Friday, September 18, 2009


Lovely Janie has awarded me the 

for my blog; I'm a bit chuffed, because she also gave it to some people I especially like: Mr London Street, LoraTennyson ee Hemingway. So that's nice. Very nice. Thank you, Janie!
I'm told that...
1) “The Honest Scrap” award is like a pint in a bar...better when shared with friends!
2) The recipient has to tell 10 true but unknown facts about themself.
3) The recipient has to buy a pint for 10 other bloggers.
4) Those 10 bloggers all have to be notified that they have a pint waiting to be enjoyed.
5) Those 10 bloggers should link back to the one who bought them the pint.

I don't think I've ever actually drunk a pint of anything. Oh well. (Hey, that's 1!)

ok. 2. I don't have a middle name. My parents said this was so I could choose my own. I think they just couldn't agree on one. 

3. Hubs and I have a pug. We call her Lucy, but her *real* name is Aurora. Fancy. That's CLEARLY where her princess attitude*** comes from. 

4. I have a thing about jeans. I collect them. Seriously. I don't really have the wardrobe space to cope with this, so I'm trying to come to terms with downsizing a little. 

5. I read the "Flowers in the Attic" series AVIDLY as a preteen. Twilight? Yeah, whatever. 

6. I don't barrack for a football team (practically unaustralian.)

7. I've lived with one leg slightly shorter than the other for YEARS. Until my clever osteopath worked out my pelvis had very intelligently twisted itself.

8. A girlfriend and I used to practice catwalking to Madonna's Vogue... on repeat. In front of a mirror. A full-length, 14-foot wide mirror. Yep. I'm crawling away now. 

9. We really did. Oh, okay, New thing. Ummm. I own a pair of AWESOME boots. They're bright blue over the knee leather and I love them. I also never wear them out of the house. You know how you can put something on four billion times and it just never looks quite... right?

10. OOH! This is actually really cool. I just twigged I could list it here because no-one knows... I stumbled across today and got ALL INSPIRED. I should post some photos but I'm too lazy. I used some really sweet little cards I ordered months ago from vistaprint for my students and wrote my messages on the blank side. I really ought to post some pics. Sigh.  But anyway, I wrote out HEAPS and then I tagged about twenty random cars today (in the parking lot, obviously) and left a few others at my favorite cafe, etc. I think I'm going to make them the new gum under the table; take blu-tack with me everywhere and stick them JUST under the edge.  

***Just in case you were in any doubt; the pug has now brought her bone inside (much hilarious sneaking and skulking culminating in a mad dash for the bedroom) and is eating it under the dining room table. On, variously, the table leg, my foot, and the hardwood floor. So my wonderful Cat Empire music is being punctuated by much steam-engine gnawing and scrabbling and clawing before the whole thing shoots across the floor and is retrieved and dragged back under the table. There be monsters. Of course, when I stick my head down to look at her she's all "ME? With a BONE? You MUST be kidding. Far too much hard work. You wanna feed me now?"

I think it's time for me to sit on the couch with a book and some tea. Currently reading: Baby No-Eyes (Talanoa)which I stumbled across in an opshop today. $5. Happy days. 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Yum yum.

We started out as teengers walking her dogs in the rain. Now we're adults living on different sides of Melbourne, but we still meet up, and yes, walk our dogs in the rain.

Tonight we got together with B and her fiancé N and another couple, M&J (who we met at B&N's engagement party). Our conversation began a little awkwardly, with stories of dogs past, present and other people's, before we played a little "who's had the worst week at work?" and moved onto tv shows.

Ah, yeah. Hubs and I don't have a tv. When we moved in to our house we had millions of offers.
My parents: "You should take the spare tv that's just sitting in the laundry."
My parents have more tv screens than people in their house. Even their dog watches tv. We, however, still don't have a tv, after nearly three years. Nor do we have four children.

We DO have an obsession with West Wing and have recently discovered the fantastic that is Firefly (Joss Whedon, can I come and work for you in ANY capacity? Please?) but tv? Nope. Don't got one. Won't have seen that really cool ad for whatever, don't know about those so sad auditions for "So you think you can dance" and still don't have time to read/write/make/do all that I want to do.

Ok. So now you know my dirty little secret. Back to topic: it's very funny to have four adults discussing a tv show and trying to explain it to two others who have never seen it.
Scary thought: you know how you see people and think "Wow, why did you EVER have children???" What if they only had children so they had something in common with their friends? I'm sure I heard something about a teen pregnancy epidemic in some American town; maybe this is really something people do!

Have you ever done something because everyone else was doing it? I mean, I know that as teenagers we all had a drink (ok, mom, I know YOU didn't) or a cigarette (yeah, mom, I hear you) or SOMETHING. Currently all the media seems to be pushing for a baby boom.
This season's must have: a baby! You only have to wait nine months, and for an extra five grand you can choose the color! Accessories that last a lifetime!

Hm. Got a bit ranty there. I should probably chill it, listen to the magic podcast and get some sleep. I was terribly well fed; chicken parmagiana that was like half a chicken flattened across my plate beneath bacon, tomato and three types of cheese. Hubs ate kangaroo (yeah, we're such philistines we eat our national animals) and we each ordered dessert; him some amazing mangoapplestrawberry parfait with chocolate sorbet and macerated strawberries, me a dark chocolate-layered-with-sponge slice thing with strawberries and orange segments, topped with a scoop of blood orange sorbet. Mmmm-hmmm that is the GOOD dessert right there.

Oh oh OH! I nearly forgot to say, but I received my gift of jewels today and it really was a gift :) a delightful card, and letter, and the coolest gold bookmark, all the way from lovely South Carolina. Thank you, Connie, your gift was delightful and absolutely made my day. A mom mentioned that she and her family are reading The Little House on the Prairie and I think I'd like to revisit those halycon days. Your bookmark is going to be the perfect thing - and I won't mention the other sweet bit here because it might spoil the surprise... maybe I can update that tomorrow.

Stupid teachers are the worst kind.

In a discussion with suzukisinger this morning I formed this snazzy little hypothesis. Catchy, no? Ranks ONLY JUST below my other favorite: Stupid people are the worst kind. However, they're my favorite kind to rant about.

I realise I've covered this angst before, probably while in Japan, but out here in the crazy west (that's on an international geographical level, not a statewide level) we have this INSANE-O idea that the people who can, do. Those who can't, teach.

My objections to this stupid-to-top-all-stupid ideas are endless. And whoever decided that the hypen key should sit all the way over THERE on the keyboard is also pretty dumb.
I stumbled across a blog this morning that briefly discussed the blogger's return to piano lessons, and how that was great, BUT these pieces were more complex rhythmically and melodically and therefore causing blogger a little trepidation. And that's absolutely fair enough.

What I take issue with is the following: rhymically AND melodically more complex? Come on. Let's develop one skill at a time. You know, play a piece you CAN ALREADY PLAY WELL with a syncopated rhythm, or drill the finger pattern with different rhythms which gradually become more complex until you can put together the rhythmic pattern required...and do all this stuff while you listen to someone REALLY FANTASTIC play the piece BEAUTIFULLY. Because having an accurate model of what you're aiming for going around and around in your head will help you get closer to that thing.

I am constantly astounded at the (music) teachers who don't THINK about this stuff.
Good readers are often good spellers.
Children from homes where English is spoken every day with grammatical accuracy often speak well themselves.
Children from bilingual homes are often bilingual (and note, this depends on the frequency with which they are exposed to second language).
There are SO many more examples I could go on to name, but gee, would it be ROCKET SCIENCE to assume that if you are exposed to a certain piece of music you WILL BE ABLE TO PLAY IT?

I'd like to share a little here. Nothing earthshattering, but bear with me. I'm sure all the mothers and teachers out there have had this moment.

So, O and I are driving along in the car, listening to a particular Minuet by Boccherini, and I say "Bock-A-Ree-Neeee!!" with obvious delight. (I should point out that O will be 2 in November.)
He looks interested, so I have another go: "Bock-A-Ree-Neeee!!"
and hear, from the backseat: "Bock-A-Nee-Nee!"
We continue to declaim this theme and variations for a little while, and now, two weeks later, it's a clear and confident "Bock-A-Nee-Nee!" whenever he hears THAT particular piece of music.

My point is, we don't wait to teach a child to SPEAK until they can read. I'd be sitting in that car for another five years thinking "Gee, better not tell him who wrote this, he hasn't been taught to read it yet!"
And they can read a hell of a lot earlier than we wait to teach them, but that's another post. Why do we persist in thinking that mnusic, which is perceived AURALLY, should be learned VISUALLY???

Teachers, stop tormenting your students. Give them decent recordings of their repertoire and tell them to listen to it. Put some joy back in. Or I will come to your house and take your instrument apart. With an axe. Well, I probably won't, but it's a nice threat.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Clash this...I dare you.

Following on from the concert with 60% attendence, I sent out emails this week notifying everyone of the next concert...the 5th December. That's nearly three months in advance; I figure that short of a wedding or a ballet concert I should be in with some kind of improved chance. (And I've already checked out the dates for ballet recitals with the majority of my girls, and I'm getting in the weekend before so that I don't have children half-dead of exhaustion.)

How else do I educate/inspire? It's one of those things where the proff is in the pudding; you attend and THEN you see the benefit. You don't and there's no benefit - but also no discernible disadvantage, just a child with a downward curving motivation. I feel like I'm chasing my tail!

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who was incredulous that a parent would even think of missing a concert: they pay for lessons, they come to lessons, they have some level of participation in home practice, why WOULD'NT you make an effort to attend? Perhaps this is subconscious sabotage. Perhaps I'm self-sabotaging by expecting that it IS an effort; maybe I should stop saying "I respect how busy..." and start saying "I expect that..."

I don't think I'm full-time nasty enough.
I'm sure there are many lurkers who would dispute this (HA!)
I need these holidays.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What do I read now?

In the last week, my reading has been:

The tail end of The Moment I First Believed by Wally Lamb, for the third time.

The Wonder Spot (Melissa Bank); no, it's not about sex.

James Frey's Bright Shiny Morning, and then A Million Little Pieces, because that was right underneath it on the bookpile (the one beside the front door. There's also one in the lounge threatening to engulf the couch, and another in the bedroom that mysteriously... grows. I have no idea how it happens, but it just does. I would purchase more bookshelves but we already have six (mostly double-layered) and I don't think our house can accommodate any more.)

Ummm.... then I wandered through a few chapters of Women who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes (is that not an UTTERLY fantastic name? Clarissa Pinkola. Seriously.) and Coraline, by Neil Gaiman; he has a special place in my brain. I read Good Omens as a stress response all through my VCE year, then the collected works of Jane Austen about twenty-nine times in my first year of uni.

Oh, and now I'm reading some piece of tripe called 31 Dream Street, by a random Lisa Jewell (That is SO a pseudonym).
So. What do I read now? I'm bored. Oh, and I'm a serious fan of Chuck Palahniuk. Weird, no?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some things are more fundamentally interconnected than others.

We're on the way to our friends' place for dinner. They've been living there for some months now, and this will be our first visit. Are we bad friends? On the face of it, yes. They don't live all that far away, and we've seen them at a favorite restaurant in the interval. However, this is the first invitation to have been made, probably the only before the madness of Christmas and all that blah de blah.

But... He and hubs have hung out on many weekends and hubs is usually the group chauffeur. Our house is usually the venue for draft nights and then all the boys descend like fast-food locusts.

The short story: big group, mostly couples now, spread geographically and vocationally. Minimum ten years' shared history.
How far is too far? Do we take turns having our friends over? Organize some kind of monthly roster? There was a motion to catch up on the third Sunday of every month, but Sunday is family dinner for some, monday dog club for someone else, tuesday a horrible clash with work, and so forth.
At what point do you say "Alright, YOU make the effort." And if you have to say that, maybe the friendship isn't worth the effort anymore.

Facebook, twitter, phone, yes yes, but for my friends I view these as avenues to face time, actual time. Not a replacement.

Away from the frustrations of theoretical human interaction, dinner awaits. It may require actual interaction, but we shall see.

a brief memorandum: dinner was lovely. Face time is a precious thing. Thank you, our lovely friends.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Put some REAL knickers on. Please.

I wandered down to my (semi)local today to enjoy a little live music and some vertical dancing action. Jimi Hocking and the Blues Machine were great. GREAT. Loving it. Loving a lead singer who can SING (mother was an opera singer, guess who has great classical training), loving guys who can dance. Everybody's happy.

Then the mid-life-crisis Barbies appear. These are the women who bought themselves cosmetic surgery to pay back their ex-husbands. Or to find a new husband. Or to find, if not a sugar daddy, then someone who will buy them a drink. I just want someone to buy them a better color lipstick. Or, in the case of one unfortunate, full, boylegged panties.

I'm not saying that being over forty puts you out of miniskirt territory. Hey, fifty is apparently the new thirty. And if wearing a short skirt makes you feel all right then you go ahead, lady. But please, in the name of all things depilated, does it HAVE to be a full, spins-out to waist-height skirt? I mean, it barely covered your butt to begin with, but now no-one in the bar wants to take you home because they've all seen it all.

I'm tempted to advertise my services as a 'dresser' - literally, one who ensures you leave the house DRESSED. That means that when you think an strapless bodice top would be just the thing, I will gently remind you that you plan to be twirling about with your arms above your head. Tape may be a wise investment.

Hair is a component of your appearance, not an accessory. Sparkly butterfly clips will look much sweeter in your granddaughter's hair than in your own.
When striving to maintain a youthful appearance, bleach-blond wire hairsprayed into dead-straight tufts is not a weapon in your charm arsenal. It's just a weapon. That anyone takes money from you to make it look like that is criminal. (We're talking hair to shoulders or longer, not some perky, sweet pixie cut.)

Perhaps more worrying than any of the mavens of grotesque is the following exchange:
"So, where are you guys playing next weekend?"
"Oh, over at the Manhattan, but you should come to the Elephant and Wheelbarrow the weekend after that . It's a really nice gig."
"And do many people dance?"
"Ah, not so much, no. It's pretty cruisy though. Why, you'd want to dance?"
"Ah, yep. Just need to know if I have to bring my own boy or I can recruit from the crowd."
"Oh, you'd have a boy to bring, wouldn't you? You look like you'd have a few boys!"
"Ah, yeah. Yeah, I could probably scrape one up." [quick, embarrassed exit]

You look like you'd have a few boys???!!! I really hope that's some kind of a compliment. On the other hand, I have (and wear, let's be quite clear) a wedding band.
Guys, decode please: "You look like you'd have a few boys!" with reference: NO, I was not wearing a short skirt. OR a strapless top. Grey tee, black skirt.

ANd the perfect end to a Sunday... Hubs, rifling through the cookie tin full of homemade cookies: "Have you tried any of these ones with the stuff?"
"Ah, yes, the ONES with the STUFF..."
"Should I maybe make a little plate of cookies and things to..."
"You know, I'm SURE that's something you can do spontaneously."
"Oh, yeah. Yeap. I'm -ah- just talking to myself over here. Not asking you anything about stuff at all."