, he'd wallowed underwater in Georgie's coconut oil bath, so his hair was lank and greasy. 

Ivy had been home sick,  and was dressed by the afternoon in a ridiculous combination of  gear; including her 'Ms' t-shirt, a pair of tracksuit pants too small, her school shoes and a pair of giant women's socks. I'm sick too. It goes without saying that I looked like I'd been shagged through a hedge backwards.  

Katie Holmes and Suri, who match in the Elegant Casual mother-daughter way, rather than the hillbilly-health-crisis look that my children and I have been sporting this season. 

Ted was off pre-school and at the doctors today with another random and weird health issue. My illness is morphing into a stomach bug. Self-pity and Panadol are keeping me in forward motion. Happy weekending my friends! Have a drink and be happy you're not us!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

These Are My Nude Stick Figures

It's snot central around here. I have had a sinus infection for about two weeks now. I'm on the mend but I'm definitely carrying about 15% more tissue fluff and self-pity than in my healthy state. My bones are cotton wooly, and goddammit, those school lunches don't pack themselves. (notes to inventors: priorities, please, ffs.)

We're waiting to hear if Georgie has chicken pox, or another virus, or school sores, or the plague, or a combination. She's got sores in her mouth and has been pretty unhappy. I've been feeling slowly better from a couple of days last week where the undersea oceans of my sinuses slowed, and then froze, so that my face throbbed and ached miserably, especially at night. So there was a lot of sitting up and watching TV on my computer, moaning with self-pity and breathing gormlessly through my open mouth.

Silver linings, though: I caught some good stuff. Possible my favourite was a golden scene in an Australian series called Making Couples Happy.  It explored the relationships of four couples in crisis, helping them to learn better ways of relating.  One episode looked at their sex lives, and the scene in which Laney and Darren discuss their sexytime procedures with earnest Swedish sex therapist (see? comedy already) Desiree Spierings is absolutely hilarious.

Laney and Darren are fortyish, a down-to-earth pair with two small kids and a plumbing business. They have no idea what Desiree has in store for them when they enter her office and she gives them each a clipboard, says 'These are my nude stick figures, ' and asks them to diagram where they would like to be touched, and in what order they would like the fondlings to happen.

Laney and Darren are polite. They start numbering. Darren is quick to complete his chart and waits awkwardly while Laney finishes thinking carefully through her procedure. Back and forth she goes thoughtfully. A bit of number four here, a couple of number fives... Desiree starts talking them through Laney's drawing, and it becomes clear quite quickly that the conversation is going to be painfully specific.

Numbers one through seven are all quite romantic and sweet. Face-kisses, ear-nibbling, etc. And then Desiree says 'and next?'

'Well, next is my number eight', says Laney. 'The, um, breasts. '

'And is that firm massaging, touching lightly, stroking?' asks Desiree earnestly. Laney blinks. You can see she is trying to be a good sport. 'Um, starting at stroking, moving to firm massaging. '

Desiree smiles encouragingly and moves on. 'And number ten is what?"

'That's my... vagina', ' says Laney.

'And what would you like to happen with the vagina?'

Laney and Darren, at this point, look terrified. This therapy session, complete with camera, has gone to an unexpected place. Desiree makes her question clearer. 'Do you like to be touched everywhere, or all around, or just the clitoris, or the vagina?'

'Well,' says Laney desperately, 'probably in that order.'

Darren is a little confused when the explanation is over. 'I'm a little bit confused,' he says. 'I always rub her hair because I thought that was one of the things that she absolutely loved. She's told me before that she likes her hair being stroked.'

'Oh...' says Laney slowly. (A light bulb is going off for her too.)  'I've told him that I like my hair being brushed.'

'But not sexually?' Desiree probes. 'So that's a misunderstanding then.' Darren looks crestfallen.

Misunderstanding for them, yes. Comedy gold for us. (And, you have to assume, for Darren's friends for the next three decades.)

The fun continues when Desiree moves onto Darren's chart.

His diagram is much more to the point. Numbers 1 and 2 involve some brief kissing. And then Darren must explain the big arrow he has drawn at Number 3.

'I do enjoy having my balls,' he begins bravely. 'Sorry, my testicles...' It's too much. Laney and him both crack up, and so do I, spluttering tissues everywhere. 'You can say balls, ' murmurs Desiree comfortingly.

But I don't want to! you can almost hear Darren wail. I don't want to say balls! He moves on, valiantly. 'Number 4 is my penis there. I'm not too fussed about what happens to that area, just... anything.'

'Laney,  what did you learn?' asks Desiree.

'I learned that its really a short time between kissing and ending up at the penis, ' says Laney. 'I'm adding in a few unnesscesary steps.' Darren nods in agreement.

It was a magic piece of television.

Somehow, they captured the endearing awkwardness of sex through the brave confessionals of this likeable pair. It was sweet, and hilarious, and unexpectedly profound. Plus, I think the snorting  helped get my sinuses moving a little more freely.Overall, this series was a really well-made show, if you are interested in, generally,  the psychology of couples, and specifically, the sexual preferences of Darren the plumber. (He likes his balls tickled, FYI.)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

10/52: A Portrait Project

An attempt to capture the spirit of my smallest baby Georgette, by documenting her in a photo every week for a year. See more at Jodie's 52 Project.  

Snotty and miserable. 
Were you up all night with that cold,  Georgie? 
Me too. 
Good day to make a picture with the 'this sucks' stamp from Dad's office. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Feminism, The Squeaky Wheel, and A Noisy Glorious Dinner Party

It was International Women's Day yesterday. Seems to me that it's been a sparky, fizzing, electrical year of ferment and debate and anger and outrage.  Something is stirring in our collective waters, perhaps.

This week, writer Jacinta Le Plastrier outlined an interesting theory of a 'global upsurge in protest against violence and misogyny' that could herald a revolution in feminism ( vive le revolution!), and the fabulous writer Jane Caro spoke of a 'powerful' and 'exuberant' Twitter response to International Women's Day.

I feel it too. Sexism,  misogyny and violence against women have been much in the public consciousness this year. Particularly horrific instances have concentrated our global attention and outrage,  like the the brutal gang rape of a New Delhi woman on a public bus that resulted in her death, and the Taliban attack on Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head for trying to go to school, and closer to home, the violent rape and murder of Jill Meagher as she walked home from the pub.

That's big-picture stuff. But also, as we become ever-more connected and politicised on-line,  we seem to be noticing and highlighting the pervasive everyday sexism that saturates us, via the white noise of the marketing messages that commercialise women's sexuality on a continuous, degrading, insidious loop. Messages that define and create the society in which we live, and in which we raise our children.

A society in which urinals shaped like a woman's lips are installed in a public bar. 

Where little girls learn that their bodies are currency.    

In which 'rape comedy' is on the increase.  

It's so pervasive, in fact, that 'sexism fatigue' comes into play, where one can begin to feel powerless against the weight of the near-total reach of everyday sexism; in advertising, in the general media, in the standard attacks on women online, and in Hollywood. In  this years Oscars ceremony, for instance, host Seth McFarland's opening  number 'We Saw Your Boobs', demonstrated what the Vulture website  described as a 'black-tie celebration of the straight male gaze.' Railing against this kind of humour is often read as a kind of sour, uptight political correctness.

'I am tired of being called a shrieking harridan for pointing out inequalities so tangible and blatant that they are regularly codified into law', writes Lindy West in an inspired rant for Jezebel on the notion of sexism fatigue.  'I am tired of being told to provide documentation of inequality in the comments section of a website where a staff of smart women documents inequality as fast as our fingers can move. Like, you might as well write me a note on a banana peel demanding that I prove to you that bananas exist. I am tired of being asked to "cite sources" proving that sexism is real (that RAPE is real,  even!) because there is no way to concisely cite decades and decades of rigorous academia. Allow me to point at the fucking library.'

But hey, it sucks to be a woman in the gaming industry too. Oh, and on commercial radio. And you probably don't want to be a truck driver either. Or a female athlete in Australia. Or need an abortion in the USA. Or Ireland. Or live in a country where you may be forced into marriage, or be a woman in a refugee camp, or in a country at war.

I could go on, but I won't. My heart is hurting, and I've got mushrooms to stuff. (Incidentally, should I be stuffing them professionally I would be paid,  on average, 17% less for them than a man would.)

So where to from here, I wonder? What's  on the table? Is there a new framework, a new consciousness emerging? What will the 'new feminist' look like?

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's book "Women, Work, And The Will To Lead' is published this week, and while there is something of a predictable backlash against her 'Lean-In' model that exhorts women to push themselves forward in the corporate arena, her brand of 'trickle-down' feminism has been taken up with gusto by young American women. Is she a good or a bad role model for them?

What about Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, who went back to work 2 weeks after her son's birth and has banned her staff working from home (a system that is generally agreed to benefit more women in the workplace than men.) Is she good or bad?

How about Beyonce, who runs a squillion dollar empire, graces magazine covers wearing only her very-smalls, and has called her new tour 'The Mrs Carter Show'. Is she a good or bad feminist?   What about our own Julia Gillard, the first female Australian Prime Minister, who made the thrilling and instantly famous 'misogyny speech' speech in October 2012, for which the Jezebel website called her a 'badass motherfucker'?

 Is she a good role model?

In my opinion: yes, yes, and yes, and yes.  Are they flawed? Yes, as are we all. But they are all confident and intelligent and powerful. They have successfully pushed back against the barriers of culture, subtle and overt, that hindered their achievement, and we have something different to learn from every one of them.

Let's not bring personality and political differences into play. Let's support them all. The more women in public life, the better. More uteruses! (Uteri? ) More! All kinds! Good-looking women and funny looking women and athletic women and older women and young women and childless women and mothers and women with disabilities and women of all races and religious persuasions and gay women and straight women and nerdy women and annoying women and the women we agree with and the women that we don't. More women talking.

Not talking, shouting.

Women shouting! Arguing the many cases and positions that make up the massive and unwieldy and deeply important package of 'women's rights.' There is room for all of us at the table. And the more of us that sit at that table, discussing and examining the issues that affect women, the louder and angrier and more powerful that dinner party will get.

Alice Walker says that 'activism is the rent we pay for living on this planet'. I love this, and in this instance, I would suggest that perhaps feminism is the rent we pay for living in a free democracy with a robust press. We have voices. We can upload our stories to the everyday sexism website. We can buy this t-shirt and we can wear it.  We can join the Destroy The Joint Facebook page, and others like it. We can sign petitions that support women's rights, such as this one that exhorts the Indian government to ban their 'two-finger' rape test.  We can start a Mamabake group in our neighbourhood and do our best to support, cherish and empower the women in our lives.

In the best possible scenario,  we can organise organise rallies like these suffragettes from 1921, who protested by sitting in public spaces in their bathing suits and eating pizza. Inspiring!

Mostly, we can keep talking, keep pushing women's issues onto the political and media agenda. We can make this dinner party really , really loud. We can be the squeaky wheel. We can be the revolution.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday Haiku

peaceful afternoon
spilt-level crafty children. 
beautiful, yet brief. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Darker Side of Craft

For a couple of months now, every time a box enters the house, it is quickly turned into an 'Indiana Jones boat'. This is a great activity. Each flap of Indy's boat does something cool. One box-flap shows what vehicle it can turn into: a helicopter, a rocket, a plane. 

Ted will always draw a flap of 'killers'. Guns, whips, hammers and swords are carefully drawn in, in case of a monster attack. (I haven't told him about the zombie apocalypse yet.) 

Another flap shows the food button Indy can press. Milkshakes are popular, watermelon and ice-cream cones and cherries often feature, but I'm yet to see Indy order a kale smoothie. 

Making Indiana Jones boats is hours of fun. 

 But it also means that our deck always looks like this.

8/52: A Portrait Project

An attempt to capture the spirit of my smallest baby Georgette, by documenting her in a photo every week for a year. See more at Jodie's 52 Project.  

In the kitchen with your big sister, attacking the spoils of a chocolate-mousse-making session. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Beyond The Clouds, Sunshine.

Excellent news this week from the neurosurgeon. He thinks my weird lump is a bursa formed over a piece of spinal instrumentation. It will take managing, but is not a marker of something more sinister, for instance that the hooks and screws and rods that inhabit my spine are starting to break apart and I will need some kind of awful surgery to put me back together, Humpty Dumpty style.

Thank you, daytime nightmares, you can leave me now.

I have some degeneration and bulging in the old discs but that can be managed too. I have been trying to do a session or two from this yoga app every day, and I am generally feeling much stronger than I was a month ago.

I feel relieved that the spectre of surgery isn't facing me. And in the way of the universe, I have been hyper-aware of the suffering of others around me and grateful for my good fortune. Kim the blogger, for instance, whose descriptions of her pain would bring a tear to the eye of a politician. I've read Stephanie Nielsen's memoir this week, and once you get past the gushy god-bothering, it is an incredible tale of resilience. Nothing like people with real worries to remind you what a massive baby you are.

I feel the sun on my shoulders this week. All the small wonders of my life are sparkling. Keith needed a picture for a science journal bio, so we snapped him looking serious but wearing my lady-specs, Ivy and are I are baking the solar system in dough, Ted is possibly some kind of dot-to-dot genius, and Georgie's baby-mullet is really coming along well.

I wish the same mundane, glorious joys for you.