April 30, 2004
See, what I don't get is why you can help get people out of the sugar industry, but you can't do it for the logging industry.
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April 23, 2004
Never work with children or animals
Or both. Especially if you want to maintain a blog. God knows how I found the time to blog for the first six weeks! Anyway, looks like this blog may have to slide into hiatus until mama adjusts to the new schedule. Anyway, best to all...hope to see you soon.
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April 20, 2004
The wonder weeks
I fell in love with him yesterday. I've loved him from the start, as you do, but yesterday we had this special moment when we were just looking into each others' eyes, and kind of seeing each other for the first time. Falling in love. Yesterday I think I saw him as a complete little person in his own right, totally separate from me. You get those little flashes of their personality. And we spent a lot of time just looking at each other and smiling. I'm pretty sure he felt the same way. I looked at him and finally it hit me that I've made a little person.
Later we met his Oma and Opa down at the lake for pflaumenkuchen; he gave them the same treatment. So much love going around.
One thing I never expected is that it would be this physically demanding. I feel like I'm at Baby Bootcamp. We walk up and down hills with the jogger for a couple of hours a day. (I will never tire of looking up at eucalypts and gum trees against blue sky and daydreaming.) Then at home, when I've got him in the pouch, all five kilos of him, we go around doing housework. The laundry is meditative. I hang nappies out, I take nappies off. You can't bend over to pick anything up, so you end up doing a million deep knee squats. It's like the gym, only not as boring. And you're there all day.
My parents bring around food. Roasts, salads, cake. They often bring meals involving pimiento or something, or they'll bring pesto with forty cloves of garlic. "Oh, no," my mother says. "It doesn't affect the milk. You shouldn't read so many books. You think in Italy they stop eating garlic?"
"You think in Italy they stop drinking red wine every night? You want me to do that, too?"
"Hmmpf," is all she will say.
Anyway, he's very cute.
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April 17, 2004
There goes the neighborhood
Does Osama Bin Laden have any idea how ridiculous he sounds offering Europe a ‘truce’?
Instead of dismissing European nations as the "crusader-Jewish alliance", the voice addressed "reconciliation" message to European states, referring to them as "our neighbours north of the Mediterranean".
The paper reports "the truce offer would be good for three months". And then what? They resume bombing innocent people? Nice neighbours! But that Bin Laden is a clever speechwriter. The al-Qaeda recording says, "What happened on September 11 and March 11 was your goods delivered back to you" --a mocking reference to the West's attempt at exporting democracy and capitalism.
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The US Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Wade Horn met with the Howard Government's minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, "to discuss what governments can do to promote marriage". To the right kind of people, of course; gays need not apply.
Interesting also to read that family-friendly America has a policy where single parents have to go back to work for a minimum of 30 hours a week once the child turns one. This, compared to Australia, where single parents must work six hours a week once the child turns 13. One measly year - sounds pretty tough.
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Germaine's upset by the reaction people had to her article in January. Today the Australian gives Greer a chance to "bite back at critics after her defence of expatriates". I agree with Greer that the headline used by the Oz last time was a bit harsh. The headline was "Slack and insufferable" and it felt like it was meant to refer to Greer herself rather than to what Greer thought of Australians. But when she talks of the "certainty that an Australian newspaper would pick up the article that I was commissioned to write for The Times, and use it to foment a fatuous and ill-tempered controversy that they would then blame on me"--that's a bit 'poor-me', considering she must have written the article knowing it would push a few buttons Down Under.
"I was reviled as an expatriate, the worst thing you can be, worse even than being a pedophile - and there were those who said I was that too."
Well, I still think her book on boys was dumb. Even the boy on the cover, who is now a man and wasn't consulted about the use of the photo, felt he had been exploited:
He found it odd that Greer, who had campaigned so vigorously against the exploitation of women, was using him as an object of desire: "It is ironic," he said.
Anyway, here's what Greer says her previous article was about:
"What Howard carefully avoided admitting was that the Australian diaspora is real and the Government is concerned about it...Instead of getting stay-at-home experts to find out why 1million Australians, 5 per cent of the population, choose to live outside the country, the Australian Government could try asking the expatriates...My basic argument [is] that highly qualified Australians live and work overseas because conditions in their home country allow no scope for their full professional development."
But that doesn't explain paragraphs like:
"Each street has a nature strip; each bungalow faces the same way, has a backyard and a front garden, all fenced, low at the front, high at the back. Somewhere nearby there'll be a shopping centre with fast-food outlets and a supermarket. If your ambition is to live on Ramsay Street, where nobody has ever been heard to discuss a book or a movie, let alone an international event, then Australia may be the place for you."
She also rejects claims she is publicity hungry:
"I was so incensed by Denton's irrelevant and intrusive personal questions that he felt it necessary to send me a written apology, which has gone into the archive."
It's hard to believe she was upset by Denton when the transcript is full of (CHUCKLES) and (SNORTS) from Greer, and she seems perfectly happy chatting away about personal subjects like her relationships; in fact, she cheerfully volunteers a lot of information.
Germaine Greer: In my view, what happens when you fall in love is you turn into an instant stalker.
Germaine Greer: I mean, you do that thing of driving by the house at night to see if the window is illuminated, that kind of thing. And having been stalked, I think it's a terrible state to be in. To be obsessed by anybody, that is just so ignominious, it's so awful.
Germaine Greer: ..in three weeks of marriage, it's true to say I was unfaithful seven times.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHS AND APPLAUDS)".
She's a refreshingly honest interviewee, anyway, and that episode of Enough Rope is a great read.
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April 16, 2004
Close encounters of the blogging kind
Getting busy at Casa Gianna so will shamelessly steal the blogjam concept and direct you to some other people's blogs instead. Angela has moved her blog again, and as usual I follow because I like her random fragments. James has a new book published--read about Uncle Rupert here. Chris has left the blues behind and it's business as usual. Deltoid is collecting bloggers' Myers-Briggs personality test results. Add yours if you're game, bloggers. Jill has been interviewed about blogging by BBC World Service. Who better qualified on the subject than Jill? Languagehat meets his first bunyip. A definition 'hat cites describes the animal as "a fierce creature from Australia. Amphibious by nature, it has the appearance of a giant seal or even a hippopotamus. It is greatly feared, for it enjoys the taste of human flesh, particularly the more tender flesh of women and children." (I haven't met blogger Professor Bunyip myself so can't validate this definition.) Speaking of tender flesh, Tim's been talking about the birds and the bees. Glad I can put that off for a while!
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Still doesn't call Australia home
Someone tell me again why an American actor is ambassador for the Flying Kangaroo.
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April 15, 2004
There's a man standing outside the general store leaning on a double stroller and looking at the notices on the noticeboard. As I pass he turns and looks in my pram and jokes, "Think you've got it hard." He turns his stroller to show off his twins.
I peer into his buggy and two sets of fierce eyes regard me. The father says, pointing to one twin, "This is Tom." The other baby swivels his eyes sharply to look at Tom. "And this is Jake." Now Tom twists his head to look at Jake.
"I know," I say. "I met them yesterday, with your au pair." A pretty blonde German girl called Heike. Maybe she has the day off today.
"How old is your little one?" he asks me.
"Six and a half weeks," I say.
He says, "Ah, he's still got the label on, eh?"
A woman comes out of the general store and marches over to us. She must be the mother, I think. She's wearing a Burberry mini and a black rollneck, and is sweating a little. As you would, if you were wearing a rollneck in this weather. She seems incongruously dressed next to her husband, who is more properly attired for the holidays in shorts and a teeshirt. Maybe she's just driven up to the holiday house straight from work. I notice her foundation is too orange, and her eyebrows are perfect arcs the likes of which nature has never seen. For some reason she scares me a little, so I pretend to be reading the noticeboard.
"Where's Josh?" She says to her husband. For a moment he has a bewildered look on his face, as though he has completely forgotten he has another child. They look around. There's a little boy on a trike in the distance, doing small lonely doughnuts outside the bottleshop. She says angrily to the man, "You were supposed to be looking after them!"
I move on and hear her yelling, "Josh! You come back here right now!"
Poor little Josh, the forgotten toddler with the sweet little fierce twin brothers that everyone stops to check out.
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April 14, 2004
B in Ken's bonnet
Welcome to new Armadillo "B", who happens to be Ken's girlfriend (is that the right word?). She does some metablogging here.
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April 13, 2004
Sleepless in...where am I again?
It's eight p.m. and it feels like three a.m., but then three a.m. felt like noon. He's six weeks old and sadly no longer the endlessly sleeping 'stunned mullet' they sent me home with. Now I'm the stunned mullet. He just takes catnaps. Maybe the odd hour here or there.
And I'm not even having coffee! I stagger out every morning to fake it with ground defaf in my percolator. (It's not so bad; I'm used to it now.) Maybe he's a bit overstimulated from all the attention he's been getting from everyone, but then all babies would get that, wouldn't they? (I don't know...why so alert, Harley-baba? If only he could talk... More than 'ah-goo', I mean. Though he says that a lot, so it must mean something important. 'Gimme a milkshake', most likely.)
Anyway, have rearranged the blogroll to incorporate some other bloggers who write about their bubs. Good for stealing ideas, for example, from Kathy's expensive sleep consultant (scroll, cos permalinks don't seem to be working). More to come, hopefully.
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Oh, ye of too much faith
Church meets State. And again.
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April 11, 2004
Sprays of our Clive
Interesting article by Clive James in yesterday's Australian. I disagree with his conclusions though.
"[W]e really do have fanatics of our own, preaching versions of The Protocols that differ from it only by substituting the US as the source of all the world's evil - including the depredations of the Israeli state, which generate such universal anger that a bunch of young headcases in Bali are moved to blow up a nightclub. In reality, they blew up the nightclub because they didn't like the way young Australians dance. I don't much like it either, but I don't think blowing their legs off is an appropriate cure...It shouldn't need pointing out that the Bali bombers knew no more about the history of the Middle East than I know about quantum mechanics. But it does need pointing out because so many Western intellectuals are incapable of reasoning their way to any conclusion that does not suit their prejudices."
Nah, I don't buy that. The Bali bombers--and any other fanatical thugs--obviously don't need to know the 'entire history of the Middle East' in order for them to perceive America as 'the Great Satan'. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
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April 06, 2004
A new blog I dig
Z's not dead, baby, but it seems everyone around him is. He's a Portuguese Goth who works as a gravedigger.
In the end of the morning, when I was taking care of some flowers that I planted last week, I heard the church bells toll, anouncing the death of someone. Ding ding, dong; ding ding, dong. It was a woman. If it were at man, the beels would go dong dong, ding. It came to my mind the people that are in the city hospital....Constantina, my cousin in third degree, her grandmother was first degree cousin of my grandmother. Constantina opened her wrists. I din't believe that it could be her. It was the third time that she opened her wrists. I never believed that she really wanted to kill herself. She knew her husband would arrive and she opened her wrists a few minutes before that. I can imagine her husband driving her to hospital. Just a few metters before the city hospital, they crashed against other car. I can imagine the paramedics surprise when they arrived at the car crash and found a woman that bumped her head and had her wrists open. She stayed in hospital because of the head bump. I never believed that she really wanted to kill herself. She just wants her husband to notice her. She is just sad.
When it is not raining, I clean the graves of those that everybody forgot and I colect dead flowers left by old widows. I should take off some of the lower branches of cypresses any day soon. When it is raining, I sit by the door of my little shelter house. I imagine a lot of things while I watch the rain falling over the fields of olive-trees and cork trees that lie above the walls of the graveyard, smoking a joint and listening to "Helplessness" by Lacrimas Profundere
His blog has original poetry and quirky tales from the graveyard shift. Go catch some Z.
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Voyeur eyes only
A working girl's blog. (I think I came across recently this via Weekend Warrior, but I can't remember now.) And you thought my blog was revealing.
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Can of worms
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April 05, 2004
Society in the wilderness
We're strolling down an unsealed road past a little wooden house with the sound of Bob Marley softly drifting out, when I hear voices. I look up and notice a man sitting on his verandah with a large cat curled up on the railing in front of him. I wave.
"Don't mind me, I'm just talking to my snake," he calls out, stroking the cat, and it starts to unfurl itself along the railing until it is a few metres long. What the...? I wheel the stroller around and we go back to have a closer look. Sure enough it's a giant diamond python. Eek!
"There's only five of these left in the valley," the man says. "This is Candy. Don't be afraid, she's harmless. Want to touch her?"
Uh, no thanks.
He comes down to the street and stands beside me holding a plate of toast, and we have a chat. Turns out he's our neighbourhood's resident greenie. He fits the stereotypical mould: waist-length hair in a ponytail, fraying beard, faded yellow Bonds teeshirt, beads around his wrist. He tells me his name is Peter and that he works for the local wildlife rescue group. "See over there?" he nods at a nearby tree. "There's a tawny frogmouth and her baby. I've been looking after them." I squint through the foliage and make out the two owls. "I thought owls only come out at night," I say. He shakes his head. He says he's turned his property into a reserve for endangered species, and points out the rare plants along the front of his house--"there's only three of these left in Australia"--and reels off a dozen types of endangered dove that he nurtures.
I tell him I love walking around with Harley and listening to all the birds. He frowns and mutters, "Well, there'd be a lot more, if it wasn't for all the cats". Gulp. I don't mention my cats, and secretly wonder if he's the one responsible for the anti-cat message I saw on the local noticeboard the other day. I rationalise to myself that my cats haven't caught a bird...yet.
We talk about how much the area has changed over the years, how built up it is now. He delivers a blistering attack on the hordes of seachangers and holiday-housers who have moved up here, with their four wheel drives and domestic pets.
"They're killing all the wildlife with their noise and pollution," he rails.
"It's looking more and more suburban," I nod. "All these perfectly manicured lawns."
"You get these idiots with their leaf blowers--you know, just blow all the leaves magically out of sight around the corner--and there, you've got an instant fire hazard. And you know, if there was a fire, I'd be out in the street, hosing down a dozen properties, because nobody's here, these ones are all holiday houses. And the funny thing is, they all hate me, cos I'm a greenie!" He looks wounded at the thought.
"Well, I don't hate you. I like you already," I smile.
"The thing is, you can't even swim in the lake anymore. I tell people--but they don't want to listen--it's a closed catchment lake. So every time they hose their dogshit into the creek, every time they wash their goddamn car, all the water just runs down into the lake. And stays there."
It makes me sad, because I remember how much fun it was to play in the lake when we were kids. Back then, there were no jetskis on the lake, just rowboats and water tractors, the ones you pedal with your feet. I'm relieved I chose not to swim in it when I was pregnant this summer--it just looked too murky and unappealing.
"And now there's these new fire regulations, where they say you've gotta chop down all the trees within 70 metres of your house, or they won't approve your development application." He pauses for breath. "And builders, man, they're the worst." He looks at me sideways. "Now you'll tell me your hubby's a builder."
"No," I laugh. "No hubby...no builder."
Peter tells me he came to the area fifteen years ago, after his wife died, to raise their five year old daughter closer to nature; bit like me. "But there's less and less nature by the day," he laments.
"My dad calls it North Mosman," I say.
He turns to me. "Oh, you from the North Shore then?"
"Yeah, grew up in Balmoral."
"You're joking. I went to Mosman High," he says.
"Me too!" I say. It's one of those small-world moments.
"When did you leave?" he says.
"88," I say. "You?"
He grins. "I was kicked out in '69."
"Geez, what on earth could you get kicked out of Mosman for?" Mosman was full of kids expelled from other schools; a school of last resort.
"Um...attacking the headmaster, actually," he smiles sheepishly. And I'm curious but too slow, and don't think to ask him to elaborate. I'll ask him next time, I think.
I get home and open the Sunday papers to read about another conservationist called Peter; Peter Garrett, who's thinking of returning to politics, standing as a Green in the next election. Coincidence, or something more?
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April, come they will
March was a quiet month for us, but April looks like being pretty lively around here. I've got five sets of houseguests coming through the month, so blogging may be sparser than usual. Maybe--you know I can never stay away for long!
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April 03, 2004
I thought Americans weren't supposed to be any good at laughing at themselves, at least not as good as Australians or Brits, but flicking through the February issue of Vanity Fair (no link), I came across a page of "New Slogans for America". Here's a sample:
America. Almost All Paved.
America. The Moon's Ass Belongs to Us. So Don't Be Landing Your Skanky Rocket on It. Don't Even Be Looking at the Moon.
America. Inventor of the Gated Community.
America. Tell It To Somebody Who Cares.
America. Proudly Serving Ritalin to Our Children since 1995.
America. We Nearly Smashed Al-Qaeda.
America. Teenagers With Money.
So I don't get accused of being anti-American, I thought I'd better come up with a few New Slogans for Australia:
Australia. Where Men Are Men and Women Won't Breed.
Australia. We're Not the Sheriff, We're Just the Deputy. (So Don't Shoot Us, Please.)
Australia. We're Tough.
Australia. Just Don't Try Coming Here By Boat.
Australia. It Used To Be Bigger.
Australia. Where Even Vegemite Is American.
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April 02, 2004
Here's the little harlequin at four weeks.
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April 01, 2004
Jam on, jam on
Tim's latest blogjam is up. Ah, we bloggers do love to see stories about blogs and blogging in the mainstream press, so these blogjams are great. More power to us.
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Well, that's what you get when you sell your soul to the devil, Chris. And the blues is what you give your non-sporting-minded readers when you use cricket metaphors for describing politics... Geez, isn't one uebersportingpundit enough for the blogosphere?
Jokes aside, yeah, it's sad news about Lucinda.
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I never thought it would happen, but my secret lover (I can keep some secrets, you know) apparently wants to make an honest woman out of me, and in the interests of keeping Bettina Arndt happy, I've accepted. Incredible, huh? A complete fairytale.
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