Ruts and rhythms and routines

New routines are evolving. Routines have evolved before, and I’m trying to remember whether I was conscious of that at the time or whether I simply let them evolve. Unfold.

I sometimes think about ruts, and I wonder how people get into one and I think to myself, ‘I’d love to find a rut, to know what was happening one day, one week, one year to the next.’

Is it part of getting older this searching for rust and rhythms? Looking for the softness that rhythms brings, the gentleness, the ease. If I were in a rut, I think to myself, I would be able to write the reams that I dream of writing. I would sit for hours and lose myself in words. If I were in a rhythm, I would know when it was time to write.

But that’s just something I tell myself. It’s another, ‘I would be a great writer, if only …’

After four years, nearly five, back in Australia, living in this one place, I do feel the rhythms and routines of the year becoming more sharply defined. Winter leaving, the spring winds springing up behind. Finding my momentum to write my next fringe show, knowing that October is too late to start, but knowing I’ve done it twice before and it all worked out okay.

Most of the rhythms and routines I’ve had in my life have come by accident, just one thing happens and then it happens again and there you are. Going to the market. Watching Insiders. Sewing trips on the Queen’s Birthday weekend (but not this COVID year). And now that I Made an Adult, all I can feel is the spaces where I didn’t get the routines working. The annual trips to this beach. The weekly pizza night. The lunchboxes. And of course, I’m thinking of all the ones I didn’t appreciate enough, didn’t put myself in the moment. How much I hated Saturday sports. Well, all sports really. How bored I was with it.

And as my children grow older, get ready to leave, spend less time with me all the time, I know that my routines will be more clearly mine. That is, unshaped by their needs or wants. I’m looking forward to the things I will be able to do now. The creative projects I will be able to finish. But I’m sad about all of the times we will no longer share. I thought of trying to introduce a routine where we all got together for Saturday breakfast, but then I thought of the cracks in my heart I would have to mend when I was the only one there.

On the virtual move

Look! Over there! I have a new website.

Isn’t it beautiful? Viv made it. Most of you probably know Viv. She blogs at hoyden about town, and you can ask her if want to make your website more vivid. She didn’t just make me a beautiful site, she was great to work with, and if she ever rolled her eyes at me through all my tweaks and twitches and ‘yes, that’s almost it, but can we just try…’, I never once knew it.

So, that’s where I’ll be blogging from now on. I’m taking everything with me, but we’ve designed the site differently, and I’m going to work in a more ordered and structured way now. I’m looking forward to it.

Here’s my first post. See you there.

More ponderous

Living in a Muslim country makes for a surprisingly awesome Christmas. The difficulties and complexities are stripped away, or at least easily ignored, and from this distance it’s very hard to insult anyone or be insulted by anyone in the heat of a December moment. There is no stress of trying to get from the music concert across to the kindergarten graduation and then home to have a shower and scrub the toilet before the babysitter comes and you leave for the work Christmas show. And you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to cater for 27 people when, even if you use the good plates, you’ve only got 16.

There is, of course, the melancholy and the yearning for Christmases past, but (and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear this), I quite like that bit.

So I don’t have any major stresses or whinges. But I do have a few little grinches which seem to come up from year to year, so herewith, my little list of Christmas grinches (because it’s either that or some sentimental piece about grief and the layers of time and I’m sure you’ve had enough of those):

1. I cannot stand anything set to the tune of Twelve Days of Christmas. Sorry Annabel Crabb, this includes you. However witty, however informed, however contemporary, if you are setting words to this carol, you will evoke an image of a work Christmas skit which includes men dressed as women or possibly men dressed in fairy wings.

2. I would like to know (or perhaps I would not like to know) how many Christmas letters begin with the following: ‘Well, I can hardly believe it’s time to sit down and write this letter…’ or some variation on that theme (‘I can hardly believe another year has passed’, ‘Can you believe it’s been a year…’ and so on).

3. I’m not sure that I’m totally jiggy with the whole ‘give a goat’ thing. I have worked or volunteered in many NGOs and I know the thought that goes into fundraising and awareness raising. I know that there is probably endless discussion at staff meetings, board meetings and so on and that overall and taking everything into account, they are considered to be a good thing. I’m also pretty sure I have handed my brother a card telling him that I bought a goat or a latrine or somesuch on his behalf. But I dunno, it isn’t really a gift, is it? It feels a little bit earnest, and a touch patronising in its assumption that the person receiving the card needs you to intervene and do their good works for them. Also, I’m a bit uncomfortable with the first world gifts to the third world dynamic it perpetuates.

4. At this time of year, I get a lot of hits on my blog by people who appear to be looking for the recipe for nuts and bolts made with nutri grain and curry powder. People, it’s 2010. Move on.

5. I also get a lot of hits for people looking for the Magic Cave. My advice? Go and look at the Magic Cave, but if you want to see Santa Claus/Father Christmas, go down to Myer. Although the days of just turning up and being the second in line have gone, it’s still a heaps shorter wait than at the Magic Cave. And they let you take your own photographs, and don’t put any pressure on you at the end to buy theirs.
and a propos of nada, a Christmas photograph from the archives
Road Closed, Loxton, South Australia
If you’re interested, you can catch a bus from Adelaide or even Mildura to see the Loxton lights. I just see them as part of my Christmas family visiting, but there’s a shirtload of buses making the trip.

not so much a community service announcement as me waking up from a very bad dream and feeling just a touch fragile

Look, this is none of my business, but something I have learned from the last few years is that you absolutely must have all of your worst case scenario documents in place. Wills, powers of attorney, guardianship orders. You need them – or, more precisely, the people around you need them. Getting them together sucks. No doubt about it. It’s expensive, emotionally draining and forces you to think about things, both real and imagined, that you’d rather not think about. But you need to do it. Also, if there’s anyone in your life for whom you are going to need to take on such responsibilities, talk to them about it and ask them whether it’s all done. This might be hard, it might be very bloody hard, but however hard it is now, it will be a whole lot harder later on when you wish you’d done it now.

I’ve been lucky that in everything we’ve been through over the last little while we’ve had the bits of paper to wave about, and even with them, it’s really frigging hard.

You might think that you don’t need professional help with this, and indeed, I think you can do a lot of things with those do-it-yourself packages from the newsagent, but if you find a professional you can trust they will ask you questions you might not have thought of and it will be money well spent. However you got about it, get it done.

Oh, and when you’ve finished the documents, give copies of them to everyone who needs them, tell them where the originals are and then, write notes to yourself reminding yourself where you have stored the originals and put said notes in every place that you might go looking for said originals at the time that you might need them.

Right, I’ll stop being bossy and righteous and now.
(but your vaccinations are up to date, aren’t they?)


Last night, I did not take a drink. At 5.18, I almost wavered and then again at 5.42, 6.34, 6.38…you get the picture.

I know that when you are trying to change one behaviour you are supposed to change the other behaviours which in any way ‘support’ that original behaviour. In my case, this is cooking the tea. I do like to have a glass of wine while I cook.

I cook every night. Okay, not every night, but say 5 out of 7 nights, probably 6.

This is going to take some thought. Or else, I just give the whole idea away. I mean, spending a bit of time without alcohol was just an idea. It wasn’t supposed to lead to a radical shake up of my day.


Some thoughts from my life:

– why do publications such as The New Yorker continue to write the Internet with a capital I? Shouldn’t it just be the internet?

– boarding the plane in Athens, our family was behind another family of similar composition, that is, one man, one woman and two children. All the members of our family made our way down to economy while the family in front of us separated. The man and one child stayed in business class while the woman and one child kept moving down to economy. The dynamics of our family would never allow such a thing. Srsly, after such an incident we would never recover.

– one day I would like to live in a place simply because said place is a beautiful place to live. This is all I have ever really wanted. There are many beautiful places, so why is it so hard for me to organise this?

– I have added Tilda Swinton to the list of people I am sure I would like to be although I am rather undecided about I am Love and sometimes think it is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen and other times think it is not.

– I am thinking of giving up alcohol for a month or so. I think it would be good for me. I don’t know, I am undecided about this as well.

– I have only just found out about the royal wedding (I’ve been on holidays). I am a republican (should that be with a capital R?), but every time I see Wills I worry for him I really do. I think it’s because of the whole mother killed in a car crash affinity. I felt desperately sorry for him at the time and I still do. I suppose this is transferance, but I don’t know that for sure. Also, there should be more discussion about the similarities between Kate and Our Mary, the one what married that Prince. They are similar and the papers and magazines should be full of this observation.

– I am at that stage where I am convinced that I will never have anything published ever again. Do not indulge me in this as I know all of the things that I need to do to lift myself out of this mood and wallowing around in it is not one of those things.

– if you wanted to opt out of the December madness that grips Australia, you could move here. It is brilliant. There is absolutely none of that ‘by Christmas or bust’ mentality.

– I really do like the curtains in our bedroom. Everytime I look at them I feel happy.

I’d best be off. We just got back from a week away so for some reason there’s an entire year’s worth of laundry to be done.

the morning after the night before

good morning my loves

pinch and a punch for the first of the month

do you want leftovers in your lunch

bowl out to the sink please

I can’t find my shin pads

clean your teeth

here’s a bag for your soccer gear

please don’t leave your pyjamas there

shoes on now or you’ll all be late

kiss goodbye

see you later

i love you mum

have a great day

good luck at soccer

fill up your water before the game

i will, don’t worry


see you after school

footsteps leaving the house, then footsteps returning

oh…and Mum…if you’re stealing any of my candy today, don’t take the doritos

ah, John Howard, you’ve done it again

Following a missive from home, I decided to go in search of John Howard’s appearance on qanda last night. I had to go to youtube because stoopid ABC won’t let me watch iview from here. Anyway, good to know John Howard hasn’t lost his ability to make me so angry I can’t see straight.

Mr Howard, let me be clear…when I was part of the campaign for David Hicks to be given a fair trial, I never once claimed, nor even thought, that he was ‘a hero’. To say that I did is to be tricky at best and deceptive at worst. I was speaking out about his right to a trial, to a fair trial. I was arguing that he should be charged, that he should not be held without charge. And I said that he should not be subjected to torture while imprisoned.

I did not once say that he was a hero.

I know a lot of people who were campaigning on behalf of David Hicks and I don’t remember any of them describing David Hicks as a hero. I did, and do, think that his father was a hero, and perhaps I expressed that thought in a public way. So maybe you misheard me. Maybe when I said Terry, you heard me say David. Fair enough, you had a lot on your plate at the time, mistakes happen. If this is the case, please advise, and I will accept your apology unreservedly.

Otherwise, please stop saying, or even implying, that I have ever said David Hicks is a hero. It is not cool to misrepresent people and their opinions in this way.

While we’re at it, I’ll just remind Mike Rann that I still haven’t forgiven him when he did a similar thing . I never said that van Nguyen, a young man facing the death penalty in Singapore, should be compared to Florence Nightingale. I said that he should not face the death penalty because I believe that the death penalty is wrong in all circumstances and I do not qualify my opposition to the death penalty. I’m still extraordinarily mad with Mike Rann for saying the things that he did – it was completely unnecessary for him to say those things, and if he really was against the death penalty then he wouldn’t be undermining other people’s efforts to have it abolished.

Goodness, but I’m cross about those things.