Archive for January, 2005

so very much better

Claire sang all morning. She sang about her family: “Mummy! Daddy! Bebe! Teletubbies!” She sang about breakfast: “Yummy food! Yummy food!”

I’ve been at work for two hours and I just got a text message from Jeremy: “C still singing bye-bye.”

I feel like singing.


Saturday was wonderful – Rowan’s birthday, music class, roast lamb and pavlova for a late Invasion Day celebration with Ian and Kat. At 3am on Sunday, though, Claire woke up screaming. She screamed on and off for the next, oh, let’s see, nine hours or so. She thrashed in pain, she farted, she groaned, she wept. It’s indicative of how spoilt we are as parents that this is completely unprecedented.

We suspect she picked up the gastric bug Cian had, especially when her temperature soared later in the afternoon. Scary part was that she lost her sense of humour. “Quit yer bellyachin’,” I said, and her father blew raspberries on various limbs, but she didn’t even crack a smile(1). The only time she was not in severe discomfort was when she was in the bath.

She didn’t talk to us all morning. It was awful.

She and her sense of humour came back to us in the evening, when we walked down to Muddy Waters while Jeremy’s shepherd’s pie(2) was baking. At the cafe she sang loud recuperative songs while sorting real estate flyers. When we got home she ate pie, two oranges and a piece of toast, drank apple juice, milk and water and played frenetically with her train set (or as she calls it, TRAIN, WOO WOO). Jeremy has just taken her off to bed. She’ll be fine.

Sickest she’s ever been, though. Be still my beating and so forth.

1. Maybe the joke was terrible, but the raspberries were unimpeachable.

2. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want …for PIE.

progress report

Well, Cappadocia is about half done, and Wild Horses is pencilled in for Sunday morning, weather permitting. Still no progress on Dead Cinemas, Jeoffrey or the damn novel. In other news, I still haven’t finished Gladstone, Intellectual Life, Night Horses, Snow or What’s Going On In There, but I did read Anne Tyler’s Back When We Were Grownups (loved it; Alice Munro meets Helen Garner) and Our Movie Year (HAARVEY!!!)

Right now I am now halfway through both Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga (on my second try) and Peggy Vincent’s Baby Catcher (awesome! Must read! Joins Atul Gawande’s Complications, Thomas Lynch’s The Undertaking and Sherwin Nuland’s How We Die on my list of Very Cool Books About Life And Death And Stuff.)

Sigh. I have the attention span of a gnat.


As Mia says:

“I think we should scrap Australia Day, and declare Mabo Day, a day when we can celebrate the courage and determination of individuals, and reflect on the healing and reconciliation process.”

So Phil and I went to the Sydney Jewish Museum twelve years ago, not long after it opened. That’s just the kind of wacky funsters we were.

“Wouldja look at that,” I said, pointing to a portrait in the lobby. “That’s Esther Abrams.”

“Who’s she when she’s at home?”

“Convict on the First Fleet. Transported for stealing a yard of black lace. Before they even got to Sydney she’d seduced one of the officers, George Johnston. Eventually married him, after they had eleven kids. He was the one that dragged Bligh out from under the bed in the Rum Rebellion. He was acting governor for a little while, so the colony had a Jewish thief as its first lady…”

“How’d you know all this?”

“She’s my… lessee… Esther, Blanche, Isabella, Isabella, Brenda, Robin, Rachel… she’s my great-great-great-great grandmother.”


Later we were looking at a wispy woollen blanket, woven in purple and white squares.

“This was taken from the liberation of Auschwitz on the 27th of January, 1945,” said an older woman to Phil.

He turned to her with his “Teach your grandmother to suck eggs, I have an Honours degree in modern history” expression.

“It was the blanket they wrapped around me,” said the woman gently.

We sat down and talked to her for an hour. Her name was Olga. She’d been a child in the camps. Except for one sister, she’d lost her entire family.

“How can you do this?” asked Phil. “How can you relive all of this for strangers?”

“In another generation, all the Holocaust survivors will be gone,” said Olga. “There will only be people like you, who have spoken to us. You will be the ones who will have to remember.”


J: I dreamed I squeezed a pimple on your back, and a diamond came out.

R: Bwah! That would be the Claire.

J: You think?

craigslist ad

R: I can’t believe Zoe’s really leaving!

Aaron: Yeah, it’s scary. We have to find a new roommate now and she’s a hard act to follow.

R: “You must be a genius cellist, and way cute.”

A: “Funny, whimsical and happy to do the dishes.”

goodbye monty, or, is ross goth?

Thirteen or fifteen years ago, no one can remember exactly when, a six-week-old black and white kitten was dumped at the Warringah Shire Council offices in Dee Why. My sister worked there at the time and is a sucker for cats. She brought him home to Bluegum, where he promptly adopted my mother.

Mum named him Monty. He rapidly ballooned to implausible size. Imagine a mink-lined medicine ball with a long skinny tail and four spindly legs. His eyes were huge and manic. He had white whiskers and a long snout. In retrospect, he may have been part badger.

When Mum and Dad ran away to join the gypsies, serially-monogamous Monty transferred his affections to my brother Alain. He and Alain eventually moved out of Bluegum to another house in Frenchs Forest, where their roommates smoked and drank way too much. One of these delightful chaps, in a drunken rage, threatened to kill Monty, so Alain packed the cat and some clothes in his car and drove to Tenterfield to meet up with Mum and Dad. Monty escaped that night and was missing for hours. We thought we’d lost him then, but at last he came to Al’s call.

They moved in with Sarah and Max and the kids in Brisbane. Al got a job and found an apartment of his own, but pets weren’t allowed, so our hero spent his last years lolling in the sun at Patricks Road. Last week my mother noticed he had a respiratory infection and took him to the vet. X-rays revealed an obstruction in his larynx. A biopsy revealed inoperable squamous cell carcinoma. Mum and Al decided to put him to sleep before he suffered.

Nothing in my family happens without large helpings of farce, so when Max dug a grave for Monty, near but hopefully not too near where Sade is buried, he uncovered the well-preserved skeleton of a cat. It probably wasn’t Sade. Even so, this was too much for Kelly, who fled in tears.

Meanwhile Ross, nephew of my heart, inspected the fossil feline and said: “Can I keep it?”

I must get him the Lemony Snicket books.

not so much a new year’s resolution

…as an observation that it’s about time I finished various projects, to wit:

Wild Horses of the Japanese Tea Gardens
Dead Cinemas of the Mission District
For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffrey

…oh, yeah, and the novel.

hunters and collectors

Quinn: So how can you SWIM in the SEA in Australia when EVERYTHING IS POISONOUS!?!

R: Oh, but it’s absolutely gorgeous, I miss it a lot. The water is really warm and clear and the sand is golden. I wasn’t even much of a beach baby – I totally took it for granted that we lived near this mile-long beach with dunes and a lagoon and bombora, and didn’t realize until years later that Dee Why is something amazing… and it’s just one of Sydney’s beaches, and there are dozens of them… Ocean Beach is just awful by comparison.

Q: True. I did love the beaches I grew up around in Southern California. I loved the tidal pools and the wildlife.

R: Yeah, I had these huge shell collections, and I loved touching the sea anemones. The littoral zone is so rich there they say the Eora and Guringai people only had to spend a couple of hours a day collecting food, and they got to spend the rest of their time having sex and telling stories.

Danny: Huh. Just like being a freelance journalist.

(A quick Google reveals that Dee Why is also the origin of both Surf Life Saving clubs and the scientific study of rips. Who knew?)

21st century noir

R: Do you like the name Jane?

J: It’s plain.

R: I like Jane.

J: It’s probably one of those names that’s so common no one uses it any more. Like John. I wonder what they’re going to do about John and Jane Doe? It’ll have to be, you know, Joshua and Mackenzie Doe.

R (talking into imaginary walkie talkie): Chief, we got us an Emily Doe washed up on the shore of the lake…