Monday, July 28, 2014

Why we love the beach.

We love the beach. I mean this collectively as a family, as a culture, as a species. 
It is always special, magical and deeply restorative. I remember going on all those great holidays as a child often from way out in Western Queensland. We'd be sleeping all over the Holden station wagon, distributed across the front bench seat to the boot beside the basket with the baby/ies in it. Then the car would come over the last rise and the first call would break the restless boredom. 
"I can see the sea!" Mine still say it. I make them. It is the first tick in the box of nostalgic balm.
There are other important elements in this perfect holiday.

The cousins. 
They mooch and roll and bury each other and argue and laugh and throw sand and play footy on the same beach my cousins and siblings played on.

The Dad. 
It used to take my Dad a good week to wind down till he could really relax. This one is the same. They can't garden, tinker, work, build or mow. They walk. They sleep. They cook. It is good.

The sea.
We live in a part of the world that some old dears that you meet at posh functions call God's own country. The water is glassy clear and perfectly flat on one beach and waves on the other. There are fish and critters and birds. There was a python in a tree for the whole two weeks we were there. There are noisy gangs of rainbow lorikeets. One year there were dolphins out the front.

The childerbeasts go swimming in mid-winter and bask on the sand sheltered from the wind to dry off. They only do this with cousins to egg them on. Cousins are good that way.

We play games that only the girls play at home. It may be the relaxed atmosphere or the different team members. The absence of laptops and internet may have something to do with it. Bananagram, Bingo and cards played on a sheet or blanket. The glass table got the gong from all involved as it was too cold and hard to snatch cards up from.

Playing two pack cheaters' Hawaii


We like to bury ourselves in it, get it in eyes and mouth and nostrils, make it squeak when we kick it and put in in our brothers' beds as not so hilarious prank. It is  throughout the house and gets brushed off the feet at bed time and out of the sheets before you snuggle down to listen to the surf through the open windows.

This gets bigger every year as do the fish. The big fella and the uncle indulge the fishing needs. We throw every thing back but we draw the line at kissing fish. They can go on their own now, untangle snags, bait up hooks. One boy fished from 7 am till 10.30 pm the last day over several locations. Boys are nice when they fish. There is no u tube on a fishing line.

Every thing is a picture. Every moment seems marvellous. 

Even the rocks are photogenic. 

I got through three of them up there but didn't quite finish this one which I have read snippets from over the last nine years. It is the beach house book of choice. This time I tried to read it cover to cover. That's a good sea faring name if I ever saw one.

Sunset, moon rise, tide change, sunrise.
These happen at home but we rarely see them. We are sleeping or ferrying people between orthodontists and soccer and last minute grocery runs. It's good to just sit and look at it and soak it up slowly.

They always taste better at the beach- on the beach. Always.

 Lying down. 
I don't do this enough at home. I certainly don't lie down in the middle of a walk through the shops or into work or over to the neighbours. For some reason it is acceptable on the beach to just stop, sit and then lie down to doze off if you wish. I like that.

 Rock pools.
Abundant, treasure troves of goodies, they never disappoint. The big boys were still as entranced by dead wobbygongs, sluggy things spurting purple ink, starfish, urchins and crabs as they were the first time they found a dead inflated puffer fish- every day for a week. It was quite whiffy by the end.

They are happy, free, unburdened by homework and uniforms and getting up early. They run and roll and generally behave like joyful, exuberant kids are meant to. 

No wonder it never gets old. Sorry this was a long one if anyone is even still out there. These are the days worth recording and savouring- like old forgotten questionable wine from your brother's kitchen cupboard. We relive our memories and they make new ones with us in blues and sandy yellows and it is always good.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Years ago when we first settled back down to real life after travelling for several years, I saw a photo in a local paper of one of David Bromley's paintings. He was selling them for around $400 and I really wanted to go and buy one. Unfortunately, at the time we were focussing on getting jobs and paying for things like a bed and food. Looking at what his work goes for now, I may have missed the small, wooden boat there.

His paintings were nostalgic, painterly reproductions from old children's books illustrations but what appealed most was their use of the lighthouse image. It's such a beautiful one. 
They remind me of childhood visits to the beach and books we had read about smugglers and caves. They are strong and tall and dependable and take care of you when you are most in need. Even when they are not needed they are there- like a loyal friend or good parent.

Other lighthouses crop up from time to time. This one was up on the wall at my brothers' house at the beach. Seems he likes them too. 

About a year ago, we were on holiday at the beach when I found an interesting ring in the local gift shop. It was made from an old souvenir spoon handle. Of course I got all, "I can just find one of those spoons and make it myself".
But I didn't. I looked a few times but, really, what were the odds. 

This year when we went to the same place, I asked the shop keeper if she had any more of those spoon rings from last year. She replied that they no longer stocked them but they had some others. So I had a look. There, amongst all the new resin and plastic and glass, was my lighthouse ring. The one I had snubbed a year ago. It was still there- waiting for me. 

So I had to buy it.  It is frequently on my finger to remind me to stand strong, to know that there will always be a light when it's a little stormy and that some things are just meant to be.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Waiting for Bloggo

It's been a while.

Not that I haven't been thinking of you...

The bluebird of happiness- apparently
It's become quite difficult to get near a computer at our place and I've been on the medi-go-round again too.
Finally a cup of tea in bed, a day nap and the "opportunity to explore new experiences".... 
The chillun are growing hard particularly the Fish and the Short One.This morning there was a wardrobe malfunction because they are all rather tall suddenly and were bickering like seagulls after a chip over the two locatable sports shirts. It was a breakfast round of musical shirts a la Peter Allen and the midriff brothers. Why do they like to dress in the kitchen? Why?

It's been a big week. There have highs and lows.

Here's a high. A darling brother o' mine has been renovating and is in cull mode. He gave me an 2008 bottle of wine out of his big, high cupboard. It could have been vinegar or nectar. Hello! It was the latter! Lucky dip!

This is medicinally necessary as the big fella is away with Lala this week in a snowy place- dare I say a Frozen one.

I also got smelly cheese. Yes, Iain. I bought a cheese. I haven't indulged in either lately. I like wine and smelly cheese.

Here's  a low. The dog got something in her eye. Ex-squeeze me! Yes- a teeny mote which cost us $105 for both a consultation and a tiny tube of Danish magical goop to put in her eye each night. Why don't we make magical goop in Queensland at $45 for 10 mg. Clever old Denmark I say.

Questionable high/ low point. We went to a Frozen party. It was contagious. She has caught the bug. Is it part of AKARA because I swear she caught it at Prep? I played it on the way up the coast to irritate the big boys after they made us late. They loved it. They asked for the volume to go up and for certain songs to be replayed. Would it be wrong to show a 15 year old lip syncing "Love is an Open Door" without his permission? Perhaps. Would it be wrong to use the same footage to get the dishwasher emptied? Perhaps not.

Let it go. Let it go! This phrase has become so multifunctional. You can use it when the dog eats yet another doll house citizen, when the boys won't share the sports shirts nicely or when they refuse to step away from the laptops. I sing it to them but I'm really singing it to me. The Short one sings it anywhere, anytime.

Do you wanna build a snowman? OK. Bye...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Post 'Mud' Post

Well it didn't explode or crumble into ash and shards.

Instead it resembles a large slab of fettucine in an invisible bowl. 
 You will note the silver Saltwater sandals in the lower right corner. The Saltwater shop near us is shutting down so they were all marked way down. They only had silver ones left. What else could I do? They needed a home.

Meanwhile, back at the fettucine slab... having never worked with oxides before, I had a little play and slopped a wash of cobalt carbonate over the whole thing. Then I wiped it back and put it in the kiln overnight to see what would happen.

The best thing about doing these experiments is the sheer unknown of the alchemy of it all. 
Now what do I do with it? It may end up in the garden with the ceramic skulls and busts and masks. One day in a millennium or so the eclectic midden will be unearthed and they'll wonder what on earth it was all for.

 This one was a little experiment with leftover bits of clay...

that turned into quite a handy Mothers' Day gift for the best little Mother in Law in the West-ern suburbs.

Another one was dubbed a salt pig and spoon for my own marvellous Mum. She used it for the Mothers' Day "counting" where we all convened to eat, reminisce and recover from Eurovision.

The fish was for the birthday brother who likes fishing, of course.

This Mom song was played for us at Shorty's prep Mother's Day gala girls' night out. (Last week was quite the busy one.)

It never gets old and makes me laugh out loud and every word of it is true.

Happy Mothers' Day to all who mother!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


You know that feeling where you just have a crazy little buzz and everything feels a bit too hectic. That's when I start gnawing nails, or culling or rearranging rooms . Sometimes it an avoidance strategy to avoid an unpleasant task (e.g. laundry) or thinking about something of a looming nature (e.g. surgery) . It keeps me awake some nights and wakes me from sleep on others. Yesterday it crept into my happy place at work...

so I played with mud.

There is a great deal to be said for the joy of mud which is probably why children are so drawn to it. I've had mine swimming it from when they were little but I doubt they'd deign to undertake such a thing nowadays- except if there's a ball involved to disguise the primal joy of mud wallowing. 

So I got some mud- clean, pretty, white porcelain  mud  that had gone hard in the bottom of a bucket.
It needed a swish around with some water and a big potato masher type of thing.

There was a ridiculous amount of shredded paper packed around some ink that came the other day. I knew it would come in handy.  A generous nest of it was immersed and squished around in the mud. (Yes, of course, it was clay slip but for therapeutic reasons I prefer to call it mud today.)

The whole gooey mess was quickly slopped into a big bowl shaped mould and gently coaxed into a convex shape.

Then, after a deep and satisfying sigh, I left it to dry. It was worth doing just to see the faces of the boys walking past. A lot of them do NOT like getting dirty.
I'll fire it when it dries and see if it becomes something or whether it was just a cathartic bit of fun.
The paper should all burn out leaving the exoskeleton of the clay. A bit of alchemy, a dash of mystery. Good times!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Okay. Maybe we got just a little bit Easterish after all.

1. The bunny's bum pancakes as spied on Pinterest.

2. The rabbit's foot pancakes as invented in our kitchen this week end.
 3. Bunny's bum and rabbits' feet pancakes with ice cream for breakfast. This is a once a year day!

 4. An embarrassment of chocolate and long ears for all. We were one egg short when the bunny went to dole out the booty on Easter eve so one big boy got an I.O.U. from the bunny. ( I suspect there had been a raid on the big high cupboard but have taken the path of least resistance and claimed responsibility for not thinking clearly at the supermarket. Imagine such a thing!)

 5. An embarrassment of sugar or maybe just enormous excitement in the bloodstream of the short one. This year Bunny trumped Santa!

 6. Ye ol' talcum powder bunny prints as delivered at midnight every easter. It never gets old!

7. My favourite ritual and family celebration of the year spent with my favourite people in glorious sunshine and all I had to bake was cupcakes!!!

Happy easter week end to you all!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Ghost of Easters Past

So here we are at Easter already. 
Another year is speeding by like a 15 year old bombing a sick hill on his Bustin Mechanic. 
(Trans. :- boy skateboarding with unnecessary speed down a steep bitumen road.) Note how I try to fit in with the local dialect around here?

This year I feel very happy to see Easter. 

Two years ago I came home from hospital on Easter Sunday. Two days ago I got a big pat on the back and congratulations from my surgeon for getting to the third year and past the danger zone. I'm laying both arms firmly on wood as I type this.
Last year I kept remembering the year before. This year I'm celebrating being here on THIS day regardless of what the future brings. 
There have been no beautiful crafty Easter things unless you count the fifty or so roboturkeys made with year 8's before the holidays. I glazed mine in a pseudo Bitossi orange but didn't get it out of the kiln in time for this Easter.

Next year.

It's been good to enjoy home without the rush of school lunches and the guilt of after school care.
We've done a lot in two weeks. The small one has taken to having a brekkie tea some days with me out the front with the nanna tea set.

We have loitered around GOMA a lot and been back to see the animal sculptures in the Falling Back to Earth exhibition more than once. If you're local it is well worth the visit just for the serenity of that blue lake and the photo opportunities.

BYO animal.

 It's free for all the under 13's which makes it very economical for such a big exhibition. While you're there, the upper level houses an eclectic exhibition of all the State year 12 finalists for the Excellence in Art Award in 1013. If there's one thing kiddos will look at in an art gallery, it's other kiddos' art.

Like many valiant parents, I also survived the Lego movie. There were bits I laughed out loud at, others I felt intimately familiar with and parts where the five year old was burrowing her face into my shoulder in response to the sensory overload. SO many spots! If you did it in 3D or LSD, I respect but do not envy you.

None of this is very Easterish. In fact the only Easterish thing around here is the stash of eggs in the Big-High-Cupboard. It's been more about seeing some truly good friends, hanging out with my children and family, making memories and enjoying this beautiful city. The weather is sublime, the company even warmer and the next year lies undiscovered and full of hope and new life.

Happy Easter to you all!

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