Sunday, June 16, 2013

Scene stealer

We are waiting, albeit impatiently, for baby sister to be born, with Alannah convinced that SHE is the one who will do the 'catching'. It is dawning upon her, that BS will not be able to go on the slide, or write, or play tea-parties immediately. We are doing a lot of watching of videos as Alannah went through her own 'blob' stage.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

On straightjackets

People are not condemned to replicate their upbringing, to follow slavishly in the footsteps of their immediate ancestors. Behaviour wise, at any rate. There is also the option of the intelligent application of freewill. To rise above learned behaviours requires a modicum of introspection. And intelligence. And empathy. And selfless love.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The value of picket fences

They don't have to be white, these picket fences. Hell, they don't even have to be literal. Upon reflection, they are a state of mind, and considering the connotation is way more powerful than the denotation these days, they are better as a figment.

I remember my lone trip to Tasmania between Christmas and New Year's 2004, and trying to fathom what threw me about Launceston, until it dawned on me that it was the picket-fence-figment. Here I was from Waterloo in Sydney, walking the WASP streets of northern Tasmania, with nary a turned-over-garbage, a needle-filled-gutter, a turban, or an attitude, a hijab or a foreign language spoken at ten-to-the-dozen. My new abode is a bit like this. I say a bit, because a decade has passed, and old barriers constantly tumble.

In comparison with Paddington, I feel that we are living on acreage. Yesterday, Alannah and I visited Hamish's yard. We have an open invitation, you see. We held hands, chanted the cross-the-road-mantra, and pushed open his side gate, collecting Floyd the grey kitten as we entered. We watched the guinea pigs first, but they were too pre-occupied with Floyd. So we continued on, past the hoarded statuary, past the up-turned tinnie, until confronted by the padlocked chicken-coop, or hen-house, or chook-pen. Once solved, we squeezed in, leaving Floyd on the outer, whist encouraging an errant Silkie bantam back into the coop with us.

And the chooks didn't panic. They clucked and scuttled, but nothing approaching panic as though a fox had just flashed. Indeed, it took me a while to hunt here and there, to discover the two new-laid eggs, which I convinced Alannah to allow me to carry! That was how I discovered the possum, trying to hide in the cardboard box atop the laying-house. Petrified it was, and with good reason, I suppose. Had he come in to recover, or to die, I wondered. His back was covered with mange, his jumping abilities a shadow of their former self. He tried though, and we watched as he swung up and out onto the guttering of Hamish's house, and away. With two warm eggs in my jacket pockets, we sung 'Off to see the wizard', as we recrossed the roadway ...

And a little while later, having cut some left-over meat into small chunks, she and I perched our cheeks onto a rickety milk-crate eating one of Mumma's tea-cakes, as we watched our trio of Butcher Birds swoop in, gobble up some in their beak, then fly off to the safety of a nearby tree, before repeating the process. Ad nauseum.

All a bit like a blast-from-the-past really. The 1950s revisited. Figments of picket fences are all the go, up here in Ironbark.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Expressing the inner person

Alannah, the daughter of my daughter, is now 2 years and 9 months old. I am her carer on Fridays, and for half of Tuesdays, as her grandfather takes her to the park for the other part of Tuesday. She goes to Kindy on Monday and Thursday, and spends Wednesday with her mother. For mine, this is an ideal child-care structure.

We now live in the same house, my daughter, her husband, my grand-daughter and I. Last year, I was living in a court-yard apartment in the inner-city suburb of Paddington. A similar child-care arrangement was in place. However, I found that I was structuring the day, as I used to when I ran my own Kindy. Inside play. Outside play. Water play. Sand play. Reading time. Colouring time. Painting time. Plasticine time. Sleep time. Video time. That is not the case any more.

Alannah is older. We are both at home. A structure does not enfold our day. Except for the structure her Mumma sets: leave the house at 7:30am, and return home about 6:30pm. Have lunch about 12:45, read for a while, and then sleep about 1:30 'til 3pm. And the day zooms past. And she grows. And learns. Acquires skills. And expresses herself. We have done a lot of craft, with cutting and pasting. She has quite good scissor skills. However, this week she clambered back into artistic mode.

Her mother took the easel out onto the front lawn last Sunday, and I followed suit on Friday. In between I had stocked up the ToyBox with lots of paints and brushes and paraphernalia. She is more than happy to explain what she is painting as she progresses: usually spiders, or crabs, or octopus, or sharks, or snakes. But it is the brush strokes that fascinate me. They have more purpose to them: some short, some long; some dabbed, some swirled; some curved, some straight. There are some colours she can do without, but not green, or blue, or purple, or white, or black. She is into black in a big way, and not just with paints. Her mother no longer has a decent black texta anywhere in her home-office. But look at the attempt at writing words. Wonderful delicacy, and purpose.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Throwing her voice ...

Put your index finger on the top of your head.
Why, Ma?
I am going to show you how to throw your voice.
{Finally, shocked silence.]

Now, throw your voice from your throat, all the way up to your finger.
Like this, Ma?
Yes. Yes. Yes.

Now put your hand on your chest. And growl like a bear.
Ahh that tickles, Ma.
Now, throw your voice down to your chest.
AArrggghhh ... !

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Oozing her lineage

"Don't put your finger there ... BECAUSE ... this will HURT you."

"It will STING!"

But then ... Buddy will kiss it better. He is in there ... on your BED."

Alannah comes from a long line of shop-keepers - starting from her 4 times great grandfather, John Dunstan Tonkin, who was an iron-monger in suburban Melbourne from the Victorian gold rush until the boom of the 1890s. Then there was her two times great grandmother, Sylvia Irene Veronica Cole, who kept shops in Crows Nest, Gosford, and Hornsby for the entirety of the first half of the twentieth century.

So it comes as little surprise when we slaved during our record breaking hot day of 45.9C to create a cup-cake shop. All baked on the premises, regardless of the temperatures beyond the shuttered windows, and closed doors.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spontaneous combustion ...

Pot plant, pot plant
Sitting on a wall
One goes away
And it must fall.

I think, perhaps, she made this up herself. It certainly appeared that way. We often put the pots along the ledge. But we have never had a musical accompaniment before.

Each cycle involved seven pot plants. And there were at least four cycles. That is a long process for a two-year-old.

The flowers I bought from the Hot Dollar shop in the BJ Mall, and cut them from the spray into individual flowers. The pots are small yoghurt containers from Thomas Dux. The chalk is that really large variety that we bought from the driveway sale in Lane Cove back in about May.