Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Off the top of my head

I went to the hairdresser yesterday. Actually, you all went to the hairdresser with me, because I talked to all of you (in my head, silently) the entire time.

However, before I share the full salon experience with you, I would like to remind everyone that the "comment poem" in the right margin of this page is always available to any visiting blogger. Simply tell me (in the comment box of my latest post) what you feel like when you receive a comment on one of YOUR posts. I will copy your phrase into the poem, and then link it back to your blog.

I called it a "comment poem" just then, but I did not coin that phrase. No, that honour must go to the wondrous Anna, who has now also added her little phrase to the top of the poem. Go ahead, have a look. When I read Anna's simile I was moved to tears, because she really summed it up so perfectly.

As a sign of my appreciation, I am going to indulge in a few seconds of show-and-tell. Here are my comfortable shoes that are exactly the same shade of blue as Anna's (I believe). I have posed my feet on an Ikea rug, because that (unfortunately) is the closest I have ever gotten to Sweden.

I am off to the shops later today to purchase a pair of polka-dotted socks.

I, too, like old tins. There is a second-hand shop just up the road from me, and I like to pop in every so often on the chance that I may find a gem. I found this a few years ago, and I still love it. I thought Anna might enjoy seeing it as it's decorated with Australian flowers. The huge, bright red flower is a waratah (which happens to be the floral emblem of the Australian state in which I live), while the embossed flower on the tin's lid is a flannel flower.

Oh dear. I have now completely lost track of my salon story. Let me get a cup of tea and press the refresh button.


No. I am afraid not. I cannot concentrate any more on the description of my haircut because I must immediately take a picture of myself, my haircut, and my Yoshi Jones skirt which I just KNOW Anna will love, what with her combined love of colour and Japanese design at the present moment. Sorry.
Oops, I almost forgot - people, start packing your bags, because we're leaving for Cairns on Friday. You'll get to meet my thirteen-year-old son and follow his adventures as he competes in the Far North Queensland tennis tournament. And don't forget your cozzie (Australian for swimming costume/suit) because we may even have a little snorkel.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


This is the most beautiful sight in the world. It is my front door, after I have closed it, after seeing my children off to school, after a two-week term break.

I adore my children, but every person needs some space.

Oddly enough, the first thing I felt like doing (after running around the house naked singing "celebrate good times c'mon") was sending off these snippets of my library.

This is the sign which my Grandpa engraved and had in his library. When he sent me the library he also included the sign, which I have placed above the doorway. " THE ONLY REAL PROPERTY IS THE PROPERTY OF THE MIND.

When I was about eight years old I was living in Israel, as were my Grandparents, and I used to go over to their apartment for sleepovers every so often. They would set up a little fold-out bed in the library for me, and my pillow was at the same level as this book:

It was especially noticeable because it was bright orange, and it had some illustrations which featured bare-breasted women. My Grandma noticed this once and I vaguely remember her chastising Grandpa, in a playful way, discussing what was "appropriate". My Grandma took life very seriously, but Grandpa never moved Casanova. My Grandparents were well-matched and had a very strong marriage.

Many, perhaps most, of my Grandpa's books are part of "The Limited Editions Club" which has been in existence since October 1929. I like the way they described themselves in 1962: "Your favourite books, the classics of the world's literature, illustrated by the foremost artists and made into volumes of beauty by the foremost designers of fine books."

Casanova is "bound in a cream-toned buckram, printed in crimson with an allover design - a flower-and-leaf pattern - within vertical rococo borders; it resembles the brocades one might find on the walls of a Venetian palazzo." Sigh.

Sixteen water-colours and sixteen line drawings were commissioned and executed by Ben Sussan. I love them.

I was going to leave it at that for today, but Suse reminded me (inadvertently) that I have these gems in my library, and it seemed incredibly selfish not to share them:

Each volume of this four-volume edition is described as "being bound in strong linen on which has been printed in leaf-green ink an all-over pattern selected...for its beauty and appropriateness; and each of the four volumes bears an identifying label stamped in gold leaf." You see, each book is accompanied by a "Letter" which describes it with great beauty and love.

Andor Braun, the designer of these volumes, chose "a fine brave size of Janson type (12-point, to be exact, and well leaded). Janson is modeled on a late seventeenth-century Dutch typeface for which the original matrices still exist in Germany." DO YOU NOT ADORE THAT? I DO!!!

The volumes "contain 48 brilliant full-page water-color paintings by Lucille Corcos".

Below is a detail from one of them. I think it is simply divine.

Regarding the authenticity of the text, something Suse (I imagine) may be wondering, well... the "Letter" describes the credentials of Louis and Bryna Untermeyer at GREAT length as "the editorial preparation..was entrusted with the fullest confidence" to them. They, apparently, drew largely upon the translations made by Margaret Hunt, Lucy Crane, Edgar Taylor, and Marian Edwardes. Ok, everyone, I know, I know, have patience, Suse may be interested, and she is writing a paper on this, it's important.

I really should sign out right here, because I have a REAL LIFE which is terribly neglected at present. But I cannot. Because look what is glittering at me from a shelf:

When you open this book, a little square note falls out. It says:



Sensitive to the touch

The "Letter" then explains:

"Chris Austopchuk's ingenious plan for the cover required heavy aluminum foil to simulate a book so durable that it would be able to resist a heat of 451 degrees - the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns."

I read this book many years ago, probably for school, I can't remember. In any case, I read it again around the same time I started blogging. Ray Bradbury's descriptions of thin screens, ear-pieces and virtual "families" are so pertinent to my life at the moment. I am sometimes tempted to run away from all civilization, but would they have internet access?

Monday, April 28, 2008

My mother-in-law

For my last birthday, my mother-in-law gave me a pair of support underpants. Size - extra large.

No, I am not kidding.

No, I do not need them. And yes, I am still talking to her. She really isn't mean, she's just extraordinarily silly. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. For the sake of matrimonial harmony.

In any case. It is thanks to my mother-in-law that I bring you this post of beauty, because I have now started making a list of shops (which I may, or may not, present to her at some point) where she can buy me a present and NEVER GO WRONG. So...without further ado here are my top three guaranteed fool-proof birthday-present-buying sites:

Dinosaur Designs


All Hand Made

I hope you enjoy the virtual shopping paradise. Must rush off now. Sun is FINALLY shining...just as the kids go back to school. Of course.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Shelo ne-dah

My good friend Ms P joined me for lunch yesterday and told me a little secret, and you know by now that I cannot be trusted.

She told me that the book she has been working on for quite some time will be launched on Mother's Day. Ms P has been working for CanTeen on a book which aims to help young people cope with the realities of having a parent who is sick with cancer. The book is also published as a website.

The title of this post is a Hebrew phrase which we use in my family from time to time. Literally translated it means "that we shouldn't know". We use it when we talk about the hardships of life - illness and death being most prominent. At this point, I would use the phrase in this way : "Here is a very special resource which would be immensely helpful if you know a young person whose parent has cancer, shelo ne-dah." I guess it's like a little prayer that it would be nice if no-one knew such hardship.

My friend Ms P has an extraordinary gift for taking the hardships of life and spinning them into gold. I held her little book in my hands as if it was a newborn baby. She ensured that I kept it swaddled and supported its head while I cooed and gushed.

Then we had another glass of red and drank to life.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Snow White ( in German, Schneewittchen) is the title character of a well known fairy tale known from many places in Europe. The most popular version is the one collected by the Brothers Grimm. The German version features elements such as the mirror and the seven dwarfs. I checked Wikipedia for this, just to make sure I got my facts straight.

Now. It has come to my attention that a certain eurolush looks REMARKABLY LIKE SNOW WHITE. You can see eurolush here. Yes, April 25th...Le Grocery Shopping...scroll down a she is, Snow White kissing one of her dwarfs. RE.MAR.KA.BLE. I know.

Just in case any of you are still in any doubt whatsoever about the resemblance, here is another picture which should bring you around:
And here is Snow White admiring the beautiful produce she bought at Cora:

But wait!!! Who is that ugly, evil woman pictured in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture?'s ELEANOR, IT IS ELEANOR WHO IS COVETING EUROLUSH'S LIFE.

Eleanor is not experiencing simple envy, no she is not, she is COVETING, and this is EVIL because we all know that to envy someone's possessions is acceptable but to covet it borders on evil.

And here is further proof of Eleanor's EVIL ways, she has now MUTATED (sweet god!!!) into the village witch and is OPENLY coveting eurolush's life, while eurolush OBLIVIOUSLY and QUITE INNOCENTLY (dammit) continues to both admire the produce from Cora and FLAUNT IT IN FRONT OF ELEANOR'S VERY EYES :

It is a shocking situation, and it's getting uglier by the minute here. Could this be the end of Eleanor's previously healthy and happy relationship with eurolush?


You see, eurolush's blog is so incredibly addictive, and so hysterically funny, that Eleanor is not going to give up. Eleanor will continue to WORK ON HER PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS and will thus be able to continue her relationship with eurolush.

Eleanor is JUST THAT LOYAL to her blogging friends.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Suse and I wet our pants watching this video

Suse was kind enough to comment on my previous post and to ask me to keep her little secret.

But she should really know better than to trust strangers over the internet.

Here is the video which made me pish my pants, JUST LIKE SUSE:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

All the world's a stage

This is a portrait of Deborah Mailman who is now, officially, my new favourite Australian actress. I have loved her for quite a while, but last night I saw her in the Belvoir Street Theatre production of Antigone and I am simply overcome with devotion. Ms. Mailman played the role of Antigone, no, I lie, she WAS Antigone. She WAS Antigone for every single second of the hour and a half production. Her presence and strength of emotion were so strong that I found myself looking at her even when Creon or Chorus or someone else was doing their bit on stage.

I chose to paste in this portrait of her (rather than a promotional photo) because I think it captures some of the depth of her art. The artist who painted the portrait is Evert Ploeg, and he won the People's Choice Award for the most popular portrait in the 1999 Archibald Prize competition. It was later purchased by the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Ms. Mailman is now centre stage in my life, but that has not always been the case. Until last night I only had eyes for the divine Claudia Karvan, who is quietly contemplating you in the portrait below:

Having admired Ms. Karvan for many years, my admiration reached its infatuation point when she created and starred in the series "Love My Way". I was slow to discover this series, as we do not have cable tv (gasp!). So I rented the series a year or so after it aired and began gushing about it to everybody, who thought I was insane because, well, it was already well into its second season. Whatever.

This portrait was painted by Martine Emdur, and has a special place in my heart for many reasons, but primarily because we can see Ms. Karvan's partner and little daughter Audrey in the background. The portrait was chosen as a finalist for the 2003 Archibald, and I remember visiting the gallery and seeing it for the first time. I loved it immediately.

Ms. Karvan, however, was not the first Australian actress to be spotlighted on my stage of joy. No. That, I must admit, was the freckled firecracker who is subtly flirting with you in the portrait below - the glorious Susie Porter.

Susie (we are so close, it's first-name basis) and I first met during a screening of "Feeling Sexy". Yes, indeed. And if any of you are bored with the links and don't feel inclined to check out the "Feeling Sexy" link...well, all I can say is, it's worth it...scroll down to see the tattooed bottom...and no, it's NOT Susie's bottom. It's male.
The photograph above is the art of Australian photographer Peter Brew-Bevan. Thank you Mr. Brew-Bevan for understanding what Susie is all about, and capturing it for us.
Sadly, that is all for today. It is Thursday morning. Work calls me, children call me, dog calls me, laundry calls me. Ms E, oh Ms E, last call Ms E. Make-up, wardrobe and off I go into the glare of the bright lights.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My daughter, me, and India.Arie

A couple of years ago, at least, could be more (told you, I'm terrible with dates), I discovered the glorious singer India.Arie. Since then, India has been walking beside me, through my sad times, through my happy times. She's just that kind of a gal.

One day, I introduced India to my daughter, and then I got a bit jealous, because they seemed to like hanging with each other more than with little ol' me. But that's the risk you take with introducing friends. I could deal with it.

About a year later, I was browsing through the paper and was struck dumb by an article which declared that India.Arie was coming to Sydney. She was scheduled to perform live - LIVE !!! - at a theatre not more than a 20 minute drive from my house. I bought tickets on the spot and left the newspaper clipping on my daughter's bed with a note which said "guess where we're going Saturday night?" Oh my. There were shrieks of delight, much hopping around, and then a frantic dash to the stereo to put on some India.Arie and groove in front of the mirror. And that was just me.

That Saturday night we arrived at the theatre very, very early because, you see, we had purchased tickets which allowed us to stand RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE STAGE, and we wanted to be in THE VERY FIRST ROW OF PEOPLE in the front of the stage. Our plan succeeded, we were in fact so close to the stage we were touching it. It was quite clever of us to have brought snacks and drinks with us, because we had a good hour to kill, standing there, touching the stage.

At this point, I would like to show you a picture of what my daughter and I looked like touching India.Arie's stage, but I can't, because we decided not to take any photographs. We wanted to enjoy the moment, and not obsess about taking photos every minute (I forgot the camera).

I can honestly say that the concert which followed was one of the happiest couple of hours of my life. It was that good. What added to my enjoyment was that from our vantage point we could see the people standing in the wings backstage, and one of these was India's mother. At a certain point during her performance, India's skirt moved a bit down. It was only an extra centimetre, but I could immediately see India's mother was NOT HAPPY with the extra skin on show. Then, dear reader, she actually signalled India to come to her in the wings. And India actually laughed and said to the audience "hey guys, I want you to meet my mom, come on out mom. My mom thinks my skirt is too low so she's gonna fix it for me while I play my guitar a bit for you." And that's what they did.

I simply adore India.Arie's mum, and if you want to see what she looks like you can watch the fabulous video of "I Am Not My Hair". She dances from 1.13 to 1.15, brief but spectacular.

So now I'm sitting here on my sofa, no I'm NOT still in my pyjamas, I've got my grotty dog-walking clothes on. So, yes, where was I...I'm sitting here on my sofa and thinking that I would like to show you a video of India.Arie singing live. However, my daughter just walked in and was TERRIBLY SHOCKED at the quality of the video I have chosen. So she is making me insert the lyrics as well (with apologies to badger, whose Song Lyric Saturdays are legend).

This song is called "There's Hope", and it's cheering me up on this rainy Wednesday morning:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Let's play a game

I was all ready to post a few choice details about the Seder we enjoyed at my parents' home last night. But then I woke up this morning with an idea for a game, so the Seder will have to wait.

I woke up thinking about how much fun it is to check my latest post for comments, and how I feel at that very moment when I see the number of comments, and then how I feel when I click on the number and I read the comments. It's a very specific feeling, but how to describe it? Tricky!

So I imagined that it must be somewhat similar to how my daughter must have felt when she left her tooth under her pillow for the tooth fairy, and then woke up to find the tooth gone and a note in its place.

So I went and asked her if she remembered how she had felt at the time, and she said that she had never reeeeaaally believed in the tooth fairy, but that she had a lot of fun waiting to see what the tooth fairy would write next. Then she proceeded to go to her room, rummage around for a while, and return to me with a cute little plastic folder which contained every single one of the tooth fairy notes. Oh my. There was Dentina's cute little hand-writing, describing her life with her brother Denton, her parents (Brace and Fluorida) and, of course, her best friend Minty.

My hunch was clearly correct. The way one feels when reading comments on one's blog is very, very similar to the way a child feels when reading notes from the tooth fairy.

Now, I couldn't just leave it at that. No I could not. I immediately had to frantically search through my matzah-muddled brain for more comparisons. More, more, more. Following are the best of the many I came up with.

Reading comments which have been left on my blog is like:
  • Looking out the back door in the morning and seeing that the food you left out for the possums is gone.
  • Waking up very early on Christmas day and seeing that the glass of milk is half empty, the cookie has disappeared and the carrot has been nibbled. I imagine.
  • Pulling up to the the toll-booth on the Harbour Bridge and being told that the car in front of you (driven by a TOTAL stranger) paid your toll.
  • Feeling very strong nibbles on the end of your fishing rod.
  • Giving your new neighbour a plant, which he then plants beside the fence, which then grows and grows until it peeps at you over the fence and blossoms, profusely.

So here are the rules of the game.

If any of you out there have any more similes to add to the list above, please let me know. I SWEAR that I will not steal your ideas. I will, however, add them to this list I have started, ensuring that each is quoted verbatim with exact note taken of the original author. It may become a permanent fixture on my blog, but don't hold me to it.

Ready, steady...GO!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Scared shitless

So this morning I am just putting the finishing touches on my kitchen preparations for Passover, which starts tonight. No I'm NOT following my Grandmother's EXTREME adherence to Rabbinical law, but I'm doing my little thing in my little kitchen, my little way.

Or so I thought.

I leave the kitchen for an instant, only to hear an explosive cacophony of shrieking, barking, galloping, yelling and general hysterical activity coming from that end of the house.

In the five seconds it takes for me to race back like a complete lunatic, all goes silent again.

Apparently, a bird had entered my PRISTINE kitchen. Blue (my dog) had attempted to catch said bird and eat it alive. My son had panicked, running back and forth in fright. My daughter had immediately raced to her room to hide. The bird escaped and flew out of the back door again.

I had to clean up bird shit from:
the flyscreen
the floor
the windowsill
the drying rack
the stove

and I had to throw out my breakfast.

Happy Passover.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Departing the Queen

I have just had a very long telephone conversation with my Grandpa. I really don't have time to be sitting here writing this....guests for dinner, not ready, panic. But I am driven to quickly get this down before I forget, and I also think that you (whoever you are) will appreciate this little tit-bit from my day.

My Grandfather (in his 90s) returned home (his home these days is Manhattan) last Saturday from a 3-month cruise around the world. I kid you not. He was accompanied by his baby sister (my great-aunt) who is also 90-something. Grandpa told everyone on the cruise that she was his "lady friend". Sometimes he used the word "escort". My great-aunt played along with the joke, she's hysterical that way too.

We saw them for two days in February when the QE2 (their ship) stopped in Sydney. They drove us completely crazy. My great-aunt only wanted to find a "yarn shop" because she is a knitter (hi Suse, hi any anonymous yous who are crafty) and was desperate for more raw material. We left my Grandpa alone for ONE SECOND while searching for the right shade of blue and we lost him, for quite a while. It ended well. But I digress.

So my Grandpa, on the phone today, told me that he is happy to be home and feeling well. He says, and I quote: "Oh, El, that was some ship of fools, and make no mistake, I was one of them. I keep looking for, and getting into, trouble." Then he told me how he is busy tidying his desk as he speaks to me, and he just came across a note he had written during a stopover in Vietnam: "Pearls around her neck and dirty toes sticking out of torn shoes." "You could write a damn fine story from that line now couldn't you?" I agreed. Enthusiastically.

I then asked him if I could safely assume that all 1800 passengers on the QE2 now know his favourite poem off by heart. You see, Grandpa is OBSESSED with teaching a poem to EVERYONE HE MEETS. He laughed and said "no, not just them, also the crew." So now there is nothing else for me to do but to enclose herewith my Grandpa's favourite poem, for your enjoyment. It is by Robert Frost:

"A Dust Of Snow"

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Now, at this point, Grandpa likes to complicate things by saying: "So, you ever heard of Socrates? You know about Socrates? You know about him and that hemlock? Do you? What do they teach you in that damn school anyway?" But that's another story.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Coffee with Colours the Clown

I visited Colours this morning in the urban trendiness that is her current stomping ground. We had a coffee, as one does, at the cafe around the corner, and we waited for Ms. Blanchett, but she was a no-show. We wore our new fingerless gloves ("armies") which had been recently purchased from Etsy (etsyetsyetsy). No prizes for guessing which is Colours' pair. Our arms not only looked lovely, but they were also being kept nice and warm, just in case Suse showed up and challenged us to an arm-wrestle. She didn't.

Then we walked back to the circus tent and Colours shared this gem of a song with me, it's called "Teenage Song":

We had a lovely morning.

Ladies, introducing....Mr. Jeremy Sims!

It was bothering me all night, but I finally tracked him down. The actor in the woven cowboy hat with a tear. I knew he was special. I am blessed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stream of consciousness

I am writing this as I sit on a wooden pier outside the Sydney Dance Company. Seven in the evening, and my daughter has been delivered to a beginners’ hip-hop class. I managed to weave my way through some unexpected traffic, unexpected because I don’t usually drive through the city at this time. I had to do a quick stop and drop, and then parked. Got a call as I was feeding coins in the meter to say hip-hop was already full, and all that was left was.....sob.....stretch. I talked her into stretch, and haven’t heard from her since. So I guess I’m here until 8.30.
But don’t feel bad for me, because it is FINE here. Pretty darn fine. I got a large coffee from a very friendly barista, and got the last available table of three that are placed outside the main entrance. There are two extraordinarily cute young men sitting in the table to my right. Well, one is sitting, the other, the other in the pink plaid hoodie and baggie trackpants is dancing, and they just put on some music, I think the music is coming from one of their ipods, and it’s just on very loud volume. He certainly is a dancer. I wish I knew what this style is called, I guess a type of hip-hop, but quite floppy-limbed. Now he has gone a bit further away and is facing the closed, curtained glass doors of the atyp, which is on the other side of this part of the pier. That’s “Australian theatre for young people.” I can see the elastic of his underpants, but can’t read the writing of the brand, damn. He doesn’t seem to notice me at all. I am, after all, a middle-aged mother. Sigh.
Ohmygod, a famous Aussie actor just walked RIGHT past me. Why can I not remember his name? He’s not famous enough for non-aussies to know him, but I have seen him on stage and he is FABULOUS. I think he is part of the Bell Shakespeare Company. He was wearing a woven cowboy hat, with a tear in it. He has a true actor’s face, all lines and angles and something a little fierce, and intriguing.
Pink plaid hoodie guy still dancing. Music has stopped. At the table to my left are three businessmen discussing cars. I can’t follow the conversation, even though they are very loud, because car conversation sounds like wah,wha,wha to me. No interest.
Hoodie guy sitting now, he’s sweaty. Dancing is hard work. “Was it you who learned, like, all of Brittany’s slave?” I think I may understand that. They are discussing the way it makes a difference where the camera is, if it’s at the back it will be better for them. Hmm, I tend to agree. There is one girl in front of him and four beside him. Why are they speaking so softly? And why are the businessmen speaking so loudly? “What do you do for money?” Speak up, dammit. “That would suck, I couldn’t imagine going to some country with nothing and trying to make it big.” I so agree. “I hate America right now.” “It will change.” “Do you mean the country or the dance?”
A young woman is sitting on a bench, beside the glass doors. I didn’t notice her arrive. She is smoking, and I can smell a bit of the scent of her cigarette. I like that because it reminds me of this one friend I have who smokes.
“This is so great. Especially starting this course.” I’m worrying that my battery will run out. “I don’t know, it’s all in my head.” Very fit looking, small, long very very blond curly long-haired woman just walked past with a big bunch of keys, went into the dance doors. She said hello to the two boys. Some middle-aged couples arriving now
“She’s a doctor, her husband’s a doctor, they’re really into saving the money.” That’s the businessmen talking of course. Where was I? Right, middle-aged couples arriving to have dinner at the restaurant which is situated in the lobby of the dance company. I haven’t had dinner yet, but it’s fancy in there, and expensive. The coffee’s good. I really hope that my daughter is having fun. Because I am. Smoking woman is laughing into her mobile phone and tapping her cigarette, damn I miss my friend who smokes.
The breeze has just picked up and is quite cold, good I have my knew fingerless gloves on. “It’s cold here”, “yeah, it’s freezing,” yeah so that’s the businessmen. “Is that a Mandarin,” “yeah, sort of, it’s like a duck, but I keep wearing them out.” Oh, talking about one of the men’s bags. I don’t know any men who notice each other’s bags, I guess I need to get out more.
Good I brought my rainjacket with me. “I guarantee you that in four years’ time, you will not be driving a lexus.” Oh my god, I understood that. But how can he GUARANTEE it? Businessmen gone, now only young people walking around. They are all wearing floppy clothing, but you can tell how fit they are underneath. I wish I could do that. When I wear floppy clothing, I just look floppy.
One of the women from the dance counter just walked slowly past me. When I went to check that my daughter got in ok, I went to the counter and asked the two women sitting there. STUNNING. Dancers just look different. They looked like all the dancers looked in that movie “Turning Point” I think it’s called. The one with Shirley McLaine and, gush, Baryshnikov. I had a crush on Baryshnikov for so many of my teenage years. I met my husband during the summer before my last year of high-school, and he had a Russian accent, and that was it really. I’m not making this up, my husband really is Russian, but that’s another story.
Plaid hoodie guy went in to the dance company and just came back out and said “I don’t mind missing out because I just had a look and I’ve done that stuff before.” “Oh, is the door open?” Ah, obviously they are here for the “hip-hop masterclass” which was advertised on a big sign at the counter. Plaid hoodie guy now dancing again in front of glass doors. There’s quite a bit of foot sliding and undulating of shoulders. I clearly have no idea how to describe dance. Bummer.
It just occurred to me that I would not be enjoying this evening half as much if not for the knowledge that I will post this on my blog tonight. I feel like there’s a whole group of us here, enjoying the strange moment, and laughing together. The bench woman has stopped smoking, and is looking at the dancing hoodie. She saw me looking at her looking at him and smiled at me. I like her. Music starts up VERY LOUD, coming from inside, it’s that song, um “if you want me, you can tell me..” Is that Madonna? How awesome is it that they crank up the music THAT LOUD. I love loud pop music. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” – yes I’m pretty sure that’s a Madonna song.
Oh, I just looked all the way to my right and saw the dark water. Oh, just looked at plaid hoodie. He is now FACING ME and dancing, and every so often he freezes a move. Has a cap on, but I’m pretty sure we just looked at each other. OH MY GOD, I THINK FOR JUST A MOMENT HE WAS DANCING FOR ME. This is very cool. I feel very alive. He’s finished now and strolling to the table, no, just checked his mobile and he’s dancing again. A very elderly couple just walked past right in front of him, didn’t seem to notice each other. Elderly man has arm around grey-haired woman, she has a baby pink blazer, cute. I don’t believe it, a woman just walked past who I remember from my school days. She’s the older sister of a guy who was in my class. She looks very put together, snazzy. She had kitten heel boots, nice look.
Just remembered that the famous aussie actor never came out of the dance doors. I hope I didn’t miss him. Ooo, very sweaty people leaving through doors now, men have baseball caps on backwards and one is repeating “well, you know me, you know me.” I wish I did know him, looks intriguing. Music cranks up again, I’m going to see if I can peek in.

This time of year

When my daughter was three, she would ask her new friends-are you Christmas or Hannukah?

So, just to get this out of the way, I am Passover, not Easter.

Here is a photograph of me on the eve of my first Passover of '69. I am watching my Grandpa (whose library back then was already formidable) preparing a mixture of apples, ground nuts, wine and cinnamon which is called "haroset", and which I find addictive to this day.

My Grandma is not in the photo because she was very, very busy. She was very, very busy:
  • Packing up her entire kitchen into boxes (including the entire pantry)
  • Moving the boxes to the basement
  • Cleaning the entire kitchen meticulously
  • Lining every shelf, cupboard and counter with plastic sheeting (the table I'm sitting on is already covered, as you can see)
  • Bringing up boxes labelled "Passover" from the basement
  • Unpacking an entirely new kitchen from these boxes. This included two sets of cutlery and crockery (one for meaty, one for milky), two sets of pots and pans (ditto), and a huge assortment of cake-pans, and a mix-master
  • Going to the "kosher shop" and buying a huge amount of foodstuffs all labelled "kosher for Passover"
  • Coming home and placing everything in the newly-lined pantry
  • Cooking a three-course meal for 30 relatives
  • Baking a huge amount of flourless cakes, which all rose beautifully (I know, I have no idea either), were delicious, and were given to the relatives to take home and enjoy the next day

I am sitting now on my bed writing this, still in my pyjamas (unlike Kim who apparently blogs in the nude, hehe), and wondering where I stand this Passover. How much energy do I have? Is my faith strong enough to move entire kitchens? I'm afraid that, this year, the answer may be no.

But I do miss my Grandma. Very, very much.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ooo...a make-over!

Something exciting is happening down at the sartorialist's end of the world. He is asking for opinions concerning a certain young woman's hair, and whether it should be cut short.

Now, you know, you just know, how excited I am about this. I love a good haircut discussion.

Apart from that though, I thought it most interesting to note how eerily familiar his comments are to certain blogs I have read lately. Blogs by you know who you are, who enjoy discussing the latest fashion styles and catalogue pics.

As far as I can make out, the sartorialist is considered to be "someone important" in the fashion world, and his blog was apparently picked recently as one of the top 50 most influential. Well, I think you, you know who you are, totally outsartorialise the sartorialist. No question.

And you are also much, much wittier.

It's a boy!

I have just heard that the lovely Ms. Blanchett gave birth yesterday to a bouncing baby boy - welcome to the world Ignatius Martin Upton.

Time to wrap up those blue booties Suse!

So now Ms. Blanchett has three boys....looks like she'll be needing some advice from Ms. Blackbird. For sure.

I would also like to point out that the fabulously allconsuming Kim is still one up on Cate. You go girl!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Now that I have your attention I can finally tell you my Shawshank Redemption story

About a month or so ago I noticed that bloggers were passionately debating the pros and cons of The Shawshank Redemption. I am sure that my mere mention of said film has brought horror to the eyes of at least one blogger. If I remember correctly there were comments which took up pages, a Venn diagram and much heated dialogue in certain comment box circles (I couldn't resist that last phrase, sorry).

Now, dearest of readers, I found all of this quite astonishing, because the Shawshank debate is not new to me. Whatsoever. I just never realised that anybody else, in the whole entire world, would ever have a Shawshank debate. I thought it was unique to my tiny circle of friends.

So now for the story.

About 7/8 years ago (I am not very good with dates) my fabulous friend Sarah, and equally fab friend Dominic, had a disagreement. The disagreement soon escalated into what I soon understood to be an obsession. Sarah claimed that Shawshank was simply the worst movie ever made in the history of film. She liked to claim this by using Shawshank as a yardstick by which all other films she saw were measured. She might describe a film as being "so bad, it was even worse than Shawshank," or she might say "I love that movie as much as I detest Shawshank." Meanwhile, Dominic felt, passionately, that Shawshank was simply the best film ever made. He liked to relive certain scenes by describing them in detail. He knew much of the dialogue off by heart, and would recite it to Sarah as his eyes misted over with emotion.

It was not much fun to go to the movies with them.

And this lasted for at least a year or two.

Now, if this story is to proceed as it should, I am going to have to tell you something about my fab friend Sarah. Sarah was very special:

  • She was an English lass who fell in love with all things Australian.
  • She would take her 4-wheel drive into the back of beyond and sleep in her swag under the stars.
  • Her swag had a plastic window where her head rested so she could see the stars.
  • She always wore Blundstone boots.
  • She had ginger-coloured hair.
  • I always thought that she must have looked like Alison Lester's Rosie when she was young (Rosie is the one on the left wearing the cowboy hat).
  • She loved my children as if they were her own.
  • She comforted me the entire year I spent trying to toilet train my son, by insisting that many of the greatest philosophers suffered from incontinence (she had majored in philosophy so I took her word for it).
  • She had a giant tattoo of a dragon over her mastectomy scar.

Ok, get over it, it was not one of those really tacky dragons, it was very beautiful and also a little frightening. She liked to shock the conservative doctors and boring nurses she had to see in that depressing box of a hospital.

Yeah, so Sarah was sick, but that really only intensified her hatred of Shawshank. She seemed to actually gain strength from seeing the pain she could inflict on poor Dom as he still, hoping against hope, begged her to admit that there was at least one scene she might have enjoyed. Arguing about Shawshank became their comfort zone, and, by default, mine.

It's now a little bit later. My son is finally toilet-trained, Sarah is quite a bit sicker (bugger), and she and I get into a habit of sitting together on the sofa late at night with some really good scotch. Sarah had been a very naughty teenager, while I had been a goody-two-shoes, so I really loved to hear her stories, and she really loved telling me at the end of each one - "you see, you didn't really miss out on much at all." Which wasn't true, but that's another story.

One night, after several scotches, she leaned towards me and said "hey, Eleanor, I'm gonna tell you a secret now." Ok. "But you have to promise not to tell Dom, because I'm saving it, to tell him on my deathbed." Ok.

She now leans so close to me that I can see each and every freckle on her milky skin, and I can feel her pale, ginger eyelashes fluttering against my cheek, and she whispers:

"I've never seen The Shawshank Redemption."

My cup runneth over

I returned home after driving my son to the tennis courts (get used to this phrase as it will be much repeated, for it is what I do, a lot) and checked in to find that I HAD A LARGE NUMBER OF UNEXPECTED GUESTS IN MY BLOG. When I saw all of your names, some with the cute little icons attached, and then read YOUR comments, in MY COMMENT BOX, well, I was delighted.

I immediately felt the urge to run around tidying up, fluffing pillows, vacuuming the dog-hairs and putting on the kettle. Then I felt the need to race madly up the stairs to my bedroom and try on several different outfits, all of which felt wrong. I really, really needed to put on some lipstick, and then take it off, and I tried to do something interesting with my hair. Each and every one of you means that much to me!

Thank you. Thank you so much for coming, and please come again!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Swimming lessons

I saw a woman yesterday at the shops, and she looked so familiar, but I couldn't quite place her.

As she turned to leave I suddenly remembered. We had seen each other every Monday afternoon at the Uni pool for years, but had never spoken, only nodded maybe, occasionally. Our sons had been approximately the same age, I suppose, and they both had lessons at the same time although they were not in the same class.

We had both taken our little boys into the women's change-room and knelt beside them, helping to dry their tousled hair, rummaging in the bag for the undies, the tracksuit, the ugg-boots. In my memory it is always winter. And there is always at least one mother there who is dressing her kids in pyjamas, even though it is only 5 in the afternoon, and me smiling at her and understanding that, yes, it does make perfect sense, SO much easier.

I can feel my little son's soft, pudgy legs as I write this. I can feel the way the tracksuit would stick to the skin a bit, from the dampness. I can smell EXACTLY how his hair smelt of musty chlorine as I kissed it, because he was being such a good boy and not running around the room like a complete maniac, as he did last week.

When I saw that woman at the shops yesterday, I noticed that she had a tall boy standing beside her, and I thought how strange it was that I had never realised back then that she had an older son as well. Then it hit me, that boy was her little boy, of course, because my little boy is also as tall as me now. Of course. Of course.

Now I'm remembering those swimming lesson days, and I yearn to go back and just once, just once, see again the way my son's pale, pudgy body, clad in teeny-tiny speedos, races ahead of me as I worry that he will slip and fall.

Which is really so odd, and bittersweet, and confusing, because I clearly remember that I hated swimming lesson days, at the time.


I am in need of a book on blogging etiquette. Ever since I started reading blogs I have had a niggling worry that I may be doing the wrong thing.

At first, it was quite shocking to realise that most bloggers were sharing extremely personal information with me. But were they? After all, I had only discovered their blogs by mere happenstance, and I had never commented, so they actually had no idea that I was there. Was I not being the internet equivalent of the nosy neighbour who leans against her wall with a cup so as to better hear her neighbours' conversations? Well, not really, because a person doesn't publish a blog so as to keep secrets. If the blogger wanted to keep a PRIVATE journal he or she would surely use a pen and a notepad and leave it at that. These thoughts circled around in my head for quite a while.

As I continued my blog-reading I came across the term "lurker", which immediately confirmed my worst suspicion about my behaviour. I was definitely doing something wrong. It was at this point that I began making a few comments, here and there, as anonymous, and then later as Eleanor. Of course, that really served only to complicate my ethical dilemma, for commenting is not as simple as it seems.

The easiest (and most fun) comments are those you can write in response to blogs which are witty, funny and light; you try to match the tone, add an eccentricity of your own, and often get a giggle at the end. The hardest comments are those which you feel you'd like to make to bloggers who describe very, very personal, difficult, heartbreaking problems. More often than not, I simply bow out of the comments box because of the fear that anything I write has the potential to make the blogger's situation even worse. After all, I really do not know the blogger, so I cannot even begin to know how they might interpret my words, or what they might need to hear in their moment of greatest need.

I have now started my own blog, which has certainly not simplified the ethical gobbledygook flying around in my head. Now I have people commenting on my blog. Well, only three so far, but hey, for all I know there may be a few lurking around as well. I would really like to pick up that blogging etiquette book right now, and find in the index section: "Comments, responding to comments on one's blog".

It's a very strange, new world I have entered. I just wish that I had a lovely, elderly aunt who would advise me on my blogging manners. I would like to visit her in her little country cottage, and I would like her to say "oh no, darling, it's quite well known in blog circles that a comment box is not a dialogue box. You must embrace the beauty of the comments received, and move on to the next post. That is the way it is done." Then she would pour our tea, and we would quietly sit and sip together. I would look up from my china tea-cup, as would she, and we would share a little smile, and she would nod lovingly.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A library

My grandfather, who is in his 90's, sent me his library last year. He sent it to me from his home overseas. And he included all of the shelving. Beautiful dark wood shelving from Denmark. He packed the library in many, many boxes with labels such as "travel", "The Russians", and "poetry."

Once the container arrived in port my mother and I drove down to the storage facility to see exactly what we were dealing with, and whether we could bring some of the shelving home to show the carpenter. Because when you are about to have THAT many boxes of books delivered to your door, you need to prepare.

The men at the storage facility were a motley crew of comedians. They wanted to know if we were really going to read all of those books. One of them took a particular interest in my mother's hair (it is very, very curly and cut short and a salt-and-pepper colour). He wanted to know if it was real ( it is). But I digress.

We managed to bring some of the shelves home and this is what we found between two of them:

My grandpa is a riot.

Anyhow. I really needed that patience because shelving a library is A BIG JOB.

It all worked out, finally, and here is a picture of a part of the library, for your enjoyment:

So? Am I really going to read all of those books? Well, I can't really answer that. But I do know one thing for sure, my library will have rules. Because all good libraries have rules.

Of course, I can always pose in front of the library in my sleepwear.

And Colours can come over and pose with me too, if she's in the mood.

I am thinking about starting a book club. The rules of the library would apply equally to the club. You are all invited to join. The book club will convene as soon as I recover from my blogging addiction and, um, actually READ A BOOK.

Me and you and a dog named Blue

Yesterday evening, as I walked with Blue to the dog park, I found myself overwhelmed with how my blogging life had infiltrated so many little moments of my day.

For example, yesterday morning, I was walking through the shopping centre when I spotted a Veronika Maine boutique. I found myself, quite without meaning to, staring fixedly at the mannequins in the window and trying to guess which of the outfits Kim bought, and which she might have to return. I do not know Kim at all really. Yet there I was, thinking of her, and feeling a great deal of affection.

In the afternoon, I was walking to the bank, when I found myself (again, quite without meaning to) taking a very keen interest in what my fellow pedestrians were wearing. I was beginning to see things through the sartorialist's eyes. I noticed interesting colours and textures, and I noticed a particular woman and thought to myself "the sartorialist would take her picture if he were here." Then, dear reader, I ACTUALLY WENT UP TO THAT WOMAN AND TOLD HER THAT I LOVED HER LOOK.

I have never done that before.

I did it because blackbird once posted a picture of an interestingly-attired woman standing at her local library, and blackbird said that she usually likes to tell such people how much she likes their look, but that the woman disappeared before blackbird got a chance to do so. I do not know blackbird at all really. Yet there I was, copying her unique method of blackbirding.

After admiring that particular woman I sat at a cafe and, for a few moments, pondered my style - what is my style? and am I doing the most I can with the clothes I have? Before I knew it, I saw Mary's self-portrait in my mind's eye, and then an entire spool of blog postings and comments which I had read in reference to a meme (still not 100% sure of what that is, but anyway) that dared female bloggers to show their faces. Should I have a photo on my blog? Is this a feminist issue? Privacy issue? Personal issue?

These questions started to vex me. And of course I never ever used that word before blackbird did so on her blog.

I won't go on. But I could. I really could.

I could tell you about the fun I had yesterday browsing through etsy (etsy, etsy, etsy) and that I bought myself a little gift, and then I bought one for Colours too. And you just know, dear reader, that I would never have done any such thing if not for Suse, who is very lovely.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


My daughter (16) decided to try out a ballroom dancing class tonight. She has a friend who dances competitively and also helps out at a beginners' class - tonight's class.

I drove the half hour there, negotiated a near-impossible parking spot, jogged up three flights of wooden stairs, and plodded along a dark landing. Through a doorway I saw a couple practicing a dance, they were obviously professionals because their teacher was that choreographer from "So You Think You Can Dance". The one that is always described as the best choreographer in Australia. I became quite excited, much to my daughter's chagrin, so I left and returned two hours later.

When I returned, what I saw in that dance studio was magic.

The professional couple and famous choreographer were gone.

There were completely ordinary people in the room, in couples, moving slowly and elegantly to dreamy, romantic music. One was an elderly Asian couple, there was a tall man holding an equally tall athletic woman, there was a beautiful middle-aged woman dressed all in black who was dancing by herself - her arms were holding an imaginary partner - she seemed peaceful and happy and not at all embarrassed. And there was my daughter, partnered with her friend, trying and concentrating and stumbling a little and all the time smiling and smiling and smiling.

Every few minutes the teacher changed the music and asked the second group to come to the floor. There was a huge dog, a husky I think, taking up an entire sofa on one end of the room, sleeping. On the floor next to him was a plastic take-away container with left-over spaghetti bolognaise.

Dear reader, it was just perfect. I actually felt tears spring to my eyes. It reminded me of the importance of music and movement and touch and confidence and hope and trust and friendship.

Also love.

Colours The Clown

Colours the clown will be making occasional guest appearances on my blog. Colours and I go way back.

So, with that introduction over, let me just say that Colours really loves her coffee, and she was just savouring the first sips of her large soy latte yesterday morning, at the cafe around the corner, as one does, when who should walk in and sit down beside her? None other than Cate Blanchett.

Ms. Blanchett, who is expecting a baby quite soon, was sporting a layered look (cream top, black tunic kind of combo), her hair was down, and shiny, she had make-up on, it was early morning. One of her sons was with her, he was well behaved and quietly eating a jam donut. I expressed some disappointment at the fact that she seemed to be so, um, perfect. But Colours says, and this is a direct quote:

"She did have a look on her face that seemed to say 'bloody hell, I'm pregnant again!' "

But that might be entirely Colours' interpretation, because Colours loves me and wants to cheer me up.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Floral fashion

A friend who lives just outside London woke up a couple of days ago to see this in her garden.

It is the floral equivalent of blackbird's "vexing woman who wears wedge-heeled strappy sandals on a day that clearly requires a heavy sweater."

I woke up a couple of days ago to this in my garden:

It is the floral equivalent of my daughter who, when she was three years old, insisted on wearing her pink tutu and delicate ballet slippers on a day that clearly required her yellow rain-slicker and gumboots.

Truth in advertising

I want to talk about last week's OK! Magazine which I picked up while waiting in line at the supermarket.

I want to talk about how the featured photos of JLo posing with her husband and twin babies made me snort out loud with derision. I want to talk about how I turned to the woman behind me, thrust the magazine in her face, and practically dripped with sarcasm as I said "yes, that's EXACTLY what I looked like when my babies were newborns."

Just in case any of you missed it, let me paint you the picture:

  • JLo poses in doorway wearing stiletto heels, clingy dress and baby.
  • JLo wears cream dress, a plunging neckline and baby.
  • JLo wears a pleated dress, a $600 hair-do, 4 pearl bracelets and a baby.

Just writing those descriptions has me coming out in a rash and hyperventilating. I am a passionate follower of the realist movement of mothering, surrealism makes my blood run cold. It also makes me talk to perfect strangers in the supermarket, and rant at other total strangers, like you, right now.

Ok! I talked, you listened, I'm done.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

It's lunchtime, and the cafeteria seating arrangements are freaking me out.

So I finally have my own blog, and it's thanks to the encouragement of a certain woman who is behind the joy that is allconsuming. If I knew what I was doing with this blogging thing, you would be able to click on "allconsuming" and find her. But I know nothing. NOTHING. Wait, let me try this, allconsuming please work. Wow, I feel like I'm learning my first spell at Hogwarts.

I was a lurker for a good month, and then I embraced the comment boxes. One day, I noticed that Sue of the peasoup wrote that she thought I sounded lovely. That really made my day. Then I actually met Kim, live and for real, and she later wrote that she wanted to spread me on toast. And that was quite something. In addition, I have had the sheer guts (fingertips hovering over keyboard nervously for many minutes) to criticize blackbird's brother's hairstylist, decisively, as if I am not a total stranger but someone she knows and trusts. She didn't seem to mind.

I have also gleefully lurked in mary's garden and mountains, sueeeus (although I still forget the number of e's from time to time) and, of course, badger. My secret (well, not any more) obsession with journeymama continues as I prepare to embrace life in India, from my desk, in Sydney, Australia.

Yet, despite all of the above, I am most definitely the new girl in school, and I feel like everyone is eyeing me warily as I grab a tray ("I could kill you with a tray", that one is for Kim and BB) and try to navigate my way to an appropriate table.

So, hi, my name's this seat taken?