Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A strange day.

A very strange day.

Hazel and Iris went to Playcentre without me. Sometimes they go with Sean but today they went with Grandma. Hazel was happy about it but palpably tense, "Does Grandma know how to drive?" "Will Grandma be there all the time I am there."

As a baby she was unhappy unless I was within her reach until she could sit up and then she liked me to be in view.

She went through a more independent stage when she was about one and so I left her at CBD kids when I went to the dentist. I've worked in ECE centres, we did a decent job of settling her but after I left she screamed the place down for a couple of hours until I came back; and she went to having a 2m mental bungee cord to the parent on hand for a year.

That bungee cord has very slowly become fastened to some other people and lengthened. She happily visits some people without us and she's beginning to go to the toilet alone. But it's hard work for her and sometimes it all falls down in a screaming needy heap. Iris really helps, even though she is small she is family and that matters.

At ballet lessons last week Hazel went into the class without me or Iris, talked to the teacher all the time and was happy. This is the first solid support for my belief that she'll be fine with school in a year.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I think I've got it...

Yes! This is my first mobile pda gadget post. What can I say?

umm... Ta daah!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Disaster vision.

Hazel takes her role as big sister very seriously sometimes, she enumerated to Iris this evening:
"We are looking after you in the bath.
1. If you fall in the water and it goes over your head we will save you.
2. I will hold your feet while Mum does your shampoo so you don't slip and the water doesn't go over your head.
3. We get the towel for your eyes when the water goes in them and they sting. Just like this, see.
4. We are telling you that we are looking after you in the bath so you don't have to cry anymore."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The good life has a green roof and yellow trim today.

Hazel told Sean tonight that there is one problem with her life, apparently she doesn't get enough ice-creams. I take this as evidence that she may be living The Good Life.

I might be too, the problems I had the most trouble with today were getting that gadget of mine to let me log in and stay connected long enough to post something here (I've given up for the night and am back to the computer) and choosing a colour scheme for the house. We think we like this:

The virtual painting was done with Resene's EzyPaint, it's not the nicest interface in the world but it does its job pretty well condsidering how complicated what it's trying to do actually is.

Whoa, here's another problem... my GM says he's got a wee part in Peter Jackson's next movie and someone says it's Halo and I'm a bit behind and reading that I thought "Peter Jackson's going to make Halo Jones" and I got excited for exactly as long as it took google to produce the results of my search for more information. Halo is a video game huh. But for a moment I thought my dear little sister might finally get to meet Yortlebluzzgubbly or at least someone just as unmemorable. It still could happen, according to some guy Halo Jones was made into a play in 1988, so we just have to wait another couple of years for the 20 years later cool factor to kick in and lo! a movie will seem like a good idea. For goodness sake, Aeon Flux is on at the moment and all... And then wow. I got that stomach being left behind in the lift as I get whisked into the future feeling again. It was 20 years ago that I started varsity. But that's okay, I didn't miss-spend my youth. I read a lot of science fiction. I am prepared for the present, and will conquer that damned recalcitrant gadget of mine any day now.

Friday, February 24, 2006

My new gadget.

For my birthday Sean's ordered me a wee pda. I've been doggedly trying to bend it to my will. Alas, I am using the phone to do this despite my oaths and intentions to be using the gadget. To bed, to read the manual some more. Or to sleep, perchance to dream of the gorgeous future and having the Playcentre roster there, ready to be edited on the swing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tabula rasa.

It was a windy day at Plimmerton beach and I swam in where the waves were breaking and let them wash away all but my sense of balancing forces. It was quiet in the nurse's office except for the fizz of the nitrogen as it froze the warts on my foot. I am a scraped tablet, I'm ready to write my mind on now. Perhaps I shouldn't approach the internet in this vunerable state.

Monday, February 20, 2006


I'm chairing a meeting tonight at Playcentre. I've been using an English Karakia (blessing) of 'Let's work well and swiftly' but I want it in Maori, the problem is the thickness of meaning in English. I like that it could be any of an imperative, a prayer, or a request. I like that it is an example of meaningful brevity. Any suggestions welcome.

... months later ...
Quite a few people come here googling for "Karakia". I used E Hara I Te Mea another day. But have a look at http://www.maori.org.nz/ there's all sorts of useful stuff there and it has a site search.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Compliments of fire.

I look after the kids and Sean has paid work. During my days I see a lot of other stay home parents, we talk shop a fair bit and they are the community from whom I get support and the impression I'm doing okay at this, the most personally involving work I'm ever likely to do. Sean tells me I'm doing a great job too.

I bask in these compliments when things are hairy, but the compliments on my child-rearing which are written in giant letters of fire are those of my childless friends and my parents.

It seems very odd to value the compliments of the childless over those who really know what's involved in work I do. I wonder whether it's the unexpected bonus aspect or the validation given to a choice that is making me less accessible for some years. On Christmas Eve Giles said "your children are pleasant company, more power to your parenting." I'm still smiling about that. Before we'd even got her home from the airport, Adele had watched me talking the kids into their car seats thrice and she said "you're very good at that". Which was simply wonderful to hear as I had been feeling parental embarrassment that they didn't just leap in like keen dogs.

Wanting my parents' approval is simpler to explain. Does one ever stop craving the approval of decent parents? Would a blanket one do? "You're lovely; your morals, priorities, abilities and achievements are all we were working toward when we procreated and your choices and actions make us proud."

My father said to his mother shortly before she died in October 2004: "Two of your lovely great granddaughters are here to see you; Susy's doing a great job, we're very proud of her". That was a very fine thing to hear. Maybe parental approval is addictive and yet harder and harder to get in so many words as we get older, because praise really only counts for things we believe a) praiseworthy and b) within the scope of judgement of the praiser.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Dead friend.

Today was Alison's picnic. She was in my sister's primary school class, part of the blob, and she died on the 31st of August 1995 in a boating accident on Lake Wairarapa. She's been dead ten and a half years. The day she died I was at a philosophy conference at Canterbury and had my first conversation like a ping-pong rally with Sean. Irrationally, I feel a bit like she gave him to me.

Alison and I weren't close as friends go, but we laughed at some of the same things and liked to look at the things each other made. A few months before she died we went to The Commitments together, had a good time, and said we'd do it again sometime. We didn't.

Thinking of Alison makes me want to spend time conversing with my sister, and being kind to my children, parents, and friends; because that's the thing about life, it can stop without necessarily warning anyone and so I might not get the chance to fix my sins of omission tomorrow.

We could die tonight.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Illustration Friday

I found a website today which suggests topics to illustrate on Fridays so I thought I'd have a whack. Today's topic was "simple" and that's not easy but I got a piece of paper and a pen to think with and immediately Iris came in walking like an arthritic cowboy and said "poo in my shorts". It turned out the front steps needed a hose down too. So, after a break for parenting, I got back to it. I did these:

A leaf rubbing. A simple technique for a complex subject but it makes a simple concept.
And that made me think of an illustrative simplification of a seedling.

And this is one for dee.run who's doing the Round the Bays race on Sunday. Iris started it last year. We made it as far as the Oriental Bay playground. Simple.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Book game, birthing and samples.

The book game; here are the rules, if you haven't a blog you can play it in the comments.

1. Grab the nearest book
2. Open the book to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences (#5,6,7) on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it. Just grab what is closest. No cheating.

Here's what I found:
I said "I can do it." He cut off the epidural. After the epidural cut off, I realised the level of pain I was in.
From Naomi Wolf's Misconceptions.
That quote totally reminds me how well my midwife, support people, good fortune, and I have managed my own birthings. I've never had the slightest urge to have an epidural; labour is a big thing but even Hazel's induced hospital birth (12 days late and I was getting tired of being in and out of labour) was manageable. Iris's home birth was just lovely. Before I had my own home birth I found the phrase "lovely home birth" sounded mysteriously trivialising but hers was a birth at home and it was lovely. It was labour, that is extremely hard work both physically and emotionally, but I did it well and felt lovely about it. I had to wear my nightie for a couple of days to remind myself that my body might need a bit of rest. My good fortune is that the natural birth management techniques worked for me and each kid only took a couple of hours of munty labour, another thing about this putative third child is that now my cervix might not be so good at it all and goodness me I'm glad that I live in a time and place where ceseareans are pretty routine if needed.

The book game, and others of its sort, are kind of wierd. I like the feeling of community that shared activities bring and I enjoy its attenuated and curious forms such as this. When my family sits around reading together we read out good bits to each other in a companiable way and this game also gives intriuging glimpses of other people's books. That's why I'm playing too.

But there's a misleading feeling that one is getting a representative sample of someone's reading: that the closest book is the one a person would be reading if they weren't busy playing the book game, and that the closest book physically might well be the closest kind of book to their heart. Misconceptions is part of the conversation on feminist mothering and I'm interested in that, but I read it ages ago and found it recently which is why it's on my 'to return' shelf beside which I am sitting. One is getting a sample of someone's nearby books and if you do a search on the first rule you get a sample of what books people are sitting near around the net and maybe a lot of them are being read at the moment but for each of those people it may well be a rather unrepresentative sample. Even if it's a representative sample, people are complex. I nearly played the book game with earlier but then I got distracted by real life and stopped, I think I was closest to Myths of the Norsemen by Roger Lancelyn Green at the time; it's a retelling of Norse myths for children that I loved as a child and had out to find the name of the horse that pulls the moon's chariot because in a story Hazel and I have been telling together Ermintrude has made friends with the moon and has been invited to join it on its journey one night. Would Myths of the Norsemen give a different idea about my reading and me?

In Norse myth heroes go to Valhalla if they die in action including women who die in childbirth. Safer birthing means we mothers are less likely to go to Valhalla but we're still heroes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


1. The passing of time.

me as a baby with interesting hair
Mummy, me and Grandma, 37 years ago. Being 37 has got to be infinitely easier than being newborn, however nice big people are to the small.

Hazel painted my face purple and green, I painted hers to match her zebra-print coat
Hazel and I painted each other's faces at Playcentre on my 36th birthday.

Me, a little self concious in a fuschia bush
Me; today. Grandma's dead now and Mummy's on holiday with her other grandchildren. But Hazel, Iris, Sean and Hilary spent the day pandering to my whims and Ruth, Mummy, Daddy and Kay all rang and sang Happy Birthday to me so I still feel surrounded by fond family.

2. House.

pleasant enough for someone else's small lawn
It really is a lovely back garden, all those patterns from the pattern language focussed in on the one space. Here's Iris on the climbing frame and Hazel proudly modelling what was then the new picnic table.

3. Current Interests

Iris drilling right handed, she's normally a leftie
Iris likes things that go round and round, here she's drilling at Playcentre but this morning it was difficult to stop her over-peppering her honeyed toast because the peppermill rotates so attractively.

young primate, climbing
Hazel likes to climb poles.

round smiley face drawn a little shakily in sand
Hazel drew a face in the sand, she very rarely produces this kind of representation, mostly her representational art is proto-writing or kinetic: she pretends the implement is a person leaving traces of its movement behind like a jet's vapour trail.

cricket paddock
My bowling form is undiminished as I age.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Birthday letter.

Dear People,
This year I didn't write a Christmas letter. Sorry about that, hope you had a lovely Christmas and the New Year is shaping up nicely. I'm now writing a birthday letter instead, I'm 37 on the 15th. Being 36 wasn't bad at all, it was at least 20 times easier than being 16 and quite possibly 10 times easier than being 26.

We've been in the beautiful big old house for a year. For a birthday treat another plumber is coming to consider the rain that has again started falling inside, and in a few days the painter should be starting to prepare. Before he paints we have to choose colours and this is proving very difficult. We like bright and dark colours, but we know that paint is actually for protecting the wood from the elements and so should be light and white. We talk around and around, I mistakenly thought we'd settled on a red roof, white weatherboards, two brightish yellows for the trim, and maybe an orange door. Sean had no such thought.

But the house is beautiful and it is big. On Sunday we had my friend Daniel's wedding picnic here because of dodgy weather and bogginess in the Dell, everyone fit and had a good time. The kids played in the playroom some people sat in the sitting room, and lots of people leaned on things in the kitchen and sat around outside. Our sheltered garden is abundantly floral and home to many fascinating invertebrates to discuss with the kids.

Iris (just 2) has joined the rest of the family in being willing to hold her own in any discussion. She tells us she's "not funny, [she's] Iris" this does not prove her point. She was caught red-handed enjoying adjectives today "My hands painty, all slimy and not yummy; yukky and red." Iris dances, bounces and sings, her cup is usually half full.

Hazel is just 4 and one of my favourite things is listening in on the complicated and eloquent stories she tells while she's playing with dolls or sticks or her fingers. I kind of miss her imaginery siblings Molly, Sarah, Flora and Bert though, they were a lovely family, and all mine to boot. She's just learnt to swim and is full of her triumph, also she's always found two dimensions to be too limiting and swimming is fluidly three dimensional while climbing is often just switching which two dimensions one uses.

Sean's been working hard but we've been lucky he hasn't had to do much midnight support or going to Australia this year. He says the job is a bit dull but it's paying for our house which is nice.

I went with my aunt Hilary to the lectures for a first year university course on Art History up to 1800 in the first half of last year, which was rather fun. I had my cervix cored in March, which was not at all fun, but Fali Langdana, the thoughtful surgeon who found and removed it told me after my last check that my somewhat rare and rather vicious adenocarcinoma in situ* has been a bit trendy lately and compiling world results it seems I'm in a good statistical population so there's no clinical reason not to put a pregnancy on top of that beleagured and grotty old thing, in our own time of course. This news is so good it's almost inspiring us to do so, but we're not sure, with one sibling each we do wonder: is two children an elegant sufficiency?
* ASCCP adenocarcinoma | http://www.cone-biopsy.org/

Last April we went to Fiji for Sean's mother's birthday with his whole family, the first time I've been to the tropics since I was 9. It was lovely, Iris and Hazel seemed to think it was just the way the world should be, buffets and swimming. We're going again in March with his parents so that I can experience the swimming part too.

I've been working on doing some things I haven't got around to previously, I think it's good modelling for the kids and good for me too. I've got my full drivers' licence. Ta daah! I felt very clever because I realised it is photo ID and got my hair done a day or two beforehand. I'm getting pretty good at parking too.

I also finally made it to a Stained Glass course (Sean and I had enrolled to do one in Bloomington, read lots about it and then it was cancelled due to lack of interest). I enjoyed it but I asked the tutor if he thought I could finish my dodecahedron lampshade in class time and he said he thought so but I couldn't and it sits, unfinished, gathering dust and reproachfulness.

I've been the president of my Playcentre since mid-October, I'm beginning to relax a bit. You can tell because I'm writing this tonight rather than the agenda for the next meeting. It's odd, a lot like I imagine it might be being Most Popular Girl; new people look interestedly at me when we meet, everyone who gets together with a couple of other people to do a wee project fills me in on the project, if anyone has any good news to share or concern to air they call me, and people almost always ask me for an opinion, and oh, I do find I can produce one.

Happy birthday dear Susan,
Happy birthday to me.

Monday, February 13, 2006

This modern world.

I'm back in bed with the internet.

Tra la.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Full moon over Indigo.

Ihug and Telecom still haven't got their respective acts together; maybe tomorrow, maybe someday. So here I am, laptop on knee in car, parked on Cuba St. using my new friend: Cafenet to send my weekly playcentre notices and put something here while small groups of night folk wander past a little wearily.

Daniel's wedding picnic was at my place today, this means that one group of old friends of mine ("the blob") got together and wow, they're still late, likeable, and have interesting new things to say about the world. My other groups of friends tend to re-find out that sort of thing and eagerly make promises or plans to get together more often, but the oddest thing about the blob is that we let our warm yet tenuous connections just be.

Friday, February 10, 2006

My Harley.

I used to wonder why balding father figures get around on Harleys or in MGs. The passage of time usually explains these things to me. I've wanted a really small laptop since 1991 when I got my powerbook 100, and now, when I'm not sure I'm mobile enough to do it justice anymore, I'm thinking about getting an OQO or a K jam, but why aren't their screens like my sony t1's one?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Another kid?

Pros: another fascinating person around the house, Hazel loves babies, we'd all be part of a bigger family, using all these fleeting preschool skills some more, diluting the relationships, meeting more other people through the kid, delaying having to be something else when I grow up.
Cons: pregnancy sickness, a baby takes over one's whole life for a year and it doesn't give it all back ever, possibility of promotion past one's level of competency screwing the whole family up, less flexibility, more time and effort spent on keeping on keeping on and less to spend on having fun.

Opportunity versus opportunity cost I suppose. In general I've enjoyed making mistakes of over-generosity more than regretting lost chances but I haven't been playing with such high stakes before. My friend Rebecca, when I asked her about another kid, burst into laughter

'No, I've done my dash!' she said.
I envy her certainty.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Subverting the dominant paradigm.

Watching Don Bluth's Thumbelina's expressive little face - it's that or worry about the rain coming back through the roof - I've suddenly realised she's played by Maggie from Love and Rockets, back when she was thinner of course, this is an American movie after all. This revelation has completely changed my experience of the movie for the better, her haphazard staggering from one inappropriate rescuer to another is no longer a generic sexism in folk tales but a flaw in Maggie's own character. I'm not sure if the prince is Hopey.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I played cricket and it was fun, we agreed beforehand that there would be positive reinforcement and constant explanations. One couldn't get out before making a run and we rotated positions in the field every over but batting was in alphabetical order so we all did everything. I had a ball! I even bowled out Eagle Eye to end the most successful innings of the game. My new year's resolution is to enjoy playing backyard sports for a healthy body and to avoid passing my sporting neuroses on to my kids. My first foray into sport was not notable for its success, my toe is still sore but my x-ray shows no bony pathology so it should be better soon. This second venture was much better although it was in a sheep paddock not a backyard.

Oh how I miss my broadband.

Friday, February 03, 2006

No ISP and a holiday.

Phone posting telegraphic tricky therefore infrequent.

Togs,towel shorts, shirt, dress, toothbrush, sun screen, knitting.

Teddy bears, medicines, 8 tiny shoes, play tents, toys, and their clothes too.


We are off for a weekend in a ramshackle farmhouse in the Wairarapa with some old friends. Also we're changing ISPs and it seems neither old nor new will be providing internet services this week, so I'm doing this via my phone, I don't know how much I can be bothered.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

An ally across the world.

I've just found an internet ally: a blog called Thinking with my Fingers turns out to be written by another feminist mother of two children who likes to play pretend! She's been doing it a long time though and so she might think that I'm not an ally but an internet nemesis.

Alan Macdougall's internet nemesis is Alan Macdougall. Alan said

Damn. A reasonable and polite nemesis.
Where’s the dramatic tension?

(As it happens that comment was the first hit that created my addiction to reading blogs. I'm reading blogs for just that kind of pithy witty tidbit of human condition).