Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Authors and good-bye

 I went to the airport this morning to pick up Deborah Abela, author of such children's books as the Max Remy Superspy series, Grimsdon and Ghost Club. The State Library sent her to us for the National Year of Reading and she was brilliant.

150 school kids, over two sessions, came to see her and she had them enthralled for an hour. Lots of years 4, 5 and 6 boys, caught up about books! This next photo is fuzzy, it's very hard to take a photo of someone who is moving a lot, but I like it because it shows her enthusiasm. I took Deb out for lunch and had such a lovely chat. She is a delightful person as well as a great author and speaker. Jeannie and I had a wee conflict about who was going to take Grimsdon home first!

The newspaper folk came at the end of the first session to chat with her and some of the kids. You need to be young and agile to be a newspaper photographer.

Once all the noisy school kids had left, the littler folk could come and claim a doughnut cushion.

Tonight was Maame's last night at bible study and I made her a cake. I put an icing sugar heart in the middle, saying it was for her, so Liz cut it out and gave it to Maame, leaving a ring cake for everyone else. Liz said it was like excising a tumour, only yummier.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Das Parfum

I finished reading Perfume yesterday. My good friend Chrissie chose it for book club years ago when we were setting the whole book club service up (there are now 55 book clubs over our region). She had absolutely loved the book. We have quite different taste in books so I wasn't sure how I would enjoy it but I find that I loved it unreservedly as well. As I'm sure I have mentioned a hundred times, I read, largely, for character, setting and language. There are no genuinely likeable characters in the book (many are absurdly amusing), the setting is France in the seventeenth century and plays only a minor role but the language is beautiful. I wanted to read it aloud to myself, and sometimes did.

I saw the film version a number of years ago, before I could love Ben Whishaw for Bright Star, but picturing him as Grenouille may have helped. As well as the language, I was simply astounded by the story which just seems so clever, so unusual - a child born in a world of extraordinary stench, with no odour at all but who lives for scent alone. So good.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Toby has been keen on getting a road bike for a while (no, he didn't watch any of le Tour - it didn't start until 10pm) and Andrew found a great second hand one, just a tiny bit too big. They took it to the velodrome and Toby tore around at top speed - he reached 43k/h!

Now he asks constantly to go again so this afternoon Andrew and Toby rode over to the velodrome and I put Bethany's bike and Milo into the car and drove over with Bethany. Toby goes so fast around the track I could only get this silly photo.

The track is fully fenced and we were the only ones there so we let Milo loose and he ran like mad.

Bethany not only rode around several time but actually ran around it, without stopping, at least twice. I'm not really certain because after going around twice on Toby's bike, I retired to the relative warmth of the car and read.

Milo had the time of his life.

I thought the three of them were going to have a race but something was distracting Milo.

It was a huge pile of leaves and this is him being spooked when they fluttered in the wind!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The best bad news

When Maame texted last night to ask if I was able to go out for coffee or lunch with her today I thought I had better prepare for the thing I was praying to happen, but was dreading. As it happens, I had my haircut first thing, dropped off a stack of cards to stock in the new Muddi shop and then went to Wodonga - yes, all the way to Victoria and back! - to see the man who is designing our kitchen. I asked Maame to come for dinner instead.

The news came, she is leaving next Thursday. She will fly to Dallas to have the baby there with Patrick's sister (Patrick is her husband). Patrick's siblings live in the US and Maame's siblings live in the UK but Patrick and Maame will live in Ghana.

We looked up her suburb in Accra on Google Earth and researched flights for a family of five. Hmmm, we could get there and back for around $13,000. One way would take 37 hours!

Maame is coming over on Saturday night to stamp, and then we'll see her on Sunday so no need to worry about the permanency of her departure just yet. If you are wondering what Bethany is wearing, it's her nightie, school tights and Toby's school tie. As you do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Bethany is giving up piano lessons and taking up art! She had her first lesson today. Over the term they will be covering all sorts of topics. They began with sculpture. Given that she goes straight after school in her uniform,  I rather wish those aprons were more like smocks. There were around twelve school girls of different ages, none that Bethany knew. She fit right in and had a wonderful time. The sculpture she made is a tower (they all made towers) and she put it in a fairy garden she made with another girl.

You make fairy gardens with ceramic mushrooms, huge flowers and lots of bricks.

The classes are held very close to our house in an old colonial style house that has been converted into a studio and arty, magical space.

Joss is trying to convert her room into a Hunger Games/One Direction magical space.

Bethany insisted I take a photo of her cereal and yoghurt. There's a rhino in there, apparently.

She ate it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

I have been asked several times if I have read Fifty Shades of Grey. The popularity of the trilogy is astounding. We have several copies of each book at the library, all on reserve with queues. For me, the answer is black and white. I won't be reading Fifty Shades because it is pornography. Pornography is not harmless, however popular it may be. It makes it hard for people to maintain healthy relationships and takes something that God created to be enjoyed in a marriage relationship and makes it about objectifying people. The subject headings in NoveList (a database libraries use) include sadomasochism, fetishism and interpersonal conflict. I don't really want to be filling my head with those things.  That said, it is also very poorly written, not surprising as it originated as fan fiction based on the Twilight series' characters. Pornography for women has gone mainstream, so many people are keen to get into it and let everyone know they're into it - a terrible shame in my opinion.

What am I reading? I am enjoying Anita Heiss' Am I Black Enough for You?, Patrick SΓΌskind's Perfume (for book club) and Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.

What are you reading?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Zetta Florence

Living in the country is the best. I especially love that going to the shops, even the big shops in town, is not a huge ordeal of parking and crowds. That said, we like nothing better, when in Sydney or Melbourne, than a good few hours wandering about in a properly huge shopping centre. When in Sydney, we go up to Hornsby, which is has lots of good shops and a cinema. When in Melbourne, however, poor old Hornsby looks pretty sad in comparison to Chadstone.

On the Saturday afternoon we were in Melbourne, Phil took Charlotte, Bethany and the twins home and the rest of us went to Chadstone. We had only walked a few meters inside when I discovered, for the first time, my second favourite shop ever! Zetta Florence is known to me because we buy archival material for the library from them but I didn't know they had shops with beautiful paper!

I didn't get these boxes, though I would very much love to have them. I could have bought everything! I did buy a lovely bin to put on the table when I have stamping nights - perfect for all the paper scraps.

 I also bought several of these decorative papers to frame for our new house. Andrew and the kids enjoyed it too and Andrew bought some book plates, only for music... you know, you stick it on your book/music to say that it belongs to you. I had only been into one shop and could have gone home very happy!

We had lunch and kept wandering. At one point, the kids went off with Andrew to find EB Games, which is not a place for me, and Kristin went somewhere else too so I was able to slowly browse on my way round to meet up with everyone. That is when I saw my number one favourite shop ever. The ABC Shop! It's my favourite because that's where I find all the lovely BBC adaptations of the books that I love, as well as lots of fabulous television series like Life on Mars. I always find DVDs I long to watch so I simply put in a request at my library (so should you!). I saw The Camomile Lawn there but I won't pay $40 for a DVD I don't know is any good, it's best the library buys it first. Then I saw my beloved Jane Eyre, the 2006 version with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson, the best BBC version of anything, ever. I am a sharer of the things I love and at some point, several years ago, lent my copy of the DVD to someone and didn't get it back. The Chadstone ABC Shop had it for $19.95!

Needless to say it came home with me and I left the shops a very happy woman. We spent the afternoon and evening watching it and Phil and I giggled most irreverently at Ruth Wilson's upper lip. I adore her and think she is the best Jane but her upper lip does, indeed, look like a duck's bill. Whenever he noticed it especially, Phil would quack and then, at the end, when Mr Rochester is blind and can't believe Jane has come back to him, he puts his hand onto her face to make sure, going directly to the distinctive lip for confirmation! Ah, the hilarity.

I finally saw, thanks to Cootamundra Library's collection, the 1996 version with William Hurt as Mr Rochester. It also had Elle Macpherson as Blanche Ingram! It was wrong, all wrong. Elle didn't disgrace herself, she only had around 20 words to say, but William Hurt was not at all right. Not just because he is fair haired (though really, how hard is it to dye his hair? Toby Stephens is a red head and they dyed his!) but he wasn't gruff in the right places and pulled funny, dopey faces. The proposal scene was strangely emotionless and they left so much out that there was no time to become attached to anyone. (Hey Phil, the actress playing Jane was pretty good but she had an underbite!) I watched it twice to make sure - not about the underbite, about whether it was a decent adaptation. It is possible I have a little Jane Eyre problem....

On the library's facebook page we have been having lots of fun making picture clues for people to guess the book title. Carol came up with this one today and, obviously, I have to include it in this post. Like Wagga City Library on facebook if you want to see all the others - they aren't all my favourite books.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A good Mum

Like most working mothers, I don't feel that I get to do everything I would like with the kids. After a long day at work, when I still have to make dinner and get some things done around the house, homework (the bane of my existence) wins out over fun things and with Saturday and Sunday busy til after midday with sport and church, we often put off plans for the kids to invite friends over. Bethany in particular suffers in that area, her age group being a little higher maintenance than Toby and Joss'. Joss, in fact, is the most social member of the family, we have hardly seen her all weekend, but she was at school this week and I was at home so I planned to dedicate a day to Toby, Bethany and their friends.

Toby was having Liam over and I invited Bethany's friend Amy (such nice people, Amys, don't you think?) whose older brother is in Toby and Liam's class so I invited him too. Three extra children in our little house and my friend Maame, who could leave forever at anytime, came for lunch.

Toby, Liam and Calvin played lots of games - the board and electronic variety - so needed little intervention from me.

Amy and Bethany also played some board games and watched a movie while I made two batches of bikkies for the kids to cut out and decorate. Then, I raided Joss' room and found around 20 bottles of nail polish. Each toe a different colour, some toes a different solid colour with matching glitter on top. From the start, Amy knew she wanted me to do hers while Bethany wanted to do her own. Bethany soon saw the wisdom in Amy's position.

The boys were happy, in the end, for me to cut out and bake their ninjabread men and they iced and ate them. Toby and Liam ate an awful lot but I had to get strict as they still had hours and hours left in the day and the rule is that if anyone is sick, they have to be sick at their own house. Yes, a nasty experience led to this rule.

The makeovers continued as I painted 20 finger nails and first straightened, then crimped Amy's hair. She has lovely, long and wavy hair that I had to crimp twice before it looked anywhere near as good as Bethany's which is just made for crimping.

The girls were very keen on getting into the kitchen and cut out teapots, hearts, teardrops and other assorted little shapes for their biscuits. Nigella's recipe is great, so forgiving of rough treatment. I particularly like the way Bethany held her fingers to protect the pretty colours.

Now, it is Sunday morning and we are all back at school and work tomorrow. Getting up at 6 will be a nasty shock after three weeks of le Tour but it can't be helped. Thankfully, I have very little interest in the Olympics so can get on with making cards and choosing colours and materials for our house!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Car conversations

I have heard some amusing things in the car lately. At the beginning of our trip to Melbourne we were talking about games to play during the trip and Bethany said that she knew a game that she played with Mrs Mills at the pub! So casual, as if she is always at the pub with her friends. For the record, she was spending the afternoon with her friend Hannah and Mrs Mills was dropping her home but had to attend a football club event for her son, at the pub. I offered to come and get Bethany but Mrs Mills said that she needed her company so they must have played games at the pub. I wonder if she had a shandy.

I picked up Liam to come and spend the day with Toby earlier this week and he is rather like Bethany in that his mouth is not often closed. He was chatting away about what we had done in Melbourne and I made a comment about the twins. He said something about people who are alike so I told him that the twins weren't identical. "Ah, infernal twins" he said!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Making stuff

Being at home with Toby and Bethany this week has been great. We've stayed at home a lot, had some friends over, watched movies, played games and Bethany came to book club with me. We have also been cooking. We were very keen to use the new biscuit cutters Andrew bought in Melbourne, I think Tim has them too. Ninjabread men.

Bethany has been using her new watercolour pencils.

The boats are gondolas and Bethany was a bit concerned that you wouldn't usually find dolphins in the same place as gondolas because she wanted the picture to be realistic, or 'real-a-listic' as she says it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Ks

Six months ago our good friends, The Kristovskis family, moved from Wagga to Melbourne. They had been just two minutes walk from our house in Estella and we provided emergency ingredients to each other. I remember when Bethany was a baby, I would leave her asleep in the house and run half way to meet Alice with whatever either of us needed to finish our cooking. As the kids got older we just sent them on our errands!

We had lunch with them on our way out of Melbourne. It was so good to see where they are living now and how much the kids have grown in six months. Sophie is so grown up.

Peter has become a clone of his older brother.

Andrew, our lovely godson.

We had a gorgeous lunch, including birthday brownies for Joss, and the kids did a little Just Dancing. OK, I did some too, I can't help myself.

We walked to the house they are building as well. They are much further ahead than us, it was so exciting. They have a full frame and roof. We were even able to climb upstairs.

We didn't want to leave, I had lots more things I wanted to ask about their new life, but we had to drive home. Andrej took a family photo of us - I wonder how many more we'll get where I am taller than Joss.

Andrej's Mum, Vita, took this lovely photo of all of us.

Five, soon to be six, more reasons to visit Melbourne more often.


I don't, for a moment, regret our tree change and am constantly thankful for life in the (almost) country, but we do miss being able to see family regularly. As it happens, staying in Sydney would have done us little good in that regard as most of our family, on both sides, has also moved away! We are in the best position of anyone to see Phil, Kristin and the cousins as Wagga is half way between Sydney and Melbourne.

The cousins had such a wonderful time playing together. The twins are at a brilliant age for playing and Charlotte and Bethany were usually in a world of their own imagining, making a great deal of noise!

We went to a fabulous little park to let the kids burn off some energy while the rain held off.

I do love to see children reading!

Georgiana also loves to dress up. I remember my own dress-up box very fondly. It was full of Mum's old clothes and high heels.

Isn't it funny how I ended up with millions of photos of the twins and only incidental shots of Phil and Kristin - sorry about that. We had a lovely time, it was great to hang out. By the next time we see them, our family will have another set of twins! We love being aunty/uncle/cousins, and having two sets of twins is so exciting.