Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spotlight, how do you do this to me?

Does Spotlight fill you too with delusions of competence and domestic sewn-from-scratch perfection? I'm here to tell you only masochists make their own napkins.

Only morons see some BEAUTIFUL scarlet fabric with white scrolls and birds and curlicues and think "WOW, that would make stunning Christmas napkins. I could totally make them."
Hemming (a.k.a sewing in straight lines, in this instance) is very easy. It's more the cutting in straight lines which is a hassle. And the ironing. Oh yes, the ironing. The pressing of 100% cotton homespun into creases OTHER than the ones formed by the fabric bolt. Maybe it's just the tedium killing me.

Oh yes, killing.
I've hemmed and pressed and folded one.
Of twelve.

Admittedly, the other eleven are cut and stacked beside the machine, and the iron is now hot, so I've come further down the tunnel than I'm protesting.  I've hemmed the tablecloth (just call me Martha Stewart)

I have a distinct feeling the boy will be on loose-thread-trimming and pressing duty when he comes home. If he comes home. Meanwhile, on with the Tripod marathon and the cheery festive hemming. Frick.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trying to be grownups

me: Where did all the Picnics go?

him: I was... picnicking. Do you like Turkish Delights? Here, you use the white ones as counters. (Tossing them at Jack) Who likes caramel? Do you like caramel? Do you like the Boost ones? (This may be a box of Cadbury Favorites, it's hard to be sure. You'll note all the really GOOD ones are long gone.)

me: Um, I don't not like them.

him: Good, you take the Turkish Delights and the Boost, I'll..

me: Do we REALLY have to divvy them all up right now? Can you not just leave them in a mixed group so we can eat them like ADULTS?

Jack: I really love these balls.

(Worth noting that a box of Lindt is also on the table. It's happy-happy Christmas time, aka end-of-teaching-year aka welcome to the crazy who is my husband on a sugar high from pilfering fridge goodies. Love it.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

revamp? too much work.

Post-ballet concert, I’m firmly embracing the pyjama-dressing trend. I did have thoughts of morphing into a fashion-inspiration-look at me blog, but I’ve decided

(a) I’m too lazy

(b) I have no decent backdrops to take such photos against, except for my new, minimalist roller blinds which have couches in front of them and there’s NO WAY I’m moving them just to take a photo of myself looking (i) uncoordinated (ii)out of focus,

(c) I HATE most photos of myself

(d) don’t I already have enough to do?

(e) I’m lazy. As you may have noticed from my month of blog-neglect.

Besides, you don’t really want to look at photos of me in my pyjamas. That’s what the Peter Alexander catalogue is for (and as if I could ever compete with THAT?!). It goes like this: silk blouson pants, country road tee. Painted cotton harem pants and singlet top. Stretch waistbands and floaty cotton all the way. Flat shoes only, and if they can be easily kicked off, all the better. 

I’m starting to think that the world might be a happier place if we all got our snuggle on and saved the stilettos for occasions already softened by alcohol. I’m already feeling that I can get from working-state to relaxed-state with much more ease. This has NOTHING to do with concerts being over and a six-week break so close I can almost taste it. Hm. How do you get your snuggle on?

Thursday, December 9, 2010


There’s been a lot going on that hasn’t really been mine to write about; then there’s been a lot going on that’s been so incredibly deadly boring that living it is soporific, let alone reading about it. Take today.
Today I learned that forgetting to run a load of washing for two? maybe three? weeks is a crappy idea. I also learned I have a propensity for scribbling random information (crucial stuff, mind you) on random bits of paper, then confusing those bits of paper with the bits that should have been thrown out weeks ago.  That’s not to say that I threw out the important bits instead, just that I have a house littered with pieces of irrelevant and relevant notes that need collating, sorting, and filing. In the bin.

My ‘housekeeping’ was going brilliantly this morning, until I ferried a miscellaneous pile of cello strings downstairs and squelched across the floor. Oh no. Oh yes. Those flooding rains that struck Melbourne? They struck us, too. Rather stealthily, possibly through our gum-leaf-filled gutters at second-storey height. 


Goodbye leisurely morning of picking up crap, hello panic stations treading towels into carpet and setting up blow heaters to try and dry the mat out pre-afternoon teaching. Loud, epiphanic curses when I discovered my little black book (a diligent effort at record-keeping, tracking each student’s progress in 2010 sopping, every page adhering to the other in a gloppy papier-mache mess. I haven’t yet reached a state of gratitude that my (mostly irreplaceable) teaching theses and workbooks were all safely stowed on shelves and have kept their ink on. Maybe I’ll get there when my carpet’s dry again. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I'm an imposter (gasp!)

Devastation: I am not a true geek. Oh, I may wear black (a lot) and tweet with the frequency of one attached to her iPhone with an umbilical cord, but my glasses are strictly for reading and my black has heels welded on. High ones.

I judge my hand luggage on it's ability to keep lipgloss separate from my phone, not orthopedic correctness, and you will never see me in public without mascara. Minimum. So to be at a tripod gig is kind of like an out-of-body experience.
An awesome one, ok, but still. I don't think I was ever one of these girls wearing Docs and jeans and hi-necked tees (one by one, tick. All together? Gee, maybe one day in 1999 when I was trying to kick my creative writing tutor's attractive and condescending afrikaans butt.).

What? Oh yeah. The dvd's going to be fantastic. Of the show, not me engaging in poetic butt-kicking. Let's just pretend that whole digression never happened.

I once participated in a dungeons & dragons-type game with a (now obviously ex-) boyfriend. He wasn't an ex at the time. Der. It all ended badly when I carelessly slouched beneath a tree, horn pointing up (my character was a unicorn. Shut up. Stop snickering. I was fourteen. Yes, I had a boyfriend. He's STILL a lovely guy.) and a fellow gamer fell out of the tree. Onto my sharp, shiny unicorn horn. Oops. Yeah. Turns out the way not to make friends is accidentally stab them in the back. Especially when the dice conspire to kill them (seriously, I had no idea what I was doing). Yeah.

So I totally related to Tripod vs. the Dragon. Buy the DVD, they're just damn cool (in a geeky three-part harmony kind of way). Plus I'm SO going to be on it, laughing hysterically and looking stupid. Yay. (Reminds me of that John Farnham concert.... Oh jeez.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Only in

Two o'clock on Sunday afternoon: a man in a motorized wheelchair rolls loudly down the highway. He's singing Elvis into a microphone, the lousy, over-bassed loudspeaker reverberating directionally across four lanes of traffic.
I wonder out loud if he's crazy. M, always the kinder of us two, suggests he's a traveling busker. I concede that's possible, if he's blind and indifferent to the lack of pedestrians this side of frankston. Perhaps he's warming up, building his confidence. He has a loudspeaker. That alone would seem to point to a certain level of comfort. Weird, we shrug, and carry on, watching the navy bastion of the Aussie flag flap behind him as he chugs along the deserted pavement crooning to the seagulls.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


On Saturday I received an email from a woman whose daughter I used to teach. It's been five-six years since I last heard from her. I taught her daughter for two or three years (to the end of Book 1), and they ended their time with me by 'trying out' another teacher, asking for a Sunday morning lesson time and generally being the kind of nightmare student you dream of losing.

Her email mentions her now four-year-old twins and requests a lesson time, tells me that the older child still plays and attends a private school on a scholarship. I don't think this family is a good fit for Suzuki, and I can't in good conscience take on another student - I won't be able to continue their lessons when they begin school and there is no way in hell that I will teach Sunday morning, given that the other six days of the week are all working ones.

My dilemma is this: Do I refer her to a colleague beginning her Suzuki studio or simply give a polite refusal? Do I brief my colleague or stay quiet and let her deal with the parent on her own terms? I realise a lot can change in five years, and Mum may be seeking a Suzuki teacher because her older child has progressed so slowly through the traditional system (she's up to AMEB Grade three). Dilemma.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Today is the type of day for crawling into bed and watching old black-and-white movies. Or drinking tea from my teapot for one, book in front and notepad beside. I'm stuck in a creative hiatus; ideas but inadequate time to execute; desire without the means to reach out and take. I have the feeling next year will be about paring back and (ohgod, how indulgent) making space. A little more saying no and perhaps, instead of yes, sure, absolutely.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not unhappy withe the current state of my life, but I am feeling a lot of time is spent doing instead of being. When a white space of time suddenly opens up I hurry to fill it because I've forgotten how to spend it. I'm a little addicted to the adrenalin rushes of my life instead of a slow endorphin burn. (Pleasure junkie, hand up.)

I read the other day that the accepted response to "how are you?" is an apologetic, slightly flustered "So busy!" and that we seem to equate stress to success. I'd like to become more successful at balance. So I can choose to say yes and reply "So busy!" knowing damn well my busy will end in a week, or that next month is much calmer - and that I will not accept more impositions on my time simply because it's not yet assigned to another purpose. How to start saying no?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Just a quickie; an apology for my absence from the interwebs. The reasons are many: a husband recently returned to the country, a new term with multiple concerts, a new baby (not mine!) and a little artistic collaboration of a photographic nature. Soon I might have images to share. Until life settles just a little, enjoy the sidebar. We will return to usual ranting programming shortly.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hello term 4.

Wow. The year's evaporated and there are only ten weeks standing between me and a summer of being broke and filling up my backyard wading pool.

Time to start walking the pug (in her posh new puppia harness, courtesy of a generous friend) and maybe even to changer her collar from a glow-in-the-dark spiky to a flattering floral on black (same friend) which will complement my summer wardrobe... I'm so not that kind of person.

Time to stash a litre of sunblock next to the neutrogena MIRACLE hand-cream which is slowly restoring my cuticles.

Time, perhaps, to start plotting what will occupy my brain when I don't have quite so many classes bouncing around it. (The boy seems to be plugging MTG shamelessly; if I get asked to look at his DECK one more time I'm going to do something else to his... something else. Yes. Fill in the blank. I dare you.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yum yum

For today's delectation allow me to present the chicken and leak pie. Yup. Only three dollars. I've just about accepted that my battle with the misused and abused apostrophe is lost, but since when did spelling become the new leprosy?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Now with added soot!

I have a mild haloumi addiction which may lead to a parting of the ways. My husband is considering the purchase of his own jaffle maker. His n' hers: can you imagine? Imagine: me, pottering about in my kitchen, happily assembling a tasty jaffle (they're a complete meal, shut up) with a side of super-tasty haloumi.

Well, I already have a smoking hot grill surface at the ready; why use a frypan for a measly two slices of the cheese equivalent of crack cocaine? EXACTLY. Besides, residual haloumi grease? BLISS on the exterior of your gourmet toastie.

So I prepare, amble away, and am completely dumbfounded when husband extracts paper towel from cupboard and starts to scrub away at our well-used little jaffler. You all heard my screech of dismay, admit it. I mean, there goes all the FLAVOR (he called it carcinogenic soot, but I beg to differ).

Fast forward to tonight: he offers to make me the sandwich (in the shiny new thingamajig he scrubbed clean), possibly so I can't grubby it up with my greasy cheese. I graciously accept. Little does he know that I will covertly (actually, not at all covertly) chop a few chunks of cheese and grill them in the (well, it's still hot. Shame to waste that heat) jaffle iron.

Sizzle, sizzle.
"What are you cooking now?"
"Nothing..." (shifty eyes)
"But I can hear it sizzling!"
"It's a special type of nothing that sizzles?" (Yeah, I'm SO good at thinking on my feet.)

He shakes his head sorrowfully over the new encrustations of grease.
"Do you really want me to leave it like this?"
Nod vigorously.
"Really? Don't clean it?"
Shake vigorously.

Kindly, he puts it away. Memo to self: only grill haloumi on the left side.

Friday, September 24, 2010

And another thing...

And a follow-up: the email I received in response to my polite refusal makes it quite clear I am being invited as an "Old Girl" because so few of us continue to play once we finish school, and gee, what a great opportunity this is to catch up and support our school.

Hm. I nearly quit violin altogether after being victimized in orchestra, I am NOT an "Old Girl" and I've lived locally with not too low a musical profile for, like, ever, so the whole "we will encourage and support you" thing isn't flying. God, I hope they don't say "Oh, her! Yes, former student of the school, you know."

I'm totally holding a grudge. Sue me.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Those of you who know me will no doubt remember my horror sojourn at a particular private girls' school.

My life may finally be catching up with me, as (seemingly countless) of my students are trying for and receiving scholarships to said school. This has provoked a horrible (and irrational) fear that I may have to teach there. No such correspondence has been entered into... until today, when I arrived home to the following: (summarised for convenience)

Speech Night is coming up. We plan to play X. We want you to join us (translation: We have overreached the skill level of our students and are recruiting to make them look better than they really are) for MINIMUM two rehearsals and the concert. 

Rehearsal times, contact details, yada yada yada. 


Let's be clear. Not only do I NOT identify as a "past student", I left the school under openly hostile terms. There may have been threats to "set the education department onto [us]" and there was acrimony brewing for some time prior to my eventual exit.  And frankly, if I'm one of the "few other musicians" you're inviting, this would be a JOB and you could OFFER to PAY me. NOT a community orchestra, effective casual employment to "augment certain sections of the orchestra" (read: instrumental tutor to violins).

Surprise, surprise, I've very nicely refused the opportunity to perform, since you know, I don't get enough of those with my own studio, and even resisted the furious outburst of "You goons ruined my adolescence and now you want me to give up hours of PAID work to sit in your substandard orchestra and make it sound better than it really is so hundreds of fleeced parents think they're getting value for money?" in my polite email reply.

Lucky I have this blog.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dear Student,

You are late. Again. I would not be so fussed by this except that you're never late for any discernible reason. It just happened. I would also not be terribly fussed by this, except that you then linger into the next student's lesson, taking your time removing your presence (let me be clear, you're welcome to stay as long as you like, but no-one should notice you) and generally hanging about. I'm beginning to understand why you were late.

What I would like to tell you: It's rude. Please stop. Schedule a later lesson time, plan to leave your home five minutes earlier, pack your stuff in the morning before you leave the house. Pack it on Sunday night, since I know you're not a morning person and you don't practice before school. If I was your parent I would ask you to pay for every minute of lesson time you DON'T receive because you found something more important to do on the way. Ooh, you're here. That'll be $10.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I think the universe is sabotaging me.

No, really. It's cold, wet, I spend a disproportionate amount of time sleeping (the pug has taken to gazing at me suspiciously on the rare occasions that I am in the house and awake, as if I might suddenly fall upon her in a dead slumber).

Clearly there's something very wrong when your PET believes your normal state is one of repose. It's been a dead week, shot down by general malaise and the tendency of my life to roll along juggernaut-like regardless of my participation. Take this morning: Chai will make EVERYTHING better, thinks brilliant little me. Ah, no, it really won't when its BLAZING hot and in an effort to drown the bitter, foul taste of a vile herbal tonic I burn my mouth - thoroughly. Gah.

About the only thing I CAN do is tell you all to read Steve Toltz's A fraction of the whole, which was just as good on my second read, and Justin Cronin's The Passage, which I THOUGHT was going to be a godawful Stephanie-Meyer-esque vampire saga but thankfully took a post-apocalyptic turn for the better. Despite his unwieldy name (JustIN CronIN? What WERE his parents thinking?) the prose is good. One humorous spelling error: twice the word "wretch" for "retch" (as in, about to throw up). Incongruous where it occurred and still has me wondering about the general English skills of most editors (oh, I've found some SUBLIME errors lately). So.

Go and buy yourself two very different books and cuddle up.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This week...

I've been using Twitter to find new penpals. Well, not quite, but I did ask who would like a pretty card in the mail, and quite a lot of people took me up on it, avowing their love of letterbox surprises and pretty things in general.

 It tickles me that I'm using the fastest communication to support the slowest; I check my email and twitter several times a day (oh, the vagaries of an iphone) but nothing is quite the same as pulling a personally addressed envelope from the mail. It's grounding in a way that all this electronic communication is so much fairyfloss. Hit the delete button and it's gone, might never have existed. This envelope in my hands? Just to walk to the bin requires my active engagement, participation with measurable action.

Writing, like so many other things, is a luxury. Like slow food, like handmade gifts, like learning a new skill and practising it (not just going to a six week course and then forgetting the whole shebang) until it becomes familiar. How terribly ironic that in a world full of devices to make life easier and faster we have lost the time to go slow.

I'm struggling a little with the parameters of time while living by myself (although the pug's constant harassment for food means I can never fall too far off balance. I go to sleep too late, wake up untethered and not knowing whether I really have slept at all. I suspect I may be nocturnal and merely participating in this "let's all be awake during daylight" merely out of habit.

What do you do to ground yourself?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Imbecilic behaviour pt.II

Dear Guy in Gloria Jean’s.
You’re inside. Thoroughly inside, esconced in ‘mood lighting’ and an ambient, ‘warm’ color scheme of latte and burgundy. Outside it is overcast and has been raining heavily. You may have needed the leather jacket out there, but in here nothing can excuse the pretentious git sunglasses covering half your face.

P.S. I hate spammers. Particularly when they leave irrelevant and moronic advertisements on every post I’ve put up in the last, oh, month?
Removed now, after much whinging, moaning, and tabbing back and forth on my part. Bastards.

P.P.S. What I DO love is finding this season’s shoes in Savers. For 12.99. And then discovering that despite their tagged size (8) and my nominal shoe size (9) they FIT. Happy Cinderella moment, or it would have been had the two blue-rinse ladies behind me been bluebirds, the said shoes glass slippers instead of wooden-soled wedges…and my baby-blue Levis  a ballgown. There’s just something so inescapably WHOLESOME about faded Levis. I’ll probably cry a little when they get to the stage of whorishly threadbare as opposed to pleasantly scuffed and washed to flannelette softness, but for now they’re perfect.  

No, you don’t get photos. We’ve been over this.
(a) I have no idea about lighting, composition, and generally what makes a ‘good’ photo
(b) With only myself around and no tripod, it’s freaking difficult to take a photo of anything on my body, and I assure you it’s far, FAR too cold to remove any clothing just so it can be photographed and added to a blog five people a month read.
(c) I’m lazy. 

Just go and stroke your favorite flannelette pj pants (DON'T try to tell me you're too cool to own any, I won't believe you and will laugh uproariously) while picturing the best jeans you've ever owned. Yeah. Feels like that. See? Much better than a photo of some random patch of denim. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hello, I'm an imbecile, aka Australian.

It’s gotten to the stage where I take great pleasure in reading the Herald Sun just to rant about the moronic content/commentary/drivel passing for articles/lack of style/you get the picture.

On Sunday I was blessed (and this was after a cursory glance) with two golden opportunities.
Not only was Catherine Lambert’s usual laughably pathetic attempt at finding a vaguely fashionable person to photograph and deconstruct up (or down) to par, but Eddie MacGuire chose to address the Victorian public with no little disregard for the coventions of written English. Sentence 1: incomplete. Sentence 2: incomplete. Sentence 3: punctuation would have helped. Sentence 4: I forget, but there was something wrong with it, because my outrage was squarely centred on the fact that a Year 9 student should (although given the state of our education system, may not) be able to produce four coherent sentences.

Fair enough, Eddie’s an everyman, so maybe it’s to his benefit to be semi-illiterate. I wouldn’t know, being one of the minority holding a postgraduate qualification. I’m not even meant to be reading the Herald-Sun; I should be supporting The Age or The Australian along with my university-educated peers.

It’s distressingly easy to see why people are becoming dumber; the public sphere expects so little of us – and so we get condescension ladled out in spoonfuls; SHOCK! Our weekly shopping is getting more expensive! A. Buy home brands (because that solves the problem of raw material and production costs rising, DER.) SHOCK! Our kids are getting fatter! A. Boost their self-esteem, because all that emotional eating is destroying them (not what you put in your trolley or what they’re bullied into wanting by advertising, another dissertation altogether). SHOCK! Australian public growing more stupid! A. Yeah, no, like really?

On a more distressing note, this is my 200th blog post. Two hundred posts and I've still got things to gripe about. Wow. I suppose I should come up with some fantastic giveaway or way of compelling people to come out of the woodwork, leave comments, pander to my ego, etc, but this requires more thought than I'm capable of on a Monday night, hacking and sneezing my way toward bedtime. Help me. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Open letter to the patrons of the pub. Sorry, ONE patron of the pub.

Dear girl wearing a maxidress,

The dance floor is for dancing. The bar is for drinking. So are all those tables.

There is a reason people with full glasses lurk at said tables and not upon the dance floor, let alone attempt any movement which may be construed as dancing.

The reason is in your hand, and is rapidly getting emptier. I am rapidly getting wetter.
Not in a good way.

The guy you are 'dancing' with (where dancing may be read as lunging back and forth toward each other in some vague attempt at rhythmic coordination) is correct. Put down the beer glass and then, sure, continue to endanger your own wellbeing by gyrating/lunging/mashing other people's toes in your determined pursuit of "I'm the cool girl who can drink a beer AND dance".

Flinging your hair around will not help. You will only scare off your potential boyfriend by lashing him violently across the face, first with your hair and then your spilt beer.

Oh, well done.
No, really.
I mean, it takes skill to drop a glass of beer among enthusiastically dancing people in a pub, in FRANKSTON, and NOT get punched in the face. Did you have to drop the actual glass as well? Next time? Just the beer, thanks. At least that evaporates.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bronchitis is fun when you...

Loves: a quiet night at home where I can bust out my sewing machine and the stash from the cupboard and get all crafty. Last time I did this I wound up sewing darts in the back of a dress at 1a.m., (Cue my mother: "Will anyone REALLY notice if they're a centimetre off?" Me: "I will.") but it was TOTALLY worth it.

A couple metres of sunshiny red poplin became a sweet A-line dress courtesy of a 1979 Vogue pattern, a lot of cursing (a good quick-unpick is the BEST investment the would-be seamstress will EVER make), and a patient boy trying hard to understand why THAT shade of blue bias binding was not exactly the right shade of cerulean.

Tonight I've been a bit more snippy than sewy, but now I have a decadent watermelony scarf which fringes and drapes like no-one's business. Best color EVER. You have to close your eyes and imagine the coral-ly pink of fresh watermelon at this point, because I'm too lazy to find my camera and post a photo. I'm just not into all that visual biz.  (And thanks, Lady Smaggle, for the inspiration!)

I have used up some of my stash of metal-toothed zips with happy results; my good ol' Sass & Bides are now skinny Zipporas with zippity-doo-dah awesome. (I've got to stop eating choc-chip cookies, they're making me a LITTLE loopy.) Should really go and tidy up now... entirely the boring part. Perhaps I could just sew one more thing first....

P.S. All you people reading this and giggling at my sugar-fuelled hysteria (oh god, Jonathan Coulton's version of "Baby Got Back" just hit out stereo. Don't even ask.) ... what? Oh yeah. All you people reading this and snickering are complete bastards. Unless you leave me a little something in the comments box. Then you're wonderful.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The cold, the neti pot and the wardrobe.

Sick again. After the joys of gastro and an enlarged spleen, everyone should try a nasty cold. Radioactive sinus secretions and a hacking cough? BAGS of fun. 

At the same time my wardrobe has decided to fall apart. Literally. Being a girl, I have too many clothes. I’m sure this has been mentioned before, but I inhabit half the walk-in (it’s a really TINY walk-in, ok?) plus a freestanding wardrobe in our bedroom, plus another freestanding wardrobe in the spare room (where it fights for space with lego boxes and MTG cards).

There may or may not be yet another wardrobe holding costumes and fabric for my optimistically titled ‘spare time’ when I interact with my sewing machine. Part of my brain would quite like to try out the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Probably the same part which thinks I should start every morning with a litre of warm water spiked with lemon before eating half a cup of porridge and practising neti.

(For the uninitiated, neti is the practice of rinsing your sinuses with warm salty water. You get a neti pot, laugh at it’s penis-shaped spout for a bit, fill it up with warm water and salt as per directions, then stick spout into one nostril and try to remember to block the back of your throat so the water flows THROUGH your sinuses and out the other nostril (instead of down your throat, which will probably induce vomiting). Great thing to do, not something you want to do with an audience. )

Anyway, wardrobe. Yes. Unfortunately, the boy has acquired a nasty habit (from me, who am I kidding) of draping clothes to be dealt with later above all the rest. This is giving his side of the wardrobe the appearance of a large clothes heap while causing me to fear for my life when the whole shebang landslides onto my head. 

Really, he mastered the art of the capsule wardrobe years ago, whereas my attitude to clothing is much more like a ridiculously comprehensive multivitamin; I probably DON’T need it, but what if I suddenly die (sartorially) of an acute shortage of grey marle? Or boyfriend track pants (even though my rule is in-house or ballet and THAT IS IT)? No. There’s only one solution. More wardrobe space. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Manic Monday

Today was meant to look like this:
9-12 teach.
drive madly in car to... (God. Seriously. Drive madly IN CAR? What ELSE would I DRIVE in? Gah.)
1-3 meet to discuss next year's Autumn festival
drive madly home to...
4-6.30 teach.
eat something (possibly after cooking madly)
7.30 - falling over: attend class to make up for missing weekend class due to Book Club and bloggeratti meetup.

Instead, my 11.00 student failed to turn up. They also failed to (a) call my home (b) call/text my mobile (c) email me. This would not ordinarily bother me, EXCEPT that they were attending an 11.00 lesson because they requested a time change. So I shoehorned my existing 11.00 student into 9.30, confirmed swap, well done, everyone happy, yes yes.... No show. FAIL.

So I run late with my 10.30 and head upstairs at 11.30, satisfied that I can grab a snack and head out to this meeting. I'll just grab directions from whereis. And while I do that, why don't I just check my email? Where there happens to be a message advising that the 1pm meeting has been moved... forward... to 12.00 midday. Bastards.

Ok. That's ok. I can at least call the teacher who I'm deputising and apologise (living an hour away from meeting location makes attendance pretty moot). Dial number (helpfully provided on email signature).

Crap. This guy has a brick in each hand and thinks I'm a plumbing contractor (or SOMETHING, you get the picture).
"Sorry. Wrong number."
I rechecked, of course, but either I have a permanent glitch in my brain whereby I read all '8's as '6' which is only just manifesting NOW after twenty-seven years, or the contact number on the email signature is wrong.

Leave apologetic message at home number. Drum fingers maniacally. No mobile number on teacher listing either.

Ok. Call the office! That's where the meeting IS. Heck, I could probably attend via skype. Or teleconference! Excellent.

"Due to meetings at the office today, no-one is available to take your call..."
This is NOT my day.
Leave apologetic message no.2.

Randomly google teacher and scroll through several irrelevant mentions before hitting a community advertisement. With mobile number. Oh baby.
Apologise and explain trying to get onto... but... yeah. Fail on my part.
(Win: shhhh. Don't have to drive to meeting.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Confession time.

I have a little secret: a compulsive addiction to fashion blogs. You know the Sartorialist?
I see a new post, I HAVE to click through. Ok, so I think the America Apparel ads are the weirdest clothes I've ever set eyes on (and I read a LOT of Vogue and Bazaar in my teenage years, and wore some incredibly peculiar stuff myself), but the photos that make their way onto this page are just... love. Or WTF bevelled with a little confusion and trying to understand exactly what was so attractive about THAT person at THAT moment in time.

Another sneaky addiction is more like having an ever-updated glossy on my dining table. I look, I explore related galleries, I get all wistful about the days when sewing a couple thousand copper paillettes was no biggie... but then I saw this and I now have to seriously reevaluate my commitment.

Apparently the couple are a couple, although their bony bodies conjure up little more than the idea of painfully colliding exoskeletons, and I can't say a guy who looks like David Bowie during his "Am I male? Am I female? Hell, let's aim at shemale and bleach everything to fairy floss while you're there!" is really working for me.

I haven't read any of the insanely popular Twilight series, but I'm aware there is a certain tension between Bella and Edward - something about vampirism, infection, blah blah, so on. Looking at this couple I can imagine the same kind of thing, except more of the "Oh, I want to make love to you, but the osteoporosis  might kill us both!" or "Sorry, baby, heroin's the only thing I can get it up for. Or get up for."

Actually, someone get me some heroin. Not for me. Let's just put the poor half-starved waifs out of their misery.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Lessons I have learned today: you can have an old lady haircut and call it classic; an old lady dress - hello? It's vintage. You can even, with irony and grace, wear old lady shoes. But put all these things together and you simply look like a tragic twenty year-old who got lost in her nanna's wardrobe and didn't get lucky with Narnia.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I hate doctors.

I fell off the blogwagon.

Something about the concert post and how horribly it all went (the invasion more so than the actual concert) and my violent physical reaction to writing that post. Then it was school holidays, time to get my craft on and agonise over the quagmire that was our backyard (let me just stop here to thank my father for all his handyman wonderfulness).

Then I ran away to the ashram (Note: ran TO the ashram, because there is no running away from ANYTHING at the ashram) and that will take me another month to process. Or at least another bout of cathartic sickness, which seems to be what I'm currently enduring. Somewhere in there a baby was born (obviously not to me), a friend had a birthday, my husband cooked many dinners and term three began. Good grief.

Posting will return to normal. Just not today. Today I have to crawl away and mutter my ranting about incompetent doctors into my millionth cup of tea while I contemplate the horror of teaching tomorrow and getting enough brain cells together to participate meaningfully in a trivia night on Saturday. Yaarfgh.

I will be back. Read that as you will.

Monday, June 28, 2010

They said there would be ice.

Local paper: "Ice rink comes to Frankston!"

Cool! I love ice-skating. And they're going to set up the rink in front of the AMC cinemas (I pause here briefly to consider the logistics of this entrerprise, but visions of ICE! sweep them out of the way. Of course, this being Frankston, it's more likely they would set up an ice cafe where discerning consumers might purchase the recreational corrosive and soul-destroying substance of choice, but sometimes I like my rose-tinted glasses.

A few weeks later, the boy and I are haphazardly wandering through a sunny Frankston afternoon in search of Star Wars lego and blue bias binding, when we see an enclosed space with the heads of several children jerking about in some disturbing marionette-ice-addicted fashion. Closer inspection reveals several grimacing parents wearing rictused grins while manipulating children across "ice".

Funny. It's not very cold. Or slippery, or shiny, or any of the other traits usually associated with ice of the  gliding-across-variety.
And this is, in fact, because said surface is not ice.
It's plastic.

Sheets of opaque white plastic, laid under a small pavilioned roof and fenced off for bystander safety.
I scuff my foot experimentally on an exposed patch. "Be good for dancing on." (Well, better than the sheets of ply optimistically called a "Dance Floor!!!" laid unevenly and without the aid of levels for the recent "Latin Fiesta!!!"

The boy: "This is STUPID. It's not even slippery. And they're not even BLADES."
He's right. The "ice skates" have more plastic (what else?) wedged where metal should be. Plastic on plastic is creating an... interesting friction coefficient. If it was any stickier the attending parents could simply wedge their child in place and collect them after dinner and a movie.

I toy a little with the idea of purchasing several litres of vegetable oil and making the "Ice Rink!" a slipperier, happier place, but this is Frankston. Someone would be handing out bikinis and setting up a wrestling ring before you could say "Hey, where can I get some ice?"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Things that go "That's ASSAULT!" in the night.

So Saturday night was a concert night. My studio. That’s kids 3-16 and their families, primarily parents. Classical music in a local church, bring a plate for a little social time afterwards.

It was mostly good. Mostly.

Maybe because it’s a long term, or because this was our second concert of the term or it’s cold or there were only a couple of ensemble pieces or, or, or… 

I could keep making excuses, but truthfully I was reasonably devastated by the lack of turnout and the lack of flawless performances. Anyway.

We progress, me looking anxiously (and surreptitiously) at my watch every few seconds to see if we’re on track to stay within an hour running time. Child gets up, plays, stumbles, carries on valiantly, bows, receives applause, I make (positive) comment, etc, so forth. Fine. About to launch into most advanced solo piece of night (actually, can’t remember WHAT I was saying), but I suddenly become aware of a smell.

It’s the smell you whiff when you walk past a sheltered Melbourne laneway, and know that the people sleeping under cardboard beg to drink. They don’t get showers or prescription medicine, and their relatives don’t know when they’ll next turn up. The local cops know them by name, and their trolleys clatter along suburban streets as they bunk up for the night under the eaves of a church or hospital.

There’s a man three feet away from me, gesticulating wildly and shouting that he’s been assaulted. 

He wants us to call the police, he’s not leaving until we do.

A hundred people are looking at him, wondering if this moment is really happening.
I know I went toward him, told him there was a phone in the foyer and that we’d make the call out there. More shouting. “
Sir,- ” 
“Don’t TOUCH me!” and fathers, rising from the seats to cajole, repress, no-one quite sure what law prevails when dealing with madmen inside a church.

Nothing is easy with an audience, so I chose to shoo them out while my indomitable pianist decided to play a little light music. The men did manly things, like calling the police and making sure our intruder did leave the building. We returned and absolved our concert with a Veracini Gigue and a spook-busting Twinkle.

In the days following and subsequent lessons with students, I’ve found myself trying to force the situation into a humorous anecdote. We don’t actually know the truth of it.

He may have been assaulted. He may have been mentally unbalanced, or drunk. Perhaps all three. 

He could have been armed, or more violent, and the shadow of what might have occurred freaks me out more than I’d like to admit.

We’ll have to lock the front doors from now on. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

In which I complain.

Dear Herald Sun,
You suck.

I realise this isn’t a surprise.

However, you even suck at the things you should be good at. Being a tabloid-y, let’s-gawp-at-celebrities and have-a-lifestyle newspaper, you should at LEAST be good at the lifestyle parts.

Massive fail.

Catherine Lambert, you’re not style police. Street smart? Give it a rest. You don’t even reach the bar of looking-moderately-put-together in any way, shape or form. I could have found you fifty people on Friday night in Northcote who looked better (for ANY given value of ‘better’) than Ilesha H. Hell, I could have found fifty people in Frankston who had some kind of ‘look’ pulled together tighter than the ruffly-in-all-the-wrong places red dress on Ms. H.

Stripper shoes might be fun, but not when you match “expensive items with less expensive items” because there is nothing that can be called matching going on here. Sweetheart, your shoes make your (white, fluffy, cropped-sleeve) jacket look like your pimp bought it. A blind pimp with tactile issues and really short arms.

And when you wear your little red dress with your really little white fluffy jacket and your stripper heels with contrasting silver peep-toes AND weird glittery ankle straps (lesson one in elongating legs: ankle straps are FAIL) refrain from bling.

Hang on. Refrain? Oh, that means do it again, right? Wrong. Teaming a clutch hewn out of Priscilla gunmetal-grey sequins with all this is disaster. However, why stop there? When you’ve gone this far, the only sensible option is to load on all the jewellery in your possession. (Possibly so innocent bystanders have time to run and hide.)

I can count (yes, even with one hand awkwardly-on-back-of-hip and partially concealed by the small Samoyed savaging Ms.H’s torso) a watch with a beaded bracelet with another beaded bracelet (big, chunky silver beads) WITH a heart dangling from said beads. Ok. Look, it’s been a confusing season for everyone, but why then mish a gold phoenix necklace to this mash?

If the phoenix was TRULY bringing you “spiritual guidance” it would have set fire to half the contents of your wardrobe (the stripper half) and we’d be left with an attractive brunette. Maybe not SO suitable for publication, since all she’d be wearing was a lovely phoenix necklace, but what a classy necklace.

I think the expert (Sesil Arzadian, of Anton Jewellery) said it best: “Certainly, this look has a lot happening.”

What the expert forgot to say: Catherine Lambert, you’re a knucklehead. Get some new glasses and a subscription to a magazine. Any magazine.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

In which I think. Try not to fall over.

I’ve been reading. And thinking (dangerous combination, I know). Book that sparked the thoughts? Lionel Shriver’s So much for that.
If you’ve not read it, I’ll try not to spoil the ending; I started to get the shape of it in my head before it arrived, but it wasn’t so saccharine as it might have been. It has made me question the dollar value that, increasingly, western society places on life. I’d like to believe that life actually unto itself has no value; it is, after all, what we each make of it.

I can’t sell you days of my life for you to have and enjoy, I can’t buy more days for myself, but increasingly this seems to be the perception of our immortality-obsessed culture. Death has become something to be put off, an inconvenient appointment rather than an inevitable endstep in the process of living. All the platitudes of loss (how careless!) and passing (because we really, REALLY don’t like that D-word) and expressions of regret…

Yes. People die. It’s sad. It’s not, actually, a tragedy. It’s not the thing to fight and avoid. Certainly, it’s sometimes not fair, but then what in life is?

Lying on the couch last night, juggling my bony spine across my husband’s knees and picking up the pug so she could trek across us with her usual land-rover determination (hey, two people on a couch are rocky terrain when you have no legs to speak of), I announced, “So, I’m hearing all these ads about organ donation, and I just need you to know that if I’m hit by a car tomorrow and wind up braindead, my organs go places.”


“Sorry, I was thinking about the tournament. Your organs what?”
“If I get hit by a bus,” (obviously he needed a more dramatic picture) “My organs. Go. To other people. You know. They get my bits. Because you’re my husband, so you’d have to make the decision.”

“That’s a bit dangerous. You’re always braindead in the morning. Can I have your bits?”
(I didn’t point out that he’s the one who sinks back into a coma at the first available opportunity, starting awake again with “Wha-?” nine minutes later, while I grumble and threaten to kick him should he do it again.)

“What if I need them?”
“You’re not even the same blood type as me. What blood type ARE you?” (Clearly idiotic, in light of what came next)

“Don’t know. What blood type are you?”
“Hm. Don’t know.” (See? I’m BRILLIANT. I should know, but I’ve forgotten.) “So, organs. You?”
“Yep. Other people can have your bits. I guess other people can have mine too. Yeah, take ‘em.”
“Buried or cremated?”
“I don’t care? What do I care? I’m gone! Whatever’s best for the environment.”
“So, you want tea?”
“Yeah, sure.”

Awesome. It’s so nice to know the really tough decisions can be made in about three minutes between Thai takeaway and Earl Gray.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A new chapter begins.

Sunday: my first book club. It was almost accidental; my mother-in-law passed on the book, I read it, she told me when they were discussing it. I invited myself along (basically) and so it went.
The Secret Cure, by Kate?Sue? Woolfe; autism, asperger’s, isolation and hope. Nicely written, a little slow in places, a good blend of historical happenstance (German research papers lying untranslated for twenty years while the same behavioural traits puzzled scientists across the globe), and fly-on-the-wall detail.

Until we can quantify the genetic slip that produces autistic behaviours we will never know how much of these are down to environment rather than genes; as with any child, environmental factors have the ability to shape a personality and stifle abilities just as much as nurture them.

My hypothesis: we are all somewhere on the autistic spectrum. But where on that spectrum do we draw a line and say this is a problem?

We most frequently identify autism from it’s negative affects; little or no speech, headbanging, obsessive-compulsive behaviour and attachment to ritual, sensory sensitivity, an aversion to touch and a multitude of others.

Rarely do we diagnose on the basis of it’s potential strengths; mnemonic and linguistic, high mathematical and/or musical aptitude, the ability to think innovatively and with attention to detail that would bore the average person.

I wonder that if by limiting our children to a narrow ribbon of ‘normality’ we risk losing the potential for brilliance; by selecting behavior on the bell curve we lose the richness of what might be.

On the people side: I hate small talk. There’s nothing quite as bad as enduring pleasantries (when they are just that, formulaic and perfunctory) with a one-of-encounter. The type of person who lives three hours away, works a job, has a family. In short, you or me. (Wow, shying away from social encounters. I must be autistic.)

There is something very refreshing about meeting people for an explicit purpose. We are here to talk about this book. Not what they do for forty hours per week, or how many children they have, or their daughter’s upcoming wedding, but this book.

Of course, our context is apparent from our contributions to the discussion: we can only relate from our own sphere of experience, but somehow this subtle dissemination of information is so much better than the blindingly obvious.

One woman has brought a Wikipedia profile of the author, so we can tease apart her inspiration; another hasn’t finished the book but is fascinated by it’s concepts, promises to finish it before it goes back to the library. The mother of young children muses on the nature versus nurture element, the sensory overstimulation we all receive on a constant basis, and the dietician weighs in with the additive/wheat side of the equation. There is so much knowledge embodied in the three?four? generations around this table.

Good coffee, beautiful food: the discussion never runs dry. The first Sunday morning of the month is hereby reserved for book club. What are you reading? 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Please look in the mirror before you leave the house.

Wow. That black keyhole-backed dress is fantastic. Tight, short, great opaques, nice boots, very attractive beige bra hanging out the back - HOLY CRAP WOMAN, DID NO-ONE TELL YOU THAT'S UNDERWEAR?

We're in the bar, birthday celebrations (not mine) well underway, when she strolls in with boy and promptly turns her back on me to embrace someone. If the bra was black and lacy, ok. Maybe. But it's a dingy beige that once pretended to be SOMEONE's skin color. Functional rather than attractive (the two have been known to meet in one garment, but not this one).

And the beauty of  this keyhole dress, showcasing several vertebrae, is that it draws the observer's focus - BANG! - right onto the hooks-and-eyes mechanism that allows a bra to carry out it's function (usually lift and separate).

One glass of red drained and another on the go, my fingers are actually, perceptibly ITCHING to unsnap her bra. If I had suddenly found myself possessed of that boyish skill (unhooking with a it's practically single hand) I can't swear I would have abstained.

What would I have done in her position? Honestly, probably gone without. Or found something pretty and show-offy that screamed DER, of COURSE you're meant to see this, why else would I have worn a ruby-red lacy bra... or whatever.

Sigh. I do so dislike stupid people.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We know your cup overfloweth... Do you?

Someone incredibly wise recently said "Women of the world, get your bra professionally fitted. You have nothing to lose but your double breasts."...

Which, let's face it, look ridiculous. For some reason we Australians celebrate those who take the plunge without stopping to consider their bust size and whether their breasts really truly ACTUALLY fit inside that (sequined, eye-catching) excuse for a bra masquerading as evening wear.

Silicon does not get more attractive when you squish it agains your (bony, orange) clavicles and don a garment that fitted your pre-augmentation breasts. Do the math: $8,000 on new breasts? Dude, splash out on a new bra. Seriously. Not just some triangular nipple covers, but something that will support, uplift, even showcase your assets without cutting them in half. After all, we know you already performed asset division with your previous partner.

Wearing a bandeau dress? Strapless bra? Sure. Do it. Again, less of the divide and more of the conquer. Putting a horizontal dent across your frontage gives the slimmest girl the look of a melting candle wrapped in bike tyres.

Just do it. Gird your loins, commit half an hour of your life and buy a bra that fits your breasts. Tomorrow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Poor old people.

So. The Great Wall of books that's been precariously balanced on our sideboard for approximately three months while friends take all the decent stuff out of it? (Don't get me wrong, we encouraged them to. We even gave them green bags and made recommendations.)

It's gone. I chucked a tantrum last night and renewed my efforts to rid our house of Crap We Don't Need.
Four 50L boxes and four green bags. I didn't count as I packed, but maybe 150 - 200 books? They filled the back of my jeepy little car, and off I set to enrich a charitable foundation.

Thwarted. Just five minutes away are two brotherhood bins, which I've donated stuff to before. They're on a main road and must be serviced often -there's not usually a load of excess stuff lying around them. I pull up, get out, start thinking about the logistics of 'posting' all these fricking books through the maws of doom, and become aware that some old guy has wandered over to tell me off.

Apparently the truck has just been and won't be back for a while, I shouldn't fill up this useful space with BOOKS and just where did all this stuff come from anyway?
The last said while peering intently through the back of my car. Actually, it was "Where did you get all this stuff, anyway?" like I must have stolen it, or was revenging myself upon a librarian ex-boyfriend. God forbid I should be capable of reading an actual book, or even worse, many.

"Ah... my HOUSE?!"
"What, ALL those books?"

Ok, I have a naughty side.
"Well, I've just found out I'm illiterate."

Said, I confess, in much the same way as "I have an inoperable brain tumor," or "My ability to think has just been wished away by a vengeful fairy godmother and I'm going to spend the rest of my life camped in Centrelink."

He wasn't very happy. I blame tv, for burdening impressionable old people with erroneous stereotypes of the young people of today. He probably thought I was serious.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Scarf on, scarf off.

I've just had an earth-shattering epiphany. Ok, it's summer. (It most certainly is not, but bear with me here.) I check the next day's weather compulsively, plan what to wear (rather, what not to wear if I don't want to die of heatstroke), put together an outfit and check the forecast again the next morning before I get dressed just to make sure nothing has changed in the intervening seven hours (this is Melbourne, anyhing could happen).

Winter: wake up, get dressed. There will be jeans. There will be layers. There will be a hell of a lot of black. And herein lies the answer to Melbourne's famously monochromatic fashion. Over the course of a typical 'chilly' day there may be any and indeed all of the following: blue skies, sleet, cutting wind, patches of sunshine, hail, rain and overheated shops/stuffy trams/congested pavements.

All of which require layering up, shedding down, reassembling and stashing and hastily wrapping in futile attempts to stay temperate. I'm not sure I'm qualified to stay dressed. The answer? My car. Never tidy at the best of times, it's a wardrobe on wheels. I counted five cardis on the passenger seat: dark grey hooded, loose black, tight black, grey cropped and black cape-y thing. Explains why I can never find any inside, but resembling homeless person starting to get a little ridiculous.
Save me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I wasn't a zombie the last time I looked...

... so why am I suddenly falling apart?
It was a quiet, innocuous kind of sound, except for it's location.

My left hip. Yeah, INSIDE my body. Bones still in their original shape (i.e. not broken) and still inside a meat case are not meant to make those disturbing kinds of sounds. Nor, am I sure, are they meant to feel like that. Argh.

It just slipped casually out of joint, as you might expect if doing something particularly strenuous, like walking down the street. Grind, grind, grind... and twenty-four hours later I'm realising just how damn inconvenient this is. Ballet? Yeah, oodles of fun. Touching my toes is painful, walking no bucket of joy, so let's not discuss attempting a developpe, or casually throwing one leg back into arabesque.

I suppose I'm a lot luckier than the parent currently on crutches for six weeks. She tore hip cartilage - sitting down. Yep. Ordinary is when we hurt ourselves. Ordinary is when we realise just how much we take for granted.

Ordinary is this damn chunk of my body throbbing (in a nasty way) as I sit on the couch bemoaning the stupid of my hip joints to the vast internets.

And if you tell me that this is the universe actioning my slow-down then I'll hunt you down and smack you. Hard. I may even club you round the head with

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Another term, another concert... Another magic release and tournament among friends. Another mothers' day and handing back a friend's dog (we babysat while they honeymooned).

Wait. Their honeymoon's over already? We just went to their wedding... Three weeks ago.
What do you mean it's nearly (ballet) exam time?

That means I have to start thinking about (ballet) concert music. And the next violin concert? A paltry five weeks away, and then it's caberet night, and another (violin) concert...

I'm not sure I can continue at this pace. Don't get me wrong, I make time to sit down and drink coffee. I even read. But between all the little markers of my year, the months are blurring past at a frightening velocity.

I find myself talking about the end of the year, even entertaining the idea of my hypothetical existence in 2011. How do I return to my blissfully ignorant state of week-by-week? Hell, month-by-month would be quite fine.

I am sickeningly certain those days of elysian unawareness may be correlated with a state of no financial obligations. And that since I like having a car and a place to live far more than any reasonable person should, I shall have to stay in the driver's seat.

No smartass remarks about being a passenger, thanks, it doesn't marry well with my control issues.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Everybody loves a good furore

I'm sure you'll all be thrilled to know there have been no more bread-related incidents at our place; I have reclaimed my role as buyer of the fluffy wheaten stuff...

Just in time for our winter to arrive and me to promptly convert my breakfast to porridge. I know. The irony is too fantastic.

In other news, the local broadsheet newspaper has just fired a columnist for tweeting. I know, I thought part of her job description would be to raise her profile and that of the paper she writes for, but apparently controversy is not a paper-selling theme (having said that, the Age has now entered the arena of sticky brown stuff.

Amid the who said what about whom (let's face it: 140 characters leaves not a lot of room for contet or subtle textual nuance) we seem to have missed the substance of the matter.

I find it damn offensive that the majority are happy to see an eleven-year-old child paraded about in very adult styling - it's not Catherine Deveny with the problem, it's the society who accepts, even lauds and celebrates this presentation.

The sickos who offer beauty parties for eight-year-olds? There's a big fat difference between these kids playing dressups with mommy's stuff and going to a salon where an ideal is foisted on them.

Two years ago I had to sit a class of ballet students down and give them the body image talk.

You're all nodding, right? Because they're ballet kids. Surely they all idolize the hyper-thin... Yeah. In five years they might. Eight-to-eleven year-olds. Mouthing the "My mother says some girls are too fat to do ballet."

Too fat for the Australian Ballet, yes. Too fat for one forty-five minute class each week? Please.
Don't even get me going on the six-year-olds who sing (unprompted) ALL THE WORDS to Pussycat dolls songs... While shaking their miniature prepubescent rump in a manner to warm the ...lap
of the most repressed pedophile.

The problem's not what she tweeted, it's that the subject material was there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

THAT? BREAD? Don't make me laugh.

Hi. I'm Chelsea. I have a substance abuse problem.
It's the bread.

It's not like I'm a connisseur of those crazy light rye-sourdough-pastadura only slice on Wednesday loaves, or that I only eat homebaked bread. I like seedy bread. Soy and linseed, or four grain. Wholemeal's fine too. So long as it comes in a square (or has three squared sides) and will fit in the toaster/sandwich press, it's all good.

Which is why hub's purchase of some junky airy fricking CRUSTY white crap (which says a loud, clear HELLO concrete crusts post-toasting) which I can't cut into slices with structural integrity (read, it has AIR BUBBLES) has serious implications for my sanity. As in, goodbye sanity, have a nice vacation, I'll see you in a few months.

Of course, when the MAN handles the bread knife, he manages really nice, un-holey slices (because I already cut up the holey bit) .... until.

Now, being something of a condiments nazi (ever tried spreading butter straight from the fridge? On room-temperature bread? No? Well, have a try and let me know how you get on.) I have my own butter. Pantry butter. Which, being pantry butter, is actually spreadable.

Not on this bread. Don't even mention the peanut butter. Having crunchy bits, that slice is tragic. The other sandwich (Promite, kind of like Vegemite but waaaaaay superior) is marginally better. And all the while I'm thinking Why can't you have just bought normal bread? You know, the kind we buy every other time we go to the supermarket? And if you thought "Hey, let's try this out!" then buy ONE loaf of this stuff and one of backup? You know? So if it just happened to be a load of airy white crusty crap it wouldn't be the end of the world?

I know what you're all thinking. Wow. She is so lucky. If that's all she has to worry about....
Actually, I feel the reverse is true. The one thing I might POSSIBLY be able to control about tomorrow is what goes in my mouth. The rest is really incredibly random. Which is why I like lunch to be a small pleasure in my day. I love nothing more than opening up the sandwich press on a small, golden, toasted piece of happiness. Knowing that my lunch will be good, will be under my control regardless of all the other random... well. The world could end tomorrow in an explosion of crumbs. You've been warned.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sundays in the park...

"How you liking it?"
"Oh yeah, it'd be great if I could see anything,"
says the woman spilling over the edges of her seat
behind my (rather tall, it must be admitted) beloved.
I endure a few more of her snipy, pointed (and loud) comments before casually glancing over my shoulder to put a face to the snark.

(Retrospectively, I should have taken one of the vacant seats to her left post-interval. Then I could have made loud complaints about the crushing claustrophobia her bulk imposed on me. And no, I realise there are plenty of fat people who are not that way by choice. Trust me, he doesn't always love towering over people either. If you would like him to only purchase end-of-row or back-row seats in the future, maybe you should consider seating only dead centre of the row and taking your seat before everyone else so you don't crush them as you attempt to tippy-toe past.) Ahem. Sorry.

Aside from the ranting of the bitter twisted moron behind us who could easily have moved to sit in the vacant seats behind me (much more average stature), Jersey Boys was brilliant. Utterly awesome and great. I don't even like musicals.

The evening of wonderful continued into dinner. "That pho place on Swanston? Chinatown?"
Beloved smiles, considers. "Blue train? Because then I can order anything, like pizza or steak, or..."
I like blue train. Over on Southbank, it's been our favorite after-theatre place for years. So we walk on over. Of course, it's packed. We wait for twenty minutes for a table, we scan the menu and wait for our orders to go through.

"Wouldn't it be funny if we walked all the way over here and waited and I wound up ordering the Singapore noodles?"
He's grinning goofily, hamming it up. He's serious.
"Not so much, no. I'm going to have the tandoori chicken."
He performs another finger scan down the menu.
"Yeah, uh... I think I'll have the steak."
See? Simple. The waitress arrives and I triumphantly order my tandoori. His turn.
"I'll have... The Singapore noodles. And some flatbreads to start."


Friday, April 23, 2010

Ode to the haircutter.

In reply to a paragon of English grooming, I feel the need to point out an often-overlooked but crucial difference lurking in the heart of our society. Hairdressers vs. haircutters, people.

You might think it's a meaningless semantic difference, but let me assure you it ain't so.
Hair cutters are a whole different breed to their effeminate cousins, the hairdressers.

Let us all gather to bemoan the hairstyle that fleetingly appeared in the oddly lit salon mirror, coaxed forth with copious blowdrying, straightening and litres of product applied in baffling combination.

Let us bewail the glamor hair that will never, ever appear again, despite your best efforts at home. I blame celebrity culture.

Glossy mags provoke us all to say "OOh, I want the pob!" "Victoria Beckham, you have much to answer for. Not quite as much as Jennifer Aniston, (Friends circa 1995 - who didn't have the haircut? Come on, admit it) but a whole generation of women embraced helmet hair all over again despite the natural desires of their very own keratin.

Enter the haircutter. Be warned, you have to have the strength to utter much harder words than "I want THIS one!" while banging on the celeb of your choice (ooh, poor choice of words).

"Fix it."
And they will. There may not be obvious veins of color, but they aren't above highlights and multi-tonal effects. There may not be the latest, most dramatic Rihanna razored fringe or Ruby Rose blunt, but there will be hair which makes you look like a million dollars. That's right, you. Park your butt in the chair and let the professionals do their job, and your hair will look like the right thing every day. Or maybe I just have a genius, brilliant, worth-his-weight in gold haircutter.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Something very exciting has happened.
I have fingernails.
Well, I hear you say, don't we all?
Hopefully. The world would be a much more disgusting place if we all walked about with raw fleshbeds on the tops of our fingers.

It might also be a happier place, as we'd bid an exuberant farewell to all those nail bars so toxic their employees wear gas masks. Mind you, a whole section of society would need to find a new hobby (aka black cash-sucking hole of finite depth and darkness).

As a long-term nailbiter, I've tucked my hands out of sight for years. Of course, violin dictates I must have short nails, but short doesn't describe the malaise I've inflicted on myself at various points in time.

Let's just say I've rarely had recourse to nail clippers and would frequently take myself off to have fake nails applied... before sinking my teeth back in and ripping them back to nothing.

You may or may not understand my excitement at finally having something to file. They're horribly wide, (my mother keeps pointing out my inability to paint them beauty-school style, which would mean painting the centre half of my nail and leaving wide naked stripes either side... it's supposed to slim nails and give the illusion of length, but I think it just makes my fingers look fat(ter)) BUT they're real. And long enough to paint red.

And really, that's all that's important.

Of course, we'll see how long this lasts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Autumn festival

It's been a busy week. Okay, fortnight. One of those times when my every minute seems so caught up that I haven't stopped to reflect decently.

Three weeks ago the Suzuki community lost one of it's most active members. An amazing pianist and teacher, Nehama Patkin succumbed to a post-operation infection and left not only her studio families and students grieving, but the Australian Suzuki community.

Suffice it to say that she's not only found repute as a pianist but as a teacher and educator of young children; her Federation Square concerts have inculcated and nurtured a love of music in countless families.

She will be missed by many, and yet; what an achievement, to have touched so many people that your work will continue, because to abandon it would be to leave a gaping void.

This week I've been reminded of the privileged position I've been offered by virtue of my industry.

I've been reminded of the duration of these relationships and the legacy I have the potential to leave in lives.

I'm slowly learning that not only the children I teach but their parents will go out and say "Our teacher..."

Too preachy? Maybe. But also real. This is currently the revelation windmilling inside my head.

It's a little daunting. I'm not sure I'm entirely up to the challenge. Good thing I have all these responsible adult people (well, they gave BIRTH to the little ones) to help me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tripod. Love.

Melbourne Symphony musicians, take note: professional development component 101 is here!

Yes, located in the upstairs theatre of Melbourne's own Forum, you must catch Tripod's latest creative fury.

Not only will you learn the beauty of developing individual characterisation, but the importance of audience rapport. Your ensemble skills may also benefit from observing these four musicians watch, listen, and work WITH one another, while multi-tasking (yes, this is for those who whine about page-turning and the fine art of pizzicato WITH bow in hand) gains a new dimension; try shadow puppetry while maintaining four-part harmony. Yeah. A GOOD four-part harmony.

Elana Stone is a dream in a red dress; we bought her album your anniversary and I will be grabbing In the Garden of Wild Things when I finish this blog post. Just go and do it, especially if you're a fellow Australian. And if you're not, take note: we have the COOL people, y'all. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Monkey see, monkey do.

This year I seem to have a clump of students hitting high school. And adolescence. I keep overhearing some parents saying to others;
"Seven days! How do you get your child to practice seve days?"
The answer, of course, has varied for everyone, but one theme has emerged.
"We've always done it."

You reap what you sow.

I don't know that missing a day of practice here and there makes THAT much difference to skill development. Two days, yes. One day, not SO much. When you consider that I will accept (on a practice challenge mission, which is all about achieving a certain number of consecutive days) the occasional day only a single twinkle variation gets played, it's obvious that this is not really about working through the list very day.

It's about establishing consistency. If mum will give in today, she might give in tomorrow, and then - hey, I've won! It's the eternal power struggle that every parent will face, and I've decided that how you deal with it defines the relationship you will have with your child.

There's a big difference between saying "Don't want to practice? Tough, you have to anyway!" and "Don't want to practice? Ok, how come? Let's have a talk about what we can do to make it easier."
Acceptance, validation, application of problem- solving and... affirmation that the practice is still going ahead but may need to have a different structure or level of support.

Of course, being adult and therefore believing ourselves to be in charge (ha! The arrogance!) many of us are inclined to button-push right back. (Isn't it funny- we are so quick to label other people's behaviour as button-pushing but don't look at our responses in the same light?)

So what?

Don't know. I'm certainly in a privileged position to see parents working with their children in many different ways at different levels of ability; some are absolutely inspiring in their patience, empathy and common sense. Big shoes to fill.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Whose responsibility are a child's manners?

Well, being a Suzuki philosophy teacher, I am inclined to say that they're first and foremost the responsibility of the parent. However, as a child grows up and goes out into the great wide world, other influences on their behaviour and attitude will soon become apparent.

A classroom teacher's belief in manners as currency or tolerance of rude behaviour will do a lot for a child's attitude, as will the other adults in that child's life; grandparents, the parents of friends, dance teachers, instrumental teachers, football coaches, etc and so forth. The list is long, and the influence perhaps incremental.

In a group situation, whose responsibility is a child's behaviour? Again, I look to the parents. Surely they will tell their child what behaviour is and is not appropriate in a group setting. If they can't, won't or simply haven't, then the teacher is left with a larger responsibility: to discipline a group of children in such a way that they are safe, learning, happy and engaged.

Dealing with young teenagers is the hardest. How to come across as authoritative yet avoiding Nazi-ism. I don't mind being the bad guy, but I do embrace the idea of tough love. Some things are necessary for the good of the group, and eleven-fourteen is not a bad time to learn those lessons.

Monday, March 22, 2010

So, who am I really?

Supposedly you have the potential to tell a lot about a person if you can get a hold of a sample of her handwriting. 

Or so says Lora @ Fever, and I liked her writing so much I wanted to play too.  Now, what can you all tell me from my scrawl?

The Rules:
write the following
1) Your name/blog name.
2) Right-handed, left-handed, or ambidextrous?
3) Favorite letters to write.
4) Least favorite letters to write.
5) Write “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
6) Write the following words in capital letters:
7) Write your favorite song lyric.
8) Tag people!
9) Any special note or picture.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Deja Sunday

Today we went barefoot bowling.
I've labored under a little deja vu all day; every movement seems to be the shadow of a predecessor, every line seems to have had a rehearsal.

Odd when I know today is not a day that has happened before, nor will it happen again.
Today a friend celebrated his thirtieth birthday.
His wife's birthday was yesterday. A couple on our lawn bowls team made their recent (Friday) engagement known.

My best friend's having another baby in July and people keep asking me how she's doing  in the same tone people ask "Are you still smoking?"

Tonight I - we, actually - got asked "So, who's least opposed? Who wants them more?" and once again justified our 'putting off' of children for more than the seemingly-standard year.

I'm a little scared of the loop that we find ourselves running. Baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, 30ths, infant birthdays and engagement parties. I'm not sure what to do about it but shrug, and accept that my students will grow up and head to high school, that I too will grapple with the issue of 'glamorous' maternity wear, that we will become the weary parents who say to their childless friends "Wait till you have kids".

I don't like it. I'm not sure what to do about it.
I think I may be having a mid-twenties crisis.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday morning wonderings.

Having wandered into a cafe I'm intrigued by a back table. Composition: two couples, three little girls. The two-year old sits between her parents, a five or six-month-old in her mother's lap.

The remaining child - maybe two-and-a-half? - is in a stroller, at eye level with the table. It's not immediately apparent which couple she belongs to, but I guess the family with the baby and the - when she stands up - baby bump.

Miss 2 and baby are centre of attention, and the little girl in the stroller is relatively excluded from the table's interaction, althought she watches intently and smiles into the oblivious ether.

Once or twice Dad leans over to supervise drinking or pass fingers through her strawberry blonde fringe, but her mother doesn't look over until the table rises and begins their exit.

She gets towed out, while the baby takes her place in the phil & ted's. When she smiles at me and reaches for my dress- blue with bright red trim- Mum apologises and corrals her away.

I get down onto the floor, crouching so she can finger the large, shiny buttons and touch the red corduroy ribbon. She's fascinated by the texture and I point out the same trim - green ribbon- on her summer dress. My reward is a dreamy smile which crinkle the epicantic folds around her eyes and a muttered "Thanks." from Mum.

I wonder if baby was an attempt at making up for. I wonder if she's had or plans to have amniocentesis of her current pregnancy. I wonder a lot of things.