Monday, December 28, 2009


books on librarything-hooray! says I'm a Cool Light-Weight Nerd.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get nerdy images and jokes, and write on the nerd forum!

always wondered if I was a nerd....a dag for sure...but not sure if I was a nerd...only light-weight it seems...perhaps the only time I have been light-weight....must treasure that !!!

Monday, November 16, 2009


And look at this! What a fantastic photo! This is my great-great-grandfather's funeral procession.

A big thank you to my new 2nd cousin once removed, Geraldine, who sent me this and other fantastic photos.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Just thought I'd share some nonsense with you.

Silly story. I was trying to be sophisticated like my bridesmaid and use the term "Moi" in a subject heading for a mobile phone message the other day when I was sending a photo of myself with the Masterchef to my children. Only predictive text got in the way as I pressed send and changed it to "Moistened" - quelle embarrassement!

Second silly story...I'm studying Wills and Administrations...I know...I know....BORING! But it means I get to study old English and have some fun...well my idea of fun anyway....I bought a glossary at QFHS on Tuesday and have been reading it in bed imagining new conversations with my's the creation I came up with as I worked my way selectively through the alphabet....

1. AMBRY - large cupboard with doors, usually for food, but later used for books, linen, clothes etc. as in

"Hey Robert! Can you get my cardy out of the ambry for me please. I'm feeling a bit chilly."

2. CODD - (1) pillow or cushion (2) a bag. As in

"Yeah right - as if. Stop lazing around on your codd and get it yourself, you old codd."

3. ELL - measurement of 42 inches. As in

"Go to ell Robert. After all I've done for you. Don't know why I waste my breath ..."

4. GOSSIP - cousin, good friend or godfather. As in

"Right - that does it. I don't need to sit here and be insulted. I think I'll go down the pub with my gossip rather than sit here and listen to this tripe..."

5. ISSINGLASS - pure form of gelatine obtained from the air bladders of some fresh water fish, particularly the sturgeon. Used for making jellies or clarifying liquors etc as in

"Well if you're going to the pub Robert, could you pick up some issinglass on the way home for me? I fancy some jelly for tea tonight." (I do realise I am clutching at straws here.)

6. KILDERKINS - casks for liquids, fish etc. holding from 16 to 18 gallons. As in

"Anything for you my sweet. I might even bring home a Kilderkin for ye. Moselle or Perth Pink pet?"

7. MULLOCK - rubbish. As in

"Perth Pink thanks love. And don't forget it's mullock night tonight. Can you put the bin out for us?"

8. ODER - other. As in

"Is it recycling or the oder one?"

9. QUICK GOODS - livestock. As in

"Recycling. And don't be tallying too long with Farmer Joe - that man could bang on about his quick goods til the cows come home. I want you home by six."

10. SCONCE - lantern or candlestick with a screen to protect it from the wind. As in

"That reminds me, best take me sconce just in case eh?"

11. URCHIN - a hedgehog. As in

"Yes, you don't want to be tripping over an urchin like the last time! It took me forever to get those spines out of your....well let's not go there."

12. YATE - gate. As in

"Don't I know it. Blasted thing was right in front of the Yate. I reckon it were an ell long. Had to sit on codds for weeks."

See - you could be me and have a real problem. Back to cleaning the bathrooms...

Oh and MOST IMPORTANTLY this lovely hedgehog picture comes from another blog called Thought Objects and you really should look at the animation that it's a Russian filmmaker called Yuriy Norshteyn. Go on - have a look at it. I love it....Hedghog in the Fog I love animators - they have such a special outlook on the world.

Oh and thanks to Rosemary Milward who published the excellent Glossary of Household, Farming and Trade Terms from Probate Inventories which helped me come up with this fantasy....I know you'll want to rush out and buy it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I have had a wonderful few days. On Friday some friends from Bookclub and I shared a very indulgent day. Eva's wonderful daughter Lucy drove us to Southbank where we bought tickets to see The Time Traveller's Wife which I think we read for bookclub last year. The author is Audrey Niffenegger. The director was Robert Schwentke (Flightplan) and stars Eric Bana which was probably the main reason I wanted to see it. I find him exceedingly spunky and in the story he has the unfortunate habit of time travelling and arriving in the new time zone completely starkers. How very inconvenient! Tee hee. I think the movie was a very faithful adaptation of the sensibility of the book. Do take tissues - even this most hard-hearted creature was sniffing at the end.

After the movie we moved on to the Food and Wine Fair at the Convention Centre. So much fun. It's amazing how all is well with the world and how nice people seem once you've had a few wines :) I sampled lots of lovely stuff including a Chardonnay from Protero vineyards. I've gone over to Sauvignon Blanc of late but this Chardonnay was very yummy. I was also impressed with the Limoncello from Lemon-Z. Made in New Zealand it has won lots of international awards apparently. Try it but go easy - at 38% alcohol it packs a punch.

There were all sorts of Masterclasses going on but I was far too relaxed and left buying tickets til we walked in the door. Next year I'll be much better prepared and book early. I did manage to catch the very tolerant and obliging Gary Mehigan from Masterchef for a mobile phone photo as he exited from a packed Masterclass. Thank you Gary! Masterchef is a fantastic show !

We finished off the evening checking out the talent at Cloudland and The Bowery while we waited for Lucy to finish work and drive us home. Bless Lucy for putting up with us.

On Sunday I drove up to the Scenic Rim to visit the wonderful Gardners in Warwick. After a great lunch Steve took us for a drive around the attractions including the amazing Morgan Park which features not only equestrian facilities for Polocrosse, Horse Trials and Carriage Driving but also space for Drag Racing, Car Racing and Motocross. Incredible!

Last but by no means least, lots of sucess on the family history front including finding new 2nd cousins once of whom sent me this fantastic photo of a wedding featuring my 2nd-great-grandfather, James Cook - yes the very one on the HMS Monarch. He is the one in the very flashy plumed hat in the middle row second from the right - just to the top right of the bride. We think the bride is Beatrice, Eleanor Eliza's younger sister. Eleanor was my great-grandmother and the eldest of twelve. Mabel, another sister, is on the bride's left (but right as you look at the photo. Mabel is my new cousin June's grandmother and next to Mabel is John, grandfather of another new cousin Geraldine, who I also met on Ancestry. Thank you June and Geraldine. It's great to meet you and share such a fine-looking bunch of ancestors !

Thursday, November 5, 2009

HMS Monarch painting by William Frederick Mitchell

Much excitement in the Daw household yesterday - well I was excited - the rest of the family probably have no idea.

At the beginning of my Long Service Leave I ordered a birth certificate from the GRO.

That was my first mistake. According to fellow family historians they are cheaper and easier to get from the local record offices.

I found this out half way through my LSL. GRO claimed to have no knowledge of the order I placed in July.

I then entered into some amusing correspondence with the Portsmouth City Council - auto generated emails of course...e.g.

4.02pm 20th October "Thank you for contacting Portsmouth City Council. The City Helpdesk's opening hours are 8am - 6pm Monday - Friday. We are closed all day on bank holidays. Please be aware that e-mails will not be monitored when the office is closed. All emails received at this time will be reviewed and acknowledged when we are next open."

Then at 5.12pm on the same day

"Thank you for contacting the City Helpdesk. Portsmouth City Council has a corporate timescale of 10 working days. However, in City Helpdesk we aim to respond to your email within one working day. Due to a high volume of emails at present, we have had to extend our own timescale for responding to you to three working days. We will be reviewing this timescale on a regular basis.Regards."

Then two days later:

"Dear Alexandra Subject: Birth Certificates.

Thank you for contacting the City Helpdesk at Portsmouth City Council.

Information on family history and birth certificates can be found by contacting our Portsmouth Registry Office:
Email: or by Telephone: 02392 829041. Or by contacting our Geneology department within our Central Library: or by Telephone 02392 819311.
Should you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Tell us what you think. Let us know about our service to you.
Click on the link to complete our online survey and tell us what you think about the service you received from City Helpdesk

Customer Service Advisor CCS008
City Helpdesk

Did you notice that the registrar has the same email suffix as the city help desk? aka Could they not just forward the email to their colleague??
Ah Bureaucracy - what would we do without it?

But I didn't care - I was in communication with them and that was fantastic! I emailed the registrar and then she emailed me back and suggested I use old fashioned technology i.e. the telephone. And I did!! And five days later I received the certificate.

So, the picture of the ship above is not of a slow boat to China. NO! It is of the HMS Monarch. The birth certificate was for my great-grandmother on my father's side - Eleanor Eliza Cook. She was the eldest, I think, of no less than 12 children born to James Vernon Cook and Caroline (nee Jeffries). She was born 21 September 1874 at Orange Street in Portsea.

Eleanor's father, James, was a Gunner on the HMS Monarch at the time.

The distinguishing feature about the HMS Monarch was that it was the first sea-going warship to carry her guns in turrets. But because she was designed at a time of change from sail to steam, the poor old Admiralty Board were a bit nervous about unreliable steam engines, so insisted that she carry a full ship-rig and have a forecastle mounted. Sir Edward Reed, the ships's designer apparently wasn't too impressed, as this limited the way guns could be fired i.e. only port and starboard. Oh dear.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Pussy cats .... we've had a few.

When I was little, we tried getting a dog. I was so excited. I had gone around a wishing tea in the botanical gardens in Sydney quite a few times wishing desperately for a dog. And one day - after we'd moved to Canberra - after Sunday School - I think - Dino the black cocker spaniel was waiting for me at home.

Well - Dino didn't like me. And I didn't like Dino because he frightened me. So Dino went away.

Not long after my father found a kitten in the bush. He was black so we called him Sooty. It's awful, I know, but I can't remember what happened to Sooty.

Then somehow we ended up with three cats - Tilly, a grey Persian; Yum Yum, another black cat and Kit.

This photo is of Kit. We "inherited" him from my Gran. He lived with her for a long time and had all the neighbours fooled. He used to sit on her very grand letter box (a big brick and concrete job from memory) out the front and beg for food. He got fatter and fatter and then he came to live with us.

Not one of our cats liked each other. Every time they met each other in the hallway you would swear it was the first time they had ever seen each other - slinking and spitting furiously, they would never give an inch.

We loved them all and I miss them very much.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Right ! Prepared to be deluged. I am sorting old family slides and it's a lot of hard work but fun too when you find ones like this. This one is of my mother at the local butcher shop in Edinburgh in the 60s.

Now this is what I call a proper shop. The butcher has really sorted his wares hasn't he ? And displayed it so that customers can see at a glance what he's got. Bless him. Woolies is just not a patch on this is it?

And isn't my father clever for taking this photo too? It really captures the essence of the time don't you think? What is your favourite shopping experience? Have you taken a photo like this?

Three weeks left of long service leave so lots of sorting still to do. Will I finish A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book? Will I read Wolf Hall as well? Will I go blind?

I have started a family history course on-line through Pharos Tutors. It's great! I'm learning so much and it's only week one.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


William Robinson
Goats and Chickens 1980

Hmmm...bliss....yesterday I had the pleasure of inspecting the recently restored Old Government House and the fantastic new William Robinson Gallery.

Please go and see this exhibition. We are so lucky to have it in Brisbane. It's open Sundays to Fridays 10am-5pm or, to put it another way, it's closed on Saturdays!

Go to QUT's Garden's Point campus. The Gallery is on the top floor of Old Government House and it's free! Catch the lift up just for fun (it's a very special kind of lift and worth seeing) or, if you want to keep fit, go up the grand staircase.

Robinson's work is so diverse, so rich and full of great humour, it is balm to the soul. Allow at least an hour because you will want to go back and look at his works again and again.

There is a tea-room in the courtyard offering ribbon sandwiches or traditional high teas with the menu highlight being lamingtons. I think lamingtons can really only do damage to one's waistline but I'm happy to be convinced otherwise. Perhaps it really is a weapon of mass destruction!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The Daws are renowned for being late - late to parties, gatherings, whatever. Some would say that they would be late for their own funeral. Well, today, I officially became a Daw. Miss Pat and Kath and I turned up for Decoration Day at Tingalpa Cemetery armed with buckets, scrubbing brushes, borax, sugar soap, fake flowers, a plate of food to share, stout shoes, hats, cameras, a thermos, mugs, sugar etc etc. and we were ..... A DAY LATE!!! Oh well - the cemetery looked lovely and thank you to whoever cleaned our grave....we owe you one...or two...perhaps at the Edinburgh Castle. The Friends of Tingalpa Cemetery Heritage Group Inc. are to be commended for their fine work in restoring the Pioneers' Chapel and Cemetery. It looks absolutely beautiful and there are some very fine people buried here. I just would have liked to meet the living ones too! Perhaps next year - when I'm not so relaxed on Long Service Leave!!!! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009


Why do I always go grave hunting on hot days? I was sort of prepared - stout walking shoes, bottle of water, camera, hat and most importantly, companion - to keep one motivated. Miss Pat accompanied me to the Lutwyche Cemetery today in search of her ancestors. Foolishly I forgot to bring details of the portion and plot number. But really this was the universe moving in mysterious ways to test whether my records were kept in a retrievable fashion and if my daughter could easily find them when I phoned her in sheer desperation !! They were in good order and she was a good egg and provided us with a portion, a section and an allotment number....only we still couldn't track it down. Lutwyche Cemetery has a number of portions - Church of England, General, Catholic etc.

Refreshments were called for. And the Edinburgh Castle Hotel on Gympie Road was happy to supply them. Miss Pat dined on steak whilst I partook of fish and chips. Oh alright and some light beer was consumed too. We rang Great Aunt Alice who used to visit the grave regularly. She gave us a good description and refreshed we returned to the scene of the dead people.

We looked and looked and finally settled on a glum plot as being at least in the right row. We then went looking for a groundsman who very helpfully confirmed our suspicions and taught us to count grave-ly.

And look! If I'd done my homework first Brisbane City Council have made it SO easy for us all!!! Check out their Grave Location Service.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


My favourite tea cosy at the Crazy Cozy Competition at Exeter - Waltzing Matilda Wreaths of Hope by Lynette Meek of Vancouver Island Canada.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Here I am enjoying myself in....New South Wales......Thelma and I had a lovely holiday last week. We've been patting each other on the back and congratulating each other on the planning and executing of said holiday. I reckon the secret to a good holiday is making it not too long and not too short; only staying somewhere for a maximum of two days; never driving more than a couple of hours to get somewhere. Suitcase packing is an art and Thelma takes the prize out for that one - years of practice at boarding school. She taught me how to knit a fabulous tea cosy and I got to make new friends on the first couple of days in the workshop. We stayed at this lovely cottage.

We checked out some fabulous shops - one called Peppergreen Antiques which was a bit like a Tardis and went on for ever and ever. She who dies with the most fabric definitely left it to Peppergreen - check this out!!

We then went to beautiful Kiama where our hosts spoiled us rotten with fine wine and fine dining. I have since tried to replicate the fantastic pomegranate salad to no avail - all recipes gratefully accepted.

On to the lovely Blue Mountains where we found a great bookshop at Wentworth Falls.

But of course the walk was the best - Leura Cascades and round to Gordon Falls - heaven .... bliss.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I wish I could say that this is the result of toil and sweat in our garden. They're not. Every year they pop up like a nice surprise outside Caspar's window and greet me on the way to hang out the washing. And it's a good day for drying clothes. I am now indexing the Division of Lilley Subdivision Enoggera 1941 Electoral Roll. Finished my Townsville pages on Saturday and took it into QFHS and showed Pat the library. We have been exploring State Archives looking for more information on ancestors. The hunt can be quite exciting. We've found a will and need to go back for another. We are also going cemetery exploring in the not too distant future. Balmoral Cemetery for example. I have started a diet (again) today - this time high protein. Fingers crossed. Am reading Adam Fould's The Quickening Maze which has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize - the winner will be revealed next Tuesday. I will be lucky if I have read one of those shortlisted by then though I do have Coetzee's Summertime by my bed too. And looking at my Library account I see that Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger is waiting for me. I'm No. 37 on the waiting list for Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and No. 9 for A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book and No. 1 for Simon Mawer's The Glass Room. So if I really pull my finger out, I might get to read four by next Tuesday!!! But I have a lot of movies to watch before then too for the AFI judging. So much culture ! So little time. Karen and I went to see The September Issue last Thursday - FANtastic. Always dreamed of being the Editor for Vogue.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

If you lived with me...

This is what you'd be eating for dinner tonight!!! Dinner Number 83. I'm clutching at recipes that feature pumpkin pumpkin fertilized by Robert and Cas as only boys know how - ewwwww!!! First time I've cooked risoni. Didn't have any coriander which probably made a huge difference. Had every other b.... herb/spice that was required...tumeric, cumin, oregano - just can't keep up. Am now realizing what those photographers are paid big bucks for on the WW site and cookery books. It's quite hard to take photos of food isn't it?

More indexing of the 1941 Electoral Roll today - who has heard of the christian name Quarmby ? Where on earth does that come from?

Trying to read Ed O'Loughlin's "Not untrue and Not unkind" at the moment - waiting to get into it. Loved "The White Tiger".

Have booked the hire car for the road trip -two weeks to go tomorrow. Lining up rendezvous with all and sundry.

Agonizing over Uni options for Caspar - film and tv, architecture, building design, mass communications.....

Bel and I saw Rachel Ward's Beautiful Kate on the weekend which was quite confronting but fantastic performances from the gorgeous Ben Mendelsohn, Maeve Dermody, Sophie Lowe and the perennial Rachel Griffiths. Bryan Brown is very Bryan Brown. But I reckon this must be Ben Mendelshohn's toughest role ever and he soars above the challenge - smouldering/smoking. I'm looking forward to seeing Sophie Lowe again in Ana Kokinos' Blessed very soon.

What have you been up to? What did you have for dinner?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Last month I went to see the movie Balibo with my sister-in-law. It was pretty powerful stuff and we came away wanting to know more. I ordered some books from the local library and Tony Maniaty’s Shooting Balibo – Blood and Memory in East Timor turned up last week.

The book wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Tony in his Acknowledgements at the back of the book does state that he has tried to “recapture, through observation, archives and recalled moments, what happened in a small and very troubled place in 1975, and the experiences of returning there in 2008 with the Balibo film production…..It is by no means an authoritative history: the works of Jill Jolliffe and James Dunn, who were also in Dili in 1975, and also of Hamish McDonald and Desmond Ball, are well recommended in that regard.”

So who was/is Tony Maniaty? Well, if you’ve seen the movie, he was the journalist who survived – the one that got away! Tony Maniaty was the ABC’s news journalist covering the conflict in East Timor in 1975. Originally from Brisbane, now my home town, he joined the ABC as a cadet journalist in 1967 “fresh out of high school”. I joined ABC Brisbane in 1982 (in much lowlier circumstance I might add) so was interested to hear what it was like working at the ABC before my time. Tony had long gone by the time I arrived. Since 1975 he has been Diplomatic Correspondent for Radio Australia, and in 1991-92 was European Correspondent for SBS's Dateline. Our paths almost crossed again when in 1993, Tony attended the Australian Film, Radio and Television School. Only I was still in Brisbane working as the Professional Development Manager and he was a student in Sydney. It was at the School that he met Robert Connolly who I met not long after when he was Associate Producer on All Men are Liars in Far North Queensland. I was supervising some internships for the Pacific Film and Television Commission. Robert then went on to produce The Boys, The Monkey’s Mask, and Romulus, My Father. He also directed The Bank, Three Dollars and now Balibo.

So, there were a few “characters” in the book already known to me – the ABC and some members of the film crew. Tony captures beautifully what it’s like to work in both areas. His book really is a marvellous attempt to capture the at times disorienting experience of recalling memories, re-telling stories and the process of filmmaking – particularly the new and very popular area of storytelling – the area of docu-drama – what is real? What is fiction? What really matters in storytelling? What story are we trying to tell?

I was a bit disappointed that there were no photos included (apart from the front cover) but Tony’s writing style is so descriptive that that begins to matter less and less the further into the book you delve. What impressed me over and over again was his ability to capture memories of growing up – reminding me of things I had forgotten that I had done too in my youth e.g. “Back then, in the halcyon 1950s, I dreamed of travel to exotic lands, not least in Africa. Unlike most boys, I penned letters to foreign embassies in Canberra asking for tourist brochures to expedite my journeys. ….bundles of multi-hued brochures tumbled into my dull life, promoting destinations, attractions and luxury hotels from Bermuda to Tanganyika…..” I grew up in the 60s but we still did that then too!!

Cinema audiences walk away from the movie with many questions no doubt and Tony attempts to answer some of these in the book. Why did the Balibo 5 ignore his advice and head towards almost certain death? Why did the Australian government do nothing? Who was Greg Shackleton and what motivated him? Who is Jose Ramos Horta?

I was 14 at the time of the Indonesian invasion and confess to very little consciousness of it or the Balibo 5. As Tony states several times in the book, the Constitutional Crisis tended to overshadow everything. My sister-in-law and I marvelled at the Production Design in the film – the seventies was perfectly captured. Those short shorts and sideburns – hubba hubba!!. For me particularly the excitement of being part of a film crew was also captured. But of course Tony is quite right when he says that the great casting is ultimately what really makes the film “authentic”.

Heading back to Balibo last year to witness the filming gave Maniaty an unreal sense of reality versus unreality.

“It’s growing harder by the hour not to see these actors as the living embodiment of the Balibo Five, and the real Balibo Five as historical figures we’ve constructed from photos, their reporting and filming, and memories laced together by family and friends. Thrust together in this Toyota, laughing and playing up, they are as they might have been in 1975; five for the road, searching for adventure and great stories. The actors are young and I’m not, but just for a moment I can feel what it was like to be in my mid-twenties…..I am bouncing along in the back of a ute with mates of the same age, I’m acting in a movie called Life; there’s no reason to turn back. I’m in the universal moment.

He witnesses another unreal moment when…

“I step into the DVD shop. It is, literally, a pirate’s cave. Every disc here has been copied from a master somewhere in deepest Asia, wrapped in cellophane and priced to the local market, a couple of dollars apiece. ……I have escaped the Balibo team; I’ve stepped out of the film world and into the real word of Dili, only to find the real world consists of an emerging Timorese middle-class consuming thousands of imported movies…..”

Tony wrestles with his role as storyteller. As a journalist, particularly for the ABC, he is meant to report what he finds impartially. Who is telling him the truth? Who can he trust? It is part of the challenge he faces when reflecting on his brief conversation with Greg Shackleton and his team. The competitive nature of television journalism could mean that his heartfelt advice to them not to head to Balibo could have been interpreted by macho males as a gauntlet.

It is ironic that on his return to Darwin in 1975 his boss advises him to lay low for a couple of weeks “I’d been back for a couple of hours and to one side I was still ’the Communist journalist’ targeted for elimination on Indonesian radio and to the other ‘the traitor undermining the revolution.’

Tony is ultimately reflecting on what it means to be a storyteller in today’s world – fact or fiction. What stories we choose to tell and the effort both mentally and physically that it takes – sometimes the toll both personally and professionally. Jose Ramos Horta for one had to leg it all over the world to tell his story, finally to the UN and anyone else who would listen. He and his family are still paying the price.

Maniaty reflects on the huge leaps forward in technology now for storytellers – at a touch of a mobile phone, in most areas, we can ring colleagues, family and friends and ask for advice, information or reassure them we are okay. We can google things we are not sure of. The producers sit on set and look at rushes on their laptops – inconceivable back in 75. The gear we use as filmmakers is much more discrete and almost weightless in comparison to the heavy cameras and sound recording gear that used to be lugged around. I was impressed by the account of the actors preparing for their roles – looking at I-pods with uploaded actual footage of the news reports from 75 to ensure their performances were authentic.

As audiences, we choose the stories we want to hear. I’m glad I chose this story.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


First let me acknowledge that this wonderful picture is from a Conde Nast publication - Machine Knitting by Jones in Hayfield Yarns - Designs by Vogue Knitting in a supplement to Vogue Knitting from 1969 - Volume 15 No. 6. And here is the description in case the photo doesn't get you in - Casual (!) and pretty - the new look twin sets - high ribbing meets lacy shell stitch. The scarves were from Libertys and the skirts were from a selection at Dickins & Jones. I suspect Peter Rand was the photographer as his name is written up the side of the publication.

So I say unto you - if you've ever worried about what you're wearing or what you popped the kids into today, surely it couldn't be worse than this? Does anyone else remember wearing tights like those? and shoes like those?

I am sure we are wearing things today that in 40 years time we will say "OMG - why didn't someone SAY something before I walked out the door!". What do you think are today's wardrobe elephants?

Monday, August 31, 2009


Right - well this is the harvest of the accidental vege patch (aka - look what happens when you throw out stuff the guinea pigs haven't eaten). All of you what have good recipes for pumpkins please pass them on - pumpkin scones, pumpkin pickle or jam. Bring it on. Can you spot the real pumpkins? The fake is courtesy of Great Aunt Alice - a wedding gift to Robbie and me - isn't it special? The tablecloth is courtesy of my grandmother - Ethel. I wonder how long it took her to embroider that....

Life is very full - of movies!!! The AFI has sent me a stack of screeners to watch before the judging commences 1 October. On Saturday I raced to the Schonell at UQ to see "Disgrace" starring John Malkovitch and "The Last Ride" (starring my all time favourite actor Hugo Weaving). Both fairly bleak films I have to say. Of the two (and it is so unfair to compare I know)...I probably preferred Disgrace but because it was set somewhere about which I know very little i.e. South Africa and it had something really interesting to say which made me think ... a lot. Beautiful cinematography in "the Last Ride" and some great performances. Also watched "Lionel" last week which was about Lionel Rose - I was too young to be aware of that particular phenomenon so very interesting viewing. Hoping to see "Beautiful Kate" today.

How's everyone going finance wise? I always seem to struggle to save but maybe it's a time of life thing...housing two kids who are almost adults. I'd appreciate any tips you might have. And I know that finance is a very touchy subject but without revealing too much I'd be interested to compare how much we all spent on particular items...e.g. in the past twelve months to date this is how ours was divvied up - tax of course being the biggest expense, followed swiftly by groceries at 16%, 10% on school fees (and yes I realise that is absolutely discretionary spending which will end this year - hallelujah), 8% kids allowances (this is their clothing, bus money, pocket money etc), 4% health insurance (discretionary again I know). Petrol, meals out, gifts and home maintenance come in at 3% each. Rates, Hobbies, Doctor, Electricity and Entertainment come in at 2% each and pets, hair/makeup and my clothes come in at 1% each. The only saving I seem to be able to do is Super - and that's because it's taken out of my pay packet before I can touch it!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It was such a beautiful day yesterday. Almost summer. A good day for going to the beach. The jasmine is out and I have picked bunches for each room and am revelling in the aroma. Would there be a storm? Robbie came home from work after 2. He sat on the sofa and shared the minutiae of the day with me. Troops are thin on the ground at all his various jobs. Everyone is suffering from a lurgy of one sort or another. I am at the sniffling stage of a cold. Thankfully over the horrid sore throat stage. Jessie sits on her sofa listening attentively to him. She wags her tail furiously when he acknowledges her presence by fake smiling/snarling. It's a little game they play. Dirk comes home from TAFE. I go to pick up Cas from Indro after I post my second Ebay sale at the lovely little post office in Marshall Lane run by two gentleman whose blood is worth bottling, as my Mum would say. I buy Express Post envelopes for Dad's mail and stand there hesitantly - will I post the mail today or should I send the birthday presents for Friday as well? I dither. I decide. They are philosophical about the indecision. It is a village post office where nothing can go wrong. Almost a toy post office. I love it. Jessie greets us enthusiastically at the door when we get home. She is without fail always so genuinely pleased to see us. Bless her. What can we make for dinner? I'm now up to dinner number 48 since going on long service leave and clutching at straws. Cas manages to get me somewhat excited about spag bog. What about a bit of salt he suggests? I'm sure they said that brings out the flavour on Master Chef. Before I know it I'm adding red wine, sugar, bacon and parsely. I put garlic bread in the oven. I've got it all under control. I can go out on the porch and be a good wife with my husband and share a glass of vino. The guinea pigs need to be brought in. Dirk and Bel take Jess for her evening soiree at the dog park. Robbie spots a beautiful carpet snake in the garden. He's only young. And so mesmeric. We know he's eyeing off the guinea pigs. But they'll be safe. Cas makes a little shelter for him in the coming storm. A bit of masonite leaning against the fence. A clutch of straw. I vocalise the deep contentment I am feeling at watching my two blokes communing with nature. Robert suspects the wine's influence. I defer. The storm advances rapidly. We are glad because the earth is parched. Bring it on!!! The phone rings. It will be "Woosy Bel", we agree, ringing from the dog park. "Come and get me!". Her voice is stressed but she hangs up - someone is calling her. I think nothing of it. This is normal. The phone rings again half an hour later. Robbie answers. "She'll come home." he says reassuringly. Jessie has run off from the reservoir. Why are they at the reservoir? Oh well, it's not too far from home. We stand in the front yard and call for her. I wait some more. How much should you chase up a teenager for dinner? I decide to chill. I have wasted so much time worrying as a parent for no good reason. I read my very good book from the library. The phone rings. It's the local vet. Your dog has been run over by a car. She's still alive. Can you come down? Cas, ring your sister and tell her Jessie's been found. Robert rings shortly after. While I was reading he'd walked up to the reservoir. But it's the wrong one. We have two reservoirs and they were at the other one. The one on the busy road with no fence. I get to the Vet's. Some poor woman is trying to pay her bill with three declining credit cards. I wait patiently. Jessie is in a back room looking like a dead dog. Bel is with her helpless with grief. She has a badly broken back leg. They don't know what internal injuries she has sustained. The vet is marvellous. Professional. Compassionate. Her vital signs are improving but....we go home. Robert is furious. He can barely speak. A needle he says is what is required. So, we go back. This time with Caspar in tow to say goodbye. How do you say goodbye to someone who only ever greets you with unabashed enthusiasm. Who has trusted you implicitly? Who smells like a wet dog and yet ...At least we got to say goodbye and know what happened. How can a day of deep contentment turn so bad? Dear Jessie. Did I even feed you today? We were always conscious of your figure and giving you too many treats. All your gentleman admirers keep turning up. Jackson turned up tonight and I swear he knew exactly what I was saying when I blubbered to him that you were no longer with us. He hung around for a while to keep us company and obligingly licked my drippy nose. I have spent the day in bed with a suitably maudlin book to make myself cry as I come from stiff upper lip stock. Everyone was out walking their dogs this morning as we drove along the road to school where you were run over - exquisite torture. I hear whistling and know that I won't be whistling for you anymore. I lay on the sofa last night desperately thinking of who I could call who would understand and then realised that only you would be able to come up and nudge me with your wet nose as if to say "There'll be allright." Such a good dog. The only one who ever knew when I was depressed beyond belief. And such a magnaminous host. Other dogs would come to stay for weeks and you wouldn't chuck a tantie. Every bloke that came to our house melted at the sight of you and turned to goo when they chucked you under the chin. What do we do with your sofa? It will be your altar for ever more. Enough. Enough. You were the best. Say no more. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Yes, yes I know - it's been ages. Some of us have been having just too much fun to blog.....not really....some of us have been too embarrassed that three weeks of Long Service Leave have gone by with very little to show for it....what I have done? I finished a baby's jacket....and a tea cosy....and supervised four teenagers painting a teenager's room in a day....made grapefruit marmalade that didn't set....would anyone like some f..... grapefruit...pleeeeeeeeezzz take the grapefruit ....I am so over it....or send jars so I can have another crack at it....this time with a what does the 1961 Glam have to do with anything....well luvvies...I have been invited to the Opening Night of BIFF....which for the uninitiated is the Brisbane International Film Festival....opening night film An Education ......wot I reckon everyone should get if they possibly can.....Here's the blurb...Romance, drama, intrigue - (sounds good to me already)...."an entertaining portrayal of the growing pains that accompany early adulthood set in the London suburb on Twickenham"...1961 - the year I was born....I think I will need to wear a tiara and have a pile up hairdo and wear Thai silk - all suggestions gratefully accepted. Script by Nick Hornby - why is that name familiar ???? "About a Boy" and "High Fidelity" you goose. Right. So I am knitting with more Sublime wool - a baby's jumper for Michael and Maggie's baby - no idea what the gender is - am knitting steel blue because it is a great colour - it was knitted during Master Chef so I'm sure there are a few mistakes. I am SO VERY PLEASED that Julie won - a win for all the women that society casts aside beause of their stage of life - Poh was very very appealing but Julie got me - hook, line and sinker - that woman is real and how!! I am reading Frank Moorhouse's Grand Days which I didn't expect to enjoy and am ploughing through open mouthed - how does that man know how women feel???? He must have very close female friends... I've been doing lots of family history....lots of cooking....lots of sweeping...currently babysitting two adorable dogs who are very fluffy and bring in all the litter from the garden - aka guinea pig straw et al on their pretty coats....planning for my daughter's 18th for goodness sake....done my tax...haven't entered nearly enough books into librarything...where does the time go??? How did I ever have enough time to go to work????

Thursday, June 18, 2009


was a pretty good day all things considered....a dear friend asked me to be her date at the Simon and Garfunkel concert. She said she realised she would have to put up with me singing and generally being the dag I am. Then I had a small win at work - something that I thought was going to go pear shaped didn't turn out too badly....then I got the phone call from the've won the Music school fees for next about that? Rushed home to cook tea for my nearest and dearest and then headed off to Boondall with Karen to see the iconic duo. Why did I ever think I would sing? All I did was cry - great blubbering idiot that I am. So lovely to be there and trip back to my youth where all was peace love and happiness - well, when you listened to Simon and Garfunkel. We did sing in the end - despite a cranky puss sitting next to me who claimed she hadn't paid to listen to all of us sing - get a life - feel the peace - ohmmmmm - feelin groovy.....

Monday, April 27, 2009


As I said to the tallier, "How can I feel so naughty and so happy at the same time?". UQ Alumni book sale! Wonderful wonderful wonderful. Do you know I got a copy of the Harrods cookbook with the famous pork chops and artichoke hearts recipe as an early birthday present for Ms Cutting? $2! Bargain. I also got Who's Who of Australian Women 2007 for $5! Bargain! And Gerard Millerson's Techniques of Television Production - $5! And...and....and...a word to the wise - take a shopping trolley with wheels on so you don't strain your back carrying around a box like I did. It's still going until Wednesday. OMG! I've just realised I can go BACK!!! I'm working tomorrow night so my day is free. This time I can be more organised and take my 50 Books for the Year list with me. I was looking for The Spare Room by Helen Garner - got everything else but - this review made me giggle - though I'm sure Ms Garner is not amused. Got Arthur Ransome's The Picts and the Martyrs though which I've never seen before so I'm pleased about that....(just realised that that is another Author's society I could join...I wonder if Violet Needham and Arthur Ransome would have got on????) and Crime and Punishment for $1.50 - Miss Pat and I will fight over that one. Honest to goodness - it's a booklovers dream. So very naughty today. Bought a coat for the big roadtrip to the Southern Highlands from Rivers. I have a coat already really might get to have a back up. And the tax bonus has apparently been put into my bank account. It will go straight back out to dear Mastercard and other good creditors. I am like a pig in mud...only without the flu...thank you very much.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


It's another beautiful day in Brisbane. I have taken the dog for a walk and cleaned Tweetie's cage and put her out in the sun to talk to the other birdies. If you look closely at the photo you will see the beginnings of The Day of the Triffids in our backyard. This is the result of our cheerfully scattering to the four winds the remains of the guinea pig food when we clean their cages. Pumpkin seeds have obviously taken root and gone mad. At least we think they're pumpkins - let us know if you think they're something else. Did you know that the BBC is currently making a new series of The Day of the Triffids starring the gorgeous Eddie Izzard no less and Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Priestly and and and....Did you know that you can follow Eddie Izzard on Twitter? But I digress..

What else? Well I'm still ploughing my way through Dostoyevsky's Humiliated and Insulted. I am indebted to Tomcatmurr for lighting the way in reading Dostoyevsky. I have renewed my vows to lose weight and have joined WW online - hence the walk this morning.

I am getting very excited about taking Long Service Leave from 1 July. Plans so far are knitting; librarything; golf; bridge; building a vege garden; writing a family history book; de-cluttering and travelling. Can't wait!65 days and counting.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


It's 11:11 by the Playschool clock. Robert and I in our early years used to look at the digital clock often and be astounded that it was 4:04 or 10:10 or 12:12. Did anyone else suffer from this phenomenon?

What's new in our world? Well check out this fantastic painting painted by none other than my Libby-Bel. We went away for Easter Sunday to visit Great-Aunt-Alice and Nanna Fay, Uncle Michael and Aunty Kath and this is what we came home to...pretty special isn't it?

What else is new? Well I went to see Tulpan tonight. Courtesy of the wonderful people at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. . It is directed by Sergei Dvortsevoy and is set in Kazakhstan. If you've seen The Story of the Weeping Camel it is familiar territory.

I have been reading a lot of Dostoevesky lately - because of a group I've joined on Librarything. I'm up to Book Number 3. There are a lot of similar themes here.

The still you can see from the movie is the main character Asa who is filled with joy at the thought of winning a wife and living the dream of owning his own yurt, sheep and sundry other items e.g. Japanese solar panels. But Asa is blessed with unfortunate looking ears - rather like Prince Charles - and his dreams are thwarted. There are many great moments in this movie and so many interesting faces - with or without unfortunate ears. In the joyous still, Asa's friend is playing Boney M's Babylon on the truck cassette player - I suspect the only cassette he has in his possession.

Anyway - there are some wonderful scenes - perhaps you've heard about the birth of the sheep - 15 minutes of birthing - that sheep sounds like any woman in childbirth I believe. I liked the scene where the goat kisses Asa in the shed and the scene where the mummy camel gives the animal doctor on the motorbike with the sidecar a hard time. Her baby is in the side car. Yes, yes, I know - you're confused - just go and see the movie. You'll never complain about working in an airconditioned office again.

Back to Dostoyevsky. I am reading Humiliated and Insulted (can't get over a publisher accepting that as a title for a book - "you wanna lighten up a little Fyodor? - people want a bit of an escape you know - what about - For the love of Mike - now there's a good title.") So Natasha says to Vanya and I quote - "Somehow we've got to suffer our way through to our future happiness, purchase it by new ordeals. Suffering purifies everything...." Discuss.

I am meant to review "The New 50 Simple Things Kids can do to save the Earth" by The Earthworks Group. I was sent an Early Reviewers copy by Librarything - bless them. More than 1 million copies have been sold already - this is a reprint. It was originally published 20 years ago. Gosh.

The only way I think I can effectively review this is by taking action - which ultimately is what I believe the authors hopes happens as a result of reading this book...and given that I am an adult that should be easy peasy yes? So for the next 50 days watch this site and see how I go. First challenge - recycle glass. So easy. I already do that. So what can I do that I don't do already? Pick up bottles when I find them, the book says and take them home to recycle.

Thoughts so far about the book - is it preaching to the converted? What makes people save the earth? Reading a book? I don't think so. I think they need to be inspired by example. I handed out How to Vote Green cards for a friend at our last local election. I'm not a real greenie. Heck the real greenies were very reluctant to hand over the how to vote cards to me at the polling booth last election - "She wears pearls - she can't be a greenie!" Who inspired me? The mother of a dear friend when I was growing up. Mrs Davis. She would stop the car and pick up litter by the side of the road. Now that impressed me. She would write lists on the back of old envelopes. She would shop at St Vincents. My mother wouldn't be seen dead at St Vincents. Guess who's still alive?

And if you have a dream and think it is too late - think again!!! Check out the You tube clip of Britain's Got Talent from last weekend. Susan Boyle you are my hero!!!!Five and a half million people have viewed this clip already. When I first watched it this morning it was 3 million. Now that's a phenomenon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Right then....because you are a select bunch get a sneak preview of the forthcoming "blanky". If I was a decent upstanding citizen this would, on completion, be going straight to the poor folk made homeless by the recent bushfires in Victoria. I confess to being somewhat reluctant to parting with it - as no doubt they were somewhat reluctant to part with their homes, animals...oh all right...I'll give it to's just it will be the first blanket I've ever knitted like and I feel it should be an "heritage" item like - passed down generation to generation - "Your great-grandmother Alex knitted this!"...."Well I don't bloody want it...what were they on in the noughties for goodness sake - Lithium? - it's hideous!" So let's see how we feel at the end of 60 L shapes. L for learner drivers. L for Loving. L for Leaving home. L for Lugubrious. Isn't that a great word? What does it mean? I thought "wordy". I was wrong...doleful, sad, mournful. Very apropos. "Bespoke" - that's another word that has been bandied around lately - sounds like a bicycle wheel - means custom-made apparently...there you go...a "Bespoke Blanky". My therapy in times of lugubriousness whilst teaching learner drivers how to love and leave home. Lent. A time of abstinence n'est-ce pas? Now finished. L. Loani - best friend and bridesmaid aka Grand Purl Baa. LOL - laugh out loud. Now that's more like it. Languish. Long. Lubricate. Goodness me. What a Lot of things you can think about when knitting Ls. That's aLL. Over to you. Leg up. Sorry - couLdn't heLp it. What's your favourite L word?

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Librarything is down. What's a girl to do? I work all weekend. I come home. All I want is my slippers and librarything. Is it too much to ask? I bought myself a bottle of Evans and Tate. This is what one does when there is a global economic crisis and your teenager won't come home. I am reading Suite Francaise. I will be very morose when I finish. The writing is so can it be? It was written in 1940/1941. Nothing changes...we're all the same...year after year...century after century...well of course they didn't have librarything then but you know what I mean. Was Evan and Tate around then? Certainly good wine was around and about....will I twitter or won't I? I suspect I'd be a twat if I twittered. Right then, that's all I've got to say. I'd put up a photo of my blanket that I'm knitting but the cameras out of batteries. What's everyone going to do with their tax bonus thingummy? Mine's been eaten into savagely with a speeding ticket ....typical eh? I am the epitome of a dag and then I go and get a $200 speeding ticket...dag no more...double dag.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I do worry sometimes that I'm not normal....whatever that is....I mean I still keep some moth-eaten toys in my bedroom for goodness sake. Why do I feel I would betray them if I chucked them? This is not even a very good photo of them. They're not looking their best. Left to teddy...does he still growl? No. Oone of the remaining donkeys (a Merrythought toy)...I did have three originally...on a string...dragged round Europe when I was two...the lion my mother made Bel when she was little...especially endearing as it is made from all the scraps left over from the dresses she made Bel when she was a baby...Andy Pandy...who leapt out from behind a cereal packet...Frosties I believe...I just about died from shock apparently...then the doll with no name or not one I can remember...once again made by my of the Christmas or Birthday dolls she always made me....I hung onto one called Lucy for years....Lucy had blue hair...Istrange when I think about it now - seemed perfectly acceptable then. I remember the Husqvarna always whirring away at midnight when I was supposed to be asleep and if I staggered out, much furious rustling as stuff was hidden and my mother tried to look the right of that doll, Mummy's teddy...the growl long gone...we've tipped him upside down far too often...and then another dolly who actually belonged to one of Mummy's friend's children...she's very special...we like her leopard skin outfit.

Who else loved Andy Pandy as much as I did? Who else read the Andy Pandy annual and loved the story about Teddy's Dream Penny?

Here's Andy Pandy, Teddy, Looby Loo, Rags and the White Kitten on Andy Pandy's eiderdown. Who else keeps their toys? Am I mad?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


First of all, may I say just how difficult it is to take a photo of a fish in a tank. Glass, reflected light, moving fish and so on. Excuses, excuses, I know. Please meet Murray the Murray Cod. Murray the Cod please meet the reader. Pets. The recent fires in Victoria have produced many happy and sad stories about people losing or being reunited with their pets. Some months ago I ran into an old friend while we were respectively pounding the pavement in our suburb in search of that elusive goal - the svelte figure. My faithful hound Jessie always accompanies me in this pursuit. She too would like a more svelte figure. Though I suspect now what she would like is much less arthritis. As I blabbed on I finally noticed that my friend was keeping a careful distance from my faithful companion. As we exchanged pleasantries and moved on I pondered that my human friend seemed rather cautious, nay, lets be honest, rather fearful of said hound. My heart went out to her. Up til now I had thought her distaste for creatures was about pride in housekeeping. A distaste for furniture that is impregnated with essence de dog - not to mention hair de dog. And I completely sympathise. Oh for a malodouress (sp?) free home. A home free of having to clean up after animals. I spend my life wrapping up guinea pig poo, cleaning fish filters, removing crap from the bottom of bird cages, picking up dog excrement under the clothes line etc etc etc. But may I say, I would never trade all of that for the looks that Jessie gives me from her possie on the sofa. Her understanding eyes and deepest sympathy when the going gets tough and all the world's awry. When I am at my lowest point, she appears by my side unbeckoned, nudging me with her nose gently. And I'm a cat person !!! And what about the fish? What comfort does he give me? Well he reminds me that some of us swim. Some of us are in a water world where things glide gently. Where things bubble. Tweetie the bird makes washing up and preparing lunches and breakfast in the morning a delight. She warbles away with the running water and does fair impressions of bellbirds in the next valley and if she's particularly desperate whistles one of my inane tunes to get my attention. If she's really lucky she'll score a bit of the guinea pigs' lettuce. I see the gentlest side of my husband as he hunts for a thistle in our backyard for her and presents it to her like a bouquet. Opening the fridge door would not be half as much fun if it wasn't accompanied by insistent squeals from my furry friends in guinea pig tenements out on the back verandah - what about the workers they cry? We mow your lawn! Carrots for guinea pigs!! Animals ground me. They remind me that there's a whole world out there far more important than my trivial worries and strife. In the words of that poet whose name I've forgotten - is it Gerard Manly Hopkins - I lift up my voice metaphorically to sing = All things bright and beautiful. All creatures great and small. All things wise and wonderful....the Good Lord made them all....or something to that effect.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dead People

I've been busy chasing dead people. The summer holidays has given me the chance to catch up on my other favourite hobby - family history. Bel and I drove up to Woombye a couple of weekends ago so I could mooch around the cemetery (aren't the trees fantastic?)looking for my great-grand-aunt Harriet Rowland (nee Conner). It was a lovely day. Bel was pleased to get her driving hours up and we delighted in completely indulgent icecream at Maleny and were impressed by the number of second-hand bookshops. I didn't find a headstone for great-grand-aunt Harriet but I did find other Rowlands which made me suspect she was there...just being discreet about it. Kathy Wilkinson,Customer Liaison Officer at the Sunshine Coast Regional Council Cemeteries Office was every family historian's dream come true, patiently and swiftly answering my queries. Yes Harriet is buried with the other Rowlands. She is in Section A Row 7 plot 11 to be precise. Now at the risk of losing the small following I have I have to say that I may be testing some family history story-telling out on this blog. I am conscious that I need a focus, that I tend to be all over the place in this blog. So be prepared to put up with stories from the past. I will endeavour to tell them with pictures and make them interesting.

Otherwise life has been fine. I am seeing a nutritionist at Paddington in an attempt to shed kilos. She thinks I have a build up of yeast so now I am on a raft of nutritional supplements and a de-tox diet. No alcohol for a week - I'm up to day five. Did you see I've read three books this year already? Did you see I've lost 2 kilos? And wasn't the inauguration fantastic? Particularly Aretha Franklin's hat.

Friday, January 2, 2009

२००९ Goals

Predictable I know !

I should also improve my housekeeping - I have found fern fronds growing inside the house.