Sunday, January 29, 2012


Me and my guys.



A week at the beach can really recharge your soul. We had a wonderful time and I wish we'd been able to stay longer. We rented a gorgeous house called Rusty Gate in Venus Bay which suited us perfectly. It's an old renovated school house, fitted out beautifully with all the necessities (a real coffee machine!) in a perfect quiet locale. We hadn't been to Venus Bay before, but the quieter town suits us perfectly.

Our luminous girls had a great time and Ella particularly takes after her dad in her confidence in the ocean. Leila follows me with a much more cautious approach.

The best part of the holiday, eating together as a family every evening. Twee, perhaps, but honesly, that makes me so happy as it's something we rarely get the chance to do. I wish the balance of our life could be different, that Geoff could be here more/earlier, but how can you manage that when your husband's job - the one that provides us with this life of ours - doesn't allow that. I find it really challenging to balance what I wish was so with what is so.

Today we'll try and hang on to our holiday vibe as we head all too rapidly towards the beginning of a new school year.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012


These holidays are going super fast.

We've entertained ourselves in all sorts of ways. The girls have had a few sleepovers with my parents which means Geoff and I got to the movies two weeks in a row. The first week The Skin I Live In - really really strange, but in a good strange way, if that makes sense. Creepy though without fear... The second week The Ides of March, also good but mostly for the two dreamboats of different eras, a film with flaws.

The girls and I have watched a few Harry Potter movies - every time Ella finishes a book we get to see the movie and she's been devouring them. We've crafted, we've rode and scootered every day. Ella's had a terrible scooter tumble and also had a wart frozen off.

I've had my hair coloured, but not cut. I've been walking a lot, only yesterday did 7.8kms of hilly walks in Healesville, would be lovely to do that every day.

I've made jam and chutney, I've made cakes, bagels and bread.

We're now getting ready for a week at the beach, we've rented a shack down the coast, which is not something we usually do at this absurdly high weekly rate time of year, but hey, you only get one shot so why not.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


A day at the Museum with Nan and Pa. Yes, Leila's wearing a school uniform, she still is. The girls started the day playing schools and my oh my, when Leila came out in a uniform, she looked so tiny! So she insisted on leaving it on, so she wore it to the Museum and to Brunettis for lunch.

Very pleased she's still just borrowing her sister's uniform. Realise now how happy I am for her to be waiting another year before she gets her own!


I realise that this may just relate to me personally, but I've just sat in tears reading this, so I'm going to transcribe it here, so I can remember.

I've just finished reading Nora Ephron's collection of thoughts "I feel bad about my neck". The book is a small collection of musings and thoughts on various subjects: I hate my purse; Parenting in three stages etc. The final chapter is called "Considering the Alternative" and it is her thoughts on ageing. She begins by saying, in summary, that there's nothing good about it, the getting of wisdom doesn't compensate for the loss of flexibility, memory loss and ill health of those you love.

My friend Judy died last year. She was the person I told everything to. She was my best friend, my extra sister, my true mother, sometimes even my daughter, she was all these things, and one day she called up to say, the weirdest thing has happened, there's a lump on my tongue. Less than a year later, she was dead. She was sixty-six years old. She had no interest in dying, right to the end. She died horribly. And now she's gone. I think of her every day, sometimes six or seven times a day. This is the weekend she and I usually went to the spring garden and antiques show in Bridgehampton together. The fire screen in the next room is something she spotted in a corner of that antiques show, and above the fireplace is a poster of a seagull that she gave me only two summers ago. It's June now; this is the month one or the other of us would make corn-bread pudding, a ridiculous recipe we both loved that's made with corn-bread mix and canned cream corn. She made hers with sour cream, and I made mine without. "Hi, hon", she would say when she called. "Hi, doll." "Hello, my darling." I don't think she ever called me, or anyone else she knew, by their actual name. I have her white cashmere shawl. I wore it for days after her death; I wrapped myself up in it; I even slept in it. but now I can't bear to wear it because it feels as if that's all there is left of my Judy. I want to talk to her. I want to have lunch with her. I want her to give me a book she just read and loved. She is my phantom limb and I can't believe I'm here without her.


My friend Henry died a few months ago. He was what we refer to as one of the lucky ones. He died at eighty-two, having lived a full, rich, and successful life. He had coped brilliantly with macular degeneration - for almost two years, most of his friends had no idea that he couldn't see - and then he wrote a book about going blind that will probably outlast all the rest of his accomplishments, which were considerable. He died of heart failure, peacefully in his sleep, with his adoring family around him. The day before his death, he asked to be brought a large brown accordian folder he kept in his office. In it were love letters he had received when he was younger. He sent them back to the women who'd written them, wrote them all lovely notes, and destroyed the rest. What's more, he left complete, detailed instructions for his funeral, including the music he wanted - all of this laid out explicitly in a file on his computer he called "Exit".


"I don't want to die," Judy said.

"I believe in miracles," she said.

"I love you," she said.

"Can you believe this?" she said.

No, I can't believe it. I still can't believe it.

But let's not be morbid.

Let's put little smiley faces on our faces.


Eat, drink and be merry.

Seize the day.

Life goes on.

It could be wore.

And the ever popular "Consider the alternative."

And meanwhile, here we are.

What is to be done.

I don't know. I hope that's clear. In a few minutes I will be through with writing this piece, and I will go back to life itself. Squirrels have made a hole in the roof, and we don't know quite what to do about it. Soon it will rain; we should probably take the cushions inside. I need more bath oil. And that reminds me to say something about bath oil. I use this bath oil I happen to love. It's called Dr. Hauschka's lemon bath. It costs about twenty dollars a bottle, which is enough for about two weeks of baths if you follow the instructions. The instructions say one capful per bath. But a capful gets you nowhere. A capful is not enough. I have known this for a long time. But if the events of the last few years have taught me anything, it's that I'm going to feel like an idiot if I die tomorrow and I skimped on bath oil today. So I use quite a lot of bath oil. More than you could ever imagine. After I take a bath, my bathtub is as dangerous as an oil slick. But thanks to the bath oil, I'm as smooth as silk. I am going out to buy more, right now. Goodbye.

Monday, January 09, 2012


I figured out that the last time I gutted a fish was in 1993 at Sprouce Coulee in Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Alberta Canada.

I was dating and living with my then Park Ranger and we'd gone camping near his parents, on the banks of this gorgeous lake.

We borrowed his dad's canoe and were the only ones on the water. I don't remember it being summer, but it was sunny and warm. I have a photo somewhere of him paddling at the end of the canoe, it was like an Indian canoe, quite wide and deep. He then took a photo of me lounging back reading the latest Bon Appetit and Gourmet. Occasionally I'd look over the side and trail my hand across the surface of the water. Out the back I could see his spinners trawling through the water and occasionally a fish chasing madly after it.

We caught fish that day and I gutted my first fish. We were the only ones there and bbqed our fish over the fire we lit when the sun started to go down.

Today the story isn't quite so romantic. The fish were already dead when I bought them but I did gut them myself. Some things you just never forget.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


Another birthday party - tick.

Leila's 5th birthday and the years have flown by. Last year we had a low key affair in one of the nearby parks and she was keen to do the same this year. However it poured down all night and into today, of course the sun's shining now! Her two requests were tiggy and hide and seek, but we replaced them with pass the parcel, a pinata, musical statues and pin the tail on the donkey.

I forget that some of Leila's friends from kinder this year are a good 18 months younger than her, so some were quite timid, but I hope they enjoyed themselves, the birthday girl did.

This year's cake, a fairly low key request for a cross between a princess and a wedding cake! It had to have three layers and be vanilla inside and out. She's happy, next year, school!!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


The books I read during 2011.

A visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Adultery and Other Choices by Andre Dubus
Amacord by Marcella Hazan
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
Landfall by Helen Gordon
Light Years by James Salter
Never let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Something to Tell You by Hanif Kureshi
The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt
The Keep by Jennifer Egan
The Summer without Men by Siri Hustvedt
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obrecht
What is the What by Dave Eggers

No stinkers in that bunch. My favourite, A visit from the Goon Squad.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


For me, summer is all about stone fruit. There was an ad here in Australia a few years ago. A man alone sitting on the edge of a high mountain peak crying while in the background Wendy Matthew's song "The day you went away" played. I do feel a little bit like that when they're finished for another year, which is why eat of them so copiously.

In a medium pan make a weak sugar syrup. All this depends on preference, I don't like it too sweet so for me a 1/3 - 1/2 cup of sugar to perhaps 1 1/2 cups of water. Throw in the juice of an orange and a long strip of its zested skin and bring to the simmer. Make a tiny incision in the peach skin, around the stalk, to assist in getting the skins off later. Gently place your peaches stalk side down first (the syrup will only come 1/3 to 1/2 the way up and simmer for about 8 mins. Then turn over and simmer for a further 8 minutes. That time's for fairly firm peaches to a fairly soft finish - again, depends on your taste.

Fish out the peaches and you'll see that the skin's become loose. If it still seems really firm, you may need to cook longer, otherwise you won't easily get the skins off and no lovely smooth finish. Set the peaches aside to cool. Put the syrup back on the heat, medium, and reduce until you're happy with the consistency. I added the juice of half a lemon and also perhaps 1/4 tsp of vanilla bean paste. When it's cooled strain for a lovely clear sauce.

To remove the peach skins it really should just be a matter of pushing them slowly back. If you have any resistance just be gentle and patient if you want them to be lovely and smooth otherwise, yank away!

Serve with a big scoop of good vanilla icecream or equally some lovely vanilla bean yoghurt and a good splosh of the sauce.


One of my quirks, not a particularly classy one, is that I like my poached eggs (very soft poached eggs) with a little ketchup. I squeeze a round blob right on the centre, on top, then slice it through the eggs and kind of mash it around until mixed to a lovely shade of orangey red, then I gobble it up.

Monday, January 02, 2012


Our gorgeous blondey babe. Your tangled curls, may you always look so sunkissed. You came late to the idea of birthday celebrations, but in the past year have caught onto the benefits of being the centre of attention for the day. This year you've embraced the festivities and it's lovely to see you enjoying the attention and love of those most important to you.

5 years old today - I can hardly believe it. You still come into bed with me every morning and snugggle in, you still need many cuddles and kisses during the day. I probably baby you, I know I do, but there is a shared experience with many other mothers that they want to hang on to their youngest when they know there won't be another.

I'm not worried about you my love. You're such a tender hearted soul, but there is strength to your character as well. I believe you know your worth in this world and won't accept anything less from anyone, it's a wonderful strength to have.

You are a funny girl, making us laugh. You are extremely generous, tender with those you love most, ever considerate, a care for us beyond your years.

Happy Birthday Leila babe. I couldn't love you more.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


We do tend to amuse ourselves.

Happy New Year!


Many of my colleagues at work are a good 10-15 years younger than me, so in their world NYE is a big night. I was asked the question of what I was doing a lot this past week. I felt no reservations in saying I was staying at home and celebrating with my favourite people in the whole world.

We had good champagne (although one bottle is NOT enough), some dark and stormies, the girls had strawberry lemonade cocktails. We had a selection of tapas, bbq corn tostadas, parmesan and pesto toasts, bbq prawns with pico de gallo, homemade pizza, tropical fruit salad with icecream. We talked, we danced and Geoff woke me from my couch slumber at two minutes past midnight.

I've spoken about how challenging this year has been for my family and I. Today we've commenced a new year and I have to say that my darling brother died last year which in itself shows how time marches ever forward. The girls, Geoff and I have all had our separate struggles but honestly, at the core of it all some things have never changed. I and we are healthy. I have a wonderful family whom I love so much. I need to focus more on gratitude for what I have and acceptance of those things I can't change. I need to be a little more adaptable in my attitudes and more forgiving of those closest to me.

I'm looking forward to this year. I won't also include my goals to eat better, exercise more as those are generally a given aren't they? I want to wish you all the best for this new year, you have all added pleasure to my days with your words either in response to my own, or through sharing the events in your life and those of your family. Roll on 2012.