30 March 2013

Lethal Weapon 6: The one with the Bilby in it

Chocolate Bilbys
Apparently endangered

This morning I came very close to causing grievous bodily harm to an elderly lady and her grandchild that came between me and what appeared to be the last two chocolate bilbys in Sydney.  Years gone by you couldn't move without knocking the buggers down but now that I have my two English in-laws in town for Easter I couldn't find them for love nor money.

And then, through the torn boxes and rejected chocolate bunnies that were the day before Easter Sunday, I spied these little bilbys and I abandoned my trolley and bag to scoot across to grab them.

I may have uttered a symbolic hunting cry slash shriek, narrowed my eyes menacingly , had laser beams blast out my eyes and run in slow motion too but that might just be my internal soundtrack and edited memory.

However, this elderly lady and her grandchild moved across my path and appeared to be reaching for the eggs.  I picked them up over my shoulder, slapped them on both cheeks, spun them around on my outstretched arm and threw them through the air where they luckily bounced on strategically placed trampolines and fell dazed and defeated to the floor.  Or, as I was gathering my strength for this proven action move, they moved past the bilbys and picked up Moshi branded eggs and all was well.  They still have no idea how close to danger they came.

If my lovely in-laws don't appreciate those bilbys there will be trouble.  Big trouble.

We haven't really done Easter eggs in recent years but have invited a couple of little friends (and parents obviously) over tomorrow morning for a BBQ breakfast and an Easter egg hunt.  It's not about the chocolate when your kids are this little, but about rabbit ears, and hunting eggs.  And you can tell them that Jesus died and rose again and that's what Easter is all about, but goodness and love aren't quite as easy to wrap in shiny paper and put in buckets.

Which is a pity obviously but that is a ponderance for another day.

Happy Easter to the lovers, the haters and that lovely lady and her grandchild.

29 March 2013

On the subject of stuff

We have a lot of stuff.  Some of it new, some of it old, some of it meaningless except to us.  It's bits of our shared history, our individual histories, lots of books and lots of CDs, memories, useful stuff, cords for things, clothes, photos and toys. And I should reiterate.  Lots and lots of books.  Lots and lots of CDs.  We're those kind of people.

Minimalist is not a term you use in our house unless you are referring to my domestic skills.

And we have a lot less grown up stuff than we used to just by virtue of the fact that we moved house twice in a year.  However, we've added two small people to the equation in the last 2.5 years and so the amount of toy and clothes stuff has multiplied like a science experiment gone wrong. Some of it we've bought, some has been gifted, some found in hard rubbish and lots has been hand me downs from children who've outgrown a skirt, or a kitchen, or a cot and we've been the lucky recipients.

I find myself constantly on the defensive about the toy room in particular but as of this week, I'm drawing a line in the sand and saying - you know - YES. We do.  And aren't the girls lucky?  And fuck off with your judgements.  

These are a few of their favourite things
Everything is their favourite
I love that in small people
I love being able to provide a place where the girls can play, indulge their imaginations, share their toys with their friends, read their books, run riot, dress up, lie down, colour in, squabble, cuddle and romp.  YES we do appreciate the generosity of our friends and family that have provided so many of the items that make up the room.  And YES we appreciate the family that put out the giant pink quad bike to be taken away during council clean up as I wandered up the road to dinner.  And YES, we like being able to give our girls things.

But having these things doesn't come at the expense of their souls.  They can play just as happily with a box, they love to make up songs and stories, they have manners, they share.  They give toys away to charities, friends.  They lose the occasional favourite when we are out and about.  They don't demand toys or things or throw tantrums to get things.  They take their surroundings for granted because they are only tiny and it's just where they play. And them taking their surroundings for granted is absolutely okay because they're still working out how to put their feet into shoes, their spoons into mouths and how to say the word 'milk' without lisping.

And YES I can be an indulgent parent.  If I see a little something they girls might like I'll go crazy - yesterday I bought two dinosaurs - for $1 each.  I know - I'm a regular Paris Hilton I am!  But we save the big stuff for special occasions and I'm sure as they grow older and more aware of marketing we'll have to set firmer boundaries but in the meantime, I'm saying thank you to all those that have given us old toys, old clothes and old books.  I'm saying thank you to a first world that allows me to give my girls a room of toys and I'm saying thank you to you for minding your own business.  If you're judging me and my little people on their toy room, I'd say it's not me that should be on the defensive.

That rant over I'm going to go and spin giddily in the midst of all our stuff and be full of gratitude.  I am going to choose not to feel guilty about our blessings.  Until I step on a piece of duplo and then I'm going to hop about profaning and threaten to throw the whole bloody lot out if they don't start putting it away! 

26 March 2013

Death on a wombat or happy birthday baby girl

Today the second born of my best girls turned one.  So as part of my modern mother mania where we like to create memories, moments and traditions - the fam plus Aunty Vicki headed off to Sydney Aquarium and the Wildlife Park for the day to celebrate the occasion.

And it was fabulous.  The dugongs were my favourite - only six in captivity in the world and we happened to be there the day the two in Sydney were best in show.  The girls loved anything with colour or that they could push their little faces against the glass in a communal saliva smear fest.   While my man was captivated by the underwater grace and majesty of the partner killing 700 kg crocodile, and my eldest toddler by the elephants (we have no idea - we didn't see any), the birthday girl was fascinated by three siblings playing in the photo booth outside the kangaroo enclosure.  Truth.

And because we are like that, we took a zillion photos trying to capture happiness in a snapshot.  The simple innocence of two sisters playing together on the younger's first birthday.  And so I present to you -

The Cassinator Being Choked to Death on a Wombat


And after we rescued her from the deadly embrace and she coughed violently, regained her natural colour and returned to the business of breathing unobstructed, her sister and she toddled into Kangaroo land to eat dirt and generally be happy.

The end.


18 March 2013

Cutting my grass

I don't want to big myself up too much but on the weekend I did something extraordinary.  Something out of character, something that pushed me beyond my safety zone and out into a world as alien as any you can imagine.

I "did stuff in the garden".

I'd like to say this was inspired by a desire to commune with nature, get my hands dirty and find the joy in creating order from chaos, but it wasn't.

We're hosting a first birthday party next weekend and our yard was more 'Where the Wild Things Grow' than urban backyard.  Our almost one year old trekked through the overgrown grass at one stage and then had to cry for help when she got lost as the grass was taller than her.  Quite frankly, I was a little annoyed she hadn't taken a safety flare like all good bushwalkers should.  I was tempted to leave her there to learn her lesson.  But then I remembered I quite like her and so executed a successful search and rescue.

It's okay - I found her! 
On the flip side, the 2.5 year old was loving it.  She'd jump off a milk crate arms outstretched as if she was crowd surfing and ride the wave of shifting grass blades until she reached the path.  Unlike crowd surfing, she was guaranteed a soft landing and nobody picked her pockets or had a cheeky grope.  It was also probably the last time she'll be able to say 'Me more grass Mama' without me recommending an intervention.

So having broken our own mower recently, we borrowed one.  And promptly broke it.  So we called 'The Engineer' and he came and did something with a piece of string and a muttered curse and fixed it for us. I love clever people.  So then battle commenced.

Clad in 'work gear' to get me in the gardening vibe (think Jamie Durie but not anything like him at all and dressed in female attire) - big boots, shorts, vest, hat and sunglasses - music playlist chosen "Exercise", I strode into the grass.  And the mower stopped.  I checked - piece of string intact.  I muttered a curse.  Nothing happened.  I did what all good gardeners do and I yelled for my husband.  He came.  Discovered that a mere half metre of lawn mowing resulted in the catcher filling up and cutting out the engine in a rather nifty safety manoeuvre. He emptied the catcher, restart the engine.  I admired his creative thought and went inside for a drink.

And so it progressed. He manfully handled the mower through over half the lawn (including about 600 catcher emptying side trips) and then I resumed my new role as 'she who will not be conquered by the bloody lawn'. I decided to take it out the front and do the front lawn and managed to cut up a rock which slammed into my finger so hard I thought I'd cut my finger off.  Turned out it was fine, didn't even break the skin. I may have profaned profusely though while the pain roared through my receptors to my brain screaming 'MAY DAY MAY DAY MAN DOWN'.  Brain replied 'Harden up girlfriend'.

With no valid excuse (ie: limb removal) to stop, I mowed the verge.  Then the neighbour's verge and then the other neighbours verge.  And then acknowledged I had to return to the back yard and actually do the hard yards. (Ha - great unintentional pun by me just then!).  By then I was on fire and it had nothing to do with spilling petrol all over the mower.  I was incorporating unnecessary walking into my push forward, pull back lawn mowing action and making a dance out of the emptying of the catcher.  I assume no neighbours were watching or I would have been signed up for a reality tv show entitled 'strictly dancing with the mower' by now.

Then there was hedge trimming. This is where you lop off anything you can reach and then drag it to the pile of grass clippings in the back corner so that quite literally it reaches the top of the fence.  I think this is called composting.  Whatever - it's totally nailed!  Then a crawl around the perimeter of the yard yanking out the weeds that you can't reach with the whipper snipper and Voila!  I might be permanently crippled but the yard is now 'good enough' to host a one year old party in. I'm not saying its perfect.  I am just saying small people can enter the yard without the safety beacons.  Surely that makes us responsible parents??

Bets are on that it'll rain now and we wont be able to use the backyard anyway and all the small people will end up running riot in the house oblivious to to the herculean efforts that took place.  But in the mean time, I'm going to be sniffing out those sponsorship opportunities with Bunnings and the like.  I'm definitely the new poster girl for 'doing stuff in the garden'.  Don't you agree?

13 March 2013

Peak hour squint fest

You know when you're standing waiting for the bus,or the train, or even just to cross the road and you look casually to one side and you see somebody making a hideous face at you and you kind of jump?

The 'Clint Squint' - imgur.com
Then you realise they are looking into the sun. They are just squinting.

And your fight or flight reflexes calm down and you breathe a sigh of relief.  And then you look the other way and jump because they DEFINITELY don't like you judging by their look because the SUN IS THE OTHER WAY!

Jeepers and Mary Almighty!

Now, the narrowing of the eyes is not menacing but actually kind of hilarious when you're walking down the hill and see a bunch of people wilding squinting and distorting their faces to see whatever they need to peer into the sun to see.

All blissfully oblivious to the fellow squinters around them co-creating this interactive comic visual.

And once you notice the 'squint' you see it ALL the time.

Squint mobs are everywhere.

Inside bars trying to read the wine menu in bad light, in cars trying to read street signs, in movie theatres trying to work out where the prices might be, reading the instructions for putting the line into a whipper snipper, the drunk trying to work out who they are kissing.

They are like flash mobs!  A certain set of conditions - one starts and before you can say 'Clint Squint', everybody is taking part.

And now everywhere you go you will only notice the squinters.  You can thank me later.

12 March 2013

Thank you for the music (okay words)... la la la



It's exciting to have been nominated (by somebody or somebodies that is not myself) in the Voices of 2013.

Being nominated for anything is obviously great but there are so many fabulous Australian bloggers out there I am not for a moment expecting to win, but I love being at the party.

I still maintain a ridiculous amount of writers inexplicably include their feet in their blog photographic illustrations - as if having a toe peeping into the vista indicates that is really them.  That small wonderment aside, people have an incredible talent with words.

And I love seeing grammar used correctly, spelling just so and paragraphs broken up in an ordered fashion.  I'm not the only one to use the Oxford comma on occasion and I like that people can be so eloquent, so expansive and so passionate - all without losing their individual voices.

I get that a picture paints 1000 words but reading 1000 words is much more interesting, perhaps less pretty but a zillion times more engaging.  Like music, having somebody express something that has you go 'YES' or 'I hear you brother, I hear you' is one of the great advantages of the internet age.  I even like reading the people who I disagree with to make sure I'm not railing against a non-existent enemy or school of thought. Though I must confess I have banned anything by Ros Reine because she incites rage with just her byline so I'm better off not going any further.

So, to those that nominated me - a big thank you.  To those that write so beautifully and interestingly on your blogs - thank you. To those that allow me to rant, to ruminate, to observe, to profane, use grammar correctly and occasionally misspell a word - thank you.


(If you haven't a clue what this is about check out http://blogs.kidspot.com.au/villagevoices/voices-of-2013-kidspot-top-50-bloggers-goes-massive - voting has closed now)


6 March 2013

How eating lunch and tweeting can change the world

Justice Catherine Davani
(Role Model and generally super clever
and inspirational woman)
My parents have six small grandchildren - five female and one male who wants to play the bagpipes and soccer (preferably at the same time). They want the same world for the five as they do for the one.

Perhaps with less bagpipes but still equal.

How will that happen? Gender equality.

I hear you before you start - WTF is gender equality and do I have to dress like a man and wear old style birkenstocks and get bitter and twisted Germaine Greer style?

Hear me out on this one okay? Before I start let me just state for the record that I have no affiliation with UN Women or International Women's Day - I write purely because this issue speaks to me as a female, a mother, a daughter, a sister and an opposer of apathy.

The 18 year old who was sexually assaulted walking home on the weekend by 5 men in a car? What do the comments sections of the papers suggest? Her own fault for being out at night.

The woman from Victoria some years back who killed her daughters because as a survivor of incest and sexual abuse she couldn't see a way to keep them safe? Nutters on talk-back radio said she should have never attempted to have children if she was so broken.

The woman in western NSW who shot her husband after 20 years of abuse? Apparently she should have hardened the fuck up and left him earlier.

Gender equality at the very least is to stop laying blame on the victims of violence and at the other end, it's transformational activism which changes lives.

Executive Director of UN Women Australia, Julie McKay has invited Justice Catherine Davani from Papua New Guinea to address the International Women's Day lunch in Canberra this Friday and in Melbourne next week. Justice Davani is the first woman to be appointed to the National and Supreme Courts in PNG and has a 28 year legal career behind her. Revolutionary in a country where 67% of women experience some kind of violence and have very limited access to support services, education and equal opportunity. And inspirational no matter where you are.

Julie McKay says "All women have the right to live free of violence and proceeds from our International Women's Day events will help UN women expand their critical services program for women experiencing violence in PNG."

But what about here - in Australia - our local communities? See that's the lovely thing - so many woman are promoting gender equality every day and actively contributing to a change in the way Australian society sees women. Canberra is honouring 100 of them on Friday from all walks of life - sports, arts, government, support services, religious organisations, welfare, trade unions, education, and health and disability services. We are ahead of PNG, common sense says the funds are best directed to helping out women in our region who aren't blessed with the same economic prosperity and opportunity.

FFS dude I hear you say - women in Australia have equal rights. Its all fine! Just shut up.

Ahem. If you honestly believe that our societal impulse to judge women as at fault when they are victims of violence is equality - you're an idiot. If you think the fact that women doing the same jobs for less than men is equality - you're an idiot. If you think that it's unmanly to be a stay at home dad - you're an idiot. If you think it's okay that male sports teams are given more profile than female teams - you're an idiot. If you think it's fine when an article is written about our female politicians and people write into complain about the colour of their suits in the accompanying picture - you're an idiot. This is not equality.

Change is needed. And it has to start with you. And me. And him. And her. My parent's generation. My generation.  The X's, the Y'x, the Baby Boomers, the Z's. Those born before generations were given names for the purposes of marketing to a target audience.  All of them.

Karen Radford - Hipster, music lover, writer - joined UN Women last year after attending an International Women's day lunch. She's not saying she's Justice Davani, or Julie McKay, or Quentin Bryce, but she does know that to do nothing is not an option. "Gender equality is something I am passionate about and being part of the Canberra Chapter of UN Women Australia gives me a chance to contribute. Whether it's simply tweeting about ending violence against women or being on the committee to help organise an event, it feels great to be a part of the movement"

That's how easy it is to start changing the world - eat lunch and tweet. And anybody can be part of that.


(For more information on UN Women and their lunches - go to www.unwomen.org.au or for more about International Women's Day go to www.internationalwomensday.com)




2 March 2013

Love

We believe.

For we are young and free? Well that's just bullshit.



Mardi Gras.  Where them gays get their gay on and the economy gets its gay on too.

This year beautiful man and I will be part of the Marriage Equality float - one of the non-celebrity, non-dancing, non-interesting heterosexuals bopping behind the float, placards in hand, in support of marriage equality.

And why?  How is this issue more important or differently important to any of the other issues that assault us on a daily basis.  For me - it's simple.

We can not enshrine discrimination in law.

I know that makes me sound wankerish.  A little bit Sandra Bullock in, well, pretty much any of her movies - but it is so very very true.

While on a personal level I really don't give a flying fuck if you're gay, trans, bi, pan, hetero or undecided - I understand that there are people that do.  And while I don't agree with them, that is their right to harbour their bigotry and their hatred and their general misguidedness.

But our law, the law of the land, should always but ALWAYS be above skin colour, hair colour, religion, race, sexual preference, football code, number of legs, mental cohesion, etc.  The law of the land should ALWAYS be equal.

And that's where this most modern, most trendy of 'issues' becomes more than a gay issue.  By condoning or dismissing the right of two members of the same sex to marry, we are condoning discrimination as an acceptable part of society.  We are saying that by the very fluke of nature that means I fancy men, rather than women, I am somehow a better person and more deserving of things than my friends who happen to fancy people of the same gender.

And in the spirit of disclosure, I have been told I have a disproportionate number of gay friends. And for the record they are just as wonderful/annoying as my non-gay friends - just as interesting/boring, just as perfect/flawed, all very special to me. (And just as oblivious as to what constitutes the 'right' number of gay friends but I digress.)

It's flawed. It's wrong.  And while creating equality in law does not necessarily make the world a better place instantly, it is laying the foundations of a better future for everybody.  Because like it or not - it is a human rights issue.  You can hate who you like, you can preach against it, rail against it, do what you like - as long as the law allows for complete equality for all Australians.  And it doesn't.  And that's really really wrong.  And you shouldn't be apathetic about living in 2013 in an Australia that allows this kind of discrimination in it's paperwork.

Because there is absolutely no, NOT ONE SINGLE REASON, for this to be law.

To me it is so breathtakingly simple.  It is not just about gays.  It is about us.  And democracy.  And the bullshit that we espouse when we drape ourselves in flags, or sing the anthem or pledge allegiance to 'the lucky country'.  Unless the words are true for everybody, they are not true.  They. Are. Not. True.

They just aren't.

And that's why we support marriage equality.  To do anything else is UnAustralian. And quite frankly - stupid.