Tuesday, May 29, 2007

the return

He's been gone for several days. At first, it didn't bother me. The kids and I went on with our usual routine. Coffee for me to kickstart the day, the children bouncing and chatting; toast crusts left uneaten and dried cereal flakes caking onto bowls. Ironing at the last minute. Jumping into the car to go here and there. Laughing at Ben's dumb-but-funny jokes. Admiring Laura's fabulous, intricate drawings. Dinner a rowdy, happy affair - each child talking over the other, clamouring to tell their news. Bedtime cosy with cuddles and books. Life went on smoothly without him.

After a couple of days, though, I began to feel a little sad. Each morning I half-expected to see him, and was disappointed that he wasn't with us. I knew he lifted my spirits, but I hadn't realised just how much I'd begun to count on his presence to brighten each day. I wished fervently for his return. I knew all would be well with the world when I laid eyes on his sweet face again.

Today, he has returned, and the kids and I are overjoyed. He's back! We adore him!

Tony, the tawny frogmouth, is perched in our tree once more.

(Oh, and Fatty returns from a conference tomorrow!)

Saturday, May 26, 2007


It's been a week between posts, and still I have nothing to say for myself. I'm in a reflective, rather than a talkative, frame of mind.

I have been reading all my your blogs assiduously, and enjoying the news, and funny tales, and sweet stories. I just haven't left a comment. For once, I have kept my mouth shut.

To prevent boredom at my blog, I am going to let some others do the talking here for me. By 'others', I mean my family.


"This is not just stamp-collecting you know. I have one life to see as many Australian birds as I can." - Fatty


"To be a good friend, you need a very good pair of ears" - Laura


"It's not how rich you are, it's how good your day is." - Benjamin

I hope you all cherish this one life, enjoy your good ears, and have a day that is everything you wish for!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

eight things

My esteemed blogfriend, John Cowart, asked me to do a meme. I was to tell 8 things about myself.

Here they are:

1) I have an unreasonable dread of vomiting. I would rather endure labour again than have to upchuck. Seriously.

2) I secretly enjoyed the challenge of going through labour, and felt like I'd run a marathon (and come first!) when my daughter was born

3) when I was six, I had a friend called Erin who used to kick me in the shins whenever I annoyed her. I thought this was fair enough and did not retaliate. My parents couldn't understand why my legs were purple with bruises.

4) I also had a friend called Alanadeen who I bossed around terribly. I used to order her to stand in a corner when she annoyed me (though I refrained from kicking her in the shins)

5) my Grade 8 English teacher told my mother I had no friends and was a social misfit.

6) although I have friends, and never believed that teacher, I do sometimes doubt my own 'likeability', and am never quite sure if my friends adore me or endure me

7) I know I should yearn for world peace, but inwardly I'm always dreaming of having taut thighs.

8) I have to concede that my life is rich and full and wondrous - wobbly thighs and all!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

marriage and other animals

Tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of the day Fatty took a wild gamble and married yours truly. Ours is not exactly a lengthy marriage, yet, but we're nonetheless proud to still be together, and proud to still be on speaking terms (he he!). So, to celebrate, we dumped our kids with my mother last weekend (thanks again Mum!!), and headed off to a little B&B in a rainforest area not far from Mum's farm.

All the local animals seemed to know it was a special weekend, and came out to greet us. On the way there, Fatty spotted a koala in a tree just beside the road. Then, the first night at the B&B, I decided to ring our kidlets (who, may I just mention, were so not missing their parents that Ben, after about 1 minute of phone conversation, told us blithely, "You can hang up the phone now."). I stepped out onto the dimly-lit balcony only to find this snake lying in wait for me on the railing. Eeek!

The next day, we went walking in the rainforest, which was deserted - probably because it was overcast and raining, ever so lightly. Fatty and I joked and walked and saw all kinds of wildlife. If you look closely at this next picture, you can see the Wobbly-Headed Jellymonster. She is rarely seen out in the open like this, and the photo is a little blurry (funny that), but you can probably still tell that she is grinning and having a really good time.

This wild turkey was perched on a vine above the path, and fixed us with a beady eye, seeming completely unfazed by our presence. I found him rather creepy, actually, and ducked quickly past!

The canopy was so beautiful, I had to show you a photo.

This cute furry girl is a female pademelon - a hopping marsupial animal rather like a small kangaroo, except furrier and with a shorter and differently proportioned face. After we saw this female, we saw another one with a baby (everyone say awwww!) hopping its itty bitty baby hops along behind its mother.

Finally, we arrived back at Mum's farm, where we were able to watch this bettong (another native hopping creature - smaller again than a pademelon) drink its milk, and we even got to hold and pat the little guy. 'Boomer' was given to Mum via a wildlife rescue centre, where Boomer was rehabilitated, and soon Mum will begin the process of releasing him back into the wild. Mum has wild bettongs who visit her each night under the jacaranda tree, where Mum leaves special seeds out for them.

That was my weekend ....... furry friends and fun with fabulous Fatty.
What more could a Wobbly-Headed Jellymonster wish for?

Friday, May 11, 2007

rain and the joy of Tony

This is a sight for sore eyes - our street, wet with rain. This is such a rare and wonderful scene, I had to take a photo. Even though we had only a couple of millimetres of rain, it was lovely to see our neighbourhood all washed fresh, and to smell the clear morning air.

Where I live, as in most parts of Australia, we are stricken by the worst drought in a thousand years. It has been dry for days and days on end. Very occasionally, clouds gather, and it rains lightly for a few minutes. Mostly, it simply doesn't rain at all.

In my city, there are such severe water restrictions that we are forbidden to wash our cars (apart from the windscreens and mirrors); we can water plants only by bucket, and only 3 days a week, during set times. We desperately need rain to fill the water reservoirs, which are dangerously low. I heard a meteorologist talking about some upcoming predicted rain which may ease the drought, and he said, "The thing is - we need rain that measures in metres, not millimetres".

Fatty grumbles these days when it rains, because it never rains for long enough or hard enough. I know this to be true, but I'm still happy it's raining at all. Every little bit helps.

And then, there is Tony, who cheers us no end. 'Tony' is a tawny frogmouth - an owl-like bird (though not actually a member of the owl family) who has come to stay in a tree in our yard. We have seen tawny frogmouths off & on over the years since we have lived here, but this fella (gal?) has been spending his days snoozing just outside our dining room window for over a week now.

One day, my son Ben checked for Tony, and he wasn't there. We all sighed, "Oh, no", and wondered if he'd ever return. The next day, Tony was back, and we were thrilled to see his funny pointy fuzzy little face.

There is something inspiring about a creature that chooses to slumber in a tree overlooking noisy children and a barking dog, underneath roaring planes, beside a street where garbage trucks rumble loudly and hoons whizz by in their souped-up cars. Tony is a resilient dude. We like him a lot.

I hope you are all having a happy week. May you be filled with gladness for the funny creatures and the rain (or the sun) in your life!

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Can you hear that crunching, munching, gulping sound?

It's me.

Eating humble pie.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

wanna bet?

While other hip young couples make bets involving juicy prizes such as naked internet photos, Fatty and I bet for prizes such as a week's worth of him cooking (in the event that I win) or a week's worth of me loading the dishwasher and washing up pots (if he wins). Personally I am happy in the knowledge that even if I lose, I will only suffer for about ten minutes each evening. If Fatty loses, he will labour for at least an hour to complete his chosen task. (*wicked, cackling laughter*)

I can't say we make bets often. It's not something we do to pass the time or anything. It's more that occasionally we are each so convinced that the other is terribly, horribly mistaken. We look at each other incredulously. We roll our eyes in synchrony. We splutter, "No WAY!". We each say, "I'm sure ......."

What usually clinches it for me is when Fatty laughs at me. He becomes so utterly certain of his Total Rightness that he laughs like a tolerant parent. And that is when I offer to bet. Because I need him to pay for that patronising laugh, and I need him to pay up bigtime. He, of course, is only too willing to participate, because he knows he is right and has nothing to lose.

Last night, we had a bet. It was a very nerdy bet, but it had to be made.

Fatty and I were watching a DVD together, and I was eating a lot of chocolate - single piece by single piece so as to kid myself I wasn't eating much at all. The back door was open, and through it came the faint sound of tortured musical notes. "What is that?", I asked no-one in particular, and wandered out onto the back deck. I listened intently, as again the strangled notes of a badly-played violin came wafting our way.

"It's a kid, playing violin", I muttered, as I resumed my place on our lumpy old couch. Fatty looked at me, alarmed.

"A violin? Noooooo. No, it's some sort of woodwind instument. It's an oboe or something."

"An oboe? Are you kidding? I can hear the bowing! Go listen out back."

(Fatty stomps to the back deck purposefully, stand for a few seconds, and strides back to the couch decisively)

"It's an oboe. Can't you hear all the notes are precise? Can't you hear there are no 'bum' notes?"

*Now may be the time to mention here that Fatty is a talented pianist who plays beautifully. However, I played violin as a child and teen, and consider myself to be fairly musical, too. I may be totally crap as a violinist now, but I still consider myself able to recognise the sound of the damn instrument!*

Just as Fatty declared our child neighbour to have perfect pitch, a series of flat, howling notes issued forth from the house over the back.

"What do you mean there are no bum notes? Listen to that! They're playing flat! It's just one flat note after another!"

Fatty shook his head emphatically. "No, no. That's just from over-blowing. They're missing the notes by over-blowing." (Hello? Since when did you become a woodwind expert, Mr Pianist?!)

And then Fatty said something that sounded the death knell for any sort of sensible, non-betting behaviour. He said (and I quote directly): "Come back to the couch. And I don't want you to talk about it again".

My eyes bugged out. I grinned maniacally.

"Are you serious?", I spluttered, laughing at his daring, but outraged nonetheless. Fatty is usually a gentle man, but the dispute had brought out his alter ego, Fatty-the-Dictator (oh, and Mr Pianist, who I introduced to you earlier). " You can't tell me what to do like that!!"

Fatty smiled serenely from the couch, the dictator turned benign. I'm sure he just likes to test me now and then, to see if I'm still the feisty woman he married. To make sure I haven't turned into some sort of obedient banana-loaf-maker.

"Let's bet. Wanna bet?", I offered. I extended my hand.

"Sure!" Fatty agreed, eager to complete the topic neatly with a well-defined bet. "It's definitely an oboe. But how are you going to find out the truth?"

"I'll go over tomorrow and ask."

"You won't. I bet you won't!"

Who will win and who will lose? I truthfully don't know. I'm nervous, now, and less confident than I was last night - especially in the face of Fatty's complete certainty! But as my mother's partner likes to say......

All will be revealed in the fullness of time.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

speak no evil

I have found myself with not much to say lately. Astonishing, really. My report cards were always peppered with comments such as, "Jellyhead needs to remember not to talk during class". Not that the teachers actually called me Jellyhead - which, come to think of it, might have been nice. A sort of fond nickname. But I digress.

One of my closest friends suffers with depression. She takes medication for it, and has been stable for a few years now. I haven't spent much time with her lately - our busy lives intervene - but we spoke openly yesterday, and she admitted she has been backsliding. She is sleeping poorly again, feeling sad all the time, feeling hopeless about life.

Another close friend sent me an e-mail recently. She finds herself lying in bed at night with racing heart, she is jumpy, and irritable, and wound up like a coil. Her anxiety disorder has rebounded back on her, when she'd thought she had it beat.

I am worried about both these friends. And when I am worried, I am incapable of happy, upbeat posts. In fact, I am incapable of posting about anything, really, except what's on mind. Hence I've been keeping quiet.

To tell the truth, it's not just my friends I'm concerned about. It's my friendships as well.

I talk to both these friends by phone at least weekly. I went out with one of these friends for a whole day about two weeks ago. Yet I did not know either of them was struggling - not in any major way. I don't know if I have been unobservant, or unapproachable, or both.

I don't know how it can be that life gets so busy that I have hardly any time to be with my friends, or even to just talk at length with my friends. I want to lead a balanced life, and I try to do so, but sometimes I feel that I'd be better just being a mother only, a doctor only, a wife only, or a friend only. I am slicing this pie into so many pieces that the pastry is crumbling and no-one ever gets enough.

That's where my head's at today.

Seems I managed to live up to my reputation of talking a lot, after all.